James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John Francis Mercer, 11 February 1795

From John Francis Mercer

Marlbrough, Feby. 11th. 1795.

Dear Sir

Mr. John Fenton Mercer1 the bearer of this is the eldest Son of my late Brother. By a clause in his fathers Will his Estate cannot be divided for three years to come, & that time he proposes to pass in some of the Armies of france probably the Northern Army. I know no situation more improving for a young Man than the family of an old experienc’d General Officer, & from my knowledge of this young Gentleman’s talents & disposition I have great expectation of the benefits he woud derive from such an opportunity. He only wants prudence to make a most valuable man & that can only come from experience. Your forwarding him in this view if in your power will be an additional obligation to many which I acknowledge.

I have had no opportunity of congratulating you before on your becoming a free Mason2—a very ancient & honorable fraternity. I am sure you are now much wiser & I do not doubt you are much happier altho’ you were very wise & happy before, at least in my opinion. I hold a lodge on your road pray let me take you some time by the hand in it & let Mrs. Mercer welcome, the fair prophetess who has converted you to the true faith. A Man who has got his head somewhat clear of a large load of leaden politics3—feels of course a little light headed to that you must attribute the levity of this style which is only intended to assure you of my respect & friendship for you & yours.

John F Mercer.

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

1John Fenton Mercer (1773–1812) was the son of James Mercer of Marlborough in Stafford County, who had died in 1793 (WMQ description begins William and Mary Quarterly. description ends , 1st ser., 17 [1908–9]: 209).

2JM is not known ever to have become a Freemason. Mercer figuratively compared the bond of JM’s recent marriage with that of Masonry.

3Mercer had resigned his seat in the House of Representatives on 13 Apr. 1794 (BDC description begins Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774–1971 (Washington, 1971). description ends , pp. 1399–1400).

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