James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Giuseppe Ceracchi, 21 March 1795

From Giuseppe Ceracchi

Home the 21 March 1795

Dear Sir

Been wondered at the daley of the National Monumt suscription coming out,1 i called this morning upon the Gentilmen of the departements. Mesr. Randolph kindedly assured me that he would signe the papers as soon as they were send to him. Fifty of them signed only by Mr Wolcott are not gon farther till now, than to the Secretary of War office, by this may be consived that it would require a month more before the signature would been don. But much more wondered i have in hear Mr Bradford and Mr Boudinot spoke aiganst the projet, and representing it as the most redicelous and improper, and emploing all the documents of a lawior or a friar in expressing the narrow compas of there soll, i thought to hear the imploration of holy Ignorance descending from heven upon the people of America, as it was implored in Room last Year in contradiction of comun sense; Then i could not holpe to remarke that there resoning was contrary to the sanction they give to my Plan with there signatures, to which Mr Boudinot ansered that he did it as well as other Gentilmen, that did the same act, merely to encoreg my feling, and to give me some credit, fulisch and indiferent carrecter expressed in this sentiment of M: Boudinot make me belive that a plot of not uncomun Kind are agent the plan of National Monument for some other objet that i cant discover.

I am redy to decline of any farther attempt if you think it prudente, upon which i desire your oppinion. I am Sir with full respect Your Most Obt servt

Jos Cerrachi

RC (PHi). Addressee not indicated. For circumstantial evidence that JM may have been the recipient, see n. 1 and documents there cited, and Ceracchi to JM, 8 May 1795 (PHi) and ca. 11 May 1795 (PHC).

1In 1783 the Continental Congress had authorized a monument to commemorate the American Revolution, but no work had begun when Ceracchi, an Italian sculptor, submitted a proposal to Congress in 1791. After the House rejected his plan, Ceracchi attempted to raise funds by private subscription. His prospectus for the monument contained a letter from sixty-one subscribers, including JM and Washington. JM recollected that “I knew him well, having been a lodger in the same house with him, and much teased by his eager hopes, on which I constantly threw cold water, of obtaining the aid of Congress for his grand project…. But just as the circular address was about to be despatched, it was put into his head that the scheme was merely to get rid of his importunities, and being of the genus irritabile, he suddenly went off in anger and disgust” (Ceracchi to JM, 28 July 1792, PJM description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (1 vol. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984—). description ends , 14:344–45 and nn.; Syrett and Cooke, Papers of Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and Jacob E. Cooke, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton (26 vols.; New York, 1961–79). description ends , 11:111–12 nn. 2 and 3; [Ceracchi], A Description of the Monument Consecrated to Liberty [Philadelphia, 1795; Evans description begins Charles Evans, ed., American Bibliography … 1639 … 1820 (12 vols.; Chicago, 1903–34). Roger P. Bristol, ed., Supplement to Charles Evans’ American Bibliography (Charlottesville, Va., 1970). description ends 28403]; JM to George Tucker, 30 Apr. 1830, Madison, Letters [Cong. ed.] description begins [William C. Rives and Philip R. Fendall, eds.], Letters and Other Writings of James Madison (published by order of Congress; 4 vols.; Philadelphia, 1865). description ends , 4:71).

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