James Madison Papers

From James Madison to William Thornton, 5 May 1796

To William Thornton

Philada. May 5. 1796

Dear Sir

I put a few lines into the hand of Mr. Volney,1 rather that he may be the bearer of my friendly respects, than that he needs any introduction to you, who are always so much disposed to do justice to merit, & who are already so well acquainted with his. He is on a ramble Southwardly, & will make your nascent metropolis2 a resting place of his observations for a few days. I hope he will carry from it every favorable impression; as I am sure he will that of your polite & kind attention. With great sincerity, I am Dear Sir your friend & Servant

Js. Madison Jr.

RC (DLC: Thornton Papers). Addressed by JM to Thornton in Washington and marked “Mr. Volney.”

1The celebrated traveler and writer Constantin François Chasseboeuf, comte de Volney (1757–1820), had come to the U.S. in 1795 after being imprisoned during the revolutionary terror in France. He was about to set out on a tour to the southern and western regions of the country, including a visit to the French colony at Gallipolis (Gilbert Chinard, Volney et l’Amérique, d’après des Documents inédits et sa Correspondance [Baltimore, 1923], pp. 21, 28, 39–41, 50–55).

2Thornton—doctor, architect, and antislavery advocate—had won the Capitol design competition in 1793 and served as a commissioner of the federal district, 1794–1802. He had met JM at Mrs. Mary House’s Philadelphia boardinghouse in 1789 (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 , 12:438 n. 1).

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