[12 December 1796]
In his address of 7 December, Washington had called on Congress to establish a national university and a military academy (Annals of Congress description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … (42 vols.; Washington, 1834–56). description ends , 4th Cong., 2d sess., 1595).
Mr. Madison presented a memorial from the commissioners appointed under the act respecting the fixing of the seat of government at the Federal city,1 stating, that as the institution of a national University had been contemplated, and the President of the United States had appropriated land upon which to erect an edifice for that purpose, and given fifty shares in the Potomac river to the institution, and as they had no doubt but many other donations would be made towards carrying into effect so desirable an institution, were they properly authorised by Congress to receive them; they therefore pray that Congress will pass such regulations as shall enable them to receive such Legacies and Donations as may be given towards effecting this institution.2
Claypoole’s Am. Daily Advertiser, 13 Dec. 1796 (reprinted in Philadelphia Gazette, 13 Dec. 1796, Gales’s Independent Gazetteer, 13 Dec. 1796, and Gazette of the U.S., 13 Dec. 1796; also reported in New World, 13 Dec. 1796, and American Senator, 1:22–23).
1. See Alexander White to JM, 26 Sept. 1796 and 2 Dec. 1796, and n. 1. The memorial is printed in ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States … (38 vols.; Washington, 1832–61). description ends , Miscellaneous, 1:153–54. JM’s copy of the memorial is in the Madison Collection, Rare Book Department, University of Virginia Library.
2. JM moved the memorial be referred to a select committee, which would also take up the same part of the president’s speech. Smith (South Carolina) suggested the memorial lie on the table until the president’s speech was discussed, but JM replied that “it would be more consistent with order for the memorial to go through a select committee.” JM, Craik (Maryland), and Goodrich (Connecticut) were then appointed to the select committee (Annals of Congress description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … (42 vols.; Washington, 1834–56). description ends , 4th Cong., 2d sess., 1601; JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (9 vols.; Washington, 1826). description ends , 2:613).