James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Edmund Randolph, 8 January 1797

From Edmund Randolph

Richmond January 8. 1797.

My dear sir

Judge Claiborne,1 of the state of Tennessee, has requested me to introduce him to you. He is travelling on to Philadelphia, with a view to solicit the appointment of district-judge in that state under the U. S. Altho’ a young man, his pretensions have been marked by the opinion, prevailing there, of his superiority over his present competitors, who formerly contested with him the seat on the state Bench. I am satisfied, that his talents outweigh theirs; and that the improvements, inseparable from years and observation, will render him an able dispenser of justice. His private character is unquestionable; and if I supposed it practicable for you to aid his views, I would not hesitate to throw him upon your attentions. But knowing, that the avenues to this species of office are shut to a particular description of men, I ask of you for him only the countenance, which you may find it easy to give him. From every thing that I can learn, he is a very influential man in Tenassee; and can be advanced to any scale of popular favor, which he may choose.

Virginia is very little more in this quarter, than a colony of Philadelphia. No conversation, no object political, commercial, and in many instances legal, can occur, without looking up to that city as the standard. We are even unable to procure the current publications; until they are stale there. Whatever is said in favor of the government is circulated under franks from the treasury &c. But not a Virginian eye has seen Gallatin’s pamphlet, Dwights address to the President,2 President the 2d. &c &c.3

Mrs. Payne was with us last evening in good health and spirits. Our best respects to Mrs. M. I am my dear sir Yrs. very afftly.

Edm: Randolph.

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

1William Charles Coles Claiborne (1775–1817) was born in Sussex County, Virginia, and had moved to Sullivan County, Tennessee, in 1792. After serving in the Tennessee Constitutional Convention of 1796, he was appointed by Gov. John Sevier to the state Supreme Court. He later served in the Fifth and Sixth Congresses and as governor of Mississippi and Orleans territories. He was the first governor of Louisiana, 1812–16, and had been elected to the U.S. Senate at the time of his death. For his early career, see Joseph T. Hatfield, William Claiborne: Jeffersonian Centurion in the American Southwest (Lafayette, La., 1976), pp. 1–18.

2[William Duane], A Letter to George Washington, President of the United States: Containing Strictures on His Address of the Seventeenth of September, 1796, Notifying His Relinquishment of the Presidential Office. By Jasper Dwight, of Vermont (Philadelphia, 1796; Evans description begins Charles Evans, ed., American Bibliography … 1639 … 1820 (12 vols.; Chicago, 1903–34). description ends 31315). This work was published on 6 Dec. and advertised in the Philadelphia Aurora General Advertiser on 7 Dec.

3Randolph may have been referring to an advertisement appearing in the Philadelphia Aurora General Advertiser after 22 Dec. 1796 for a publication dated 16 Dec. and entitled Dwight’s Strictures on the President’s Speech. This, however, was probably another edition of the work cited above in n. 2.

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