James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Thomas Jefferson, 16 January 1797

From Thomas Jefferson

Jan. 16. 97. Monticello

Dear Sir

The usual accidents of the winter, ice, floods, rains, have prevented the Orange post from coming to Charlottesville the last postday, so that we have nothing from Philadelphia the last week. I see however by the Richmond papers a probability that the choice of V. P. has fallen on me. I have written the inclosed letter therefore to mr. Tazewell as a private friend, and have left it open for your perusal.1 It will explain it’s own object & I pray you & mr. Tazewell to decide in your own discretion how it may best be used for it’s object, so as to avoid the imputation of an indecent forwardness in me.

I observe doubts are still expressed as to the validity of the Vermont election.2 Surely in so great a case, substance & not form should prevail. I cannot suppose that the Vermont constitution has been strict in requiring particular forms of expressing the legislative will. As far as my disclaimer may have any effect, I pray you to declare it on every occasion foreseen or not foreseen by me, in favor of the choice of the people substantially expressed, and to prevent the phaenomenon of a Pseudo-president at so early a day. Adieu, yours affectionately

Th: Jefferson

RC (DLC); FC (DLC: Jefferson Papers).

1Jefferson wrote to Tazewell on 16 Jan., requesting that the Senate adopt the “least troublesome” method of informing him of his election as vice president. Not wishing to travel to Philadelphia, Jefferson preferred to be advised by post and asked Tazewell, if necessary, to convey his views to the Senate (Ford, Writings of Jefferson description begins Paul Leicester Ford, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (10 vols.; New York, 1892–99). description ends , 7:106–7).

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