James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Thomas Jefferson, 3 November 1798

From Thomas Jefferson

Nov. 3. 98

Your’s of Oct. 31. has been duly recieved and the corrections suggested are thankfully adopted. The petition will be offered for signature at our court the day after tomorrow. Richardson has been in a great measure prevented doing any thing this week by the weather, which has been too cold for laying mortar. He has still 2. or 3. days work of that kind to do, which is indispensable, and about as long a job in kilning some bricks which we must secure in an unburnt state through the winter. We must therefore beg you to put off sending for him till Saturday next.

Yesterday’s papers bring us an account of Lyon of Vermont being indicted before Judge Paterson under the Sedition act.1 Possibly your papers may not mention the issue. He was found guilty, fined 1000. D. and adjudged to 4. months imprisonment. He was immediately committed. The words called seditious were only general censures of the proceedings of Congress & of the President. Affectionate respects to mrs. Madison your father & family. Adieu.

P. S. Your nails are ready.

RC (DLC: Rives Collection, Madison Papers). Unsigned.

1News of Matthew Lyon’s indictment was published in the Fredericksburg Va. Herald, 23 Oct. 1798. An account of his trial and conviction was published three days later. Lyon was convicted of violating the Sedition Act by printing with “force and violence, wickedly, knowingly, and maliciously … scandalous and seditious writing, or libel.” Lyon, in a public letter, had accused President Adams of, among other things, “an unbounded thirst for ridiculous pomp, foolish adulation, and selfish avarice.” The Vermont congressman was sentenced to four months in prison and a $1,000 fine (Smith, Freedom’s Fetters, pp. 221–46; Austin, Matthew Lyon, pp. 110–18).

Index Entries