James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, 14 February 1800

To Thomas Jefferson

Orange Feby. 14. 18001 But

Dear Sir

My last to you was from Richd. Your last to me is just recd. covering the Bill for drawing Jurors by lot.2 The plan proposed by the Bill is a great improvement on the regulation in force here. I can not say, whether it may have the same merit every where. This subject was not wholly forgotten during our late Session. A Bill was even prepared on it, by one of our State Judges.3 But subjects, deemed more immediately interesting, diminished so much the attention of some whose agency in carrying it thro’ was essential, that the bill was never introduced.

We see by the late papers that a new scene is presented on the French Theatre,4 which leaves the denôuement more a problem than ever. The characters and professions of some of the leading actors, furnish a hope that Monarchy may not be their object, but melancholy evidence appears that the destiny of the Revolution is transferred from the Civil to the military authority. Whether the lesson will have the proper effect here in turning the public attention to the danger of military usurpations or of intrigues between political & military leaders, is more than I can say. A stronger one was perhaps never given, nor to a country more in a situation to profit by it. We have had for two weeks & more, snow on the ground from 15 to 20 inches deep, which has blockaded every body within his own doors. Adieu

I was a subscriber for Trumbull’s prints,5 which I find are now in America. Can you tell me when & how I am to get them, and what is to be pd. in addition to the payments at subscribing. I wish to know also whether they are to be delivered in frames.

RC (DLC). Unsigned. Docketed by Jefferson, “recd Feb. 22.”

1JM’s original date of 14 Feb. 1799 was corrected, possibly by Jefferson, to 1800.

2See JM to Jefferson, 9 Jan. 1800, and n. 1. No covering letter from Jefferson has been found, and none is listed in Jefferson’s Epistolary Record (DLC: Jefferson Papers). Charles Pinckney introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate “to establish an uniform mode of drawing juries by lot” on 31 Jan. 1800 (Annals of Congress description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … (42 vols.; Washington, 1834–56). description ends , 6th Cong., 1st sess., 35–41).

3The bill for reforming the jury system was drawn by St. George Tucker (Cullen, St. George Tucker and Law in Virginia, pp. 113–15).

4The coup of 18 Brumaire (see Dawson to JM, 1 Feb. 1800, and n. 3).

5Prints made from engravings of John Trumbull’s paintings of The Battle of Bunker Hill and The Death of General Montgomery at the Attack on Quebec were published in 1798. Trumbull presented a set to Congress in September 1798 (Theodore Sizer, ed., The Autobiography of Colonel John Trumbull, Patriot-Artist, 1756–1843 [New Haven, 1953], p. 219 and n.; Jefferson to JM, 12 May 1800).

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