James Madison Papers

To James Madison from George Hay and Others, 17 September 1804

From George Hay and Others

Richmond, September 17th, 1804.


The gentlemen who have associated for the purpose of writing a series of miscellaneous essays under the title of “The Rainbow,” in the Richmond Enquirer,1 indulge a hope of being aided in the prosecution of the design they have formed, by occasional communications from your pen. Discussions of a Theological nature, and such as may have a tendency to kindle Personal altercation, or Party animosity, are the only topics excluded from the “Rainbow.” The primary object of this association is to turn some portion of public curiosity into the channels of liberal enquiry and moral refinement, to awaken a livelier sensibility to the attractions and a more diffusive attention to the benefits of elegant literature and useful knowledge. Nothing, therefore, can more effectually promote the success of their design, than occasional communications from gentlemen of talents, whose distance from the City of Richmond, prevents them from becoming permanent members of an association, whose object every enlightened patriot must be anxious to attain.

It is hoped and expected, that every correspondent will contribute an essay once in every three months. Communications from correspondents will be addressed (post-paid) to the Editor of the Enquirer.

George Hay, } Corresponding Committee.
Meriwether Jones,
Peyton Randolph,

RC (DLC: Madison Collection, Rare Books Division). RC is a printed circular letter; docketed by JM.

1The first issue of the biweekly (triweekly when the legislature was in session) Richmond Enquirer was published by Thomas Ritchie and William W. Worsley on 9 May 1804. The introductory “Rainbow” essay was printed on 11 Aug. and the last of the ten essays on 20 Oct. 1804. Among the several stated goals of the writers, who took as their model Addison and Steele’s The Spectator and other such works, was “to improve the minds & manners of women, to extinguish that rage for expensive splendour & foreign fashions, & that fondness for scandal which must necessarily occupy the attention and dissipate the activity of uncultivated minds.” The essays were later printed in book form (Richmond Enquirer, 11 Aug. 1804; Brigham, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 2:1138; The Rainbow: First Series; Originally Published in the RichmondEnquirer” [Richmond, 1804; Shaw and Shoemaker description begins R. R. Shaw and R. H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801–1819 (22 vols.; New York, 1958–66). description ends 7147], 1, 72).

Index Entries