James Madison Papers

To James Madison from David Ramsay (Abstract), 20 May 1805

§ From David Ramsay1

20 May 1805, Charleston. “The bearer mr Calhoun is a young gentleman of education & very promising talents.2 He expects to pass through Washington on his way to the eastern states with his relation mrs Calhoun the widow of our late senator. Anxious for improvement by conversing with the wise & good he wishes to be known to such. I have therefore taken the liberty of mentioning these circumstances to you & of requesting your attention to him. Though he is now a stranger at the seat of Government I think it highly probable from his talents & prospects that he will ere long be well known there.”

RC (DLC). 1 p.; docketed by JM, with his note: “Introduces J. C. Calhoun.”

1David Ramsay (1749–1815) was born in Pennsylvania, educated at the College of New Jersey, and received his medical degree from the College of Philadelphia. In 1773 or 1774 he moved to Charleston, where he practiced medicine and entered politics. He was elected to the state house of representatives for the second through the eighth general assemblies (1776–1790), while also serving as a delegate to the Confederation Congress from 1782 through 1786. He was elected to the state senate for the ninth through the thirteenth assemblies (1791–1799). Unwise business speculation led him into bankruptcy in 1798. In addition to his careers in medicine and politics, he also wrote histories of South Carolina, the United States, and the American Revolution as well as a biography of George Washington. In 1815 he was shot to death by a deranged tailor (Bailey et al., Biographical Directory of the South Carolina Senate, 2:1330–33).

2The “young gentleman” was South Carolinian John Caldwell Calhoun (1782–1850) who later became, among other things, vice president under John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson and secretary of state under John Tyler. He graduated from Yale in 1804 and the following year studied law at Litchfield Law School in Connecticut, returning to South Carolina in 1806 to study with Henry William DeSaussure. He was traveling at this time with Floride Bonneau Colhoun, the widow of his cousin, John Ewing Colhoun, who died in 1802 while serving in the Senate. In 1811, Calhoun married their daughter, also named Floride (Irving H. Bartlett, John C. Calhoun: A Biography [New York, 1993], 20, 47–50, 53, 63–64, 120–21, 135, 138, 307, 374).

Index Entries