James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Charles Pitt Howard, 11 September 1805

To Charles Pitt Howard

Philad. Sepr. 11. 1805.

Dear Sir

I was presented a few days ago with a sample of Wheat from Buenos Ayres, and of Barley from Old Spain. Being deprived of the opportunity of putting them into the ground myself, I know not that I can dispose of them better than into your hands.1 I have no particular reason to suppose that either has any peculiar merit; but it may be the case; or they may improve by a change of climate. Such experiments are at least curious, and multiply the chances of discovery.

You see that peace has at length been made with Tripoli, & our Captive Citizens delivered from the House of bondage. The particular terms are not yet officially known, but are every moment expected.

The yellow fever makes considerable havoc in Southw⟨ark,⟩; and creeps about in different parts of the City. A good many families have withdrawn from the Scene. I called on your father lately & found him very well.2 I believe he is of that number. From a wish to keep my wife within a convenient reach of Dr. Physic, we have stood our ground thus long; but propose to remove this afternoon to Grays, where I have engaged quarters, a greater distance from the City would have been preferred; but the attendance of the Docr. even there is as much as can be reasonably expected.

I cannot yet say when I shall have the plea sure of seeing my friends in Orange. I anxiously wish it, and shall not lose a moment after the recovery of my wife will permit. She is considerably advanced towards it; but I fear it will be 8 or 10 days at least before she will be discharged by the Doctor. I wish it may not be longer. She offers her affectionate respects to Mrs. Howard, to which be so good as to add mine; & to accept for yourself assurances of the sincere esteem & regard with which I am Dr Sr Yrs.

James Madison

RC (ViHi).

1Philadelphia-born Charles Pitt Howard (1765–1856) moved to Orange County, Virginia, around 1792 and served as sheriff, justice, and magistrate at different periods. He was married to JM’s relative Jane Taylor Howard, and owned over five-hundred acres in the county. In 1811 he purchased land located just east of Montpelier known as “Howard Place.” The antebellum plantation manor house “Mayhurst” now stands on the property (Ralph Dornfeld Owen, “Howard, An Early Philadelphia Family,” in Genealogies of Pennsylvania Families: From the Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine [3 vols.; Baltimore, 1982], 2:63–65; Richmond Enquirer, 6 Jan. 1829; Ann L. Miller, Historic Structure Report: Montpelier, Orange County, Virginia; Phase II; Documentary Evidence Regarding the Montpelier House, 1723–1983 [Orange, Va., 1990], 73; DI: National Park Service, HABS No. VA-1082 [Rebecca Trumbull, “Historic American Buildings Survey: Howard Place (Mayhurst),” (unpublished manuscript, 1981), 1]).

2John Howard (1727–1809) ran a joinery and furniture business in Philadelphia and owned many buildings and lots in the city. Several members of the Howard family were Quakers, and John apparently had lived in Orange County with Charles Pitt Howard for some years (Owen, “Howard, An Early Philadelphia Family,” Genealogies of Pennsylvania Families: From the Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, 2:55–60).

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