James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Augustus B. Woodward, 27 May 1809

From Augustus B. Woodward

New-York, may 27. 1809.

During my stay here the subject of opening an intercourse between our government and that of China has been pressed on my attention. It is certainly a matter perfectly congenial with my sentiments, and wishes; and I have consented to lay before the President of the United States a memorial on that Subject.1

In any mission our government might deem advisable to that country I would consider Mr. Aaron H. Palmer2 of this city as one of the few Americans eminently qualified to be useful as a secretary.

I will have the honor to transmit to the President in a few days a plan of intercourse between the two governments; and in the mean time, am, with great respect, his obedient servant,

A. B. Woodward.3

RC (DLC); draft (MiD-B).

1In the draft, the following sentence is deleted: “I will be obliged to you Sir to apprize him of it and permit me to avail myself of this early opportunity to recommend to the attention of the President Mr. Aaron Haight Palmer, of this city, as one of the few Americans eminently qualified to be useful as a secretary in any intercourse the government may deem advisable with that empire.”

2Aaron H. Palmer, a New York Quaker merchant, had applied to JM for a government post and sent a copy of his “An Analytical Development of the 214 elementary characters of the Chinese language” (Palmer to JM, Feb. 1809 and 9 May 1809 [DLC]). He visited JM at Montpelier in September (JM to Jefferson, 11 Sept. 1809).

3Woodward was a judge of the territory of Michigan, 1805–24 (Charles Moore, “Augustus Brevoort Woodward—A Citizen of Two Cities,” Records of the Columbia Historical Society, 4 [1901]: 117–18, 127).

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