James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John G. Jackson, 9 January 1810

From John G. Jackson

Jany. 9th. 1810

Dr. Sir

I have never acquired the legal character of Guardian to my Child—Guardians ad litem1 can only be appointed by the Courts issuing process against infants; & as there has been no appointment there would be an impropriety in my acknowledging service of the Spa.,2 which I should not hesitate to do if the act would be legal. Your Mo Obt Servt

J G Jackson

There can be no objection to acknowledging the service by the defendants of full age.

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

1A guardian ad litam is a “special guardian appointed by the court to prosecute or defend, in behalf of an infant or incompetent, a suit to which he is a party” (Black’s Law Dictionary [5th ed.], p. 635).

2JM had evidently forwarded to Jackson the subpoena from Parke Street relating to the breach-of-promise suit involving Jackson’s illegitimate son, John Jay Jackson, born to Frances Emelia Triplett in February 1800. The suit had been provoked by Jackson’s marriage to Mary Payne, Dolley Madison’s sister, sometime before January 1801. After Mary Payne Jackson’s death in 1808, Jackson took responsibility for his son and secured his appointment to the U.S. Military Academy in 1815 (Street to JM, 5 Jan. 1810; Brown, Voice of the New West, pp. 9, 11–12).

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