James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Caspar Wistar, Jr., 13 April 1811

From Caspar Wistar, Jr.

Philada. Apl. 13. 1811

Dear Sir

It is with great reluctance that I intrude upon your valuable time, but the occasion seems to demand it of me. The Patriotism of Mr. B. McClenachan during the revolution is I believe well known to you, & you are probably as well acquainted with his history since that period. He wishes me to state to you my opinion respecting his health, & capability of attention to the office which he solicits of you.1 It is with great pleasure I say that the powers of his mind appear to me perfectly unimpaired by age, & his health is equal to the undertaking. He is some times afflicted with the Gout but is free from all other complaints & is very temperate.

The Ladies of this family join me in offering their best respects to Mrs. Maddison, who is I believe the only person connected with any of the Governments in the United States that enjoys the perfect approbation of all parties. With sincere respect I beg leave to subscribe Your friend & servant

Caspar Wistar Jr.

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

1Blair McClenachan (d. 1812), an Irish-born Philadelphia merchant and businessman, was an ardent Republican, prominent in the opposition to the Jay treaty, who served one term in the Fifth Congress (1797–99). After some business failures, he went to debtors’ prison, and Alexander James Dallas recommended him to Gallatin for office as a Revolutionary “worthy” who, through no real fault of his own, was “old, infirm, and necessitous.” “Misfortune and Poverty,” Dallas added, had not “deprived him of his popularity,” and he retained “the simplicity of a child, and the benevolence of an angel.” JM gave him an interim appointment as commissioner of loans for Pennsylvania (Merrill Jensen and Robert A. Becker, eds., The Documentary History of the First Federal Elections, 1788–1790 [4 vols. to date; Madison, Wisc., 1976—], 1:420–21; Alexander James Dallas to Gallatin, 24 Apr. 1811, Papers of Gallatin [microfilm ed.], reel 23; Senate Exec. Proceedings description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America (3 vols.; Washington, 1828). description ends , 2:187).

Index Entries