From William Pinkney
Washington—Thursday Night [12 March 1812]
Business requires my absence at Baltimore for a short Time—and as the Court is about to a[d]journ I intend to leave Washington Tomorrow. During my Absence I shall hold myself in Readiness to attend to any Official Business and to obey any Summons that may be transmitted to me. With respectful & affectionate Attachment Dear Sir—Your faithful & obedient Servant.
RC and enclosures (DLC). Date of RC supplied by the editors on the basis that 12 Mar. was the last Thursday of the 1812 session of the U.S. Supreme Court before its adjournment on 14 Mar. 1812 (see Johnson et al., Papers of John Marshall, 7:xxxvii). For enclosures, see nn. 2 and 3.
1. Henry Peter Brougham (1778–1868), a lawyer born and educated in Scotland, was one of the founders of the Edinburgh Review in 1802. A lifelong advocate of liberal and reform causes, particularly legal and parliamentary reform, he was first elected to the House of Commons in 1810 and was to serve as lord chancellor from 1830 to 1834. He was also the author of a large miscellany of publications on history, theology, political economy, and law (Thorne, History of Parliament: The House of Commons, 3:265–76).
2. Jeremy Bentham to JM, 30 Oct. 1811 (PJM-PS description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (4 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984–). description ends , 3:505–34).
3. Pinkney enclosed a 1 Nov. 1811 letter he had received from Brougham praising the life and work of Jeremy Bentham (8 pp.). Noting that Pinkney was undoubtedly familiar with Bentham’s published works, Brougham added that many were not aware “how large a portion of his labours have never yet seen the light.” He then conveyed to Pinkney Bentham’s proposal to draw up a comprehensive code of American law, “accompanying each title with its explanations & proofs.” Bentham sought no remuneration for this task and asked for “no encouragement further than being permitted to devote to this work of experiment, as many years as it may require.” For the details of the proposal, Brougham referred Pinkney to Bentham’s letter to JM, which was accompanied by a complete set of Bentham’s works, and asked Pinkney to bring them to the president’s attention. As to the merits of the proposal, Brougham declined to enter into a detailed discussion and merely remarked that “all Europe furnishes no man by many degrees so well qualified to execute it as Mr Bentham.” He did warn, however, about the difficulties a “cursory reader” might encounter with Bentham’s “somewhat peculiar” and original style, and he therefore suggested that “a more attentive consideration” would disclose that Bentham’s project had a greater importance than might appear at first sight. The letter concluded with Brougham’s wish “for the continuance of amity” between Great Britain and the U.S.