James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Harris Crawford, 25 May 1812

From William Harris Crawford

Senate Chamber 25th May 1812


I recd. the enclosed letter a few days since. You know the writer, & can properly appreciate the value of the information it contains.1 It was evidently written with an expectation that its contents should be communicated to you. On this account, and on this alone, I have submitted it your consideration.

I have been informed that the professorships of natural & experimental philosophy, & of Mathematics have not yet been filled. Mr Meigs2 discharged the duties of both these professorships, during the whole time he presided over the University of Georgia, & I believe also during the time he was in Yale College. He is eminently qualified for the discharge of the duties of both of those professorships. As he is unemployed at present, except in the cultivation of the soil, I presume he would accept of the first of those professorships if it should be conferred upon him. I have also understood that the present Surveyor genl. of the U. S. has applied for that office. If that should be the case, I am confident Mr Meigs would prefer the office which the appointment of Mr Mansfield would render vacant.3 It is the office which he has mentioned to me, as the one which would be most acceptable to him, if it should become vacant. I am sir respectfully your most obt. humbe Servt.

Wm H Crawford

RC and enclosure (DLC). RC docketed by JM. For enclosure (1 p.), see n. 1.

1Crawford enclosed a 16 May letter he had received from the New York Federalist representative Barent Gardenier, strongly recommending Ogden Edwards, a son of Pierpont Edwards, for a district judgeship. Edwards and Gardenier were in partnership, and the latter wrote of the former that he was, “strange as it may seem, a good Republican and what we call a Madisonian, too.” Gardenier mentioned that there were other contenders for the position, and he suggested that Crawford consult with the district attorney, Nathan Sanford, who he predicted would confirm the contents of his letter.

2Josiah Meigs (1757–1822), after a controversial career in New Haven, Connecticut, as a newspaper editor and teacher at Yale College, had settled in Georgia in 1800 in order to become the first president of the University of Georgia. As had been the case in Connecticut, his penchant for speaking out and strongly criticizing the local authorities got him into difficulties. He was asked to resign as president in 1810 and was dismissed the next year (Coleman and Gurr, Dictionary of Georgia Biography, 2:702–4).

3JM later agreed to the arrangement suggested by Crawford. He appointed Jared Mansfield as professor of experimental and natural philosophy at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on 7 Oct. 1812 and then named Josiah Meigs to the vacant position of surveyor general of the U.S. on 13 Nov. 1812 (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 , 2:301, 303).

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