James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Nehemiah Rice Knight, 5 November 1812 (Abstract)

§ From Nehemiah Rice Knight1

5 November 1812, Providence. Transmits a copy of the constitution of the Whig Society of Rhode Island,2 the author of which was David Howell, “whose exertions in the cause & principles delineated therein induced the Branch meeting of the Town of Providence to elect him their President.”

Howell and his “coadjutors” have not achieved so complete a success as they and their supporters anticipated, in spite of their “industry & zeal” in the Republican cause. Their failure is attributed to dissenting Republicans, who united themselves “with the Systematic opposers of the General Government” and “by their joint efforts & management succeeded … in ‘prostrating his Excellency Govr. Fenner’ and with him the whole Republican interest in this State.” “Yet a considerable band of faithful citizens true to their Country’s rights & interest remain undismayed & look to you as the polar Star in their political Horizon.”

Encloses “a copy of the catalogue of the Officers & Students of Brown University by which you will learn the office Mr. Howell holds therein.”3

RC (DNA: RG 59, ML). 2 pp.; signed by Knight as “Sec’y to the Genl. meeting of said Society.” A note on the cover reads: “Containing the Constitution of the Washington or Wig Society at Providence Rhode Island.”

1Nehemiah Rice Knight (1780–1854) was a member of the state House of Representatives in 1802, clerk of the circuit court for the District of Rhode Island, 1812–17, governor of Rhode Island, 1817–21, and member of the U.S. Senate, 1821–41 (Sobel and Raimo, Biographical Directory of the Governors, 4:1337).

2Knight probably enclosed a copy of the Constitution of the Society Called the Rhode-Island Disciples of Washington, or Whig Society, for Promoting Constitutional Information (n.p., 1812; DLC: Madison Collection, Rare Book Division).

3Knight probably enclosed a copy of the Catalogue of the Officers and Students of Brown University (Providence, 1810; listed, but not reproduced, in Shaw and Shoemaker description begins R. R. Shaw and R. H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801–1819 (22 vols.; New York, 1958–66). description ends 19656).

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