James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Elizabeth Sergeant, 22 March 1813

From Elizabeth Sergeant

Philada. March 22d 1813


I must beg your indulgence for troubling you at a time, when you are no doubt, almost overwhelmed with public business and cares. But some respectable persons here, imagine my applying to you, in behalf of a Mrs. & Mr. Henry Gardiner, who come under the alien law, will procure his return, at an earlier period than could otherwise be accomplished.1 I am not personally acquainted with the gentleman, but I find all those who are, speak of him in the highest terms. I enclose a letter from Mr John Vaughan, wherein he states his particular case.2

The Mr. Taylor3 mentioned by Mr. Vaughan, is one of the principal members of the Unitarian church in this City, and a man (though an Englishman) of irreproachable character, he says Mr Gardiner is a man of the greatest moderation, very much attached to America, who would honour the country of his adoption.

I shall encroach on your time no longer, than to say if it is consistant with your arrangements, that Mr G should have your permission to return, and if my requesting it, should have the least influence with you, I shall feel myself greatly flattered, and much gratified by having had it in my power, to oblige two gentlemen, so benevolent and generally useful, as Mr Taylor and Mr Vaughan.

I offer you my warmest congratulations on your reelection to the Presidency, and most sincerely do I hope, your administration may triumph over all our enemies, foreign and domestic.

Present my most respectful compliments to Mrs Madison. Please to excuse the liberty I have taken in writing to you, and accept of my best wishes, for your Health and Happiness.

Elizabth. Sergeant.4

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM. Enclosure not found.

1Henry Gardiner owned a “Manufactory of Quercitron Bark” in Philadelphia and lived at 351 Market Street in that city. He had arrived in the United States in December 1809 and applied for citizenship on 3 July 1812. Gardiner wrote James Monroe from Lancaster on 26 Mar. 1813 and 1 Mar. 1814 asking permission to return to Philadelphia, and his second request was successful (Gardiner to Monroe, 20 Jan. 1815 [DNA: RG 59, War of 1812 Papers, Correspondence regarding Passports]; Monroe to John Mason, 29 Apr. 1814 [DNA: RG 59, War of 1812 Papers, Letters Received regarding Enemy Aliens]; DNA: RG 59, War of 1812 Papers, U.S. Marshals’ Returns of Enemy Aliens and Prisoners of War, Part I; Daniel Preston, A Comprehensive Catalogue of the Correspondence and Papers of James Monroe [2 vols.; Westport, Conn., 2001], 1:332, 385).

2John Vaughan (1756–1841) was born in England and came to the United States in 1782. He established himself as a wine merchant in Philadelphia and became director of the Insurance Company of North America. Known as a philanthropist, he also served as librarian of the American Philosophical Society from 1803 until his death (Roy Goodman and Pierre Swiggers, “John Vaughan [1756–1841] and the Linguistic Collection in the Library of the American Philosophical Society,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 138 [1994]: 251–55). Vaughan was among the fourteen signers of a 27 Feb. 1813 statement addressed to Monroe, certifying that Gardiner would “conduct himself in a manner fully satisfactory to the government” (DNA: RG 45, Subject File RN, box 599, Correspondence Relating to Aliens, Enemy and Neutral).

3Sergeant referred to James Taylor, one of the founders of the First Society of Unitarian Christians in Philadelphia (Earl Morse Wilbur, A History of Unitarianism [2 vols.; Boston, 1945], 2:397). In a note of 27 Mar. 1813, appended to the statement mentioned in n. 2, Taylor and Vaughan offered to guarantee Gardiner’s good behavior if he were allowed to return to Philadelphia (DNA: RG 45, Subject File RN, box 599, Correspondence Relating to Aliens, Enemy and Neutral).

4Elizabeth Sergeant was the daughter of former Pennsylvania state treasurer David Rittenhouse and the widow of Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant, a prominent Philadelphia lawyer and past attorney general of Pennsylvania, who died in the 1793 Philadelphia yellow fever epidemic (William Barton, Memoirs of the Life of David Rittenhouse … [Philadelphia, 1813], 264–65, 449–50). For the crisis that brought her to JM’s attention early in his first administration, see PJM-PS description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (6 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984–). description ends , 1:102–5, 122.

Index Entries