James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Francis Corbin, [December 1813]

From Francis Corbin

[December 1813]

Dear Sir

I fear you will think me obtrusive, for, in truth, I feel that I am so. Yet still I rely on your goodness to excuse my solicitations, when you know the motives with which they are urged.

It is now ascertained that my unfortunate and much loved Nephew Major G. L. Corbin is rendered totally unfit for all future military service, by the patriotic wounds he received at Hampton, in his noble and gallant stand against the Enemy. But altho’ he is unfit for military he is fully competent to any civil Employment. The office of Collector at Norfolk, lately become vacant by the death of Mr. Larkin Smith, would be a reward for his services, not less honorable to him than popular in the Government.1 It will be impossible to make an appointment that would give more universal satisfaction from Richmond to Norfolk inclusive. It will comport exactly, My dear Sir, with yourself, whose maxim I know is—“Non probitatem laudare et algere, sed remunerare.”2

Many applications, no doubt, have been made, and will be made to you for this office—but it is impossible that the pretensions of any can rest on such strong public ground, as of him who has had a Leg broke, and an Arm shivered in the immediate defence of that very Port whose Collectorship I now humbly solicit for him. The appointment of this brave and amiable man, whilst it will redound to the Honor of the Government, in point of Justice and Policy, will be an encouragement to others, by showing that the virtuous Rule of your Administration, so often manifested on other occasions, is to apportion Rewards to services.

Whilst you read, in this application, my strong affection for my Nephew, I am sure you will not overlook my zealous attachment to yourself. An attachment which, if weighed with that affection, would, in this instance, perhaps, be found to sink the scale.

With every anxious wish for your health and happiness, and political fame, I am, Dear Sir, with the highest Respect and Esteem Your much obliged & Mo: Obt: St.

Francis Corbin

RC (DLC). Dated 11 July 1813 in the Index to the James Madison Papers; conjectural date assigned here based on evidence presented in n. 1, Thomas Newton Jr. to JM, 29 Dec. 1813, and the assumption that Corbin sent this recommendation after the second session of the Thirteenth Congress began on 6 Dec. 1813.

1Larkin Smith died on 28 Sept. 1813 in Fredericksburg, Virginia (Daily National Intelligencer, 9 Oct. 1813). On 7 Jan. 1814 JM nominated Charles K. Mallory as collector for the district of Norfolk and Portsmouth, and the Senate confirmed the appointment on 10 Jan. (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 2:449–50).

2Non probitatem laudare et algere, sed remunerare: Not to praise probity and then neglect it, but to reward it.

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