James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Mason Locke Weems, 1 January 1814

From Mason Locke Weems

Jany. 1. 1814

Very Honord Sir

I once had the honor to hear your Excellency express much surprise that “Leonidas” had never been reprinted in this country. If your Excellency coud favor me with a manuscript expression of this sentiment, as a motto to a Subscription paper, I wd instantly set about reprinting that Divine poem which bids so fair to revive among us the Old Spartan Love of Liberty & Country.1 I feel happy in the thought that in asking this favor I am throwing no obstacle in the way of your Ruling Passion—the Public good.

If your Excellency coud drop me a line, at Balto. by the 6 or 7th Inst. you wd add another to the many favors already conferrd on me. Wishing your Excellency a happy new year & that you may see thirty more at least and each happier than the past, I beg leave to subscribe myself your Excellency’s Sincere Friend.

M. L. Weems

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

1Richard Glover’s epic poem Leonidas, first published in 1737, was reprinted in Baltimore from the sixth London edition in March 1814. The poem recounts the story of the Spartan king Leonidas’s attempt to defend Greece against a Persian invasion at the Battle of Thermopylae, in which he and all his compatriots were killed (ii, Preface i-vi, 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 31590; Baltimore Patriot & Evening Advertiser, 1 Mar. 1814).

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