To George M. Dallas
Washington Mar.: 6. 1817
I recd. some days ago your favor of the 26 ult:1 but this is the first moment I have found to acknowlege it.
I learn with great pleasure your intention to publish the life and writings of your father.2 The latter will be a rich addition to our political and literary treasures: and the former a portrait worthy of a conspicuous place in the biographical Gallery. I think too favorably of the public judgment and taste to doubt that the work will meet from it a grateful reception.
Under this impression, I am sure that an association of my name with the publication in the mode you intimate, must be very superfluous, (even if it had the value you attach to it[)]. But with the sentiments which I expressed for your father whilst living, I can not be disposed to withold such an evidence that they are equally felt for his memory.
Be so good as to present to your highly respected and amiable mother my sincere regards, and best wishes to which Mrs. Madison adds hers; and to accept for yourself, assurances of the same.
1. In his letter of 26 Feb. 1817 (DLC: Rives Collection, Madison Papers), George M. Dallas (1792–1864), lawyer, future senator and U.S. vice president, announced his intention to publish the life and writings of his father, Alexander James Dallas, and requested permission to use JM’s name “on the page of dedication” and “to make public the expression” of JM’s “approbation.” The volume was published posthumously in 1871.
2. Alexander James Dallas (1759–1817) was born in Jamaica and educated in Great Britain. Emigrating to the United States in 1783, he settled in Philadelphia where he practiced law and entered Republican politics. Appointed U.S. district attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by Thomas Jefferson, Dallas served from 1801 until 1814, when at a time of great financial crisis, JM appointed him secretary of the Treasury. His successful initiatives to reestablish the nation’s finances included the chartering of the Second Bank of the United States and passage of a tariff law. Dallas left office in October 1816.