James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Charles Kelsall, October 1817

To Charles Kelsall

Montpellier Virga. Octr. 1817.


I duly recd. the Copy of the “Phantasm of an University” which you were so obliging as to send me;1 and I owe you many thanks for so learned and interesting a work.

The recommendation of a National University in the U. S. has not yet been successful. But a Central Institution is just now on foot in the State of Virga., which in its development will embrace an extensive circle of Sciences; and in the organization of which many errors will be avoided which you have so judiciously pointed out in the2 aged Institutions of your own Country. In the Architectural plan3 contemplated for this temple of Minerva, I have the satisfaction to find, that some of the features bear a miniature likeness to the magnificent Model4 which you have devised & delineated. Be pleased Sir to accept my esteem & respect

J. M.

Draft (DLC).

1Kelsall to JM, 15 Feb. 1817 (DLC), enclosed Kelsall’s Phantasm of an University: with Prolegomena (London, 1814). Charles Kelsall (1782–1857) was a British scholar, traveler, and amateur architect who argued for university reforms, such as a more modern focus in academic courses and college buildings that reflected architectural history.

2Here JM wrote then crossed out “ancient great examples.”

3JM placed an asterisk here and wrote at the bottom of the page: “*exemplifying all the orders of Architecture, including modern varieties.”

4JM placed a second asterisk here and wrote at the bottom of the page: “*at a Cost of five million pounds Sterling.”

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