James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Josiah Meigs, 3 October 1818

To Josiah Meigs

Montpellier Ocr. 3. 1818

Dear Sir

I can not convey the inclosed1 without expressing for myself, the thanks due for your tabular view of the comparative temperatures of different parts of our Country.2 Experiment and comparison are the two eyes of Philosophy, and the use you are making of them, promises a more than curious light on some of the laws & phenomena, of our climate. If your correspondents could be relied on for industry & accuracy, your table might be enriched by observations on other features of it. I must avail myself of the occasion also, of adding my hopes to those of Mrs. M. that you & Mrs. Meigs will when convenient, favor us with an opportunity of welcoming you at Montpellier, with the cordiality & esteem felt by both of us.

Draft (MHi: Charles Edward French Autograph Collection). Josiah Meigs (1757–1822), a graduate of Yale College, was a lawyer and ardent Jeffersonian Republican, who also held the professorship of mathematics and natural philosophy at Yale, 1794–1800, and the presidency of the University of Georgia, 1800–1810. JM appointed him surveyor-general of the United States in 1812 and commissioner of the General Land Office in 1814.

1The enclosure has not been identified, but it was probably a copy of JM’s 12 May 1818 Address Delivered before the Agricultural Society of Albemarle (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 44668).

2In 1817 Josiah Meigs floated a plan to members of Congress for a series of regular meteorological observations to be taken at a number of points in the United States to be collated by the commissioner of the General Land Office. Though unauthorized by Congress, Meigs carried out the plan informally by requesting that land office registrars voluntarily complete forms that he supplied them. Some of these reports were published from time to time in Niles’ Weekly Register (see, for example, 14 (25 Apr. 1818): 152) (William M. Meigs, Life of Josiah Meigs [Philadelphia, 1887], 81–84).

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