James Madison Papers

To James Madison from José Corrèa de Serra, 12 February 1819

From José Corrèa de Serra

Washington 12th. Febry. 1819.

Dear Sir

I received in due time your Letter of the 9th. of Last month,1 and with it the seeds of the Missouri orange,2 for which I offer you my hearty thanks. They are already gone to Europe, where the greatest care will be taken of their germination and growth. The four that remain with you, will I hope vegetate and thrive in a congenial climate.

Permit me to offer you another seed, which though not so scientifically curious, is nevertheless economically very important, and well worth the attention of a character Like you, in his philosophical retreat. I send you a Little parcel of Marons of Last crop,3 gathered from a young tree which thrives and begins to bear fruit, at Belmont near Philadelphia. As they are american born I am sure they will thrive in Virginia. You know that in a large po⟨rt⟩ion of Tuscany, almost all Liguria and Corsica they constitute the chief nourishment of the inhabitants, and that they are very easily propagated by engrafting their branches on the wild chesnut of which they are only a variety. I will be obliged to you if you send a few to Col. Randolph at Monticello, because I have no means of conveyance, which probably are very frequent with you.

A bad report is prevailing in Washington about Jefferson Randolph having been treacherously stabbed by his brother in Law,4 and very dangerously. I wish it may be untrue, and even in doubt I cannot forbear feeling for my venerable old friend and family. Accept Sir the assurance of my high esteem and respectful consideration

J. Corrèa de Serra

Turn the page

N. B. The Marons must be steeped in water at Least four and twenty hours before they are sown. The season of sowing them in your climate must be this month and the next.

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

1Letter not found.

2On 26 Mar. 1804 Meriwether Lewis sent Thomas Jefferson slips of the Osage orange (Maclura pomifera) from the Louisiana Territory. Jefferson, in turn, shared them with Bernard McMahon, a Philadelphia nurseryman, and soon the ornamental plant, which makes impenetrable, thorny hedges, came into common use (Susan H. Munger, Common to This Country: Botanical Discoveries of Lewis and Clark [New York, 2003], 19–21).

3Corrèa de Serra referred here to seeds of the sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa), a native of the eastern Mediterranean countries (Bayard Hora, ed., The Oxford Encyclopedia of Trees of the World [Oxford, 1981], 133).

4On 1 Feb. 1819, at Charlottesville, Virginia, Jefferson’s grandson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, was stabbed and badly wounded in an altercation with his brother-in-law, Charles Bankhead (Malone, Jefferson and His Time description begins Dumas Malone, Jefferson and His Time (6 vols.; Boston, 1948–81). description ends , 6:299–300).

Index Entries