James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Baldwin Taliaferro, 26 March 1819

From Baldwin Taliaferro

Wood Park, 26th. Mar. 1819.

Dear Sir

Inclosed is a letter from my Son,1 who is now in Phila. from the purport of which you will see that he wished me to ask the favor of you to say what your impressions were with regard to his family respectibility &c. generally, his letter explai[n]ing for what purpose its intended. The interest which a Parent feels for the prosperity of a Child must be my apolegy for addressing you on a Subject of this Kind, his quallifications, and general deportment is Known to the Professors of the University in Phila. having studi[e]d with Docr. Dorsey2 & Chapman3 for the last two years, therefore his standing here as to his family is all that is required, should you feel no difficulty in complying with the request. I shall be glad to receive the necessary Letter or Certificate by my Servant the Bearer of this. Docr. Phiszick4 Hare & Chapman are the only Names of the Professors I recollect. I am Dear Sir with considerations of high Respect Yr. Mt. O St.

Baldwin Taliaferro5

RC (DLC). Addressed by Taliaferro to JM at Montpelier and marked per. Billy.” Cover docketed by JM. Enclosure not found, but see n. 1.

1Alexander Spotswood Taliaferro (1798–1855), a graduate of the College of New Jersey, was pursuing medical studies in Philadelphia at this time. He returned to Virginia to practice medicine and married JM’s niece, Catherine (Kitty) Bell Madison, the daughter of Francis Madison, in 1835. The Taliaferros lived at Prospect Hill in Madison County (Thomas Chapman, “Descendants of Ambrose Madison, the Grandfather of President James Madison, Jr.,” [Montpelier Foundation, Orange, Va., 2006], 21, 25–26).

2John Syng Dorsey (1783–1818), nephew of Philip Syng Physick, was a physician and professor at the medical school of the University of Pennsylvania (Lyman H. Butterfield, ed., Letters of Benjamin Rush [2 vols.; Princeton, 1951], 2:884 n. 1).

3Nathaniel Chapman (1780–1853) was a Virginia-born Philadelphia physician who held professorial chairs in the University of Pennsylvania medical school, 1810–50, and was the first president of the American Medical Association, 1847–48 (ibid., 2:838 n. 1).

4Philip Syng Physick (1768–1837) was a prominent Philadelphia physician and professor of surgery at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1805 he treated Dolley Payne Madison for an ulcerated knee (Mattern and Shulman, Selected Letters of Dolley Payne Madison, 47, 410).

5Baldwin Taliaferro (ca. 1777–1840), the son of Lawrence Taliaferro of Rose Hill, was a planter who lived at Wood Park, the home he built about 1799, in Orange County, Virginia. He died in Williamson County, Tennessee (Jonathan Kennon Thompson Smith, comp., Death Notices and Other Gleanings from the Western Weekly Review, Franklin Tennessee, 1831–1840 [Jackson, Tenn., 2004], 65; Miller, Antebellum Orange, 125).

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