James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Spencer Roane, 22 August 1819

From Spencer Roane

Richmond, august 22d. 1819.

Dear Sir.

The enclosed Numbers, written by me, were published, a few weeks ago, in the Enquirer.1 They relate to a subject as cardinal, in my judgment, as that which involved our Independence. Mr. Ritchie2 had some extra Copies struck, & has furnished me with a few, to be distributed among my particular, & my distinguished friends. I presume to ask your acceptance of a Copy.

No man in our Country has done so much as you, in Establishing our present happy system of government, or can feel a greater interest in preserving it.

Be pleased to accept the renewed assurances of my high consideration, respect, and Esteem. I am, Dear Sir, yr obt. Servt.

Spencer Roane

RC (DLC). Docketed incorrectly by JM, “April 22. 1819.” A copy of this letter, dated 22 May 1819, is printed in the John P. Branch Historical Papers of Randolph-Macon College, 2 (June 1905): 137.

1The enclosed pamphlet has not been found, but Roane referred to four essays written by him under the signature “Hampden” and published in the Richmond Enquirer on 11, 15, 18, and 22 June 1819, attacking the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of McCulloch v. Maryland. For a brief description of the essays, see Mark R. Killenbeck, M’Culloch v. Maryland: Securing a Nation (Lawrence, Kansas, 2006), 132–40. The essays themselves are reprinted in Gerald Gunther, ed., John Marshall’s Defense of McCulloch v. Maryland (Stanford, Calif., 1969), 106–54.

2Thomas Ritchie (1778–1854) was the influential editor of the Richmond Enquirer, 1804–45, and a political force for the Jeffersonian Republicans and later the Democratic Party in Virginia. He supported JM and served briefly in the War of 1812. Ritchie edited the Washington, D.C., Union, the Polk administration newspaper, from 1845 to 1851.

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