James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Jonathan Russell, 18 October 1819

From Jonathan Russell

Mendon, County of Worcester &
State of Massachusetts
Octr. 18. 1819.

Dear Sir

My particular friend, Samuel Eddy Esquire,1 who has recently been chosen a representative from Rhode Island to Congress, has requested of me a letter of recommendation to you for Mr. Bernon Helme2 of that state. He informs me that this young gentleman graduated at Brown University the present year & that Doctor Messer,3 the President of that University, declares “that he possesses an amiable disposition, correct morals and a good acquaintance with the several branches of a liberal education.” To these testimonies in favour of Mr. Helme I can add from my own knowledge that he belongs to one of the most respectable families in Rhode Island.

I am informed that he visits Virginia with the intention of residing there & of making his talents & acquirements useful to himself & others. In the prosecution of an undertaking so meritorious I dare to ask for him all the countenance and support which you may find it convenient to afford him & which you may believe him to deserve.

I the more willingly address to you this letter as it affords me an opportunity, in my retirement, of assuring you of the lively & grateful remembrance, which I cherish, of your former confidence & good opinion—& of asking you to present to Mrs. Madison my most unfeigned regards. I remain as ever Dear Sir Your sincere & faithful friend and Servant

Jona Russell

RC (DLC); FC (RPB). RC docketed by JM.

1Samuel Eddy (1769–1839) was a graduate of the College of Rhode Island and practiced law before becoming clerk of the Rhode Island Supreme Court, 1790–93, and then secretary of state, 1798–1819. He represented Rhode Island in the U.S. House of Representatives, 1819–25, and served as associate justice of the state Supreme Court, 1826–27, and as chief justice, 1827–35.

2University records show that Nathaniel Helme (1797–1822) graduated from Brown University in 1819, after which he spent the next year in Virginia employed as a tutor (Historical Catalogue of Brown University, 1764–1904 [Providence, R.I., 1905], 126).

3Asa Messer (1769–1836) was president of the College of Rhode Island, 1802–26, and spearheaded its growth and transformation in 1804 into Brown University.

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