James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Noah Webster, [18 January] 1820

To Noah Webster

Montpellier (near Orange Court House Virga.)
[ca. 18 January 1820]

Dear Sir

In looking over my papers in order to purge, and finally arrange my files, my attention fell on your letter of Aug 20. 18041 in which I was requested to give such information as I could, as to the origin of the change in the Federal Government which took place in 1788. My answer does not appear;2 the copy of it having been lost, if one was retained as is probable. Will you be so obliging as to enable me to replace it, and to pardon the trouble I am imposing on you? accepting at the same time assurances of my esteem, and of my friendly respects.

James Madison

Where can the pamphlet “Sketches of American policy” be now obtained? also that of Mr. Pelatiah Webster referred to in your letter?3

RC (NN: Noah Webster Collection); draft (DLC). RC undated; conjectural date assigned on the basis of the cover marked “Orange CH 18 Jany 1820.” Addressed by JM to Webster at New Haven, Connecticut, with his note: “care of the post Master,” and franked. Redirected from New Haven to Webster at Boston, Massachusetts. Docketed by Webster, with his note: “Answered March 1. 1820. & the Copy sent. NW.” Minor differences between the copies have not been noted. Noah Webster (1758–1843) was a Yale-educated writer and lexicographer whose books on reading and spelling enjoyed immense popularity in the nineteenth century. Webster also wrote on politics, economics, and medical subjects, but he is best known for An American Dictionary of the English Language, which appeared in 1828.

1PJM-SS description begins Robert J. Brugger et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Secretary of State Series (8 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1986—). description ends , 7:621–22.

2JM to Webster, 12 Oct. 1804 (ibid., 8:159–62).

3For Noah Webster’s Sketches of American Policy and Pelatiah Webster’s A Dissertation on the Political Union and Constitution of the Thirteen United States, of North-America.…, see ibid., 7:621–22 and nn. 3 and 5.

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