James Madison Papers

From James Madison to François Barbé-Marbois, [ca. 17 February 1820]

To François Barbé-Marbois

[ca. 17 February 1820]

Dr. Sir

I have duly recd. the volume relating to the Equestrian State [sic] of Henry 4th. with one of the medals to which it gave rise for both which I offer you my thanks.

The volume is not only a valuable present to Artists, but is enriched with articles of information, which make it interesting to the curious who are not artists. I observe that it justly records your essential agency in this national monument; and, have not overlooked the fine morsel of appropriate sentiment which it was your lot to address to the reigning Prince whose name was so closely associated by the occasion, with that of his illustrious ancestor.

France is happy in having had a King worthy of the national devotion which the erection of this Statue proclaims to the memory of Henry 4. He may be regarded as a model not only to his hereditary successors under a limited monarchy, but as one also, to the other departments of the Govt. His personal virtues seem to have furnished that check & balance to his royal prerogative, which are provided by partitions of power among the Constitutional orders of the States.

I hope Sir you continue to enjoy the good health, of which you make so good a use, & that you will accept this renewed assurance of my distinguished esteem.

Draft (DLC). Undated. At the head of draft, JM wrote: “To Mr. Marbois, but not sent.” Conjectural date assigned based on JM to William Harris Crawford, post–17 Feb. 1820, and nn. 2–3. François Barbé-Marbois (1745–1837) had been variously secretary of the French legation, consul, and chargé d’affaires in the United States from 1779 to 1785. As director general of the public treasury under Napoleon, Marbois negotiated the Louisiana Purchase treaty with James Monroe and Robert R. Livingston, and he wrote a history of that event that was published in Paris in 1829. Marbois was active in the chamber of peers in the French legislature, 1819–28, and served as first president of the Cours de Comptes, 1807–34. He was also instrumental in restoring the equestrian statue of Henri IV in Paris in 1818 (PJM-SS description begins Robert J. Brugger et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Secretary of State Series (9 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1986–). description ends 2:284 n. 3; E. Wilson Lyon, The Man Who Sold Louisiana: The Career of François Barbé-Marbois [1942; reprint, Norman, Okla., 1974], 118–23, 169, 171–72, 176–79).

Index Entries