James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Nicholas Van Zandt, [ca. 1 March 1820]

To Nicholas Van Zandt

[ca. 1 March 1820]

J Madison presents his respects to Mr Vanzant,1 with an acknowlegement of the receipt of the acct. of Mr. Clark.2 After a lapse of eight years from the original date, and a silence for three more, it could not but be unlooked for. It might fairly be presumed that the Newspaper for which the charge is made, was like sundry others, never subscribed for; being voluntarily sent to the Executive of the U. S. from motives other than pecuniary, and not countermanded from respect to the motives. Mr. V. will however oblige J. M. by asertaining whether the paper in question was subscribed for; whether any previous acct. was ever sent; or whether there is ground for inferring that the delays have been occasioned by circumstances sufficiently explaining and justifying them. If the result of the enquiries impose, in the judgement of Mr. V., the slightest obligation, the acct. will be satisfied by an immediate remittance. J. M. & Mrs. M beg Mr. & Mrs. V. to be assured of their sensibility to the kind expressions conveyed in Mr. V.s note,3 & of the continuance of their best wishes for the happiness of both.

FC (DLC). Undated; conjectural date assigned based on internal evidence and the fact of JM’s illness in late February 1820. In Dolley Madison’s hand; docketed on verso by JM.

1Nicholas Biddle Van Zandt (1780–1863), formerly of New York, was married to Martha (Maria) Wood Southall Van Zandt, a cousin of Dolley Madison, and served as John Beckley’s principal clerk, 1805–7, when Beckley was clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives and librarian of Congress. Defeated for the clerkship in the first session of the Tenth Congress, and passed over as librarian of Congress in 1807, Van Zandt became a clerk in the General Land Office in Washington, from which he wrote A Full Description of the Soil, Water, Timber, and Prairies of Each Lot, or Quarter Section of the Military Lands between the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers (Washington, 1818; Shaw and Shoemaker description begins R. R. Shaw and R. H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801–1819 (22 vols.; New York, 1958–66). description ends 46631). He also served as a justice of the peace in the District of Columbia (Smith et al., Papers of Andrew Jackson, 7:259 n.; Dolley Madison to Maria Van Zandt, 29 Aug. 1807, DMDE description begins The Dolley Madison Digital Edition, ed. Holly C. Shulman (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, Rotunda, 2004), http://rotunda.upress.virginia.edu/dmde/default.xqy. description ends ; Edmund Berkeley and Dorothy Smith Berkeley, John Beckley: Zealous Partisan in a Nation Divided [Philadelphia, 1973], 239, 264, 265 n. 28, 278 and n. 21; William Cabell Bruce, John Randolph of Roanoke, 1773–1833 [2 vols.; New York, 1922], 1:308; Charles S. Bundy, “A History of the Office of Justice of the Peace in the District of Columbia,” Records of the Columbia Historical Society 5 [1902]: 281).

2The reply to JM’s inquiries, through Van Zandt, by Darius Clark, the Bennington, Vermont, publisher and editor of the Green-Mountain Farmer (later, the Vermont Gazette) has not been found. JM described it, however, in his letter to James Monroe, 7 Apr. 1821 (Brigham, American Newspapers description begins Clarence S. Brigham, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690–1820 (2 vols.; Worcester, Mass., 1947). description ends , 2:1072, 1074–75).

3Letter not found.

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