James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Jacob De La Motta, 7 August 1820

From Jacob De La Motta

Savannah, Georgia August 7th. 1820

Dear Sir.

The services of those who have acted well for their Country, can never be requited; and in a government like ours, the retirement of the first magistrate and relinquishment of his exalted station; does not lessen the respect that the people should, at all times entertain for him. Under this impression, and believing that you have ever been, and still continue to be, liberal in Your views of a once oppressed people; and confident that you would cheerfully receive any information, appertaining to the history of the Jews in this country; have been induced to solicit your acceptance of a discourse, pronounced on the occasion of the Consecration of the New Synagogue recently erected in our city.1 I am aware it contains nothing worthy attention, except a few facts in relation to the Jews. And I am imboldened to this act, not only from respect, but for the liberality you possess. Allow me the honor of considering myself very Respectfully Your Obt. Hume. Servt.

Jacob De La Motta2

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

1Jacob De La Motta, Discourse Delivered at the Consecration of the Synagogue of the Hebrew Congregation, Mikva Israel: In the City of Savannah, Georgia, on Friday, the 10th of Ab, 5580, Corresponding with the 21st of July, 1820 (Savannah, Ga., 1820; Shoemaker 986).

2Jacob De La Motta (1789–1845) was born in Savannah, Georgia, but spent most of his life in Charleston, South Carolina. He received his medical education in Philadelphia and held a commission as surgeon in the U.S. Army during the War of 1812. He was active in local politics and was a contributor to the scientific and literary discourse of his time. Among the many community and charitable organizations of which he was a member and officer, he was secretary of the Medical Society of South Carolina, 1825–35 (Thomas J. Tobias, “The Many-Sided Dr. De La Motta,” American Jewish Historical Quarterly 52 [1963]: 200–219).

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