James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John H. Wood, 22 December 1820

From John H. Wood

Albemarle Decr. 22nd, 1820.

Worthy Sir,

I am induced from many considerations to address you in a manner which may [be] a surprise; but it is cheifly at the instance of my mother,1 with whom you have been well acquainted. The influencies to this address it is surperfluous to mention, the contents of this letter can the better tell, but a word to the wise.

I will deem it proper to premise, that the small pecuniary aid I am about to ask, would be most willingly afforded by my mother cou’d it be done without the Sale of a negro to which she is extremely averse, & indeed make it a matter of conscience. I wou’d give ample Security for the loan of a few hundred dollars, say from 2 to 500 for six or twelve months.

The 2 or 500$ wou’d be prefered inclosed by the Servant, or in one or two months hence at which time a bond with Sec[u]rity for whatever Sum your goodness wou’d name, wou’d be brought over ready filled up with some known character.

I might tell you of the great value of money in this county, & how the favor wou’d be appreciated by myself and most excellent parent, & that I shou’d regret exceedingly sacrificing of my negroes who are of the valuable kind (Watermen) but this wou’d be entirely unnecessary. My mother has been repeatedly disappointed in receiving no visit from Mrs. Madison (our relation) whenever she came to the county. She entertains a most sincere attackment [sic] for yourself, & the warmest affection for her who was once so kind to her youngest daughter during her visit to her cousin in 1801 in Washington,2 as also for her repeated kindnesses to Mrs. Stras3 & daughters in your Presidency. She, My Mother, desires her most affectionate regard to Mrs. Madison & high esteem for yourself in which permit me to unite. With due consideration I am Yrs. most respectfully

Jno. H. Wood4

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

1Wood’s mother, Lucy Henry Wood (d. ca. 1826), was the sister of Patrick Henry, and thus a distant relative of Dolley Madison (Woods, Albemarle County in Virginia, 347; Mattern and Shulman, Selected Letters of Dolley Payne Madison, 10).

2This was possibly Jane Wood.

3John Wood’s sister, Martha Wood Southall Stras (1768–1834), was the wife first, of Stephen Southall (1757–1799), and second, of George Frederick Stras (1746–1811), a French emigrant whom she married around 1801. The family lived thereafter in Georgetown, D.C. Martha Stras had three daughters by her first husband, two of whom, Lucy Henry Southall Cutts and Maria Wood Southall Van Zandt, married men of reputation in Washington society (Bear and Stanton, Jefferson’s Memorandum Books description begins James A. Bear Jr. and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826 (2 vols.; Princeton, 1997). description ends , 2:923 n. 20; James P. C. Southall, “Concerning the Southalls of Virginia,” VMHB description begins Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. description ends 45 [1937]: 286, 288).

4John H. Wood was the son of Valentine and Lucy Henry Wood (Woods, Albemarle County in Virginia, 347).

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