James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Jedidiah Morse, 16 February 1822

From Jedidiah Morse

Washington City Feb. 16th. 1822.


I have the honor, in fulfilment of my official duty, to transmit to you a copy of the Constitution of a Society,1 just established, which recognizes the general System of measures, or rather the spirit of them, which were pursued during your Administration in reference to Indians. From this consideration, I am permitted to indulge a confident hope, sir, that this Constitution, & the office under it to which you are appointed by the Society,2 will meet your approbation and acceptance. With high consideration & respect, I have the honor, to be, sir, your most obdt. Servt

Jedh. Morse3 Cor. Secy

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

1American Society for Promoting the Civilization and General Improvement of the Indian Tribes within the United States (Washington, 1822; Shoemaker 7806).

2“The successive Presidents of the United States, who shall have retired from office, shall be, ex-officio, Patrons of this Society. …” (The First Annual Report of the American Society for Promoting the Civilization and General Improvement of the Indian Tribes in the United States … [New Haven, Conn., 1824], 4).

3Jedidiah Morse (1761–1826), a 1783 graduate of Yale College, was minister of the First Congregational Church of Charlestown, Massachusetts, 1789–1819, and a powerful voice of Calvinist orthodoxy against the rising tide of Unitarianism. He was an outspoken Federalist in politics. Morse is best known for his works of geography, beginning with Geography Made Easy (1784) to the larger work, The American Geography (1789), which passed through many editions and later was published as The American Universal Geography (1793). After he resigned the pulpit in 1819, he took up the cause of Indian improvement, though his plans for a proposed organization (see n. 1 above) were unsuccessful (Joseph W. Phillips, Jedidiah Morse and New England Congregationalism [New Brunswick, N.J., 1983], 13, 17, 18, 25, 26, 27, 71, 129–30, 157, 176, 198–99, 212–13, 219).

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