James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Horatio Gates Spafford, 16 April 1822

To Horatio Gates Spafford

Montpellier April 16. 1822

Dear Sir

I have but just recd. your letter of March 15th. I wish you success in your new Edition of the Geographical Dictionary for N. York; as I do in the other literary tasks you have in hand, and in petto.1

I am not enough acquainted with our Booksellers and Printers to judge how far a Gazetteer for this State on the plan & terms you suggest would be espoused by them. A survey of the State is now on foot by a gentleman of Science;2 but I know not the progress made, nor the details to which his attention extends. Mr. Ritchie Editor of the Enquirer at Richmond, would probably be the best source you could consult on the whole subject.3

Several years ago I recd. a letter from you whilst in the Western parts of Pena. which I answered.4 As the answer may never have reached you, I take this occasion to mention that one was sent, & that your request was complied with.

You then alluded to an indigenous species or variety of the Potato not before known. What was the result of the experiments made of it? With friendly respects

James Madison

RC (NjP); draft (DLC). Minor differences between the copies have not been noted.

1“In petto”: in secret.

2The “gentleman of science” was John Wood (d. 1822), a Scottish-born instructor at Petersburg Academy, who had been chosen to carry out an act of the Virginia General Assembly, 27 Feb. 1816, requiring “an accurate chart of each county and a general map of the Territory of this Commonwealth.” After Wood’s death, his work was completed by Herman Böyë, a Richmond engineer; the map of Virginia was published in 1826 (Walter W. Ristow, “Maps,” Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress 23 [1966]: 238–41).

3Following this sentence, JM added in the draft “[see letter to Mr. Ritchie].”

4Spafford to JM, 9 Aug. 1818, PJM-RS description begins David B. Mattern et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Retirement Series (2 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 2009–). description ends 1:343–44. JM’s reply to this letter has not been found.

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