James Madison Papers

James Madison to Nicholas P. Trist, 24 December 1827

Montpellier Decr. 24. 1827

Dear Sir

Your letter containing the information from Mr. Coolidge on the subject of Mr. Walker, was duly recd.; and as the opening for the Chair of Nat: Phil: seemed to be not closed by the correspondence relating to Docr. Jones & Mr. Renwick, I forwarded the information to Mr. Johnson, from whom, at Richmond, it will emanate to other Visitors

It appears that a majority of the Visitors decline a concurrence in Mr. Harrisons proposal, considering the time too short for a profitable trip to Germany, and a sanction to the trip an improper controul on the choice of the Board, on the actual arrival of the vacancy.

I inclose several extracts from a letter of General Lafayette of pretty late date. Inferring, when Mr. Terrell was with me, that a publication of a part of Mr. Jefferson’s papers was not distant, and that arrangements were intended for simultaneous editions in France & in England, I intimated to Lafayette that his friendly aid would probably be resorted to on the occasion. You will of course make known what he says on the subject, to Mr. J. Randolph, who may however have anticipated what is suggested. I have no doubt that a translation of the work, would have an extensive sale in France, particularly, where Mr. Jefferson was so well known & so much admired; if not arrested by the Censorship.

I cannot turn to the letter of Mr. J. containing the severe remarks on the lying practice of the Printers, which appear to be so misunderstood abroad, & to be working a mischief, so contrary to his principles and his intentions. If you have a ready access to the letter, I should be glad to supply the General with an antidote, as far as a just comment on it, can be turned to that account. I was afraid at the time that the publication, would be perverted abroad, by the watchful & wicked enemies of free Govt; and its great bulwark a free press.

You know I presume that in the choice of a Chairman by the Faculty, sensations were experienced, which led to a recommendation, that the appointment be altered from annual to quarteryearly, as less an object of competition, & less an evil in an unlucky result. Affectionate respects

James Madison

RC (DLC: Nicholas P. Trist Papers); draft (DLC).

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