James Madison Papers

James Madison to Charles Sigourney, 25 September 1828

Sepr. 25. 1828.

Dear Sir

Your letter of the 8th. inst. followed with some interval, by the communications it referred to, found me under a bilious attack from which I am not yet sufficiently restored to health for more than a brief answer.

I have not yet read the document in print, but am well prepared to say that I wish success to every <Institutionl> effort that may be judiciously planned for removing from our Country the calamity of its black population; more especially when to the improvement of its own condition is added a prospect of making it instrumental in conveying blessings the best of blessings to its kindred races. The greatest difficulty in bringg about the happy change in our own situation does not lie in the emancipation of the blacks, but in finding adequate & satisfactory outlets for them. This object well secured, & the former, I am persuaded, would keep pace with it. The description of pupils wanted for the African School, can I fear be little supplied from the Slave–holding States where an exclusion of the preparatory education, makes in a manner a part of the established evil.

I am not able to say what has become of the manuscript of Mr Jefferson, on the subject of the Anglosaxon. I presume it remains in the hands of Docr. Blatterman: and that the fewness of the students of that Language, notwithstanding its radical value retards at least its appearance in print.

With respect to the mode of public Examination in the University; it is not wholly by written questions. Oral examinations, particularly in the Classics are combined with them. The difficulty you suggest in the written mode is effectually got over by a Lithographic Press, at which <   > questions privately struck off & copies handed the pupils, at the moment of examination. The pupils being arrange immediately under the eye of all present, write their answers with out a chance of assistance from one another I inclose a few of the early Lithographic samples. The press is in better order & used with more exactness The Mathematical Problems, are exhibited as usual in Chalk on the Black Board, in a position to be seen by all who are to furnish written solutions.

Mrs. M. unites in assuring Mrs. S. & yourself that your visit to Montpr has not left recollections less agreeable on our part than those kindly expressed on yours; and in offering you both our best respects & cordial salutation

Draft (DLC).

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