James Madison Papers

Nicholas P. Trist to James Madison, 5 June 1829

Washington, June 5. 29.

Dear Sir

I have just sent to the post-office, the copy of Mr Monroe’s paper, due to Genl. Breckenridge; those for yourself & Mr Randolph shall follow this week. I have had the pleasure of hearing of your recovery, as Mrs Cutts received letters from Montpellier; & was told yesterday evening, by Miss Dolly that the oranges had not yet made their appearance there. I had obtained a promise from the Captain of the Steamer to see to the business; and nevertheless, he allowed the wagon to go without the two little boxes—one of which was directed to Edgehill, where there is a comparatively mild case of the University fever, growing out of that from which James Randolph has miraculously resuscitated. I trust that at the approaching meeting of the board, you will keep in view the importance of husbanding your constitutional resources. Mrs Cutts, no doubt, keeps you informed of the on dits, which never reach my ears till they are almost out of date. The last which has come to my knowledge, is that developements have taken place in relation to the late Register (Mr Nourse) of a worse complexion even, than those under which Watkins’s character is sunk. What serious curses these men will prove to their country! by giving color to measures, which—whatever may be their proximate consequences (and so far as my observation extends, these are not without a considerable mixture of public good)—will eventually do more, to deprave the political character of this nation, than the undisturbed peculation of millions would have done. This would, at worst, have been confined to the larger insects; whom self-interest would have caused to provide webs for the more numerous class of smaller flies: and even if they had all been allowed to peculate with impunity, they constitute but a handful. But with regard to the character which the present course will inevitably impart to future elections; it is, to me, truly awful to consider its effects, on the whole people: that is, on the leading men of every class—for there is no class so humble as not to have federal offices within its horizon.

Mr Gallatin has just left here, to return in Novr. His indignation is literally boiling over. I have taken Some memoranda of conversations with him, in relation to Mr Jefferson’s real principles & practice concerning removals; and he has promised me a written communication of whatever his memory (which is wonderfully copious & precise) may furnish. All this, you may well conceive, is in a train of freedom which I should carefully avoid, except to such as yourself & Mr Gallatin.

It would not be amiss, if you were to drop a hint to Mrs C. to keep her indignation & contempt for the President, more to herself. As Madison is still in office, the worst possible has not yet happened; and it might be occasioned by this want of reserve. I do not know that it is habitual with her; but from the manner in which it has several times appeared, in conversation with Burwell Randolph (who is one of the thoughtless Jackson-men, & a very pure one) and myself; I have been led to apprehend it might be sufficiently so, to lead to still more serious consequences.

I sat down to write a line; and have gotten through nearly three pages: my usual sentiments of affection attend Mrs Madison & yourself.

N. P. Trist

Armstrong is engaged in his history. The other day Mr V. Buren put into my hands some copies of early correspondence of our public men, to be enveloped & directed to Genl. A.—Sans faire semblance de rien, I observed, in a careless way,—"for the history, I presume." "Yes," said Mr V. B. smiling. In our last conversation, Mr Gallatin told me the story of the anonymous attack on Chancellor Livingston which I had before heard & taken note of. I, however, took note of it, as coming from Mr G. who had it from Mr Dallas. The history, will, doubtless, possess some merits, which will render it the more important to historical truth, that the due Stigma should be imprinted in the deepest possible manner; on the character of the writer.

Did Mr Rush ever inform you, that, from the time of his coming into the cabinet, he kept a pretty copious record of the meetings? He told me of it, a few days before he left here.

RC (ViHi: Nicholas P Trist Album Book).

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