James Madison Papers

Nicholas P. Trist to James Madison, 13 June 1829

Washington, June 13. 29.

Dear Sir,

Dr Jones has lost his situation in the Patent office, and now holds a clerkship in this Dept. I accidentally learnt yesterday that he had told one of his acquaintance that this was only temporarily, for "he had once been offered professorships in the University of Virginia & some other institution, and would again turn his attention that way." On hearing this, I determined to lose no time in suggesting to the Board, through you, the propriety, if possible, of making a personal acquaintance precede his appointment. I was convinced that he was perhaps the very best qualified man in the U. S. for the situation lately held by him; and therefore took every opportunity that offered, to express this opinion & the grounds on which it rested, to the Secretary of State. I even avoided being introduced to him, that I might say my opinion was a purely abstract one. But, entertaining this opinion of him, for the superintendency of the Patent office; I own it would not be without considerable uneasiness, that I should hear of his appointment to a professorship in our Institution. I have seen him pretty frequently—and had some other opportunities of obtaining an insight into his character. I doubt whether I do him any injustice in considering him a great gossip, and a weak sort of a man. Mr Vail of this Dept. (from whom I got the above information) told me that Dr J. does not write good [ ]—meaning orthographically.

It was altogether superfluous to give yourself the trouble of writing on the subject of the oranges—I only regret they did not reach you while they were sound & your situation such as to make their acid most agree[able.] Mrs Cutts & family, whom I saw last evening, are well. I have proposed to her to let me be her escort as far as Montpellier; but she does not expect to be able to get off before July—whereas I hope to go about the 25th inst.

Present me to Mrs Madison, & accept my wishes for your future exemption from all such visitants as that you are now getting rid of. Haste must again apologise for this scrawl.

N. P. Trist

RC (ViHi: Nicholas P. Trist Album Book). Docketed by JM.

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