James Madison Papers

James Madison to Nicholas P. Trist, 23 September 1830

Montpr. Sept. 23. 1830

Dear Sir

Yours of the 21st. was recd. yesterday. On the question of recalling the communication made for the Natl. Intelligencer I submit the following statement.

In a letter, lately noticed from Mr. Jefferson dated Novr. 17. 1799, he "encloses me a copy of the draught of the Kentucky Resolves", (a press copy of his own manuscript). Not a word of explanation is mentioned. It was probably sent, & possibly at my request, in consequence of my being a member elect of the Virga. Legislature of -99, which would have to vindicate its contemporary Resolutions of -98. It is remarkable that the paper differs both from the Kentucky Resolns. of -98, and from those of -99. It agrees with the former in the main, and must have been the pattern of the Resolutions of that year; but contains passages, omitted in them, which employ the terms, nullification & nullifying: and it differs in the quantity of matter from the Resols. of -99; but agrees with them in a passage which employs that language, and would seem to have been the origin of it. I conjecture that the Correspondent in Kentucky, probably Col. George Nicholas, might think it better to leave out particular parts of the draft, than risk a misconstruction or misapplication of them; and that the paper might, notwithstanding, be within the reach & use of the Legislature of -99, and furnish the phraseology containing the term Nullification &c. Whether Mr. Jefferson had noted the difference between his draft, & the Resols. of -98, (he could not have seen those of -99, which passed Novr. 14) does not appear. The files of Mr. J-n, particularly his correspondence with Kentucky, must throw light on the whole subject. This aspect of the case seems to favour a recall of the communication, if practicable. Tho’ it be true that Mr. J. did not draft the Resols. of -99, a denial of it simply, might imply more than would be consistent with a knowledge of what is here stated.

I find by the last acct. from G. & S. thro’ their Collector Donaho, that there will be due $12. on the 19th. of next month, and I enclose $10. leaving the addition to be supplied by the little balance from Nicholls. But I am really ashamed to trouble you with such trifles.

I thank you for the Essay on "Distress for Rent &c". I have not yet read it, and can not say when I shall be able to do so, tho’ I anticipate an analytic and accurate view of the subject, instructive to better Lawyers than I am. With affect. esteem

James Madison

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

Index Entries