James Madison Papers

J. Addison Alexander and Others to James Madison, 3 January 1831

Nassau Hall, Princeton N J 3 January. 1831


We beg leave to address you, in behalf of an institution which, though, now regarded, as an ancient one by thousands is proud to call, you Father. We cherish the belief that the threescore years, which have elapsed, since you left your Alma Mater, eventful as they have been to your country, and yourself have not caused you to forget, that you were once a Student, and are still a Whig. It is the American Whig Society of Nassau Hall, which, now, through us, assures you of its filial respect, and congratulate you on the addition, of another New Year, to the many, which the Providence of God, has permitted you to number. The juvenile association, which you assisted, in the days of your noviciate, to form, has now been flourishing, for more than half a century; and you are not perhaps aware, how many of the intellectual lights, whose brightness or extinction you have witnessed were kindled at this altar of your own erecting. To you, Sir among others, our Society owes its original existence, and to you, of course, it so far owes, its subsequent, prosperity and usefulness But indebted as we are, we still have more to ask. It is indeed for the purpose of preferring a request, that we now obtrude ourselves, upon your notice,—a request, to which we venture, to anticipate a favorable answer. The American Whig and Cliosophic Societies, which from their very constitution, have in general no direct communion, are accustomed, upon one day in the year, (the day before our annual commencement,) to assemble in joint meeting, to which the public are admitted, and at which an address, is delivered, by a graduate, selected by the two societies alternately. The right of appointment, rests this year with us, and we are happy to exercise, it by respectfully requesting, our founder our father, and our most illustrious member, to discharge this duty for us in September next. We are far from wishing to impose a tax upon your time or comfort. To your convenience we are willing that our pleasure and our profit, should be sacrificed. In the hope, however, that the two may not be incompatible permit us most respectfully, to urge your acceptance, of this humble office. Reasons present themselves, in multitudes, but we shall not presume to hint, at more than one or two. We need not say that the American Whig Society, would rejoice to welcome, you and that a new impulse, would be given, to its movements by your very presence and paternal counsels. But this is not all. The College of New Jersey, after some years of partial decline, has now a prospect of renewed prosperity. Its means of instruction are enlarged, and the advantages, which it affords, considerably multiplied. Still however it depends, upon the public for support. Legislative patronage, it never has received, and has no reason to expect. The favour of the public, though it can only be secured, by ability and faithfulness, may be attracted by more indirect and incidental means. Nassau Hall has no name on the list of her Alumni, above that of Madison. Your presence, Sir at our, commencement, Even though it should afford, no pleasure to yourself, might be a lasting benefit to us. But we cannot believe, that it would afford no pleasure to yourself. We cannot believe that you could visit, without pleasurable feelings, the sequestered scenes of your Early Education, the humble though honoured graves, of Davies and of Witherspoon. We may add that as the annual address before the two Societies, is generally heard, by an intelligent and crowded audience from various quarters, you would have an opportunity of again bearing witness to the worth of Education & of announcing to the world, that the cause of learning has our patriarchs & patriots among its ardent friends. You will please, Sir, to excuse our importunity. We would not do justice to ourselves, in fewer words. But to trespass no longer we conclude by assuring you, that if you can consistently with personal comfort, accept of our unanimous & cordial invitation, the favour, will be gratefully appreciated,—by the Public—by the College by the Society, in whose name we address you—and by no individuals more heartily & truly than Your very humble Servants

J. Addison Alexander.

Geo. W. Nevitt

Thos H Richards

Committee of the A. W. S.

The annual commencement of the College takes place on the last Wednesday of September. The address before the Societies is delivered on the day preceding—

RC (DLC); (NjP).

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