James Madison Papers

James Robertson, Jr. to James Madison, 8 March 1831

Clifton, Amelia March 8. 1831

Dear Sir,

Your acknowledged patriotism and known willingness to give all useful information to your fellow Citizens, induces me to ask of you information upon the two following points vzt Did you draft the resolutions offered to the Va. assembly in 1798 by Colo. Jno. Taylor of Caroline? And if so, were they presented in the form given to them by you?

These resolutions, you will remember, were amended by the legislature, by striking out the word alone, in the third clause, and certain other words in the 7th. The effect of the first amendment is, to leave the mind in doubt as to who were considered by the Legislature, the parties to the Constitution; for, although by striking out the word alone, a plain indication is given that they considered the States not the only parties, yet, by the amendment, no clue is given, by which to ascertain what other party the legislature meant should be united with the States—

If the words stricken out of the 7th. Clause had been retained; and that clause, in its original was drawn by you; it would seem that there is not entire harmony between the opinions, expressed by you at that time, and those contained in your letter to the N. A. Review—

The high regard which I have invariably entertained for your distinguished talents and virtues, and which is now undisguisedly expressed; will, I trust, repel the idea of any thing unfriendly on my part in asking the information contained in this letter, yet, the more effectually to remove any such impression, I will add that I am now engaged in writing a history of the Constitution of the U S. and Articles of Confederation; and, in doing this, a very appropriate part of the subject will be an enquiry as to the parties, properly so called, to the instruments—As far as I am informed, there is no convenient book of this kind to be found—Mr. Pitkin in his history of the United States, gives more matter in detail than any other work I have met with; but there is too much of general history intermix’d with the special subject, and the book is too large, for convenience—The same may be said of Marshalls life of Washington, which says much about the constitution—

If you can aid my memory with any useful writings in addition to Pitkins, Marshalls, the journals and debates in the General Convention and that of Va., proceedings of the Va assembly in 1798"99; you will very much oblige me—

My address will be found below—Be pleased sir to accept assurances of my best regards and high consideration—

J Robertson Jr.

Address to James Robertson Jr.

Genito P. Off.


RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

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