James Madison Papers

Frederick Beasley to James Madison, 17 March 1831

Trenton March 17th 1831

My Dear President

Some years ago, I had the pleasure to send you my "search of truth upon the science of the human mind", & afterwards some smaller tracts, with wh you were kind enough to express your satisfaction, as far as your time allowed you to peruse them. I afterwards, on my way to the Springs in your State, had the satisfaction of a few moments conversation with you in your own house. I mention these facts merely to recall myself to your recollection, if amidst the great number of events wh have passed since, & the persons endeavouring to bring themselves to the acquaintance of a Sage, whose name is consecrated in the minds, not only of his own Countrymen, but of foreigners of all Nations, he should have forgotten me. My object in writing to you, at this time, is to obtain a slight favour of you, if it be consistent with your conceptions of right & duty to grant it. As Dr Patterson is now settled in your University, it is probably known to you, that the whole Faculty with whom he was connected were driven from their situations by the same injustice & outrage, wh has given you such an invaluable acquisition to your Faculty. I, of course, was among the number exiled, by the act of a Board of Trustees, wh is unexampled in the history of our Seminaries, & wh I trust, for the honour of human nature, will never be repeated in any College. It would perhaps, be needless, & certainly uninteresting to you, that I should enter into a detailed account of all the particulars of this iniquitous business. A person of your experience in political affairs, & skill in the science of human nature, need not be told, that in free Governments as well as Tyrannies, there are always a set of little Tyrants prepared to display their power upon every opportunity, & who are the more regardless of justice & honour, in proportion as their insignificance gives them the certainty, that their acts will be sheltered from publick inspection & animadversion. From the acts of such petty Tyrants as these, have Dr Patterson & myself been the sufferers. Now, as I am assured, that from your knowledge of the Dr, you will not consider what our Board of Trustees have done, any presumption against my character & competency as a Professor or President of a College, I beg leave to present to you a slight request, wh I trust, you will not find it incompatible with any rules, you may have prescribed to yourself upon such subjects to grant. The Presidency of the College in Lexington, Kentucky is now vacant, & some friends of mine here, among whom are Genl Dickerson of the Senate of U: S: & Mr Southard, our late Secretary of the navy, are endeavouring, to obtain it for me. If you can conscientiously aid them in this object, you will confer a favour upon me & my numerous family, for wh we shall always feel indebted to you. Mr Wickliffe is President of the Board of Trustees of Transylvania University in Lexington, & Mr Clay has great influence there, altho, it appears, not one of the Trustees. If you will be kind enough to write to either of these Gentlemen, or any other Gentlemen in Lexington, with whom you may be acquainted I, doubt not, the object may be accomplished. Mr Southard has written to Mr Clay upon the subject, & Mr Clay promises to attend to it. But I feel confident that a letter from you, will settle the opinion of every Member of the Board. Be good enough, if you conclude to grant my request to write immediately, as the election must soon be made.

I trust, My Dear President, you will excuse me for putting you to this trouble, from your known benevolence & kindness. Oppressed as I have been, by wicked men, I know of no one from whom I should prefer receiving relief than from a President, whose character & conduct I have always greatly loved & admired. If I should obtain that post & did not give entire satisfaction to the Trustees, I should not hesitate in leaving it. The reason why Dr P & myself did not raise the University of Pennsylvania, was that the Trustees never gave us the means of doing it, & then ascribed that defeat to us, wh was owing to their own neglect & inattention. I leave it to you to decide, My Dear Sir, whether any College could prosper by any exertions with only three classes & three Professors. The illustrious Jefferson & yourself, would laugh at those who call this a College.

I have lately published a work containing 140 octavo pages, wh I would send you as a further testimony of my respect & veneration, if I were not afraid that the price of postage might extend beyond your privilege of franking. By a private opportunity I should have great pleasure in presenting it to you. With great respect & veneration; I remain Yr friend & obt Servt

Frederick Beasley

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

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