James Madison Papers

Alexander Rives to James Madison, 7 January 1833

Charlottesville 7 Jany. ’33

My Dear Sir,

I was singularly gratified this morning to find by the reception of your letter, that you have thought proper to take notice of my anonymous obtrusion, and to favor me with an expression of your opinions on a vitally important subject, which I had imperfectly attempted to discuss in the hastily-written essays, which you received from me. Fearful lest I might add to the number of those, who by unnecessary communications trespass on your retirement, and in using their proper names, thus advance some claim on your politeness for a reply, I thought it most fit to approach you in a way, in which you might most easily disregard my obtrusion, if you found nothing in my application, intrinsically deserving your notice. I hope, that you will adequately appreciate my motives for using this disguise; and in now dropping it, I am particularly actuated by a wish to give you a certain assurance that I shall cautiously preserve the confidential character of your letter. While I shall feel my honour, bound in this respect by your injunctions, I do not think them inconsistent with submitting your letter in private to a few particular friends, who share my sentiments, and feelings on this subject, and upon whose discretion I may implicitly rely for keeping the least whisper of it from the Public ear. Nevertheless, I ardently hope that some more worthy occasion may arise to entitle "the friends of Union and State rights throughout the U. States" to the salutary authority of your opinions, and reasoning on this momentous subject in the present perilous crisis of our Federal relations. With the assurances of that gratitude, which, in common with all your Country-men, I deeply, and sincerely entertain for your public services, and that admiration, which the political principles, and consistency of your public conduct are so eminently calculated to excite, I remain in feeling, as in sentiment, doubly confirmed by the high authority of your opinions, A Friend of Union and State Rights,

Alex: Rives.


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