James Madison Papers

James Madison to William A. Duer, 4 September 1833

Montpellier Septr. 4. 1833—

Dear Sir

I have recd. your letter of the 28. Ulto., inclosing the outlines of your work on the Constitutional Jurisprudence of the U.S. The object of the work is certainly important and well chosen, and the plan marked out in the Analysis, gives full scope for the instructive execution which is anticipated. I am very sensible Sir of the friendly respect which suggested my name for the distinguished use made of it; and I am not less so of the too partial terms which are applied to it.

As an attention to the design of the work, is invited from me as "The head of the University of Virginia" as well as an individual, it is proper for me to observe, that I am but the presiding member of the Board of Visitors; that the Superintendance of the Institution is in the Faculty of Professors, with a Chairman annually appointed by the Visitors; and that the choice of Text & Class books, is left to the Professors respectively. The only exception is in the School of Law; in which the subject of Government is included; and on that the Board of Visitors have prescribed as Text Authorities; "The Federalist," the Resolutions of Virga. in 1798. with the comment on them in 99; and Washingtons Fare well Address". The use therefore that will be made of any analogous publications, will depend on the discretion of the Professor himself. His personal opinions, I believe, favor very strict rules of expounding the Constitution of the U.S.

I shall receive Sir, with thankfulness, the promised volume, with the outlines of which I have been favored; tho’ such is the shattered state of my health, added to the 83 year of my age, that I fear I may be little able to bestow on it all the attention I might wish, and doubt not it will deserve. I can the less calculate the degree in which my views of the Constitution accord with or vary from yours, as I am so imperfectly acquainted with the Authorities to which I infer yours are in the main conformable.

I had as you recollect, an acquaintance with your Father, to which his talents and social accomplishments were very attractive; and there was an incidental correspondence between us, interchanging information, at a critical moment when the elections and State Conventions which were to decide the fate of the New Constitution, were taking place. You are I presume not ignorant that your Father was the Author of several papers, auxiliary to the numbers of the "Federalist". They appeared I beleive in the Gazette of Mr Childs. With great respect & cordial salutations

James Madison

RC (NHi); draft (DLC).

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