September 29th Rare Autograph & Document Auction
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MADISON, JAMES (1751-1836]. The 4th President of the United States. ALS. ("J. Madison"). One page, quarto, Orange, Virginia, April 21, 1801. To Tench Coxe, a political economist. With integral address leaf bearing a free frank by Levi Lincoln, acting Secretary of State. The postmark is from Washington City (dated April 30th) and the envelope is addressed to Coxe in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in Lincoln's holo-graph on a folded central panel somewhat darkened by age. There is some seal damage on the address leaf and a bit of seal stain along two midway edges of the letter itself, affecting a portion of Madison's vertical postscript along the left side; otherwise in very fine condition.

Nobody was surprised when President Jefferson nominated James Madison for Secretary of State on March 5, 1801. In his instructions for a treaty with Spain, in his attitude toward the peace negotiations at Versailles, in his resistance to the soft Spanish policy of Foreign Secretary John Jay, Madison became known as a determined champion of American claims to Western territory and navigation of the Mississippi. He was an aggressive supporter of American rights at sea and in foreign trade, a friend of Revolutionary France and an implacable foe of British mercantilism. Jefferson argued with Madison to come to Washington prior to the change of administration, but Madison would not advance his departure. In our letter to Coxe, Madison tells why he cannot leave for Washington at once: "Circumstances of a private but very imperious kind have not yet permitted me to repair to the seat of govt ..." In fact, Madison's father had died on February 27th and it was necessary that Madison linger at Orange to wind up the estate. Coupled with chat was Madison's physical "indisposition," as he put it to Coxe. In fact, Madison was suffering from an attack of rheumatism.

Since March, Madison had been receiving brief progress reports on Jefferson's efforts to form a cabinet. Attorney General Levi Lincoln, called by Jefferson the ablest Republican in New England, was acting as Secretary of State. General Henry Dearborn had taken over the War Department. Gallatin would soon be nominated for the Treasury. Jefferson would have nominated financier Robert Morris to a Navy post, but Morris was in debtor's prison.

On April 10, Jefferson dropped Lincoln a note from Monticello indicating that he had recently visited Madison. "He will set out for the seat of government about the time I shall." In our letter, Madison tells Coxe, "I am under engagement ... to set out if possible in a few days so as to accompany or keep near ... the President, who is to be here on the 25 inst. on his return to Washington ...

There is a bit more to our letter than just the travel plans of the President and the nominated Secretary of State, who plan to travel together to launch the new administration. Madison also acknowledges that he is in receipt of a paper by Peter S. Duponceau [1760-1844], a lawyer and legal essayist who had come to America as Secretary to General Steuben, and remained to become America's outstanding authority on international law. "I should expect from Mr. Duponceats industry & eradication a valuable education of state documents and the present is a moment well chosen for such an application of his talents ..'"And, finally, in a postscript, Madison indicates that a second paper has arrived as well.

James Madison ALSJames Madison ALSJames Madison ALSJames Madison ALS
James Madison ALS
James Madison ALS
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