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JAMES MADISON, ESQ. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED
STATES OF AMERICA.
I had not the pleasure of a personal acquaintance with Mr Madison ; but from the respectability of his private character, and the dignified situation he held, as President of the United States, I was induced to send him a fac-simile copy of General Washington's letters to me, and to express my wish that we should correspond together on agricultural topics. I received from him the following answer.
Washington, May 30. 1816. SIR, I did not receive the communications with which you favoured me in November last, until very lately. I beg leave now to acknowledge them, and particularly to thank you for the fac-simile copy of General Washington's letters. I
pray you, Sir, to be assured, that I feel the just value of the interest you take in what concerns my country, and of the solicitude you manifest for the fame of a citizen whose memory is so dear to it. I need scarcely add, that I shall at all times be ready to give proofs of my respect for the offer of correspondence which is made to me. Accept, Sir, assurances of my esteem and consideration,
Mr Madison afterwards transmitted to me a very able communication on agriculture, fully proving both his knowledge of that art, and the ability with which he could explain his sentiments regarding it.
In a communication from Dr Waterhouse of Cambridge, in the state of Massachusetts, the progress of the United States of America, and the administration of Mr Madison, are represented in the most favourable colours.
Cambridge, 17th May 1810. This wonderful country is growing beyond all example great. While every thing magnificent with you, in the old world, is, as it were, in the preterperfect tense, our magnificence is seen by the mind's eye, in the future.
The Congress of these United States has, in its last session, eternized its fame, by the numerous acts it has passed, chiefly calculated to make men wiser, better, and happier: An University, not like this of Cambridge, which is the child of the state of Massachusetts, but one that shall be the daughter of the nation. Beside the annual increase of our navy, and adding to the number of our military schools ---roads, and canals, connecting distant cities, and the lakes, with the ocean, are about commencing. Two grand astronomical observatories, at each end of the union, on the sea-board, are about to be founded. "In a word, Madison, whose real character is little understood in Britain, is aiming to extend the empire of mind over this vast region. He is turning the spirit of chivalry, that was kindling up, during our short but severe war, into the roads of science. England views us only as it regards trade and commerce, which are but secondary objects with our wise men. Very few regard us as a philosophical nation, mainly intent on a great name in the best of things. We shall, I hope, reflect back the tide of descending glory to its source.
JAMES MONROE, ESQ. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED
STATES OF AMERICA.
Mr Monroe was of Scotch extraction, and descended from a family with which I happen to be connected, my grandmother being of the same stock. I had therefore much pleasure in receiving the subjoined letter from him, when elevated to the proud situation of President of the United States.
Washington, November 17. 1817. SIR, Although I have not had the honour of a direct communication with you heretofore, your very respectable character and distinguished merit have long been known to me. I avail myself, therefore, with pleasure, of the opportunity which your letter of May the 27th last affords me, of succeeding my predecessors, in the high trust committed to me by my country, in the relation which they have severally borne to you. My family was from the Highlands of Scotland, a place called Fowlis, lately owned by Sir H. Munro. My ancestor emigrated about the year 1745, having been an adherent of the house of Stuart, and induced to leave the country, in consequence of its misfortunes. He settled on the Potowmack, in Virginia, where I was born. Though young at the commencement of our revolution, I took part in it; and its principles have invariably guided me since. Nothing can be more deeply fixed in the judgment and heart of any one, than are the principles of our free system of government in mine. Though so many years have elapsed since my family migrated to this country, as to make us, in a great measure, a distinct race, I have nevertheless always looked to Scotland, and to those of the same origin there, with peculiar interest. To be in any degree connected, or allied with you, cannot fail to afford me much satisfaction.
Your researches, and works on agriculture, I shall receive with much pleasure; and will endeavour to communicate to you, in return, whatever may be interesting in this country on that subject. I well know, however, that I shall soon show how far I am in this, as in other respects, from having any pretension to the knowledge and merit of my illustrious
My particular object in this is to acknowledge the receipt of your letter, to acquaint you of the pleasure with which I shall communicate with you in future, and to make known to you the bearer, Mr Rush, our envoy extraordinary to your
court, whom you will find to be a man of talents and great worth. With great consideration and esteem, I am your very obedient servant,
The answer I beg leave to subjoin.
10th April 1818. DEAR SIR, I have much pleasure in acknowledging the receipt of your interesting communication, dated at Washington, November 17. 1817. By some accident, it did not reach me until within these few days, otherwise I should have had the pleasure of sooner acknowledging its receipt.
I am happy to find, that we are descended from the same progenitors, though, after the lapse of so many years, the connection is remote; but, in the words of Dr Johnson, “ Relations are ready made friends ;” and every thing that tends to unite the human species for useful purposes ought to be kept up.
After being engaged in political discussions for a number of years, I have retired from public business, and have now devoted myself to literary pursuits, in which my favourite object is the collection and diffusion of useful knowledge, with a view of adding to the comfort and happiness of the human
For that purpose, I have already published a Code of Health and Longevity, and a Code of Agriculture ; and I am now engaged in preparing a Code of Political Economy, the nature of which the inclosed prospectus will explain. When “ The Codean System of Literature” is more matured, and exemplified in regard to these great subjects, I shall have the pleasure of writing you more fully on the advantages to be derived from such a plan. To America it must be peculiarly interesting thus to have the substance of the information of the old world transferred to the new, arranged and condensed.
I hope that a copy of the Code of Agriculture has been re
ceived. I am now preparing a second edition of it, in which any errors in the matter or the language shall be corrected. I shall take an early opportunity of sending you over a copy of that edition, that it may be known in America in its perfect form.
In my correspondence with General Washington, I strongly inculcated the establishment of “ a Board of Agriculture, and I understand that he recommended that measure to the attention of Congress. The expense is a mere trifle, and the advantages would be incalculable. Perhaps under your auspices that plan might still be carried through. It would immortalize, to all future ages, the administration of the present distinguished President of the United States of America. Any information that might be necessary, respecting the formation of the Board of Agriculture here, of which I was the founder, I shall be happy to transmit.
With my best wishes for your health and happiness, I remain, Dear Sir, &c.
I afterwards received another communication from Mr Monroe, to which I was happy to pay every attention in my power.
Virginia, April 7. 1826. MY DEAR SIR JOHN, The bearer, Lieutenant Monroe, my nephew, being about to visit Scotland, on some private concerns of high interest to him, I take the liberty to introduce him to your acquaintance. Should advice be necessary to him, may I ask of you to give him the aid of yours. He is a youth of integrity and honour, who will pay due attention to any suggestions which you may be so kind as to make, on the subject which calls him there, and which he will explain to you.
Retired as I now am to private life, and engaged in literary and agricultural pursuits, it will always afford me great