Writings of James Madison, Volume 1

Author: James Madison

To James Madison.

Nassau Hall, September 30, 1769.

Honored Sir,—I received your letter by Mr. Rossekrans, and wrote an answer; but as it is probable this will arrive sooner which I now write by Dr. Witherspoon, I shall repeat some circumstances to avoid obscurity.

On Wednesday last we had the usual commencement. Eighteen young gentlemen took their Bachelor’s degrees, and a considerable number their Master’s degrees. The degree of Doctor of Laws was bestowed on Mr. Dickinson the Farmer, and Mr. Galloway the Speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly, a distinguishing mark of honor, as there never was any of that kind done before in America. The commencement began at ten o’clock, when the President walked first into the church, a board of trustees following, and behind them those that were to take their first degrees. After a short prayer by the President, the head oration, which is always given to the greatest scholar by the President and Tutors, was pronounced in Latin by Mr. Samuel Smith, son of a Presbyterian minister in Pennsylvania. Then followed the other orations, disputes, and dialogues, distributed to each according to his merit, and last of all was pronounced the valedictory oration by Mr. John Henry, son of a gentleman in Maryland. This is given to the greatest orator. We had a very great assembly of people, a considerable number of whom came from New York; those at Philadelphia were most of them detained by Races which were to follow on the next day.

Since commencement, the trustees have been sitting about business relative to the college, and have chosen for tutors for the ensuing year, for the junior class, Mr. Houston from North Carolina, in the room of Mr. Peream; for the freshman class, Mr. Reeve, (a gentleman who has for several years past kept a school at Elizabethtown,) in the room of Mr. Pemberton. The sophomore tutor, Mr. Thomson, still retains his place, remarkable for his skill in the sophomore studies, having taken care of that class for several years past. Mr. Halsey was chosen junior tutor, but refused. The trustees have likewise appointed Mr. Caldwell, a minister at Elizabethtown, to take a journey through the Southern Provinces as far as Georgia, to make collections by which the college fund may be enabled to increase the library, provide an apparatus of mathematical and philosophical instruments, and likewise to support professors, which would be a great addition to the advantages of this college. Dr. Witherspoon’s business to Virginia is nearly the same, as I conjecture, and perhaps to form some acquaintance to induce gentlemen to send their sons to this college.

I feel great satisfaction from the assistance my uncle has received from the springs, and I flatter myself from the continuance of my mother’s health that Dr. Shore’s skill will effectually banish the cause of her late indisposition.

I recollect nothing more at present worth relating, but as often as opportunity and anything worthy your attention shall occur, be assured you shall hear from

Your affectionate son.


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Chicago: James Madison Jr., "To James Madison.," Writings of James Madison, Volume 1 in James Madison, Letters and Other Writings of James Madison, 4 Vols. (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co.), Pp.2-3 Original Sources, accessed March 19, 2019, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=DCGZZ7CDUT7KCTC.

MLA: Madison, James, Jr. "To James Madison." Writings of James Madison, Volume 1, in James Madison, Letters and Other Writings of James Madison, 4 Vols. (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co.), Pp.2-3, Original Sources. 19 Mar. 2019. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=DCGZZ7CDUT7KCTC.

Harvard: Madison, J, 'To James Madison.' in Writings of James Madison, Volume 1. cited in , James Madison, Letters and Other Writings of James Madison, 4 Vols. (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co.), Pp.2-3. Original Sources, retrieved 19 March 2019, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=DCGZZ7CDUT7KCTC.