Correspondence of the American Revolution: Being Letters of Eminent Men to George Washington, from the Time of His Taking Command of the Army to the End of His Presidency, Vol. 4

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Author: James Madison

U.S. History

From James Madison.

Richmond, 2 July, 1784.

DEAR SIR,

The sanction given by your favor of the 12th instant to my desire of remunerating the genius which produced "Common Sense," led to a trial for the purpose. The gift first proposed was a moiety of the tract on the Eastern Shore, known by the name of "The Secretary’s land." The easy reception it found induced the friends of the measure to add the other moiety to the proposition, which would have raised the market value of the donation to about four thousand pounds, or upwards, though it would not, probably, have commanded a rent of more than one hundred pounds per annum. In this form, the bill passed through two readings. The third reading proved that the tide had suddenly changed, for the hill was thrown out by a large majority. An attempt was next made to sell the land in question, and apply two thousand pounds of the money to the purchase of a farm for Mr. Paine. This was lost by a single voice.

Whether a greater disposition to reward patriotic and distinguished exertions of genius, will be found on any succeeding occasion, is not for me to predetermine. Should it finally appear that the merits of the man, whose writings have so much contributed to infuse and foster the spirit of independence in the people of America, are unable to inspire them with a just beneficence, the world, it is to be feared, will give us as little credit for our policy as for our gratitude in this particular. The wish of Mr. Paine to be provided for by separate acts of the States, rather than by Congress, is, I think, a natural and just one. In the latter case, it might be construed into the wages of a mercenary writer; in the former, it would look like the returns of gratitude for voluntary services. Upon the same principle, the mode wished by Mr. Paine ought to be preferred by the States themselves.

I beg the favor of you to present my respectful compliments to Mrs. Washington, and to be assured that I am, with the profoundest respect and sincerest regard, &c., &c.,

JAMES MADISON Jr.

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Chicago: James Madison Jr., "From James Madison.," Correspondence of the American Revolution: Being Letters of Eminent Men to George Washington, from the Time of His Taking Command of the Army to the End of His Presidency, Vol. 4 in Correspondence of the American Revolution: Being Letters of Eminent Men to George Washington, from the Time of His Taking Command of the Army to the End of His Presidency, ed. Jared Sparks (Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press, 1853), 71–73. Original Sources, accessed June 16, 2024, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=3VC68DDYXGEBGZR.

MLA: Madison, James, Jr. "From James Madison." Correspondence of the American Revolution: Being Letters of Eminent Men to George Washington, from the Time of His Taking Command of the Army to the End of His Presidency, Vol. 4, in Correspondence of the American Revolution: Being Letters of Eminent Men to George Washington, from the Time of His Taking Command of the Army to the End of His Presidency, edited by Jared Sparks, Vol. 4, Freeport, NY, Books for Libraries Press, 1853, pp. 71–73. Original Sources. 16 Jun. 2024. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=3VC68DDYXGEBGZR.

Harvard: Madison, J, 'From James Madison.' in Correspondence of the American Revolution: Being Letters of Eminent Men to George Washington, from the Time of His Taking Command of the Army to the End of His Presidency, Vol. 4. cited in 1853, Correspondence of the American Revolution: Being Letters of Eminent Men to George Washington, from the Time of His Taking Command of the Army to the End of His Presidency, ed. , Books for Libraries Press, Freeport, NY, pp.71–73. Original Sources, retrieved 16 June 2024, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=3VC68DDYXGEBGZR.