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James Madison Calls the Signing of the Declaration of Independence ÒThat Great OccasionÓ, and a Subject of ÒNational GratitudeÓ

James Madison

Librería: The Raab Collection (Ardmore, PA, Estados Unidos de America)

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He modestly allows the book "The Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence" to be dedicated to himThe dedication read: ÒTo James Madison of Virginia. These volumes are respectfully inscribed, from admiration of his long life of private virtue and public usefulness, and gratitude for the successful devotion of his labour & talents to the prosperity of his country.ÓIn the 1820s, as the half century mark of the Declaration of Independence drew near and then passed, and with the nation prosperous and expanding, there was a tidal wave of interest in the Founding Fathers. By then most of the heroes of 1776 were long gone, but coupled with the sense of loss and nostalgia was an appreciation that some were still alive and a corresponding desire to honor them before it was too late and they passed from the scene. This feeling was only increased by the shocking coincidence of the deaths of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams on the same day - July 4, 1826 - the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.As part of this movement, throughout the 1820s, a set of nine books was published entitled ÒBiography of the Signers to the Declaration of IndependenceÓ. The editors of this magnum opus were chiefly the Rev. John Sanderson, and Philadelphia attorney and future U.S. Attorney General Henry Gilpin. Gilpin also edited a biography of Jefferson, and received a letter of appreciation from one who knew Jefferson well - the last of the greatest Founding Fathers - James Madison.Gilpin wrote Madison on January 4, 1828, expressing gratitude for the accolade but also setting out a proposition that must have caught Madison by surprise: Gilpin would like to dedicate the ÒBiography of the Signers to the Declaration of IndependenceÓ to him. ÒI have to return you my thanks for the flattering letter I received from you, relative to my sketch of Mr. JeffersonÕs lifeÉWhen the publication of "The Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence" commenced a second edition, he [Sanderson] requested me to read over the work, & make such general alterations as I should think necessary. Neither time nor his own circumstances permitted that extensive and complete revision, which appeared to me desirable; but though the work remains in general the same, I have been fortunate enough, in several instances, to obtain new and valuable information; the historical repetitions have been curtailed, and I think the whole character of the work sensibly improved. Two volumes of the new edition are already printed, and the whole will probably be published in a month or two. I should be highly gratified, if you would allow it to be inscribed with your name. I had thought of prefixing the dedication I inclose, but did not feel authorized to do so, without knowing that it would not be disagreeable to you.Ó The proposed dedication read: ÒTo James Madison of Virginia. These volumes are respectfully inscribed, from admiration of his long life of private virtue and public usefulness, and gratitude for the successful devotion of his labour & talents to the prosperity of his country.ÓMadison quickly responded. Autograph letter signed, Montpellier, January 10, 1828, to Gilpin.ÒI have received yours of the 4th. inst. and am glad to learn that my communications of October last were acceptable. In reference to the intimation in your last paragraph, I may only say, that feeling what is due to its motives, and judging of the work about to be re-edited, by the portions known to me, I can offer no objection to the meditated use of my name, but the deficiency of its title to such a mode of connecting it with the Great Occasion which furnished peculiar subjects as well for biographical Literature, as for national gratitude.Ó Of course, Madison himself was not a Signer, as he alludes here, but as a protege of Jefferson, the youngest delegate to the Continental Congress, and Father of the U.S. Constitution, he was surely deserving of the Gilpin connection. N° de ref. de la librería 11018

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Título: James Madison Calls the Signing of the ...

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The Raab Collection buys and sells rare important historical documents, bring to its endeavors a passion not only for the manuscript but the history behind it. We've built important historical collections for institutions and historical enthusiasts. Our pieces have found homes in many major institutions devoted to preserving history.

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