Jefferson to Fitzhugh (Letter 3)

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To Peregrine Fitzhugh from Thomas Jefferson


9 April 1797

This letter is written from Jefferson to Fitzhugh in response to Fitzhugh’s letter of 25 March 1797 (see Fitzhugh to Jefferson Letter 2 for more details). You will notice that Jefferson’s style in this letter is very flowery language and circumspect as was the style in those days…


Historical Background for this letter
Col. Fitzhugh still lives in Ann Arundel, Maryland, and resided there until he moved to Geneva, N.Y., in 1799. The first part of the letter is all about farming and after Fitzhugh sent Jefferson Cumberland corn seed through the mail, as hoped, Jefferson returned the favor by sending him some special peas that Jefferson got from France.
The second part of the letter is all politics. Here Jefferson allays Fitzhugh’s concern that Jefferson’s friend (James Madison who will ultimately be the 4th President of the United States, 1809-1817) is opposing a part of the draft constitution hammered out at the Constitutional Convention (1787-1789). James Madison is rumored to oppose the House of Representatives being left out of the Treaty making process which is the domain of the President with Senate approval. Ultimately this resistance by James Madison will prove to be futile. Although Jefferson and Madison were opponents on a number of issues, this letter shows Jefferson’s respect for Madison and his willingness to give him the benefit of doubt.


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