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title:“John W. Eppes to James Madison”
authors:John Wayles Eppes
date written:1810-11-1

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:04 a.m. UTC
retrieved:April 23, 2021, 6:18 a.m. UTC

Eppes, John Wayles. "Letter to James Madison." The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787. Vol. 3. Ed. Max Farrand. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1911. Print.

John W. Eppes to James Madison (November 1, 1810)

Cumberland Near Ca-Ira Nov. 1. 1810
My absence from Chesterfield prevented my receiving your letter until a few days since —
When the papers relating to the proceedings of the convention were put into my hands for the purpose of being copied Mr. Jefferson was very particular in his charge — I understood from him perfectly that it was a trust entirely confidential — The particular and confidential manner in which he entrusted them to me prevented my making the smallest extract from any part of them — and so careful was I of preserving sacred a document the importance of which to posterity I could not but feel, that I never suffered the papers to mix either with my own or any others entrusted to my care — They were kept in a Trunk in which whenever I ceased writing they were replaced and each original as copied was returned with the copy to Mr. Jefferson —
I remember among the papers one headed "plan of a constitution by Colo: Hamilton" — it was on smaller paper than your copy and fastened with a pin to one of the leaves of the original — Whether it was in your hand writing or Colo: Hamiltons I do not remember — I remember its features & that after copying it I fastened it again with the same pin — I still think that by turning carefully over the original you will find the paper fastened with a pin to one of the sheets —
I have but few papers remaining of those I possessed in Philadelphia — As you requested it I have carefully gone through them — I was certain however prior to the search that it was utterly impossible from the precautions I took in consequence of Mr Jeffersons charge that any paper belonging to your manuscript could be mixed with mine — For years after the copy was taken so far did I consider the whole transaction on my part confidential that I did not even consider myself at liberty to mention that a copy of the debates of the convention existed — It was not until within a few years since when I found the fact known to others through yourself and Mr. Jefferson that I thought it unnecessary to impose on myself the same rigid silence — I should as a member of the community deeply deplore the loss of the paper as it contains proof clear as holy writ that the idol of the Federal party was not a Monarchist in Theory merely, but the open zealous and unreserved advocate for the adoption of the monarchical system in this Country — Your evidence however of the fact will be sufficient with posterity; and that you will find among the originals a paper headed in the way I mention containing his plan of Government as suggested to you I have no doubt —

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