James Madison Autograph Letter Signed and Free Frank Signature. One page with integral address leaf, 7.75" x 9.75", Montpelier [Virginia], November 14, 1825. Writing to Dr. Thomas Sewall, a founding member of the medical faculty at Columbian University (now George Washington University), the former president comments on a lecture Sewall has sent him, in part:

    "I have recd. your favor of the 7th with a copy of your Lecture at the opening of the Medical School recently established. You do me but justice in supposing that I feel an interest in the Literary & Scientific Institutions at the Seat of the National Government. . . . the long experience I had of the kindness of its inhabitants will always assure my particular good will & good wishes to whatever may be honorable and beneficent to them. I have read the introductory Lecture . . . The scope given to it, and the manner in which its topics are treated, render it not only a valuable contribution to the Medical History of our Country, but a presage which must be very gratifying to the Patrons of the Institution."

    The address leaf is addressed in Madison's hand and features a second free frank signature. Separation along one fold bisects the "Ja" in Madison's free frank. Paper loss on the address leaf from being opened at the wax seal with an additional 1" x 4.5"section lost (also on the address leaf) at the lower left edge. Folds are weakening and beginning to show separation at the edges of the letter. Overall toning is heavier near the right edge. Spots of light foxing are scattered throughout.

    Six years before this letter, Thomas Sewall (1786-1845), who had been practicing medicine in the state of Massachusetts, was charged with multiple counts of grave robbing and body snatching (two of the eight bodies were his former patients). Being found guilty, he was forced to leave the state. He settled in Washington and became professor of anatomy at the National Medical College prior to his position at Columbian College. During the Columbian graduation of 1827 he provided the commencement speech. Ironically, the topic was on good moral conduct in the practice of medicine.

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    October, 2014
    8th-9th Wednesday-Thursday
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