Long before James Madison became out fourth President of the United States, he served in a number of other positions. Early on, Madison emerged as an important leader in the House of Representatives and was a close adviser to President George Washington. While many of the early leaders of our nation understood and were prepared to fight for our freedom, they weren’t necessarily eloquent speakers or writers, but then again, many politicians today also have speech writers. I guess each felt the need to work on the important things, and delegate the rest. Since James Madison was well-known as an excellent writer, President Washington asked him to write a letter to Congress for him expressing that he was excited to work with them. Washington wasn’t the greatest wordsmith, and Madison was an excellent writer, so he had Madison do the job.
James Madison was excited to be a part of this first administration and wanted to give it his very best effort. So, in one of his first official actions under President George Washington, Madison wrote a beautiful letter to Congress. Congress was very impressed with the “letter from President Washington” and wanted to impress him with a letter of their own. So, naturally, they chose the best qualified person to write a response to President Washington…you guessed it, James Madison. So, Madison wrote a response to the original letter, that he wrote, saying that Congress was also very excited to be working with the president.
Under normal circumstances, you would expect that the two letters would be the end of the matter, and the new administration would proceed to get down to business. You would be wrong. President Washington decided to send a response to the response, and to make matters even more ludicrous, Congress sent a response to that response as well. As it turns out, and of course, Madison wrote those other letters too. So, all in all, Madison had a whole little conversation with himself by mail in the form of four separate letters. Of course, he still represented the president and congress, but it’s quite likely that no one actually read the letters before they were sent, or at least didn’t really read them carefully…not until the received them anyway. Nevertheless, James Madison wanted to do the very best job he could for both President Washington and for Congress. If he had not don’t an exceptional job, they would not ask for his help again, and his career could have been over. Somehow, I don’t think that was his real motive in writing the excellent letters. I think he wanted to be of good service to the president. Still in the end, Madison’s first official act for President Washington was to write four letters…to himself.