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Lot Number: 101
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1809 Letter to President-Elect James Madison Asking Permission to Copy his Portrait by Gilbert Stuart to Publish

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February 5, 1809-Dated Federal Period, Letter to James Madison from Philadelphia Printer William H. Morgan, Who had Published Full Length Portraits of Presidents Washington & Jefferson, Asking Madison for Permission to Copy a Portrait of Madison by Gilbert Stuart in Order to Publish a Print of the New President. The bottom right corner is torn off, resulting in the loss of the signature, but the docketing on the back, which appears to be in the hand of James Madison, identifies the writer as Wm. H. Morgan, Fine.

An original Autograph Letter Signed (Ink errosion, lacking sig.), 1 page, measuring 7-5/8" x 9-7/8", dated at Philadelphia, to President-elect James Madison. Just one month before his Inauguration as President, received from William H. Morgan, a Printer in Philadelphia who had published full-length portraits of Washington and Jefferson, and states he has been asked by "a number of respectable citizens of Philadelphia to furnish them with Mr. Madison's."

Here, Morgan is informing James Madison that President Thomas Jefferson had referred him to a portrait of Madison accomplished by Gilbert Stuart which was in Madison's possession, but is now in Philadelphia, and asks for permission to copy it. William H. Morgan published his full length print of Madison in 1810. It was engraved by David Edwin, who had engraved Morgan's print of Jefferson, and was based on a painting by Thomas Sully, who himself based it on a portrait by Gilbert Stuart.

On January 26, 1809, there was a similar Letter of request sent to Thomas Jefferson from William H. Morgan soliciting, “a whole length Print of the Hone. Jas. Madison to correspond with those of President Washington & your Excellency’s ....”

This current Letter reads, in part:

"Philadelphia Feby 5, 1809 - The Hon. James Madison -- Sir,

Having publish'd the whole length prints of Presidents Washington and Jefferson and am now solicited by a number of respectable Citizens of Pennsylvania to furnish them with Mr. Madison's to correspond. I made application to His Excellency the President for permission to copy a Portrait. I have received his Excellency's reply informing me the one he has is an inferior likeness and refers me to one of Stewart's (Gilbert Stuart’s) Painting in your possession. I have learnt that the painting alluded to is now in this City, and respectfully request you to grant me permission to Copy it. -

I have the honour to be with the highest respect & Considerat(ion), your obedient (lacking signature due to small paper ink erosion and the right corner torn)."

Docket on the blank reverse appears to be in the hand of James Madison, which reads, in full: “private / Morgan Wm. H. Feby. 5, 1809”


Letter To Thomas Jefferson from William H. Morgan, 26 January 1809

Philadelphia Jany. 26: 1809 - Sir,

I have been Solicited by a number of Citizens of Pennsylvania to furnish them with a whole length print of the Hone. Jas. Madison to correspond with those of President Washington & your Excellency’s-Having this day learnt that you are in possession of a half length Portrait of that Hone. Gentleman I respectfully beg you would permit me to take a Copy from it-being determined to make it a work of importance in point of execution I feel confident, that your Excellency will patronize it and grant my request

I have the honour to be With the highest Respect Your very Humble Servant

-William H Morgan

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.
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Lot Number: 101
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