Lot 94: James Madison 1833 Virginia Free Frank to American Artist John Chapman
Presidential Letters, Free Franks & Speeches: Washington to Bush + Important Autographs in History, Science & the Arts
26 October 2016
New York, NY, USALive Auction
Description: MADISON, JAMES. (1751-1836). Founding father, author of the Constitution, Bill of Rights and, with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, the Federalist Papers; fourth president of the United States. Free Frank. (“Free James Madison”). 1p. Oblong 12mo. (Orange Court House, Virginia, December 25, N.y. ). The integral address leaf to a letter no longer present addressed to American artist JOHN G. CHAPMAN (1808-1889). ********** Madison became interested in Revolutionary politics shortly after his graduation from Princeton, and closely associated himself with Thomas Jefferson. He was the youngest delegate to the Continental Congress where he helped resolve boundary conflicts between Virginia and neighboring states. At the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Madison proposed the so-called Virginia Plan that became the blueprint for American democracy and included a bicameral congress and separate executive and judicial branches. Madison’s influence was immense, and he spoke hundreds of times during the convention and sat on the committee that finalized the Constitution. With Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, he co-authored the Federalist Papers, a collection of essays that argued in favor of the Constitution’s ratification. In 1789, he drafted the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution, approved in 1791. Madison represented Virginia in congress from 1789 to 1793, and served as Jefferson’s secretary of state from 1801-1809, during which time he oversaw the Louisiana Purchase. He succeeded Jefferson as president, serving two terms from 1809-1817. During his presidency the U.S. fought the British in the War of 1812, the conclusion of which ushered in the Era of Good Feelings. ********** A native of Alexandria, Chapman studied in Europe before returning home in 1831. After successful shows in Philadelphia and Washington, he became famous for his portraits, landscapes and historical scenes including Landing at Jamestown and Crowning of Powhatan. Chapman’s oeuvre includes a portrait of an elderly Madison as well as one of his plantation, Montpelier. In 1837, Congress commissioned him to paint a mural in the Capitol rotunda. The resulting Baptism of Pocahontas was unveiled in 1840. Chapman lived in Rome for almost 40 years before a reversal of fortune brought on by the Civil War made him destitute. ********** Our address leaf was formerly attached to a letter from December 23, 1833, in which Madison sends Chapman a signature for use in reproducing beneath the engraving then being made from Madison’s portrait. (“I have received your letter of the 23d. inst: No apology was necessary for the request it makes, which will be complied with by the subjoined signature. Be pleased to accept, with my cordial respects, my good wishes for a prosperous career professional & personal…”)********** With a black-ink postmark in the left margin and the word “FREE” stamped underneath Madison’s franking signature. With normal wear and in excellent condition.