Clay and David discuss a number of letters between Thomas Jefferson and James Madison that reveal their working relationship, their friendship, and how Madison protected Jefferson politically.
Thomas Jefferson to James Madison
I set out on this ground which I suppose to be self evident, "that the earth belongs in usufruct to the living;" that the dead have neither powers nor rights over it.
This could preserve that being till it ceased to be itself, and no longer. Every constitution, then, and every law, naturally expires at the end of 19. years. If it be enforced longer, it is an act of force and not of right.
Turn this subject in your mind, my Dear Sir, and particularly as to the power of contracting debts, and develope it with that perspicuity and cogent logic which is so peculiarly yours. Your station in the councils of our country gives you an opportunity of producing it to public consideration, of forcing it into discussion. At first blush it may be rallied as a theoretical speculation; but examination will prove it to be solid and salutary. It would furnish matter for a fine preamble to our first law for appropriating the public revenue; and it will exclude, at the threshold of our new government the contagious and ruinous errors of this quarter of the globe, which have armed despots with means not sanctioned by nature for binding in chains their fellow-men.
James Madison to Thomas Jefferson
My first thoughts though coinciding with many of yours, lead me to view the doctrine as not in all respects compatible with the course of human affairs. I will endeavor to sketch the grounds of my skepticism.