Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO JAMES MADISON. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. XI (1785-1790)
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TO JAMES MADISON. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. XI (1785-1790) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. XI (1785-1790).
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TO JAMES MADISON.
New York, 12 May, 1789.
My dear Sir,
To draw such a line for the conduct of the President as will please everybody, I know is impossible, but to mark out and follow one, which, by being consonant with reason, will meet general approbation, may be as practicable as it is desirable. The true medium I conceive must lie in pursuing such a course, as will allow him time for all the official duties of his station. This should be the primary object. The next, to avoid as much as may be the charge of superciliousness, and seclusion from information, by too much reserve and too great a withdraw of himself from company on the one hand, and the inconveniences, as well as a reduction of respectability, from too free an intercourse and too much familiarity on the other.
Under these impressions I have submitted the enclosed queries1 for your consideration, and would thank you for your sentiments thereon, with the return of the paper. For the remarks which it contains, it is necessary that some plan should be adopted by the President for his mode of living, that the pecuniary estimates for the department may have an eye thereto; and, though secondary, it is a motive for my bringing the matter before you at this time. I am your affectionate friend, &c.
1. Whether a line of conduct, equally distant from an association with all kinds of company on the one hand, and from a total seclusion from society on the other, ought to be adopted by him. And in that case, how is it to be done?
2. What will be the least exceptionable method of bringing any system, which may be adopted on this subject, before the public and into use?
3. Whether, after a little time, one day in every week will not be sufficient for receiving visits of compliment?
4. Whether it would tend to prompt impertinent applications, and involve disagreeable consequences, to have it known that the President will, every morning at eight o’clock, be at leisure to give audience to persons, who may have business with him?
5. Whether, when it shall have been understood, that the President is not to give general entertainments in the manner the presidents of Congress have formerly done, it will be practicable to draw such a line of discrimination, in regard to persons, as that six, eight, or ten official characters, including in rotation the members of both Houses of Congress, may be invited informally, or otherwise, to dine with him on the days fixed for receiving company, without exciting clamors in the rest of the community?
6. Whether it would be satisfactory to the public for the President to make about four great entertainments in a year, on such great occasions as the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, the alliance with France, the peace with Great Britain, the organization of the general government; and whether arrangements of these two last kinds could be in danger of diverting too much of the President’s time from business, or of producing the evils, which it was intended to avoid by his living more recluse than the presidents of Congress have heretofore lived?
7. Whether there would be any impropriety in the President’s making informal visits; that is to say, in his calling upon his acquaintances or public characters, for the purpose of sociability or civility? And what, as to the form of doing it, might evince these visits to have been made in his private character, so as that they may not be construed into visits from the President of the United States? And in what light would his appearance rarely at tea-parties be considered?
8. Whether, during the recess of Congress, it would not be advantageous to the interests of the Union for the President to make the tour of the United States, in order to become better acquainted with their principal characters and internal circumstances, as well as to be more accessible to numbers of well-informed persons, who might give him useful information and advice on political subjects?
9. If there is a probability, that either of the arrangements may take place, which will eventually cause additional expenses, whether it would not be proper that those ideas should come into contemplation at the time when Congress shall make a permanent provision for the support of the executive?
Remarks. On the one side, no augmentation can be effected in the pecuniary establishment, which shall be made in the first instance for the support of the executive. On the other, all moneys destined to that purpose, beyond the actual expenditures, will be left in the treasury of the United States, or sacredly applied to the promotion of some national objects.
Many things, which appear of little importance in themselves and at the beginning, may have great and durable consequences from their having been established at the commencement of a new general government. It will be much easier to commence the administration upon a well-adjusted system, built on tenable grounds, than to correct errors, or alter inconveniences, after they shall have been confirmed by habit. The President, in all matters of business and etiquette, can have no object but to demean himself in his public character in such a manner as to maintain the dignity of his office, without subjecting himself to the imputation of superciliousness or unnecessary reserve. Under these impressions, he asks for your candid and undisguised opinion.
[1 ]The queries were also sent to Mr. Jay.