Walking Stick

Research & Collections

A Treasured Gift from a Beloved Friend

Walking Stick
Rhinoceros horn and gold, ca. 1805

Given in memory of T. Jefferson Coolidge by his brother Linzee Coolidge

Thomas Jefferson owned this walking stick, made of rhinoceros, for twenty years, and stipulated in his will, “I give to my friend James Madison, of Montpelier my gold mounted walking staff of animal horn.” Four days after Jefferson’s July 4, 1826 death, his grandson Thomas Jefferson Randolph wrote to Madison regarding the “cane a legacy left you by my dear grandfather.”

After the piece arrived at Montpelier, Madison wrote Randolph, “The article bequeathed to me by your grandfather, had been delivered by Dr. Dunglison, and received with all the feelings due to such a token of the place I held in the friendship of one, whom I so much revered & loved when living and whose memory can never cease to be dear to me.” In his subsequent will, Madison bequeathed the walking stick to Randolph, who received it upon Madison’s death in June 1836.

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"You cannot look back to the long period of our private friendship & political harmony, with more affecting recollections than I do."

James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, February 24, 1826