After a coffee with Edward L. Ayers this morning (much excitement in Richmond with two teams in the NCAA final 16), I am at the Library of Virginia finishing the citations and edits for The Iron Way: Railroads, The Civil War, and the Making of Modern America.

But I can’t help looking ahead to my next project. I’m calling it “The Petition.” I’ve pulled the correspondence of John Randolph and Francis Scott Key in 1813. Key tried the Mima Queen case before the U. S. Supreme Court that year. There are nine letters in this file from him to Randolph. Will any of them mention the Queen case? Does her petition for freedom come up in their discussions? How can I reconstruct the case and its remarkable history? I’m looking forward to writing this early history of Washington, DC, slavery and freedom.

On a completely different subject, Ed Ayers and I agreed that we need to have a Valley Project team reunion and a session at the #AHA2011 in Chicago on the Valley of the Shadow and its progeny. Looking forward to that already.