Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from James Monroe, [22] October 1797

From James Monroe

Sunday—[i.e. 22] Octr. 1797.

Dear Sir

I shall send Mr. Bache tomorrow about two thirds of my narrative and the residue by the next post. I have nothing from him by the last which gives cause to apprehend either that his people or himself are sick of the yellow fever. It becomes necessary that I give the publication a title, and therefore I wish your opinion upon that point. I subjoin one which is subject to your correction. You mentioned some time since the propriety of my discussing the question whether a minister was that of his country or the administration. It is a plain one, but yet I will thank you to put on paper what occurs to you on it, any time within a day or two and send it me.

There are letters of the Secry. of State which are omitted, such for example as that which I send, being rather a document accompanying one, than a letter. You will perceive it is lengthy and not applicable to the object of my publication. As also another respecting Mr. Fenwick, containing a charge against him of which some notice is taken in one of mine by way of reply. It was omitted as a personal thing from motives of delicacy to him. Would you publish both or either of these in the appendix? Skipwith’s report to me is omitted also; would you instruct Bache to publish it in the appendix. The one I refer to is that published by Pickering with Mr. Adams’s message to the last session of Congress.

Yours respectfully

Jas. Monroe

“A view of the conduct of the administration in the managment of our foreign affairs for the years 1794. 5. and 6. by an appeal to the official instruction and correspondence of James Monroe late Minister p: of the U. States to the French republick, to which is prefix’d an introductory narrative by the said James M.”


“A view of the conduct of the Executive of the U. States in the managment of the affairs of those States with foreign powers for the years 1794. &ca” as above.

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as a letter of October 1797 received 22 Oct. 1797 and so recorded in SJL; TJ at some point added, almost certainly in error, “probably 15.” to his endorsement of the letter’s date. Enclosure not found.

My narrative: A View of the Conduct of the Executive, in the Foreign Affairs of the United States, Connected with the Mission to the French Republic, During the Years 1794, 5, and 6. By James Monroe, Late Minister Plenipotentiary to the said Republic: Illustrated by his Instructions and Correspondence and other Authentic Documents (Philadelphia, 1797), which consisted of Monroe’s “View” of 64 pages followed by over 400 pages of documents. The work, which

Benjamin Franklin Bache published in mid-December 1797 and sold for the substantial price of $1.50, failed to persuade Monroe’s opponents and provided his political allies with little new information (Tagg, Bache, description begins James Tagg, Benjamin Franklin Bache and the Philadelphia Aurora, Philadelphia, 1991 description ends 327–8; Ammon, Monroe, description begins Harry Ammon, James Monroe: The Quest for National Identity, New York, 1971 description ends 167–9). See Evans, description begins Charles Evans, Clifford K. Shipton, and Roger P. Bristol, comps., American Bibliography: A Chronological Dictionary of all Books, Pamphlets and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States of America from … 1639 … to … 1820, Chicago and Worcester, Mass., 1903–59, 14 vols. description ends No. 32491; and Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, Washington, D.C., 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends No. 3524.

Edmund Randolph had written to Monroe, evidently on 30 July 1795, concerning an accusation that Joseph Fenwick had used his seal as United States consul at Bordeaux to cover French goods. Randolph’s letter was printed in an appendix to Monroe’s work under the erroneous date of 30 July 1797 (Monroe, View, 406–7; Monroe, Writings, description begins Stanislas Murray Hamilton, ed., The Writings of James Monroe, New York, 1899, 7 vols. description ends ii, 424–5). Fulwar Skipwith’s report to Monroe in October 1794 concerned losses to American shipping at the hands of the French and was given to Congress by Timothy Pickering in February 1797, not as one of the documents transmitted in conjunction with the president’s message in May (Annals, description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … Compiled from Authentic Materials Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. The first two volumes of the set cited here have “Compiled … by Joseph Gales, Senior” on the title page and bear the caption “Gales & Seatons History” on verso and “of Debates in Congress” on recto pages. The remaining volumes bear the caption “History of Congress” on both recto and verso pages. Those using the first two volumes with the latter caption will need to employ the date of the debate or the indexes of debates and speakers. description ends vi, 2770, 2774–7; TJ to Madison, 18 May 1797).

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