Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, 27 December 1797

To James Monroe

Philadelphia. Dec. 27. 97.

Dear Sir

I communicated to Mr. M. the evening I was with him the papers you sent by me for Mr. D. He was clearly of opinion nothing further ought to be done. D. was decisively of the same opinion. This being the case then there was no ground for consulting L. or B. and accordingly nothing has been said to them.   Your book was later coming out than was to have been wished: however it works irresistably. It would be very gratifying to you to hear the unqualified eulogies both on the matter and manner by all who are not hostile to it from principle. A pamphlet, written by Fauchet (and now reprinting here) reinforces the views you have presented of the duplicity of the administration here. The republican party in the H. of representatives is stronger than it’s antagonist party in all strong questions. To-day on a question to put off the bill for permitting private vessels to arm, it was put off to the 1st. Monday of Feb. by 40. to 37. and on a motion to reconsider was confirmed by 44. to 38. We have half a dozen members absent, who if here would give decisive preponderance. Two of these are of our state, Giles and Cabell. The stamp act is put off to July, and the Land tax will not be touched this session. Before the next the elections will be over. We have therefore literally nothing to do, but to await intelligence from our envoys at Paris, and as soon as we learn that our affairs there will be of peaceable aspect (as there is reason to expect) I see nothing which ought to keep us here. The questions about building a navy, to be sure must be discussed out of respect to the speech: but it will only be to reject them. A bill has passed the Representatives giving three years longer currency to foreign coins. It is in danger in the Senate. The effect of stopping the currency of gold and silver is to force bank-paper through all the states. However I presume the state legislatures will exercise their acknoleged right of regulating the value of foreign coins, when not regulated by Congress, and their exclusive right of declaring them a tender. The Marquis Fayette was expected in the ship John from Hamburgh. She is cast away in this river. 70 passengers were said to be got ashore, and the rest still remaining on the wreck. But we do not know that he was actually a passenger. Some late elections have been remarkeable. Loyd of Maryland in the place of Henry by a majority of 1. against Winder the republican candidate. Chipman senator for Vermont by a majority of 1. against I. Smith the republican candidate. Tichenor chosen governor of Vermont by a small majority against the republican candidate. Governor Robertson of that state writes that the people there are fast coming over to a sound understanding of the state of our affairs. The same is said of some other of the N. England states. In this state that spirit rises very steadily. The republicans have a firm majority of about 6. in the H. of representatives here, a circumstance which has not been seen for some years. Even their Senate is purifying. The contest for the government will be between Mc.kean and Ross, and probably will be an extreme hard one. In N. York it will be the same between Livingston and Jay, who is becoming unpopular with his own party. We are anxious to see how the N. York representatives are. The dismission of Tenche Coxe from office without any reason assigned is considered as one of the bold acts of the President. Tant mieux.—As soon as Fauchet’s pamphlet appears I will send you a copy. Your book so far has sold rapidly. I received from Mr. Madison paper for 500.D. for you, which will be paid in the course of a few weeks. I shall desire Barnes to receive and hold it subject to your order. Present me respectfully to Mrs. Monroe and accept assurances of my sincere friendship. Adieu.

RC (DLC: Madison Papers, Rives Collection); unsigned; addressed: “Colo. Monroe near Charlottesville”; franked. PrC (DLC).

Mr. M. was James Madison. Monroe wanted him to see at least one of the enclosures that Monroe sent to TJ on 2 Dec. Mr. D.: John Dawson. While TJ asserted that there was no ground for consulting L. or B., Dawson reported to Monroe on 24 Dec. that after speaking with TJ he had in fact spoken with Edward Livingston and Aaron Burr about Monroe’s conflict with Hamilton (Syrett, Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961–87, 27 vols. description ends , xxi, 319).

The motion to reconsider the postponement of the bill on the arming of merchant vessels, introduced when some members said they had voted incorrectly out of confusion over the proposed dates, occurred on 26 Dec. (Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United StatesCompiled from Authentic Materials by Joseph Gales, Senior, Washington, Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. The edition cited here has this caption on both recto and verso pages: “History of Congress.” Another printing, with the same title-page, has “Gales & Seatons History” on verso and “of Debates in Congress” on recto pages. Those using the latter printing will need to employ the date or, where it is lacking, to add approximately 52 to the page numbers of Annals as cited in this volume. description ends , vii, 764–74).

The Marquis de Lafayette had expected to travel to the United States on the ship John from Hamburgh, but changed his plans before the ship sailed. The vessel, which had its home port at Boston, ran upon a shoal in Delaware Bay on 22 Dec. 1797 and became trapped by ice (Philadelphia Aurora, 26–28, 30 Dec. 1797).

James Lloyd was named United States Senator by the legislature of Maryland to replace John Henry, who had resigned earlier in December after his election as governor (Biog. Dir. Cong., description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989 Washington, D.C., 1989 description ends 1381, 1174). Similarly, Nathaniel Chipman became senator for Vermont to succeed Isaac Tichenor, whom the assembly had chosen governor after none of a field of candidates received a majority of the popular vote. The chief republican candidate for that office was former governor and senator Moses Robinson—evidently the governor Robertson of the above letter—who had vigorously opposed the Jay Treaty (Walter Hill Crockett, Vermont: The Green Mountain State, 5 vols. [New York, 1921–23], ii, 565, 567, 568, v, 47; Rutland Herald, 16 Oct. 1797).

The president’s removal of Tench Coxe as commissioner of the revenue on 23 Dec. 1797 without any reason assigned was interpreted as the product of Coxe’s open criticism of Adams prior to the election of 1796, and followed an acrid exchange of correspondence between Coxe and Oliver Wolcott (Cooke, Coxe, description begins Jacob E. Cooke, Tench Coxe and the Early Republic, Chapel Hill, 1978 description ends 286–90, 302–7).

Retained copies of four letters written by Monroe to an unnamed recipient on 25 Dec. 1797, 1 June, 15 Nov., and 16 Nov. 1798, now in his papers at DLC, were printed in Monroe, Writings description begins Stanislas Murray Hamilton, ed., The Writings of James Monroe, New York, 1899, 7 vols. description ends , iii, 89–92, 123–5, 139–47, 148–54, with TJ as the inferred recipient. However, the letters are not recorded in SJL, neither recipient’s copies with endorsements by TJ nor replies by him to any of the four are known to exist, the letters are not mentioned in other correspondence between TJ and Monroe, and TJ is not known to have written to Monroe on 14 Dec. 1797 and 22 May 1798, as the recipient of the letters in question must have done. Another letter written by Monroe on 1 June 1798 that was definitely to TJ refers to an enclosure addressed to John Dawson. A mention of Spotsylvania County in the letter of 15 Nov. and, in that of 16 Nov. 1798, a reference to the recipient as a Republican “heretofore less prominent,” support the conclusion that Dawson was the recipient of the four letters.

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