Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from James Monroe, 23 March 1801

From James Monroe

Richmond 23. March 1801.

Dear Sir

My present and past employments have made me acquainted with many deserving men whose demands I cannot resist to make themselves & their views known to you. I must mention several at present with whom I stand in that predicamt. lest by withholding their pretentions longer, a reliance on me for that service might possibly expose them to injury.   David Gelston of New Yk. wod. be happy to accept the collectorship of that city shod. it become vacant. He was a firm patriot in our revolution. I knew him in 1784. when he was a Senator of that State, which office he has generally held since, as I believe he did for several years before. He was always a republican and a bold supporter of the cause when it was most dangerous to support it. He is a merchant who trades within his capital, of respectable abilities and unimpeachable integrity. I became acquainted with him the year you went to France in a trip to fort Stanwix with Govr. Clinton himself & others. Govr. Clinton and I presume many others will write in his favor if necessary.   William Lee of Boston lately nominated by Mr. Adams consul to Marseilles. He is a sensible deserving man, sound in his principles and amiable in his manners. He was nominated reluctantly by Mr. Adams at the instance of Mr. Gerry, who put him at a post where he cod. do nothing. He wishes to be brot. more into the busy world, as he has a family dependant on his industry & success. He is the person who brought Pichons pamphlets wh. gave occasion for so much noise & scandal at the time. That transaction has been explained much to his honor, and his conduct since has justified the good opinion I formed of him in Paris.

Mr. Forbes of New Yk. formerly Mass: had a letter from me to you. He likewise was nominated by Mr. Adams to some port in France. I think him an honest man, of good understanding, and worthy attention. Tho’ friendly to Mr. Adams’s admn. yet he was disliked by him & those under him for his liberality.   I enclosed to Mr. Madison Mr Skipwiths letter to me mentioning his & the wish of Joel Barlow for employment. They are both known to you.   I hinted to you I was persuaded Mr. Ervine wod. be gratified with some employment abroad wh. wod. enable him to advance his own fame in support of yr. admn. I have the highest opinion of his honor, his principles, & merit. His pretentions are moderate, and altho he wod. like some diplomatic agency, such as chargé des affrs. or even secry.ship at London or Paris, yet he wod. act as consul genl. to London. His delicacy wod. not permit me to penetrate so far into this as, was necessary to explain correctly his views. You are doubtless informd of his standing at Boston, and what his pretentions growing out of it are. I think I mentioned Mr. Prevost, Mr. Beckly & some characters in this State in a former letter.

sincerely I am dear Sir yr. friend & servt

Jas. Monroe

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 27 Mch. and so recorded in SJL. Dft (DLC: Monroe Papers); first paragraph only, with revisions.

Trip to Fort Stanwix: in 1784 Monroe, a member of Congress, observed conferences between Indian tribes and New York State commissioners before continuing his travels into Canada (Ammon, Monroe, description begins Harry Ammon, James Monroe: The Quest for National Identity, New York, 1971 description ends 45–7).

Pichons pamphlets: the papers that William Lee handed to Oliver Wolcott in June 1798 included a packet addressed to Benjamin Franklin Bache. Wolcott’s interception of the packet, which bore the seal of the French ministry of foreign affairs, prompted speculation that it contained subversive correspondence. After some delay, when Bache finally received the unopened packet it was found to hold only two anonymous pamphlets relating to Great Britain and France, Lettre d’un Français á M. Pitt, ou, Examen du Systême Suivi par le Gouvernement Britanique Envers la France (1797) and Seconde Lettre d’un Français á M. Pitt (1798). Authorship of the works has been attributed to Louis André Pichon, who was an acquaintance of Bache and sent the pamphlets to him. The pamphlets were published by the print shop that Dupont de Nemours had in Paris during that period (James Tagg, Benjamin Franklin Bache and the Philadelphia Aurora [Philadelphia, 1991], 382–5; Catalogue Général des Livres Imprimés de la Bibliothèque Nationale. Auteurs, 231 vols. [Paris, 1897–1981], 136:646; Saricks, Du Pont, description begins Ambrose Saricks, Pierre Samuel Du Pont de Nemours, Lawrence, Kans., 1965 description ends 242, 278).

Letter from me to you: a letter that Monroe wrote on 22 Feb. 1801, received on 25 Mch. and recorded in SJL with TJ’s notation that it pertained to “Forbes,” has not been found. That communication was an enclosure to one from Ralph Bennet Forbes to TJ of 20 Mch.; see note to Theodore Foster to TJ, 23 Mch. 1801.

Monroe had forwarded to James Madison Fulwar Skipwith’s letter requesting employment for Skipwith and Joel Barlow. In June TJ named Skipwith the U.S. commercial agent at Paris in place of James C. Mountflorence, whom John Adams had nominated for the post (Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser., 1:11–12; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States… to the Termination of the Nineteenth Congress, Washington, D.C., 1828, 3 vols. description ends , 1:384, 403; Appendix I, Lists 3 and 4).

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