Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from James Monroe, 13 February 1802

From James Monroe

Richmond February 13. 1802


I enclose you some resolutions of the General Assembly of this Commonwealth, passed at its last session explanatory of a resolution of the preceding session authorizing a correspondence with you relative to the purchase of lands without the limits of the state, to which persons obnoxious to its laws or dangerous to the peace of society might be removed. You will recollect that as the precise import of the first resolution was not clearly understood, it was thought proper to submit our communication on it to the General Assembly, that its object and policy might be more accurately defined. The resolutions which I have now the pleasure to communicate to you have removed all doubt on that subject, by confining the attention in procuring the asylum sought to the accommodation of negroes only, and by specifying for what causes, under what circumstances, and (in the case of felons) to what countries it is wished to send them. You will be pleased to observe that there are two descriptions of negroes embraced by these resolutions, the first comprizes those who being slaves may commit certain enumerated Crimes. For such an asylum is preferred on the Continent of Africa or the Spanish or portuguese settlements in South America. The second respects free negroes and mulattoes, including those who may hereafter be emancipated and sent, or chuse to remove to such place as may be acquired. For these a preference is not expressed in favor of any particular region or Country, nor is the right of Sovereignty over such place desired. In removing these people without our limits no restraint is imposed to preclude the attainment of an asylum any where, whereby the object of the State might be defeated, or to prevent that attention to their interests in case an alternative of places is presented, by inhibiting a preference for that which may be deemed best adapted to their Constitution, genius and character. I have therefore to request that you will be so good as to endeavor to promote the views of the State in these important respects; being satisfied that they are founded in a policy equally wise and humane, with respect to ourselves, and the people who are the object of it. I am dear Sir with great respect and esteem yr. very obt. servant

Jas. Monroe

RC (DLC); in a clerk’s hand; closing and signature in Monroe’s hand; endorsed by TJ as received 19 Feb. and so recorded in SJL. FC (Vi: Executive Letterbook); in the same clerk’s hand; at head of text: “The President of the United States”; lacks complimentary closing. Enclosure: Resolutions of the Virginia General Assembly, passed by the House of Delegates on 16 Jan. 1802 and agreed to by the Senate on the 23d, to resolve “a difference of construction” in the intent of the legislature’s resolution of 31 Dec. 1800; resolving first “that as the resolution was not intended to embrace offenders for ordinary crimes, to which the laws have been found equal, but only those for conspiracy, insurgency, Treason, and rebellion, among those particular persons who produced the alarm in this State in the fall of 1800, that the Governor be requested in carrying the said resolution into effect upon the construction here given, to request of the president of the United States in procuring the lands, to prefer the Continent of Africa, or any of the Spanish or Portugal settlements in South America”; resolving also “that the Governor be requested to correspond with the president of the United States for the purpose of obtaining a place without the limits of the same, to which free negroes or mulattoes, and such negroes or mulattoes as may be emancipated may be sent or choose to remove as a place of asylum; and that it is not the wish of the Legislature to obtain on behalf of those who may remove or be sent thither, the Sovereignty of such place”; and resolving finally that the governor present the next General Assembly with “the result of his communications to be subject to their controul” (Tr in DLC: TJ Papers, 120:20682; in the hand of and signed in attestation by James Pleasants, who was elected clerk of the House of Delegates on 1 Feb. 1802 [JHD description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia (cited by session and date of publication) description ends , Dec. 1801-Feb. 1802, 91]; with a footnote indicating that in the preface to the resolutions a reference to “December last” meant December 1800; TJ later received another Tr of the resolutions, also in DLC, from John Page; see Page to TJ, 29 Oct. 1804, 2 Feb. 1805, and TJ to Page, 27 Dec. 1804; printed in ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Miscellaneous, 1:466, and in 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. description ends , 16:998–9 [appendix]).

Resolution of the Preceding Session: the legislature’s resolution of 31 Dec. 1800 (see TJ to Monroe, 24 Nov. 1801, second letter, and Monroe to TJ, 21 Dec. 1801).

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