From James Monroe
New York May 18. 1786.
I have not heard from you lately but hope it hath not arisen from ill-health. Two days since we recd. dispatches from Mr. Adams in which he informs us of his demand of the surrender of the posts, & remonstrance agnst the violation of the treaty also in the instance of the negroes, with the answer of the minister to his memorial.1 In this answer it is stated that the King admits a violation in those points on his part, but on the other hand states the instances of violation on our part with respect to the debts in particular enumerating the acts of all the States contravening it, finally giving assurance that it is the Kings desire to carry the treaty fully into effect on his part provided the U S. will do the same on theirs. This I think is the amt. of the communication recd. & from which the injunction of secrecy is remov’d. It appears as if his expectation was that we shod. take the first steps in this business.
In my last I suggested the probability of my being able to accompany you in a trip up th[e Mohawk,] but of this at present I have doub[ts.2 There are] present 11. States & the business [of last May is] before Congress, so that I fear I cod. [not reconcile] it to my duty to be absent upon th[e present] occasion.3 I have pd. Taylor the [money for] the first payment so that that difficulty is at an end.4 I am Dr. Sir yr. friend & servt
We shall be happy to see you here & indeed calcul[ate] on a visit.
RC (NN). Upper left corner damaged, so that the salutation and words in the last paragraph on the verso are missing. Words restored by conjecture are within brackets. A column of figures with the total “£129..10” in JM’s hand was added below Monroe’s postscript.
1. Adams’s dispatches were presented to Congress on 15 May 1786 (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXX, 267). The American remonstrance, dated 30 Nov. 1785, insisted that all British armies and garrisons “be forthwith withdrawn” from U.S. territory. On 8 Dec. Adams presented it to Lord Carmarthen, and received a reply on 28 Feb. 1786, stating that Great Britain would not fulfill its part of the peace treaty regarding the western posts until the U.S. fulfilled its commitments on debt repayment. Adams enclosed this reply in a dispatch of 4 Mar. to John Jay (Diplomatic Correspondence of the U.S., II, 542–43, 544, 580–91). The standard reply from the British whenever delivery of the posts was demanded was that the U.S. was not faithfully upholding its obligations under the treaty. Samuel Flagg Bemis asserted that the real reason for retaining the forts was to protect the lucrative Canadian fur trade and to maintain control over the Indians, and that nonpayment of debts became a convenient excuse (Jay’s Treaty: A Study in Commerce and Diplomacy [New York, 1923], pp. 4–5, 10).
2. JM had wished “to explore the grounds” to determine the value of the land, and had hoped that about the last of May or June Monroe and he could “take a turn into that district” (JM to Monroe, 19 Mar. 1786, Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (9 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , VIII, 505).
3. The editor’s conjecture is that Monroe was anxious to be present when Congress was scheduled to discuss means of implementing the western land ordinance passed 20 May 1785. On 10 May the committee charged with recommending “a temporary government for the western States,” headed by Monroe, reported (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXX, 251–55). On 18 May the report was placed on the calendar for further consideration and when submitted on 13 July was prefaced by a statement that the Virginia cession had stipulated the western territories must be “admitted into the confederacy with the rights of the thirteen original states” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXX, 402–3).
4. Monroe paid Taylor $675, half of which JM now owed Monroe. Both he and JM were short of money at this time (Brant, Madison description begins Irving Brant, James Madison (6 vols.; Indianapolis and New York, 1941–61). description ends , II, 339–40; Ammon, James Monroe, p. 63). JM had warned Monroe in March that the first payment would rest with Monroe alone and that it would be several months before he could pay his half of the sum. JM’s ability to pay was dependent upon collecting money due under tobacco contracts made in Philadelphia (JM to Monroe, 19 Mar. 1786, Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (9 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , VIII, 505; JM to Monroe, 13 May 1786 and n. 2).