James Madison Papers

To James Madison from James Monroe, 12 September 1786

From James Monroe

Phila. Sepr. 12. 1786.

Dear Sir

I arriv’d here a few days since to press on the legislature of this State a seperation of the impost from the supplel: funds. I have the most satisfactory evidence they will reject the proposition. We proceed therefore further merely to discharge our duty. Both parties are united in opposition to it. To morrow we shall be recd. by the legislature. I am sorry I came on the business.

Before this you have recd. my letters informing of the subsequent progress & final close of the business which lately engagd us in Congress; or rather so far as it depended on their direction. By agreement nothing was to be done in it untill our return.1 I expect to sit out back in a day or two. It will depend much on the opinion of Jersey & Pena. as to the mov’ments of Jay, and that of Jersey much on that of Mr. Clark now with you at Annapolis. He put Hornblower in Congress & may turn him out agn., for he has no positive weight of his own.2 Clark has always been anxious for taking the western lands from us. I shod. suppose him inclin’d to turn it to the best acct. I conclude therefore that if he knows the delegation[,] especially his part of it[,] pursue a system of policy so contrary to his own, & to what is in effect the interest of his country, he wod. dismiss Mr. Hornblower. Perhaps you may be able to hint to Mr. Clark that Jersey except Symes was with the eastern States upon this occasion.3

Mr. Henry of the Maryld. delegation has referr’d Mr. Stone to you for information upon this subject by my request.4 Mr. Stone is my friend and a very upright sensible man. You will shew him what part of my letters you find necessary.

The ablest men here believe & act on it, in the rejection of the proposition, that the refusal to seperate the 2. parts of the system5 endangers the govt., and that it will most probably induce a change of some kind or other. It is well for the southern States to act with great circumspection & to be prepard for every possible event—to stand well with the middle states especially. I sincerely wish you to suffer no anxiety and to put yourself to no inconvenience upon our private affair. I have no occasion for the money untill abt. the 5. or 10th. of Oct. to help to remove me to Virga., and even then it will be in my power to do without it, with tolerable convenience, if you shod. find it inconvenient to command it. Believe me it will put me to no inconvenience. My engagments are but few & those within my controul. Let me hear from you as often as possible. Remember me to Colo. Tucker & his lady,6 to the rest of yr. Colleagues & to Mr Stone & believe me sincerely yr. friend & servant

Jas. Monroe.

Colo. Grayson came with me in the interval to relax from business & meet his lady here.7 She is with him, but unfortunately he is afflicted with an extry. disease. The phisicians differ in the name. He is often delirious, is afflicted with st[r]ange fancies & apprehensions. In the morning he is better, than in the latter end of the day & night, at wh. time his infirmity rages. It is suppos’d by some to be the floating gout. Shippen calls it a bilious affection of the nerves. The very close attention he hath lately paid to business with the laborious exercise of the mind & want of that of the body I fear hath given birth to it. To day he hath been better than heretofore.

RC (DLC). Addressed and franked by Monroe. In Ms, the letter is one long paragraph. For clarity the editors here have begun new paragraphs where Monroe indicated a pause by leaving a slightly larger space at the end of a sentence.

1Rufus King and Monroe were the two commissioners sent to Pennsylvania. Since King and Monroe were the leaders of the pro-Jay and anti-Jay forces in Congress, a pledge was readily obtained to abstain from taking further action on Jay’s instructions. Monroe had continued to be suspicious of jay and his followers. Thus he had sought a guarantee of the status quo while he was away (Ammon, James Monroe, p. 58).

2Josiah Hornblower (1729–1809), while on the New Jersey Council from 1781 to 1784, had taken part in protesting the western land claims of Virginia and other states. He was not reelected to Congress in the fall of 1786 (DAB description begins Dictionary of American Biography. description ends , IX, 231–32; Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VIII, xc).

3John Cleves Symmes (1742–1814) served as delegate to Congress in 1786. Long interested in western lands, he was a key figure in the Miami purchase and migrated to the Ohio country in 1788 (Beverley W. Bond, Jr., ed., The Correspondence of John Cleves Symmes: Founder of the Miami Purchase [New York, 1926], pp. 1–21). His western orientation and interests in land speculation explain his opposition to the easterners’ position on the Jay-Gardoqui negotiations. Thus, Symmes voted with the southern states to refer the question of Jay’s instructions to the individual states (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXXI, 697). Lambert Cadwalader (1743–1823), the other delegate from New Jersey, served in Congress from 1784 to 1787 and was a representative in Congress, 1789–1791, 1793–1795 (DAB description begins Dictionary of American Biography. description ends , III, 399–400). Clark would return to Congress at the end of November 1786. JM apparently spoke to Clark, as Monroe suggested (see Abraham Clark to JM, 23 Nov. 1786).

4John Henry (1750–1798) of Dorchester County, Maryland. He was a delegate to Congress, 1778–1781, 1784–1787, and U.S. senator, 1789–1797. He resigned from the Senate to become governor of Maryland (DAB description begins Dictionary of American Biography. description ends , VIII, 549).

“Mr. Stone” was probably Thomas Stone (1743–1787) of Charles County, Maryland. He was a delegate in Congress in 1784 at the same time as Monroe. He attended the Virginia-Maryland commission on navigation of the Chesapeake and Potomac in 1785 (Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VII, lxvii, lxxvii; Rutland, Papers of George Mason, I, xcix).

5That is, granting a federal impost and supplementary funds for Congress. Monroe here abruptly switched from discussing Jay’s support on the Mississippi question to referring to the impost to mentioning possible dismemberment of the Union with no indications of the change. Consequently, Edmund Burnett interpreted Monroe’s reference back to the impost and supplementary funds as a reference to separating Jay’s instructions into two parts on the boundaries and on the Mississippi River. Given the context of the sentences before and after, Burnett’s interpretation is understandable (Letters, VIII, 464 n.). However, the internal logic of the sentence led the editors to conclude that the sentence is an afterthought related to the topic at the beginning of the letter.

6St. George Tucker (1752–1827) in 1778 had married Frances Bland Randolph (1752–1788) (Hugh A. Garland, The Life of John Randolph of Roanoke [New York, 1874], p. 5).

7Eleanor Smallwood Grayson, sister of Gov. William Smallwood of Maryland (DAB description begins Dictionary of American Biography. description ends , VII, 525).

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