James Madison Papers

To James Madison from James Monroe, 10 July 1818

From James Monroe

Little river, Loudon county,
near Aldie
July 10. 1818

Dear sir

I had the pleasure to see Mr Todd, just before I came here, and requestd him to inform you, that some delay would necessarily occur, before I could leave the city for the summer. That I should remain here, till we heard from Genl. Jackson, on which I should return to the city, then back here, & then proceed by your house to Albemarle.

In truth, besides the motive for delay, to avail my self of the aid of the heads of depts., in regard to Genl. Jackson’s report of his proceedings in Florida, on the reply to be given to the Spanish minister,1 & instructions to Mr Erving, there were others, particularly the dayly expected return of our Comrs. from Buenos Ayres, & the instructions to Mr Rush, relative to the formation of a new commercial treaty with Engld., which requir’d my presence, in this quarter. Genl. Jackson’s report is receivd,2 in consequence of which I shall return to Washington on Monday next, the 13th. He imputes the whole cause of the Seminole war, to the interference & excitment by the Spanish authorities in the Floridas of the Indians, together with that of foreign adventurers, imposing themselves, on those people, for the agents of foreign powers. I have no doubt that his opinion is correct, tho’ he has not made his case as strong as I am satisfied he might have done. There are serious difficulties in this business, on which ever side, we view it. The motive for pressing Spain, in the present state of affrs., having the Mississippi, Floridas, &c, founded on the interest of the country, is not urgent, but the sense of injury from her, & of insult, together with the desire of aiding the Colonies, by pressing her, strong.

Our comrs have left Buenos Ayres on their return home, that is Mr Rodney & Graham, Mr Bland having taken a trip to Chili. We have no intelligence from them, of interest. From Mr. Prevost,3 at Val Paraiso, we have letters, very satisfactory as to his reception, & effect of the Ontario in that sea. His account of the victory of the patriots, represents the royal army as destroyed. Your friend.

James Monroe


1Monroe wrote John Quincy Adams on 17 Aug. 1818 instructing him that, in his reply to Spanish minister Luis de Onís about Andrew Jackson’s Florida incursion, he should limit himself to noting that “an order has been given to the American commander to deliver up Pensacola &c. to the Spanish officers and troops who may be duly authorized to receive possession thereof” (Hamilton, Writings of James Monroe description begins Stanislaus Murray Hamilton, ed., The Writings of James Monroe.… (7 vols.; 1898–1903; reprint, New York, 1969). description ends [1969 reprint], 6:64).

2For Jackson’s report of his campaign against the Seminoles in Spanish East Florida, see Jackson to Monroe, 2 June 1818 (Smith et al., Papers of Andrew Jackson, 4:213–15). For the difficulties Jackson’s victories posed for Monroe and for U.S. diplomatic relations with Spain, see Cunningham, Presidency of James Monroe, 58–65.

3John Bartow Prevost (1766–1825), Aaron Burr’s stepson, was appointed judge of the superior court of Orleans Territory in 1804. In 1817 he was appointed special agent for Peru and Chile (Mary-Jo Kline, ed., Political Correspondence and Public Papers of Aaron Burr (2 vols.; Princeton, N.J., 1983), 1:lxiv, lxvi; PJM description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (1st ser., vols. 1–10, Chicago, 1962–77, vols. 11–17, Charlottesville, Va., 1977–91). description ends , 15:404 n. 3; John Quincy Adams to Prevost, 29 Sept. 1817, in Manning, Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States concerning the Independence of the Latin-American Nations, 1:45–46). For Prevost’s letter to John Quincy Adams, 9 Apr. 1818, referred to here by Monroe, see ibid., 2:920–21.

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