James Madison Papers

To James Madison from James Monroe, 19 May 1821

From James Monroe

Washington May 19. 1821

Dear Sir

Had I receiv’d your letter respecting Mr. Robt. Taylor,1 before the appointment of General Pegram2 to the office of marshall was made, I would not have hesitated to appoint Mr Taylor. But I knew nothing of his wish on the subject, & being appriz’d by the person who sent forward the resignation of General Moore, that an immediate appointment of his successor, would be necessary, as judge Tucker intended to hold a court, as soon as the vacancy was filled, & not before, I acted without the usual delay. General Pegram occurr’d to me, as a person well qualified to discharge the duties of the office, & whose appointment promised to be satisfactory to the public. I had not heard from him, nor did I know that he would accept it. I thought if he declin’d it, that I should have done my duty in having, offer’d it to him, & gain’d time to receive & weigh the applications & pretentions of others. He accepted the office, as soon as he heard of his appointment, tho’ the commission being directed to Petersburg did not immediately reach him. The census had not been fully taken under General Moore, which was another strong motive for dispatch. His health & mind had been severely shocked, as I heard, by disease, and on his own account, as well as that of the public, I was glad that he withdrew. It is said that he has sufferd much from that cause, by the misconduct of his deputies.

I have at length made the arrangments, and appointments, that were injoind on me, by the late law, for carrying into effect the treaty with Spain.3 Judge White of Tennessee Govr King of Maine, & Mr Tazewell, are the Commissrs. for the settlement of claims on Spain. Dr. Watkins of Bal:4 is secretary & Jos: Forrest5 of this city, Clerk of the board. The territory from St Mary’s to Cape Florida makes one collection district for the revenue; from the cape to Apalachicola, a second; & thence to the perdido, the third. At the last, I have appointed Mr Alexr Scott Collector, Steuben Smith6 naval officer, who will appoint John Martin Baker Inspector. At St. Augustine Mr Hackley is appointed, Surveyor and Inspector. The salaries to these officers will be small, but I shall endeavour to send them to their stations in a public vessel, & to have them quarterd in the public buildings. The territory ceded, having been divided under Spain, into two provinces, & St Augustine being so very distant from Pensacola, & separated by a wilderness, it was thought adviseable to retain in some circumstances that form. The appointment of the governor extends of course over the whole; but as he will probably reside at Pensacola, a secretary is appointed for St Augustine, and another for Pensacola. Two judicial districts are also form’d, and one Judge appointed for each. Mr Fromentin to the one, and Mr. Duvall,7 formerly member of Congress from Kentucky for the other. Judge Anderson’s son8 is appointed district attorney for Pensacola.

Mr, now Baron de Neuville, has been negotiating with Mr Adams a commercial treaty, without much prospect from the beginning of concluding one. The restrictive duties on both sides had cut up the commerce between the two countries, which on our part was making its way into France, thro England, nice, genoa &c, and had not Florida been surrender’d, would have been smuggled from France into the UStates through its ports. There is reason to think that this resource had been in part relied on in the early stages. The great inequality of the duties imposed by France, compar’d, with those of the UStates, was as you know the motive to our last law, which producd that of France, which cut up the commerce between us. He proposed a reduction of one third of the existing duties on both sides, which would still preserve the inequality. This was rejected. He has been offerd, a reduction of the duties on French wines & silks, or an augmentation on silks from China in lieu of the latter, simply, for the establishment of equality on ships, on the principle of our act of the 3d. of March 1815.9 which he has refused. He has since been offerd a regulation on another principle, that of a nominal equality, on both sides, of one and half pr cent for example, on the articles ad valorem, which on a vessel of 250. tons if loaded with cotton would make a duty of 450. dolrs, a regulation, notwithstanding its nominal equality, which by the greater bulk & less value of our articles, would operate decidedly in favor of France, & he now has this proposition under consideration, but with little expec[ta]tion of his accepting it. In short I do not think that there is much, if any prospect, of an agreement.

The reduction of the army is now compleated. It has been a painful duty, as it will dismiss many good officers, who had relied on the profession as a support, & have no other resource at present.

The termination of the Neapolitan movment, has by its manner disgracd that country,10 if it does not injure the cause in Spain & Portugal. The foundation is weak; the people are ignorant, depravd, & unequal to such a trial. Mrs Monroe & Mrs Hay have been sick since Congress left us, & recently, our gd. daughter, Hortensia has been dangerously ill, with a sore throat & fever which had nearly carried her off. The complaint is atmospheric, & has taken off several children in this part of the city. The fever has left her, & her throat getting well, but she is reducd to a skeleton. I shall move them to Loudoun (where Mrs Gouverneur was sent with her child for safety) as soon as she can travell. The Board of Commissrs. will meet the 1st. of June, and I wish to be here to confer with them generally on their business; and other concerns will necessarily bring me here occasionally, so that for the present my residence will be principally in Loudoun. Should we visit Albemarle, or I alone, we shall certainly call on you. Our best respects to Mrs Madison & family. Very sincerely I am your friend

James Monroe


2John Pegram (1773–1831) of Dinwiddie County, Virginia, served in the Virginia House of Delegates, 1797–1801 and 1813–15, and in the state Senate, 1804–8. He was a major general in the state militia during the War of 1812 and served briefly in the U.S. House of Representatives, 1818–19. He was appointed U.S. marshal for the eastern district of Virginia in April 1821. He died in a riverboat accident on the Ohio River.

3Section 4 of “An Act for carrying into execution the treaty between the United States and Spain, concluded at Washington on the twenty-second day of February, one thousand eight hundred and nineteen,” 3 Mar. 1821, provided for a board of commissioners to carry out the provisions of the eleventh article of the treaty, which dealt with U.S. claims against Spain (U.S. Statutes at Large description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America … (17 vols.; Boston, 1848–73). description ends , 3:637–39).

4Tobias Watkins (1780–1855) was a graduate of St. John’s College, Annapolis, Maryland (1798), and the Medical College of Philadelphia (1802). He practiced medicine in Baltimore, where he was physician to the Marine Hospital. A veteran of the War of 1812, Watkins edited the Portico, a monthly literary magazine, 1816–18. In 1821 he translated a pamphlet written by the Spanish minister to the United States, Luis de Onís, defending his work in negotiating the Transcontinental Treaty. The pamphlet was entitled Memoir upon the Negotiations between Spain and the United States of America Which Led to the Treaty of 1819 (Baltimore, 1821; Shoemaker 6348). Watkins served as fourth auditor of the Treasury, 1824–29, but was later tried and imprisoned for fraud (Howard A. Kelly and Walter L. Burrage, eds., American Medical Biographies [Baltimore, 1920], 1205; Mott, History of American Magazines, 293).

5Joseph Forrest (1768–1845) was a Washington merchant and justice of the peace in the District of Columbia (Van Horne, Papers of Benjamin Henry Latrobe, 2:871 n. 3).

6William Steuben Smith (1787–1850), grandson of former president John Adams, was secretary of legation at St. Petersburg under his uncle, John Quincy Adams, 1809–15. Smith was nominated naval officer for Pensacola, 7 Jan. 1822, but was not confirmed by the Senate. He later served as U.S. Army paymaster (Kline, Papers of Aaron Burr, 2:710 n. 2; Senate Exec. Proceedings description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America (3 vols.; Washington, 1828). description ends , 3:261, 270, 365, 366).

7William Pope Duval (1784–1854) was born in Virginia but moved to Kentucky, where he practiced law. He served as a Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, 1813–15. Monroe appointed him judge of the East Florida district in May 1821, and soon thereafter territorial governor of Florida, in which position he served from 1822 to 1834. He moved to Texas in 1849.

8Alexander Outlaw Anderson (1794–1869), the son of Joseph Inslee Anderson, a veteran of the War of 1812 and future senator from Tennessee, 1840–41, did not serve as district attorney for Pensacola. That post was taken by Tipton B. Harrison (Senate Exec. Proceedings description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America (3 vols.; Washington, 1828). description ends , 3:293).

9“An Act to repeal so much of the several acts imposing duties on the tonnage of ships and vessels, and on goods, wares and merchandise, imported into the United States, as imposes a discriminating duty on tonnage, between foreign vessels and vessels of the United States, and between goods imported into the United States in foreign vessels and vessels of the United States,” 3 Mar. 1815 (U.S. Statutes at Large description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America … (17 vols.; Boston, 1848–73). description ends , 3:224). For a discussion of the commercial negotiations with France, see Bemis, John Quincy Adams and the Foundations of American Foreign Policy, 450–57.

10For the revolt in Naples of the Carboneria and its sympathizers, its immediate success, and the means by which Austria crushed the revolutionaries and restored the Bourbon king, see Acton, Cambridge Modern History (1969 reprint), 10:111–14.

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