James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from James Monroe, 7 September 1811

From James Monroe

Albemarle Sepr. 7. 1811

Dear Sir

The dispatches from France & England have kept me constantly occupied since their receit yesterday. A note to Gales shall be sent by the next mail.

I now send a project of an answer to Mr Serrurier’s former letter, which you will dispose of as you find proper.1 I shall send one by the next mail, on the subject of his last letter, relating to the late proceeding in Phila.2 I have just recd. a statment from Mr Dallas of the conduct of the French consul in that affair.

I enclosed to you on monday last by the mail directed to Orange Ct. house, my answer to Mr Foster, the substance of which was shewn to you when at your house.3 I fear it was not left there, as I have not heard from you on the subject. It may possibly have been forwarded to Washington by the inattention of the post master at Milton.

Mr Hamilton has just arrived here. Your friend & servt

Jas Monroe

Mr Robertson comn. is sent for your signature.4

RC (DLC: Rives Collection, Madison Papers).

1The enclosed “project” has not been found, but it may have related to the contents of a note Sérurier had sent to Monroe on 3 Sept. complaining of the action of the marshal of Pennsylvania in detaining a French dispatch vessel, the Balaou (also referred to as vessel no. 5), bound for Batavia. The vessel, after entering the Delaware River in distress on 23 July 1811, was recognized as an American ship that had been confiscated by French authorities eighteen months earlier, whereupon the former owners brought suit for restitution in U.S. district court. Sérurier protested the proceedings as an illegal insult to French sovereignty and demanded that Monroe instruct the court about the limits of its jurisdiction. Monroe responded on 14 Sept. 1811 with a note to the effect that American courts were independent of government control, but he added that the president had directed him to inform the U.S. district attorney of the administration’s views on the matter. The secretary of state restated these assurances to the French minister when the administration returned to Washington in October. The matter then seemed to be settled when the U.S. district court ordered the release of the vessel, but in November 1811 the case was appealed to the U.S. circuit court, which reversed the previous decision and sent the case back for trial (Sérurier to Monroe, 3 Sept. 1811 [DNA: RG 59, NFL, France]; Sérurier to Bassano, 9 Oct. and 8 Nov. 1811, the latter enclosing copies of Monroe to Sérurier, 14 Sept. and 12 Nov. 1811, and Sérurier to Monroe, 3 Nov. 1811 [AAE: Political Correspondence, U.S., vol. 66]).

2Monroe was probably referring to Sérurier’s 3 Sept. 1811 letter reminding him that he had written to the secretary of state a month earlier seeking a decision from the U.S. government on the case of Captain Grassin and his vessel in Philadelphia (DNA: RG 59, NFL, France).

3No communication from Monroe to JM under the date of 2 Sept. 1811 has been found. The “answer to Mr Foster” may have been a response to the British minister’s note of 16 Aug. 1811 (see JM to Monroe, 23 Aug. 1811, and n. 1). That Foster did not receive any answer from Monroe at this time is confirmed by the fact that the minister wrote to Monroe again on 21 Sept., pointing out that his notes of 23 July, 16 Aug., and 1 Sept. on the subject of “suspicious vessels” had yet to be acknowledged (DNA: RG 59, NFL, Great Britain).

4The commission was for Thomas B. Robertson, secretary of the Orleans Territory, whose term of office was due to expire on 18 Nov. Robertson received a temporary commission from Monroe on 20 Sept. 1811, and on 3 Dec. 1811 JM nominated him for a further four-year term (Carter, Territorial Papers, Orleans, 9:958–59; 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 , 2:194).

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