James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from James Monroe, 5 August 1814

From James Monroe

augt 5. 1814

Dear Sir

I send you a letter from our ministers lately in London,1 and some from mr. Beasly,2 and a very important one from Mr Gallatin.3 Two letters from mr Crawford, the last of may 12., will be decypherd, & sent you, as soon as done.4

From what I see of these communications, we may expect that the British govt. will assume very high pretentions, in the negotiation, & that none of the other powers will interfere to prevent the prosecution of the war against us, with the whole British force. We may therefore expect the worst, and ought to be prepard for it. Very respectfully & sincerely yrs.

Jas Monroe

RC (DLC: Rives Collection, Madison Papers). For enclosures, see nn. 1–3.

1The enclosed letter was probably that of 11 July 1814 from John Quincy Adams, James A. Bayard, Henry Clay, Jonathan Russell, and Albert Gallatin to Monroe (2 pp.), written from Ghent to report that the negotiations had been moved there from Gothenburg to facilitate communication between the British government and its peace commissioners; that while in London, Bayard and Gallatin had provided official notification of the arrival of the U.S. commissioners in Europe as required by the British before they would appoint their own commissioners; and that the Americans were now waiting for the British to arrive in Ghent. They enclosed Bayard’s and Gallatin’s correspondence with Lord Castlereagh and Earl Bathurst making the above arrangements, along with a 15 June 1814 note from the Foreign Office stating, in reply to a query from Gallatin, that the British commissioners would “leave London for Ghent on or about the first day of July, where it is presumed they will find the American commissioners assembled” (DNA: RG 59, Despatches of the U.S. Commissioners at Ghent; printed in Donnan, Papers of James A. Bayard, 305–9).

2Monroe probably enclosed Reuben G. Beasley’s letters to him of 11 and 12 July 1814 (DNA: RG 59, CD, London). In the first (3 pp.), Beasley stated that Gallatin, who had left London for Ghent by way of Paris on 23 June, had been told that the British commissioners would depart on 1 July, but that they were nevertheless still in London, and that he would try to find out why. He added that he had a letter from Adams, Bayard, Clay, and Russell, dated 1 July 1814, from Ghent. In the 12 July letter (3 pp.), he reported that the Foreign Office had attributed the British commissioners’ delayed departure “to the fâtes & a multiplicity of business” and that he had been told “they were now preparing to go.” He had also been informed, he wrote, that the British government intended to evict him from London, since JM’s administration had required Thomas Barclay, the British commissary general for prisoners, to move to Bladensburg.

3Monroe probably enclosed the deciphered transcript of Gallatin’s 13 June 1814 letter to him from London (5 pp.), stating that the British were preparing a force of 15,000 to 20,000 men that could be landed on the Atlantic coast of the United States and would probably strike at U.S. commerce and manufacturing; that public opinion in Great Britain favored severe war measures against America; that neither Alexander I nor leaders of other European nations could or would intervene on behalf of the United States; and therefore that the best terms likely to be granted by Great Britain in a peace treaty were “the Status ante Bellum” and “a postponement of the questions of Blockade [and] impressment” (DNA: RG 59, Despatches of the U.S. Commissioners at Ghent).

4Monroe probably referred to William Harris Crawford’s 11 May 1814 letter to him and its 12 May postscript (17 pp.; encoded and interlinearly decoded), reporting Crawford’s discussions of diplomatic procedure with officials of the new French government, opining that the United States could expect no assistance against Great Britain from France or any other European country, and predicting that the British would not give up impressment. Dubious that U.S. generals could compete against British veterans of the Peninsular War, Crawford took occasion to complain that William Henry Harrison was a “low demagogue” who relied on popularity rather than military skill, wrote compulsively, and had produced a report of the Battle of the Thames that “would disgrace a schoolboy.” On two pages now missing from the RC of the 12 May postscript but included in a copy appended to the triplicate of his 26 Apr. 1814 dispatch, Crawford conveyed newspaper reports from England that 12,000 Spanish soldiers were to be sent to Louisiana and a British force of “10 to 30,000” to the United States. The second letter to which Monroe referred may have been Crawford’s 26 Apr. dispatch (4 pp.; RC incorrectly dated 26 Mar. 1814), reporting the arrival of Louis XVIII at Calais, conveying rumors that the British would not make peace without “the express recognition of their right to impress, on board American vessels, and the entire abandonment of the navigation of the lakes,” stating Crawford’s belief that Americans would resist these demands even if the next president were a Federalist and that European powers would eventually join together against Great Britain in defense of “maritime rights” if the war against the United States continued, and informing Monroe that Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours, a secretary of the temporary French government, had told Crawford that France would finally indemnify the United States for depredations on its shipping (DNA: RG 59, DD, France).

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