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To James Madison from James Monroe, [29 September] 1812

From James Monroe

Albemarle—Tuesday [29 September 1812]

Dear Sir

I set out today, but being forc’d thro Caroline by some private concerns with the family of my late sister,1 shall not be able to reach Washington till the last of the week. I shall hurry on as fast as possible.

The enclosed from Mr Crawford, it is proper that you should see.2 In its relation to two gentlemen, of real virtue (in my judgment) however they may stand with the public, or fit they may be in all respects for their stations, it is necessary to know, what is thought & said of them however painful. I think in relation to a circumstance alluded to as to one, there is an error. But as you only will see it, no injury can result to him or either, of them. I bring Mrs Monroe, who has sufficiently recoverd to undertake the journey. Your friend

Jas Monroe

RC (DLC: Rives Collection, Madison Papers). Postmarked Milton, 30 Sept. Undated; date assigned on the basis of JM’s later docket, “(probably 1812),” and the fact that 30 Sept. 1812 was a Wednesday.

1Monroe’s sister was Elizabeth Monroe Buckner (1754–1802), wife of William Buckner of Mill Hill estate in Caroline County, Virginia (Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd, ed., Burke’s Presidential Families of the United States of America, 2d ed. [London, 1981], 142).

2Monroe enclosed a 9 Sept. 1812 letter he had received from William H. Crawford (DLC: Monroe Papers; 4 pp.), which expressed astonishment at the surrender of Detroit and offered sharp criticism of cabinet secretaries Eustis and Hamilton. Crawford also discussed the possibility of receiving East Florida from Luis de Onís. He understood that a cession would require the recognition of Onís as Spanish minister, which would be inconsistent with previous U.S. policy. Yet it was his view that the loss of slaves to Florida and the “depredations of the Indians” were sufficient reasons to desire the cession under any terms. In his view, if Onís was indeed empowered to cede the territory and could cause the Spanish governors to carry out the cession, the transfer would be legal, would silence senatorial malcontents, and would be inoffensive to Napoleon as well. Crawford went so far as to claim that he would be glad to see East Florida received even if these terms were not entirely met.

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