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Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 30 March 1809

To James Madison

Monticello Mar. 30. 09.

Dear Sir

Yours of the 19th came to hand by the last post; but that allows us so little time that I could not answer by it’s return. I had not before heard of mr Latrobe’s claim of Lenthall’s salary in addition to his own. that some of Lenthall’s duties must have fallen on him I have no doubt; but that he could have performed them all in addition to his own so as to entitle himself to his whole salary,1 was impossible. Lenthall superintended directly the manual labors of the workmen, saw that they were in their places every working hour, that they executed their work with skill & fidelity, kept their accounts, laid off the work, measured it, laid off the centers & other moulds Etc if the leisure of mr Latrobe’s own duties allowed him to give one half or one third of his time to these objects, it is more than I had supposed. the whole of them we know occupied every moment of Lenthall, as laborious, as faithful, & as able in his line as man could be. this claim is subject to another consideration. it would be a bad precedent to allow the principal to discontinue offices indefinitely and absorb all the salaries on the presumption of his fulfilling the duties. it may sometimes happen that a place cannot be immediately & properly filled, or that the arrangements for suppressing it cannot be immediately taken; and as some extra service may in the mean time fall on others, some extra allowance may be just. but this interval should be reasonably limited & accounted for. on weighing these considerations with mr Latrobe’s explanations you will be able to judge what proportion of Lenthall’s salary should be allowed him. I must add that tho he is a masterly agent in the line of his emploiment, you will find that the reins must be held with a firmness that never relaxes. Colo Monroe dined & passed an evening with me since I came home. he is sincerely cordial: and I learn from several that he has quite separated himself from the junto which had got possession of him, & is sensible that they had used him for purposes not respecting himself always. he & J.R. now avoid seeing one another, mutually dissatisfied. he solemnly disclaims all connection with the anomalous paper of the place & disapproves it. His only tie remaining is a natural one, & that is said to be loosened. I did not enter into any material2 political conversation with him, & still less as to the present course of things because I shall have better opportunities on his return with his family, whom he is gone to bring permanently to his residence here, and I think the daughter is expected to make a part of his family during the summer at least. on the whole I have no doubt that his strong & candid mind will bring him to a cordial return to his old friends after he shall have been separated a while from his present circle, which separation I think is one of the objects of his removal from Richmond, with which place he expressed to me much disgust.

On the 27th 28th 29th the thermometer was at 23. 21. 32. attended by a piercing N.W. wind, which rendered it as cold to our sensations as any day in winter had been. the peach trees whose buds were so forward as to shew the colour of the blossom, have generally lost their fruit. those less forward are safe. for this fruit therefore all will depend on the forwardness or backwardness of the situation3 this year. altho’ my situation is much forwarder than others, I have lost scarcely any thing. fears of injury to the wheat are entertained. I salute you with constant affection.

Th: Jefferson

RC (DLC: Madison Papers, Rives Collection); at foot of text: “The President of the US.” PoC (DLC).

Monroe had apparently severed his ties with a group of Virginia Republicans who were known as the Richmond junto, or Old Republicans, which supported Monroe for president instead of Madison. j.r., John Randolph of Roanoke, advocated the idea in letters to Monroe in 1806–07 that also expressed opposition to the Jefferson administration. To champion his candidacy Monroe’s supporters established an anomalous paper in Richmond, the Spirit of ’Seventy-Six.

Unsuccessful in his run for the presidency and clearly lacking Republican support, Monroe sought to restore his relationship with TJ and vindicate his actions as minister to Great Britain. He forwarded TJ copies of his letters to Randolph and one from William Branch Giles in order to counter criticism of his public service. With TJ’s reluctant consent, Monroe published some of their own correspondence. He decided to return to Highland, his home in Albemarle County, rather than practice law in Richmond. The only tie remaining was probably that with his son-in-law George Hay who, despite having managed Monroe’s campaign, maintained his standing in the party. Hay and Eliza Monroe Hay planned to visit Highland in the summer of 1809 (Monroe to TJ, 22 Mar., 27 Sept. 1808 [DLC]; TJ to Monroe, 28 Sept. 1808 [DLC: Monroe Papers]; Richmond Virginia Argus, 1 Nov. 1808; Ammon, Monroe description begins Harry Ammon, James Monroe: The Quest for National Identity, 1971 description ends , 270–7).

1Preceding nine words interlined.

2Word interlined.

3Preceding three words interlined.

Index Entries

  • Capitol, U.S.; B. H. Latrobe works on search
  • Giles, William Branch; correspondence with J. Monroe search
  • Hay, Eliza Monroe (George Hay’s wife) search
  • Hay, George; and J. Monroe search
  • Highland (J. Monroe’s Albemarle Co. estate); G. Hays plan to visit search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; with J. Monroe published search
  • Latrobe, Benjamin Henry; works on U.S. Capitol search
  • Lenthall, John; clerk of works at U.S. Capitol search
  • Madison, James; letters to search
  • Monroe, James; and Richmond junto search
  • Monroe, James; correspondence with W. B. Giles search
  • newspapers; Richmond Spirit of ’Seventy-Six search
  • peaches; trees search
  • Randolph, John (of Roanoke); and Richmond junto search
  • Richmond, Va.; Junto (Old Republicans) search
  • Spirit of ’Seventy-Six (Richmond newspaper) search
  • trees; peach search
  • wheat; effect of weather on search