James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from James Monroe, 8 June 1798

From James Monroe

Alb: June 8. 1798

Dear Sir

I presume you have seen Mr. Adams attention to me in his reply to an address from Lancaster.1 I send you however a copy in the enclosed gazette. I also send an extract from an oration delivered by Judge Addison of Pensylva. wh. seems to have collected all the calumnies heretofore circulated agnst me.2 My friends in Phila. think some attention due to the publication of this judge & Mr. Dawson writes me that Mr. Gallatin, who has been calumniated with equal virulence by him,3 will probably notice his calumnies agnst me in his reply to those agnst himself. This attack reminds me of an affidavit of Mr. Skiph. & also of one of Mr. Wm. Morris & Burling wh. I sent you formerly from Paris4 to dissipate calumnies of this kind, wh. you informed me were then in circulation. These will of course be useful on the present occasion; I shall therefore thank you to send them to me, unless indeed you will be so kind (provided they be short) to send me copies & transmit the others either to Mr. Dawson or Mr. Jefferson, as it might be better they shod. go from any office than that of Charlottesville at this moment. Dr. Edwards has answered a letter written him in Feby last5 wh. gives the suitable answer to all the charges of this judge except that of speculation, & the affidavits above mentioned may supply that defect. I enclose you the Dr.’s paper for perusal but wish you to return it. The first paragh. is inaccurate, in implying that Paine did write in my house, whereas he did not—and in implying also that I knew of his writing by Mr. Pinckney as also the contents of the letter, wh. I did not, having heard of no such letter till Mr. Pinckney informed me of it after he left Paris as I accompanied him a few miles from the town. The less I appear in any publication wh. may be made in reply to this judge the better I think it will be, & if Mr. G. will not notice the subject for me, (as indeed I have no right to e⟨x⟩pect it of him) perhaps it will be well that the papers be inserted in the gazette, as it were, by some anonymous friend.6 There is more difficulty in deciding what notice if any ought to be taken of Mr. Adams’s attention to me. The first question is ought any to be shewn it? He has obviously wandered out of the address to abuse me, for an act of his predecessor, attributing to it a character his predecessor wod. not do, after having intimated too thro’ T. Pickg. on my former applicatn., that a succeeding president was not answerable for the acts of his predecessor.7 Not to notice it may with many leave an unfavorable impression agnst me. Yet how notice it. Personally I cannot I presume, as he is an old man & the Presidt.—and if I do it publickly or on publick ground can I do it otherwise than by asking as I did before, what the charge that I may vindicate myself, and ought I to assume that character? Having published my book, ought I to be ever on the demand of the admn., what is yr. charge? Can I assume agn the attitude of an accusor as in my book, ridicule his political career, shew it to be the consummation of folly & wickedness? Is the present a suitable time for this? I will thank you for yr. ideas on these points. I wod. come down but am much weared by my trip to & from Richmd., & cannot ask the favor of a visit from you, knowing how much you are engaged. Having lately procured several copies of my book from Richmond I beg yr. acceptance, of that the bearer will deliver. Our best respects to Mrs. Madison & family. Yr. friend & servt

Jas. Monroe

Mr. Jeffn. advises me to go into the H. of R. in Cabbels place as a remedy agnst these attacks, but to me it appears at present as if that measure wod. not answer the end. I do not think the moment suitable to produce a publick benefit, and by throwing myself in that theatre at present I rather think I shod. pit myself agnst subaltern rascals whilst the greater escaped. There is a description of lesser knaves who wod. be glad to fight me for their superiors, but I do not think the superiors ought to be so fortunate: or rather I am inclined to think that if I am bound to notice any thing said of me by the smaller gentry, it shod. be in the persons of the larger. Cabbel I hear will withdraw immediately & let me into the next Session. However these ideas are merely for consideration.

RC (DLC: Rives Collection, Madison Papers).

1In his reply of 8 May to an address from the inhabitants of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, President Adams complained that “the honor done, the publicity and solemnity given to the audience of leave, to a disgraced minister, recalled in displeasure for misconduct, was a studied insult to the government of my country” (Philadelphia Gazette of the U.S., 16 May 1798; for Monroe’s farewell address and the French government’s response, see Monroe to JM, 1 Jan. 1797, PJM description begins Robert J. Brugger et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Secretary of State Series (1 vol. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1986—). description ends , 16:442–43).

2Alexander Addison, presiding judge of the fifth judicial district of Pennsylvania and the Federalist anchor in the western part of that state, published his oration as An Infallible Cure. For Political Blindness (Richmond, 1798; Evans description begins Charles Evans, ed., American Bibliography … 1639 … 1820 (12 vols.; Chicago, 1903–34). description ends 33270). Addison called Monroe a “weak zealot, subsurvient to [French] ambition and insolence,” and accused him of a variety of public and private sins, including the neglect of his official duties, speculation in French funds and the purchase of a “princely palace,” playing host to Thomas Paine, and refusing to toast President Washington at a Fourth of July dinner.

3Addison charged Albert Gallatin with being “busy and mischievous” in filling the country “with false opinions of the acts and officers of government, and false vindications of every thing done against it. The falsehood and malignity of many of his representations have been discovered” (An Oration on the Rise and Progress of the United States of America, to the Present Crisis; and on the Duties of the Citizens [Philadelphia, 1798; Evans description begins Charles Evans, ed., American Bibliography … 1639 … 1820 (12 vols.; Chicago, 1903–34). description ends 33269], p. 19).

4For the affidavits of Fulwar Skipwith, William N. Morris, and Walter Burling, see Monroe to JM, 1 Aug. 1796 (PJM description begins Robert J. Brugger et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Secretary of State Series (1 vol. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1986—). description ends , 16:387, 389 n.).

5Monroe to Enoch Edwards, 12 Feb. 1798 (Hamilton, Writings of Monroe description begins Stanislaus Murray Hamilton, ed., The Writings of James Monroe … (7 vols.; New York and London, 1898–1903). description ends , 3:98–100). Edwards’s original reply has not been found, but the letter was copied at least twice as Monroe circulated it in an effort to counter the accusations against him of speculation and disrespect to the president. The copy in the Monroe Papers, Library of Congress, dated 20 Apr. 1798, is in the writing of John Dawson, with changes made by Monroe, probably in response to JM’s comments (see JM to Monroe, 9 June 1798). A copy of Edwards’s letter in Monroe’s hand, dated 21 Apr., is in the Madison Papers, Library of Congress (printed ibid., 3:161 n. 1; see Monroe to JM, 7 Dec. 1799, and n. 2).

6Monroe drafted a statement to accompany the documents and asked Jefferson to insert them in the newspapers if he judged it appropriate (Monroe to Jefferson, 15 Nov. 1798, Hamilton, Writings of Monroe description begins Stanislaus Murray Hamilton, ed., The Writings of James Monroe … (7 vols.; New York and London, 1898–1903). description ends , 3:144–47).

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