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James Monroe to Thomas Jefferson, 26 April 1815

From James Monroe

washington april 26. 1815.

Dear Sir

I expected to have had the pleasure of seeing you, more than a month past, and to have deliver’d to you the enclosed letters on finance in person, with a paper on the same subject, which was written in our revolution by the President & given to me for perusal, with a request that I would forward it to you for the same purpose. The ill health of Mrs Monroe, and more recently of our daughter, have detaind me here, and will do it a week or ten days longer. Prior to their indisposition I had suffer’d much from a very severe attack of the sciatick, or rather of the prevailing epidemick which seized on the weaker parts of the system. From this, I soon recoverd, so far as to attend to business, but have not yet regaind my strength, and am affected by cold & sometimes fever on the slightest exposure. ashamd at having so long retaind your letters, and uncertain when I may be able to present them myself, I forward them by the mail. I send also a copy of a report which I made, from the dept of war, on the causes of the differences between this govt & those of some Eastern States, relative to the power of the former over the militia. The letters of those govrs and the time & circumstances under which they were written, prove satisfactorily their object. Arrangments had been made, had the war continued, to organize a force in that quarter, which, had they succeeded, would have render’d the treasonable designs of these men abortive, of which I will give you a detail when we meet. Happily the peace has relievd the nation from all embarrassment on that, and very many other causes, that weighed heavily on the government. I hope you have considerd it, under all circumstances, an honorable one to the nation. If I can obtain a copy I will send it to you, of my report to the military committees, on the reduction of the army necessary to accomodate it to the peace establishment. Our friends pushed it beyond the limit which I proposed. By the last, two major Genls, & 4. Brigrs are to be retaind. Brown & Jackson were supposed, by service, to have the strongest claim to the first grade, and Scott, Gaines, McComb, & Ripley, to the second. This will discharge many having claims by long, in some instances very meritorious services, as well as, by age, & poverty. Employment will be given where it can, to these officers, in other lines, but I fear many will remain distressd and discontented.

In regard to our foreign affairs much is to be done. we have treaties with none, and not much kindness to be expected from any. The war, by the gallantry of our land & naval forces, has given us credit, and that may aid us in future arrangments, tho’ in some quarters it will produce a different effect. on these subjects we will confer more fully when we meet.

I am dear Sir with great respect & esteem your friend & servant

Jas Monroe

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 28 Apr. 1815. Enclosures: (1) TJ to John Wayles Eppes, 24 June, 11 Sept., 6 Nov. 1813. (2) TJ to Joseph C. Cabell, 17 Jan., 23 Sept. 1814. (3) James Madison, “Money,” an essay written between Sept. 1779 and Mar. 1780, arguing that, contrary to popular opinion, “If the circulating medium be of universal value as specie, a local increase or decrease of its quantity, will not, whilst a communication subsists with other countries, produce a correspondent rise or fall in its value”; that paper money payable in specie on demand is superior to that payable at some future date, which depreciates; that “distrust of public credit” also leads to depreciation and has been “erroneously imputed to the quantity of money”; that neither monopolies, nor “misconduct in the purchasing departments,” nor a “deficiency of imported commodities” affect the value of money; that from the previous principles, it can be concluded that “a loan-office certificate differs in nothing from a common bill of credit, except in its higher denomination, and in the interest allowed on it”; and thus that issuing such certificates yields no benefit and removes redemption to “a more distant day” (printed in the Philadelphia National Gazette, 19, 22 Dec. 1791; repr. in Madison, Papers, Congress. Ser., 1:302–10). (4) Report by Monroe as secretary of war to William B. Giles, chair of the United States Senate’s Committee on Military Affairs, on the relative powers of the federal and state governments over the militia, 11 Feb. 1815, suggesting that recent challenges by several state governors to the president’s power to call out state militias and assign regular army officers to command them is “repugnant” to the principles of the United States Constitution and of “dangerous tendency”; that the “power which is thus given to Congress by the people of the United States, to provide for calling forth the milita, for purposes specified in the constitution, is unconditional”; that it was the “intention of the framers of the constitution, that these powers, vested in the General Government, should be independent of the States’ authorities”; that Congress has the power to call forth the militia to “execute the laws of the Union,” suppress insurrection, and “repel invasions”; that restraining the government’s power over the militia would “force the United States to resort to standing armies for all national purposes”; that state authority over the militia ceases when it is called into national service; that “nothing in the constitution” requires the president to command the militia in person, as some governors have claimed; and that the president has the authority to appoint officers and organize the army into appropriate miltiary units; with appended letters from the governors of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Jersey: Caleb Strong, John C. Smith, William Jones, and William Pennington, respectively (ASP, Military Affairs, 1:604–23).

Monroe submitted more than one report on the reduction of the military through Giles to the Senate military affairs committee (Monroe to Giles, 22, 24 Feb. 1815 [DNA: RG 46, Senate Records, 13th Cong., 3d sess.]; the first is printed in Stanislaus Murray Hamilton, ed., The Writings of James Monroe [1898–1903], 5:321–7). Congress established the limit of two major genls and four brigadier generals in a 3 Mar. 1815 “Act fixing the military peace establishment of the United States” (U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, 1845–67, 8 vols. description ends , 3:224–5).

Index Entries

  • An Act fixing the military peace establishment of the United States (1815) search
  • Army, U.S.; and militia search
  • Army, U.S.; reduction of search
  • Brown, Jacob Jennings; as major general search
  • Connecticut; governor of search
  • Constitution, U.S.; and state militias search
  • fevers; and colds search
  • Gaines, Edmund Pendleton; as brigadier general search
  • Ghent, Treaty of (1814); J. Monroe on search
  • Ghent, Treaty of (1814); support for search
  • Giles, William Branch; as U.S. senator search
  • Hay, Eliza Monroe (George Hay’s wife); illness of search
  • health; fever search
  • health; sciatica search
  • Jackson, Andrew; as major general search
  • Jones, William (1753–1822); as governor of R.I. search
  • Macomb, Alexander; as brigadier general search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); Money (essay) search
  • Massachusetts; governor of search
  • military; in peacetime search
  • militia; use of under U.S. Constitution search
  • Money (essay by J. Madison) search
  • Monroe, Elizabeth Kortright (James Monroe’s wife); health of search
  • Monroe, James; and TJ’s letters on finance search
  • Monroe, James; and Treaty of Ghent (1814) search
  • Monroe, James; family of search
  • Monroe, James; health of search
  • Monroe, James; letters from search
  • Monroe, James; on U.S. foreign relations search
  • Monroe, James; reports on federal authority over militia search
  • Monroe, James; reports on reduction of military search
  • New Jersey; governor of search
  • Pennington, William; as governor of N.J. search
  • Rhode Island; governor of search
  • Ripley, Eleazar W.; as brigadier general search
  • sciatica search
  • Scott, Winfield; as American military commander search
  • Senate, U.S.; Committee on Military Affairs search
  • Smith, John C.; as governor of Conn. search
  • Strong, Caleb; as governor of Mass. search
  • War of1812; militia activity search