James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from James Monroe, 2 October 1786

From James Monroe

New Yk. Octr. 2. 1786

Dear Sir

I have lately seen Taylor—he has a right to 4,000 acres of land in an undivided tract of 40.000 which he wishes to sell & will take six shillings pr. acre, ½ at the time of concluding the bargn. & the balance 12. months afterwards. The tract is distinguish’d in the maps by the name of Funda’s patent.1 It lies near fort Stanwix, adjoins the river above it & runs within two miles of the Mohawk down some miles below it. If I recollect the good lands abt. the fort, above & 20. miles below it extend further from the bank of the river than elsewhere or lower down. I do suppose the paymt. of the first sum might be put off untill Feby next. The lands of the Baron lie further I believe from the river2 & are for sale at 8./. pr. acre. I have it in contemplation to move to day that the report from Annapolis be referr’d to a Committee.3 I am persuaded the Eastern States will not grant an unlimited commission, but wod. accede to it if its objects were defind, or rather this is the language of those whom they have here.4 We mov’d that the injunction of secrecy be taken off & that each delegation be at liberty to communicate the proceedings on a certain subject to their legislature, which was negativ’d.5 The States in opposition were fearful of giving a dangerous wound by referring a subject to wh. they were competent in any degree to the view of their constituents, to the Confeder[a]tion.6 To prevent a ratification, to wh. poin[t] I apprehend they will bring it, will be a difficult thing. Mr Ramsay has recanted & join’d. Mr Kean applauds the project & is with them7 & our worthy colleague8 altho’ he votes generally with us at length speaks agnst us, & give[s] every opposition in his power. Sincerely yr. frien[d] & servant

Jas Monroe

I shod. write Colo. Grayson but hope he is by this on his way here; if the contrary shod. be the case make my best respects to himself & family.

RC (NN). Brackets enclose letters obscured in right margin of Ms.

1Fonda’s Patent. The original patent was most likely issued to Dow and Jellis Fonda in 1752 (Ruth L. Higgins, Expansion in New York with Especial Reference to the Eighteenth Century [Columbus, 1931], p. 78 and Map II).

2“The Baron” was von Steuben. Steuben Township was north of Fonda’s Patent (ibid., Map II).

3There is no record in the Journal of Monroe’s making such a motion. See Monroe to JM, 7 Oct. 1786. On 11 Oct. a committee was appointed to consider John Dickinson’s letter which covered the proceedings of the Annapolis convention (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXXI, 770 n.).

4Henry Lee corroborated Monroe’s opinion of the situation in Congress. “With difficulty the friends to the system adopted by the [Annapolis] convention induced Congress to commit your report, altho’ all were truly sensible of the respect manifested by the convention to this body, and all zealous to accomplish the objects proposed by the authors of the commercial convention.… But different opinions prevail as to the mode” (Lee to St. George Tucker, 20 Oct. 1786, Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VIII, 489–90). Rufus King, for one, was convinced “that Congress can do all a convention can, and certainly with more safety to original principles” (King to John Adams, 2 Oct. 1786, ibid., VIII, 475).

5See Monroe to JM, 29 Sept. 1786 and n. 1.

6Monroe’s poor syntax obscures the meaning of this sentence. Monroe meant that the delegates in opposition were reluctant to refer this controversy to their constituents because Congress rightfully had full power to deal with all foreign affairs. The referral might undermine the Confederation. See Burnett’s clarification, Letters, VIII, 475 n.

7On 28 Sept. Pinckney and Carrington had tried to force reconsideration of the repeal of the ultimatum in Jay’s instructions, but the review of the question was defeated by a sectional pitting of Northerners (no) against Southerners (aye). However, there were defections on both sides. Symmes of New Jersey voted with the South; Nathaniel Ramsay of Maryland, Henry Lee of Virginia, James White of North Carolina, and William Houstoun of Georgia voted with the North (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXXI, 694–97). John Kean of South Carolina appears to have been absent at the time (Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VIII, xcvii, 475–76 n.). Ramsay (1741–1817) of Cecil County, Maryland, was a delegate to Congress in 1775 and 1785–1787 (DAB description begins Dictionary of American Biography. description ends , XV, 340–41). Kean (1756–1795) was a South Carolina delegate to Congress, 1785–1787. George Washington appointed him cashier for the Bank of the United States (Biographical Directory of Congress [1971 ed.], p. 1213).

8Henry Lee. Lee favored the position of Jay and the eastern delegates. Lee and Washington corresponded about the negotiations and the occlusion of the Mississippi in the summer of 1786. Lee was trying to enlist Washington’s support for Jay, but Washington would go no farther than to restate the opinion which he had consistently held: “It is, neither to relinquish nor to push our claim to this navigation; but in the mean while to open all the communications which nature has afforded, between the Atlantic States and the Western Territory” (Washington to Lee, 18 June 1786, Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington, from the Original Sources, 1745–1799 (39 vols.; Washington, 1931–44). description ends , XXVIII, 460; see also Washington to Lee, 26 July and 31 Oct. 1786, ibid., XXVIII, 483–84; XXIX, 35). Lee was not satisfied with Washington’s response and he urged Washington, “Rather than defer longer the benefits of a free liberal system of trade with Spain, why not agree to the occlusion of the Mississippi” (Lee to Washington, 3 July 1786, Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VIII, 400; see also Lee to Washington, 7 Aug. and 11 Oct. 1786, ibid., VIII, 417, 481–83). Both Lee and Washington were among the Southerners whom Gardoqui tried to influence in the hopes of luring two southern states into the northern fold. The Spanish agent loaned Lee $5,000; and he encouraged the king of Spain to send Washington a jackass for breeding purposes. Gardoqui’s efforts with the General were to no avail. With his attention fixed on the development of interlocking water systems of the upper Potomac and Ohio rivers, Washington had already concluded that the western settlements should be united with the East physically and commercially by canals. But he would not commit himself to a foreign emissary (Bemis, Pinckney’s Treaty, pp. 107–14; Washington to Lee, 18 June 1786, Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington, from the Original Sources, 1745–1799 (39 vols.; Washington, 1931–44). description ends , XXVIII, 460; Washington to Gardoqui, 1 Dec. 1786, ibid., XXIX, 99). Lee, for his pains, was soon dropped from the Virginia delegation, although he was later reelected to replace Joseph Jones (Bemis, Pinckney’s Treaty, p. 107; Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VIII, xcviii; JM to Jefferson, 4 Dec. 1786).

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