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To James Madison from James Monroe, 10 [11] August 1786

From James Monroe

New York Augt. 10. [11] 1786.

Dear Sir

We went into a Committee of the Whole yesterday. The subject was discuss’d fully, by Pinckny & others & the house ultimately came to the resolution & reporting that we sit agn. Today being the order for the report of the Committee—in part upon subject of the impost in its relation to Pena. & New York, the order above alluded of going into Committee was postpon’d to take up the sd. report.1 I consider this by no means as evidence that the majority are agnst Jays propositions, on the contrary we have satisfactory documents to believe that 7. States are for it.2 It depends therefore whether it shall be absolutely defeated (wh. will be the case provided they have but six States) upon the arrival of Wilson & St. Clair & their being in sentiment agnst Jay.3 If this shall be the case, may you not discover it in conversation & send them up? It was mov’d as we had expected to repeal the ultimatum in his instructions.4 I hope you have arriv’d in good health. Remember me particularly to Mrs. Triste & Mrs. House. Tell them we shall stay a day or two on our passage thro Phila.5 with them. I am yr. affte. frid. & servt.

Jas. Monroe.

RC (DLC). Monroe erred in dating this letter. As Burnett pointed out (Letters, VIII, 419 n.), it should be dated 11 Aug. 1786. See n. 1 below.

1The Committee of the Whole discussed foreign affairs on 10 Aug. and agreed to resume its debate the following day (11 Aug.), but then the “subject” was postponed in order to hear a report on the impost (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXXI, 509–14). The “subject” under discussion was the Jay-Gardoqui negotiations. Jay had submitted a letter dated 29 May to Congress requesting the appointment of a special committee to direct his negotiations owing to the difficulties he had encountered. The letter was referred for consideration to a committee of King, Pettit, and Monroe, who were discharged from further proceeding on the matter after they had referred the letter to a Committee of the Whole on 1 Aug. After a debate that day, Congress directed Jay to appear before them on 3 Aug. to explain the difficulties in the negotiations with Gardoqui. His statement on 3 Aug. was referred to a Committee of the Whole “to sit on thursday next [10 Aug.]” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXX, 323; XXXI, 457, 467–84; Monroe to JM, 31 May 1786 and n. 5).

On 11 Aug. Congress took under consideration a report by a committee under Monroe on the Pennsylvania and New York positions concerning a national impost. The report urged that Pennsylvania repeal the clause in her act which made the enactment of the impost dependent upon the other twelve states’ having granted the supplementary funds, and that New York grant power to Congress to tax imports without any strings attatched that would jeopardize the whole scheme (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXXI, 511–14).

2At the time, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

3James Wilson and Arthur St. Clair. Wilson appears not to have attended Congress in 1786 after the end of June. However, St. Clair was in attendance on 18 Aug. when he made one of the principal speeches in favor of the treaty (Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VIII, xcv, 419, 439–40).

4On 10 Aug. a motion was offered, probably by Rufus King, that in effect revoked that part of Jay’s instructions which stipulated the right of the U.S. to their territorial bounds and to the free navigation of the Mississippi. The motion directed him to report to Congress and to receive its approbation before he concluded any treaty (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXXI, 510).

5Monroe and his wife, Elizabeth Kortright Monroe, left New York for Virginia on 13 Oct. 1786. Monroe’s term expired on the first Monday of November, and he was ineligible for reelection since he had served three consecutive years in Congress—the maximum allowed under Virginia law to her delegates (Ammon, James Monroe, p. 61; Hening, Statutes description begins William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619 (13 vols.; Richmond and Philadelphia, 1819–23). description ends , IX, 299; XII, 26).

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