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To Thomas Jefferson from James Monroe, 28 September 1801

From James Monroe

Richmond Sepr. 28. 1801

Dear Sir

At the request of Mr. Arthur Lee of Norfolk I have given him an introduction to you, but not knowing his object, think proper to mention that I do not, as the contrary might otherwise be inferrd. He is in my opinion a young man of merit, tho it is not founded on much acquaintance with him. He deliver’d an oration not long since which was well spoken of, and is a republican. He is however young; I have heard him spoken of as gay; and if his object is the attainment of an office, you ought to have much better information of him than I can give. What I here state does not derogate from what I state in my other letter; it is intended only to prevent an inference from it wh. might be drawn without this intimation—Sincerely I am yr. fnd. & servt

Jas. Monroe

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 3 Oct. and so recorded in SJL.

In 1799, a friend commented that Arthur Lee had apparently “carried his Democratic principles so far as to make the common mechanicks & apprentices of Norfolk his intimate Friends.” Not long before that, in 1797–98, Lee attended the College of William and Mary. He was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates from Norfolk County in May 1801 for the session that was to begin in December (WMQ description begins William and Mary Quarterly, 1892– description ends , 1st ser., 4 [1895], 108; VMHB description begins Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 1893– description ends , 29 [1921], 259–60; The History of the College of William and Mary (Including the General Catalogue) from its Foundation, 1660, to 1874 [Richmond, 1874], 101; Alexandria Advertiser, 2 May 1801; Leonard, General Assembly description begins Cynthia Miller Leonard, comp., The General Assembly of Virginia, July 30, 1619–January 11, 1978: A Bicentennial Register of Members, Richmond, 1978 description ends , 224).

Monroe’s letter of introduction, which like the letter above was dated Richmond, 28 Sep., read: “Mr. Arthur Lee of Norfolk has requested me to make him known to you, with which I readily comply. He is the son of R. Evers Lee of that borough who is perhaps known to you. Mr. A. Lee is a young man of merit, of wh. his election as a delegate to our assembly by his county is an ample testimonial. I beg to recommend him to yr. civilities & am with great respect & esteem yr. fnd. & servt” (RC in DLC; endorsed by TJ as received 6 Oct. and so recorded in SJL). Arthur Lee’s father was evidently Richard Evers Lee, a Norfolk attorney, borough officeholder, and banker (Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser. description begins J. C. A. Stagg, ed., The Papers of James Madison, Secretary of State Series, Charlottesville, 1986–, 8 vols. description ends , 5:587–8n; Vol. 15:556; Arthur Lee to TJ, 5 Apr. 1804, in MHi).

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