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To James Madison from James Monroe, 17 October 1823

From James Monroe

Oak hill Octr. 17. 1823

Dear Sir

Two dispatches have been lately receivd from Mr. Rush, communicating a proposition from Mr Canning, confidentially made to him, of cooperation between our two governments, in opposing, by reciprocal declaration, in the first instance, a project which he thinks exists, of the holy alliance, to invade the So. american states, as soon as the business with Spain is settled, & which he intimates the members of that alliance expect will soon be settled. Mr Rush’s answer, in two letters, to a like number from Mr Canning, is containd in those dispatches.1 I have transmitted a copy of them to Mr. Jefferson, with a request, that he would forward them to you. My earnest wish is to have your & his opinion, as to the part, which we ought to take, in a question of such vital importance. My own impression is, that the British government is sensible, that it can no longer, maintain that indecisive & inactive policy, which it has pursued, in the great question which agitates Europe, and that it has avail’d itself of the alledged project of the allied powers, of the truth of which however I have no doubt, to assume a decisive attitude against them, & in so doing, to move in concert with us, should we be so disposed. According to the view I have taken of the subject, I am persuaded, that we had better meet the proposition fully, & decisively. I can not doubt, if they succeeded with the colonies they would, in the next instance, invade us. Ought we not then to encourage G.B., in the course she seems disposed to pursue, & avail ourselves, of any service she can render, in a cause which tho’ important to her, as to balance of power, commerce &c, is vital to us, as to government. I wish to hear from you as soon as it may be convenient, as I must, I presume soon act on the subject. Our respects to Mrs. Madison & your mother. Mrs. Monroe has been, & still is more indisposed since her return. Very sincerely your friend

James Monroe

State the precise inquiries which you wish me to make of Genl. Jackson, as from myself, and I will make them immediately having occasion to answer a letter lately recd. from him.

How is Mr. Crawford—and when do you think that he will be able to move?2 His family, were recovering their health, when I left the city.

RC (DLC: Rives Collection, Madison Papers).

1The two dispatches contained overtures by George Canning, the British foreign minister, to cooperate with the United States in delivering a declaration that would, in Rush’s summation, “be the most effectual and least offensive mode of making known their joint disaprobation” of European intervention in South America, “put an end to all the jealousies of Spain with respect to her remaining colonies,” and end the “agitation prevailing in the colonies themselves.” Canning’s proposals and Rush’s replies are described in Rush, Memoranda of a Residence at the Court of London, 412–23.

2A report in the Daily National Intelligencer, 13 Oct. 1823, noted that William Harris Crawford had been struck in mid-September with “an inflammatory rheumatic fever, complicated with slight bilious symptoms” at James Barbour’s home in Barboursville, Virginia, where “Mr. and Mrs. Madison have shewn great kindness’ to him. In fact, Crawford had suffered a stroke that left him partially paralyzed and nearly blind. He remained in Barboursville until November (Charleston City Gazette and Commercial Daily Advertiser, 20 Oct. 1823; Lowery, James Barbour, 147).

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