Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from James Monroe, 27 June 1795

From James Monroe

Paris June 27. 1795.

Dear Sir

Of the above hasty view I have sent a copy to one or two other friends. Since it was written the committee have reported a plan of government as suggested of 2. branches, the one to be called a council of 500. consisting of so many members, the other of 250. called the council of antients. The age of the 1st. to be 30. and of the 2d. 40. They are to be chosen each for 2. years but to be supplied annually by halves. The Executive to be composed of 5. members to be elected for 5. years, but so arranged that only one withdraws annually. Each member is to have a salary of about £5000 sterg. per annum, the object whereof to receive and entertain foreign ministers &c. The Council of antients cannot originate a bill. If possible I will procure and send you a copy of the plan.

The British have recommenc’d the seizure of our vessels as formerly under the order of the 6th. of Novr. 1793. near 40. being carried in under by our last and which were the first accounts. This has produc’d an extreme ferment here, and it will be difficult under the irritation existing in consequence of Jay’s treaty, to prevent a revival of the same practice on the part of France, and if we do nothing when it is known in America but abuse the English and drink toasts to the success of the French revolution, I do not know what step they will take in regard to us. My situation since the report of Mr. Jay’s treaty has been painful beyond any thing ever experienc’d before, and for reasons you can readily conceive. I have however done every thing in my power to keep things where they should be, but how long this will be practicable under existing circumstances I know not. Denmark and Sweden will I think be active.

I have just received a letter from Mr. Derieux with one for his aunt. If possible I will now answer it; but in case I cannot, I beg you to tell him that I waited on her last fall with Mrs. Monroe, having previously written her repeatedly in his behalf, and after a long and earnest solicitation in his favor and returned without obtaining any thing for him. She had promised some thing before I went, and the dinner she gave us, was to pave the way for retracting and which she did. The old lady has about her (as I suspect) some persons who are poor, and who prefer their own welfare to his. By the law of France the property cannot be devised from her relatives, but tis probable these people will help to consume the annual profits; which latter however she says in consequence of the depreciation are nothing.

We wish most sincerely to get back and shall certainly do it, as soon as a decent respect for appearances will permit, especially if the present system of policy continues. I wish much to hear from you having written you several times but received not a line since my appointment here. Is there any thing in this quarter you wish to command of books or any other article; or can I serve you in any respect whatever? You will of course command me if I can be serviceable.

I have requested Mr. Madison to shew you some letters of mine to him. I wish to know much in what state my farms are. We are well: our child speaks French well and her and Mrs. M. desire to be affectionately rememberd to yourself and daughters, to whom as well as to Mr. R. and Mr. C. as likewise to my brother and neighbours be so kind as remember me. With great respect & esteem I am Dear [Sir]1 yr. Affectionate friend

Jas. Monroe

RC (DLC); on verso of last sheet by Monroe: “Mr. Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 8 Sep. 1795 and so recorded in SJL.

The plan of government described by Monroe was presented to the National Convention on 23 June 1795 and included in the Constitution of the Year III adopted by France in September 1795 (Lefebvre, Thermidorians, description begins Georges Lefebvre, The Thermidorians & the Directory: Two Phases of the French Revolution, trans. Robert Baldick, New York, 1964 description ends 176–86; Stewart, French Revolution, description begins John A. Stewart, A Documentary Survey of the French Revolution, New York, 1951 description ends 571, 580–8). The British have recommenc’d the seizure of our vessels: a secret order in council of 25 Apr. 1795 authorized British naval commanders to intercept neutral vessels carrying contraband provisions to French ports. Americans regarded this “provision order” as a renewal of the “additional instructions” of 8 June 1793, which had allowed British commanders to interdict cargoes of grain, flour, and meal bound for France and had been protested by TJ in his letter to Thomas Pinckney of 7 Sep. 1793. It was perceived also as a revival of a secretly promulgated order in council of 6 Nov. 1793 that had sanctioned the seizure of ships carrying the products of French colonies or provisions or supplies to those colonies. By raising the issue of foodstuffs as contraband the April 1795 order became an important point in the debate on Jay’s Treaty and caused President Washington to hesitate before approving the pact (Combs, Jay Treaty, description begins Jerald A. Combs, The Jay Treaty, Berkeley, 1970 description ends 164–70; Ritcheson, Aftermath of Revolution, description begins Charles R. Ritcheson, Aftermath of Revolution: British Policy Toward the United States, 1783–1795, Dallas, 1969 description ends 299, 354). In a 13 June 1795 letter Monroe had requested Mr. Madison “to shew my communications always to Mr. Jefferson, who I suspect declines intentionally a correspondence from a desire to enjoy free from interruption the comforts of private life” (Madison, Papers, description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 24 vols. description ends xvi, 18; see also James Madison to TJ, 14 June 1795, and note). Mr. R. and Mr. C.: Thomas Mann Randolph and perhaps Peter Carr.

1Word supplied.

Index Entries