From James Monroe
Decr. 2. 1797.
I enclose you a letter for Mr. Dawson, one for Mr. [Gates,] one for Mr. Knox, and one for Colo. Burr. The last [is] left open for the inspection of Mr. Madison. That to Mr. Knox, you will be so good as put in the post office as soon as you arrive in Phila. I sincerely wish you peace and comfort thro the winter. The latter you may have in some respect—but the former I think you will not have. However tis possible a decided majority on the [port] side may give our country repose and safety, [and] of course extend those blessings to those who des[ire?] them. Very sincerely I wish you well.
RC (DLC); right edge damaged; addressed: “Mr. Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ. Recorded in SJL as received on 2 Dec. 1797. Enclosures: (1) Monroe to John Dawson, 27 Nov. 1797, not found, but date and contents inferred from other correspondence, requesting Dawson to act for Monroe in arranging a resolution of Monroe’s dispute with Alexander Hamilton and possibly enclosing a letter to Hamilton (see below; Syrett, Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961–87, 27 vols. description ends , xxi, 317n, 318n). (2) Monroe to Burr, 1 Dec. 1797, perhaps never delivered (see below), expressing dissatisfaction with Hamilton’s response to Monroe’s last communication in August and requesting Burr to act for Monroe in presenting an enclosed letter to Hamilton should Burr consider it necessary (printed in Kline, Burr description begins Mary-Jo Kline, ed., Political Correspondence and Public Papers of Aaron Burr, Princeton, 1983, 2 vols. description ends , i, 318–19). Other enclosures not found.
Although John Dawson spoke to Colo. Burr “in general terms” about Monroe’s situation, Dawson and TJ evidently did not give Burr the letter that Monroe had left open for the inspection of Mr. Madison. Monroe may have enclosed a letter to Hamilton in his letter to Dawson as well as in that to Burr. In the draft of one to Hamilton dated 27 Nov., Monroe wrote: “In my judgment you ought either to have been satisfied with the explanations I gave you, or to have invited me to the field. There seemed to be no intermediate ground for a man of honor to take; yet you found one.” That language was absent from a finished version of the letter dated 2 Dec. In both versions Monroe said that “I did not mean to become an aggressor nor was it justly inferable. It was however not my intention to decline that issue if sought by you in any mode whatever, either by challenge invitation or advance.” The 27 Nov. draft appointed Burr to arrange any confrontation with Hamilton, while the 2 Dec. version named Dawson in that capacity. On 10 Dec. an impatient Monroe wrote Dawson again on the subject and enclosed a letter for Hamilton similar to the 27 Nov. draft, leaving blanks for the date and for the insertion of either Dawson’s or Burr’s name as Monroe’s representative (Syrett, Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961–87, 27 vols. description ends , xxi, 316–20).