Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from James Monroe, 14 May 1798

From James Monroe

Fredbg May 14 1798.

Dear Sir

Since my last I have been here attending this court, being detained by a cause of Colo. Mercer wh. was argued yesterday. I leave town to day on my way home. Your letters if you have written me any since I came here are at Charlottesville, so that they cannot be answered till after my arrival there. After perusing Pickering’s objections to my advances abroad &ca, comprised in my acct., I can best determine whether it will be necessary for me to proceed to Phila. or not. In consideration of the acct. alone I wod. much rather not go there, since I wod. rather lose much than leave it open, & even pay the same sum three times over, subject to rectification hereafter, than accept any thing as a condesention from the admn.—or any of its members. But if there is any other object the case is altered relative to wh., & the nature of the object if any such there be I shall doubtless be advised by yr letters in Alb: when I arrive there.  There is a meeting in town to day of the merchants to address the President as other places have done Eastward of this approving his measures. There is a party in opposition of young respectability, so that the issue is incertain. I avoid the whole of this business, having nothing to do with it; I mention this circumstance lest being here, tho’ on my duty of a nature too indispensable, having two causes to argue this day before I leave town, the contrary shod, be insinuated.

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 20 May 1798 and so recorded in SJL.

My last: Monroe to TJ, 4 May 1798. In announcing the meeting to be held at the Market House on the evening of 14 May to consider “the present interesting and critical situation of the United States, with respect to their Foreign Relations,” the mayor of Fredericksburg, Fontaine Maury, said that he had been “induced” to issue the call. The group responsible for the gathering had prepared an address to Adams deeming his actions toward France “wise and prudent” and declaring a readiness to commit “our lives and fortunes” in the event of war. The party in opposition, however, including Monroe’s client John Francis Mercer, also attended the meeting. They proposed in place of the address a set of six resolutions that criticized the administration for willfully bringing the nation “to the verge of destruction” by its policies toward France, declared the militia to be “the only safe and constitutional defence of these states,” and pledged “firmly to support our national rights and independence whenever assailed by foreign invasion or domestic usurpation.” When put to a vote, the resolutions won the approval of two-thirds of those in attendance and were published over Maury’s signature as chairman of the meeting. The gathering was marked by “the most perfect order and decorum.” Outmaneuvered in their own public meeting, the Federalists spent the next several days collecting signatures to their address (Virginia Herald, 12,16 May 1798).

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