Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from James Monroe, 4 January 1800

From James Monroe

Richmond Jany 4. 1800

Dear Sir

Colo. Cabell furnishes an opportunity by wh. I enclose you a copy of Mr. Madisons rept. on the acts of the other states on the alien & sedition laws. This report has been two days before the house supported by the author Taylor & Giles, and opposed by two or three whose names it is not necessary to give. Its effect is very discernible on the whole federal1 party, some of the more moderate of wh., wod. certainly come over, if they were not pledged in a very strong manner to their constituents. It will be carried by a great majority in the h. of D. and a respectable one I believe in the Senate.   You perceive I have commenc’d here, as to the letters of the speakers of the two houses, in a tone of moderation, yet of decision as to principle. I have thought it beneath me to make a more direct attack on Mr. Adams, and perhaps at present impolitick. Yet the publick mind ought not to be suffered to lose any portion of its republican2 tone by taking a position short of what it will bear. on this you will have the best information, relative to which & indeed every other topic on wh. you think proper to give an advice I shall be happy to receive it.   Your name will appear as a subscriber to neither of the papers you mentioned to me when I saw you. I have told the Editors, I shod. act for you with wh. they were satisfied; and shall do for you precisely what I am forced to do for myself. I shall endeavor to keep them within suitable limits, in their publications, since I am strongly impressed with a belief, if A. puts himself in the hands of the Bh. faction, an attempt will be made to carry the sedition law into effect here, as an electioneering trick, in the course of the summer. they must be deprived of a plausible pretext, in wh. case, an attempt will dishonor them, & their systems of standing armies &c become a burden to themselves. I shall pay for you whatever you have to pay here, after wh. I shall reserve the balance I may owe you for adjustmt. when we meet, unless you have occasion for it here in wh. case direct the application. yr. affectionate friend & servt

Jas. Monroe

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 11 Jan. and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: see Madison to TJ, 29 Dec. 1799.

Nicholas Cabell represented the Virginia Senate district that included Albemarle County (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 , 218).

Letters of the speakers: on 6 Dec. 1799 Larkin Smith, Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, informed Monroe of his election as governor and deemed it “the result of your inflexible republican principles,” noting also that “a just and full view of the incidents interwoven in your public character, have been such, as to place you high in the confidence of this branch of the Legislature.” The next day Archibald Stuart, the speaker of the state Senate, also wrote a congratulatory letter. Monroe’s reply to Smith and the House of Delegates on 10 Dec. stated: “The epoch thro’ which we have passed, and are passing, has many extraordinary incidents attending it. It has fallen to my lot to bear some part in the transactions which characterise it; and decided as my conduct has been, on all occasions which brought the subject into view, in favor of the free elective system of government which happily exists among us, it cannot otherwise than be delightful to me, to find my exertions in support of that cause approved, and the cause itself supported, with so much energy and decision, by the virtuous and enlightened Assembly of my native state.” The new governor pledged a continuing “faithful adherence to the same principles” (JHD description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia (cited by session and date of publication) description ends , Dec. 1799–Jan. 1800, 20; Preston, Catalogue description begins Daniel Preston, A Comprehensive Catalogue of the Correspondence and Papers of James Monroe, Westport, Conn., 2001, 2 vols. description ends , 1:73; 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 , 215).

The two Richmond papers were likely the Friend of the People, published by James Lyon, and the Press of Meriwether Jones, publisher of the Richmond Examiner, Alexander McRae, and John H. Foushee. The ventures were affiliated, and both papers first appeared in January 1800—the Press as a weekly, the Friend to appear every other week. The Press may not have lasted beyond February. Later in the year Lyon moved his newspaper, under the same title, to Georgetown (Brigham, American Newspapers description begins Clarence S. Brigham, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690–1820, Worcester, Mass., 1947, 2 vols. description ends , 1:91; 2:1139–41; 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–, 27 vols. description ends , 17:361n, 432n).

1Word interlined.

2Word interlined.

Index Entries