Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from James Monroe, 7 July 1802

From James Monroe

Richmond July 7. 1802

Dear Sir

I enclose you some columns of a paper here edited by Mr. Callendar. It was whispered sometime since that the federalists knew he was possessed of some letters from you, and were endeavouring to bring them before the publick. In several of his preceding papers he glancd at the subject, but at length enters more directly on it. Perhaps it will be best that nothing shod. be said in reply by any one.1 Of this you will be the best judge. It may be of use to state to me the periods when the sums he mentions were advanc’d, & the circumstances wh. lead to it. Any light you think proper to communicate relative to the affr., will be used without compromitting any one, in the mode you deem most eligible. If any reply is proper he may be drawn to state facts correctly, by a person knowing them, without it appearing that you gave a hint.

sincerely I am yr. friend & servt

Jas. Monroe

I communicated to Mr. Madison lately that by the last law the office of marshall in this place, or indeed State was abolished. Major Scott who is a man of great merit, feels uneasy in his situation; in whose place it was impossible to put a more deserving man.

I enclose you a letter from a captn. Leach with whom I was acquainted in France, who has repeatedly written me to mention him to my friends in the admn., and who I have mentioned to Mr. Madison, who has I am well satisfied paid the attention to the subject that was proper. I considered him an honest, intelligent man a sound republican.2 You will perceive what he now seeks. I do not know that he is such a person as it wod. be proper to place in such an office in so important a town. Unless he was supported by the principal republicans there it wod. be improper to bring him forward, as I have heretofore told him. I enclose his letter to you, only because I am writing you, & have not time to write Mr. Madison who has I think correct information of his pretentions.

RC (DNA: RG 59, MLR); endorsed by TJ as received 10 July and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) Probably James Thomson Callender’s “Letter VII” to the public, printed in the Richmond Recorder, 5 July 1802, which details the encouragement and financial support that TJ had provided for Callender’s writings, particularly the publication of The Prospect Before Us in 1800; Callender claims that in the spring of 1798, TJ described him to Philadelphia merchant Thomas Leiper as “the best writer of newspaper paragraphs that he had ever seen either in America, or in Europe”; after receiving the first pages of the Prospect, Callender states Jefferson “returned not merely a letter of thanks, but, to my great surprise, he said that he had directed Mr. George Jefferson of Richmond to pay me fifty dollars”; when the first part of the second volume of the Prospect went to press, Jefferson sent Callender another $50; “These hundred dollars attest, beyond a thousand letters of compliment,” asserts Callender, “how seriously the president was satisfied with the contents of the book, and how anxiously he felt himself interested in its success.” (2) John Leach to Monroe, Boston, 7 June 1802, seeking Monroe’s assistance in securing an appointment as a commissioner of bankruptcy; Leach’s only friend from Massachusetts in Congress is William Eustis, from whom he learns that he stands well with the cabinet secretaries and that Levi Lincoln will nominate the commissioners of bankruptcy for his state; Edward Bangs of Worcester has also promised his assistance; Leach believes that more “Commercial Men” need to be made commissioners in Boston and he reminds Monroe of his commercial knowledge acquired as a ship captain; Leach finds himself an “outcast” among his former acquaintances due to his extended residence abroad; “I have been too long in France a meer Jacobin—enough to Damn, an Angel in this place”; Leach remains hopeful, however, “of receiving the friendly aid of those whose Political principles are Consonant with my own” (RC in DNA: RG 59, LAR; endorsed by TJ: “see Monroe’s letter of July 7. 1802. to be Commr. bkrpts in Boston”).

A PAPER HERE EDITED: James Thomson Callender began editing the Richmond Recorder; Or, Lady’s and Gentleman’s Miscellany in February 1802, employing his new forum to vent his wrath upon political leaders on both sides, especially the newly incumbent Republicans. He also used the paper to skewer the aristocratic pretensions of the Virginia gentry, in particular their penchant for gambling, dueling, and miscegenation. TJ found himself the subject of many columns in the Recorder throughout the latter half of 1802 and early 1803, which not only embarrassed the president and his party, but also affected TJ’s reputation during his lifetime and beyond. These include the first public allegations of TJ’s relationship with Sally Hemings, his improper advances toward the wife of John Walker, and his attempt to repay a prewar debt to Gabriel Jones in depreciated currency (Richmond Recorder, 1, 22 Sep., 13, 27 Oct., 17 Nov., 8 Dec. 1802; Durey, Callender description begins Michael Durey, “With the Hammer of Truth”: James Thomson Callender and America’s Early National Heroes, Charlottesville, 1990 description ends , 148–63; Pasley, Tyranny of Printers description begins Jeffrey L. Pasley, “The Tyranny of Printers”: Newspaper Politics in the Early American Republic, Charlottesville, 2001 description ends , 260; Malone, Jefferson description begins Dumas Malone, Jefferson and His Time, Boston, 1948–81, 6 vols. description ends , 1:153–5, 447–51; 4:206–23; Vol. 2:260–1; Vol. 29:536–7; Vol. 37:435–7).

SOME LETTERS FROM YOU: TJ to Callender, 6 Sep. and 6 Oct. 1799 (Vol. 31:179–82, 200–2). Callender printed both of these letters in full in the Recorder on 6 Oct. 1802, with an invitation for readers to view the originals at the office of the Virginia Gazette in Richmond. When TJ broke off his relationship with Callender in May 1801, the journalist threatened that he “was in possession of things which he could & would make use of in a certain case.” Although TJ declared that Callender “knows nothing of me which I am not willing to declare to the world,” Monroe had nevertheless advised him to get back all of his letters written to Callender “however unimportant they are” (Vol. 34:205, 229–30). A third letter, dated 11 Oct. 1798, is the only other known correspondence from TJ to Callender (Vol. 30:558–9). For TJ’s recollection of the content of letters, see TJ to Monroe, 15 and 17 July 1802.

HE GLANCD AT THE SUBJECT: by the summer of 1802, Callender was embroiled in a newspaper war with his former employer Meriwether Jones, editor of the Richmond Examiner. To counter Callender’s written assaults on his character and personal conduct, Jones attempted to denigrate Callender’s writing ability, especially the columns he contributed to the Examiner in 1799 and 1800. Although the newspaper’s circulation and influence had soared during Callender’s tenure, the 2 June 1802 edition of the Examiner excoriated the “indelicacy, vulgarity and abuse” of Callender’s writings and asserted that they had “injured” the Examiner. Responding in the Recorder in “Letter VI,” Callender claimed that far from being told that he was injuring the newspaper, “Jones was constantly encouraging me to write as much as possible.” To inspire Callender further, Jones had told him that in the summer of 1799 TJ himself called the Examiner “the best conducted newspaper in America” and that James Madison described Callender as wielding “the strongest pen” in the nation. “It is possible that some people may think Mr. Jefferson almost as able as Mr. Jones, to determine upon the talents and accomplishments, of the editor of a newspaper,” chided Callender at the close of his letter, and promised to continue with a fresh “series of remarks” in his next installment (Durey, Callender description begins Michael Durey, “With the Hammer of Truth”: James Thomson Callender and America’s Early National Heroes, Charlottesville, 1990 description ends , 114–15, 121, 148–57; New-York Evening Post, 6 July 1802; New-York Herald, 14 July 1802; James Thomson Callender, The Conduct of Meriwether Jones, In a Series of Letters, Addressed To The Public [Richmond, 1802], 45–64).

THE SUMS HE MENTIONS: the two $50 payments from TJ alluded to by Callender in the Recorder were made in September 1799 and October 1800 (MB description begins James A. Bear, Jr., and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, Princeton, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 2:1005, 1028; Vol. 31:179–80; Vol. 32:235).

Joseph SCOTT was appointed marshal of the eastern district of Virginia in 1801. By the Judiciary Act of 1802, Virginia was among the states that were consolidated into single judicial districts, for which the president was authorized to discontinue supernumerary officers. TJ retained Scott as marshal for the state and signed his commission on 8 July 1802 (Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser. description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 33 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 1986–, 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984–, 6 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009–, 1 vol. description ends , 3:359–60; Vol. 33:673, 675; Levi Lincoln to TJ, 6 July 1802; TJ to Scott, 1 Aug. 1802).

Mariner John LEACH had written TJ from Ghent in 1794 with a passport request. Monroe had previously recommended him for a consular appointment at Dunkirk. In a 12 Apr. 1802 letter to James MADISON, Monroe described Leach as “an honest deserving man” and recommended him “without reluctance.” Leach did not receive a consular appointment, nor was he among the bankruptcy commissioners appointed for Massachusetts (Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser. description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 33 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 1986–, 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984–, 6 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009–, 1 vol. description ends , 3:122–3; Vol. 28:103–4; Vol. 33:666).

1Preceding three words interlined.

2Preceding three words interlined.

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