Thomas Jefferson Papers

James Monroe to Thomas Jefferson, 30 November 1814

From James Monroe

Washington novr 30. 1814

Dear Sir

Despatches are recd from our ministers as late of1 the 31. ulto, at which time the negotiation was depending. On paper, serious difficulties seem to be remov’d, and few only to remain, the principal one of which is however important. Impressment is laid aside, for the reason urgd in the instructions to our ministers, which is strengthend, by being us’d as an argument on the part of the British ministers. The Indian boundary is given up by them, with the claim to the exclusive command of the lakes, & occupancy of our Shore, for military purposes. A stipulation of peace for the tribes fighting on their side, to be reciprocal is all that is desird, on that point2 & to that our ministers have assented. In this stage, the uti possidetis was proposed, as the basis, of the treaty relating to limits, & was suggested by intelligence that British troops had taken possession of certain parts of M[ain]e, which was rejected by our gentn. Thus it appears that the principal obstacle to accomodation, is the desire of the British govt to hold a part of massachussetts, to retain which the war goes on. our gentln think that if this difficulty was settled3 another would arise, believing that they are gaining time only, to see the result of negotiations at Vienna, which is very uncertain, but more likely to preserve peace, than produce war[.] The communication will go to Congress to day but presuming that it will not be in time for the mail—I indeavour to give you an idea of the contents—

with great respect your friend & servant

Jas Monroe

RC (DLC); torn at fold and edge trimmed, with missing text supplied from Stanislaus Murray Hamilton, ed., The Writings of James Monroe (1898–1903), 5:300–1; endorsed by TJ as received 7 Dec. 1814 and so recorded in SJL.

For the despatches from the United States diplomats at Ghent, see ASP, Foreign Relations, 3:710–26. On 25 June 1814 Monroe issued instructions allowing the American negotiators to set aside the question of impressment: “The United States having resisted by war the practice of impressment, and continued the war until that practice had ceased by a peace in Europe, their object has been essentially obtained for the present.” The british ministers agreed to omit the subject from the treaty ending the War of 1812 on the same practical grounds (ASP, Foreign Relations, 3:704, 725). the lakes: the Great Lakes.

The legal principle of uti possidetis required that the borders of newly independent states be established (or, in the case of the current conflict, reestablished) in accordance with the old administrative boundaries (Black’s Law Dictionary description begins Bryan A. Garner and others, eds., Black’s Law Dictionary, 7th ed., 1999 description ends ). At the Congress of vienna, September 1814–June 1815, representatives from the various European nations redrew boundaries, settled outstanding differences, and promoted international stability in the wake of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars (Connelly, Napoleonic France description begins Owen Connelly and others, eds., Historical Dictionary of Napoleonic France, 1799–1815, 1985 description ends , 486–8). The recently received diplomatic correspondence was submitted to congress on 1 Dec. 1814, not the date of this letter (JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States description ends , 9:559).

1Thus in manuscript.

2Previous three words interlined.

3Manuscript: “setlted.”

Index Entries

  • Congress, U.S.; and foreign affairs search
  • Ghent, Treaty of (1814); and impressment search
  • Ghent; peace negotiations at search
  • Great Britain; peace with search
  • Great Lakes search
  • impressment; of American seamen search
  • Indians, American; and War of1812 search
  • Maine; British claims to portion of search
  • Monroe, James; and peace negotiations with Great Britain search
  • Monroe, James; letters from search
  • Monroe, James; on impressment search
  • Vienna, Congress of; negotiations at search
  • War of1812; and Indians search
  • War of1812; and peace negotiations search