Thomas Jefferson Papers

James Monroe to Thomas Jefferson, 22 October 1816

From James Monroe

Washington Octr 22d 1816.

Dear Sir

It would give me real1 pleasure to be useful to mr armistead,2 for the reasons which you have stated, if I had the power, but there is no vacancy in the dept of State, and so closely beset are all the depts, by applicants for clerkships, that opportunities rarely occur of introducing into either, any person whom we wish, however deserving of it. I have spoken to the President in mr armisteads3 favor, and Shall speak to the gentlemen in the other depts, as soon as they arrive, so that I hope he may be provided for. To govr Nicholas’s family I have been friendly, particularly to those in the military line, and especially while in the dept of war, when I had the means.4 Towards him personally, I thought that I had serious cause of dissatisfaction, some years past, but that feeling has long since subsided, and never could have been a motive for injuring or slighting his connections.5 When in Richmond, shortly after the peace, I calld on him, thereby evincing my willingness, to restore a friendly intercourse.

Your sentiments relating to an inscription on the Capitol6 correspond strictly with my own: our friends will I doubt not be satisfied with it.7

mr daschkoff has pushed his demand of reparation, for what he calls an insult to the Emperor, by the arrest & confin’ment of his consul genl at Phila, on the charge of committing a rape there, with the utmost degree of violence, of which the case was susceptible. By the stile of his last8 notes, we have reason to expect, that he will announce the termination of his mission, in obedience to o[r]ders given him by his govt, while acting under an excitment produc’d by his misrepresentations, and before a correct statment reached our chargé des affrs, at St Petersburg. A collision with him, which he invited from the commenc’ment, by declaring the arrest & confin’ment of the consul, a violation of the law of nations, was carefully avoided, without making any concession, and still is, tho’ the effect which he sought to produce with his govt, has unfortunately been too fully accomplished. It is hope[d] that the delusion of his govt will be momentary, & presumed, whenever it ceases, that the reaction will be felt by himself. The incident is a disagreeable one; the govt knew nothing of it, till after the consul had been arrested, & releasd, from confinment, and it has imposed on the govt the painful duty only, of exerting itself, to prevent its producing mischief at Petersburg, without making any sacrifice of principle here. with mr de Neuville we have some respite, procurd by some jarring, which he ought to have avoided. The Spaniards in the gulph of Mexico, seem to invite, a rupture, which their govt cannot be prepard for or desire. From Algiers we have heard nothing lately.

with great respect affecy your friend

Jas Monroe

RC (DLC); edge chipped and trimmed; endorsed by TJ as received 7 Nov. 1816 and so recorded in SJL. RC (MHi); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to Jerman Baker, 1 Jan. 1817, on verso; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Monticello”; franked; postmarked Washington City, 23 Oct. Dft (NN: Monroe Papers); incomplete; endorsed by Monroe.

Late in November 1815 the Russian consul genl at Philadelphia, Nicholas Kosloff, was charged with raping a teenage servant girl in his employ and briefly imprisoned. The Russian minister André Daschkoff immediately protested against what he viewed as a serious breach of international law. Although the complaint against Kosloff was dismissed in January 1816 when the local court of oyer and terminer concluded that state tribunals lacked jurisdiction over cases involving consuls, Daschkoff continued to press the issue. On 23 Aug. 1816 he wrote Monroe demanding reparation for the actions taken against Kosloff and, two months later, he threatened to leave the country. Word having reached Saint Petersburg of the imbroglio, the Russian government asked the United States chargé d’affaires there, Levett Harris, not to appear at the imperial court until the matter was resolved. After further diplomatic wrangling, relations were patched up early in November 1816 (John C. Hildt, “Early Diplomatic Negotiations of the United States with Russia,” Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science, ser. 24, nos. 5–6 [1906]: 91–107; Thomas Sergeant and William Rawle Jr., Reports of Cases adjudged in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania [Philadelphia, 1818–29], 5:545–52; Philadelphia Weekly Aurora, 9 Dec. 1816).

Monroe had denied the request of the French ambassador Jean Guillaume Hyde de neuville that John S. Skinner be removed from his office as Baltimore postmaster for making disparaging remarks about Louis XVIII the previous Fourth of July. In explanation of this decision, Monroe commented that “If a foreign Minister can dictate measures to the United States, especially in a case so intimately connected with the vital principles of their government, their Independence is gone” (Monroe to Albert Gallatin, 10 Sept. 1816, and enclosures [NHi: Gallatin Papers]).

1Word not in Dft.

2Manuscript: “armstead.”

3Manuscript: “armsteads.”

4In Dft Monroe here canceled “There is nothing that I abhor more in any one, than to see him, make a personal difference with another, the ground or motive of annoying his connections. The opposite course is more gratifying to the feelings of a generous mind, and more likely to elevate the character of him who pursues it.”

5Dft substitutes “his friends” for preceding four words.

6Preceding three words not in Dft.

7Dft ends here.

8RC: “lats.”

Index Entries

  • Alexander I, emperor of Russia; and N. Kosloff affair search
  • Algiers; mentioned search
  • Armistead, William (ca.1773–1840); seeks federal appointment search
  • Capitol, U.S.; construction and repair of search
  • Daschkoff, André; and N. Kosloff affair search
  • Harris, Levett; and N. Kosloff affair search
  • Hyde de Neuville, Jean Guillaume; as French ambassador to U.S. search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; inscription for U.S. Capitol search
  • Kosloff, Nicholas; accused of rape search
  • Louis XVIII, king of France; disparaged search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); and appointments search
  • Monroe, James; and appointments search
  • Monroe, James; and N. Kosloff affair search
  • Monroe, James; and proposed inscription for U.S. Capitol search
  • Monroe, James; and W. C. Nicholas search
  • Monroe, James; as secretary of war search
  • Monroe, James; letters from search
  • Nicholas, Wilson Cary (1761–1820); and J. Monroe search
  • Nicholas, Wilson Cary (1761–1820); family of search
  • Russia; and N. Kosloff affair search
  • Russia; and U.S. search
  • Skinner, John Stuart; disparages Louis XVIII search
  • State Department, U.S.; clerks at search
  • United States; and Algiers search
  • United States; and Russia search
  • women; crimes against search