Thomas Jefferson Papers

James Monroe to Thomas Jefferson, 27 July 1817

From James Monroe

Plattsburg July 27. 1817

Dear Sir

I arriv’d here the day before yesterday on my way to Sacketts harbour, & thence to the westward, in completion of the tour, which I advised you, that I had, in contemplation, before I left washington. I have been, Eastward, as far as Portland, and after returning to Dover in N. Hamshire, have come here, by Concord, & Hanover in that State, & windsor, Montpelier, & Burlington, in Vermont. yesterday, I visited Rouse’s point, within two hundred yards of the boundary line, where we are engaged in erecting a work of some importance, as it is supposed, to command the entrance into the lake, from Canada. genl Brown met me here. Tomorrow I proceed, with him, by ogdensbg, to Sacketts harbour, & thence to Detroit, unless I should be compelled, on reaching Erie, to cling to the southeastern side of that lake, & seek my way home, through the state of ohio, by circumstances I may not be able to controul.

When I undertook this tour, I expected to have executed it, as I might have done, in an inferior station, and even as a private citizen, but I found, at Bal: that it would be impracticable for me to do it. I, had, therefore, the alternative, of either returning home, or complying with the opinion of the public, & immediately, I took the latter course, relying on them, to put me forward, as fast as possible, which has been done. I have been exposed, to excessive fatigue, & labour, in my tour, by the pressure of a very crowded population, which has sought, to manifest, its respect, for our union, & republican institutions, in every step, I took, and in modes wh[ic]h made a trial of my strength, as well, phiscally, as mentally. In the principal towns, the whole population, has been in motion, and in a manner, to produce the greatest degree of excit’ment possible. In the Eastern section of our union, I have Seen, distinctly, that the great cause, which brought the people forward, was a conviction, that they had sufferd in their character, by their conduct in the late war, and a desire to show, that unfavorable opinions, and as they thought, unjust, had been formd, in regard to their views and principles. They seiz’d the opportunity, which the casual incident of my tour presented to them, of making a strong exertion, to restore themselves to the confidence, and ground which they had formerly held, in the affections of their brethern, in other quarters. I have seen enough, to satisfy me, that the great mass of our fellow citizens, in the Eastern States, are as firmly attached to the union and to republican govt, as I have always believd, or could desire them to be.

In all the towns thro’ which I passed, there was an union between the parties, except in the case of Boston. I had supposd that that union, was particularly to be desird by the republican party, since as it would be founded, exclusively on their own principles, every thing would be gaind by them. Some of our old, and honest friends at Boston, were, however, unwilling to amalgamate, with their former opponents, even on our own ground, and in consequence presented an address of their own: This formd the principal difficulty, that I have had to meet, to guard against any injury, arising from the step taken, to the republican cause, to the republican party, or the persons individually. You will have seen this address, & my reply, & be enabled to judge, of the probable result.

I hope to see you the latter end of next month, when we will enter into details, which the few minutes I now enjoy, do not admit, however glad I sho[ud] be to do it. I most ardently wish to get home, to visit my family & friends, & to enjoy in peace, some moments of repose, to which I have been an utter stranger, since I left washington. with my best wishes for your welfare, I am dear Sir respectfully & sincerely your

friend & servt

James Monroe

RC (DLC); edge trimmed and chipped; endorsed by TJ as received 18 Aug. 1817 but corrected in SJL to show receipt on 19 Aug.

The work of some importance was a new American fort on Lake Champlain that was begun in 1816 but never completed after a subsequent survey located it on Canadian soil. After a treaty put the site back into the hands of the United States, Fort Montgomery was erected there in 1844 (Plattsburgh Republican, 2 Aug. 1817, 28 Feb. 1819; Boston Commercial Gazette, 6 Sept. 1819; Rene Chartrand and Donato Spedaliere, Forts of the War of 1812 [2012], 56).

According to one contemporary report, during his 1817 tour Monroe hoped to travel with “as much celerity as the avowed purposes of his journey would permit: and, to do this, he was desirous to pass through the intermediate towns, with as much privacy as possible.” However at Baltimore (bal:), the first stop on his journey, “being already anticipated by the citizens of that place, they determined that he should be publicly received, and conducted, by a military escort, to his quarters. A corresponding desire to receive the President in a manner suitable to his elevated rank, and with a respect due to his eminent public services, soon evinced itself in all the principal cities, through which he would be obliged to pass, and preparations were every where making, to pay him the highest possible honors” (Samuel Putnam Waldo, The Tour of James Monroe, President of the United States, in the year 1817 [Hartford, 1818], 14).

A committee of Boston Republicans comprised of Henry A. S. Dearborn, Benjamin Austin, Thomas Melvill, William Little, Russell Sturgis, Jacob Rhoades, John Brazer, and William Ingalls delivered an address to Monroe on 4 July 1817. They congratulated him on his election and expressed their desire that his administration would patronize “such institutions as will extend the useful branches of science and literature, and promote the agricultural, manufacturing and commercial interests of your constituents.” They also hoped “that your name will be recorded in the American annals with the same respectful veneration as distinguishes the characters of your illustrious precedessors, Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison” (Boston Columbian Centinel, 12 July 1817; reprinted in other newspapers and Waldo, Tour of James Monroe, 107–9). Monroe’s reply emphasized his commitment to republican government and desire that everyone would “unite in future in the measures necessary to secure it” (Columbian Centinel, 16 July 1817; reprinted in other newspapers and Waldo, Tour of James Monroe, 109–12).

Index Entries

  • Adams, John; presidency of search
  • Austin, Benjamin (of Boston); on Republican committee search
  • Baltimore, Md.; and J. Monroe’s presidential tour search
  • Boston, Mass.; Republican party in search
  • Brazer, John; on Republican committee search
  • Brown, Jacob Jennings; and J. Monroe’s presidential tour search
  • Dearborn, Henry Alexander Scammell; on Republican committee search
  • Highland (J. Monroe’s Albemarle Co. estate); J. Monroe plans to visit search
  • Ingalls, William; on Republican committee search
  • Lake Champlain; fort on search
  • Little, William (of Boston); on Republican committee search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); presidency of search
  • Melvill, Thomas; on Republican committee search
  • Monroe, James; letters from search
  • Monroe, James; plans to visit Highland estate search
  • Monroe, James; presidential tour search
  • New England; and J. Monroe’s presidential tour search
  • New York (state); and J. Monroe’s presidential tour search
  • Republican party; of Boston search
  • Rhoades, Jacob; on Republican committee search
  • Sturgis, Russell; on Republican committee search
  • Washington, George; praised search