Thomas Jefferson Papers

James Monroe to Thomas Jefferson, 23 December 1817

From James Monroe

washington Decr 23. 1817

Dear Sir

Some days elapsed, after the receit of your letter of the 13., before I could fulfill the injunction, of affording Mr Mercer an opportunity of perusing, or, it, would have been returnd, immediately with my signature. I had nothing to alter in, or to add to it. I hope and think, that it will succeed, in placing the university, where it ought to be; & that, by means, of that institution, the character of the state, for distinguish’d mental acquirment, in its citizens, will be maintaind, in the high rank, it has heretofore sustaind.

The affair with general Jackson is not terminated; it is however probable that it will be, on just principles, & retain him in service: that of amelia Island & galvestown, is also still a cause of concern, tho’ the probability is, that the public mind, will discriminate, between a banditti, form’d of adventurers, of all nations, except the Spanish Colonies, plannd in our own country, & resting for support, on presumed impurity1 within us, & the cause of the colonies themselves, to which, we all wish success. It is also probable that the Colonies will disavow them. The agent of Buenos Ayres, has done it. The allied powers, that is, G.B. & France [tho’ the latter has not been so explicit]2 have intimated a desire to arbitrate our differences with Spain, on the ground of making the miss: the boundary, whence it is inferrd that if we pushed a quarrel with Spain, they would interpose against us. Russia stands aloof. with affectionate respects—

James Monro[e]

RC (DLC); edge trimmed; endorsed by TJ as received 5 Jan. 1818 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Central College Board of Visitors to James P. Preston, 6 Jan. 1818.

After the Department of War sent a reassignment order directly to one of his subordinates, in April 1817 Andrew jackson issued a mandate that all orders to officers in the southern division of the United States Army be routed through him as commanding general. The resulting public accusations of insubordination caused Jackson to consider retiring from the service. President Monroe placated him with a letter of 2 Dec. 1817 proposing that executive orders normally be passed through division commanders and, when this was not practicable, a copy be sent to them concurrently. Jackson accepted the compromise later that month (Jackson, Papers description begins Sam B. Smith, Harold D. Moser, Daniel Feller, and others, eds., The Papers of Andrew Jackson, 1980– , 9 vols. description ends , 4:112–4, 155–6, 162).

On 2 Dec. 1817 Monroe also delivered his annual message to Congress, in which he announced plans to suppress the unauthorized establishments recently made at amelia island and Galveston (galvestown). Although these outposts claimed to be harboring Spanish colonial revolutionaries, Monroe concluded that their main activities were smuggling African slaves and other contraband (Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … Compiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. (All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. Citations given below are to the edition mounted on the American Memory website of the Library of Congress and give the date of the debate as well as page numbers.) description ends , 15th Cong., 1st sess., 14).

The diplomatic agent from Buenos Aires to the United States was Manuel Hermenejildo de Aguirre.

1Thus in manuscript, with “impunity” possibly intended.

2Brackets in original.

Index Entries

  • Aguirre, Manuel Hermenejildo de; as diplomat search
  • Amelia Island; illegal outpost on search
  • Army, U.S.; and A. Jackson search
  • Central College; as state university of Va. search
  • Central College Board of Visitors; report of, to J. P. Preston search
  • Congress, U.S.; annual presidential messages to search
  • France; and Great Britain search
  • France; and U.S. search
  • Galveston, Tex.; illegal outpost in search
  • Great Britain; and France search
  • Great Britain; and Spain search
  • Great Britain; and U.S. search
  • Jackson, Andrew; as major general search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; Central College Board of Visitors’ report to J. P. Preston search
  • Mercer, Charles Fenton; as Va. legislator search
  • Mississippi River; as geographical boundary search
  • Monroe, James; letters from search
  • Monroe, James; on U.S. foreign relations search
  • Monroe, James; presidency of search
  • Monroe, James; presidential messages of search
  • Preston, James Patton; Central College Board of Visitors’ report to search
  • Russia; and U.S. search
  • Spain; and U.S. search
  • Spain; colonies of search
  • United States; and France search
  • United States; and Great Britain search
  • United States; and Russia search
  • United States; and Spain search
  • Virginia; General Assembly search
  • War Department, U.S.; and A. Jackson search