Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, 3 March 1820

To James Monroe

Monticello Mar. 3. 20.

Dear Sir

I am often placed under the dilemma of either alienating my old friends, or of giving you the trouble of reading a letter, and I have had too many proofs of your friendship not to know you will take that trouble to save me from so painful an alternative. I know your difficulties, and after giving my testimony, I pay no attention to the result, leaving that to yourself who alone have a view of the whole ground.1 Christopher Ellery, the subject of the inclosed letter from mr Collins was one of the most active of our friends in R.I. in the times of our trials whether our government should be republican in practice as well as profession. he came into the Senate when I came into the administration and assisted in giving us a majority in that body. nor was there a more zealous or active one in it. he is a good republican, a good man and of good understanding.

I am indebted to you for your two letters of Feb. 7. & 19. this Missouri question2 by a geographical line of division is the most portentous one I have ever contemplated. King is ready to risk the union for any chance of restoring his party to power and wriggling himself to the head of it. nor is Clinton without his hopes nor scrupulous as to the means of fulfilling them. I hope I shall be spared the pain of witnessing it either by the good sense of the people, or by the more certain reliance, the hand of death. on this or that side of the Styx I am ever and devotedly yours.

Th: Jefferson

RC (DLC: Monroe Papers); addressed: “James Monroe Esq President of the US. Washington”; franked; postmarked Milton, 4 Mar.; endorsed by Monroe. PoC (DLC); on verso of reused address cover to TJ; edge trimmed; endorsed by TJ. Enclosure: Charles Collins to TJ, 25 Feb. 1820, not found but recorded in SJL as received 2 Mar. 1820 from Bristol, Rhode Island.

Rufus king, a United States senator from New York, opposed the admission of Missouri as a slave state, in part to prevent a rise in southern political power. He had been the final Federalist party candidate for president, losing to Monroe by a large margin in 1816 (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ).

1Manuscript: “grouund.”

2Word interlined.

Index Entries

  • Clinton, DeWitt; TJ on search
  • Collins, Charles (of Rhode Island); letter from accounted for search
  • Ellery, Christopher; seeks appointment search
  • Ellery, Christopher; TJ praises search
  • Federalist party; and Missouri question search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of application and recommendation from search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; D. Clinton search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; Missouri question search
  • King, Rufus; and Missouri question search
  • Missouri question; congressional consideration of search
  • Missouri question; TJ on search
  • Monroe, James; and appointments search
  • Monroe, James; letters to search
  • patronage; letters of application and recommendation from TJ search
  • Styx (mythological river) search