Thomas Jefferson Papers

James Monroe to Thomas Jefferson, 19 August 1820

From James Monroe

aug 19. 1820.

Dear Sir

A man of whom I heard you speak lately, as a gardener,1 to whom you had rented some land below me, called with mr Price, some days since, to rent, a piece of my land, on my saw mill stream. Finding that he was the person of whom you spoke, I observ’d that unless, I knew, that you consider’d him at liberty, to treat with another, I could have nothing to say to him. He promised to produce that evidence. To day he called again, & on my asking for it, he observd, that as I had given him no promise, he might by relinquishing his [hope?]2 with you, lose both objects. I told him that I would communicate with you myself, after which I would give him an answer. as he professes to be a gardener you may wish to retain him. If you do, I can easily give him an answer, that will be satisfactory to him, which I shall most willingly do, in complyance with your desire.

The Emperor of Russia has instructed his ministers, at all the European courts, to make known his disapprobation, of the movment in Spain, which he calls a suite of the French revolution. The reply given at St Petersburg, to the spanis[h]3 not[e] announcing the reestablishment of the constitution of 1812. is decidedly to that effect. In terms very distinct, tho’ sufficiently kind, he regrets the want of firmness & energy in the king of Spain, which he seems to anticipate will be productive of much mischief.

with great respect & regard yours

James Monroe

RC (DLC); dateline at foot of text; edge torn; mistakenly endorsed by TJ as a letter of 20 Aug. 1820 written at “Highlands.”

The man of whom Monroe had heard TJ speak lately was William Bain. suite in this sense means a “sequel, result” (OED description begins James A. H. Murray, J. A. Simpson, E. S. C. Weiner, and others, eds., The Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed., 1989, 20 vols. description ends ).

The reply issued by the Russian government in the spring of 1820 in response to Ferdinand VII’s acceptance of the liberal Spanish constitution of 1812 was published widely in the United States: “Constantly animated by the desire of seeing the prosperity of the state and the glory of the Sovereign maintaining themselves and flourishing together in Spain, his Majesty the Emperor could not, without profound affliction, learn the events which have occasioned the official note … nothing can justify the aggressions which deliver up the destinies of the country to a violent crisis. Too often have similar disorders announced days of sorrow for empires. … Institutions which emanate from thrones are conservatory; but if they spring amidst troubles, they only engender a new chaos. In declaring his conviction on this point, the Emperor only speaks according to the lessons of experience. … It now belongs to the Government of the Peninsula to judge whether institutions imposed by one of those violent acts (the fatal patrimony of the revolution against which Spain had struggled with so much honor) can realize the benefits which both the worlds expect from the wisdom of his most Catholic Majesty, and the patriotism of his councils,” with Spain’s future actions to “determine the nature of the relations which his Imperial Majesty will preserve with the Spanish Government” (American Beacon and Norfolk & Portsmouth Daily Advertiser, 16 Sept. 1820, and elsewhere).

1Manuscript: “garderner.”

2Word illegible.

3Word interlined.

Index Entries

  • Alexander I, emperor of Russia; and revolution in Spain search
  • Alexander I, emperor of Russia; on Ferdinand VII of Spain search
  • Bain, William; and lease of Albemarle Co. land search
  • Ferdinand VII, king of Spain; and Spanish revolution of1820 search
  • French Revolution; mentioned search
  • Monroe, James; and W. Bain search
  • Monroe, James; letters from search
  • Monroe, James; on European affairs search
  • Price, Joseph; and W. Bain search
  • Spain; constitution of search
  • Spain; revolution in search