Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, 13 August 1821

To James Monroe

Monticello Aug. 13. 21.

Dear Sir

You have seen announced in several of our papers an intention of the Polonese nation to erect a monument near Cracow to the memory of Genl Koscuzko, and their wish that England and the US. by joining in contributions, might give a proof of the interest they take in his character; that for this purpose, they had addressed a letter to Ld Holland in Engld and to myself in the US. I recieved in fact such a letter some weeks ago from the President of the Senate of Cracow, with an indication that it should be communicated to you also. much at a loss to devise in what way I could set about the execution of this proposition, I have held the subject for some time unde[r] consideration. retired, as I am, among the mountains of our interior country, I see nobody but the farmers of my neighborhood who would consider contributions to public monuments in other countries as very foreign to the condition and business of their live[s.] I have been so long withdrawn too from intercourse with the world that I no longer know who of Kosciuzko’s fellow souldiers are now livin[g,] as from them we might expect the most zealous cooperation in rende[r]ing this last testimony of respect to him; and above all other considerations, the heavy hand of age, paralysing the faculties both of body and mind, have rendered me quite unequal to the correspondence it might require, and unfit to become the center of such an operati[on.] independant of the express intimation to communicate the paper to you, I should of my self have turned my views first to you, as the friend of his fame, and aid of my age; and because should any communications with Ld Holland be expedient, your acquai[n]tance with him would open the door to them. notwithstanding therefore the burthens of business which your office imposes on y[ou,] I have hoped that in your position you could put the thing into an organised course with little trouble. you know who remain of his former companions in arms, and where to be found, you could probably think too of some person in each state and great city, who would undertake with zeal the necessary sollicitations, and you could command attentions which would not be yielded to me. the trouble of drawing a circular, which the scribes by whom you are surrounded would multiply would, I hope, be the principal labor imposed on you, for I presume the contributions should be deposited in convenient banks from whence they could be easily brought together for remittance, or (which is very possible under present distresses) should their amount fall short of what might be deemed worthy of acceptance, they could be readily restored to the contributors, and an apology to the Senate of Cracow be given on reasonable ground; I suggest this course by way of example only, for you may probably devise some other more practicable and promising. I inclose you the papers sent to me, and knowing the labors of reading to which you are subjected, I would point out to you the letter of the President, and the Proclamation of the Senate No 1. as the material papers for explaining to you their wishes & expectations. I hope you will excuse this trespass of age leaning on younger shoulders, to relieve itself from a burthen to which it is unequal. from such an one I never shrunk while I had force to encounter it. in all events be assured of my constant & affectionate friendship & respect

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); edge trimmed; at foot of first page: “President Monroe”; endorsed by TJ. Printed in Milledgeville Georgia Journal, 18 Mar. 1845, as a letter from TJ to William H. Crawford, Monroe’s secretary of the treasury, reprinted “from the washington, (wilkes co.) courant”; with introduction reading: “We are again indebted to the Rev. Mr. Crawford for another letter (which follows) from Mr. Jefferson, to his father. The one published a few weeks since, was written in Feb. 1815. That manuscript is full, smooth, and even—showing that age had as yet affected his writing but little. This of 1821, exhibits in a considerable degree, the tremulousness of increasing years, and the reasonableness of the desire to place upon the shoulders of his younger friend the performance of the duties referred to in the letter. It can but be gratifying to Georgians in particular, to see exhibited the affectionate confidence and regard which was reposed by Mr. Jefferson in the favorite son of Georgia. The interest taken in the Polish General and patriot Kosciuszko, was amply merited by the services rendered to his unfortunate country, and to our own in its struggles for independence. He received the highest manifestations of regard from our Congress for his services, and an elegant monument to his memory has been erected by the Cadets at West Point, within the works, which were there raised by his skill, and under his superintendance.” The letter is recorded in SJL only as a letter to Monroe, there is no other evidence that TJ sent a copy to Crawford, and it was most likely passed by Monroe to Crawford and mistaken as a letter from TJ to the latter when his descendants found it among his papers. Enclosures: Stanisłas Wodzicki to TJ, 2 Jan. 1821, and enclosures, recorded in SJL as received 22 June 1821, but not found.

A widely reprinted 30 Jan. 1821 account from Poland of the planned monument in Kraków to Tadeusz Kosciuszko reported that 17,000 Polish florins had been subscribed toward the construction of the memorial now known as the Kościuszko Mound. The article stated that, rather than TJ and ld holland, the subscription committee had resolved to write to TJ, Lafayette, and Charles, 2d Earl Grey, to request their assistance in collecting subscriptions for the monument in their respective countries (Richmond Enquirer and Washington Daily National Intelligencer, both 6 Apr. 1821).

Wodzicki was president of the senate that governed the Free City of Kraków (Cracow) after the city-state’s creation in 1815 under one of the treaties concluded at the Congress of Vienna (Edward H. Lewinski-Corwin, The Political History of Poland [1917], 400; Clive Parry, ed., The Consolidated Treaty Series [1969–81], 64:159–69).

Index Entries

  • Crawford, William Harris; letter from TJ forwarded to search
  • Grey, Charles, 2d Earl; and T. Kosciuszko monument search
  • Holland, Henry Richard Vassall Fox, 3d Baron; and T. Kosciuszko monument search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; fatiguing or painful to search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; publication of papers search
  • Kosciuszko, Tadeusz (Thaddeus) Andrzej Bonawentura; monument to search
  • Kraków; monument to T. Kosciuszko in search
  • Kraków; senate of search
  • Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, marquis de; and T. Kosciuszko monument search
  • Monroe, James (1758–1831); and T. Kosciuszko monument search
  • Monroe, James (1758–1831); letters to search
  • Vienna, Congress of; and Kraków search
  • Wodzicki, Stanisłas; as president of Senate of Kraków search
  • Wodzicki, Stanisłas; letter from accounted for search