Thomas Jefferson Papers

James Monroe to Thomas Jefferson, 6 September 1821

From James Monroe

Oak hill Sepr 6 1821

Dear Sir

Your letter of the 13. ulto found me at the Shannon dale spring, to which I had carried1 my family on account of the indisposition of mrs Monroe & of our little gd child the daughter of mr Gouverneur.2 The duties which I had to perform,3 in this distressing occurrence, which terminated the day before yesterday, in the death of the infant, superadded to those of the office I hold, prevented my giving an earlier answer to your letter. I undertake with great pleasure the trust you have committed to me, as well from my earnest desire to relieve you from every burden to which I may be in any degree equal, as to evince my profound respect for the character of General Kosciusko, to whose memory the Senate of Cracow propose to erect a statue, as a testimonial of their sense of his exalted merit—of the prospect of success it is impossible for me to speak, with any confidence at this time. It was natural for the Senate of Cracow, & for the Polish nation, to look to the U States for support in such an undertaking, from the known devotion of our fellow citizens to the cause of liberty, & his important services to that cause in our country. But the great demand which has been & is still made on them, in various ways, in support of institutions &4 measures, on which their highest interests depend, has been so sensibly felt, that a like attempt, in honor of the memory of General Washington, has recently failed in this state. nor has a statue, yet been erected, to his memory, by the nation. I will move in the affair with all the caution which you suggest, taking no step in it, without having previously communicated with the members of the administration, availing myself of their council & aid informally. Abortive attempts should be avoided, although slight discouragments should not be yielded to. As soon as I have had communication, with the members of the administration, I will apprize you, of their sentiments on the subject.

We returnd here yesterday from the Spring, & it is my intention to visit Albemarle as soon as some arrangments to be made here, of a private, & others at Washington of a public nature, will permit, where I shall be very happy to see you in good health, should your allotment for the summer not have taken you to Bedford.5

with great respect & sincere regard I am your friend & servant

James Monroe

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 13 Sept. 1821 and so recorded in SJL. RC (MHi); address cover only; with Dft of TJ to William Radford, 30 Nov. 1822, on recto and verso; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Monticello Virginia”; franked; postmarked. Dft (DLC: Monroe Papers); unsigned; endorsed by Monroe.

Monroe’s granddaughter Hester Gouverneur, the daughter of Maria Hester Monroe Gouverneur and Samuel L. Gouverneur, had recently died at the age of five months (Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 11 Mar. 1820, 11 Sept. 1821).

The Virginia General Assembly passed resolutions on 16 Feb. 1816 and 22 Feb. 1817 to promote the creation of a monument in Virginia in honor of George washington. The resolutions called for the governor to ask Bushrod Washington to allow the state to move the remains of George Washington and his wife, Martha Dandridge Custis Washington, from Mount Vernon to the proposed memorial, which was to be located in Richmond and funded by private subscription (Acts of Assembly description begins Acts of the General Assembly of Virginia (cited by session; title varies over time) description ends [1815–16 sess.], 263; [1816–17 sess.], 201). As this project was being promoted, the architect Maximilian Godefroy exhibited in Richmond his designs for a monument to Washington in Baltimore. Both the state’s efforts and those of Godefroy failed at this time. A large statue honoring the first president was eventually constructed on the grounds of the Virginia capitol between 1850 and 1869, but his body remained at Mount Vernon (Robert L. Alexander, The Architecture of Maximilian Godefroy [1974], 132).

1Dft: “taken.”

2In Dft Monroe here canceled “on whose acct more particularly, we were advised, to cross the mountain for exercise & change of air.”

3Dft here adds “to my family.”

4Preceding two words interlined in Dft.

5Dft ends here.

Index Entries

  • children; death of search
  • Godefroy, Maximilian; and monument to G. Washington search
  • Gouverneur, Hester; death of search
  • Gouverneur, Maria Hester Monroe (James Monroe’s daughter; Samuel L. Gouverneur’s wife); family of search
  • Gouverneur, Samuel Lawrence; family of search
  • Highland (J. Monroe’s Albemarle Co. estate); J. Monroe plans to visit search
  • Kosciuszko, Tadeusz (Thaddeus) Andrzej Bonawentura; monument to search
  • Kraków; monument to T. Kosciuszko in search
  • Kraków; senate of search
  • Monroe, Elizabeth Kortright (James Monroe’s wife); health of search
  • Monroe, James (1758–1831); and T. Kosciuszko monument search
  • Monroe, James (1758–1831); family of search
  • Monroe, James (1758–1831); letters from search
  • Virginia; monuments in search
  • Washington, Bushrod; and remains of G. Washington search
  • Washington, George; monuments commemorating search
  • Washington, Martha Dandridge Custis (George Washington’s wife) search