Thomas Jefferson Papers

James Monroe to Thomas Jefferson, 27 September 1821

From James Monroe

Highland Sepr 27. 1821

Dear Sir.

I send you the papers which I mentiond to you yesterday, that is, the letter of L’t Lewis, & the opinion of the court of Enquiry, on the charges alledged against Commodore Barron, which, after perrusing, be so kind as to return to me. A letter from Mr Thompson is also enclosed.1

I shall set out to morrow, it appearing necessary, by the communications from Washington, that I should either be there shortly, or within daily reach of it. Wherever I may be, I beg you to be assurd, that nothing will be more gratifying to me, than to be useful to you, in any way, in which you may command me, & that I shall always take a deep interest, in what relates to your welfare reputation & happiness. your affectionate friend.

James Monroe

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received the day it was written and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) William Lewis to Charles W. Goldsborough, Pernambuco, 7 Sept. 1811, for which see TJ’s extract and notes, [ca. 27 Sept. 1821]. (2) Opinion of a court of enquiry on the actions of James Barron, 14 July 1821, stating that the conversation alleged in enclosure no. 1 to have taken place between Barron and Mr. Lyon, the British consul at Pernambuco, “has not been proved,” but finding that Barron’s prolonged absence from the United States without government permission was “contrary to his duty as an officer in the Navy of the United States” (printed in Proceedings of a Court of Enquiry, held at the Navy Yard, Brooklyn, New York, upon Captain James Barron of the United States’ Navy, in May, 1821 [Washington, 1822], 99; signed by Charles Stewart as president of the court and Henry Wheaton as judge advocate).

The enclosed letter from Secretary of the Navy Smith thompson was possibly his letter to Monroe from Washington, 15 Sept. 1821, which included a promise to send the proceedings of the court against Barron and stated that “Gentlemen who undertake to represent him as a persecuted and ill treated man, are either much prejudiced or are ignorant of the circumstances attending his case” (RC in DLC: Monroe Papers). An alternative is that Monroe actually meant a letter to rather than from Thompson and enclosed a 4 Mar. 1819 letter from Thomas P. Goodwin in Baltimore to Thompson confirming that in 1811 the British consul at Pernambuco, Mr. Lyon, repeated Barron’s claim that he had known British deserters were on board the USS Chesapeake and had notified the government of this; that before going to sea he also advised his superiors that the British would attempt to search his ship and that he would be unable to prevent them; and that Barron had convinced Lyon “that Mr. Jefferson caused him to go out in a defenceless state, for the express purpose of having his ship attacked and disgraced; and thus attain his favourite object of involving the United States in a war with Great Britain” (Proceedings of a Court of Enquiry, 6–8, 15–6).

During the same visit late in September 1821 to his Albemarle County estate of Highland, Monroe also discussed the University of Virginia with TJ. In a 9 Oct. 1821 letter updating John H. Cocke on the affairs of the university, its bursar, Alexander Garrett, reported that “Mr Jefferson finding (from the settlements made of part of the work done) that the funds will be inadequite to the entire accomplishment of his wishes, yet does not dispare, to you I may say (without impropriety), that him and the President have been puting their heads together on the subject, and have projected new schemes, say an application to the V. Legislature to grant the University the claim they set up agt the Genl Government for interest on the debt due from it to the State” (RC in ViU: JHC).

1Sentence interlined.

Index Entries

  • Barron, James; charges against search
  • Chesapeake, USS (frigate); incident (1807) search
  • Cocke, John Hartwell (1780–1866); and University of Virginia construction search
  • Garrett, Alexander; as University of Virginia bursar search
  • Goldsborough, Charles Washington; correspondence of search
  • Goodwin, Thomas Parkin search
  • Highland (J. Monroe’s Albemarle Co. estate); J. Monroe at search
  • Lewis, William (ca.1781–1815); letter from, to C. W. Goldsborough search
  • Lewis, William (ca.1781–1815); on J. Barron search
  • Lyon, Mr.; as British consul at Pernambuco search
  • Monroe, James (1758–1831); and charges against J. Barron search
  • Monroe, James (1758–1831); and University of Virginia search
  • Monroe, James (1758–1831); letters from search
  • Thompson, Smith; and charges against J. Barron search
  • Thompson, Smith; correspondence of search
  • Virginia, University of; Administration and Financial Affairs; funding for search
  • Virginia, University of; Establishment; and General Assembly search