James Madison Papers

To James Madison from James Monroe, 14 December 1784

From James Monroe

Trenton Decr. 14. 1784.

Dear Sir

I have recd. yr. favor of the 27. of Novr. in answer to mine of the 15th. My last gave you the state of the representations here. The business of importance is still before committees or if reported not yet acted on. It seems to be the Genl. sense of Congress to appoint a minister to the Ct: of London & to give him instructions upon many subjects & particularly those wh. arise in the conduct of both parties under the treaty but whom they may appoint is incertain, indeed I fear that the difficulty of obtaining a vote for any person will obstruct this measure for a length of time. Franklin hath thro’ Mr. Laurens & the Marquis of Fayatte solicited permission1 to return home; this will no doubt be assented to as soon as taken up. An appointment must therefore be made in his place to that ct.; I think there will be little difficulty in obtaining it for Mr Jefferson, for the opinion of all the members seems to concur in the propriety of it. The first question will be whether we shall or not add other ministers to those in office & annex them to the cts. of London & Madrid, or depend on those for the manag’ment of all our business in Europe.

Connecticut hath I hear authoriz’d Congress to carry into effect the impost with the assent of 12. States only. She hath also laid a duty of 5 pr. centm. upon all goods imported from a neighb[o]ring State. This affects R. Island very sensibly. The question must soon be decided whether this State will accede to this measure, or the other States recede from it for it is sd. N. York & Georgia will join in it. Have you been able to carry the point in fav[or] of the delivery of such citizens as may be guilty of the offences you describe, to the power, in whose territory & agnst, whose subjects they are committed.2 This is certainly in strict conformity to the laws of nations but I believe not the common practice, except between those with whom particular treaties stipulate it. With us it will be beneficial as it must serve not only politic[s] but in the instance of the Indians (if the latter are comprehended in it) very humane purposes. I wish the same regulation cod. take place throughout the union but especially on the frontier next the Brit[is]h. But how are you to ascertain the fact or what evidence wod. yo[u] require of it?3 Or do you mean it shall operate without the concurrence of the other States? I expect Mr Jones hath left Richmond before this but if he hath not be so kind as make my best respects to him as also to Mr Stewart & believe me with great respect & esteem yr. friend & servant

Jas. Monroe

RC (DLC). Cover missing. Docketed. Incorrectly calendared as being from JM to Monroe, 14 Dec. 1785, in “Letters from J. M. [to] Mr. Monroe.”

1Monroe originally wrote “solicited the permission of Congress to return home.”

2JM was heavily involved in the legislation providing for the extradition of western lawbreakers into the hands of Spanish authorities, as the resolutions of 3 Nov. and the act of 26 Nov. attest. As Monroe had learned from his uncle, Joseph Jones, “the policy of the [extradition] bill is to prevent our people [from] transgressing agst. the Spaniard[s,] which they are disposed to do from all accounts, and to remove doubts in the Executive shod. such demand be made” (Jones to Monroe, 27 Nov. 1784 [ViW]).

3The act glossed over matters of evidence and jurisdiction by saying the law applied only to citizens or inhabitants of Virginia who committed a crime “within the acknowledged jurisdiction of any civilized nation in amity with the United States” and who had become fugitives. The “offended nation” was to exhibit to the Congress “due and satisfactory evidence of the crime” with a request for surrender of the fugitive. Congress would treat this demand as tantamount to a warrant, relay it to Virginia, and leave the capture, confinement, and delivery of the fugitive in the hands of state authorities (Hening, Statutes description begins William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619 (13 vols.; Richmond and Philadelphia, 1819–23). description ends , XI, 471).

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