James Madison Papers

To James Madison from James Monroe, 24 March 1796

From James Monroe

Paris March 24. 1796.

Dear Sir

I have not recd. a line from you since June last altho’ I have written you vols.:

In my last I communicated to you that this govt. had resolved to send an Envoy Extry. to the U. States to complain of our treaty &ca with Engld. & from wh. it had been diverted (if it is diverted as I presume it is) by my earnest representations agnst it, but that it was still dissatisfied & wod. complain in strong terms agnst several of our measures thro the ordinary channel. The publication of Mr. Rs: defense,1 the Presidents Speech, & the lately acquired possession of a letter from the president to G. Morris2 said to be of an extraordinary kind considering the parties gave a new stimulus to discontents that existed before. I have seen in this proceedure a prospect of the probable disunion of the two countries & labour’d with the utmost efforts of wh. I was capable to prevent it, & I think with some effect. I have in consequence been led into a discussion with the minister of foreign affrs of Mr. Jay’s treaty & of answering the objections of this govt. to it:3 a task you will readily admit not of a pleasant kind, but unavoidable in the place I hold. I hope my correspondence in this case, will not be published as was done in regard to the Jacobin Clubs,4 & every other part of it omitted. If it is done the highest injustice will be done me, & if the other parts are not called for by the H. of R. the omission will surprize me.

I write you this in great haste & therefore cannot go into many details I otherwise wod. by the bearer who will deliver it in person. I have written the president5 the above incident respecting himself so that he knows it but I have added nothing to the communication.

Dr. Brokenborough6 will deliver this; a sensible young man & to whom I refer you for further intelligence.

Remember me to our Senators, to Giles & other friends in the other house, Butler & Brown &ca in the senate to Beckley to whom I have written often lately.

You have clearly proved to the whole world that yr. virtue is impregnable agnst. a bribe in western lands. Whatever the calumnious may circulate in other respects, yet here you have demonstration on yr. sides.

RC (DLC: Rives Collection, Madison Papers). Unsigned. Italicized words are those encoded by Monroe using the code that Jefferson had sent JM on 11 May 1785. Decoded interlinearly by JM.

1[Randolph], Vindication of Mr. Randolph’s Resignation.

2In a 22 Dec. 1795 private letter to Gouverneur Morris, Washington criticized British policies toward the U.S., “and if you should again converse with Lord Grenville on the subject, you are at liberty, unofficially, to mention them” (Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington, from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745–1799 (39 vols.; Washington, 1931–44). description ends , 34:398–403).

3Monroe sought and was granted an interview with the Directory itself on 8 Mar. 1796. His subsequent correspondence with Delacroix is printed in ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States … (38 vols.; Washington, 1832–61). description ends , Foreign Relations, 1:732–35.

4On Secretary of State Edmund Randolph’s publication of excerpts from Monroe’s dispatches concerning the Jacobin clubs, see PJM description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (1 vol. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984—). description ends , 15:478 n. 1.

5Monroe’s 24 Mar. letter informed Washington, “A letter from you to Gouvr. Morris … has fallen by some accident into the hands of the Directoire. It … is said to be very confidential, authorizing communication with Ld Grenville &c. The person who told me of it & who read it says it has produc’d an ill effect.” In his 25 Aug. reply to Monroe, Washington reaffirmed his neutrality policy and declared that he saw no reason why his letter to Morris could offend the French (Hamilton, Writings of Monroe description begins Stanislaus Murray Hamilton, ed., The Writings of James Monroe … (7 vols.; New York and London, 1898–1903). description ends , 2:483; Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington, from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745–1799 (39 vols.; Washington, 1931–44). description ends , 35:187–90).

6Dr. John Brockenbrough, Jr., son of Dr. John Brockenbrough, Sr., of Tappahannock, Virginia, wrote his 1795 Edinburgh M.D. thesis on rabies. He practiced medicine in Richmond and became president of the Bank of Virginia. He was appointed to the Council of State in 1802 and supported Monroe in the 1808 presidential election (Blanton, Medicine in Virginia in the Eighteenth Century, pp. 87, 337; Wyndham B. Blanton, Medicine in Virginia in the Nineteenth Century [Richmond, 1933], p. 367; Ammon, James Monroe, pp. 179, 273).

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