James Madison Papers

To James Madison from James Monroe, 20 September 1796

From James Monroe

Paris Sepr. 20. 1796.

Dear Sir

It is hinted to me by a person lately from London1 that it was said there I presume by King or Gore2 or both that Fulton had mentioned me in some correspondence hence to the United States perhaps with Governor Blount3 as being friendly to their interest, and which has got into Timothy’s4 hands and is considered by that enlightened statesman & his friends as a proof [of] a conspiracy—when this man was here before I told him I was doing every thing in my power to engage this government to support our claim to the navigation of the Missisipi & thought with effect. I did this to satisfy him personally in the hope it might produce the same effect upon all with whom he was connected & counteract the intrigues of a party always at work to seperate the western from the eastern country and which I thought & still think was in motion at the time by the agency of Lefore upon one Chaise5 who came here with him a resource I thought that party betook itself to after the happy termination of the western insurrection. As he came with Chaise and lived with him I sought and obtained thereby a knowledge of Chaise’s movements which indeed were not formidable, for at that time the object was to approach us. This will perhaps explain the affr. above suggested & with that view I give it. Mark the dates in case any thing appears before the publick & you will probably see how complete the expln. is. In truth the history of that time will shew that the opening of the Missisipi was the effect of foreign causes leading to that event & in wh. the amicable disposition of France was the principal and in procuring wh. surely they had no hand; & which was indeed so operative at the time that it produc’d that effect agnst. the real obstacles and dangers wh. an unwise, pusilanimous & self sufficient policy threw in its way. As Pinkny passed here he admitted upon the proofs shewn that the thing was done in effect and that his mission only endangered the undoing it. He arrived however in time to take advantage to a certain degree of existing circumstances but Short says not in full degree. It appears as if these knaves having gone beyond their depth, had lost their intellects and instead of guiding the helm of state by a great policy had dwindled done [sic] into little spies and informers in the hope by slandering others of diverting the publick attention from themselves.

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.

1Possibly William Tudor, who carried letters from Rufus King in London to Monroe in Paris (King to Monroe, 11 Aug. 1796, C. R. King, Life and Correspondence of Rufus King, 2:78).

2Christopher Gore (1758–1827) of Massachusetts was in London as a commissioner under article 7 of Jay’s treaty (Helen R. Pinkney, Christopher Gore: Federalist of Massachusetts, 1758–1827 [Waltham, Mass., 1969], pp. 59–61, 65–81).

3William Blount, governor of the Southwest Territory until 1796.

4Secretary of State Timothy Pickering. On Pickering’s suspicions of Blount, see William H. Masterson, William Blount (Baton Rouge, La., 1954), pp. 271–81, 297–98.

5Auguste de La Chaise, a native of Louisiana, served in the French army until 1793. Citizen Genet sent him and other French agents to Kentucky to rally support for George Rogers Clark’s proposed filibuster against New Orleans. According to Samuel Fulton, La Chaise conspired with Antoine-René-Charles-Mathurin de La Forest, the French consul general to the U.S., to separate western territories from the U.S. La Chaise and La Forest returned to France in 1794 (“Clark-Genet Correspondence,” Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1896 [2 vols.; Washington, 1897], 1:1002 and n. 4, 1078, 1088, 1102; 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, 1:455; ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States … (38 vols.; Washington, 1832–61). description ends , Miscellaneous, 1:931; Nasatir and Monell, French Consuls, p. 561).

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