James Madison Papers

To James Madison from James Monroe, 13 August 1800

From James Monroe

Albemarle augt. 13. 1800.

Dear Sir

I returned from Richmond yesterday (wednesday) and found my child better than when I left him. The dangerous simptoms of the thrush seem to be past, and the hooping cough has nearly left him, so that extreme debility, is his present chief complaint. Perhaps I do wrong in sending you the enclosed letter,1 in reference to the veiws of the author, but as I know no harm can come of it, especially as I am under no engagment to the contrary, I see no impropriety in so doing. You had better return it to me, with the other paper if the post permits, or other opportunity offers here by wednesday next. I wish you to say whether you think I have said any thing improper or omitted what ought to be supplied, in my letter to Smith.2 Have I plac’d the affr. in regard to D.3 on a footing sufficiently delicate, have I made an acknowledgment to S. sufficiently strong? If any error is commited it may be rectified in another letter immediately on my return to Richmond. The truth is I do not like the letter on reading it since my return here. Ought I to assume the debt eventually or how act in it? Sketch what you think will do. I have been so much worsted by my ride down & back, in the sun, that I can scarcely sit up to day, and my family are not less wearied with the duties which devolve on it in my absence. At present we have no plan but that of ending this state of things. Most earnestly do we wish we cod. make it convenient to execute our engagments with you & Mrs. Madison, for we feel especially myself that we have as yet illy acquited ourselves to you. But as my duty calls me at present to Richmond, and a visit to you, wod. subject me to the same fatigue, as heretofore, I fear it will not be in my power. If we do not visit you agn you will ascribe it to the true cause wh. you know too well to doubt its solidity. When you come to Richmond in the fall, as you most probably will, we beg you to bring Mrs. M. with you, as it will be perfectly convenient for us to accomodate you and highly agreeable. A fortnights residence with us there will make the retreat for the winter more desirable in the mountains. We shall have more leasure too for many topics of conversation than we have had of late. Present our best regards to Mrs. M. & sisters as also to the old gentn. Lady & Miss Fanny. Sincerely I am yr. friend & servt.

Jas. Monroe

I need not mention the affr. with S. had better be mentioned to no one. Had I not better enclose D. a copy of his S’s letter & my reply. He D. will be in Fredbg. next month.

RC (DLC). Addressed by Monroe to JM at Orange. Cover dated Charlottesville, 16 Aug.

1Monroe enclosed a June 1800 letter from Thomas Mason to Philip Norborne Nicholas (NN: Monroe Papers), which read in part: “The Aristocrats are already begining to manufacture Lies, they have at last got Madison’s Character upon the Anvil, & into what shape they will endeavour to hammer it, is not yet exactly ascertained…. It is said when Congress pass’d the Bank Law, that Mr Madison express’d himself to Alexander White, then member of Congress … to this effect: That one way only was left to get clear of it, which was for Virga. to prevent within her Limits, the Collection of the US’s revenue, whereby Congress would be compell’d to repeal the Law, Mr White says this Thing hung upon his Mind, that he knew not how to interpret Mr Madison’s meaning, & concluded he must have misconceived him, that the next Day he again mentioned to him the Subject, when he declared himself in the same way. It is further said by Capt. Geo. Washington (the Genl.’s Nephew) that Madison had been greatly opposed to the Resolutions of the Virga. Assembly of 98 [that] he heard him […] ⟨him⟩self &c &c. Had these Things come from Authority less respectable, they would have pass’d off, like a thousand other idle Tales, we hear prattled every Day, but when they come from a Judge of the fedl court … it will be well to hint these Things to Mr Madison to put him upon his guard, I have little doubt but they will come out by & bye & perhaps too late to be contradicted. The Party unable to attack successfully Mr Madisons Report, Cowardly shrinking from Argument, ⟨are⟩ basely about to assail his Character, & Motives, & to endeavour to empress the People with a belief that he has long meditated a separation of the States, & consequently as he is ⟨an⟩ intimate Friend of Mr Jefferson must know that his Wishes lead the same way.” Mason asked Nicholas not to show the letter to JM (see Monroe to JM, 9 Sept. 1800).

2The editors have not been able to identify Monroe’s correspondent, “Col. G. Smith.” It is possible that the reference is to George William Smith, a Richmond lawyer and future governor of Virginia, and that the affair involved a personal financial matter for which there is no surviving record (see JM to Monroe, 20 Aug. 1800, and Monroe to JM, 9 Sept. 1800).

3Probably John Dawson.

Index Entries