James Madison Papers

To James Madison from James Monroe, 9 September 1800

From James Monroe

Richmond Sepr. 9. 1800.

Dear Sir

I have yr. favor of the 27. (last) in wh. you inform me of yr. engagment with Mr. Macgee1 to overlook my business in albemarle, with wh. I am much gratified. I believe the one on the mountain will remain, but whether he does or not I shall put great confidence in Macgee, and altho’ in case he stays and in consequence Macgee’s attention be confined to the lower place, I shall if you advise raise his wages to £60. and allow him to keep a horse. I very much hope under Mr. Macgees auspices to encrease considerably the product of plantation, of wh. I am satisfied it is capable. I was surprised to hear nothing of the papers sent & letter I wrote you from Albemarle, as I am not to have recd. the letter you mention to have written me the mail before that wh. brot. this. My letter conveyd one from Mr. Mason having reference to you, of wh. we confer’d before, as also mine to Colo. Smith, both of wh. ought to be seen by yrself only. I hope you have them & will keep them till we meet. The latter subject ought to be viewed with great favor to the party interested from the footing between him & me, in addition to wh. I think he had a discretionary power over what concerned me in every emergency. There has been an alarm here of an insurrection of the blacks wh. has not entirely subsided.2 It seems to be evident that something of the kind was contemplated. Abt. 25. of this neighborhood are committed who are to be tried next week. It is said they intended to seize the publick arms that were at the penitentiary, burn the city &ca. The evidence of its comprizing many of the negroes of Henrico, part of Hano[ve]r & chesterfield is satisfactory; but it is at an end if it was ever contemplated. Mrs. M. is gone on a visit to my sister Buckner in Caroline, and writes me she and Eliza are well & the child much improved. By moving him abt. he will I hope get the better soon of those diseases of childhood, & recover his strength. This alarm has kept me much occupied & I write you this in haste. We have nothing new from abroad. Our comrs. and govt. keep their secrets to themselves. Of the state of the publick mind we have no positive proof, but cause to think it is changing for the better. Our best wishes to Mrs. Madison & family. Sincerely I am your friend & servt.

Jas. Monroe

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

1Richard McGee of Louisa County was engaged by JM as overseer for one of Monroe’s plantations (see Monroe to JM, 3 Nov. 1800, and JM to Monroe, 24 Sept., 7 Nov., and ca. 27 Dec. 1800).

2On 30 Aug. 1800 Monroe was informed of a planned insurrection by slaves in the neighborhood of Richmond. An unknown number of men, led by a blacksmith named Gabriel Prosser, intended to set fire to the city, kidnap the governor, and inspire a general slave rebellion in the surrounding countryside. Monroe quickly mobilized the militia and ordered units to patrol outlying areas as well as Richmond itself. On 15 Sept. Monroe wrote Jefferson that “10 have been condemned & executed, and there are at least twenty, perhaps 40. more to be tried, of whose guilt no doubt is entertained.” The exact number of convictions and executions remains unknown (Monroe to Jefferson, 15 Sept. 1800, and Monroe to the Speakers of the General Assembly, 5 Dec. 1800, 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 , 3:208, 234–43; Gerald W. Mullin, Flight and Rebellion: Slave Resistance in Eighteenth-Century Virginia [New York, 1972], pp. 140–63).

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