James Madison Papers

From James Madison to James Monroe, 1 March 1803

To James Monroe


Washington Mar. 1. 1803

Dear Sir.

Since you left us we have no further intelligence from N. Orleans, except a letter dated Jany 20 from the vice Consular agent there,1 from which it appears that the letters to the Govr. & Intendant from the Spanish Minister here, had arrived abt. the 13th. and had not on the 20th. produced the desired change in the state of things. The delay however does not seem to have been viewed by the Consul as any proof, that the Intendant would not conform to the interposition. The idea continued that he had taken his measures without orders from his Govt. There are letters (according to that from the Consul) for the Marquis Yrujo now on the way by land. These will probably shew whether the Intendant will yield or not. The despatch vessel which carried the Marquis’s letters is not yet returned. The detention of her beyond the allotted time is favorably interpreted by him; on the presumption that she waits for a satisfactory answer, which the pride of the Intendant postpones as long as possible.

The Newspapers will have informed you of the turn given to the proceedings of Congs. on the subject of N. Orleans &c. The propositions of Mr. Ross in the Senate which drove at war thro’ a delegation of unconstitutional power to the Executive was discussed very elaborately, and with open doors.2 The adversaries of them triumphed in the debate, and threw them out by 15 votes agst. 11. On the motion of Mr. Breckenridge measures of expenceless or cheap preparation, in the stile of those which attended Mr. Jay’s Mission to G. Britain, have been agreed on in the Senate.3 It is uncertain whether even these will pass the House of Reps. If they should, as is perhaps not improper, they will not be understood as indicating views that ought to excite suspicions or unfriendly sensations in either of the Govts. to which your Mission is addressed. The truth is that justice & peace prevail not only in the public Councils; but in the body of the Community; and will continue to do so as long as the conduct of other nations will permit. But France & Spain can not be too deeply impressed with the necessity of revising their relations to us thro’ the Misspi. if they wish to enjoy our friendship, or preclude a state of things which will be more formidable than any that either of those powers has yet experienced. Some adjustments such as those which you have to propose have become indispensible. The whole of what we wish is not too much to secure permanent harmony between the parties. Something much better than has hitherto been enjoyed by the U. States, is essential to any tolerable degree of it even for the present.

I inclose you an extract of a letter from Mr. Gallatin, which could not be well incorporated with the instructions.4 The information it gives may nevertheless be of use, & I take this mode of putting it into your hands.

I understand that a bill is likely to pass granting Genl. Fayette 12,000 acres of land, as due for Military services.5 We are anxious that a clause may be inserted authorizing the President to locate the tract wherever he pleases. Should this idea succeed, the grant may become of great value, perhaps beyond the contemplation of the Marquis or his most sanguine friends. Without such a clause, the land may be of little account, and will probably fall short of the lowest expectations.

In the instructions relative to Art VI. you will find an important discretion given on the subject of Beaumarchais claim.6 It was suggested by the possibility that the claim may be pressed with an energy beyond its importance in any public view; Such a discretion was therefore highly expedient, and may possibly be used with desireable effect.

You will receive herewith sundry printed papers, & I recommend that you receive from Mr. Gelston whatever newspapers he may have on hand for Mr Livingston.

I have not heard from you since yours of the 22d. If I should find on the rect. of your next that I have time eno’, you shall hear again from me before your departure; but it will probably be on private subjects only.

Mrs. Madison offers with me, affectionate respects an agreeable voyage, and happy scenes to Mrs. Monroe & Miss Eliza, as well as to yourself. Adieu

James Madison

P. S. Your instructions &c &c. will be put into the mail tomorrow evening. Some unavoidable delays have prevented their going by the present.

Index Entries