James Madison Papers

From James Madison to James Monroe, 18 January 1804

To James Monroe


Washington Jany. 18. 1804

Dear Sir

I write you by Mr. Baring, who will also take charge of full instructions on the subject of a Convention with G. B for putting an end to impressments &c: It is of great importance to the harmony of the two Countries that the project should not entirely fail. There is not time to forward by this opportunity instructions relative to Madrid. They will probably soon follow. In the mean time, you will collect from a letter which the President writes, his present views with respect to that Mission.1 I refer to the same source also for other things of which a repetition is unnecessary; particularly the arrangement as to Louisiana.

Your outfit on going to London is of course. There will be a difficulty in varying the provision made beyond the annual allowance as Minister Extry. to Paris, it being fixed and recorded. Should you proceed to Madrid, it is probable that your expences will be defrayed, according to the several examples in point, and the apparent reasonableness of it. As soon as the instructions to proceed issue, a draught may I presume be authorised; which will be better than the mode you suggest of having the advance made you here, for settlement on your return.2

I informed you in my last, that I had recd all your private letters down to Ocr. 22;3 including the documents relating to the joint negociation &c. with France; and that every thing seemed to be sufficiently understood here to make you easy. The letter of 22 Mar: from T. that of Apl. 10 to you, and the extract from Col. M’s journal, compleatly establish the essential points.4

Mr. Merry has said nothing yet about St. Domingo, altho’ it is understood to be now in the hands of the Negroes, and has been in that train clearly & certainly for some time past. I learn from what I take to be a sure source, that G. B. will not aim at a monopoly of the trade there, and will also by an arrangement with the Negroes, shut the sea agst. them, in order to keep Jamaica safe. If she pursues this course, we shall be released from difficulties on that side. And it is be [sic] hoped that France will see that she has no motive to throw the commerce and the attachments of the negroes into the exclusive possession of England, by prohibitions agst. other nations.

Mr. M.5 expressed in strong terms the dissatisfaction of his Govt. at the memorial.6 He was told that the sentiments of this Govt. were truly expressed in the friendly assurances given by it; and that no authority had been given to express others. It was added that the Memorial, was not official, nor meant for the public eye; and very probably had been shaped into arguments most likely to favor the object of it; without adverting to the incidental tendency of them. In a word that the view taken of the subject was such as was deemed most likely to influence the policy of France rather than to exhibit the opinions or feelings of the writer. He seemed to be content with this disavowal, and signified his confidence that his govt. would be so likewise.

You omitted the acct. of the silver smith at Paris, as I hinted in my last.7 Be so good as to send it by the first oppy. I am anxious on my own as well as on your acct. to fulfill my engagements for the furniture. and am using exertions which I hope will ere long take effect. I shall say nothing to Mr. Mason, till I can say what will be agreeable to him. You will not forget that the Silver Smith’s acct. will not be sufficient to ascertain the debt. You must not only fix that part of it; but price the other articles also.

The inclosed paper has an address to M: Merry, which shows the importance to Gr Britain of a stipulation to surrender her deserting seamen.8 She cannot expect this to be either stipulated or practised, whilst her impressments go on. On the contrary she must expect other States to follow the example of Va. which will throw the whole trade between the two Countries in time of war at least, into American vessels. Accept from us all for Mrs. & Miss M. & yourself, our affectionate respects:

James Madison

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