James Madison Papers

To James Madison from James Monroe, 16 November 1805

From James Monroe

London novr. 16. 1805.

Dear Sir

I have this moment recd. yr favor of sepr. 24. the only one for a great length of time. You will find by mine forwarded by Col: Mercer1 & subsequent letters how the business stands, on which you touch, with this govt. Lord Mulgrave has given no answer to my letters, nor have I heard anything of late from him, or indeed since the short one to that notifying my intention to sail to the UStates by permission of the President. It is impossible for him to justify the conduct of his govt., and therefore he may possibly conclude that more is gained by silence, than by a weak defence. The pamphlet sent you was I think written by a person who saw my note.2 It undoubtedly shews what the govt. wod. do if it did not dread the consequences with us & the northern powers. It will give me great pleasure to recieve yr. veiw of the subject. The decision of Ld. Mansfield was intirely unknown to me.3 The correspondence of Ld. Hawkesbury with Mr. King was communicated to me by Mr. S. Williams, and is relied on in my note, as you have seen. That correspondence is interesting in many views. You will observe that it bears date abt. 3. months before the Russian treaty,4 and is in precise sentiment with that treaty as amended, especially; there can be no doubt that it was entered into on the part of this govt., with a view to subserve its interest with the northern powers. However having written fully on this point to the President it is not necessary to add any thing here.5 I had sent you by anticipation what I could collect wh. might be supposed to have any reference to the question depending with this govt. In making the question, that is denying the right, it may perhaps be best to take at the present time the most moderate ground. By so doing this govt. wod. be deprived of any pretext for other measure⟨s,⟩; & the attention of France, (an object important in respect to Spain) & what is still more likely to be felt here that of the northern powers wod. be drawn to the object. That seems to me to be all that is necessary in the present stage. How far it may be proper to submit to the Congress, so as that it may become publick, my letters or any of them, to Lord Mulgrave, in case I am to have any future agency in the business, you will decide. Mrs. monroe & my daughter desire their best regards to Mrs. Madison, whose indisposition we very much regret; tho’ hope she was recovered so as to accompany you to washington. My daughter has been much indisposed lately, & her mothers health in a delicate state, on which acct. by advice of the phisician we intend going soon to Cheltenham, a days ride from London. I shall be here when necessary of wh. Mr. Purviance will give me due notice. I am Dear Sir sincerely your friend & servt

Jas. Monroe

RC (DLC: Rives Collection, Madison Papers).

2See Monroe to JM, 26 Oct. 1805, and n. 4.

3For this decision, see JM to Monroe, 24 Sept. 1805, and n. 3.

4Monroe referred to letters exchanged between Rufus King and Lord Hawkesbury in March and April of 1801 dealing with the case of an American ship condemned for carrying Málaga wine to a Spanish colony. The cargo was condemned by the Nassau vice-admiralty court in spite of its having been landed in the United States and later reshipped. As a result of King’s complaint, the Advocate General decreed broken voyages licit. For the correspondence and the decision, see ASP, Foreign Relations, description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States… (38 vols.; Washington, 1832–61). description ends 2:490–91. The Anglo-Russian treaty was signed in June 1801 (Annual Register for 1801, description begins The Annual Register, or a View of the History, Politics, and Literature, for the Year… (80 vols.; London, 1758–1837). description ends 212–18).

5For Monroe to Jefferson, 26 Sept. 1805, in which he discusses the British use of King’s letter as a talking point in their negotiations with Russia, see Hamilton, Writings of James Monroe, description begins Stanislaus Murray Hamilton, ed., The Writings of James Monroe… (7 vols.; 1898–1903; reprint, New York, 1969). description ends 4:334–38. For a 6 Oct. 1805 letter to Jefferson in which Monroe stated King’s letter was also used in British negotiations with Prussia, see ibid., 338–51.

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