James Madison Papers

To James Madison from James Monroe, 16 August 1813

From James Monroe

Washington Augt. 16. 1813

Dear Sir

Thinking it probable that my family might make a visit to Loudoun, & take advantage of the Hack which you took over with you, I went up there, on saturday, & return’d here this morning at an early hour. My object was to make preparations for their accomodation, in case they should come; but of which, I have no hope, since the rect. of a late letter from Mr Hay.1

I recd. just before I left town, a communication from a Mr de Forrest of Connecticut, who, on a late voyage to France, was carried into Engld., whence he sailed early in June, for the UStates, & arrived, at Boston, in the vessel which brought the latest intellig[e]nce. He states that there is no prospect of immediate peace between the UStates & that country; that the acceptance of Russian mediation, seamens bill &cc, are considerd proof, of a disposition to withdraw from the war—that among the conditions which are spoken of, as likely to be insisted on, when we are permitted to enjoy peace, is one to prohibit our building more than a certain number of ships of war. This gentleman says that he is a federalist, but wishes success to the war.2 I sent it to genl. Mason, that he might attend to that part, which relates to Prisoners, & to the conduct of Mr Beasley; I have just sent to recover it, I will forward it to you, if I get it in time.

From the lakes we hear nothing but what you see in the papers.

At Annapolis there are three distinct commands; that of the Govr., who has thought proper to interfere, of Col: Carbery, who ought to command & of some person who commands the militia of the State, drawn into service, by the UStates, & who has not been plac’d under either of the other⟨s⟩. It is probable, if Genl. Bloomfield, comes here, that the govr. may yield the command to him. The pretention of the govr. seems to be disapproved by most persons. The detachment of Captn. Morris with his crew will add much to the security of the place, & produce a happy effect on public opinion.

I shall inclose several papers, on which you will be so good as, to give such directions as you may think proper.3

I hope you have found your journey home, & the air of the upper country advantageous to you. Respectfully & sincerely yrs

Jas Monroe

RC (DLC: Rives Collection, Madison Papers).

1George Hay wrote Monroe from Richmond on 12 Aug. 1813 discussing politics in that city and in Europe but not mentioning any plans to travel to Loudoun County (NN: Monroe Papers).

2Monroe referred to John H. DeForest’s letter to him of 7 Aug. 1813 (not found), which the secretary of state, in his 19 Aug. reply, requested permission to publish, commenting that the propagation of DeForest’s “judicious remarks” “would be attended with real advantage to the Community” (DNA: RG 59, DL). No response from DeForest has been found, but on 4 Sept. 1813 there appeared in the Daily National Intelligencer a letter, dated 2 Aug. 1813, from “An American citizen having been (on his passage from the United States for France) taken and carried into England,” who identified himself as a Federalist. In making the points noted by Monroe, the writer asserted that British leaders had no interest in ending the war, because it actually promoted their goal of achieving a trade monopoly. The ostensibly neutral trade still permitted by the United States was “almost exclusively owned by British merchants,” who were thereby enabled “to carry on themselves so much of the commerce of the United States as is for their benefit,” while the war conveniently cut off all other American shipping. News of the embargo bill passed by the House of Representatives caused consternation in England, which turned to derision when the Senate rejected the legislation (for the bill, see JM to Congress, 24 Feb. 1813, and n. 3). Less welcome were reports that the Senate had also declined to pass a bill prohibiting the use of British licenses (for the bill, see William Pinkney to JM, 3 Mar. 1813, n. 1), as the Board of Trade found it difficult to draft a license policy “which they deemed sufficiently restrictive.” The writer argued, therefore, that “Congress, by passing the law against the use of British licenses … and at the same time leaving the neutral trade unmolested, have placed our commerce on the precise footing which is in exact conformity with the views and policy of British government … the worst footing for us, and the best for our enemy, that could be devised.” By contrast, a U.S. trade embargo would force Great Britain, already weakened by financial pressures and adverse military developments in Europe, to the bargaining table.

The writer added his observations on the inadequate means of feeding American prisoners in England, noting that the men “feel the full force of every neglect” and “labor under difficulties which require attention.” He suggested that Reuben Beasley, the American agent, be instructed to provide each prisoner with a small allowance to purchase food and soap.

3JM’s reply of 19 Aug. suggests that Monroe enclosed letters sent to him by John Speyer, 6 May 1813 (7 pp.; DNA: RG 59, CD, Stockholm), and John Houstoun McIntosh, 14 Aug. 1813 (2 pp.; DNA: RG 59, TP, Florida).

Speyer reported on the status of American shipping claims in Sweden; his conversations with Swedish Crown Prince Bernadotte, who had once again offered to mediate between the United States and Great Britain; Albert von Kantzow’s plans to travel to Guadaloupe en route to the United States; and political and military affairs in Europe. He requested instructions on sending American seamen stranded in Sweden back to the United States, noting that the case of those in Gothenburg was particularly urgent because prices there were the highest in the country, because Swedish sailors and soldiers kept the Americans from working, and because it was feared that “many would find their way into the english navy” if their living expenses were not paid by the U.S. government. Speyer also stated that in compliance with Monroe’s wish, he would remain in Stockholm until he received word of Kantzow’s arrival in the United States, when he hoped that JM would “be pleased to make another nomination.”

McIntosh informed Monroe that after East Florida rebels had captured the port of Fernandina on Amelia Island, he had made “very considerable advances” to support the “Patriots,” on the basis of a provision that all duties collected in the port would be used to reimburse such contributions. In consequence, McIntosh reported, he had been “duly and specially authorised by the constituted authorities of the people of E. Florida to receive all the monies which were or might be collected” in the port. Having learned that “three to four thousand Dollars” in duties had been received in Fernandina, McIntosh requested that East Florida commissioner Maj. Gen. Thomas Pinckney be directed to pay the money to him.

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