James Madison Papers

To James Madison from James Monroe, 10 April 1814

From James Monroe

April 10. 1814

Dear Sir

Mr Eppes & Genl Ringgold called last night to inquire into the truth of the report respecting the armistice. They stated that the unfavorable impression it had made among our friends was the cause, and promised to see you on it either in the course of the evening or this morning. The repeal of the nonimportation act, is connected with it; it is suspected that that step was taken to remove the objection on the part of the British Commander, it having been requird by Warren.1 They said that the idea afloat was that the proposition proceeded from this government, & that under all the circumstances attending it, there was less credit to this govt., in the transaction, than there would have been in accepting the proposition of Warren. I informed them that the affair was unsettled, and might terminate in nothing. I gave them all other proper explanations. I have still the packet, having retaind it in consequence of what they said, and their intention to see you on it, tho’ I made no intimation to them of that circumstance.2 Very respectfully your friend

Jas Monroe

RC (DLC: Rives Collection, Madison Papers). Cover sheet addressed to: “The President.”

1For the conditions of the armistice proposed by Adm. Sir John Borlase Warren on 30 Sept. 1812, see PJM-PS, description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (7 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984–). description ends 5:385 n. 2.

2Rumors of an impending armistice circulated widely in April 1814, and by 11 Apr. Monroe had in fact authorized Brig. Gen. William H. Winder, then in Montreal negotiating an agreement for the exchange of hostages and prisoners of war, to make arrangements for a cease-fire as well. The “packet” Monroe mentioned here probably contained the instructions for this mission, which failed to reach Winder before he left Canada on his return to Washington. In accord with the administration’s provisions for this contingency, Brig. Gen. Alexander Macomb, commander at Plattsburgh, assigned Col. Ninian Pinkney the task of acting in Winder’s stead to obtain an armistice that covered the entire Atlantic coast as well as the northern frontier, and that could be terminated by either party on twenty days’ notice. The British would not accede to these terms, Pinkney did not believe himself authorized to modify them, and the attempt came to naught (New-York Gazette & General Advertiser, 14 Apr. 1814; Monroe to Winder, 11 Apr. 1814, and Monroe to Alexander Macomb, 11 Apr. 1814, DNA: RG 45, Subject File RE, box 591, Correspondence Relating to Exchange and Release of Prisoners, American and British; Robinson, “Retaliation for the Treatment of Prisoners in the War of 1812,” American Historical Review 49 [1943]: 68–69; Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections 15 [1909 reprint]: 531, 537, 543–49).

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