James Madison Papers

To James Madison from James Monroe, [ca. 18] May 1814

From James Monroe

Washington May 20. [ca. 18] 1814

Dear Sir

The enclosed communications are highly interesting.1 They give a mournful view of the state of things in France.2 It seems probable that Boniparte’s career is at an end. He may by extraordinary good fortune surmount his difficulties; but with routed armies, an exhausted people (perhaps disaffected) Paris & Bordeaux in the hands of the enemy, his prospects may be considerd almost desperate. The pretentions of G B., on us, have risen with her good fortune on the continent. The termination of the Russian mediation, the details of which are communicated, offers nothing very consoling in regard to the disposition of the Emperor.3 A weak young man intoxicated with success, appears to have abandoned the minister who was friendly to us, under the influence of an ally, our enemy, who furnishes him with money, and perhaps direc⟨ts⟩ all his great mov’ments. I am inclined to think that we ought to calculate on the failure of the negotiation, or on terms being presented to us, likely to dishonor the govt. & the nation. Indeed, if Mr Adams suggestion is correct, there does not appear to be ground on which to hope for a different result.

The procln. of Cochrane, inciting4 our slaves to rise, & join them, you have probably seen. Sincerely & respectfully yr⟨s⟩

Jas Monroe

An enclosed anonymous letter enclosed to Genl. Mason has just been recd.5

RC (DLC: Rives Collection, Madison Papers); Tr (DLC). JM’s 21 May 1814 letter to Monroe, acknowledging this letter, observed that it was “misdated”; conjectural date supplied here based on JM’s 20 May 1814 comment to William Jones that he had seen “a letter from Mr. Bayard to the Secy of State” reporting Albert Gallatin’s arrival in Amsterdam, the assumption that Monroe enclosed that letter here with the correspondence discussing “the termination of the Russian mediation” (see n. 3 below), and the fact that mail from Washington generally reached Montpelier in about two days. Tr in John Graham’s hand, docketed by Monroe, does not include postscript; attributed to Graham in the Index to the James Madison Papers. For enclosures, see nn. 1–3.

1JM’s reply of 21 May 1814 suggests that Monroe enclosed Sylvanus Bourne’s 28 Feb. 1814 dispatch (5 pp.; with 9 Apr. 1814 postscript), reporting the rumor that F. D. Changuion, the newly appointed Dutch minister to the United States, had been instructed to seek a “new commercial treaty” between the two nations (for the change of government in the Netherlands, see Bourne to JM, 20 Feb. 1814, and nn. 1–2). On 10 Dec. 1813 Bourne informed Monroe that he had asked the acting Dutch foreign minister, Gijsbert Karel van Hogendorp, why Bourne had not been recognized as U.S. consul and whether the new Dutch government considered “the treaty made on the 8th October 1802 between Holland and the U. States … to be in full force.” Bourne subsequently forwarded a copy of van Hogendorp’s 26 Dec. 1813 note recognizing him as consul but stating that the treaty was no longer valid. On 27 Dec. 1813 Bourne wrote Monroe using the correct date of the treaty, 1782, and commenting that he had thought the new Dutch government might readopt it “without formality,” since no ceremony or new credentials had been required for his recognition as consul (DNA: RG 59, CD, Amsterdam).

2JM’s reply of 21 May 1814 also suggests that Monroe enclosed one or both of William Harris Crawford’s dispatches from Paris dated 10 Mar. (4 pp.) and 16 Mar. 1814 (3 pp.), both of which contained news of the Continental war largely unfavorable to Napoleon (DNA: RG 59, DD, France). With each letter, Crawford forwarded copies of his 24 Jan. 1814 circular to U.S. consuls in France concerning the treatment of British prisoners taken by American privateers (3 pp.), and of his 23 Feb. 1814 letter to William Lee (8 pp.) on the application of “An Act in addition to the act concerning letters of marque, prizes, and prize goods,” 27 Jan. 1813, to the sale of prizes brought into French ports by American privateers, and specifically to the commissions due to Lee for selling such ships (U.S. Statutes at Large, description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America … (17 vols.; Boston, 1848–73). description ends 2:792–93). Crawford concluded that Lee had charged too much for his services relating to the prizes Criterion and Maria (for the cases, see Lee to Monroe, ca. 30 Aug. 1813, 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 6:578–79, 580 nn. 2–3) and requested JM’s decision on the matter. Monroe probably enclosed, in addition, Crawford’s 26 Mar. 1814 dispatch (4 pp.), which relayed reports that Louis XVIII was in France, planning to rule the country under a constitution resembling Great Britain’s, and that the British would demand that the United States concede the right of impressment and give up navigation of the Great Lakes in exchange for peace (DNA: RG 59, DD, France). Finally, Monroe likely enclosed Lee’s 20 Mar. 1814 letter to him (4 pp.), reporting that after allied troops entered Bordeaux, a representative of Louis XVIII “was received with shouts of vive Le Roi. A Tedeum was sung at the Cathedral, by order of the archbishop who was present. At the Theatre Vive Henry 4 was played by the orchestre, and god save the King which the populace heard standing with their hats off.” Events elsewhere in France led Lee to conclude that “nothing but a miracle can save the country from destruction.” He took issue with Crawford’s opinion regarding consular commissions for selling prize ships and stated that the matter would be presented to Monroe for a decision (DNA: RG 59, CD, Bordeaux).

3John Quincy Adams’s dispatches to Monroe of 4 and 5 Feb. 1814 (DNA: RG 59, DD, Russia), which Monroe probably enclosed here, suggested that the waning of Russian Foreign Minister Nicolai P. Rumiantsev’s influence had negatively affected the outcome of the Russian mediation proposal. In the first letter (2 pp.), Adams reported that on 1 Feb. 1814 Rumiantsev had shown him a dispatch from Khristofor A. Lieven, Russian ambassador in London, stating that Lord Castlereagh had informed him that since the U.S. commissioners in St. Petersburg had refused to treat for peace directly with Great Britain because they were commissioned to do so only under Russian mediation, Castlereagh had written to Monroe proposing a direct negotiation and “explaining the motives upon which Great Britain had declined treating with the United States, under Mediation” (for the proposal, see JM to Congress, 6 Jan. 1814, and n. 1). Rumiantsev had received no instructions or other information concerning the contents of the dispatch, though it had come to him by way of the emperor’s headquarters, and a copy had been sent to Foreign Secretary Karl Robert Nesselrode there. In the second letter (7 pp.; in code; decoded and printed in Ford, Writings of John Quincy Adams, 5:12–18), Adams noted that Rumiantsev had evaded his request for a copy of Lieven’s dispatch or a written description of its contents, which outcome Adams had expected due to “the long silence of the Emperor, and from the caution with which the Count had avoided any written communication” regarding Great Britain’s refusal of the mediation. Rumiantsev had told Adams that he no longer had access to Alexander I and was waiting for the emperor to accept his resignation, upon which Adams commented to Monroe that the minister was a “genuine Russian patriot” who had incurred the wrath of Great Britain by opposing that nation’s “maritime tyranny” and by breaking British commercial domination in Russia. “A powerful and implacable English influence” had rendered Rumiantsev unpopular with his countrymen, Adams wrote, and the minister probably understood that Alexander might be prevailed upon to effectively banish him. Rumiantsev had told Adams that his “heart [was] American” and that he would emigrate to the United States if he were younger and in better health.

JM’s letter to William Jones, 20 May 1814, suggests that Monroe also enclosed James A. Bayard’s 16 Mar. 1814 letter to him from Amsterdam, in which Bayard wrote, “Mr. Gallatin and myself left St. Petersburg on the 25 of January and arrived here on the 4 inst.” Despite not having been officially informed by the Russian government that Great Britain had refused the mediation offer, the American peace commissioners were convinced that this was the case, Bayard wrote. He enclosed a copy of Levett Harris’s note to him of 17 Jan. 1814, stating that Rumiantsev was extremely embarrassed not to be able to provide the commissioners with an answer on the matter, as he had received none from Alexander (Donnan, Papers of James A. Bayard, description begins Elizabeth Donnan, ed., Papers of James A. Bayard, 1796–1815, vol. 2 of Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1913 (Washington, 1915). description ends 252–54, 279–80).

4FC has “inviting.”

5Enclosure not found.

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