James Madison Papers

From James Madison to James Monroe, 5 March 1817

To James Monroe

Washington Mar. 5. 1817.

Dear Sir

Altho’ your personal and official acquaintance with Mr. J Graham,1 be well known to me, I can not, on the occasion of my final departure fr⟨om⟩ the public service, satisfy myself, without expressing my sense of his great merit.

Mr. Graham, recommended by my knowlege of his public Agency abroad, and of his private virtues, was invited into the Department of State, as the Chief under the Head of it, whilst the Department was in my hands. It was my wish, more than his own that was gratified by the appointment. And I have always considered it as the effect of an honorable desire to serve his Country, combined with his personal & political feelings, that he remained for so long a period, in a Station, without the attractions, which could otherwise have detained him in it.

On these grounds, & from continued & varied opportunities of being intimately acquainted with Mr. Graham, I not only take a pleasure, but fe⟨el⟩ an obligation, in saying that I regard him as among the most worthy of men, and most estimable of Citizens; as adding to a sound & discriminating judgment, a valuable stock of acquirements adapted to public affairs; and to both, a purity of character, a delicacy of sentiment, and an amenity of temper & manners, exceeded in no instance to which I could refer.

With this view of his capacity to be useful to his Country, and the principles guarantying a proper exertion of it, I can not but hope that suitable occasions may present themselves, for preventing a loss to the public, of the services of a Citizen, so highly entitled to its confidence. With the highest consideration & regard, I remain Yours,

James Madison

RC (DNA: RG 59, ML); draft (DLC). Filed with the RC is a slip of paper in an unidentified hand: “Washington, March. 1817 / Mr. Madison / Containing an honorable testimony to the talents and services of Mr Graham during his connexion with the business of the department of state.” Parts of words in angle brackets have been supplied from the draft. Minor differences between the copies have not been noted. Monroe forwarded the RC with a covering letter, also praising Graham, to Daniel Brent on 20 Mar. (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 [1969 reprint], 6:17–18).

1Here the draft has “and your friendship for him.” John Graham (1774–1820) was born in Virginia, educated at Columbia College, and considered a rising man in Kentucky when he was appointed secretary of legation in Madrid by Thomas Jefferson in 1801. He served as secretary of the Orleans Territory from 1804 to 1807, when he was persuaded by JM to become chief clerk in the State Department, a post he held until 1817. In 1819 Monroe named Graham minister to Portugal, residing in Buenos Aires, but within a year he returned to Washington where he died.

Index Entries