From James Monroe
Plattsburg July 27. 1817
I am so far on my route westward, after having extended my tour to the East,1 as far as Portland, whence I return’d to Dover in N Hamshire, & came thence, by Concord, & Hanover, into Vermont, at windsor, & by montpelier, & Burlington to this place. I visited yesterday Rouse’s point, which is within a few hundred yards of the boundary line. I met her⟨e⟩ Genl Brown,2 and to morrow we proceed, together, on the way to Sacketts harbour, whence I shall hasten forward, in the completion of my tour, as fast as possible.
I have encounter’d more difficulties in my tour than I had form’d any idea of. The pressure on me, from Bal: to Portland, by a crowded population, surpassed any thing, that I ever witnessed. It was manifest to me, that a desire, in the body of the people, to shew their attachment to our union, & to republican govt., of which they seem’d to be aware, there was just cause to entertain doubts, from the events of the late war, was their ruling motive. The most distinguishd in the opposition, in private life, seemed, to seize the opportunity, which my journey afforded them, to remove, by the most explicit & solemn declarations, impressions, of that kind, which they knew existed, and to get back into the great family of the union, & most of the leaders have held language of the same kind. Of the attachment of the people, to our union & govt., I have no doubt. Their mov’ment has been evidently, from the heart.
I expected to have travelled in the character of a private citizen, but soon found that I must either return home, or yield to the course which the public opinion dictated. I accomodated with the latter, but, so heavy, has been the pressure, on me, that I often fear’d it would overwhelm me. Genl. Brown says that I look better than when he saw me in March, and Mr Tillotson3 (who married a niece of Mrs Monroe) thinks that I have gained, since I left N. York. He is now here.
In many parts, I met, with some of our old friends & particularly in Vermont, all of whom, made the most friendly inquiries respecting you and Mr Jefferson.
In every quarter (except Boston) both parties united, which I deemed highly fortunate, on public as well as private considerations. At Boston, the union was declin’d by Genl. Dearbourne,4 Col: Austin5 (the old man) & some others, who presented a separate address. I did all that I could in my reply, to prevent that circumstance, injuring the republican cause, party, or those members personally.
It would require a vol: to give you a detaild sketch of the incidents of this tour. I shall reserve it for our future interview. I hope that you & Mrs Madison continue to enjoy good health. With great respect your friend
RC (DLC: Rives Collection, Madison Papers).
1. In the summer of 1817, the newly inaugurated president, James Monroe, made a tour of the northern states (Daniel Preston, ed., The Papers of James Monroe [2 vols. to date; Westport, Conn., 2003—], 1:xvii).
2. Jacob Jennings Brown (1775–1828) was a Pennsylvania-born farmer who settled in upstate New York on several thousand acres near Watertown in 1799. In 1809 he began what was to become a distinguished military career when he was appointed to command a militia regiment. At the outbreak of the War of 1812, he was a brigadier general of the New York militia, in which capacity he organized the successful defense of Sackets Harbor in 1813. Commissioned brigadier general in the U.S. Army in 1813 and promoted to major general in 1814, Brown commanded in Western New York and led his forces into Canada where they fought the British on equal terms in the battles of Chippewa and Lundy’s Lane. That same year he led the troops who successfully lifted the siege of Fort Erie. In 1821 he was made commanding general of the U.S. Army, a position he held until his death.
3. Robert Tillotson, son of Dr. Thomas Tillotson, a nephew of Robert R. Livingston, and private secretary to Gov. Daniel D. Tompkins of New York, was nominated by JM as a judge advocate in the U.S. Army’s Ninth Military District and was confirmed by the Senate on 23 June 1813. He was appointed U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York in 1820 and his commission renewed in 1824 (Tompkins to JM, 7 Feb. 1815 [DNA: RG 59, LAR, 1809–17, filed under “Tillotson”]; George Dangerfield, Chancellor Robert R. Livingston of New York, 1746–1813 [New York, 1960], 146; Senate Exec. Proceedings description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America (3 vols.; Washington, 1828). description ends , 2:372, 374, 3:186, 188, 353, 358).
4. Henry Dearborn (1751–1829) was a Revolutionary War veteran, U.S. congressman from Massachusetts, 1793–97, and secretary of war in both Jefferson administrations. In 1809 he became collector of the port of Boston. JM appointed Dearborn senior major general of the U.S. Army in 1812 to command in northern New York and New England, but his ineffectual performance led to his removal in 1813. He was subsequently assigned the command of New York City, and he held this post until his discharge from the army in 1815. Monroe appointed Dearborn minister to Portugal in 1822, where he served until 1824.
5. Benjamin Austin (1752–1820) was a Boston merchant and ropewalk owner who gained fame as a political writer and leader of the city’s Republicans. A disciple of Samuel Adams, Austin was an early and outspoken advocate of republicanism, and a thorn in the side of Boston’s Federalists.