James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Thomas Munroe, 20 December 1821

From Thomas Munroe

Washington 20th. December 1821


My Son, Thomas,1 now in the 24th year of his age, who was educated at Yale College, and afterwards studied law, having always evinced, and still continuing to have so decided a preference of the military, to all other professions, that his mother and myself have yielded to his wishes; and he will shortly proceed to St. Petersburg to offer his services to the Emperor of Russia; with the explicit understanding that his object is to obtain a Military Education, at his own expense, that he may be useful to his own Country, to which he is to be at liberty to return at pleasure, unrestrained by any allegiance or other obligations, except an Oath of fidelity whi[l]st he may be employed in the Russian service. This Mr Politica, who has entered warmly into my Sons views, says is all that will be expected by his Government.

The testimonials and kind interest in favor of my Son by the Executive, Mr Adams & Mr Pinkney, former ministers to Russia, and some other distinguished American Characters, now at the Seat of Government, together with all the Foreign ministers and Charge des Affaires, are very flattering, do him much honor, and will, it is believed, put him on a favorable and advantageous footing in a foreign Country; but we are told by Mr. Politica and others what indeed, both my Son & myself, are very confident of, that nothing would be so useful to him as something that you, Sir, might be pleased to say of a young American on such an occasion, addressed either to the Emperor himself (which Mr. Politica says would be received with great deference from you, Sir, or from Mr Jefferson) or if preferred by you, to Count Nesselrode,2 Mr. Middleton,3 our minister at St. Petersburg, or to him, Mr Politica.

If I have been too presuming in thus addressing you, Sir, I trust that the interesting nature of the subject to a parents feelings, and the high value I should place on any thing that you might be pleased to say on it will plead my excuse. I have the honor to be with the highest respect & veneration Sir Yr mo Obt Servt

Thomas Munroe4

P.S. I take the liberty of enclosing a Copy of Mr Adams’s Letter.5 All the others are nearly like it in substance.

RC and enclosure (DLC). Addressed by Munroe to JM, and franked. Cover docketed by JM. For enclosure, see n. 5.

1Thomas Munroe Jr. had been a clerk in the Washington post office headed by his father. A notice in the Richmond Enquirer, 17 May 1822, stated that Munroe had arrived in Liverpool on 6 Apr. (Madison Davis, “A History of the City Post-Office,” Records of the Columbia Historical Society 6 [1903]: 169).

2Karl Robert Nesselrode (1780–1862) was a Russian diplomat and statesman who headed the Russian delegation at the congresses of Vienna, Aix-la-Chapelle, Troppau, Laibach, and Verona. Between 1815 and 1822 Nesselrode shared responsibilities in the foreign ministry with Ioannis Capodistrias (Joseph L. Wieczynski, ed., The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History [60 vols.; Gulf Breeze, Fla., 1976–2000], 24:162–64).

3Henry Middleton (1770–1846) was born in England, the son of a South Carolina planter. He served in the state’s legislature, 1802–10, and as governor of South Carolina, 1810–12. Middleton was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, 1815–19, and served as U.S. minister to Russia, 1820–30 (Sobel and Raimo, Biographical Directory of the Governors, 4:1392–93).

4Thomas Munroe (1771–1852) served as postmaster of Washington from 1799 to 1829. He was also involved in a number of civic endeavors, which included serving as an officer of the Bank of Columbia, an incorporator of the Washington Bridge Company, and as one of the founders of the Bank of the Metropolis (Davis, “History of the City Post-Office,” Records of the Columbia Historical Society 6 [1903]: 157–59).

5The enclosure (1 p.) is a copy of a letter of recommendation from John Quincy Adams to Petr Ivanovich Poletika, 15 Dec. 1821, in favor of Thomas Munroe Jr.

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