George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James Monroe, 15 February 1789

From James Monroe

Fredericksburg [Va.] Feby 15. 1789.

Dear Sir

I take the liberty to submit the enclos’d to your perusal. It was written before the meeting of the late Convention, but being inaccurately printed and delay’d in the press untill the week it assembled, it was for those reasons at that time suppressed.1 Had not the propriety of making my sentiments known upon a late occasion, suggested this mode, in that situation it would have remain’d. Having suffer’d it to escape me, it is with pleasure that I enclose you a copy. I am not aware that it contains any thing worthy of attention. It was however written in haste, and whilst other ingagments imploy’d much of my attention—Be so kind as [to] present my most respectful compts to Mrs Washington and be assur’d of the respect and esteem with which I have the honor to be your very humble servant

Jas Monroe


James Monroe (1758–1831) was elected to the Virginia house of delegates in 1782, in 1783–86 served in the Continental Congress, and was again elected to the house of delegates for the 1787–88 session. At the Virginia Ratifying Convention in 1788 he joined the opponents of the Constitution. In February 1789 he was defeated for the House of Representatives by James Madison but was chosen in 1790 to fill the vacancy in the United States Senate caused by the death of William Grayson.

1The enclosure was probably Monroe’s pamphlet Some Observations on the Constitution, &c. Charles Evans speculates that this pamphlet was published in Petersburg by Hunter and Prentis in 1788 (Evans, American Bibliography, description begins Charles Evans et al. American Bibliography and Supplement. 16 vols. Chicago, Worcester, Mass., and Charlottesville, Va., 1903–71. description ends no. 21263). In a letter to Thomas Jefferson, 12 July 1788, enclosing a copy of the pamphlet, Monroe stated that he had at first maintained a neutral position on the Constitution and “made no communication or positive declaration of my sentiments untill after the Convention met. Being however desirous to communicate them to my constituents I address’d the enclos’d letter to them, with intention of giving them a view thereof eight or ten days before it met, but the impression was delayed so long, and so incorrectly made, and the whole performance upon reexamination so loosely drawn that I thought it best to suppress it” (Boyd, Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 41 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends 13:353). A copy of the pamphlet was in Jefferson’s library (Sowerby description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp. Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson. 5 vols. 1952–59. Reprint. Charlottesville, Va., 1983. description ends , no. 3018).

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