Writings of James Madison, Volume 2

Author: James Madison

To James Monroe.

WASHINGTON, July 30, 1803.

DEAR SIR,—I received your favor of —— by Mr. Hughes, the bearer of the public despatches from you and Mr. Livingston. The purchase of Louisiana in its full extent, tho’ not contemplated, is received with warm, and, in a manner, universal approbation. The uses to which it may be turned render it a truly noble acquisition. Under pendent management it may be made to do much good, as well as to prevent much evil. By lessening the military establishment otherwise requisite or countenanced, it will answer the double purpose of saving expence and favoring liberty. This is a point of view in which the Treaty will be particularly grateful to a most respectable description of our Citizens. It will be of great importance, also, to take the regulation and settlement of that Territory out of other hands into those of the U. S., who will be able to manage both for the general interest and conveniency. By securing, also, the exclusive jurisdiction of the Mississippi to the mouth, a source of much perplexity and collision is effectually cut off. The communications of your colleague hither have fully betrayed the feelings excited by your message, and that he was precipitating the business soon after your arrival, without respect to the measure of the government, to yourself, or to the advantage to be expected from the presence and co-operation of the more immediate depository of the objects and sensibilities of his Country. It is highly probable that if the appeal to the French Government had been less hackneyed by the ordinary minister, and been made under the solemnity of a joint and extraordinary embassy, the impression would have been greater and the gain better.

What course will be taken by his friends here remains to be seen. You will find in the Gazettes a letter from Paris, understood to be from Swan, indorsing a copy of his memorial, representing it as the primary cause of the cession, praising the patriotism which undertook so great a service without authority, and throwing your agency out of any real merit, while, by good fortune, it snatched the ostensible merit. This letter, with the memorial, has been published in all our papers; some of them making comments favorable to Mr. Livingston, others doing justice to you, others ascribing the result wholly to the impending rupture. Another letter from Paris has been published, which makes him Magnus Apollo. The publication of the memorial is so improper, and in reference to the writer invites such strictures, that from him is not to be presumed. The passages against England have not escaped the lash. It would not be very wonderful if they were to be noticed formally or informally by the British Legation here.

My public letter will show the light in which the purchase of all Louisiana is viewed, and the manner in which it was thought proper to touch the policy of Mr. Livingston, in complaining that the communication did not authorize the measure, notwithstanding the information given that he was negociating for more than the East side of the Mississippi. The pecuniary arrangements are much disrelished, particularly by Mr. Gallatin. The irredeemability of the stock, which gives it value above par, the preference of the conditions to the true object in the cash payment, and the barring of a priority among them, are errors most regarded. The claims of the different creditors rest on principles as different.

Governor Mercer has taken the field as a candidate for the State Legislature, against four with whom he has been on the same party. The inclosed print will give you an idea of the violence of the contest, and of the personalities growing out of it. His object is to set the State to rights on certain points. He expects to accomplish it by a skilful management of parties. It is difficult to calculate the precise result of this project, either as it relates to the public or to himself. It is probable that he will sink under it, or that he will throw the State off its centre, and possible that both may happen.

I have received no letter from you or Mr. Livingston since the arrival of Mr. Hughes, and consequently know nothing of your subsequent movements. The public letters by this conveyance were written under an ignorance whether you would be found at Paris, London, or Madrid. I observe a paragraph from an English paper says you had left Paris for Madrid, which I presume to be founded in fact. I hope you will give the proper cue to Spain, and carry all our points with her. Avoid the error committed with France with respect to the Creditors.


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Chicago: James Madison Jr., "To James Monroe.," Writings of James Madison, Volume 2 in James Madison, Letters and Other Writings of James Madison, 4 Vols. (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co.), Pp.183-185 Original Sources, accessed March 2, 2024, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4KTWC5717E68D4A.

MLA: Madison, James, Jr. "To James Monroe." Writings of James Madison, Volume 2, in James Madison, Letters and Other Writings of James Madison, 4 Vols. (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co.), Pp.183-185, Original Sources. 2 Mar. 2024. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4KTWC5717E68D4A.

Harvard: Madison, J, 'To James Monroe.' in Writings of James Madison, Volume 2. cited in , James Madison, Letters and Other Writings of James Madison, 4 Vols. (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co.), Pp.183-185. Original Sources, retrieved 2 March 2024, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4KTWC5717E68D4A.