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Since I wrote you last we have had no further news from
America, and expect none of any material Importance until
the session of Congress. We hear of nothing but the violence
of political parties concentrated in the state of Massachusetts
and especially in the town of Boston. Old Hillhouse used to
say seven years ago, that there was no remedy for our evils
but "<2 little surgical operation;'''' and it was he, and a number
of heads In Connecticut and Boston about as wise and com-
prehensive as his, who then seriously formed the project


for dividing the Union, of which at the last session of Con-
gress Mr. Quincy condescended to become the herald. It
was on the very same Lilliputian scale of policy too, because
Louisiana and the western states would soon be able to out-
vote New England in Congress. I had settled it in my
mind long before that time, that this project would never
be carried into execution, but by treason and rebellion, and
that those were the greatest of two evils, in comparison
with the chance of New England's being occasionally out-
voted In Congress. To my mind, therefore, the bare intima-
tion of what Mr. Quincy seriously avowed in Congress,
and what Hillhouse hinted by the jocose figure of an amputa-
tion, contained these two crimes, treason and rebellion, as
completely as in the physical world the grub obscene con-
tains the wriggling worm. I do not Imagine that either
Hillhouse or Quincy ever pursued their own reflections so far
as to be brought to this conclusion, though Quincy by his
"violently If they must" has admitted that the division
may cost a civil war, the chances of which I suppose he will
not deny might. If unsuccessful, finish by giving it the name
of rebellion. Such however was my conclusion, that in-
dividual treason and collective rebellion were necessarily im-
plied in the execution of the scheme for dividing the Union;
and the system of conduct uniformly pursued by the party
which first conceived that design has uniformly confirmed
me in the opinion which / had formed upon a consideration
of It a priori as a mere theoretical speculation.

It seems to me that there were littleness and contraction
stamped upon the very conception that the American Union
must be dissolved, because the New England Interest might
be outvoted in Congress. There was, indeed, no New Eng-
land Interest clear or strong enough to unite its own repre-
sentatives in their votes. But admitting that there had been,


or that in future there might be, I saw no indication that
it would be without its proper and reasonable influence in
the national councils, nor could I possibly discover any in-
terest which would not suffer more by the natural and in-
evitable collisions of independent and disconnected border-
ing nations, having no common deliberative principle of
association, than it could while they were united under one
and the same system of legislation.

As the conception of dividing the Union appeared to me
little and narrow, I could not avoid assuming it as a measure
of the minds by which it was entertained; and as I thought
the execution of the project would on the contrary require
minds of a very enlarged and capacious character, I did not
think the persons so ready to undertake this mighty work
exactly calculated to carry it through. I therefore believed
that it would ultimately prove unsuccessful, though proba-
bly not until after the experiment of a civil war. What and
whom a civil war might in its progress bring forth, I could
not foresee; but judging from past and present experience
I supposed a Jeroboam, a Julius Caesar, a Cromwell, or some
such ferocious animal, who might or might not unite the
country again under one government. If he did, it must
be military and arbitrary. If he did not, it would be because
another tyrant like himself would head another state of a
similar description, to feed between them a perpetual state
of future war between the different sections that now com-
pose the Union. It was possible that instead of two such
wild beasts, the nation when once split up might produce
an indefinite number of them, and monarchies, and oligar-
chies, and democracies, might arise as among the states of
ancient Greece, and the more they multiplied the more
materials would they furnish for future war. Now In all
these prospects of future times, grounded on the assumed


principle of dividing the Union, I did see chances of splendid
fortunes for individual avarice and ambition, which our
present simple republican and federative government does
not and cannot hold out, but at the expense of blood and
treasure, and freedom and happiness to the great mass of
the nation in all its parts, from which the hand of a par-
ricide would shrink with compunction.

From the frequency with which I return to this subject
in my letter to you and to others of my friends which will
be seen by you, may be judged how much it occupies my
thoughts, and how deeply it affects my feelings. It enters
into most of my meditations upon history, upon govern-
ment, and even upon the poetry that I read. Marmion,
and the Minstrel, and the Lady of the Lake, have no moral
to me but to show the consequences of dividing states which
nature admits of being united. The picture of border wars
is a memento to me of what awaits us, if we ever yield to
that senseless and stupid call for division, which I have so
long heard muttered in my own neighborhood, and which
Quincy has now taken trumpet to sound forth in the very
sanctuary of legislation. In that Union is to me what the
balance is to you, and as without this there can be no good
government among mankind in any state, so without that
there can be no good government among the people of North
America In the state In which God has been pleased to place

Of ourselves we have little else to say than that we are
all well. I have got Into such a regular and quiet course of
life, and have now so little troublesome public business to
do, that my time passes smoothly away, and it would pass
as happily as the condition of human nature admits but for
the irresistible calls which I hear from my parents and my
children. As respects myself, the interests of my family,


and the service of my country, I know not which would be
most desirable, for me to remain here or to return home; but
the sense of duty prescribing my return is so strong that I
shall feel myself uneasy until I comply with its commands.
Hitherto I have felt it altogether at the pleasure of the
President, after declining the appointment to the bench.
I have had motives which it is unnecessary for me to explain
to you, for avoiding hitherto an explicit request to be re-
called. It still remains, therefore, at the President's option.
If he recalls me without such a request, I shall however be
perfectly satisfied with his determination. If he authorizes
me to remain here longer, I shall soon make the request
which I have hitherto delayed. At all events I do hope to
see you in the course of the ensuing year, and to take upon
me that imperious duty of superintending the education of
my sons.

I pray you to assure them of my constant affection, and
my mother of my unalterable duty, with my kind remem-
brance to all the branches of the family, and particularly
to my sister.


No. 74. [James Monroe]

St. Petersburg, 2 November, 181 1.

The Winter has set in earlier this season than has been
known with one exception since the foundation of this city.
The bridges were taken away on the 27th of October. The
floating masses of ice became consolidated and fixed on the
29th, and the river has been passable for foot passengers


from the 31st. The last American vessel which sailed from
Cronstadt for the United States was the Dolphin, Captain
Latham, bound to New York. She sailed October 15th and
has despatches on board from me. Since then I have twice
had opportunities of writing hy Americans going to embark
from Gothenburg, and now avail myself of a third. If the
severity of the season should continue proportioned to that
of Its commencement, that passage will Itself soon be no
longer practicable.

Since the departure of the Dolphin seven other vessels
under American colours have arrived, one of which the
Monticello, Christopher Sail, master, came with forged
papers, and has been seized. The rest will be obliged to
remain here over winter. The whole number of those that
have entered the port of Cronstadt with our flag this year
has been 139, four of which have been seized for coming with
false papers.

I have occasionally mentioned to you in the course of the
summer how many of the adventurers in these voyages
would suffer, by the glutting of the markets with the articles
which constituted their cargoes. But In the latter part of
the season an outlet of exportation of the same articles was
found, by land, both to the Austrian and Prussian terri-
tories, so that there Is already a great and Increasing de-
mand here for almost all those articles, which a few weeks
ago scarcely bore any price. Among the multitudes of Amer-
icans v/ho have crowded hither upon commercial specula-
tion many have been unfortunate merely from Ignorance
of the course of commerce peculiar to this country, and from
their Impatience to effect their sales too quickly. The addi-
tional duties of impost laid upon the articles, under the tariff
of the present year, and the necessity of paying them within
a short term also contributed to force the sales, and to in-


crease the profits of the merchants here who purchased from
the importers. The only article which has been little af-
fected in price has been cotton, which being subject to a light
duty has been more easily preserved from a forced sale, and
remains in greater quantities in the hands of the original

How long this is [three groups of cipher noted as in error
and undeciphered]. Russia and Austria will be suffered to
remain open is extremely doubtful. That the English have
participated to a considerable extent in this commerce is more
than probable. In mafiy cases they have made a legitimate use
of our flag, by freighting vessels entitled to it. Besides the for-
geries that have been detected here there may have been some at
what are called the out-ports, which have been more successful
in escaping discovery. The abolition of the Hamburg, L'iibeck,
Bremen, Pappenburg and Oldenburg flags has much increased
the necessity under which the English have found themselves
of resorting to that of the United States to carry their merchandise,
and the success of the present year will certainly enlarge
the scale upon which the business will be done the next. The
land passages to Austria and Prussia remain open; but this
new traffic has already excited the attention and jealousy of
France. French commissioners have already been stationed at
the frontier between Polangen and Memel who inspect, take
minutes of every package that passes and report them to the
French government at Paris. The vigilance of the French
consul here, and even of the ambassador, has been stimulated
by new and special orders to report to all the vessels which arrive
and sail — the particulars of their cargoes — the seizures and
confiscations, and, in short, all the minutice of the custom house.
Preparations are already making for privateering along the
whole line of the Baltic coast, from Holstein to Dantzig, and we
have already the evidence that they will be countenanced in the


indiscriminate capture of every loaded merchant vessel, coming
or going. All this however will avail but little, if the peace be-
tween the United States and England is preserved, and the land
passages from Polangen to Memel, and from Radsiwiloff to
Brody remain ope7i. It is to be expected therefore that an effort
will be made to stop them. Should it succeed, the trade of this
place will be worse next year than it has been the present.
Should it fail, the same trade will exceed everything that has
yet occurred, and the water-carriers will in a great measure be
the Americans.^

A second courier has arrived from the Moldavian army,
with a further report from the commander in chief, General
Kutuzoif. The Grand Vizier and his army had not yet capit-
ulated, but It is expected that they could not hold out many
days; being surrounded and in extreme want of provisions.
There had been no general action. The Grand Vizier's camp
on the right bank of the Danube was on the second of Octo-
ber attacked and taken by a Russian corps under Lieuten-
ant General Markoff. But the Grand Vizier himself had
crossed the Danube with a force of nearly forty thousand
men and was encamped on the left bank. General Markoff
with a corps of about six thousand men crossed the Danube
to attack the Grand Vizier's camp, and with his batteries took
possession of the heights under the protection of which the
Turks had crossed the river to this side. Their communica-
tion with the opposite bank is cut off, and all the boats In
which they had effected the passage are taken by the Rus-
sians. In the surprize of the Grand Vizier's camp it Is stated
that the Turks left more than fifteen hundred dead upon the
field, and about three hundred prisoners. Eight pieces of
cannon, twenty-two standards, a truncheon of the Aga of
the Janisarles, and a quantity of powder and ammunition

1 Cypher.


fell Into the hands of the victors. Many persons of distinc-
tion are among the prisoners. The loss on the side of the
Russians consisted of nine men killed and forty wounded.
Such Is the official report. . . .


St. Petersburg, 6 November, 181 1.

Congress are already In session and probably before you
receive this letter will have taken some decisive step to fix
the state of our relations with Europe. But I trust that step
will not have been taken without a knowledge of the manner
in which France is treating us, nor without a cool and de-
liberate consideration of the effect which this treatment
ought to have upon our course of policy. You know my sen-
timents with respect to the non-importation act of the last
session. It passed upon the conviction that the Berlin and
Milan decrees had been effectually and bona fide repealed.
In all the proceedings of France on that subject I had seen
a character which was far from deserving the discrimina-
tion which was then made on our part between her and her
enemy, but I did and do still respect most highly the motive
upon which the act was adopted — the sacred fulfillment of
an honorable promise. At this time I think little doubt
can remain upon any mind concerning the real intentions
of France. The dispute whether the Berlin and Milan de-
crees have or have not been repealed is degenerating into a
cavil upon words. Yes! as to us they have been repealed.
At least I know not of any official act of the French govern-
ment contrary to their declarations to that effect. But as
prohibitory duties are in common sense and common reason


always equivalent to prohibition, the tariff Issued cotem-
poraneously with the declaration that the two decrees were
revoked was substantially a non-importation act, pointed
directly against us. In form it certainly did not violate
our neutral rights but In substance was the same thing. By
internal regulation it made the exercise of our neutral rights
impracticable with regard to the most profitable part of
our commerce. It satisfied the letter but not the spirit of
our prior law. If however all this be admitted it is clear that
our pledge has been completely redeemed. If we promised
to our loss we have made our promise good. We have now
a new score of injury and outrages to take up. The depreda-
tions of the present year are not committed by virtue of
the decrees of Berlin and Milan, but upon simple orders of
the Emperor Napoleon that all colonial merchandises com-
ing from whence and belonging to whom they may are to
be considered as English, and coming from England, there-
fore to be confiscated. Surely after this It is perfectly useless
to Inquire whether the Berlin and Milan decrees are or are
not repealed. At the same time it becomes constantly more
and more evident that Napoleon is ardently desirous of a
war between the United States and England, a war which
would be highly propitious to his purposes which would
hasten undoubtedly the ruin of England but which would
either rivet upon us the fetters of France, or make them so
intolerably galling that the feeling of our country would
cast them off for the still more cruel and Insufferable manacles
of England. Now if there were not other reasons in
abundance to deter us from a war with England, one reason
equivalent to ten thousand is that he desires we should have
It. For the very reason that our neutrality is the state the
most unfavorable to his views I hope we shall adhere in-
flexibly to it. At present we may with great safety set in


substance his enmity defiance. And the most effectual way
of doing it will be by placing him and his adversary again
precisely upon the same footing.

Our non-importation act is of all the measures hitherto
taken most seriously and severely felt by England. The
course of exchange is a proof, and an unanswerable proof,
of its great efficacy. It occasions no doubt many partial
inconveniences in our own country, but as a defensive
weapon it works so well that I should incline strongly to
continuance. But I would apply it as an equivalent measure
without hesitation and without delay to France. And I
would assume a tone in negotiation with her which should
leave no room for anybody to talk of our partiality in her
favor. Armstrong's letter of the lo of March and its effects
sufficiently showed the true tone that ought to be taken with
her. When I say incline to the continuance of the non-
importation, I speak of course without a full knowledge of
its operation at home. If that should make a repeal ex-
pedient, I think it will be difficult to substitute any measure
of equal power in its stead. England besides her pauperism
and her paper money is getting upon very bad terms with her
allies in Sicily, in Spain and even In Portugal. She is in a
great dilemma between the Cortes of Cadiz and the South
American patriots of Independence. This claim becomes
as from day to day more entangled and she will never be
able to control it. It will I flatter myself be our policy to
keep ourselves cool and calm and to do nothing to involve
us in the catastrophe which cannot be very remote.


No. 75. [James Monroe]

St. Petersburg, 9 November, 181 1.

I received last week a letter from Mr. David Wood, dated,
at Memel, stating that he was first mate of the American
ship Hercules, taken on the 2nd of May last, on a voyage
from Charleston to St. Petersburg, by a French privateer
and carried into Dantzig. That after receiving information
from Captain Snow, that the ship was condemned, and an
order to send the crew away, he had sent them to Pillau,
where they could find no opportunity for a passage home,
and had proceeded on to Memel, where he had found them
in a distressed situation, and still unable to procure a pas-
sage to the United States. That there are five men besides
himself (he having found means to get a passage) who are
altogether destitute, and for whom he solicits relief. That
he had applied to the English consul there, who promised
them all the assistance in his power, but who of course could
not support them unless authorized by me.

Mr. Harris to whom I communicated this letter, has writ-
ten to Memel, giving directions that these men should be
supplied according to his authority by law, and it is possible
that passages may yet be obtained for them this winter,
though not very probable.

The two American vessels which were taken, almost in
the port of Copenhagen by a French privateer, early in
August, have also been condemned at Paris, and with their
cargoes have been sold at Copenhagen.

A Te Deum is to be celebrated tomorrow at the im-


perial chapel for the recent successes of the Russian arms.
The Grand Vizier himself has repassed the Danube, leaving
the part of his army which had crossed to the left bank,
surrounded by the Russian forces, and without means of
escape. In this state of things a messenger has been dis-
patched to Constantinople with renewed propositions of
peace from the Russian commander in chief, and until his
return the Turkish troops are supplied with provisions only
by permission of General KutuzofF. In the meantime an
additional detachment from the Russian army has crossed
the Danube, compelled a corps of Turks on that side to
capitulate, and taken once more Silistria, with two thousand
prisoners. It is still doubtful whether all this will produce a
peace. But at least it will effectually secure to the Russians
the possession of the left bank of the Danube. There will
henceforth be no danger of a Turkish invasion upon the
provinces of Moldavia and Wallachia. The parties are just
where they were two years ago.

The negotiations with France appear to be at a stand. There
is no appearance of a better understanding between the two
governments^ and it is probable that a personal interview has
been proposed between the two Emperors on the part of France
and rejected on the part of Russia. It is not to be apprehe7ided
that they will resort to the last appeal at this season, and not
much to be hoped that they will postpone it another summer. "^
I am with great respect, etc.

^ Cypher.



No. '](i. [James Monroe]

St. Petersburg, 10 December, 191 1.

A full month has elapsed since I had the honor of writing
your last; during which had any opportunity occurred of
forwarding dispatches to you, nothing has happened here
either in relation to our own public concerns, or to the politi-
cal state of this country which could have formed the subject
of a communication sufficiently interesting to justify the occu-
pation of your time. With respect to our commerce, there
has been nothing to require any interposition of mine with
this government. It is not from this country that any ob-
stacles to our Intercourse with it are henceforth to be ap-
prehended. But In France, I learn that the principle has
been assumed that all vessels sailing to or from the Baltic,
are with their cargoes to be confiscated, as having navigated
under the permission or protection of the British.

The application of this principle to the Swedish commerce
has led to altercations between the Swedish and French
governments by no means propitious to their mutual har-
mony. Swedish armed vessels have recaptured several vessels
of that nation which had been taken by the French privateers
stationed at the passage of the Sound. The French minister,
Alquler, renewed his complaints so often, and in terms so
strong against what he represented as the connivance of
Sweden to a commercial intercourse with England, that
some personal irritation appears to have arisen in the cor-
respondence between him and the Swedish Minister of For-
eign Affairs, Baron d'Engestrom. It proceeded to such


lengths, that Baron Alquier finally addressed a memorial
to the Prince Royal himself, declaring that he would hold no
further communication with Mr. Engestrom. The prince
Royal sent back the memorial with an intimation that all
official papers from foreign ministers must pass through
the regular channel of the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Shortly afterwards Alquier was recalled by his own govern-
ment, and took leave by a written note to Baron Engestrom
leaving a charge d'affaires at Stockholm In his place. All
this happened about two months since. Mr. Thornton has
at a later date been dispatched from England upon a mission
to the Baltic. Some of the London prints say that his destina-
tion is here, but the state of things at this court is not yet
mature for his admission Into Russia. Here the rumor Is
that his business was to negotiate with Sweden. Judging
from the present symptoms exhibited by the Emperor
Napoleon's continental system, England will very soon have

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