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any step as proper to be taken by me, or any idea, which it
may be useful to communicate to you, it will be mentioned
in my future letters.

I enclose to you a translation of the note which the Duke de
Cadore refused to receive from the Russian Ambassador,
and which has so frequently been mentioned In my late
despatches. I have heretofore informed you, that at the
same time, when Count Chernicheff was last sent to Paris,
copies of this note were dispatched to be presented to all the
courts on the European Continent in amity with Russia
even including that of Westphalia. The substance of the
note was known, but the note itself was kept secret from the
French Ambassador here, and from all the other foreign
ministers, until it returned to them from their courts. The
one from which the within translation was made has come in-
directly to me, and you will probably have received before this
reaches you the same document from elsewhere,^

1 Cypher.


The Imperial Council are engaged in secret deliberations
upon a new plan of ministerial organization, or rather upon
what is said to be the restoration of a system originally
formed by Peter the Great. It is said there will be a new
Minister of Foreign Affairs, but the Chancellor will be ele-
vated to a general superintendence over all the ministerial
departments. The little that transpires of this affair is yet
so confused and the reports concerning it are so various, that
I am unable to speak of it with more precision. I am very
respectfully, etc.

{Private.) [James Madison]

St. Petersburg, 3 June, 181 1.


I received on the 29th of last month, together with some
other dispatches from the Secretary of State, one enclosing
a commission to me as an associate justice of the Supreme
Court of the United States,^ a new letter of leave to his
Majesty, the Emperor of Russia, a blank commission for a
secretary of legation, or charge d'affaires, and an instruction
In consequence of this new appointment to return to the
United States, as soon as the public interest and my own
convenience will permit.

The new mark of confidence, which you have been pleased
to show me in the nomination to an office so highly honor-
able, and so far as could relate to my own personal Interest
and concerns so acceptable, has made on my mind an Im-

*The nomination was sent to the Senate February 21, and approved by the
Senate unanimously on the next day.



pression which no time can obliterate, and which leaves me
the more earnestly to regret my incapacity to meet it with
a return, the most agreeable to you, by assuming and dis-
charging its duties in a manner to justify that confidence,
and do honor to your appointment.

In the letters, which I had the honor of writing you on the
7th of January and 8th of February last, I intimated to you
that the peculiar circumstances of my family would probably
make it impracticable for me to embark with them for the
United States during the present year, and in the former I
informed you that under these circumstances, if you should
judge that the termination of my mission here had become
expedient, I should remain here as a private Individual until
the next summer. This obstacle to my departure remains
as when those letters were written, and should my successor
at this court arrive during the present season, I shall still
find myself under the necessity of obtaining the Emperor's
permission to reside here probably until this time next
year, but at least until I can commence my homeward
voyage, without exposing to extraordinary and unnecessary
dangers lives which ought to be dearer to me than my own.
There are contingencies which might enable me at a very
late period of this season to embark, but I have little hope
to reckon upon some of them, and still less inclination to
anticipate the rest. My expectation is to be detained here
the next winter, by ties which the affections of a husband and
a parent can neither dissolve nor sever. |

I cannot expect, nor however it might suit my convenience,
can I permit myself to desire that you should keep an oflftce
of such importance vacant a full year longer to await my
return, and this consideration is decisive to induce me to
decline the appointment. It must also relieve me from the
necessity of expressing to you other motives operating upon


my disposition to produce the same result, some of which
are of peculiar delicacy, and for the avowal of which I must
in a special manner solicit your candor and indulgence.

My education to the law was regular, and during several
short periods in the course of my life, I have been in profes-
sional practice at the bar. But its studies were never
among those most congenial to my temper, and the great
proportion of my time has been employed In occupations
so different from those of the judicial tribunals, that I have
long entertained a deep and serious distrust of my qualifi-
cations for a seat on the bench. This sentiment was so
strong, that It induced me soon after my return from Europe
In 1801, to decline the proposal of being a candidate for
a vacancy in the Supreme Court of my native State, at a
time when I was in private life, and when that situation
would have been altogether suitable to my own convenience.
It has long been known to my most Intimate friends, and
would have been communicated to you, had the prospect of
such a nomination ever presented Itself to me, as sufficiently
probable to warrant my interference to prevent it. In the
present this reluctance would be much Increased by a con-
viction, as clear to my understanding as It is impressive
upon my feelings, that there is another person, a friend whom
I most highly value In every respect, better qualified than
myself for that particular office, and whom my w.arm wishes,
perhaps more than the rigor of principle, have considered as
having pretensions to It at least far superior to mine.

I speak of Mr. Davis, the present District Judge for Massa-
chusetts, a man of whom an Intimate acquaintance of many
years entitles me to say, that he Is equally estimable by the
purity of his heart, the firmness of his temper and the solidity
of his judgment; whose education and professional practice
have been with little If any interruption devoted to the law,


and who, by an experience of ten years in his present station,
has been peculiarly [qualified] for the duties of an office
exactly analogous to it.

I am aware of all the considerations which may perhaps
concur in giving you other views connected with this sub-
ject, and which may lead your ultimate determination to
another person. Mr. Davis's political opinions, and more
especially those of his social connections, may render it
necessary to contemplate the possible operation of his ap-
pointment to this place upon the public sentiment. The
extent and influence of this reflection it would not become
me, were it even within my competence, to discuss, but you
will I am persuaded permit me the recollection that Mr.
Davis, on one signal and not untrying occasion, mani-
fested at once the steadiness of his mind, his inflexible ad-
herence to the law, his independence of party prejudices
and control, and his determination to support at the post
allotted to him the administration of government in all
constitutional measures. I may, perhaps, estimate too
highly the qualities of which in that instance he gave such
decisive proof, and you may not have been made acquainted
with the power of that influence to which he then proved
himself inaccessible. I need not enlarge upon it, and can
only apologize to you for having said so much, only as it
will explain to you the motives upon which I should have
such serious disinclination to occupy a place, which my heart
and my reason would so perfectly concur in assigning by
preference to another.

I must, therefore, Intreat you, sir, to confer upon some
other person the ofiice as a judge of the Supreme Court, to
which you have had the goodness to appoint me. The im-
possibility of my return to the United States in due time to
assume its duties must of Itself forbid my acceptance of it.


The other reasons which would in any case impel me to
decline it I should have suppressed, but for the high sense of
my personal obligation to you for the nomination, and the
wish to be justified in your opinion for renouncing the post
to which you have judged me suitably qualified.^

I shall therefore wait for your further instructions re-
specting my continuance at this court. It may be proper for
me, however, to add that the public expectation in the
United States, and that of the Emperor and his government
here, being now fully prepared for my removal, and my own
inclinations and those of my friends in America being
equally strong to abridge as much as possible the period of
absence from my country, I earnestly solicit that the motive
of my personal convenience may be set aside, whenever you
shall think my recall expedient on public considerations.
If the condition of my family should prevent my return home,
when the want of my services here has ceased, I had much
rather bear the charge and inconvenience to which it might
subject me, than remain an unnecessary encumbrance upon
the public. I shall at all events remain here a time sufficient
to receive your ultimate determination, not only upon my
letters of 7 January and 8 February, but also upon this one,
and I beg you to be assured that on my return to the United
States, whenever you shall deem It proper, and I shall find
it practicable, whether In public office of any kind or in re-
tirement, the grateful sense of your kindness and the most

^ " Lieut. Governor Lincoln is appointed judge of the Supreme National Ju-
diciary in the place of Judge Gushing. The newspapers say he accepted only to
keep the place warm for J. Q. Adams, whenever he returns. Although I know
there were many who wished you might have been here to have filled it, and the
late judge himself wished you to have been his successor, I think you have ex-
pressed yourself of a diflFerent opinion." Abigail Adams to John Quincy Adams,
January 20, 181 1. Ms.


fervent wishes for the prosperity of your public adminis-
tration, and the promotion of your personal happiness, will
be among the sentiments nearest to my heart. I am, etc.


St. Petersburg, 7 June, 181 1.

My Dear Sir:

In the midst of my dissertation upon the stoic philosophy
came upon me the whole budget of dispatches and news-
papers, brought by Mr. Erving as far as Paris, and by the
Russian consul in France from that city. I had been think-
ing how congenial to my own feelings and resolutions was
the following passage of your letter of 11 February: "In
absolute private life, scorning all intrigue, but employing
your studies for the solid interest of mankind and your
country, you may do more real good in my opinion than in
any public station," and had been pleasing myself that you
would be gratified in finding that I had already expressed
precisely the same sentiments In my letter to my brother
of 10 April, when, to give me another view of the question,
comes a commission as an Associate Justice of the Supreme
Court of the United States, and your and my ever dear and
venerated mother's letters of 4 March. When I assure you
that in the whole course of my life I scarcely ever did a
responsible act, of which I was proud or ashamed, without
feeling my soul soothed or galled with the reflection how It
would affect the sensibility of my parents, I leave it to your
own imagination to judge how all my philosophy, all my love
of retirement, all my opinions of my superior usefulness in
private life, have been staggered by this commission and these



letters. The commission, inasmuch as it offered me an honor-
able station, and a pittance (a miserable one indeed) for the
maintenance of my family during the remainder of my days,
was all that my ambition could wish, or that my estimate of
the value of money could expect. As it presented me the
occasion of returning creditably to my country, to my friends,
and above all to my parents and children, it brought me the
most welcome of messages. But you have long known my
own sense of my own unfitness for a seat in judicial tribunals.
You did not, perhaps, know, but I had written to my brother,
at a time when I had not a suspicion of this appointment,
what particular objections I had against this office, arising
from a wish long since settled in my mind that it might be
occupied by another person. I will not say that there was
little attraction to me in a place, which had already been
declined by one man, and to which another had been nomi-
nated before me. I never did, and never will, suffer consider-
ations of this nature to influence my determinations. But
to take the seat, which from the bottom of my heart I believe
due to my friend, and for which I am equally convinced that
my friend is better fitted than myself, if my reluctance to
this must be considered as fastidious delicacy, be it so.
It is not one of the sentiments for which it will be necessary
for me to apologize to you.

Yet I am deeply sensible to the personal kindness, as well
as to the honor, shown me by the President in the nomina-
tion, and to the more surprising, though not more unex-
pected, unanimity of the Senate in approving it. To the
popularity with which you assure me the appointment has
been received, and to the wish manifested by several of my
friends, and most especially by yourself and my mother, that
I should avail myself of this appointment to return home,
concurring with my own ardent inclinations to be once


more restored to the bosom of my country, to the pleasure
and Instruction of your society, to the means of superintend-
ing the education of my darling boys, and with the Impulses,
physical and moral, which urge me to more southern climes,
and a more frugal establishment than can Import with a
residence in this country, they would have produced an ex-
treme perplexity of mind and a conflict of emotions, under
which either decision would have been followed by an un-
easiness and dissatisfaction with myself, not very suitable
for a stoic philosopher. From this dilemma the blessing of
Providence (for so I fervently pray that I may ultimately
have cause to consider it,) had, by a simple and very natural
circumstance In the condition of my family, graciously
pleased to relieve me. ... In this state of things I cannot
embark for a voyage to America. To say that no oflice In the
Union could tempt me to expose the lives of a wife and infant
to the dangers inseparable from such a passage at this time,
would but weakly express my resolution upon this occasion.
I am not aware of any duty, which can counterbalance that
which commands me to await the result of this dispensation
of Heaven here. In January last I had received permission
to return home, and had some expectation of being super-
seded here. I then informed the President that under these
circumstances, if my mission here should be terminated, I
should remain here as a private Individual until the next sum-
mer. Such was, and such still remains, my determination.
It rests upon a foundation not lightly laid, and which not
even this new and extraordinary incident has been able to

The Idea did for a moment suggest Itself to my considera-
tion of stating the facts anew to the President, and leaving it
at his discretion to fill the place by a new appointment, or to
leave it vacant until the next summer, when I have every


reason to hope I shall find It practicable to go home. But
my spirit could not brook the thought of asking, or even
permitting, that an office thus. important should be kept
vacant, merely to suit my private convenience, and besides
the dictates of my own principles, I had before me your
example when appointed Chief Justice of Massachusetts.
I remembered that you had declined the acceptance of that
office, to prevent it from remaining too long unfilled by the
necessity of your attendance upon other duties. As a direc-
tion for my conduct upon every occurrence Involving public
principle, I know of no human law more unerring than your

I have, therefore, explicitly declined the acceptance of
this appointment, and In a letter to the President of the
United States have alleged, with as much delicacy as the
subject would admit, the motives of my determination. It
has been painful to me to be brought to this test of my
principles, and I regret exceedingly that a fourth nomination
should have become necessary for an office to which, if my
sincerest wishes could have availed, there would have been
only one. With regard to my own conduct, as I had not a
moment of hesitation upon Its propriety, I am not appre-
hensive that I shall ever look back wdth dissatisfaction upon
the course I have taken. But I would gladly be justified
for It In the opinion of the President, to whom I am Indebted
for the nomination, and above all In yours and In that of
my dear mother. There is neither office, dignity, honor nor
emolument, in the gift of man, single or collective, upon this
spot of earth, which could for a moment counterbalance the
anguish that I should feel In giving by any voluntary act of
mine a serious pang to you. I feel, however, a cheerful
confidence that after fully weighing the difficulties of my
situation, you will approve the grounds upon which I have


rested. I am sorry, very sorry, to disappoint the expecta-
tions of my country, by withholding myself from that judg-
ment seat where their partiality would have placed me,
but how much happier for me and for them is it, than it
would be to disappoint their expectations upon the seat
itself. . . .


No. 53. [James Monroe]

St. Petersburg, 9 June, 181 1.

/ had last Tuesday the 4th instant an interview with the
Chancellor Count Romanzoff, in which I mentioned to him
that from ideas which since long residence here I had formed of
the importance and mutual benefit of the commercial relations
between the United States and Russia,^ from the signal manner
in which Russia had distinguished herself above all the
other belligerent powers of Europe in her treatment of the
fair commerce and neutral rights of America, and from a
wish to increase and render still more advantageous the commerce
between the two countries, the idea and desire had occurred to me
of cementing still further their amity by a treaty of commerce.
I had suggested to the government of the United States and was
now authorized to propose the negotiation of such a treaty, if it
should be [agreeable] to the government of His Imperial Majesty.
I had thought it most proper to make to him, the Count, at first
this verbal communication instead of sending him an official
note upon the subject. I requested him to consider it as con-
fidential, so that it should at least be made known only where he

^ Cypher. See also Adams, Memoirs, June 4, 18 11.


thought it advisable^ as I had communicated the knowledge of it
to no person whomsoever. The Count answered me by asserting
his great and long settled attachment to the United States, the
desire which he had so many years entertained of favoring the
American commerce. It was not only a thing to which he was
attached as sentiment but it had been with him lo?ig a maxim of
policy. It was the interest of Russia to encourage and strengthen
and multiply the commercial powers which might be rivals of
England to form a balance to her overbearing power. Russia
herself had not the advantages for it, she could not be a great
naval or maritime power, Nature had in a great measure denied
her the means, she ought then to support and favor those who
had them. The propriety of extending this spirit to the United
States had become more obvious and strong by the decay and dis-
appearance of the old commercial states. Holland for instance,
how great a commercial power she had been even within our
memory. She was nozv swallowed up. These sentiments he
had often expressed with a strong sense of conviction to the
Emperor, who had always received them well and appeared
impressed with the justice of them. He referred me to Mr.
Harris for the proof that such had always been his system, or
indeed to any other person acquainted with the opinions that
he had constantly avowed. I observed that I was fully sensible
of it myself, had often had the most satisfactory evidence of it,
and that my government were by no mea^is ignorant of it.
He said that he would place before the Emperor the two proposi-
tions which he presumed would meet with no difficulty whatso-
ever, unless indeed there should be one which he did foresee.
It was, that in the violent and convulsed state of commerce and
of the world at this time he hardly conceived it possible to agree
upon anything that, if he might be allowed the expression, had
common sense in it. At any rate, however, this need not prevent
him and me from debating the subjects which might be inter-


esting to the commerce of our countries, and coming to an agree-
ment if we could. He would make his report of this conversa-
tion to the Emperor in a few days and would send and ask me
to call upon him again.'^

I have Informed you in several of my preceding letters,
that the convention which had been arranged between
Count Romanzoff and the Portuguese charge d'affaires had
not been definitely signed, but remained to be settled on the
arrival of the new minister from the Prince Regent of
Portugal, who is still expected. The changes which since
the opening of the Spring have occurred in Portugal, as well
as in the prospects, if not in the existing relations, between
France and Russia, have no doubt very materially affected
the views of both parties with respect to modifications in
their treaty of commerce. The total evacuation of Portu-
gal by the French armies, and the prospect of their evacuating
Spain at least as far north as the Ebro, have raised the prob-
ability that the house of Braganza may be restored to their
European dominions, and that the ancient regulations of
trade in their treaty with Russia may again become more con-
formable to their system of policy than the new ones lately
proposed to be substituted for them. The commercial ar-
rangements between the United States and Russia cannot be
so much affected by the change of complexion in the political
state of Portugal, but they must be very materially influenced by
great changes in the policy of Russia, whether in relation to
France or to Britain, and 7iot a little by the changes in character
in the relative situation of the United States and of Britain to
each other. The idea suggested by the Chancellor, that there
would in these times be a difficulty in agreeing upon anything
rational which could form the materials of a commercial treaty,
is itself very natural, aiid may perhaps have contributed to delay

^ Cypher.


the transmission to me of the full power which I had requested.
From this circumstance and from the observations of the Count
I am led to the belief that his views and those of the President
with regard to the subject of concluding a treaty for the present
are identically the same: that it may be well to compare ideas
and mutually communicate projects for consideration^ but to
wait for more settled times and a clearer political sky to sign
and ratify.

I have not heard anything more from the Count since this
conference. Two days after it ^ the Emperor met with an un-
fortunate accident, which has confined him to his chamber
until this day, and will probably confine him for some days
longer. His horse fell under him, and in the fall he had one
of his fingers dislocated and received severe contusions on the
face and on one knee. His attendance at the Council of the
Empire will probably be suspended for some days by this
event, during which the plan for a new ministerial organiza-
tion mentioned in my last letter will also remain in suspense.
I have heard something more of this plan, but not enough to
give you precise information of its purport. One of its effects
may be, as I have before suggested, to raise Count Romanzoif

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