Back to Exhibits

James Monroe's Letters to Edmund Randolf

About the Letter

Link to Transcription

This September 15, 1794 letter is centered on three major themes that provide many details about some of the early issues Monroe is facing during his short time in France thus far. First, Monroe provides an analysis of his investigation into the accusations of American sailors and their claims of having suffered many types of embarrassments. The conclusions Monroe reached explained that these “embarrassments” are the result of the Embargo of Bordeaux. He explained further that since France has abolished all private trade, the problems have been compounded and will continue unless some kind of resolution is found. Secondly, Monroe offers an account of his observation into the French Revolution and how he thinks that it is finally coming to an end. He specifically cites how the country is beginning to reconcile itself by forcing out the incumbents of its previous government's officials and electing an entirely new political body. Thirdly, Monroe updates the state of military affairs by describing the surrender of Conde and Valenciennes to the French army resulting in eleven hundred immigrants being put to death. In addition, Monroe expresses how he is highly impressed with the French army and how they are far superior to any opponents. He notes also that he believes the French army now aims to open a new offensive into Holland’s frontier. In closing, Monroe briefly illustrates his plan to bring France and America together and secure an alliance between the two republics. However, he fails to provide any specific details into how he wishes to accomplish this goal.