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James Monroe's Letters to Edmund Randolf

About the Letter

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This August 25, 1794 letter begins as Monroe details his arrival in France and how he is received by the French authorities. Seemingly upset by the nature of his reception by the Commissary of Foreign Affairs, Monroe complains about how he has been in the country for well over a week without a formal reception. Instead of waiting around for his reception, Monroe explains how he sent a letter to the President of the Convention resulting in a reception the very next day. During this reception Monroe presents his Congressional mandates to the French authorities. In response, Monroe especially highlights how the French government expresses their “affection” for the United States. The letter moves forward as Monroe briefly describes how he came across several Americans taken captive at sea by the French navy. Specifically noting that there are several captains included among those taken captive. This appears to anger Monroe as he details his plans to obtain the release of these captives in addition to having them “compensated.” He further adds how he intends to elicit a certain Mr. Fenwick assistance because of his extensive knowledge of the Bourdeaux Embargo to pursue a favorable outcome of this situation. The rest of the letter contains a few issues that Monroe briefly touches on without many details. Most notably is an update on the state of current military affairs explaining that the French army has not advanced since his last letter. Another example includes a brief examination into the execution of Robespierre and its immediate effect on the local population. In addition to the conclusion of the Revolutionary Tribunal where several political prisoners were released, who were awaiting executions. Monroe concludes by stating that the Vice Consul has failed to appear and expresses little confidence in his abilities.