Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Monroe, James (1758-1831) to [John Jay] re: France's concern over terms of Jay's treaty

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also order a pdf of the image from us here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC04925 Author/Creator: Monroe, James (1758-1831) Place Written: Paris Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 1795/01/17 Pagination: 2 p. + docket 25 x 20 cm

Summary of Content: Discusses France's concern with the terms of Jay's Treaty. Recipient inferred from contents.

Background Information: Washington acted decisively to end the crisis with Britain. He sent a 3000-troop army under Anthony Wayne (1745-1796) to the Ohio country. Wayne's army overwhelmed 1000 Native Americans at the Battle ...of Fallen Timbers in northwestern Ohio, after destroying every Indian village on their way to the battle. Under the Treaty of Greenville (1795), Native Americans ceded much of the present-day state of Ohio in return for cash and a promise of fair treatment in land dealings.
Washington then sent Chief Justice John Jay (1745-1829) to London to seek a negotiated settlement with the British. Armed with knowledge of Wayne's victory at Fallen Timbers, Jay persuaded Britain to evacuate its forts on American soil. He also got the British negotiators to agree to cease harassing American shipping (provided the ships did not carry contraband to Britain's enemies). In addition, Britain agreed to pay damages for ships it had seized and to permit the United States to trade with western Indians and carry on restricted trade with the West Indies.
Jay failed, however, to win concessions on other American grievances. The treaty said nothing about the British incitement of Native Americans, British searches for deserters on Americans ships, or compensation for slaves carried off by the British during the Revolution.
Debate over Jay's Treaty marked the full emergence of the nation's first party system. Jeffersonian Republicans denounced the treaty as craven submission to British imperial power and a sop to wealthy commercial, shipping and trading interests. Southerners were particularly vocal in their disapproval because the treaty not only ignored compensation for slaves but required them to repay prerevolutionary debts owed to British merchants while northern shippers collected damages for ships and cargoes that Britain had seized. In Boston, graffiti appeared on a wall: "Damn John Jay! Damn everyone who won't damn John Jay!! Damn everyone that won't put lights in his windows and sit up all night damning John Jay!!!"
In this letter, James Monroe, who was then serving as American Minister to France, observes that Jay's Treaty had produced deep consternation within the French government.
See More

Full Transcript: Paris Jany. 17. 1795
Sir
Early in Decr. last English papers were recd. here containing such accts. of yr. adjustment with the British admr. as excited much uneasiness in the councils of ...this govt. & I had it in contemplation to dispatch a confidential person to you for such information of what had been done as would enable me to remove it. At that moment however I was favored with yours of the 25. of Novr. intimating that the contents of the treaty could not be made known untill [sic] it was ratified, but that I might say it contained nothing derogatory to our existing treaties with other powers. Thus advised I thought it improper to make the application, because I concluded the arrangement was mutual, and not to be departed from. I proceeded therefore to make the best use in my power of the information already given.
Today however I was favd. with yrs. of the 28th of the same month by which I find you consider yrself at liberty to communicate to me the contents of the treaty, and as it is of great importance to our efforts here to remove all doubt upon this point I have thought fit to resume my original plan of sending a person to you for the necessary information & have in consequence dispatched the bearer Mr. John Purveyance [?] for that purpose. I have been the more inclined to this from the further consideration that in case I sho[ul]d. be favd. with the communication promised [2] in cipher it wo[ul]d be impossible for me to comprehend it, as Mr. Morris took his off with him. Mr. Purveyance [?] is from Maryland, a Gentln. of integrity & no wit [?] & to whom you may commit whatever you may think proper to confide with perfect safety. Tis necessary however to observe that as nothing will satisfy this government but a copy of the instrument itself, and which as our ally it thinks itself entitled to, so it will be useless for me to make to it any new communication short of that: I mention this that you may know precisely the state of my engagements here & how I deem it my duty to act under them in relation to this object. I beg leave to refer you to Mr. Purveyance [?] for whatever other information you may wish to have wither on [struck: respect to] this subject or the [illegible] more generally of this republick [?]. I have the honor
to be with great respect yr. most obt. servt.
Jas. Monroe
[docket:]
Mr. Monroe Paris
17th Jany 1795
See More

People: Monroe, James, 1758-1831
Jay, John, 1745-1829

Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: Jay's TreatyTreatyGlobal History and CivicsForeign AffairsDiplomacyFrancePoliticsPresident

Sub Era: The Early Republic

Order a Copy Citation Guidelines for Online Resources