<br /> Lee Letter: n751

Washington and Lee University

Sender: James Monroe
Recipient: Richard Henry Lee

Dear Sir.

I am particularly happy to hear by your brother, that you have almost
recovered from the indisposition, with which you have been lately
afflicted: an event I must consider fortunate to the state and your
family, for I flatter myself, when perfectly restored, you will not
withdraw yourself from the public service. It must be hoped that those
measures, which have hitherto, will not always, prevail; as to
establish in our public councils, a greater regard for public faith,
and in private life, for morality, your exertions joined with those of
some worthy men, must certainly be more successful. I am called on a
theatre to which I am a perfect stranger.1
There are before us some questions of the utmost consequence that can
arise in the councils of any nation: the peace establishment; the
regulation of our commerce, and the ar rangement of our foreign
appointments; whether we are to have regular or standing troops to
protect our frontiers, or leave them unguarded; whether we will expose
ourselves to the inconveniences, which may perhaps be the loss of the
country westward, from the impossibility of preventing the adventurers
from settling where they please: the intrusion of the settlers on the
European powers, who border on us, a cause of discontent and perhaps of
war, as with us a constant state of warfare with the savage tribes, to
the ingrafting a principle in our constitution which may in its
consequences, as it ever hath done with other powers, terminate in the
loss of our liberty. How we are to counteract the narrow and illiberal
system of commercial policy in the European powers, and what connexion
we are to have with them, are also questions of the first import. If
your health will permit, I shall be particularly happy to have your
opinion upon these several subjects.2 It is
my desire to hear from you as frequently as possible, and upon those
subjects before us, which I shall be happy to make known to you. I am,
with the utmost respect and esteem,

Your sincere friend and servant,

James Monroe


MS not found; reprinted from Richard H. Lee, Memoir of the Life of Richard
Henry Lee …, 2 vols. (Philadelphia: H. C. Carey and I. Lea,
1825), 2:221 – 22.

1 Monroe, who had been elected a delegate in June, was present when Congress
first mustered a quorum in Annapolis on December 13. See JCC,
25:798 – 99, 810.

2 For Lee’s January 5th reply, see Lee, Letters (Ballagh), 2:286 – 90.