Dear Sir

Your favor of the 5 ulto.2 did not reach me till a few days since from the difficulty the severity of the season hath
created in passage of the rivers. I am particularly happy to receive it as it promises to me in the office wh. I hold the aid of yr. age,
judgment & experience. I have paid great attention to your reasoning & think that in two instances viz, the peace
establishment & the seat for the residence of Congress it is conclusive. If no European power had possessions on the continent I
shod. suppose the idea of a standing army wod. never have been brot. upon the carpet. The indian incursions or trade as you observe wod.
more regularly come within the cognizance of the State expos’d or to derive advantage, from it. But the possessions of these powers &
particularly of G.B. is a matter of more serious import. The impolicy of N. York hath already thrown a considerable body of people into Nova
Scotia & Canada in tracts at present uninhabited is certainly capable of maintaining extensive settlements. Many European countries
in a higher northern latitude are thickly setled, & the lands of Canada are perhaps richer than those of the Swiss cantons, Denmark,
Sweden or Russia. These provinces are also well timber’d & at the same time that the inhabitants promise to be an hardy & robust race
of men give them all the advantages from their situation of a nursery for sea men, dock yards for building ships & a share in our
carrying business. The court of London hath turn’d its attention to the Indies & proposes to attempt such arrangements as may compensate to
the nation the loss of America. But what can G.B. promise from the Indies wh. she doth not now possess? If Colonies are establishd upon
the footing we lately stood & emigration is encouragd how long will they be connected with the parent country, & will not such
establishments wh. take the Indies out of the hands of the company induce the necessity of standing armies & respectable fleets to
prevent insurrections & turn the tide of commerce into the bosom of the parent country & will not this expence be thrown upon the State
and as the climate suits a dispotic govt. & the genl. in command may be popular with his troops, is it not rational to suspect he will
seek the sovereignty himself? If these questions cod. be answer’d in the negative I think it will be granted that the possession of India
will only prove a commercial advantage. The inhabitants of these provinces will have but little attachmt. to the parent country &
will personally be never brought to add to its number or encrease its strength in any European operation. While this trade & govt. are in
the possession of a compy. the nation is free from the expence of these troops or fleets; considering therefore all the relative circumstances
I think it a doubtful question whethir this change wod. be of publick advantage while most certainly it wod. prove very materially injurious
to the crown. The crown now has the advantage of the sale occasionally of the renewal of the charter to the compy. & of this it wod. of
course be deprivd. I think therefore the conclusion viz. that the monopoly of the trade & expence of the govt. will remain with the
compy. & that any arrangement the Ct. of London may make with respect to that country will only tend to create dependants on the
crown & increase its influence in the parliamt without effecting any material change in the constitution of India. View the prospects of
B. as we will in the East & I cannot see how in any event any arrangements can turn to any great national advantage. Will the
population of India encrease the numbers of B. citizens? Will any eastern arrangmt. encrease the fleet or add to the army but to guard
itself? I am therefore of opinion that if the Ct. of London occasion they will be cautious how they interpose in the affrs. of the East. I
am therefore of opn. that the Ct. of London will still turn her attention to this continent in every consideration she may have in view
to add to or to increase her national strength. Passion or folly may sometimes govern her councils but in time she will observe her error
& attempt to correct the fault. I think as national advantages are to be deriv’d from it she will turn her attention to these provinces
& there is a kind of energy in the natives of that country wh. is not to be found in the peasantry of any, of the monarchies of Europe.
When any of the Countries are overstock’d, in France or Spn. the overplus turn beggars in the street or starve, but the people of Engld.
seek a dwelling in foreign climes & in distant countries. I suppose therefore these provinces will prove a drain to the surplus of Citizens
in Brittn. What will be their policy with respect to these provinces & whither they will extend to them the freedom of the B.
constitution or Nation I cannot pretend to say. Be this as it may will it not [be] a desirable circumstance to us to prevl. on them to keep
few or no troops in Canada & will not this be the proper subject for a convention betwn. us? But if they will not acceed to it I still
think with you that the defence of the country shod. be thrown on the militia.

NOTES:

File copy, James Monroe Papers, Library of Congress. In the hand of James Monroe.

1 Date left blank in Monroe’s draft; the RC has not been found.

2 Lee’s January 5 letter is in the Monroe Papers, DLC; and Lee, Letters (Ballagh), 2:286 – 90.