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    James Monroe Letter Signed "Jas. Monroe" as secretary of state. Two pages with integral blank, Washington, November 26, 1814. In the years following the Revolutionary War, the young United States held claim to neutral shipping rights while at sea, which Great Britain and France constantly trampled. Fed up, President Thomas Jefferson, through his Democratic-Republicans in Congress, placed an embargo on American shipping intended halt the interference of the two European powers. Great Britain and France continued their activities, but American commerce dropped by ninety percent, banks closed, and sailors lost work, particularly in New England.

    After the failure of the embargo, the United States, spearheaded by the so-called Warhawks, a group of young Democratic-Republicans from the Western and Southern states, declared war on England. The Federalists openly opposed the war and, in 1814, held a secret meeting, the Hartford Convention, to discuss their objection with the current war and government, including the possibility of a separate peace with the British and that ever-present, nineteenth century American threat - secession.

    Monroe, as secretary of war, sent instructions to Colonel Thomas Jessup, commander of the 25th Regiment, United States Infantry, to observe the convention for any signs of possible treason. He writes, in part: "Having already communicated fully to you the nature of the duties which you will have to perform, I need add but little in this letter. You will proceed to Connecticut and assist in the recruiting of your regiment...It is understood that a considerable british force has sailed from Canada, for the east end of Long Island, where they mean to take port, and to watch the proceedings of a convention, which it is expected will be held at Hartford, from Massachusetts, Connecticut & Rhode Island, and to profit of any circumstance, that may occur favourable to Great Britain." He continues by telling Jessup he must pay "...particular attention [to] the conduct of the proposed convention, and of its members; endeavor to ascertain its views; whether they lead to connection with Great Britain, and severance of the union..." If treason is in their hearts, Monroe wants to know "...their means, and resources in arms and money, & what measures they propose to adopt to carry them into effect." If Jessup suspects "...an attempt will be made to take possession of the arms at Springfield..." he is to coordinate with Colonel Leavenworth "...the means of securing it."

    Monroe assures those New Englanders that remain loyal to the United States "...that their cause is approved, that their interest will be regarded, and that protection will be afforded them...You may assure them that the union will be cherished, and that in no event will the United States be suffered to be dismembered by the designs of the unprincipled traitors..."

    News of signing of the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the war, and of Gen. Andrew Jackson's victory at New Orleans arrived around the time the Hartford Convention concluded. Due to its secrecy and rumors that it was a secessionist convention, the reputation of the Federalist Party was irreparably damaged. Many called it treason. In the presidential election of 1816, the Federalists only won Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Delaware, losing the other 34 states to the Democratic-Republicans and James Monroe. It was their last presidential campaign. Shortly thereafter, the Federalist Party dissolved.

    Detached along the main vertical and horizontal folds. Expertly silked on the verso repairing the damage. Edges are lightly chipped in placed.


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    Auction Dates
    April, 2013
    11th Thursday
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