To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:
As the term of my service in this high trust will expire at the end of the present session of Congress, I think it proper to invite your attention to an object very interesting to me, and which in the movement of our Government is deemed on principle equally interesting to the public. I have been long in the service of my country and in its most difficult conjunctures, as well abroad as at home, in the course of which I have had a control over the public moneys to a vast amount. If in the course of my service it shall appear on the most severe scrutiny, which I invite, that the public have sustained any loss by any act of mine, or of others for which I ought to be held responsible, I am willing to bear it. If, on the other hand, it shall appear on a view of the law and of precedents in other cases that justice has been withheld from me in any instance, as I have believed it to be in many, and greatly to my injury, it is submitted whether it ought not to be rendered. It is my wish that all matters of account and claims between my country and myself be settled with that strict regard to justice which is observed in settlements between individuals in private life. It would be gratifying to me, and it appears to be just, that the subject should be now examined in both respects with a view to a decision hereafter. No bill would, it is presumed, be presented for my signature which would operate either for or against me, and I would certainly sanction none in my favor. While here I can furnish testimony, applicable to any case, in both views, which a full investigation may require, and the committee to whom the subject may be referred, by reporting facts now with a view to a decision after my retirement, will allow time for further information and due consideration of all matters relating thereto. Settlements with a person in this trust, which could not be made with the accounting officers of the Government, should always be made by Congress and before the public. The cause of the delay in presenting these claims will be explained to the committee to whom the subject may be referred. It will, I presume, be made apparent that it was inevitable; that from the peculiar circumstances attending each case Congress alone could decide on it, and that from considerations of delicacy it would have been highly improper for me to have sought it from Congress at an earlier period than that which is now proposed--the expiration of my term in this high trust.
Other considerations appear to me to operate with great force in favor of the measure which I now propose. A citizen who has long served his country in its highest trusts has a right, if he has served with fidelity, to enjoy undisturbed tranquillity and peace in his retirement. This he can not expect to do unless his conduct in all pecuniary concerns shall be placed by severe scrutiny on a basis not to be shaken. This, therefore, forms a strong motive with me for the inquiry which I now invite. The public may also derive considerable advantage from the precedent in the future movement of the Government. It being known that such scrutiny was made in my case, it may form a new and strong barrier against the abuse of the public confidence in future.
James Monroe, Special Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/207044