James Monroe

Special Message

May 04, 1822

To the House of Representatives of the United States:

In compliance with a resolution of the House of Representatives of the 19th of April, requesting the President "to cause to be communicated to the House, if not injurious to the public interest, any letter which may have been received from Jonathan Russell, one of the ministers who concluded the treaty of Ghent, in conformity with the indications contained in his letter of the 25th of December, 1814," I have to state that having referred the resolution to the Secretary of State, and it appearing, by a report from him, that no such document had been deposited among the archives of the Department, I examined and found among my private papers a letter of that description marked "private" by himself. I transmit a copy of the report of the Secretary of State, by which it appears that Mr. Russell, on being apprised that the document referred to by the resolution had not been deposited in the Department of State, delivered there "a paper purporting to be the duplicate of a letter written by him from Paris on the 11th of February, 1815, to the then Secretary of State, to be communicated to the House as the letter called for by the resolution."

On the perusal of the document called for I find that it communicates a difference of opinion between Mr. Russell and a majority of his colleagues in certain transactions which occurred in the negotiations at Ghent, touching interests which have been since satisfactorily adjusted by treaty between the United States and Great Britain. The view which Mr. Russell presents of his own conduct and that of his colleagues in those transactions will, it is presumed, call from the two surviving members of that mission who differed from him a reply containing their view of those transactions and of the conduct of the parties in them, and who, should his letter be communicated to the House of Representatives, will also claim that their reply should be communicated in like manner by the Executive--a claim which, on the principle of equal justice, could not be resisted. The Secretary of State, one of the ministers referred to, has already expressed a desire that Mr. Russell's letter should be communicated, and that I would transmit at the same time a communication from him respecting it.

On full consideration of the subject I have thought it would be improper for the Executive to communicate the letter called for unless the House, on a knowledge of these circumstances, should desire it, in which case the document called for shall be communicated, accompanied by a report from the Secretary of State, as above suggested. I have directed a copy to be delivered to Mr. Russell, to be disposed of as he may think proper, and have caused the original to be deposited in the Department of State, with instruction to deliver a copy to any person who may be. interested.


James Monroe, Special Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/208103

Filed Under



Simple Search of Our Archives