MONROE, James. Autograph letter signed ("James Monroe") to Charles T. Mercer Esq., Oak Hill [Virginia], 16 July 1830. 2 pages, 4to. In fine condition.
A FORMER PRESIDENT PLEADS FOR "SIMPLE JUSTICE ONLY," SINCE "MY EXERTIONS IN THE CAUSE OF MY GOVT. & COUNTRY...HAVE PROVED THE RUIN OF MY PROPERTY"
Upon his retirement, Monros was some $75,000 in debt, largely the result of long-unsettled accounts from his service as Minister to France in 1794-1796. His quest for both vindication and reimbursement occupied several decades. After much lobbying, Congress voted him a partial reimbursment in 1826, but the former President's desparate financial condition impelled him to press additional claims. "In renewing these efforts, Monroe was motivated both by the need for money and by a determination to acheive public vindication," and those supporting his claim "made much of Monroe's impoverishment as a result of his unselfish devotion to the interests of the nation" (H. Ammon, James Madison, pp.557-560). Here, Monroe thanks Mercer for having introduced a memorial "from my fellow citizens of Albemarle" urging he be compensated for his old losses. The question he has learned, has now been referred to a Committee. Monroe expresses concern that his own Congressman and other Virginians "might feel a delicacy in moving it," so he is especially gratified that Mercer has "surmounted all difficulty" to urge his claim. He offers to transmit "authentic documents," if necessary, "to satisfy others...."
In that connection, he tells Mercer that "I am engaged on composing a work, as I think you know, biographical & historical, of the great events in which I have been engaged, in which I was a party, & of which I was a spectator....I have nearly finished those connected with my first mission to France, and by which it will be shown, by the most authentic proof, that my exertions in the cause of my govt. & country, on the difficult theatre on which I was placed, with the expenses to which I was exposed, in support of that cause, laid the foundation, of all the embarrassments, to which I have since been subjected. That in fact, they have proved the ruin of my property..." from "my long continuance in the public service, & neglect of my affairs," which he can no longer redress by himself "at this advanced age. Still I ask simple justice only."
In due course and in the face of some opposition, Congress finally granted the ageing former President the sum of $30,000 enabling him to settle his most pressing debts.