James Monroe to William Crawford, 1819 May 19
Augusta May 19th. 1819
I arrivd here on Saturday morning, the third day from Savannah, and shall proceed immediately after breakfast, by Washington, and Athens for Huntsville & thence by Nashville westward. I begin to think that it will be proper for me to terminate my journey on this side the Ohio. I had intended to visit St Louis, but I have been so long in reaching this point, that I fear, I should not be able to accomplish it, & return to Washington by the time, the ratification of the treaty with Spain may be expected. of this however, that is, of the limit to which I shall confine my excursion. I shall inform you as soon as I have decided.
I receivd here your letter of the 27th ulto. Your other letters were either receivd at Charlestown, or on the road before I arrivd there. They were answer'd from that place. I have been aware of the difficulty attending the effort to maintain specie payments by the bank, and of the effect which the measures it would probably adopt, wo'd have on the treasury, connected as we are with the banks, performing also as it does the twofold & incompatable duties, of contending against all in proper measures, & injuries, from the State banks, & at the same time supporting them. This dilemma of the bank has been inevitable, in consequence of the great number of local institutions, and so likewise has been that of the Treasury, in consequence of its connection, by law, with the bank. The crisis is great, but yet, I trust, not fraught, with insurmountable difficulty. The pressure on me has been such through the whole journey, that I have not been able to pay all the attention to this subject that I could have wished. I stated to you from Charlestown, my desire that you would do the best in it, that you could availing yourself of the aid of the gentlemen present in all cases of doubt. I have the utmost confidence that you will do, the best that can be done, in the affair & that is all which the country can expect or desire. I suggest, merely for consideration, as the fulfilment of the public engagements is the great object of the government, & that may be faithfully & honestly done by paying public creditors & other claimants, in any notes which they are willing to receive, whether that principle may not be acted on, in all cases, in which it may be done, with effect, & without loss, by prompt transfer. In this mode the notes of many banks not now receivable, might be admitted, and probably to the relief of the national bank, and govt, as well as the state banks. I leave this affair however, in all cases, to your judgment, fully satisfied, that you will do all that you can in it.
For your information, & suggestions, in the unfortunate affair between Genls Jackson and Scott, & its incidents, accept my thanks. I receive it as a strong proof of your friendship on which I have always confided. I will state to you, frankly, and as fully as the few minutes I have at command will permit, the part I have acted in this affair, & particularly in what concerns yourself. General Jackson knew at Washington, that I had entire confidence in your integrity, honor, & friendship for me, and after the conference I had with him soon after his arrival there, he never attempted to shake it. Indeed he acted with much delicacy towards me on the subject. I have seen distinctly, that, in these concerns, including that between him & General Scott, I should be invok'd & become a partizan, on one side or the other unless I acted with great caution. Wishing well to all, my object has been to do justice to all, & good offices to each, so far as it might be practicable. In this I could not succeed, unless, I maintaind a station, without the range of private quarrels. On this principle I thought it incumbent on me, to make this journey, as much by myself, as circumstances would permit, in relation especially to that object. I have no doubt that General Jackson would have accompanied me along the coast, had I requested it, but I frankly told him, that I thought that it would be improper, for reasons which would occur to him & to which he promptly assented. He will perhaps expect to meet me at Huntsville, & it being, not simply, within his division but neighbourhood, to prevent it would be improper, on the principle above stated. I shall be attentive to what passes, at Nashville & elsewhere, & certainly give no sanction, if I do not prevent, as I hope to do, any attempt, should the disposition exist to make an improper impression on the public mind, to your disadvantage, or to that of any other person, in the public service. To succeed as I wish, amicably, with him; and as I ought to do, for I have not only done him justice on all cases, but in some given him proofs of friendship, it is necessary that it appear that I wish only to do justice to others as well as to himself, and am not their partizan more than his. He will naturally be attentive to my intercourse with your personal friends, as I pass through this state, & it is probable, knowing the natural ardor of his feelings, be led by light circumstances much exaggerated by others, to draw improper conclusions. For this reason it will be advisable that my intercourse with Mr. Cobb, especially, be confind to his own neighbourhood, & not extended beyond it. I shall receive him as I have done all your friends here & elsewhere, with great kindness & respect. They have been very attentive & friendly to me. My object is to controul this affair in all its parts for the good of those concerned, of the country, and govt., as well as for my own personal fame & satisfaction.
Be so kind as send the enclosed to my family, & believe me with great sincerity your friend & servant—