Lot 6 of 395:
Autograph Letter signed from 5th President James Monroe.  

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Lot closed - Sold For (Includes Buyers Premium):$3,000
$5,000 - $8,000

Autograph Letter Signed - 1828 Ex-President forced to sell his land and slaves

Monroe, James

New York


June 23, 1828


1 page + partial stampless address leaf, heavily worn and repaired, with remnant of his franking signature. 24.5x20 cm (9¾x8").

To his Virginia neighbor, John Watson: “Mrs. Monroe was [indisposed?] by fatigue the last day of our journey here, but is now recovering and I think the prospect good, of her deriving all the advantage from the visit to see Gouverneur, and our daughter and her other connections that we expected. My fellow citizens here have been very kind and attentive, and in a manner which I did not expect, but could not avoid without wounding their feelings. In this, I will, if I have time, write you again, as I intend to set out, in a few days, and passing by Oak Hill, to be at the University on the 10th of next month, where I hope to see you in good health. I may defer further explanations till then. My land in Monmouth will soon be sold, and the [coast?] below Milton before my arrival there. I wish my friends not to interfere, in any manner whatever, best to let the bank takes its own course. We have done all that we could to prevent a sacrifice, consistent with character, and if the banks are so disposed, let them do it….”  Three years after Monroe left office as the fifth President of the United States, and the last of the founding fathers’ generation to hold that office, he was beset by personal and financial troubles. His wife was seriously ill and he had taken her from Virginia to New York to visit their daughter and son-in-law Samuel Gouverneur in the hopes that the family reunion would help restore her health. At the same time, overwhelmed with a debt of $25,000 to the Bank of Virginia, he was forced to sell 1000 acres of his Virginia land holdings, which he had been slowly dispersing for years, since going to France to negotiate the Louisiana Purchase. Though Lafayette and other friends, including his neighbor and financial confidante, John Watson, had offered to help him out financially, Monroe preferred to stalwartly face the problem on his own. While he does not mention it in this letter, Monroe, with Watson’s assistance, had already reluctantly sold many of his 100 slaves to a Colonel in Florida, being scrupulous about keeping slave families together. This was a personal wrench to him – he knew each of his slaves by name - as was the July journey back to Virginia, via Washington, which reportedly left him “overcome by heat and fatigue." Both Monroe and his wife would die within three years. Provenance: Monroe’s friend Watson passed this letter on to his son, later a Confederate Senator, and grandson who was killed in battle during the Civil War. Their descendants kept the letter in the family until the 1970s. 

Lot Amendments

Quite tattered and stained, a few holes, many tape repairs to stampless leaf, two small tape repairs to letter leaf; good.

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