President James Monroe Writes A Letter To Thomas Jefferson

On October 17, 1823, President James Monroe wrote a letter to his friend and Virginia neighbor Thomas Jefferson seeking advice on foreign policy.

The issue at hand was whether to join forces with Britain in a joint-declaration against Spain's efforts to regain sovereignty in South America.

Both Jefferson and former president James Madison, whom Monroe also consulted, recommended cooperation with Britain. However, Monroe's Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams, was more cautious. "It would be more candid," Adams warned Monroe at a November 7, 1823 cabinet meeting, "as well as more dignified, to avow our principles explicitly to Russia and France, than to come in as a cockboat in the wake of the British man-of-war."

James Monroe (April 28, 1758 – July 4, 1831) was the fifth President of the United States (1817–1825). His administration was marked by the acquisition of Florida (1819); the Missouri Compromise (1820), in which Missouri was declared a slave state; the admission of Maine in 1820 as a free state; and the profession of the Monroe Doctrine (1823), declaring U.S. opposition to European interference in the Americas, as well as breaking all ties with France remaining from the War of 1812.

Shall we entangle ourselves at all, in European politicks, & wars, on the side of any power, against other…? ”

— Letter James Monroe to Thomas Jefferson Seeking Foreign Policy Advice, October 17, 1823