Lot 14: James Monroe Handwritten Signed Letter
6th February 2019
ALS as president, one page, 8 x 10, June 22, 1822. Letter to the comptroller, in full: "On the report & opinion of the Attorney General, respecting the claim of Mr. Clay, to half an outfit, for his services, in the formation of a treaty of commerce, with G. Britain, at London, in 1815, & on full consideration of his case, & of precedents in other cases, I am of the opinion, that the claim ought to be allowed, deducting there from, any advances made to him, for that service, on a different principle." In fine condition, with an old mounting strip along reverse edge. This intriguing letter involves an ongoing dispute between some of the most prominent American politicians of the era-James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, and Henry Clay. Adams and Clay, who often quibbled with each other, had been members of the commission that had negotiated the Treaty of Ghent with Great Britain to end the War of 1812. While still in Europe, Clay helped negotiate an additional commerce treaty with the British. He believed he was entitled to additional compensation, which is the claim discussed here. Although this would normally be under the purview of the State Department, President Monroe asked Attorney General William Wirt for his opinion, hoping to avoid further hostility between Clay and Secretary of State Adams. Wirt's response was favorable, so Monroe did indeed grant Clay additional pay of $4,280. An interesting letter that combines America's early foreign policy with intraparty drama.
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