To James Monroe [October 1794]
From the original letter at the Library of Congress.
As I have not yet recd any ansr to my last, I have amused myself with writing you the enclosed memda. - Though you recommend patience to me I cannot but feel very pointedly the uncomfortableness of my situation, and among other reflections that occur to me I cannot think that America receives any credit from the long imprisonment that I suffer. It has the appearance of neglecting her Citizens and her friends and of encouraging the insults of foreign nations upon them and upon her commerce. My imprisonment is as well and perhaps more known in England than in France, and they (the English) will not be intimidated from molesting an American ship when they see that one of her best Citizens (for I have a right to call myself so) can be imprisoned in another Country at the mere discretion of a Committee, because he is a foreigner.
When you first arrived everybody congratulated me that I should soon, if not immediately, be in liberty. Since that time about two hundred have been set free from this prison on the applications of their sections or of individuals - and I am continually hurt by the observations that are made - “that a section in Paris has more influence than America.”
It is right that I furnish you with these circumstances. It is the effect of my anxiety that the character of America suffer no reproach; for the world knows that I have acted a generous duty by her. I am the third American that has been imprisoned. Griffiths nine weeks, Haskins about five, and myself eight and yet in prison. With respect to the two former there was then no Minister, for I consider Morris as none; and they were liberated on the applications of the Americans in Paris — As to myself I had rather be publicly and honorably reclaimed tho’ the reclamation was refused than remain in the uncertain situation that I am. Tho my health has suffered my spirits are not broken. I have nothing to fear unless innocence and fortitude be crimes — America, whatever may be my fate, will have no cause to blush for me as a citizen; I hope I shall have none to blush for her as a Country.
If, my dear Sir, there is any thing in the perplexity of Ideas I have mistaken, only suppose yourself in my situation and you will easily find an excuse for it. I need not say how much I shall rejoice to pay my respects to you without-side the walls of this prison and to enquire after my American friends - But I know that nothing can be accomplished here but by unceasing perseverance and application.