Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Monroe, James (1758-1831) to Col. Samuel Lane re: a proposal to sell his own furniture to the White House

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also request a pdf of the image from us here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02793.013 Author/Creator: Monroe, James (1758-1831) Place Written: Washington Type: Autograph letter signed Date: [1817]/04/02 Pagination: 2 p. 26 x 21 cm

Summary of Content: Written as President, noting "a considerable deficiency, in the sum appropriated" to furnish the White House and proposing that he leave some personal furniture "at a fair price".

Full Transcript: Washington April 2 [1817]
It appearing, after the order sent to France, & the contracts already made here, that there will be a considerable deficiency, in the sum appropriated, to provide furniture ...for the President's house, it may be advisable to retain from my furniture, at a fair price, what will supply the deficiency.
I have a small service of plate, made for my own use, by the best artists in France & England, which, with the articles I have now order'd from France, and those to be manufactured out of the old plate, will make a full service, such as is commonly used in France, for the Presidents house. I have also dining room, drawing & bed room furniture, French china, glass, & kitchen furniture, all of good quality, in good state, and all of which are indispensably necessary.
I am willing to dispose of such articles of my furniture as are requir'd [sic] for immediate use, and will suit certain apartments in the Presidents house, at the price at which they may be valued, by two citizens of the first respectability, to be assisted, if desired, by persons skilled in the manufacture of each article, or I will dispose of the plate only by valuation, [ther]e being but few purchases of that article and [of?] all the other articles. They are in the house I lately occupied, and will be showed[?] & delivered to you, by one of my servants, who attends there for the purpose.
For the deficiency of the fund, whatever it may be, after paying for the articles order'd from France, and such as are engaged here, to meet the amount of my claim, I shall be content to wait another appropriation, or to retake my own furniture, should no other appropriation be made, whether by valuation or sale, as the one or other mode, may be adopted in the present instance, when I retire from office.
It will be proper for you to give notice to Mr. Caldwell, that I have given up his house, & that my furniture will be removed from it, at an early day, when he may take possession of it.
I am with great respect,
yr obt servant
James Monroe

See More

People: Monroe, James, 1758-1831

Historical Era: National Expansion and Reform, 1815-1860

Subjects: PresidentGovernment and CivicsHome FurnishingsFinanceWhite House

Sub Era: The First Age of Reform

Order a Copy Citation Guidelines for Online Resources