On February 11 the exhibition, Written in Confidence: The Unpublished Letters of James Monroe, opened to the public. Featuring 12 letters from the recently-acquired 28-letter collection of correspondence between James Monroe and William Crawford, the exhibition is on display at the Muscarelle Museum of Art on William & Mary’s campus through May 14, 2017.
Accompanying the 12 letters are text and visual material that put the documents into context of what was taking place politically, economically, and socially during Monroe’s presidency. Among the subjects discussed in the exhibition are piracy and privateering, the 1819 financial panic, the acquisition of Florida, and Monroe’s and Crawford’s complicated friendship-rivalry. Imagery in the exhibition includes an engraving of Monroe from the Muscarelle’s collections and a graphite sketch of Monroe by esteemed artist John Vanderlyn.
The collection of Monroe-Crawford letters span from 1817 to 1823, with some of the letters being undated. A couple of the letters in the collection are drafts, revealing the careful consideration Monroe (and other writers of the time) put into composing their correspondence. As a whole, the collection offers researchers and scholars an exciting opportunity for making new discoveries about Monroe and his time as president of the United States (1817-1825). For all of us, it provides the chance to learn more about the nation’s last founding father.
Be sure to stop by and see this exhibition. W&M student, faculty, and staff admission is free with your campus ID!
And don’t forget to visit the Special Collections Research Center in Swem Library to see the letters in person, as they will be available for research use!