Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER VII. - The Writings of Thomas Paine, Vol. III (1791-1804)
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LETTER VII. - Thomas Paine, The Writings of Thomas Paine, Vol. III (1791-1804) 
The Writings of Thomas Paine, Collected and Edited by Moncure Daniel Conway (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1894). Vol. 3.
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This letter was printed in The True American, Trenton, New Jersey, soon after Paine’s return to his old home at Bordenton. It is here printed from the original manuscript, for which I am indebted to Mr. W. F. Havemeyer of New York. Although the Editor has concluded to present Paine’s “Maritime Compact” in the form he finally gave it, the articles were printed in French in 1800, and by S. H. Smith, Washington, at the close of the same year. There is an interesting history connected with it. John Hall, in his diary (“Trenton, 20 April, 1787”) relates that Paine told him of Dr. Franklin, whom he (Paine) had just visited in Philadelphia, “and the Treaty he, the Doctor, made with the late King of Prussia by adding an article that, should war ever break out, Commerce should be free. The Doctor said he showed it to Vergennes, who said it met his idea, and was such as he would make even with England.” In his Address to the People of France, 1797 (see p. 366), Paine closes with a suggestion on the subject, and a year later (September 30, 1798), when events were in a critical condition, he sent nine articles of his proposed Pacte Maritime to Talleyrand, newly appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs. The letters that passed are here taken from the originals (State Archives, Paris, États Unis, vol. 48).
“Rue Theâtre française, No. 4, 9 Vendemaire, 6 year. CitizenMinister: I promised you some observations on the state of things between France and America. I divide the case into two parts. First, with respect to some Method that shall effectually put an end to all interruptions of the American Commerce. Secondly, with respect to the settlement for the captures that have been made on that Commerce.
“As to the first case (the interruption of the American Commerce by France) it has foundation in the British Treaty, and it is the continuance of that treaty that renders the remedy difficult. Besides, the American administration has blundered so much in the business of treaty-making, that it is probable it will blunder again in making another with France. There is, however, one method left, and there is but one that I can see, that will be effectual. It is a non-importation Convention; that America agrees not to import from any Nation in Europe who shall interrupt her Commerce on the seas, any goods, wares, or merchandize whatever, and that all her ports shall be shut against the Nation that gives the offence. This will draw America out of her difficulties with respect to her treaty with England.
But it will be far better if this non-importation convention were to be a general convention of Nations acting as a Whole. It would give a better protection to Neutral Commerce than the armed neutrality could do. I would rather be a Neutral Nation under the protection of such a Convention, which costs nothing to make it, than be under the protection of a navy equal to that of Great Britain. France should be the patron of such a Convention and sign it. It would be giving both her consent and her protection to the Rights of Neutral Nations. If England refuse to sign it she will nevertheless be obliged to respect it, or lose all her Commerce.
I enclose you a plan I drew up about four months ago, when there was expectation that Mr. Madison would come to France. It has lain by me ever since.
The second part, that of settlement for the captures, I will make the subject of a future correspondence. Salut et respect.”
Talleyrand’s Reply (“Foreign Relations, 15 Vendemaire An. 6,” Oct. 6, 1797): “I have the honor to return you, Citizen, with very sincere thanks, your Letter to General Washington which you have had the goodness to show me.
“I have received the letter which you have taken the trouble to write me, the 9th of this month. I need not assure you of the appreciation with which I shall receive the further indications you promise on the means of terminating in a durable manner the differences which must excite your interest as a patriot and as a Republican. Animated by such a principle your ideas cannot fail to throw valuable light on the discussion you open, and which should have for its object to reunite the two Republics in whose alienation the enemies of liberty triumph.”
Paine’s plan made a good impression in France. He writes to Jefferson, October 6, 1800, that the Consul Le Brun, at an entertainment given to the American envoys, gave for his toast: “À l’ union de l’ Amérique avec les Puissances du Nord pour faire respecter la liberté des mers.”
PAINE’S SEVENTH LETTER.
The malignant mind, like the jaundiced eye, sees everything through a false medium of its own creating. The light of heaven appears stained with yellow to the distempered sight of the one, and the fairest actions have the form of crimes in the venomed imagination of the other.
For seven months, both before and after my return to America in October last, the apostate papers styling themselves “Federal” were filled with paragraphs and Essays respecting a letter from Mr. Jefferson to me at Paris; and though none of them knew the contents of the letter, nor the occasion of writing it, malignity taught them to suppose it, and the lying tongue of injustice lent them its aid.
That the public may no longer be imposed upon by Federal apostacy, I will now publish the Letter, and the occasion of its being written.
The Treaty negociated in England by John Jay, and ratified by the Washington Administration, had so disgracefully surrendered the right and freedom of the American flag, that all the Commerce of the United States on the Ocean became exposed to capture, and suffered in consequence of it. The duration of the Treaty was limited to two years after the war; and consequently America could not, during that period, relieve herself from the Chains which the Treaty had fixed upon her. This being the case, the only relief that could come must arise out of something originating in Europe, that would, in its consequences, extend to America. It had long been my opinion that Commerce contained within itself the means of its own protection; but as the time for bringing forward any new system is not always happening, it is necessary to watch its approach, and lay hold of it before it passes away.
As soon as the late Emperor Paul of Russia abandoned his coalition with England and become a Neutral Power, this Crisis of time, and also of circumstances, was then arriving; and I employed it in arranging a plan for the protection of the Commerce of Neutral Nations during War, that might, in its operation and consequences, relieve the Commerce of America. The Plan, with the pieces accompanying it, consisted of about forty pages. The Citizen Bonneville, with whom I lived in Paris, translated it into French; Mr. Skipwith, the American Consul, Joel Barlow, and myself, had the translation printed and distributed as a present to the Foreign Ministers of all the Neutral Nations then resident in Paris. This was in the summer of 1800.
It was entitled Maritime Compact (in French Pacte Maritime). The plan, exclusive of the pieces that accompanied it, consisted of the following Preamble and Articles.
Being anUnarmedAssociationof Nations for the protection of the Rights and Commerce of Nations that shall be neutral in time of War.
Whereas, the Vexations and Injuries to which the Rights and Commerce of Neutral Nations have been, and continue to be, exposed during the time of maritime War, render it necessary to establish a law of Nations for the purpose of putting an end to such vexations and Injuries, and to guarantee to the Neutral Nations the exercise of their just Rights,
We, therefore, the undersigned Powers, form ourselves into an Association, and establish the following as a Law of Nations on the Seas.
ARTICLE THE FIRST.
Definition of the Rights of neutral Nations.
The Rights of Nations, such as are exercised by them in their intercourse with each other in time of Peace, are, and of right ought to be, the Rights of Neutral Nations at all times; because,
First, those Rights not having been abandoned by them, remain with them.
Secondly, because those Rights cannot become forfeited or void, in consequence of War breaking out between two or more other Nations.
A War of Nation against Nation being exclusively the act of the Nations that make the War, and not the act of the Neutral Nations, cannot, whether considered in itself or in its consequences, destroy or diminish the Rights of the Nations remaining in Peace.
ARTICLE THE SECOND.
The Ships and Vessels of Nations that rest neuter and at Peace with the World during a War with other Nations, have a Right to navigate freely on the Seas as they navigated before that War broke out, and to proceed to and enter the Port or Ports of any of the Belligerent Powers, with the consent of that Power, without being seized, searched, visited, or any ways interrupted, by the Nation or Nations with which that Nation is at War.
ARTICLE THE THIRD.
For the Conservation of the aforesaid Rights, We, the undersigned Powers, engaging to each other our Sacred Faith and Honour, DECLARE
That if any Belligerent Power shall seize, search, visit, or any ways interrupt any Ship or Vessel belonging to the Citizens or Subjects of any of the Powers composing this Association, then each and all of the said undersigned Powers will cease to import, and will not permit to be imported into the Ports or Dominions of any of the said undersigned Powers, in any Ship or Vessel whatever, any Goods, wares, or Merchandize, produced or manufactured in, or exported from, the Dominions of the Power so offending against the Association hereby established and Proclaimed.
ARTICLE THE FOURTH.
That all the Ports appertaining to any and all of the Powers composing this Association shall be shut against the Flag of the offending Nation.
ARTICLE THE FIFTH.
That no remittance or payment in Money, Merchandize, or Bills of Exchange, shall be made by any of the Citizens, or Subjects, of any of the Powers composing this Association, to the Citizens or Subjects of the offending Nation, for the Term of one year, or until reparation be made. The reparation to be——times the amount of the damages sustained.
ARTICLE THE SIXTH.
If any Ship or Vessel appertaining to any of the Citizens or Subjects of any of the Powers composing this Association shall be seized, searched, visited, or interrupted, by any Belligerent Nation, or be forcibly prevented entering the Port of her destination, or be seized, searched, visited, or interrupted, in coming out of such Port, or be forcibly prevented from proceeding to any new destination, or be insulted or visited by any Agent from on board any Vessel of any Belligerent Power, the Government or Executive Power of the Nation to which the Ship or Vessel so seized, searched, visited, or interrupted belongs, shall, on evidence of the fact, make public Proclamation of the same, and send a Copy thereof to the Government, or Executive, of each of the Powers composing this Association, who shall publish the same in all the extent of his Dominions, together with a Declaration, that at the expiration of——days after publication, the penal articles of this Association shall be put in execution against the offending Nation.
ARTICLE THE SEVENTH.
If reparation be not made within the space of one year, the said Proclamation shall be renewed for one year more, and so on.
ARTICLE THE EIGHTH.
The Association chooses for itself a Flag to be carried at the Mast-head conjointly with the National Flag of each Nation composing this Association.
The Flag of the Association shall be composed of the same colors as compose the Rain-bow, and arranged in the same order as they appear in that Phenomenon.
ARTICLE THE NINTH.
And whereas, it may happen that one or more of the Nations composing this Association may be, at the time of forming it, engaged in War or become so in future, in that case, the Ships and Vessels of such Nation shall carry the Flag of the Association bound round the Mast, to denote that the Nation to which she belongs is a Member of the Association and a respecter of its Laws.
N. B. This distinction in the manner of carrying the Flag is mearly for the purpose, that Neutral Vessels having the Flag at the Mast-head, may be known at first sight.
ARTICLE THE TENTH.
And whereas, it is contrary to the moral principles of Neutrality and Peace, that any Neutral Nation should furnish to the Belligerent Powers, or any of them, the means of carrying on War against each other, We, therefore, the Powers composing this Association, Declare, that we will each one for itself, prohibit in our Dominions the exportation or transportation of military stores, comprehending gunpowder, cannon, and cannon-balls, fire arms of all kinds, and all kinds of iron and steel weapons used in War. Excluding therefrom all kinds of Utensils and Instruments used in civil or domestic life, and every other article that cannot, in its immediate state, be employed in War.
Having thus declared the moral Motives of the foregoing Article, We declare also the civil and political Intention thereof, to wit,
That as Belligerent Nations have no right to visit or search any Ship or Vessel belonging to a Nation at Peace, and under the protection of the Laws and Government thereof, and as all such visit or search is an insult to the Nation to which such Ship or Vessel belongs and to the Government of the same, We, therefore, the Powers composing this Association, will take the right of prohibition on ourselves to whom it properly belongs, and by whom only it can be legally exercised, and not permit foreign Nations, in a state of War, to usurp the right of legislating by Proclamation for any of the Citizens or Subjects of the Powers composing this Association.
It is, therefore, in order to take away all pretence of search or visit, which by being offensive might become a new cause of War, that we will provide Laws and publish them by Proclamation, each in his own Dominion, to prohibit the supplying, or carrying to, the Belligerent Powers, or either of them, the military stores or articles before mentioned, annexing thereto a penalty to be levied or inflicted upon any persons within our several Dominions transgressing the same. And we invite all Persons, as well of the Belligerent Nations as of our own, or of any other, to give information of any knowledge they may have of any transgressions against the said Law, that the offenders may be prosecuted.
By this conduct we restore the word Contraband (contra and ban) to its true and original signification, which means against Law, edict, or Proclamation; and none but the Government of a Nation can have, or can exercise, the right of making Laws, edicts, or Proclamations, for the conduct of its Citizens or Subjects.
Now We, the undersigned Powers, declare the aforesaid Articles to be a Law of Nations at all times, or until a Congress of Nations shall meet to form some Law more effectual.
And we do recommend that immediately on the breaking out of War between any two or more Nations, that Deputies be appointed by all Neutral Nations, whether members of this Association or not, to meet in Congress in some central place to take cognizance of any violations of the Rights of Neutral Nations.
For the purpose of giving operation to the aforesaid plan of an unarmed Association, the following Paragraph was subjoined:
It may be judged proper for the order of Business, that the Association of Nations have a President for a term of years, and the Presidency to pass by rotation, to each of the parties composing the Association.
In that case, and for the sake of regularity, the first President to be the Executive power of the most northerly Nation composing the Association, and his deputy or Minister at the Congress to be President of the Congress,—and the next most northerly to be Vice-president, who shall succeed to the Presidency, and so on. The line determining the Geographical situation of each, to be the latitude of the Capital of each Nation.
If this method be adopted it will be proper that the first President be nominally constituted in order to give rotation to the rest. In that case the following Article might be added to the foregoing, viz’t. The Constitution of the Association nominates the EmperorPaul to be first President of the Association of Nations for the protection of Neutral Commerce, and securing the freedom of the Seas.
The foregoing plan, as I have before mentioned, was presented to the Ministers of all the Neutral Nations then in Paris, in the summer of 1800. Six Copies were given to the Russian General Springporten; and a Russian Gentleman who was going to Petersburgh took two expressly for the purpose of putting them into the hands of Paul. I sent the original manuscript, in my own handwriting, to Mr. Jefferson, and also wrote him four Letters, dated the 1st, 4th, 6th, 16th of October, 1800, giving him an account of what was then going on in Europe respecting Neutral Commerce.
The Case was, that in order to compel the English Government to acknowledge the rights of Neutral Commerce, and that free Ships make free Goods, the Emperor Paul, in the month of September following the publication of the plan, shut all the Ports of Russia against England. Sweden and Denmark did the same by their Ports, and Denmark shut up Hamburgh. Prussia shut up the Elbe and the Weser. The ports of Spain, Portugal, and Naples were shut up, and, in general, all the ports of Italy, except Venice, which the Emperor of Germany held; and had it not been for the untimely death of Paul, a Law of Nations, founded on the authority of Nations, for establishing the rights of Neutral Commerce and the freedom of the Seas, would have been proclaimed, and the Government of England must have consented to that Law, or the Nation must have lost its Commerce; and the consequence to America would have been, that such a Law would, in a great measure if not entirely, have released her from the injuries of Jay’s Treaty.
Of all these matters I informed Mr. Jefferson. This was before he was President, and the Letter he wrote me after he was President was in answer to those I had written to him and the manuscript Copy of the plan I had sent here. Here follows the Letter:
March 18, 1801.
Your letters of Oct. 1st, 4th, 6th, 16th, came duly to hand, and the papers which they covered were, according to your permission, published in the Newspapers, and in a Pamphlet, and under your own name. These papers contain precisely our principles, and I hope they will be generally recognized here. Determined as we are to avoid, if possible, wasting the energies of our People in war and destruction, we shall avoid implicating ourselves with the Powers of Europe, even in support of principles which we mean to pursue. They have so many other Interests different from ours that we must avoid being entangled in them. We believe we can enforce those principles as to ourselves by Peaceable means, now that we are likely to have our Public Councils detached from foreign views. The return of our citizens from the phrenzy into which they had been wrought, partly by ill conduct in France, partly by artifices practiced upon them, is almost extinct, and will, I believe, become quite so. But these details, too minute and long for a Letter, will be better developed by Mr. Dawson, the Bearer of this, a Member of the late Congress, to whom I refer you for them. He goes in the Maryland Sloop of War, which will wait a few days at Havre to receive his Letters to be written on his arrival at Paris. You expressed a wish to get a passage to this Country in a Public Vessel. Mr. Dawson is charged with orders to the Captain of the Maryland to receive and accommodate you back if you can be ready to depart at such a short warning. Rob’t R. Livingston is appointed Minister Plenipotentiary to the Republic of France, but will not leave this, till we receive the ratification of the Convention by Mr. Dawson. I am in hopes you will find us returned generally to sentiments worthy of former times. In these it will be your glory to have steadily laboured and with as much effect as any man living. That you may long live to continue your useful Labours and to reap the reward in the thankfulness of Nations is my sincere prayer. Accept assurances of my high esteem and affectionate attachment.
This, Citizens of the United States, is the Letter about which the leaders and tools of the Federal faction, without knowing its contents or the occasion of writing it, have wasted so many malignant falsehoods. It is a Letter which, on account of its wise economy and peaceable principles, and its forbearance to reproach, will be read by every good Man and every good Citizen with pleasure; and the faction, mortified at its appearance, will have to regret they forced it into publication. The least atonement they can now offer is to make the Letter as public as they have made their own infamy, and learn to lie no more.
The same injustice they shewed to Mr. Jefferson they shewed to me. I had employed myself in Europe, and at my own expense, in forming and promoting a plan that would, in its operation, have benefited the Commerce of America; and the faction here invented and circulated an account in the papers they employ, that I had given a plan to the French for burning all the towns on the Coast from Savannah to Baltimore. Were I to prosecute them for this (and I do not promise that I will not, for the Liberty of the Press is not the liberty of lying,) there is not a fæderal judge, not even one of Midnight appointment, but must, from the nature of the case, be obliged to condemn them. The faction, however, cannot complain they have been restrained in any thing. They have had their full swing of lying uncontradicted; they have availed themselves, unopposed, of all the arts Hypocrisy could devise; and the event has been, what in all such cases it ever will and ought to be, the ruin of themselves.
The Characters of the late and of the present Administrations are now sufficiently marked, and the adherents of each keep up the distinction. The former Administration rendered itself notorious by outrage, coxcombical parade, false alarms, a continued increase of taxes, and an unceasing clamor for War; and as every vice has a virtue opposed to it, the present Administration moves on the direct contrary line. The question, therefore, at elections is not properly a question upon Persons, but upon principles. Those who are for Peace, moderate taxes, and mild Government, will vote for the Administration that conducts itself by those principles, in whatever hands that Administration may be.
There are in the United States, and particularly in the middle States, several religious Sects, whose leading moral principle is peace. It is, therefore, impossible that such Persons, consistently with the dictates of that principle, can vote for an Administration that is clamorous for War. When moral principles, rather than Persons, are candidates for Power, to vote is to perform a moral duty, and not to vote is to neglect a duty.
That persons who are hunting after places, offices, and contracts, should be advocates for War, taxes, and extravagance, is not to be wondered at; but that so large a portion of the People who had nothing to depend upon but their Industry, and no other public prospect but that of paying taxes, and bearing the burden, should be advocates for the same measures, is a thoughtlessness not easily accounted for. But reason is recovering her empire, and the fog of delusion is clearing away.
April 21, 1803.1
TO THE FRENCH INHABITANTS OF LOUISIANA.1
A publication having the appearance of a memorial and remonstrance, to be presented to Congress at the ensuing session, has appeared in several papers. It is therefore open to examination, and I offer you my remarks upon it. The title and introductory paragraph are as follows:
“To the Congress of the United States, in the Senate and House of Representatives convened: We the subscribers, planters, merchants, and other inhabitants of Louisiana, respectfully approach the legislature of the United States with a memorial of our rights, a remonstrance against certain laws which contravene them, and a petition for that redress to which the laws of nature, sanctioned by positive stipulations, have entitled us.”
It often happens that when one party, or one that thinks itself a party, talks much about its rights, it puts those of the other party upon examining into their own, and such is the effect produced by your memorial.
A single reading of that memorial will show it is the work of some person who is not of your people. His acquaintance with the cause, commencement, progress, and termination of the American revolution, decides this point; and his making our merits in that revolution the ground of your claims, as if our merits could become yours, show she does not understand your situation.
We obtained our rights by calmly understanding principles, and by the successful event of a long, obstinate, and expensive war. But it is not incumbent on us to fight the battles of the world for the world’s profit. You are already participating, without any merit or expense in obtaining it, the blessings of freedom acquired by ourselves; and in proportion as you become initiated into the principles and practice of the representative system of government, of which you have yet had no experience, you will participate more, and finally be partakers of the whole. You see what mischief ensued in France by the possession of power before they understood principles. They earned liberty in words, but not in fact. The writer of this was in France through the whole of the revolution, and knows the truth of what he speaks; for after endeavouring to give it principle, he had nearly fallen a victim to its rage.
There is a great want of judgment in the person who drew up your memorial. He has mistaken your case, and forgotten his own; and by trying to court your applause has injured your pretensions. He has written like a lawyer, straining every point that would please his client, without studying his advantage. I find no fault with the composition of the memorial, for it is well written; nor with the principles of liberty it contains, considered in the abstract. The error lies in the misapplication of them, and in assuming a ground they have not a right to stand upon. Instead of their serving you as a ground of reclamation against us, they change into a satire on yourselves. Why did you not speak thus when you ought to have spoken it? We fought for liberty when you stood quiet in slavery.
The author of the memorial injudiciously confounding two distinct cases together, has spoken as if he was the memorialist of a body of Americans, who, after sharing equally with us in all the dangers and hardships of the revolutionary war, had retired to a distance and made a settlement for themselves. If, in such a situation, Congress had established a temporary government over them, in which they were not personally consulted, they would have had a right to speak as the memorial speaks. But your situation is different from what the situation of such persons would be, and therefore their ground of reclamation cannot of right become yours. You are arriving at freedom by the easiest means that any people ever enjoyed it; without contest, without expense, and even without any contrivance of your own. And you already so far mistake principles, that under the name of rights you ask for powers; power to import and enslave Africans; and to govern a territory that we have purchased.
To give colour to your memorial, you refer to the treaty of cession, (in which you were not one of the contracting parties,) concluded at Paris between the governments of the United States and France.
“The third article” you say “of the treaty lately concluded at Paris declares, that the inhabitants of the ceded territory shall be incorporated in the union of the United States, and admitted as soon as possible, according to the principles of the Federal Constitution, to the enjoyment of all the rights, advantages, and immunities of citizens of the United States; and in the mean time, they shall be protected in the enjoyment of their liberty, property, and the exercise of the religion they profess.”
As from your former condition, you cannot be much acquainted with diplomatic policy, and I am convinced that even the gentleman who drew up the memorial is not, I will explain to you the grounds of this article. It may prevent your running into further errors.
The territory of Louisiana had been so often ceded to different European powers, that it became a necessary article on the part of France, and for the security of Spain, the ally of France, and which accorded perfectly with our own principles and intentions, that it should be ceded no more; and this article, stipulating for the incorporation of Louisiana into the union of the United States, stands as a bar against all future cession, and at the same time, as well as “in the mean time,” secures to you a civil and political permanency, personal security and liberty which you never enjoyed before.
France and Spain might suspect, (and the suspicion would not have been ill-founded had the cession been treated for in the administration of John Adams, or when Washington was president, and Alexander Hamilton president over him,) that we bought Louisiana for the British government, or with a view of selling it to her; and though such suspicion had no just ground to stand upon with respect to our present president, Thomas Jefferson, who is not only not a man of intrigue but who possesses that honest pride of principle that cannot be intrigued with, and which keeps intriguers at a distance, the article was nevertheless necessary as a precaution against future contingencies. But you, from not knowing the political ground of the article, apply to yourselves personally and exclusively, what had reference to the territory, to prevent its falling into the hands of any foreign power that might endanger the [establishment of] Spanish dominion in America, or those of the French in the West India Islands.
You claim, (you say), to be incorporated into the union of the United States, and your remonstrances on this subject are unjust and without cause.
You are already incorporated into it as fully and effectually as the Americans themselves are, who are settled in Louisiana. You enjoy the same rights, privileges, advantages, and immunities, which they enjoy; and when Louisiana, or some part of it, shall be erected into a constitutional State, you also will be citizens equal with them.
You speak in your memorial, as if you were the only people who were to live in Louisiana, and as if the territory was purchased that you exclusively might govern it. In both these cases you are greatly mistaken. The emigrations from the United States into the purchased territory, and the population arising therefrom, will, in a few years, exceed you in numbers. It is but twenty-six years since Kentucky began to be settled, and it already contains more than double your population.
In a candid view of the case, you ask for what would be injurious to yourselves to receive, and unjust in us to grant. Injurious, because the settlement of Louisiana will go on much faster under the government and guardianship of Congress, then if the government of it were committed to your hands; and consequently, the landed property you possessed as individuals when the treaty was concluded, or have purchased since, will increase so much faster in value.—Unjust to ourselves, because as the reimbursements of the purchase money must come out of the sale of the lands to new settlers, the government of it cannot suddenly go out of the hands of Congress. They are guardians of that property for all the people of the United States. And besides this, as the new settlers will be chiefly from the United States, it would be unjust and ill policy to put them and their property under the jurisdiction of a people whose freedom they had contributed to purchase. You ought also to recollect, that the French Revolution has not exhibited to the world that grand display of principles and rights, that would induce settlers from other countries to put themselves under a French jurisdiction in Louisiana. Beware of intriguers who may push you on from private motives of their own.
You complain of two cases, one of which you have no right, no concern with; and the other is founded in direct injustice.
You complain that Congress has passed a law to divide the country into two territories. It is not improper to inform you, that after the revolutionary war ended, Congress divided the territory acquired by that war into ten territories; each of which was to be erected into a constitutional State, when it arrived at a certain population mentioned in the Act; and, in the mean time, an officer appointed by the President, as the Governor of Louisiana now is, presided, as Governor of the Western Territory, over all such parts as have not arrived at the maturity of statehood. Louisiana will require to be divided into twelve States or more; but this is a matter that belongs to the purchaser of the territory of Louisiana, and with which the inhabitants of the town of New-Orleans have no right to interfere; and beside this, it is probable that the inhabitants of the other territory would choose to be independent of New-Orleans. They might apprehend, that on some speculating pretence, their produce might be put in requisition, and a maximum price put on it—a thing not uncommon in a French government. As a general rule, without refining upon sentiment, one may put confidence in the justice of those who have no inducement to do us injustice; and this is the case Congress stands in with respect to both territories, and to all other divisions that may be laid out, and to all inhabitants and settlers, of whatever nation they may be.
There can be no such thing as what the memorial speaks of, that is, of a Governor appointed by the President who may have no interest in the welfare of Louisiana. He must, from the nature of the case, have more interest in it than any other person can have. He is entrusted with the care of an extensive tract of country, now the property of the United States by purchase. The value of those lands will depend on the increasing prosperity of Louisiana, its agriculture, commerce, and population. You have only a local and partial interest in the town of New-Orleans, or its vicinity; and if, in consequence of exploring the country, new seats of commerce should offer, his general interest would lead him to open them, and your partial interest to shut them up.
There is probably some justice in your remark, as it applies to the governments under which you formerly lived. Such governments always look with jealousy, and an apprehension of revolt, on colonies increasing in prosperity and population, and they send governors to keep them down. But when you argue from the conduct of governments distant and despotic, to that of domestic and free government, it shows you do not understand the principles and interest of a Republic, and to put you right is friendship. We have had experience, and you have not.
The other case to which I alluded, as being founded in direct injustice, is that in which you petition for power, under the name of rights, to import and enslave Africans!
Dare you put up a petition to Heaven for such a power, without fearing to be struck from the earth by its justice?
Why, then, do you ask it of man against man?
Do you want to renew in Louisiana the horrors of Domingo?
Sept. 22, 1804.
Endorsed: “Sent by Gen. Bloomfield per Mr. Wilson for Mr. Duane.” And, in a later hand: “Paine Letter 6. Found among the Bartram Papers sent by Col. Carr.”—Editor.
In a letter to Albert Gallatin, Secretary of the Treasury (Oct. 14, 1804), John Randolph of Roanoke proposed “the printing of—thousand copies of Tom Paine’s answer to their remonstrance, and transmitting them by as many thousand troops, who can speak a language perfectly intelligible to the people of Louisiana, whatever that of their government may be.” The purchase of Louisiana was announced to the Senate by President Jefferson, October 17, 1803.—Editor.