Front Page Titles (by Subject) CRAWFORD TO GALLATIN. - The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 2
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
CRAWFORD TO GALLATIN. - Albert Gallatin, The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 2 
The Writings of Albert Gallatin, ed. Henry Adams (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1879). 3 vols.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
CRAWFORD TO GALLATIN.
Washington, 27th October, 1817.
My dear Sir,—
Your interesting letter of the1 has been received in due time.
The views which it presents in relation to the country where you reside, as well as to this, are highly interesting.
I see that the question of further reducing the allied forces in France has been agitated, and said to be decided in the negative. It is said in the newspapers that this decision has been the result of the representations of the Duke of Wellington, who is made to say that any further reduction of that force would render it unequal to the maintenance of the Bourbons on the throne.
I am by no means disposed to question the correctness of this opinion, but the policy of keeping any monarch upon a throne for an indefinite series of years by means of a foreign military force, when there is no competitor for that throne, may well be questioned. It appears to me that the retention of this force within the limits and at the expense of France, on the plea that it is necessary to the preservation of the monarch, cannot fail to increase and prolong that necessity. So far as the restoration of confidence between the King and people is desirable, it would be much better to place this delicate question upon the explicit ground of conventional rights, than to make the safety of the King to depend upon the oppression of the kingdom by a foreign force. If this ground has been assumed and avowed, it will be difficult to convince the nation of the sincerity of the exertions of the King to rid them of so heavy a burden, of so shameful a yoke.
I am inclined to the opinion you have expressed, that during the lifetime of the King no effort will be made by the nation to expel him from the throne; but the moment of his death will be the period of new convulsions. I most sincerely hope he may outlive the residence of the allied troops in France. If new efforts are to be made for the preservation of some of the good fruit of the revolution, I wish they may be made under the happiest auspices. I see that, at the opening of the session of the Legislature in 1815, the members of the blood royal, including the Duke of Orleans, took their seats in the House of Peers. I see that the Duke precipitately left France a short time after having taken his seat. I presume his retreat was the result of orders from the King. Did the other members of the royal family withdraw from their seats at the same time? Cannot you procure me a copy of the suppressed and, I presume, the last number of the Causeur?
The accruing revenue from the customs for the present year will exceed eighteen millions. We have purchased and redeemed about fifteen millions of the public debt since the first day of January. The redemption of the Louisiana debt is all that can be effected before the year 1825, unless Congress shall direct the redemption of the five per cent. stock subscribed to the bank, or permit the commissioners to purchase the debt at its current value. Unless one or both of these ideas are acted upon, there will be a surplus in the sinking fund annually of more than five millions of dollars from the year 1819, when the Louisiana debt will be discharged, until the year 1825, besides a general surplus of nearly the same amount if no reduction is made in the revenue by Congress. There is now in the Treasury upwards of six millions, which will probably be increased to nearly eight by the first day of January, 1818. With this amount in the Treasury, we could pay off the whole of the Louisiana debt next year, if the terms of the convention will permit it; but there is no doubt of our right to pay it off during the year 1819.
If, then, we do not involve ourselves in a Spanish war, we shall have a superabundance of revenue, unless we engage extensively in a system of internal improvements. I do not know whether Mr. Monroe entertains the constitutional scruples which governed Mr. Madison in the rejection of the bill on that subject on the 3d day of March last. That bill, as you observe, was bad enough; so bad that I did not wish it to pass. I presume the subject will be renewed during the next session, and trust that it will assume a form less objectionable than the one rejected by Mr. Madison. If nothing of this kind takes place, the internal taxes will be repealed. Indeed, I am by no means certain that the adoption of an extensive system of internal improvements will save the internal taxes. The sales of the public lands are increasing with a rapidity wholly unexampled. After the present year they may be safely set down at $3,000,000; but until the Yazoo stock is absorbed not more than half that amount will go into the Treasury. The sales in the Alabama Territory during the next year will probably absorb the greatest part of the Mississippi stock. The last payment to the State of Georgia is now ready to be made.
From this view of the Treasury operations you will perceive we are on the brink of the enviable situation which Mr. Jefferson supposed us to be in about the close of his Presidential career, viz., of finding out new objects of expenditure, or of reducing the revenue to that at present authorized by law.
I wish I could say as much in relation to other views which may be taken of the political state of the country. The War Department is not yet filled. It has been offered to Mr. Lowndes and declined. Mr. Calhoun’s answer to the offer which has been made of it to him is daily expected. Should he decline, it will be tendered to Judge Johnston, of the same State, who it is supposed will accept it.
The President’s tour through the East has produced something like a political jubilee. They were in the land of steady habits, at least for the time, “all Federalists, all Republicans.” If the bondmen and bondwomen were not set free, and individual debts released, a general absolution of political sins seems to have been mutually agreed upon. Whether the parties will not relapse on the approach of their spring elections in Massachusetts can only be determined by the event.
In this world there seems to be nothing free from alloy. Whilst the President is lauded for the good he has done in the East by having softened party asperity and by the apparent reconciliation which for the moment seems to have been effected between materials the most heterogeneous, the restless, the carping, the malevolent men in the Ancient Dominion are ready to denounce him for his apparent acquiescence in the seeming man-worship with which he was venerated by the wise men of the East.
Seriously, I think the President has lost as much as he has gained by this tour, at least in popularity. In health, however, he seems to have been a great gainer.
The papers will give you the result of the Pennsylvania election of governor: it is not considered brilliant. Should that State fall into the hands of the Quids and Feds, De Witt Clinton enters the list this time three years with Mr. Monroe. The change is certainly possible.
Mr. Clay has spent the summer in the city with his family. It is said, and with an air of probability, that the City Gazette, which is now a daily paper, is to be under his control. If this is the fact, the Administration or some of its members must look out against squalls.
Whether the new Secretary of State is aware of the connection which Mr. Clay is supposed to have with this paper, I know not; but it is certainly a fact that he has given to the editor the publication of the laws. This measure may ward off the blow some time, if any was intended against him.
I presume Mr. Clay, if he has formed this connection, has not definitively arranged his mode of operation. His plan will probably be to assail the strongest as soon as he discovers him. Whether his shafts will be directed against Massachusetts or New York, or elsewhere, will depend upon circumstances yet to be developed.
I wish most sincerely that the present state of political feeling was less auspicious to this kind of adventure. We must, however, content ourselves with things as they are.
Mr. Clay has announced his determination to bring the recognition of the new state of Buenos Ayres before Congress. He will, I presume, connect his popularity with this question. Although it is strictly of an Executive nature, and seems hardly susceptible of being brought within the legislative competence of Congress, I believe the course contemplated by Mr. Clay will not be unacceptable to a part of the Cabinet at least. For myself, I would rather see the House of Representatives employed upon subjects which are strictly within their constitutional powers. That branch of the Legislature, when headed by turbulent and able men who are adverse to the Executive Magistrate, will be strongly impelled to trench upon the Executive powers.
I do not believe there is any danger of anything of this nature at this moment; but a precedent may be set on this occasion which may in the end do much mischief.
Present my respects to Mrs. Gallatin and the other members of your family, and believe me to be, most sincerely, your friend, &c.
JEFFERSON TO GALLATIN.
Monticello, February 15, 1818.
I take the liberty of putting under the protection of your cover a letter to Cardinal Dugnani at Rome, in the hope that through the nuncio resident at Paris it may find a sure conveyance to him. In return for this trouble I wish I could give you any news which would interest you, but, withdrawn entirely from all attention to public affairs, I neither know nor inquire what Congress are doing; you will probably know this better than myself from the newspapers, which I have ceased to read in a great degree. A single measure in my own State has interested me much. Our Legislature some time ago appropriated a fund of a million and a half of dollars to a system of general education. After two or three projects proposed and put by, I have ventured to offer one, which, although not adopted, is printed and published for general consideration, to be taken up at the next session. It provides an elementary school in every neighborhood of fifty or sixty families, a college for the languages, mensuration, navigation, and geography within a day’s ride of every man’s house, and a central university of the sciences for the whole State, of eight, ten, or twelve professors. But it has to encounter ignorance, malice, egotism, fanaticism, religious, political, and local perversities. In one piece of general information, which I am sure will give you pleasure, I can add mine to the testimony of your other correspondents. Federalism is substantially defunct. Opposition to the war, the Hartford Convention, the peace of Ghent, and the battle of Orleans have revolted the body of the people who called themselves Federalists against their leaders, and these have sunk into insignificance or acquiescence under the government. The most signal triumph is in Connecticut, where it was least and last expected. As some tub, however, must always be thrown out to the whale, and a religious one is fittest to recall the priesthood within their proper limits, the questions of Unity and Trinity are now set afloat in the Eastern States, and are occupying there all the vehemence of the genus irritabile vatum. This is food for the fools, amusement to the wise, and quiet to the patriot, while the light of the age will prevent danger from the flame it kindles. The contest, too, must issue in the triumph of common sense over the unintelligible jargon of Gothic fanaticism.
Ever and affectionately yours.
[1 ]None of Mr. Gallatin’s letters to Mr. Crawford have been recovered.