Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1819. - The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, vol. 4 (1794-1826)
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1819. - John Jay, The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, vol. 4 (1794-1826) 
The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, ed. Henry P. Johnston, A.M. (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890-93). Vol. 4 (1794-1826).
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JAY TO JUDGE PETERS.
Bedford, January 25, 1819.
I have read your letter of the 12th ult. more than once. Mutuality of friendly feelings always affords gratification; and the kindness which pervades your letter has made its proper impressions.
As you are in the seventy-fifth year of your age, and I in the seventy-fourth of mine, our leases have expired. We are holding over, and others will soon occupy our places. What to do, and where to go, would be perplexing questions, had not our beneficent Lessor offered us better and permanent habitations.
The death of an excellent daughter last spring was an afflicting event, and I feel it. Convinced that her happiness was augmented by it, I had no reason to grieve on her account. I derived consolation, as well as resignation, from reflecting that unerring wisdom had directed that dispensation, and that I was still blessed with the surviving children, who (like their sister) had never given me any other uneasiness than what had arisen from their sickness or afflictions.
Considering the times which have passed over us, I am glad you continued in office. Might not reports of some select cases decided in your court be useful? And would they not be more correctly prepared for the press by yourself than by others?
In my opinion, you did well to abstain from speculations. I thought so, and did so. It is, I believe, a just and not a new remark, that a proper education and proper habits, with a moderate share of property, form a better provision for a child, than that greater degree of wealth, which not infrequently leads the unexperienced to idleness and its results.
I have looked into the book which you had the goodness to send me, and for which I thank you. I have read the address, and the notices for a young farmer. They will do good. Although unable to attend much to my own agricultural affairs, yet books and conversation on such subjects entertain me. I wish I could give you a good account of my Tunisian sheep, but the dogs have put it out of my power. I regret the loss they caused; but I regret it less than another loss, which more nearly affects my convenience. I allude to the death of a favourite mare, which I had rode for twenty-three years with great satisfaction. She lately died suddenly and unexpectedly, in the twenty-ninth year of her age. She was the third in succession, which died in my service. The grandam was given to me by my father in 1765. That circumstance associated with various others in attaching me to them.
Agricultural societies are multiplying in this State. One has been formed in this county, and I am the nominal president; having only the will and not the ability to render active services. They have prepared a representation to the Legislature respecting agriculture, and the expediency of establishing an agricultural society for the whole State.
The traits of parsimonious and reluctant commendation observable in some of your British letters, give more intelligence than the writers meant to convey. As almost every vagrant leaf we pick up will inform us of the kind of tree which produced it, so these traits discover the feelings which originated them. It is a pity that such feelings should exist; but they are the offspring of human nature, which is not what it should be, nor what it once was. That Britons should reflect on our former and present state and condition, without regret, without mortification, and without apprehensions of rivalry and perhaps of danger, can hardly be expected. A doubt whether Britannia will always “rule the waves,” cannot have a welcome reception in her mind. Our rapid progress in trade, navigation, and the arts cannot correspond with her views and wishes. The strength resulting from our increasing resources and population recommends a kind of policy and a degree of accommodation not congenial with the temper and propensities of such a nation. Superiors seldom see with complacency inferiors rising towards equality, and by means which may not improbably carry them beyond it. There is, nevertheless, great worth in Britain.
I have not seen Dr. Franklin’s Life. As he concurred in the opinion of Count deVergennes, that we should proceed to treat for peace with Great Britain without a previous admission of our independence, he may, in his own mind, have acquitted the Count of the motives to which I ascribed his giving us that opinion; and also have considered his subsequent explanations on that and certain other topics as satisfactory. After my return in 1784, I was informed of the debate in Congress on the proposed resolution which you mention. In my opinion, Mr. Madison voted consistently. I omit explaining this at present, for it cannot be done in a few words. My letter to Congress respecting the negotiation contained a full and correct statement of facts. Many years have since elapsed, but my sentiments relative to the policy adopted by France on that occasion continue unaltered.
But it is time to conclude, and I will do it by thanking you for affording me so agreeable an occasion to assure you of the esteem and regard, with which I continue
JAY TO JOHN MURRAY, JUN.
Bedford, 27th February, 1819.
I thank you, my good friend, for the kind letter (without date) which my son lately delivered to me, and for the pamphlets which were enclosed with it.
The observations of your friend (inserted in your letter) are well written. I am pleased with the writer. He reasons with ability, and abstains from declamation. The lawfulness of the invasion and conquest of Canaan, being made by express Divine command, is indubitable. It does not decide the question, whether any wars, unless so commanded, are permitted by the moral law, and consequently by the gospel. Such wars occurred both before and after the time of Moses, and are recorded in Scripture without reproof. It does not appear that the war of Abraham against the kings was made by Divine command, nor that Jacob was commanded to take “out of the hand of the Amorite, with his sword and his bow,” the portion which he gave to Joseph; nor does it appear that the war of David against Hanun, and divers other wars, were so commanded.
That the theocracy admitted of no other wars by the Israelites but such as were expressly commanded by the Almighty, is not clear to me. Had Solomon been of that opinion, I think he could not with propriety have taught that “by counsel thou shalt make war; and in a multitude of counsellors there is safety. Every purpose is established by counsel; and with good advice make war.”
This, and other topics with which it is connected, open a wide field for investigation; but as the state of my health does not permit me to be more particular, I will only add that, when the arguments in favour of just and necessary war shall be shown to be fallacious, I shall not only think, but also act accordingly.
The extract from William Penn forms a useful tract; and among other reasons, because it declares that “the Scriptures were given forth by holy men of God in divers ages, as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” I observe that this great truth is also inculcated by the trustees of the African Free School in their address.
I did hope to have found in your letter some tidings respecting your brother. When you write to him, assure him of my esteem and regard; and be pleased to accept the like assurance from
JAY TO ELIAS BOUDINOT.
Bedford, 17th November, 1819.
I have received the copy of a circular letter which, as chairman of the committee appointed by the late public meeting at Trenton respecting slavery, you were pleased to direct to me on the 5th instant. Little can be added to what has been said and written on the subject of slavery. I concur in the opinion that it ought not to be introduced nor permitted in any of the new States; and that it ought to be gradually diminished and finally abolished in all of them.
To me the constitutional authority of the Congress to prohibit the migration and importation of slaves into any of the States, does not appear questionable. The first article of the constitution specifies the legislative powers committed to the Congress. The ninth section of that article has these words:
“The migration or importation of such persons as any of the now existing States shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year 1808. But a tax or duty may be imposed on such importations, not exceeding ten dollars for each person.”
I understand the sense and meaning of this clause to be, that the power of the Congress, although competent to prohibit such migration and importation, was not to be exercised with respect to the then existing States (and them only) until the year 1808; but that the Congress were at liberty to make such prohibition as to any new State, which might, in the mean time, be established, and further, that from and after that period, they were authorized to make such prohibition, as to all the States, whether new or old.
It will, I presume, be admitted, that slaves were the persons intended. The word slaves was avoided, probably on account of the existing toleration of slavery, and of its discordancy with the principles of the Revolution; and from a consciousness of its being repugnant to the following positions in the Declaration of Independence, viz.:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
As to my taking an active part in “organizing a plan of co-operation,” the state of my health has long been such as not to admit of it.
Be pleased to assure the committee of my best wishes for their success, and permit me to assure you of the esteem and regard with which I am, dear sir,
Your faithful and obedient servant,
JAY TO DANIEL RAYMOND.
Bedford, 21st December, 1819.
I received by the last mail the pamphlet on “The Missouri Question,” which you did me the favour to send.
The remarks and statements contained in it place the pernicious influence of slavery on the welfare of our country in conspicuous and impressive points of view.
The obvious dictates both of morality and policy teach us, that our free nation cannot encourage the extension of slavery, nor the multiplication of slaves, without doing violence to their principles, and without depressing their power and prosperity.
It appears to me desirable that your remarks and statements, as well as the excellent arguments of Mr. King, should be widely diffused; they will have a strong tendency to render public opinion on this very important subject correct and settled. Accept my acknowledgments for this mark of attention, and for the inducements which prompted it.
I am, sir,