Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1799 - to james madison. - The Works, vol. 9 (1799-1803)
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1799 - to james madison. - Thomas Jefferson, The Works, vol. 9 (1799-1803) 
The Works of Thomas Jefferson, Federal Edition (New York and London, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904-5). Vol. 9.
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to james madison.
Philadelphia Jan. 3, 99.
I have suffered the post hour to come so nearly on me, that I must huddle over what I have more than appears in the public papers. I arrived here on Christmas day, not a single bill or other article of business having yet been brought into Senate. The P’s speech, so unlike himself in point of moderation, is supposed to have been written by the military conclave, & particularly Hamilton. When the Senate gratuitously hint Logan to him, you see him in his reply come out in his genuine colors. The debates on that subject & Logan’s declaration you will see in the papers. The republican spirit is supposed to be gaining ground in this State & Massachusetts. The tax gatherer has already excited discontent. Gerry’s correspondence with Taleyrand, promised by the Presidt at the opening of the session, is still kept back. It is known to shew France in a very conciliatory attitude, and to contradict some executive assertions. Therefore, it is supposed they will get their war measures well taken before they will produce this damper. Vans Murray writes them, that the French government is sincere in their overtures for reconciliation, & have agreed, if these fail, to admit the mediation offered by the Dutch govnt. In the mean time the raising the army is to go on, & it is said they propose to build twelve 74’s. Insurance is now higher in all the commercial towns against British than French capture. The impressment of seamen from one of our armed vessels by a British man of war has occasioned mr. Pickering to bristle up it is said. But this cannot proceed to any effect. The capture by the French of the Retaliation (an armed vessel we had taken from them) will probably be played off to the best advantage. Lyon is re-elected. His majority is great. Reports vary from 600. to 900. Logan was elected into the Pensylva. legislature against F. A. Muhlenburg by 1256 to 769. Livermore has been re-elected in N. Hampshire by a majority of 1. in the lower & 2. in the upper house.
Genl Knox has become bankrupt for 400,000 D, & has resigned his military commission. He took in Genl Lincoln for 150,000 D, which breaks him. Colo Jackson also sunk with him. It seems generally admitted, that several cases of the yellow fever still exist in the city, and the apprehension is, that it will re-appear early in the spring. You promised me a copy of McGee’s bill of prices. Be so good as to send it on to me here. Tell mrs. Madison her friend Made d’Yrujo, is as well as one can be so near to a formidable crisis. Present my friendly respects to her, and accept yourself my sincere & affectionate salutations. Adieu.
I omitted to mention that a petition has been presented to the President, signed by several thousand persons in Vermont, praying a remitment of Lyon’s fine. He asked the bearer of the petition if Lyon himself had petitioned, and being answered in the negative, said, “penitence must precede pardon.”
to james monroe
Philadelphia Jan. 3. 99.
— Dr. Bache having determined to remove to our neighborhood, informs me he has written to you to purchase lands for him. A day or two before I left home mrs. Key sent me a message that the lands on which she lives & her son Walter’s were for sale. I therefore inclose you a letter to her, informg. her that I have communicated it to the gentleman here whom I had under contemplation when I spoke to her & that he has authorized me to act for him. The object of this is to prevent her supposing that your application will be in competition with mine. You know that Carter’s land adjoining Moore’s Creek is for sale. As it is not probable any body will sell & deliver instant possession, so as to enable Dr. Bache at once to seat himself on his own farm, I imagine the first object will be the procuring a house for him. The one in Charlotteville which Chiles is building is the only one which has occurred to me: & as Dr. Bache proposes moving next month, it may be well to leave the ultimate purchase of a farm to be fixed on by himself. If you could get Carter, Catlett & Key to fix each their lowest terms, they might offer in Competition against one another. I wish you could also provide for Baynham. Genl. Knox is broke for 400.000 D. and has resigned his military commission. He has broke also Genl. Lincoln and his friend Colo. Jackson. What has passed on the subject of Logan you see in the newspapers. The county of Philadelphia has chosen him their representative in assembly by 1256. against 769. in favor of Muhlenburg. Lyon is rechosen in Vermont by a vast majority. It seems agreed that the republican sentiment is gaining ground fast in this state & in Massachusetts. My respects to mrs. Monroe. Adieu.
to james madison
Philadelphia Jan. 16, 99.
The forgery lately attempted to be plaid off by mr. H. on the house of representatives, of a pretended memorial presented by Logan to the French government, has been so palpably exposed, as to have thrown ridicule on the whole of the clamors they endeavored to raise as to that transaction. Still, however, their majority will pass the bill. The real views in the importance they have given to Logan’s enterprise are mistaken by nobody. Mr. Gerry’s communications relative to his transactions after the departure of his colleagues, tho’ he has now been returned 5. months, & they have been promised to the house 6. or 7. weeks, are still kept back. In the meantime, the paper of this morning promises them from the Paris papers. It is said, they leave not a possibility to doubt the sincerity & the anxiety of the French government to avoid the spectacle of a war with us. Notwithstanding this is well understood, the army & a great addition to our navy, are steadily intended. A loan of 5. millions is opened at 8. per cent. interest! In a rough way we may state future expences thus annually. Navy 5½ millions (exclusive of it’s outfit) army (14,000 men) 6½ millions, interest of national debt (I believe) about 4. millions, interest of the new loan 400,000. Which with the expences of government will make an aggregate of about 18,000,000. All our taxes this year have brought in about 10½ millions, to which the direct tax will add 2. millions, leaving a deficit of between 5 & 6. millions. Still no addition to the taxes will be ventured on at this session. It is pretty evident from the proceedings to get at the measure & number of windows in our houses that a tax on air & light is meditated, but I suppose not till the next session. The bankrupt bill was yesterday rejected by a majority of three. The determinations of the British commissioners under the treaty (who are 3. against 2. of ours) are so extravagant, that about 3. days ago ours protested & seceded. It was said yesterday they had come together again. The demands which will be allowed on the principles of the British majority will amount to from 15. to 20. millions of Dollars. It is not believed that our government will submit to it, & consequently that this must again become a subject for negociation. It is very evident the British are using that part of the treaty merely as a political engine. Notwithstanding the pretensions of the papers of the danger & destruction of Buonaparte, nothing of that is believed. It seems probable that he will establish himself in Egypt, & that that is, at present at least, his ultimate object. Ireland also is considered as more organized in her insurrection and stronger than she has been hitherto. As yet no tobacco has come to this market. At New York the new tobo is at 13. D. Georgia has sent on a greater quantity than had been imagined, & so improved in quality as to take the place of that of Maryland & the Carolines. It is at 11. D. while they are about 10. Immense sums of money now go to Virginia. Every stage is loaded. This is partly to pay for last year’s purchases, & partly for the new.
In a society of members, between whom & yourself is great mutual esteem & respect, a most anxious desire is expressed that you would publish your debates of the Convention. That these measures of the army, navy & direct tax will bring about a revulsion of public sentiment is thought certain, & that the constitution will then receive a different explanation. Could those debates be ready to appear critically, their effect would be decisive. I beg of you to turn this subject in your mind. The arguments against it will be personal; those in favor of it moral; and something is required from you as a set off against the sin of your retirement. Your favor of Dec 29 came to hand Jan 5; seal sound. I pray you always to examine the seals of mine to you, & the strength of the impression. The suspicions against the government on this subject are strong. I wrote you Jan 5. Accept for yourself & mrs. Madison my affectionate salutations. & Adieu.
to james monroe
Jan 23, 99.
—The newspapers furnish you with the articles of common news as well as the Congressional. You observe the addition proposed to be made to our navy, and the loan of 5. millions, opened at 8. percent., to equip it The papers say that our agents abroad are purchasing vessels for this purpose. The following is as accurate a statement of our income & expence annual, as I can form, after divesting the treasury reports of such articles as are incidental & properly annual:
By this you will perceive that our income for 1799, being 10. millions, and expences 9. millions, we have a surplus of 1. million, which, with the 5. millions to be borrowed, it is expected, will build the navy & raise the army. When they are complete, we shall have to raise by new taxes about 5. millions more, making in the whole 15. millions, which if our population be 5. millions, will be 3. dollars a head. But these additional taxes will not be wanting, till the session after next. The majority in Congress being as in the last session matters will go on now as then. I shall send you Gerry’s correspondence and Pickering’s report on it, by which you will perceive the unwillingness of France to break with us, and our determination not to believe it, & therefore to go to war with them. For in this light must be viewed our surrounding their islands with our armed vessels instead of their cruising on our coasts as the law directs.
According to information, there is real reason to believe that the X. Y. Z. delusion is wearing off, and the public mind beginning to take the same direction it was getting into before that maneuvre. Gerry’s dispatches will tend strongly to open the eyes of the people. Besides this several other impressive circumstances will all be bearing on the public mind. The alien & sedition laws as before, the direct tax, the additional army & navy, an usurious loan to set those follies on foot, a prospect of heavy additional taxes as soon as they are completed, still heavier taxes if the government forces on the war, recruiting officers lounging at every court-house and decoying the laborer from his plough. A clause in a bill now under debate for opening commerce with Toussaint & his black subjects now in open rebellion against France, will be a circumstance of high aggravation to that country, and in addition to our cruising round their islands will put their patience to a great proof. One fortunate circumstance is that, annihilated as they are on the ocean, they cannot get at us for some time, and this will give room for the popular sentiment to correct the imprudence. Nothing is believed of the stories about Buonaparte. Those about Ireland have a more serious aspect. I delivered the letter from you of which I was the bearer. No use was made of the paper, because that poor creature had already fallen too low even for contempt. It seems that the representative of our district is attached to his seat. Mr. Beckley tells me you have the collection of a sum of money for him, which is destined for me. What is the prospect of getting it, & how much. I do not know whether I have before informed you that mr. Madison paid to mr. Barnes 240. or 250. D in your name to be placed to your credit with mr. Short, I consequently squared that account, & debited you to myself for the balance. This with another article or two of account between us, stands therefore against the books for which I am indebted to you, & of which I know not the cost. A very important measure is under contemplation here, which, if adopted, will require a considerable sum of money on loan. The thing being beyond the abilities of those present, they will possibly be obliged to assess their friends also. I may perhaps be forced to score you for 50. or 100. D, to be paid at convenience, but as yet it is only talked of. I shall rest my justification on the importance of the measure, and the sentiments I know you entertain on such subjects. We consider the elections on the whole as rather in our favor, & particularly believe those of N Caroline will immediately come right. J. Nicholas & Brent, both offer again. My friendly respects to mrs. Monroe, & to yourself affectionate salutations & adieu.
P. S. I shall seldom write to you, on account of the strong suspicions of infidelity in the post offices. Always examine the seal before you open my letters, & note whether the impression is distinct.
to john taylor
Philadelphia Jan. 24. 99.
—Mr. Tazewell died about noon this day after an illness of about 36. hours. On this event, so melancholy for his family and friends, the loss to the public of so faithful and able a servant no reflections can be adequate.
The object of this letter (and which I beseech you to mention as from me to no mortal) is the replacement of him by the legislature. Many points in Monro’s character would render him the most valuable acquisition the republican interest in this legislature could make. There is no chance of bringing him into the other house as some had wished, because the present representative of his district will not retire. I salute you affectionately.
to john page
Philadelphia Jan. 24. 99.
My dear friend,
—I enclose you a copy of Gerry’s correspondence after his companions left him, and of Mr. Pickering’s commentary on it. You will see reason to suspect (especially after what the papers say of a British alliance) that the Executive has taken some step on the presumption that France would declare war. To support which it is necessary to have it believed she will still make war. Yesterday they voted in the H. of R. by a majority of 20. to retain a clause in a bill opening commerce with Toussaint, now in rebellion against France. This circumstance with the stationing our armed vessels round the French islands will probably be more than the Directory will bear. In the meantime you observe that the raising the additional army, and building a great additional navy are steadily proposed; and as these will require a great immediate supply of money, a loan of 5. millions is opened at the usurious interest of 8. per cent for fear that an immediate addition of that to our taxes should blow up the whole object. The following is a statement (in round numbers) of our annual income & expenditure divested of those articles of the Treasury report which are accidentals.
It is said however that the deficit of 5. millions, need not be added to our annual taxes for a year or two. These subjects compared with Gerry’s explicit assurance that France is sincere in wishing to avoid war with us, that she does not desire a breach of the British treaty but only to be put on an equal foot, and that a liberal treaty might have been had, I leave to your own reflections. I am told that if you will exert yourself you may be elected to the next Congress. Pray my dear Sir, leave nothing undone to effect it. We gain on the whole by the new elections, & if those of Virginia are uniform we shall have a majority. Two years more of such measures as we have had lately will ruin us beyond recovery. Never did so important a public duty rest on you before. For even a single vote will decide the majority. It is truly a case of moral duty, and I know your conscience will not be insensible to it, if you will indulge its suggestions. I write my friends seldom because of the suspected infidelity of the post office. Present me respectfully to mrs. Page & accept assurances of great and unaltered affection from dear Sir Yours sincerely.
to elbridge gerry
Philadelphia Jan 26. 1799.
My Dear Sir,
—Your favor of Nov. 12 was safely delivered to me by mr. Binney, but not till Dec. 28, as I arrived here only three days before that date. It was received with great satisfaction. Our very long intimacy as fellow-laborers in the same cause, the recent expressions of mutual confidence which had preceded your mission, the interesting course which that had taken, & particularly & personally as it regarded yourself, made me anxious to hear from you on your return. I was the more so too, as I had myself during the whole of your absence, as well as since your return, been a constant butt for every shaft of calumny which malice & falsehood could form, & the presses, public speakers, or private letters disseminate. One of these, too, was of a nature to touch yourself; as if, wanting confidence in your efforts, I had been capable of usurping powers committed to you, & authorizing negociations private & collateral to yours. The real truth is, that though Dr Logan, the pretended missionary, about 4. or 5. days before he sailed for Hamburgh, told me he was going there, & thence to Paris, & asked & received from me a certificate of his citizenship, character, & circumstances of life, merely as a protection, should he be molested on his journey, in the present turbulent & suspicious state of Europe, yet I had been led to consider his object as relative to his private affairs; and tho’, from an intimacy of some standing, he knew well my wishes for peace and my political sentiments in general, he nevertheless received then no particular declaration of them, no authority to communicate them to any mortal, nor to speak to any one in my name, or in anybody’s name, on that, or on any other subject whatever; nor did I write by him a scrip of a pen to any person whatever. This he has himself honestly & publicly declared since his return; & from his well-known character & every other circumstance, every candid man must perceive that his enterprise was dictated by his own enthusiasm, without consultation or communication with any one; that he acted in Paris on his own ground, & made his own way. Yet to give some color to his proceedings, which might implicate the republicans in general, & myself particularly, they have not been ashamed to bring forward a suppositious paper, drawn by one of their own party in the name of Logan, and falsely pretended to have been presented by him to the government of France; counting that the bare mention of my name therein, would connect that in the eye of the public with this transaction. In confutation of these and all future calumnies, by way of anticipation, I shall make to you a profession of my political faith; in confidence that you will consider every future imputation on me of a contrary complexion, as bearing on its front the mark of falsehood & calumny.
I do then, with sincere zeal, wish an inviolable preservation of our present federal constitution, according to the true sense in which it was adopted by the States, that in which it was advocated by it’s friends, & not that which it’s enemies apprehended, who therefore became it’s enemies; and I am opposed to the monarchising it’s features by the forms of it’s administration, with a view to conciliate a first transition to a President & Senate for life, & from that to a hereditary tenure of these offices, & thus to worm out the elective principle. I am for preserving to the States the powers not yielded by them to the Union, & to the legislature of the Union it’s constitutional share in the division of powers; and I am not for transferring all the powers of the States to the general government, & all those of that government to the Executive branch. I am for a government rigorously frugal & simple, applying all the possible savings of the public revenue to the discharge of the national debt; and not for a multiplication of officers & salaries merely to make partisans, & for increasing, by every device, the public debt, on the principle of it’s being a public blessing. I am for relying, for internal defence, on our militia solely, till actual invasion, and for such a naval force only as may protect our coasts and harbors from such depredations as we have experienced; and not for a standing army in time of peace, which may overawe the public sentiment; nor for a navy, which, by it’s own expenses and the eternal wars in which it will implicate us, grind us with public burthens, & sink us under them. I am for free commerce with all nations; political connection with none; & little or no diplomatic establishment. And I am not for linking ourselves by new treaties with the quarrels of Europe; entering that field of slaughter to preserve their balance, or joining in the confederacy of kings to war against the principles of liberty. I am for freedom of religion, & against all maneuvres to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another: for freedom of the press, & against all violations of the constitution to silence by force & not by reason the complaints or criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of their agents. And I am for encouraging the progress of science in all it’s branches; and not for raising a hue and cry against the sacred name of philosophy; for awing the human mind by stories of raw-head & bloody bones to a distrust of its own vision, & to repose implicitly on that of others; to go backwards instead of forwards to look for improvement; to believe that government, religion, morality, & every other science were in the highest perfection in ages of the darkest ignorance, and that nothing can ever be devised more perfect than what was established by our forefathers. To these I will add, that I was a sincere well-wisher to the success of the French revolution, and still wish it may end in the establishment of a free & well-ordered republic; but I have not been insensible under the atrocious depredations they have committed on our commerce. The first object of my heart is my own country. In that is embarked my family, my fortune, & my own existence. I have not one farthing of interest, nor one fibre of attachment out of it, nor a single motive of preference of any one nation to another, but in proportion as they are more or less friendly to us. But though deeply feeling the injuries of France, I did not think war the surest means of redressing them. I did believe, that a mission sincerely disposed to preserve peace, would obtain for us a peaceable & honorable settlement & retribution; and I appeal to you to say, whether this might not have been obtained, if either of your colleagues had been of the same sentiment with yourself.
These, my friend, are my principles; they are unquestionably the principles of the great body of our fellow citizens, and I know there is not one of them which is not yours also. In truth, we never differed but on one ground, the funding system; and as, from the moment of it’s being adopted by the constituted authorities, I became religiously principled in the sacred discharge of it to the uttermost farthing, we are united now even on that single ground of difference.
I turn now to your inquiries. The enclosed paper1 will answer one of them. But you also ask for such political information as may be possessed by me, & interesting to yourself in regard to your embassy. As a proof of my entire confidence in you, I shall give it fully & candidly. When Pinckney, Marshall, and Dana, were nominated to settle our differences with France, it was suspected by many, from what was understood of their dispositions, that their mission would not result in a settlement of differences, but would produce circumstances tending to widen the breach, and to provoke our citizens to consent to a war with that nation, & union with England. Dana’s resignation & your appointment gave the first gleam of hope of a peaceable issue to the mission. For it was believed that you were sincerely disposed to accommodation; & it was not long after your arrival there, before symptoms were observed of that difference of views which had been suspected to exist. In the meantime, however, the aspect of our government towards the French republic had become so ardent, that the people of America generally took the alarm. To the southward their apprehensions were early excited. In the Eastern States also, they at length began to break out. Meetings were held in many of your towns, & addresses to the government agreed on in opposition to war. The example was spreading like a wildfire. Other meetings were called in other places, & a general concurrence of sentiment against the apparent inclinations of the government was imminent; when, most critically for the government, the despatches of Octr 22, prepared by your colleague Marshall, with a view to their being made public, dropped into their laps. It was truly a God-send to them, & they made the most of it. Many thousands of copies were printed & dispersed gratis, at the public expence; & the zealots for war co-operated so heartily, that there were instances of single individuals who printed & dispersed 10. or 12,000 copies at their own expence. The odiousness of the corruption supposed in those papers excited a general & high indignation among the people. Unexperienced in such maneuvres, they did not permit themselves even to suspect that the turpitude of private swindlers might mingle itself unobserved, & give it’s own hue to the communications of the French government, of whose participation there was neither proof nor probability. It served, however, for a time, the purpose intended. The people, in many places, gave a loose to the expressions of their warm indignation, & of their honest preference of war to dishonor. The fever was long & successfully kept up, and in the meantime, war measures as ardently crowded. Still, however, as it was known that your colleagues were coming away, and yourself to stay, though disclaiming a separate power to conclude a treaty, it was hoped by the lovers of peace, that a project of treaty would have been prepared, ad referendum, on principles which would have satisfied our citizens, & overawed any bias of the government towards a different policy. But the expedition of the Sophia, and, as was supposed, the suggestions of the person charged with your despatches, & his probable misrepresentations of the real wishes of the American people, prevented these hopes. They had then only to look forward to your return for such information. either through the Executive, or from yourself, as might present to our view the other side of the medal. The despatches of Oct 22, 97, had presented one face. That information, to a certain degree, is now received, & the public will see from your correspondence with Taleyrand, that France, as you testify, “was sincere and anxious to obtain a reconciliation, not wishing us to break the British treaty, but only to give her equivalent stipulations; and in general was disposed to a liberal treaty.” And they will judge whether mr. Pickering’s report shews an inflexible determination to believe no declarations the French government can make, nor any opinion which you, judging on the spot & from actual view, can give of their sincerity, and to meet their designs of peace with operations of war. The alien & sedition acts have already operated in the South as powerful sedatives of the X. Y. Z. inflammation. In your quarter, where violations of principle are either less regarded or more concealed, the direct tax is likely to have the same effect, & to excite inquiries into the object of the enormous expences & taxes we are bringing on. And your information supervening, that we might have a liberal accommodation if we would, there can be little doubt of the reproduction of that general movement, by the despatches of Oct. 22. And tho’ small checks & stops, like Logan’s pretended embassy, may be thrown in the way from time to time, & may a little retard it’s motion, yet the tide is already turned, and will sweep before it all the feeble obstacles of art. The unquestionable republicanism of the American mind will break through the mist under which it has been clouded, and will oblige it’s agents to reform the principles & practices of their administration.
You suppose that you have been abused by both parties. As far as has come to my knowledge, you are misinformed. I have never seen or heard a sentence of blame uttered against you by the republicans; unless we were so to construe their wishes that you had more boldly co-operated in a project of a treaty, and would more explicitly state, whether there was in your colleagues that flexibility, which persons earnest after peace would have practised? Whether, on the contrary, their demeanor was not cold, reserved, and distant, at least, if not backward? And whether, if they had yielded to those informal conferences which Taleyrand seems to have courted, the liberal accommodation you suppose might not have been effected, even with their agency? Your fellow-citizens think they have a right to full information, in a case of such great concern to them. It is their sweat which is to earn all the expences of the war, and their blood which is to flow in expiation of the causes of it. It may be in your power to save them from these miseries by full communications and unrestrained details, postponing motives of delicacy to those of duty. It rests for you to come forward independently; to take your stand on the high ground of your own character; to disregard calumny, and to be borne above it on the shoulders of your grateful fellow citizens; or to sink into the humble oblivion, to which the Federalists (self-called) have secretly condemned you; and even to be happy if they will indulge you with oblivion, while they have beamed on your colleagues meridian splendor. Pardon me, my dear Sir, if my expressions are strong. My feelings are so much more so, that it is with difficulty I reduce them even to the tone I use. If you doubt the dispositions towards you, look into the papers, on both sides, for the toasts which were given throughout the States on the 4th of July. You will there see whose hearts were with you, and whose were ulcerated against you. Indeed, as soon as it was known that you had consented to stay in Paris, there was no measure observed in the execrations of the war party. They openly wished you might be guillotined, or sent to Cayenne, or anything else. And these expressions were finally stifled from a principle of policy only, & to prevent you from being urged to a justification of yourself. From this principle alone proceed the silence and cold respect they observe towards you. Still, they cannot prevent at times the flames bursting from under the embers, as mr. Pickering’s letters, report, & conversations testify, as well as the indecent expressions respecting you, indulged by some of them in the debate on these despatches. These sufficiently show that you are never more to be honored or trusted by them, and that they await to crush you for ever, only till they can do it without danger to themselves.
When I sat down to answer your letter, but two courses presented themselves, either to say nothing or everything; for half confidences are not in my character. I could not hesitate which was due to you. I have unbosomed myself fully; & it will certainly be highly gratifying if I receive like confidence from you. For even if we differ in principle more than I believe we do, you & I know too well the texture of the human mind, & the slipperiness of human reason, to consider differences of opinion otherwise than differences of form or feature. Integrity of views more than their soundness, is the basis of esteem. I shall follow your direction in conveying this by a private hand; tho’ I know not as yet when one worthy of confidence will occur. And my trust in you leaves me without a fear that this letter, meant as a confidential communication of my impressions, will ever go out of your hand, or be suffered in anywise to commit my name. Indeed, besides the accidents which might happen to it even under your care, considering the accident of death to which you are liable, I think it safest to pray you, after reading it as often as you please, to destroy at least the 2d & 3d leaves. The 1st contains principles only, which I fear not to avow; but the 2d & 3d contain facts stated for your information, and which, though sacredly conformable to my firm belief, yet would be galling to some, & expose me to illiberal attacks. I therefore repeat my prayer to burn the 2d & 3d leaves. And did we ever expect to see the day, when, breathing nothing but sentiments of love to our country & it’s freedom & happiness, our correspondence must be as secret as if we were hatching it’s destruction! Adieu, my friend, and accept my sincere & affectionate salutations. I need not add my signature.
to edmund pendleton
Philadelphia Jan. 29, 99.
—Your patriarchal address to your county is running through all the republican papers, and has a very great effect on the people. It is short, simple, and presents things in a view they readily comprehend. The character & circumstances too of the writer leave them without doubts of his motives. If, like the patriarch of old, you had but one blessing to give us, I should have wished it directed to a particular object. But I hope you have one for this also. You know what a wicked use has been made of the French negociation; and particularly the X. Y. Z. dish cooked up by Marshall, where the swindlers are made to appear as the French government. Art and industry combined, have certainly wrought out of this business a wonderful effect on the people. Yet they have been astonished more than they have understood it, and now that Gerry’s comes out, clearing the French government of that turpitude, & shewing them “sincere in their dispositions for peace, not wishing us to break the British treaty, and willing to arrange a liberal one with us,” the people will be disposed to suspect they have been duped. But these communications are too voluminous for them, and beyond their reach. A recapitulation is now wanting of the whole story, stating every thing according to what we may now suppose to have been the truth, short, simple, & levelled to every capacity. Nobody in America can do it so well as yourself, in the same character of the father of your county, or any form you like better, and so concise, as omitting nothing material, may yet be printed in hand bills, of which we could print & disperse 10. or 20,000. copies under letter covers, through all the U. S, by the members of Congress when they return home. If the understanding of the people could be rallied to the truth on this subject, by exposing the dupery practised on them, there are so many other things about to bear on them favorably for the resurrection of their republican spirit, that a reduction of the administration to constitutional principles cannot fail to be the effect. These are the Alien & Sedition laws, the vexations of the stamp act, the disgusting particularities of the direct tax, the additional army without an enemy, & recruiting officers lounging at every court house, a navy of 50. ships, 5. millions to be raised to build it, on the usurious interest of 8. per cent., the perseverance in war on our part, when the French government shows such an anxious desire to keep at peace with us, taxes of 10. millions now paid by 4. millions of people, and yet a necessity, in a year or two, of raising 5. millions more for annual expences. These things will immediately be bearing on the public mind, and if it remain not still blinded by a supposed necessity, for the purpose of maintaining our independence & defending our country, they will set things to rights, I hope you will undertake this statement. If anybody else had possessed your happy talent for this kind of recapitulation, I would have been the last to disturb you with the application; but it will really be rendering our country a service greater than it is in the power of any other individual to render. To save you the trouble of hunting the several documents from which this statement is to be taken, I have collected them here compleatly, and enclose them to you.
Logan’s bill has passed. On this subject, it is hardly necessary for me to declare to you, on everything sacred, that the part they ascribed to me was entirely a calumny. Logan called on me 4. or 5. days before his departure, & asked & received a certificate (in my private capacity) of his citizenship & circumstances of life, merely as a protection, should he be molested in the present turbulent state of Europe. I have given such to an hundred others, & they have been much more frequently asked & obtained by tories than whigs. I did not write a scrip of a pen by him to any person. From long acquaintance he knew my wishes for peace & my political sentiments generally, but he received no particular declaration of them then nor one word of authority to speak in my name, or anybody’s name on that or any other subject. It was an enterprise founded in the enthusiasm of his own character. He went on his own ground & made his own way. His object was virtuous, and the effect meritorious.
to james madison
Jan 30, 99.
My last to you was of the 16th, since which yours of the 12th is received, and it’s contents disposed of properly. These met such approbation as to have occasioned an extraordinary impression of that day’s paper. Logan’s bill is passed. The lower house, by a majority of 20. passed yesterday a bill continuing the suspension of intercourse with France, with a new clause enabling the President to admit intercourse with the rebellious negroes under Toussaint, who has an agent here, and has thrown off dependence on France. The H of R have also voted 6. 74’s & 6. 18’s, in part of the additional navy, say 552 guns, which in England would cost 5,000 D, & here 10,000, consequently more than the whole 5. millions for which a loan is now opened at 8. per cent. The maintenance is estimated at £1,000 (lawful) a gun annually. A bill has been this day brought into the Senate for authorizing the Pt in case of a declaration of war or danger of invasion by any European power to raise an eventual army of 30. regiments, infantry, cavalry, & artillery in addition to the additional army, the provisional army, & the corps of volunteers, which last he is authorized to brigade, officer, exercise, & pay during the time of exercise. And all this notwithstanding Gerry’s correspondence recently received, & demonstrating the aversion of France to consider us as enemies. All depends on her patiently standing the measures of the present session, and the surrounding her islands with our cruisers, & capturing their armed vessels on her own coasts. If this is borne awhile, the public opinion is most manifestly wavering in the middle States, & was even before the publication of Gerry’s correspondence. In New York, Jersey, & Pennsylvania, every one attests them, and Genl Sumpter, just arrived, assures me that the republicans in S C have gained 50. per cent. in numbers since the election, which was in the moment of the X. Y. Z. fever. I believe there is no doubt the republican governor would be elected here now, & still less for next October. The gentlemen of N C seem to be satisfied that their new delegation will furnish but 3. perhaps only 2. anti-republicans; if so, we shall be gainers on the whole. But it is on the progress of public opinion we are to depend for rectifying the proceedings of the next Congress. The only question is whether this will not carry things beyond the reach of rectification. Petitions & remonstrances against the alien & sedition laws are coming from various parts of N Y, Jersey, & Pensyva: some of them very well drawn. I am in hopes Virginia will stand so countenanced by those States as to repress the wishes of the government to coerce her, which they might venture on if they supposed she would be left alone. Firmness on our part, but a passive firmness, is the true course. Anything rash or threatening might check the favorable dispositions of these middle States, & rally them again around the measures which are ruining us. Buonaparte appears to have settled Egypt peacefully, & with the consent of those inhabitants, & seems to be looking towards the E. Indies, where a most formidable co-operation has been prepared for demolishing the British power. I wish the affairs of Ireland were as hopeful, and the peace with the north of Europe. Nothing new here as to the price of tobo, the river not having yet admitted the bringing any to this market. Spain being entirely open to ours, & depending on it for her supplies during the cutting off of her intercourse with her own colonies by the superiority of the British at sea, is much in our favor. I forgot to add that the bill for the eventual army, authorizes the President to borrow 2. millions more. Present my best respects to mrs. Madison, health & affectionate salutations to yourself. Adieu.
to james madison
Philadelphia Feb 5, 99.
I wrote you last on the 30th of Jan; since which yours of the 25th is received.
At the date of my letter I had only heard the bill for the eventual army read once. I conceived it additional to the Provisional army &c. I must correct the error. The bill for the provisional army (about 10,000 men) expires this session without having been carried into execution. The eventual army (about 30,000) is a substitute. I say about 30,000 because some calculate the new establishment of a regiment we are now passing to a little over, & some a little under 1,000 officers & privates. The whole land army contemplated is the existing army 5000. The additional army 9000. The eventual army 30,000. And the volunteer army, the amount of which is not known. But besides that it is 44,000 men, and nobody pretends to say that there is from any quarter the least real danger of invasion. These may surely be set down at 500 dollars per annum a man though they pretend that the existing army costs but 300. The reason of that is that there are not actually above 3000 of them, the 5,000 being merely on paper.
The bill for continuing the suspension of intercourse with France & her dependencies, is still before the Senate, but will pass by a very great vote. An attack is made on what is called Toussaint’s clause, the object of which, as is charged by the one party and admitted by the other, is to facilitate the separation of the island from France. The clause will pass however, by about 19. to 8., or perhaps 18. to 9. Rigaud, at the head of the people of color, maintains his allegiance. But they are only 25,000 souls, against 500,000, the number of the blacks. The treaty made with them by Maitland is (if they are to be separated from France) the best thing for us. They must get their provisions from us. It will indeed be in English bottoms, so that we shall lose the carriage. But the English will probably forbid them the ocean, confine them to their island, & thus prevent their becoming an American Algiers. It must be admitted too, that they may play them off on us when they please. Against this there is no remedy but timely measures on our part, to clear ourselves, by degrees, of the matter on which that lever can work.
The opposition to Livermore was not republican. I have however seen letters from New Hampshire from which it appears that the public sentiment there is no longer progressive in any direction, but that at present it is dead water. That during the whole of their late session not a word has been heard of Jacobinism, disorganization &c. No reproach of any kind cast on the republicans, that there has been a general complaint among the members that they could hear but one side of the question, and the great anxiety to obtain a paper or papers which would put them in possession of both sides. From Massachusetts & R. I. I have no information. Connecticut remains riveted in her political & religious bigotry. Baldwin is elected by the legislature of Georgia a Senator for 6. Years in the room of Tatnall, whose want of firmness had produced the effect of a change of sides. We have had no report of Yard’s being dead. He is certainly living.
A piece published in Bache’s paper on foreign influence, has had the greatest currency & effect. To an extraordinary first impression, they have been obliged to make a second, & of an extraordinary number. It is such things as these the public want. They say so from all quarters, and that they wish to hear reason instead of disgusting blackguardism. The public sentiment being now on the screen, and many heavy circumstances about to fall into the republican scale, we are sensible that this summer is the season for systematic energies & sacrifices. The engine is the press. Every man must lay his purse & his pen under contribution. As to the former, it is possible I may be obliged to assume something for you. As to the latter, let me pray & beseech you to set apart a certain portion of every post day to write what may be proper for the public. Send it to me while here, & when I go away I will let you know to whom you may send, so that your name shall be sacredly secret. You can render such incalculable services in this way, as to lessen the effect of our loss of your presence here. I shall see you on the 5th or 6th of March. Affectionate salutations to mrs. Madison & yourself. Adieu.
to james monroe
Philadelphia Feb. 11, 99.
I wrote you last on the 23d of Jan, since which yours of Jan 26 is received. A bill will pass the Senate to day for enabling the President to retaliate rigorously on any French citizens who are now or hereafter may be in our power, should they put to death any sailors of ours forced on board British vessels & taken by the French. This is founded expressly on their arret of Oct 29, 98, communicated by the President by message. It is known (from the Secretary of state himself) that he received, immediately after, a letter from Rufus King informing him the arret was suspended, and tho’ it has been known a week that we were passing a retaliating act founded expressly on that arret, yet the President has not communicated it, and the supporters of the bill, who themselves told the secret of the suspension in debate, (for it was otherwise unknown), will yet pass the bill. We have already an existing army of 5,000 men, & the additional army of 9,000 now going into execution. We have a bill on its progress through Senate for authorizing the presdt to raise 30. regiments (30,000 men) called an eventual army, in case of war with any European power, or of imminent danger of invasion from them in his opinion. And also to call out & exercise at times the volunteer army, the number of which we know not. 6. 74’s & 6. 18’s making up 550. guns (in part of the fleet of 12. 74’s, 12. frigates, and 20. or 30. smaller vessels proposed to be built or bought as soon as we can), are now to be begun. One million of dollars is voted. The government estimate of their cost is about 4,500. D (£1000 sterl) a gun. But there cannot be a doubt they will cost 10,000 D. a gun, & consequently the 550. guns will be 5½ millions. A loan is now opened for 5. millions at 8. per cent., & the eventual army bill authorizes another of 2. millions. King is appointed to negociate a treaty of commerce with Russia, in London. Phocion Smith is proposed to go to Constantinople to make a treaty with the Turks. Under two other covers you will receive a copy of the French originals of Gerry’s communicns for yourself, and a doz. of G. N’s pamphlets on the laws of the last session. I wish you to give these to the most influential characters among our country-men, who are only misled, are candid enough to be open to conviction, & who may have most effect on their neighbors. It would be useless to give them to persons already sound. Do not let my name be connected with the business. It is agreed on all hands that the British depredations have greatly exceeded the French during the last 6. months. The insurance companies at Boston, this place & Baltimore, prove this from their books. I have not heard how it is at N. Y. The Senate struck out the bill continuing the suspension of intercourse with France, the clauses which authorized the P to do it with certain other countries (say Spanish & Dutch), which clauses had passed the H of R by a majority of, I believe, 20. They agreed, however, to the amendment of the Senate. But Toussaint’s clause was retained by both Houses. Adieu affectionately.
Feb. 12th. The vessel called the Retaliation, formerly French property taken by us, armed & sent to cruise on them, retaken by them & carried into Guadaloupe, arrived here this morning with her own capt crew, &c. They say that new commissioners from France arrived at Guadaloupe, sent Victor Hughes home in irons, liberated this crew, said to the captn that they found him to be an officer bearing a regular commission from the U S, possessed of a vessel called the Retaliation, then in their port; that they should inquire into no preceding fact, and that he was free with his vessel & crew to depart; that as to differences with the U S, commrs were coming out from France to settle them; in the meantime, no injury should be done to us or our citizens. This was known to every Senator when we met. The Retaliation bill came on, on it’s passage, & was passed with only 2. dissenting voices, 2. or 3. who would have dissented happening to be absent.
to aaron burr
Philadelphia Feb. 11. 99.
— Your favor of Feb. 3. came to hand two days ago. I am sorry to observe my friend Perry’s claim to be so unpromising. However I shall still hope for something under the wing of your judgment, which you say will be decided Mar. 14. & if that shall fail, that he may come in for his share under the general attachment. I have no conception how Morris’s conveyances to his sons & family can be good against the statutes on fraudulent conveyances, if those statutes be in force with you, as in their British form. Everybody must know that his sons could have no means of making such purchases on valuable considerations. However of all this you are a much better judge. I pray you to let no chance escape of effectuating Dr. Currie’s claim.
The public papers inform you of everything passing here. Of the proposed navy of 18. 74’s, 12. frigates & 20 or 30 smaller vessels, of which 6. 74’s & 6. 18’s are now to be begun; of our existing army of 5,000 men, additional army of 9,000, eventual army of 30,000 (now under manufacture) & volunteer army of we know not how many. As it is acknowledged at the same time that it is impossible the French should invade us since the annihilation of their power on the sea, our constituents will see in these preparations the utmost anxiety to guard them against even impossibilities. The southern states do not discover the same care however in the bill authorizing the President to admit Toussaint’s subjects to a free commerce with them, & free ingress & intercourse with their black brethren in these states. However if they are guarded against the cannibals of the terrible republic, they ought not to object to being eaten by a more civilized enemy. Shall we see you here this session? It would give me great pleasure. I am with sincere esteem dear sir, your friend & servant.
P. S. The system of alarm manifestly flags; & the supplementary event of ambassador Logan has not had the expected effect. The public opinion in this state is rapidly coming round. Even the German counties of York & Lancaster are changing sides.
to james madison
Feb. 12. 99.
I wrote you last on the 5th. which acknoleged yours of Jan. 25. the last at had. Yesterday the bill for 6. 74’s and 6. 18’s passed the H. of R. by 54. against 42. And the bill for a new organization of the army (into regiments of about 1,000.) passed the Senate. The bill continuing the suspension of intercourse with France & her dependencies has passed both houses, but the Senate struck out the clauses permitting the President to extend it to other powers. Toussaint’s clause however was retained. Even South Carolinians in the H. of R. voted for it. We may expect therefore black crews, & supercargoes & missionaries thence into the southern states; & when that leven begins to work, I would gladly compound with a great part of our northern country, if they would honestly stand neuter. If this combustion can be introduced among us under any veil whatever, we have to fear it. We shall this day press the retaliation bill. It reaches & is expressly founded on the French arret of Oct, 29. 98, communicated to us by the President. It came out from Sedgwick and Stockton in debate that they had had it from the Secy. of state that he had received a letter from mr. King informing him of the suspension of that arret. Yet tho’ they knew we were legislating on it, the P. has not communicated it; & the retaliators insist on passing the bill. It is now acknoleged on all hands, denied on none, & declared by the insurance companies that during the last 6. months the British depredns. have far exceeded the French. King has been appointed to enter into a treaty with Russia at London & Phocion Smith was yesterday confirmed by the Senate as Envoy extry & M. P. to Constantinople to make a like treaty with the Turks. To change the moment of a coalition between the Turks, Russians & English against France to unite us by treaty with that body as openly as they intend to propose, cannot be misconstrued. I send you under a separate cover the French originals of Gerry’s communcns, one of G: N.’s pamphlets & the Treasury statements of exports & imports of the last year. Adieu.
P. S. No letter you could write after your receipt of this will find me here.
to archibald stuart1
Philadelphia Feb. 13, 99.
—I avoid writing to my friends because the fidelity of the post office is very much doubted. I will give you briefly a statement of what we have done and are doing. The following is a view of our finances in round numbers. The impost brings in the last year 7½ millions of dollars, the excise, carriages, auctions, & licenses, ½ a million, the residuary small articles ⅛ of a million. It is expected that the stamp act may pay the expense of the direct tax, so that the two may be counted at 2. millions, making in the whole 10⅛ millions. Our expenses for the civil list ¾ of a million, foreign intercourse ½ a million (this includes Indian & Algerine expenses, the Spanish & British treaties), interest of the public debt 4. millions, the existing navy 2½ millions, the existing army, 5,000 men, 1½. millions, making 9¼. millions, so that we have a surplus of near a million. But the additional army, 9,000 men, now raising, will add 2½. millions annually, the additional navy proposed 3. millions, and the interest of the new loans ½ a million, making 6 millions more, so that as soon as the army and navy shall be ready, our whole expenses will be 15. millions; consequently, there will be 5. millions annually more to be raised by taxes. Our present taxes of 10. M. are 2. dollars a head on our present population, and the future 5. M. will make it 3. D. Our whole exports (native) this year are 28 M., so that our taxes are now ⅓ & will soon be ½ of our whole exports; & when you add the expenses of the State Governments we shall be found to have got to the plenum of taxation in 10. short years of peace. Great Britain, after centuries of wars & revolutions, had at the commencement of the present war taxed only to the amount of ⅔ of her exports. We have opened a loan for 5 M., @ 8. per cent. interest, & another is proposed of 2. M. These are to build 6. 74’s & 6. 18’s, in part of additional navy, for which a bill passed the H of R 2 days ago, by 54. against 42. Beside the existing army of 5,000 & additional army of 9,000, an eventual army of 30,000 is proposed to be raised by the President, in case of invasion by any European power, or danger of invasion, in his opinion, and the volunteer army, the amount of which we know not, is to be immediately called out & exercised at the public expense. For these purposes a bill has been twice read and committed in the Senate. You have seen by Gerry’s communication that France is sincerely anxious for reconciliation, willing to give us a liberal treaty, and does not wish us to break the British treaty, but only to put her on an equal footing. A further proof of her sincerity turned up yesterday. We had taken an armed vessel from her, had refitted and sent her to cruise against them, under the name of the Retaliation, and they re-captured & sent her into Guadaloupe. The new commissioners arriving there from France, sent Victor Hughes off in irons, and said to our captain, that as they found him bearing a regular commission as an officer of the Ud S, with his vessel in their port, & his crew, they would inquire into no fact respecting the vessel preceding their arrival, but that he, his vessel & crew, were free to depart. They arrived here yesterday. The federal papers call her a cartel. It is whispered that the Executive mean to return an equal number of the French prisoners, and this may give a color to call her a cartel, but she was liberated freely & without condition. The commissioners further said to the captain that, as to the differences with the Ud S, new commissioners were coming out from France to settle them, & in the meantime they should do us no injury. The President has appointed Rufus King to make a commercial treaty with the Russians in London, and Wm Smith, (of S C,) to go to Constantinople to make one with the Turks. Both appointments are confirmed by the Senate. A little dissatisfaction was expressed by some that we should never have treated with them till the moment when they had formed a coalition with the English against the French. You have seen that the Directory had published an arret declaring they would treat as pirates any neutrals they should take in the ships of their enemies. The President communicated this to Congress as soon as he received it. A bill was brought into Senate reciting that arret, and authorizing retaliation. Tho’ the P received information almost in the same instant that the Directory had suspended the arret (which fact was privately declared by the Secretary of state to two of the Senate), and, tho’ it was known we were passing an act founded on that arret, yet the P has never communicated the suspension. However the Senate, informed indirectly of the fact, still passed the act yesterday, an hour after we had heard of the return of our vessel & crew before mentioned. It is acknoleged on all hands, & declared by the insurance companies that the British depredations during the last 6. months have greatly exceeded the French, yet not a word is said about it officially. However, all these things are working on the public mind. They are getting back to the point where they were when the X. Y. Z. story was played off on them. A wonderful & rapid change is taking place in Pennsylvania, Jersey, & N York. Congress is daily plied with petitions against the alien & sedition laws & standing armies. Several parts of this State are so violent that we fear an insurrection. This will be brought about by some if they can. It is the only thing we have to fear. The appearance of an attack of force against the government would check the present current of the middle States, and rally them around the government; whereas, if suffered to go on, it will pass on to a reformation of abuses. The materials now bearing on the public mind will infallibly restore it to it’s republican soundness in the course of the present summer, if the knolege of facts can only be disseminated among the people. Under separate cover you will receive some pamphlets written by George Nicholas on the acts of the last session. These I wish you to distribute, not to sound men who have no occasion for them, but to such as have been misled, are candid & will be open to the conviction of truth, and are of influence among their neighbors. It is the sick who need medicine, & not the well. Do not let my name appear in the matter. Perhaps I shall forward you some other things to be distributed in the same way. Let me now trouble you with a small private matter. Mr. Clarke was tolerably punctual in his remittances as long as he continued in business. But when he quitted he had near £100. of mine for nails actually sold, in his hands. For so I had a right to consider it as I charged only ready money prices, & such was the condition settled between us. This money has now been a twelvemonth in his hands, and the intermediate applications ineffectual. In truth I am not able to carry on my manufactory but on ready sales. I have no money capital to enable me to make great advances & long winded debts. If you could mention the matter to mr. Clarke in any way that would best suit the footing on which you stand with him, & be the means of my receiving it immediately on my return home (about the 10th of March) it would be a very sensible relief to me. And indeed if he does not pay it soon I must use effectual means to obtain it, such delays being incompatible with the course or the necessities of my manufactory. Present me respectfully to mrs. Stuart, and accept assurances of the sincere esteem of, dear Sir, your affectionate friend and servant.
to edmund pendleton
Philadelphia Feb. 14, 99.
—I wrote you a petition on the 29th of Jan. I know the extent of this trespass on your tranquillity, and how indiscreet it would have been under any other circumstances. But the fate of this country, whether it shall be irretrievably plunged into a form of government rejected by the makers of the constitution, or shall get back to the true principles of that instrument, depends on the turn which things may take within a short period of time ensuing the present moment. The violations of the constitution, propensities to war, to expense, & to a particular foreign connection, which we have lately seen, are becoming evident to the people, and are dispelling that mist which X. Y. Z. had spread before their eyes. This State is coming forward with a boldness not yet seen. Even the German counties of York & Lancaster, hitherto the most devoted, have come about, and by petitions with 4,000 signers remonstrate against the Alien & Sedition laws, standing armies, & discretionary powers in the President. New York & Jersey are also getting into great agitation. In this State, we fear that the ill designing may produce insurrection. Nothing could be so fatal. Anything like force would check the progress of the public opinion & rally them round the government. This is not the kind of opposition the American people will permit. But keep away all show of force, and they will bear down the evil propensities of the government, by the constitutional means of election & petition. If we can keep quiet, therefore, the tide now turning will take a steady & proper direction. Even in N Hampshire there are strong symptoms of a rising inquietude. In this state of things, my dear Sir, it is more in your power than any other man’s in the U S, to give the coup de grâce to the ruinous principles and practices we have seen. In hopes you have consented to it, I shall furnish to you some additional matter which has arisen since my last.
I enclose you a part of a speech of mr. Gallatin on the naval bill. The views he takes of our finances, & of the policy of our undertaking to establish a great navy, may furnish some hints. I am told something on the same subject from mr. J. Nicholas will appear in the Richmond & Fredksbg papers. I mention the real author, that you may respect it duly, for I presume it will be anonymous. The residue of Gallatin’s speech shall follow when published. A recent fact, proving the anxiety of France for a reconciliation with us, is the following. You know that one of the armed vessels which we took from her was refitted by us, sent to cruise on them, recaptured, & carried into Guadaloupe under the name of the Retaliation. On the arrival there of Desfourneaux, the new commissioner, he sent Victor Hughes home in irons; called up our captn: told him that he found he had a regular commission as an officer of the U S; that his vessel was then lying in harbor; that he should inquire into no fact preceding his own arrival (by this he avoided noticing that the vessel was really French property) and that therefore, himself & crew were free to depart with their vessel; that as to the differences between France & the U S, commissioners were coming out to settle them, & in the meantime, no injury should be done on their part. The captain insisted on being a prisoner; the other disclaimed; & so he arrived here with vessel & crew the day before yesterday. Within an hour after this was known to the Senate, they passed a retaliation bill, of which I enclose you a copy. This was the more remarkable, as the bill was founded expressly on the Arret of Oct 29, which had been communicated by the President as soon as received, and he remarked, “that it could not be too soon communicated to the two Houses & the public.” Yet he almost in the same instant received, through the same channel, mr. King, information that the Arret was suspended, & tho’ he knew we were making it the foundation of a retaliation bill, he has never yet communicated it. But the Senate knew the fact informally from the Secy of state, & knowing it, passed the bill.
The President has appointed, & the Senate approved Rufus King, to enter into a treaty of commerce with the Russians, at London, & Wm Smith, (Phocion) Envoy Extray & M. P., to go to Constantinople to make one with the Turks. So that as soon as there is a coalition of Turks, Russians & English, against France, we seize that moment to countenance it as openly as we dare, by treaties, which we never had with them before. All this helps to fill up the measure of provocation towards France, and to get from them a declaration of war, which we are afraid to be the first in making. It is certain the French have behaved atrociously towards neutral nations, & us particularly; and tho’ we might be disposed not to charge them with all the enormities committed in their name in the West Indies, yet they are to be blamed for not doing more to prevent them. A just and rational censure ought to be expressed on them, while we disapprove the constant billingsgate poured on them officially. It is at the same time true, that their enemies set the first example of violating neutral rights, & continue them to this day; insomuch that it is declared on all hands, & particularly by the insurance companies & denied by none, that the British spoliations have considerably exceeded the French during the last 6. months. Yet not a word of these things is said officially to the legislature.
Still further, to give the devil his due, (the French) it should be observed that it has been said without contradiction, and the people made to believe, that their refusal to receive our Envoys was contrary to the L. of Nations, and a sufficient cause of war; whereas, every one who ever read a book on the law of nations knows, that it is an unquestionable right in every power to refuse to receive any minister who is personally disagreeable. Martens, the latest and a very respected writer, has laid this down so clearly & shortly in his “summary of the law of nations,” B. 7. ch. 2. sec. 9, that I will transcribe the passage verbatim. “Section 9. Of choice in the person of the minister. The choice of the person to be sent as minister depends of right on the sovereign who sends him, leaving the right, however, of him to whom he sent, of refusing to acknolege any one, to whom he has a personal dislike, or who is inadmissible by the laws & usages of the country.” And he adds notes proving by instances, &c. This is the whole section.
Notwithstanding all these appearances of peace from France, we are, besides our existing army of 5.000 men, & additional army of 9.000 (now officered and levying), passing a bill for an eventual army of 30 regiments (30,000) and for regimenting, brigading, officering & exercising at the public expense our volunteer army, the amount of which we know not. I enclose you a copy of the bill, which has been twice read & committed in Senate. To meet this expence, & that of the 6. 72’s & 6. 18’s part of the proposed fleet, we have opened a loan of 5. millions at 8 per cent., & authorize another of 2 millions; and at the same time, every man voting for these measures acknoleges there is no probability of an invasion by France. While speaking of the restoration of our vessel, I omitted to add, that it is said that our government contemplate restoring the Frenchmen taken originally in the same vessel, and kept at Lancaster as prisoners. This has furnished the idea of calling her a cartel vessel, and pretending that she came as such for an exchange of prisoners, which is false. She was delivered free & without condition, but it does not suit to let any new evidence appear of the desire of conciliation in France. I believe it is now certain that the Commissioners on the British debts can proceed together no longer. I am told that our two have prepared a long report, which will perhaps be made public. The result will be, that we must recur again to negociation, to settle the principles of the British claims. You know that Congress rises on the 3d of March, and that if you have acceded to my prayers, I should hear from you at least a week before our rising. Accept my affectionate salutations & assurances of the sincere esteem with which I am, dear Sir, your friend and servant.
to james madison
Feb 19, 99.
I wrote to you last on the 11th; yesterday the bill for the eventual army of 30 regiments (30.000) & 75.000 volunteers, passed the Senate. By an amendment, the P was authorized to use the volunteers for every purpose for which he can use militia, so that the militia are rendered compleatly useless. The friends of the bill acknoleged that the volunteers are a militia, & agreed that they might properly be called the Presidential militia. They are not to go out of their state without their own consent. Consequently, all service out of the state is thrown on the constitutional militia, the Presidential militia being exempted from doing duty with them. Leblanc, an agent from Desfourneaux of Guadaloupe, came in the Retaliation. You will see in the papers Desfourneaux’s letter to the President, which will correct some immaterial circumstances of the statement in my last. You will see the truth of the main fact, that the vessel & crew were liberated without condition. Notwithstanding this, they have obliged Leblanc to receive the French prisoners, & to admit, in the papers, the terms, “in exchange for prisoners taken from us,” he denying at the same time that they consider them as prisoners, or had any idea of exchange. The object of his mission was not at all relative to that; but they chuse to keep up the idea of a cartel, to prevent the transaction from being used as evidence of the sincerity of the French govent towards a reconciliation. He came to assure us of a discontinuance of all irregularities in French privateers from Guadaloupe. He has been received very cavalierly. In the meantime, a consul general is named to St. Domingo; who may be considered as our minister to Toussaint.
But the event of events was announced to the Senate yesterday. It is this: it seems that soon after Gerry’s departure, overtures must have been made by Pichon, French chargé d’affaires at the Hague, to Murray. They were so soon matured, that on the 28th of Sep, 98, Taleyrand writes to Pichon, approving what had been done, & particularly of his having assured Murray that whatever Plenipotentiary the govent of the U S should send to France to end our differences would undoubtedly be received with the respect due to the representative of a free, indepndt & powerful nation; declaring that the President’s instructions to his envoys at Paris, if they contain the whole of the American government’s intentions, announce dispositions which have been always entertained by the Directory; & desiring him to communicate these expressions to Murray, in order to convince him of the sincerity of the French government, & to prevail on him to transmit them to his government. This is dated Sep 28. & may have been received by Pichon Oct 1; and nearly 5. months elapse before it is communicated. Yesterday, the P nominated to the Senate W V Murray Mr Pl to the French republic, & adds, that he shall be instructed not to go to France, without direct & unequivocal assurances from the Fr government that he shall be received in character, enjoy the due privileges, and a minister of equal rank, title & power, be appointed to discuss & conclude our controversies by a new treaty. This had evidently been kept secret from the Feds of both Houses, as appeared by their dismay. The Senate have passed over this day without taking it up. It is said they are graveled & divided; some are for opposing, others do not know what to do. But in the meantime, they have been permitted to go on with all the measures of war & patronage, & when the close of the session is at hand it is made known. However, it silences all arguments against the sincerity of France, and renders desperate every further effort towards war. I enclose you a paper with more particulars. Be so good as to keep it till you see me, & then return it, as it is the copy of one I sent to another person, & is the only copy I have. Since I began my letter I have received yours of Feb 7 and 8, with it’s enclosures; that referred to my discretion is precious, and shall be used accordingly.
Affectionate salutations to mrs. M & yourself, & adieu
P. S. I have committed you & your friends for 100 D. I will justify it when I see you.
to edmund pendleton
Philadelphia Feb 19, 99.
—Since my last, which was of the 14th, a Monsr Leblanc, agent from Desfourneaux, has come to town. He came in the Retaliation, and a letter of Desfourneaux, of which he was the bearer, now enclosed, will correct some circumstances in my statement relative to that vessel which were not very material. It shews, at the same time, that she was liberated without condition; still it is said but I have no particular authority for it, that he has been obliged to receive French prisoners here, and to admit in the paper that the terms “in exchange for prisoners taken from us,” should be used, he declaring, at the same time, that they had never considered ours as prisoners, nor had an idea of exchange. The object of his mission was to assure the government against any future irregularities by privateers from Guadaloupe, and to open a friendly intercourse. He has been treated very cavalierly. I enclose you the President’s message to the H of R relative to the suspension of the Arret, on which our retaliation bill is founded.
A great event was presented yesterday. The P communicated a letter from Taleyrand to Pichon, French chargé des affaires at the Hague, approving of some overtures which had passed between him & mr. Murray, and particularly of his having undertaken to assure Murray that whatever Plenipotentiary we might send to France to negotiate differences, should be received with the respect due to the representative of a “free, independt & powerful nation,” and directing him to prevail on Murray to transmit these assurances to his government. In consequence of this, a nomination of mr. Murray, M. P. to the French republic, was yesterday sent to the Senate. This renders their efforts for war desperate, & silences all further denials of the sincerity of the French government. I send you extracts from these proceedings for your more special information. I shall leave this the 2d day of March. Accept my affectionate salutations. Adieu.
P. S. I should have mentioned that a nomination is before the Senate of a consul general to St. Domingo. It is understood that he will present himself to Toussaint, and is, in fact, our minister to him.
The face they will put on this business is, that they have frightened France into a respectful treatment. Whereas, in truth, France has been sensible that her measures to prevent the scandalous spectacle of war between the two republics, from the known impossibility of our injuring her, would not be imputed to her as a humiliation.1
to james monroe
Philadelphia Feb. 19. 99.
I am so hard pressed for time that I can only announce to you a single event: but that is a great one. It seems that soon after Gerry’s departure from France, overtures must have been made by Pichon, French Chargé d’affaires at the Hague to Murray. These were so soon matured that on the 28th. of Sep. 98. Taleyrand writes to Pichon approving what had been done & particularly of his having assured Murray that whatever Plenipot. the Govmt. of the U. S. should send to France to end our differences, would undoubtedly be received with the respect due to the representative of a free, independent & powerful nation: declaring that the President’s instructions to his envoys at Paris, if they contain the whole of the American govmt’s intentions, announce dispositions which have been always entertained by the Directory, & desiring him to communicate these expressions to Murray in order to convince him of the sincerity of the French government, & to prevail on him to transmit them to his govmt. This is dated Sep. 28. & may have been received by Pichon Oct. 1. and near 5. months are elapsed before it is communicated. Yesterday the President nominated to the Senate W. V. Murray M. P. to the French republic, & adds that he shall be instructed not to go to France without direct & unequivocal assurances from the French govmt that he shall be received in character, enjoy the due privileges, & a minister of equal rank, title, & powers be appointed to discuss & conclude our Controversies by a new treaty. You will perceive that this measure has been taken as grudgingly as tardily, just as the close of the session is approaching, and the French are to go through the ceremony of a second submission. This had evidently been kept secret from the Feds of both houses, as appeared by their dismay. The Senate have passed over this day without taking it up. It is said they are gravelled & divided. Some are for opposing; others do not know what to do. But in the meantime they have been permitted to go on with all the measures of war & patronage. This silences all arguments against the sincerity of France, & renders desperate every further effort towards war. Communicate the general fact of this appointment & of it’s being the Consequence of overtures from France to whom you please; but the particulars of my statement only to our most discreet friends.—I have been obliged to lay you & your friends under contribution for a loan of 100. D. which I will justify when I see you. My most friendly salutations to mrs. Monroe & yourself. Adieu.
to robert r. livingston
Philadelphia Feb 23, 99.
—I have received with great pleasure your favor on the subject of the Steam engine. Tho’ deterred by the complexity of that hitherto known, from making myself minutely acquainted with it, yet I am sufficiently acquainted with it to be sensible of the superior simplicity of yours, and it’s superior economy. I particularly thank you for the permission to communicate it to the Philosophical society; and though there will not be another session before I leave town, yet I have taken care, by putting it into the hands of one of the Vice-presidents to-day, to have it presented at the next meeting. I lament the not receiving it a fortnight sooner, that it might have been inserted in a volume now closed, and to be published in a few days, before it would be possible for this engraving to be ready. There is one object to which I have often wished a steam engine could be adapted. You know how desirable it is both in town & country to be able to have large reservoirs of water on the top of our houses, not only for use (by pipes) in the apartments, but as a resource against fire. This last is most especially a desideratum in the country. We might indeed have water carried from time to time in buckets to cisterns on the top of the house, but this is troublesome, & therefore we never do it,—consequently are without resource when a fire happens. Could any agent be employed which would be little or no additional expence or trouble except the first purchase, it would be done. Every family has such an agent, it’s kitchen fire. It is small indeed, but if it’s small but constant action could be accumulated so as to give a stroke from time to time which might throw ever so small a quantity of water from the bottom of a well to the top of the house (say 100. feet), it would furnish more than would waste by evaporation, or be used by the family. I know nobody who must better know the value of such a machine than yourself, nor more equal to the invention of it, and especially with your familiarity with the subject. I have imagined that the iron back of the chimney might be a cistern for holding the water, which should supply steam & would be constantly kept in a boiling state by the ordinary fire. I wish the subject may appear as interesting to you as it does to me, it would then engage your attention, and we might hope this desideratum would be supplied.
A want of confidence in the post office deters me from writing to my friends on the subject of politics. Indeed I am tired of writing Jeremiades on that subject. What person, who remembers the times and tempers we have seen, would have believed that within so short a period, not only the jealous spirit of liberty which shaped every operation of our revolution, but even the common principles of English whiggism would be scouted, and the tory principle of passive obedience under the new-fangled names of confidence & responsibility, become entirely triumphant? That the tories, whom in mercy we did not “crumble to dust & ashes,” could so have entwined us in their scorpion tails, that we cannot now move hand or foot. But the spell is dissolving. The public mind is recovering from the delirium into which it had been thrown, and we may still believe with security that the great body of the American people must for ages yet be substantially republican. You have heard of the nomination of mr. Murray. Not being in the secret of this juggle, I am not yet able to say how it is to be played off. Respectful & affectionate salutations from, dear Sir, your sincere friend & servant.
to james madison
Philadelphia Feb 26, 99.
My last to you was of the 19th; it acknoleged yours of the 8th. In mine, I informed you of the nomination of Murray. There is evidence that the letter of Taleyrand was known to one of the Secretaries, therefore probably to all; the nomination, however, is declared by one of them to have been kept secret from them all. He added, that he was glad of it, as, had they been consulted, the advice would have been against making the nomination. To the rest of the party, however, the whole was a secret till the nomination was announced. Never did a party shew a stronger mortification, & consequently, that war had been their object. Dana declared in debate (as I have from those who were present,) that we had done everything which might provoke France to war; that we had given her insults which no nation ought to have borne; & yet she would not declare war. The conjecture as to the Executive is, that they received Taleyrand’s letter before or about the meeting of Congress; that not meaning to meet the overture effectually, they kept it secret, & let all the war measures go on; but that just before the separation of the Senate, the P, not thinking he could justify the concealing such an overture, nor indeed that it could be concealed, made a nomination, hoping that his friends in the Senate would take on their own shoulders the odium of rejecting it; but they did not chuse it. The Hamiltonians would not, & the others could not, alone. The whole artillery of the phalanx, therefore, was plaid secretly on the Pt, and he was obliged himself to take a step which should parry the overture while it wears the face of acceding to it. (Mark that I state this as conjecture; but founded on workings & indications which have been under our eyes.) Yesterday, therefore, he sent in a nomination of Oliver Elsworth, Patrick Henry & W Vans Murray, Envoys Ext & M P to the French Republic, but declaring the two former should not leave this country till they should receive from the French Directory assurances that they should be received with the respect due by the law of nations to their character, &c. This, if not impossible, must at least keep off the day so hateful & so fatal to them, of reconciliation, & leave more time for new projects of provocation. Yesterday witnessed a scandalous scene in the H of R. It was the day for taking up the report of their commee against the Alien & Sedition laws, &c. They held a Caucus and determined that not a word should be spoken on their side, in answer to anything which should be said on the other. Gallatin took up the Alien, & Nicholas the Sedition law; but after a little while of common silence, they began to enter into loud conversations, laugh, cough, &c., so that for the last hour of these gentlemen’s speaking, they must have had the lungs of a vendue master to have been heard. Livingston, however, attempted to speak. But after a few sentences, the Speaker called him to order, & told him what he was saying was not to the question. It was impossible to proceed. The question was taken & carried in favor of the report, 52 to 48.; the real strength of the two parties is 56. to 50. But two of the latter have not attended this session. I send you the report of their committee. I still expect to leave this on the 1st, & be with you on the 7th of March. But it is possible I may not set out till the 4th, and then shall not be with you till the 10th. Affectionately adieu.
to bishop james madison
Philadelphia Feb 27, 99.
—Your favor of Feb 10 came safely to hand. We were for a moment flattered with the hope of a friendly accommodation of our differences with France, by the President’s nomination of mr. Murray our minister at the Hague to proceed to Paris for that purpose. But our hopes have been entirely dashed by his revoking that and naming mr. Elsworth, mr. Patrick Henry & Murray; the two former not to embark from America till they shall receive assurances from the French Government, that they will be received with the respect due to their character by the Law of nations; and this too after the French Government had already given assurances that whatever Minister the President should send should be received with the respect due to the representative of a great, free & independent nation. The effect of the new nomination is compleatly to parry the advances made by France towards a reconciliation. A great change is taking place in the public mind in these middle states, and they are rapidly resuming the Republican ground which they had for a moment relinquished. The tables of Congress are loaded with petitions proving this. 13. of the 22. counties of this state have already petitioned against the proceedings of the late Congress. Many also from New York & New Jersey, and before the summer is over, these three states will be in unison with the Southern & Western. I take the liberty of putting under your cover a letter for a young gentleman known to you, & to whom I know not how otherwise to direct it. I am, with great esteem, dear Sir, your friend and servant.
to thomas lomax
Monticello Mar 12, 99.
—Your welcome favor of last month came to my hands in Philadelphia. So long a time has elapsed since we have been separated by events, that it was like a letter from the dead, and recalled to my memory very dear recollections. My subsequent journey through life has offered nothing which, in comparison with those, is not cheerless & dreary. It is a rich comfort sometimes to look back on them.
I take the liberty of enclosing a letter to mr. Baylor, open, because I solicit your perusal of it. It will, at the same time, furnish the apology for my not answering you from Philadelphia. You ask for any communication I may be able to make, which may administer comfort to you. I can give that which is solid. The spirit of 1776 is not dead. It has only been slumbering. The body of the American people is substantially republican. But their virtuous feelings have been played on by some fact with more fiction; they have been the dupes of artful manœuvres, & made for a moment to be willing instruments in forging chains for themselves. But time & truth have dissipated the delusion, & opened their eyes. They see now that France has sincerely wished peace, & their seducers have wished war, as well for the loaves & fishes which arise out of war expences, as for the chance of changing the constitution, while the people should have time to contemplate nothing but the levies of men and money. Pennsylvania, Jersey & N York are coming majestically round to the true principles. In Pensylva, 13. out of 22. counties had already petitioned on the alien & sedition laws. Jersey & N Y had begun the same movement, and tho’ the rising of Congress stops that channel for the expression of their sentiment, the sentiment is going on rapidly, & before their next meeting those three States will be solidly embodied in sentiment with the six Southern & Western ones. The atrocious proceedings of France towards this country, had well nigh destroyed its liberties. The Anglomen and monocrats had so artfully confounded the cause of France with that of freedom, that both went down in the same scale. I sincerely join you in abjuring all political connection with every foreign power; and tho I cordially wish well to the progress of liberty in all nations, and would forever give it the weight of our countenance, yet they are not to be touched without contamination from their other bad principles. Commerce with all nations, alliance with none, should be our motto.
Accept assurances of the constant & unaltered affection of, dear Sir, your sincere friend and servant.
to edmund pendleton
Monticello Apr. 22. 99.
My respected Friend,
—Your letter of Feb. 24. which was intended to have reached me at Philadelphia, did not arrive there till I had left that place & then had to follow me to this, which must apologize for the delay in acknoleging it. In the meantime I had seen in our papers the one with your signature, & seen it with great satisfaction. Omitting one paragraph of it I may be permitted to give to the residue unqualified praise. The simplicity & candor with which it is written will procure it a candid reading with all, & nothing more is necessary to give their full effect to its statements & reasoning. I lament it had not got to Philadelphia a few days sooner that we might have sent it out in handbills by the members. I observe however that it is running through all the republican papers & with very great effect. The moment too is favourable, as the tide is evidently turning & the public men [faded] from Marshall’s [faded] romance. It is unfortunate that we have yet two years of mr. Adams to go through in the hands of a legislature [faded] under the impressions of that romance [faded] Presidential army or Presidential militia, it will leave me without a doubt that force on the Constitution is intended. It is already plain enough from the Secretary of War’s letter that Hamilton is to be the real general, the other to be used only by his name. Can such an army under Hamilton be disbanded? Even if a H. of Repr. can be got willing & wishing to disband them? I doubt it, & therefore rest my principal hope on their inability to raise anything but officers. I observe in the election of governor for Massachusetts that the vote for Heath (out of Boston) is much strengthened. Could the people of that state emerge from the deceptions under which they are kept by their clergy, lawyers & English presses, our salvation would be sure & easy. Without that, I believe it will be effected; but it will be uphill work. Nor can we expect ever their cordial cooperation, because they will not be satisfied longer than while we are sacrificing everything to navigation & a navy. What a glorious exchange would it be could we persuade our navigating fellow citizens to embark their capital in the internal commerce of our country, exclude foreigners from that & let them take the carrying trade in exchange: abolish the diplomatic establishments & never suffer an armed vessel of any nation to enter our ports. [faded] things can be thought of only in times of wisdom, not of party & Folly. May heaven still spare you to us for years to come & render them years of health, happiness, & the full enjoiment of your faculties. Affectionate salutations to yourself & mr. Taylor. Adieu.
to archibald stuart1
Monticello May 14. 99
—I received by the hands of Mr Coalter £13 from Mr Alexander. He is mistaken in supposing I had received £3-10-3 on his account from Gamble & Grattar, his letter now inclosed by you being the first and only mention to me that such a paiment had been expected. However this balance is not worth troubling you further with. I am sorry still to be troublesome with my nailery. Mr. McDowell writes me he cannot continue the sale of my nails. If he would have disposed of those remaining on his hands it would have been desireable; because they are hardly worth offering alone to another, and a long illness of my foreman, occasions our work to go on so poorly that I am able to do little more than supply this part of the country. He has for sometime past had symptoms of a dropsy supervening a decline of near a twelve month. He seems now to be getting better; but till he gets well, or till, that becoming desperate, I engage another manager, I hardly expect to be able to resume my supplies to Staunton. However if Mr McDowell will not consent to sell off what remains on his hands, I must ask the favor of you to engage some other to do it, as well as to dispose of future supplies as soon as I shall be able to furnish them. I am sensible of the difficulty of a person who sells other goods on credit, demanding ready money for nails; and therefore have found it necessary here to place them in the hands of grocers, or others dealing for ready money. The congressional elections, as far as I have heard them, are extremely to be regretted. I did expect Powel’s election; but that Lee should have been elected, & Nicholas hard run marks a taint in that part of the state which I had not expected. I have not yet heard the issue of the contest between Trigg & Hancock. Our federal candidate here cut a very poor figure. The state elections have generally gone well. Mr. Henry will have the mortification of encountering such a mass of talents as he has never met before; for from every thing I can learn, we never had an abler nor a sounder legislature. His apostacy must be unaccountable to those who do not know all the recesses of his heart. The cause of republicanism, triumphing in Europe, can never fail to do so here in the long run. Our citizens may be deceived for a while & have been deceived; but as long as the presses can be protected, we may trust to them for light; still more perhaps to the taxgatherers; for it is not worth the while of our antirepublicans to risk themselves on any change of government, but a very expensive one. Reduce every department to economy, & there will be no temptation to them to betray their constituents. Affectionate salutations & adieu.
to tench coxe
Monticello May 21, 99.
—Your favor of Apr. 29, came to hand by our last post. I have for some time been anxious to write to you on the subject mentioned therein, but a want of confidence in the post office, & a certain prospect of conveyance by Dr. Bache who has been with us for some time, & was to return to Philadelphia, induced me to await that occasion which now accordingly takes place. Immediately on my parting with you the evening before I left Philadelphia I went to Mr. Venable’s lodgings. He was not at home. I waited for him & at length he returned. I explained the subject to him & we went together to mr. Livingston’s. He was gone to the theatre; so no hope of an early return. On returning to my lodgings mr. Nicholas joined us, & it was there settled that mr. Venable should devote the next day to the reducing to a certainty (in black & white) what could be done, & as it was then a late hour & I had still much to prepare for my departure the next morning, instead of calling on you again mr. Venable promised to do it & to communicate to you the effect of his exertions. He promised moreover to write to me specially of his success. I had been at home a considerable time when I saw mr. Foreman’s proposals in some newspaper for the publication of a new gazette. I immediately wrote to Venable to inform me if that was the paper we had expected in order that I might prepare for the fulfillment of my engagements. I inclose you his answer, which will explain to you why you heard nothing further after I parted with you. The sum there, with the addition of two others, of 500 D. each, of which you were apprized (I believe there was a third also) fell far short of expectations. I sincerely regret the failure, & am thoroughly sensible of the importance of the undertaking, tho’ much has been lost by its not having taken place this summer. My situation exposes me to so much calumny that I am obliged to be cautious of appearing in any matter however justifiable & especially if it be of a nature to admit readily of misconception. A very short text will for a long time furnish matter for newspaper stricture. I am satisfied from what I have seen since my return that there would be scarcely any limits to the subscription for such a paper. I shall still hope that it will not be abandoned.
The Virginia congressional elections have astonished everyone. They gave five certain federalists. Three others however on whom also they count, Page, Gray, & [faded] are moderate men, & I am assured will not go with them on questions of importance. This result has proceeded from accidental combinations of circumstances, & not from an unfavorable change of sentiment. The change has unquestionably been the other way. The valley between the Blueridge & North Mountain, which had for sometime been much tainted, (and which had given me more serious uneasiness than any other appearance in this state) has come solidly round. They were represented by Homes & the two Triggs, who the last summer would have been left out by great majorities, but have now been re-elected by great majorities. The progress of the republican cause here is proved by the state elections made on the same day with those for Congress. They are more republican than those of last year; & particularly from all the upper country. How long we can hold our ground I do not know. We are not incorruptible; on the contrary, corruption is making sensible tho’ silent progress. Offices are as acceptable here as elsewhere, & whenever a man has cast a longing eye on them, a rottenness begins in his conduct. Mr. Henry has taken the field openly; but our legislature is filled with too great a mass of talents & principle to be now swayed by him. He will experience mortifications to which he has been hitherto a stranger. Still I fear something from his intriguing and cajoling talents, for which he is still more remarkable than for his eloquence. As to the effect of his name among the people, I have found it crumble like a dried leaf, the moment they become satisfied of his apostacy. With every wish for your health & happiness & sentiments of sincere esteem I am &c.
to harry innes
Monticello June 20. 99.
I have to acknolege the receipt of your favor of March the 2d. & to return you many thanks for it. I am very desirous to collect all the information I can relative to the murder of Logan’s family, who were the perpetrators, & how far Cresap had counselled or ordered it; for tho’ there exists a very general belief that he was present, yet the information I have received seems rather that he ordered Greathouse & his party on that business & took another upon himself. Of the authenticity of Logan’s speech I have the evidence of General Gibson who received it from Logan’s hand, delivered it to Lord Dunmore & translated it. The speech proves that Logan considered Colo. Cresap as the murderer; and nothing can prove it more authentically than the copy of the note you have been so kind as to send me. My statement therefore, which has been attacked is nothing more than the universally received account of that transaction. If mankind have generally imputed that murder to Cresap, it was because his character led them to it, numerous murders of the Indians having drawn them to fix this on him. His character becomes an object of enquiry on this account. After letting this matter remain uncontradicted for upwards of twenty years it has now been raked up from party hatred, as furnishing some with the design of writing me down. I have left their calumnies unanswered; but in the meantime have asked the favor of gentlemen who have it in their power to procure me what information they can as I mean to prepare a correct statement of the facts respecting the murder of Logan’s family, to be inserted by way of amendment into the text of the Notes on Virginia. This I hope to be able to publish next winter when in Philadelphia, so I have asked from my friends to furnish me whatever they shall have collected by the month of December next. Material from the evidence will probably be published in support of the text as it will be amended. The information will mention [illegible] affidavits where convenient, or of certificate or letter where not so. Minute details will be most desirable. Any assistance you can give me in procuring this or any other material information on the subject will be very thankfully received. My distance from the evidence of persons acquainted with the transaction rendering it impracticable for me to obtain it otherwise than by the aid of my friends. I would also ask to receive it by or before the month of December. I should not have taken the liberty of troubling you, but as you have been so kind as to offer your aid. Mr. Volney on his return spoke with great acknolegements of your kind civilities, for which accept my thanks also. I am sure you found him entirely worthy of them. I receive with great sensibility the assurances of your esteem. These sentiments from men of worth, of reflection & of pure attachment to republican government are my consolation against the calumnies of which it has suited certain writers to make me the object. Under these I hope I shall never bend; & that man may at length find favor with heaven & his present struggles issue in the recovery & establishment of his moral & political rights will be the prayer of my latest breath. Accept assurances of the sincere esteem & respect of dear Sir of your most obedient & most humble servant.
to edmund randolph
Monticello Aug. 18, 99.
—I received only two days ago your favor of the 12th, and as it was on the eve of the return of our post, it was not possible to make so prompt a despatch of the answer. Of all the doctrines which have ever been broached by the federal government, the novel one, of the common law being in force & cognizable as an existing law in their courts, is to me the most formidable. All their other assumptions of un-given powers have been in the detail. The bank law, the treaty doctrine, the sedition act, alien act, the undertaking to change the state laws of evidence in the state courts by certain parts of the stamp act, &c., &c., have been solitary, unconsequential, timid things, in comparison with the audacious, barefaced and sweeping pretension to a system of law for the U S, without the adoption of their legislature, and so infinitely beyond their power to adopt. If this assumption be yielded to, the state courts may be shut up, as there will then be nothing to hinder citizens of the same state suing each other in the federal courts in every case, as on a bond for instance, because the common law obliges payment of it, & the common law they say is their law. I am happy you have taken up the subject; & I have carefully perused & considered the notes you enclosed, and find but a single paragraph which I do not approve. It is that wherein (page 2.) you say, that laws being emanations from the legislative department, &, when once enacted, continuing in force from a presumption that their will so continues, that that presumption fails & the laws of course fall, on the destruction of that legislative department. I do not think this is the true bottom on which laws & the administering them rest. The whole body of the nation is the sovereign legislative, judiciary and executive power for itself. The inconvenience of meeting to exercise these powers in person, and their inaptitude to exercise them, induce them to appoint special organs to declare their legislative will, to judge & execute it. It is the will of the nation which makes the law obligatory; it is their will which creates or annihilates the organ which is to declare & announce it. They may do it by a single person, as an Emperor of Russia, (constituting his declarations evidence of their will,) or by a few persons, as the Aristocracy of Venice, or by a complication of councils, as in our former regal government, or our present republican one. The law being law because it is the will of the nation, is not changed by their changing the organ through which they chuse to announce their future will; no more than the acts I have done by one attorney lose their obligation by my changing or discontinuing that attorney. This doctrine has been, in a certain degree sanctioned by the federal executive. For it is precisely that on which the continuance of obligation from our treaty with France was established, and the doctrine was particularly developed in a letter to Gouverneur Morris, written with the approbation of President Washington and his cabinet. Mercer once prevailed on the Virginia Assembly to declare a different doctrine in some resolutions. These met universal disapprobation in this, as well as the other States, and if I mistake not, a subsequent Assembly did something to do away the authority of their former unguarded resolutions. In this case, as in all others, the true principle will be quite as effectual to establish the just deductions, for before the revolution, the nation of Virginia had, by the organs they then thought proper to constitute, established a system of laws, which they divided into three denominations of 1, common law; 2, statute law; 3, Chancery: or if you please, into two only, of 1, common law; 2, Chancery. When, by the declaration of Independence, they chose to abolish their former organs of declaring their will, the acts of will already formally & constitutionally declared, remained untouched. For the nation was not dissolved, was not annihilated; it’s will, therefore, remained in full vigor; and on the establishing the new organs, first of a convention, & afterwards a more complicated legislature, the old acts of national will continued in force, until the nation should, by its new organs, declare it’s will changed. The common law, therefore, which was not in force when we landed here, nor till we had formed ourselves into a nation, and had manifested by the organs we constituted that the common law was to be our law, continued to be our law, because the nation continued in being, & because though it changed the organs for the future declarations of its will, yet it did not change its former declarations that the common law was it’s law. Apply these principles to the present case. Before the revolution there existed no such nation as the U S; they then first associated as a nation, but for special purposes only. They had all their laws to make, as Virginia had on her first establishment as a nation. But they did not, as Virginia had done, proceed to adopt a whole system of laws ready made to their hand. As their association as a nation was only for special purposes, to wit, for the management of their concerns with one another & with foreign nations, and the states composing the association chose to give it powers for those purposes & no others, they could not adopt any general system, because it would have embraced objects on which this association had no right to form or declare a will. It was not the organ for declaring a national will in these cases. In the cases confided to them, they were free to declare the will of the nation, the law; but till it was declared there could be no law. So that the common law did not become, ipso facto, law on the new association; it could only become so by a positive adoption, & so far only as they were authorized to adopt.
I think it will be of great importance, when you come to the proper part, to portray at full length the consequences of this new doctrine, that the common law is the law of the U S, & that their courts have, of course, jurisdiction co-extensive with that law, that is to say, general over all cases & persons. But, great heavens! Who could have conceived in 1789 that within ten years we should have to combat such wind-mills. Adieu. Yours affectionately.
to james madison
Monticello Aug. 23, 99.
With this you will receive the IVd nails desired in your memorandum, that is to say 25. lb weighing about to the lb. Probably they yield something more than a thousand to that weight, not being so uniform as they ought to be. We are now working up some remnants of hoops of different breadths till the arrival of a supply of proper size from Philadelphia. They are 1/3 per pound consequently come cheap. The error in the nails sent before was as I entered the memorandum in my book from his dictation and he saw them weighed out according to that.
Mrs. Madison will see that Lumsden your plasterer, lives about 10. or 15. miles from you & that an opportunity may perhaps be found of conveying him a letter. I trouble you with one, open, which when read be so good as to seal & forward by any opportunity you approve.
I inclose you a letter I received from Colo. Nicholas three days ago. It is so advantageous that Virginia & Kentucky should pursue the same track on this occasion & a difference of plan would give such advantage to the Consolidationers that I would immediately see you at your own house, but that we have a stranger [illegible] whose state has been very critical & who would suffer in spirits at least very substantially by my absence. I shall not answer [illegible] but the opportunity is certainly a valuable one for producing a concert of action. I will in the mean time give you my ideas on reflection. That the principles already advanced by Virginia & Kentucky are not to be yielded in silence I presume we all agree. I would propose a declaration or resolution by their legislatures on the plan. 1st. answer this reasoning: if such of the states as have ventured into the field of reason, & that of the comm [illegible].1
to wilson c. nicholas
Monticello Aug. 26, 99.
—I am deeply impressed with the importance of Virginia & Kentucky pursuing the same track at the ensuing sessions of their legislatures. Your going thither furnishes a valuable opportunity of effecting it, and as mr. Madison will be at our assembly as well as yourself, I thought it important to procure a meeting between you. I therefore wrote you to propose to him to ride to this place on Saturday or Sunday next; supposing that both he and yourself might perhaps have some matter of business at our court, which might render it less inconvenient for you to be here together on Sunday. I took for granted that you would not set off to Kentuckey pointedly at the time you first proposed, and hope and strongly urge your favoring us with a visit at the time proposed. Mrs. Madison, who was the bearer of my letter, assured me I might count on mr. M.’s being here. Not that I mentioned to her the object of my request, or that I should propose the same to you, because, I presume, the less said of such a meeting the better. I shall take care that Monroe shall dine with us. In hopes of seeing you, I bid you affectionately adieu.
to wilson c. nicholas
Monticello Sep. 5, 99.
—Yours of Aug. 30th 99 came duly to hand. It was with great regret we gave up the hope of seeing you here, but could not but consider the obstacle as legitimate. I had written to mr. M. as I had before informed you, and had stated to him some general ideas for consideration & consultation when we should meet. I thought something essentially necessary to be said, in order to avoid the inference of acquiescence; that a resolution or declaration should be passed, 1, answering the reasonings of such of the states as have ventured into the field of reason, & that of the Committee of Congress, taking some notice too of those states who have either not answered at all, or answered without reasoning. 2, making firm protestation against the precedent & principle, & reserving the right to make this palpable violation of the federal compact the ground of doing in future whatever we might now rightfully do, should repetitions of these and other violations of the compact render it expedient. 3, expressing in affectionate & conciliatory language our warm attachment to union with our sister states, & to the instrument & principles by which we are united; that we are willing to sacrifice to this everything but the rights of self-government in those important points which we have never yielded, & in which alone we see liberty, safety, & happiness; that not at all disposed to make every measure of error or of wrong, a cause of scission, we are willing to look on with indulgence, & to wait with patience till those passions & delusions shall have passed over, which the federal government have artfully excited to cover its own abuses & conceal it’s designs, fully confident that the good sense of the American people, and their attachment to those very rights which we are now vindicating, will, before it shall be too late, rally with us round the true principles of our federal compact. This was only meant to give a general idea of the complexion & topics of such an instrument. Mr. M. who came, as had been proposed, does not concur in the reservation proposed above; and from this I recede readily, not only in deference to his judgment, but because as we should never think of separation but for repeated and enormous violations, so these, when they occur, will be cause enough of themselves.
To these topics, however, should be added animadversions on the new pretensions to a common law of the U. S. I proposed to mr. M. to write to you, but he observed that you knew his sentiments so perfectly from a former conference, that it was unnecessary. As to the preparing anything, I must decline it, to avoid suspicions (which were pretty strong in some quarters on the last occasion), and because there remains still (after their late loss) a mass of talents in Kentucky sufficient for every purpose. The only object of the present communication is to procure a concert in the general plan of action, [as it is extremely desirable that Virginia and Kentucky should pursue the same track on this occasion.]1 Besides, how could you better while away the road from hence to Kentucky, than in meditating this very subject, and preparing something yourself, than whom nobody will do it better. The loss of your brother, and the visit of the apostle Marshal to Kentucky, excite anxiety. However, we doubt not that his poisons will be effectually counterworked. Wishing you a pleasant journey & happy return, I am with great and sincere esteem, dear Sir, your affectionate friend & servant.
to james thomson callender2
Monticello Sept. 6, ’99.
—By a want of arrangement in a neighbouring post-office during the absence of the postmaster, my letters and papers for two posts back were detained. I suppose it was owing to this that your letter tho’ dated Aug. 10. did not get to my hand till the last day of the month, since which this is the first day I can through the post office acknowledge the receipt of it. Mr. Jefferson happens to be here and directs his agent to call on you with this and pay you 50 dollars, on account of the book you are about to publish. When it shall be out be so good as to send me 2. or 3. copies, and the rest only when I shall ask for them.
The violence which was meditated against you lately has excited a very general indignation in this part of the country. Our state from it’s first plantation has been remarkable for it’s order and submission to the laws. But three instances are recollected in it’s history of an organized opposition to the laws. The first was Bacon’s Rebellion; the 2d. our revolution; the 3d. the Richmond association who, by their committee, have in the public papers avowed their purpose of taking out of the hands of the law the function of declaring who may or may not have free residence among us. But these gentlemen miscalculate the temper and force of this country extremely if they supposed there would have been a want of either to support the authority of the laws: and equally mistake their own interests in setting the example of club-law. Whether their self-organized election of a committee, and publication of their manifesto, be such overt acts as bring them within the pale of law; the law I presume is to decide: and there it is our duty to leave it. The delivery of Robbins to the British excites much feeling and enquiry here. With every wish for your welfare I am with great regard sir Your most obedient servt.
to james thomson callender1
Monticello Oct. 6, 99.
—On receiving your favor of Sept. 29, I did believe it would be in my power to answer you satisfactorily on both points on which you asked information. I knew indeed that I had not made any particular memorandum of the sum which the C’ de Vergennes supposed a treaty with the Porte would cost; but I expect that I had mentioned it either in my letter on the subject to Mr. Jay, or in that to Mr. Adams my colleague in the Barbary negociations. After a very long search yesterday I found both letters, but in neither have I stated any particular sum. They are of May 1786, and only say generally that in a conversation with the Ct. de Vergennes on the subject, he said that a treaty with the Porte would cost us a great deal of money, as great presents are expected at that court, and a great many claim them; and that we should not buy a peace one penny the cheaper at Algiers; that the Algerines did indeed acknowledge a certain dependence on the Porte, and availed themselves of it whenever any thing was to be gained by it, but disregarded it when it subjected them to any demand: and that at Algiers there were but too [sic] agents, money and fear. This is the statement in those letters, and my memory does not enable me to fix any particular sum having been named by him; but only generally that it was very far beyond any thing then at our command.—All who were members of Congress in 1786. may be supposed to remember this information, and if it could be understood to come to you through some such channel, it would save the public from reading all the blackguardism which would be vented on me were I quoted; not that this would weigh an atom with me, on any occasion where my avowal of either facts or opinions would be of public use; but whenever it will not, I then think it useful to keep myself out of the way of calumny.
On the other point I can be more certain. Georgia, N. Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania choose their electors by the people directly. In Massachusetts the choice is, first by the people in districts: But if a candidate had not a majority of all the qualified voters of the district; it devolves on the legislature to appoint the elector for that district, besides, as they have but 14. districts (laid off for some state purpose) and are entitled to 16. electors, the legislature name the two extra ones in the first instance. Again, if any of those elected either by the people or legislature die, or decline to act, the residue of the electors fill up the vacancies themselves. In this way the people of Massachus. chose 7. electors on the last occasion, and the legislature 9. In New Hamp. Rho. Isld. Connec. Vermont, New-York, Jersey, Delaware and South Carolina, the legislature name electors. My information is good as to all these particulars except N. Hampshire and Connecticut: and as to them I think I am right; but speaking only from memory it should be further ascertained before asserted. I thank you for the proof sheets you inclosed me. Such papers cannot fail to produce the best effect. They inform the thinking part of the nation; and these again, supported by the taxgatherers as their vouchers, set the people to rights. You will know from whom this comes without a signature: the omission of which has rendered almost habitual with me by the curiosity of the post offices. Indeed a period is now approaching during which I shall discontinue writing letters as much as possible, knowing that every snare will be used to get hold of what may be perverted in the eyes of the public.
to stephen thompson mason
Monticello Oct. 27, 1799.
—Your favor by Mr. Craven has been duly received, and I am very thankful for your attention to the subject of my former letter. It is one I have very much at heart, for I find I am not fit to be a farmer with the kind of labour we have, & also subject to such long avocation. Mr. Craven had thought too much of the raspberry plains to be satisfied with our mountainous country; however, although we have not come to an absolute engagement, yet he departs under an expectation of deciding to return, & to decide others to come. I have shewn him 800. acres of enclosed & cultivated lands, which I release in such parcels as the tenants desire. Before he arrived, I had leased 160. acres to a very good man, being afraid to lose the offer under the uncertainty whether I might get others.
I sincerely congratulate you on the success of McKean’s election & I hope the Pennsylvania republicans have been as successful in the election of the members of their legislature. Such a state as that harmonizing by its public authorities with those to the south, would command respect to the Federal constitution. Still we must place at the distance of at least two years that reformation in the public proceedings which depends on the character of Congress. That now coming into the exercise of authority affords no hope. The misfortune of the French would probably produce at the next session still greater intolerance than we have hitherto experienced, did not the insolences of the English keep their votaries here in check for us. The public mind in the middle states, from every information I receive, has very much regenerated in principles of Whiggism. In this part of our state some symptoms of waivering which had appeared in certain places, have again become firm, or are fast returning to that state: always excepting however that gangrene which spreads from the public functionaries great & small, proceeding from the canker of interest. I am with great & sincere affection Dear Sir, your friend & servant.
to charles pinckney
Monticello Oct. 29. 99.
—Your favor of Sept. 12. came to hand on the 3d inst. I have delayed acknoledging it in hopes of receiving the longer one you mentioned to have written, but that has not yet reached me. I was both pleased & edified by the piece on Robbins case. It ought to be a very serious case to the judge. I think no one circumstance since the establishment of our government has affected the popular mind more. I learn that in Pennsylvania it had a great effect. I have no doubt the piece you enclosed will run through all the republican papers, & carry the question home to every man’s mind. The success of McKean’s election is a subject of real congratulation & hope. The majority by which he carried it is not yet known here, but it must have been very great. We have also to expect that the same spirit which prevailed & shewed itself so strongly on that vote, has been equally efficacious in the election of their legislature. Could a republican legislature in Pennsylvania be once added to those south of the Potomac, it would command more respect to our constitution. I consider all the encroachments made on that heretofore as nothing, as mere retail stuff compared with the wholesale doctrine, that there is a common law in force in the U. S. of which & of all the cases within its provisions their courts have cognizance. It is complete consolidation. Ellsworth & Iredell have openly recognized it. Washington has squinted at it, & I have no doubt it has been decided to cram it down our throats. In short it would seem that changes in the principles of our government are to be pushed till they accomplish a monarchy peaceably, or force a resistance which with the aid of an army may end in monarchy. Still I hope that this will be peaceably prevented by the eyes of the people being opened & the consequent effect of the elective principle. This is certainly taken place in the middle states. The late misfortunes of France would probably render the consolidationers more enterprising & more intolerant than ever at the next session of Congress, were they not held in check by the British aggressions. You flatter us with the possibility of coming on by land & taking this in your route. Nothing could be more pleasing to me as it will be to Colo. Monroe & mr. Madison. Our legislature meets on the same day with Congress consequently mr. Madison’s motions will be affected accordingly. I wish I knew enough of the roads to recommend the best route to you, but I am unacquainted with them, except so far as to observe that if you come by Halifax the direct line thence would be Brunswick, Amelia, Lile’s ford Appomatox & Columbia at the fork of James river, from whence the road hither is good, except the last 8. or 10. miles. Our friend Mason, from whom I lately recd a letter, is well. Wilson C. Nicholas will be his collegue Tazewell, & Monroe will probably be the governor. Notwithstanding the unaccountable event of some of the Congressional elections in April last those for the state legislature will have made that body still more republican than it was. I hope So. Carolina is recovering from the delusion which affected their last election. Accept assurances of the sincere esteem of dear sir, &c.
P. S. I shall not frank my letter lest it should awake the curiosity of the post offices.
to james madison
ed. of 1829.
Monticello November 22, 1799.
—I have never answered your letter by Mr. Polk, because I expected to have paid you a visit. This has been prevented by various causes, till yesterday. That being the day fixed for the departure of my daughter Eppes, my horses were ready for me to have set out to see you: an accident postponed her departure to this day, and my visit also. But Colonel Monroe dined with me yesterday, and on my asking his commands for you, he entered into the subject of the visit and dissuaded it entirely, founding the motives on the espionage of the little * * * in * * * * who would make it a subject of some political slander, and perhaps of some political injury. I have yielded to his representations, and therefore shall not have the pleasure of seeing you till my return from Philadelphia. I regret it sincerely, not only on motives of attention but of affairs. Some late circumstances changing considerably the aspect of our situation, must affect the line of conduct to be observed. I regret it the more too, because from the commencement of the ensuing session, I shall trust the post offices with nothing confidential, persuaded that during the ensuing twelve months they will lend their inquisitorial aid to furnish matter for newspapers. I shall send you as usual printed communications, without saying anything confidential on them. You will of course understand the cause.
In your new station1 let me recommend to you the jury system: as also the restoration of juries in the court of chancery, which a law not long since repealed, because “the trial by jury is troublesome and expensive.” If the reason be good, they should abolish it at common law also. If Peter Carr is elected in the room of * * * he will undertake the proposing this business, and only need your support. If he is not elected, I hope you will get it done otherwise. My best respects to Mrs. Madison, and affectionate salutations to yourself.
[1 ]The paper was as follows:
[1 ]From the original in the possession of the Virginia Historical Society.
[1 ]On margin.
[1 ]From the original in the possession of the Virginia Historical Society.
[1 ]See page 79, for the evident text lacking here.
[1 ]Part in brackets not in letterpress copy.
[2 ]From the New York Evening Post, Oct. 11, 1802.
[1 ]From the New York Evening Post, Oct. 11, 1802.
[1 ]The Legislature of Virginia.