Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1800 - to james monroe - The Works, vol. 9 (1799-1803)
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1800 - to james monroe - 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 monroe
Philadelphia January 12, 1800.
Yours of Jan. 4. was received last night. I had then no expectation of any opportunity of communicating to you confidentially information of the state of opinions here; but I learn to-night that two mr. Randolphs will set out to-morrow morning for Richmond. If I can get this into their hands I shall send it, otherwise it may wait long. On the subject of an election by a general ticket, or by districts, most persons here seem to have made up their minds. All agree that an election by districts would be best, if it could be general; but while 10 states chuse either by their legislatures or by a general ticket, it is folly & worse than folly for the other 6. not to do it. In these 10. states the minority is entirely unrepresented; & their majorities not only have the weight of their whole state in their scale, but have the benefit of so much of our minorities as can succeed at a district election. This is, in fact, ensuring to our minorities the appointment of the government. To state it in another form; it is merely a question whether we will divide the U S into 16. or 137. districts. The latter being more chequered, & representing the people in smaller sections, would be more likely to be an exact representation of their diversified sentiments. But a representation of a part by great, & a part by small sections, would give a result very different from what would be the sentiment of the whole people of the U S, were they assembled together. I have today had a conversation with 113.1 who has taken a flying trip here from N Y. He says, they have really now a majority in the H of R, but for want of some skilful person to rally round, they are disjointed, & will lose every question. In the Senate there is a majority of 8. or 9. against us. But in the new election which is to come on in April, three or 4. in the Senate will be changed in our favor; & in the H of R the county elections will still be better than the last; but still all will depend on the city election, which is of 12. members. At present there would be no doubt of our carrying our ticket there; nor does there seem to be time for any events arising to change that disposition. There is therefore the best prospect possible of a great & decided majority on a joint vote of the two houses. They are so confident of this, that the republican party there will not consent to elect either by districts or a general ticket. They chuse to do it by their legislature. I am told the republicans of N J are equally confident, & equally anxious against an election either by districts or a general ticket. The contest in this State will end in a separation of the present legislature without passing any election law, (& their former one is expired), and in depending on the new one, which will be elected Oct 14. in which the republican majority will be more decided in the Representatives, & instead of a majority of 5. against us in the Senate, will be of 1. for us. They will, from the necessity of the case, chuse the electors themselves. Perhaps it will be thought I ought in delicacy to be silent on this subject. But you, who know me, know that my private gratifications would be most indulged by that issue, which should leave me most at home. If anything supersedes this propensity, it is merely the desire to see this government brought back to it’s republican principles. Consider this as written to mr. Madison as much as yourself; & communicate it, if you think it will do any good, to those possessing our joint confidence, or any others where it may be useful & safe. Health & affectionate salutations.
to mary jefferson eppes1
Philadelphia Jan. 17th, 1800.
My dear Maria,
—I received at Monticello two letters from you, and meant to have answered them a little before my departure for this place; but business so crowded upon me at that moment that it was not in my power. I left home on the 21st, and arrived here on the 28th of December, after a pleasant journey of fine weather and good roads, and without having experienced any inconvenience. The Senate had not yet entered into business, and I may say they have not yet entered into it; for we have not occupation for half an hour a day. Indeed, it is so apparent that we have nothing to do but to raise money to fill the deficit of five millions of dollars, that it is proposed we shall rise about the middle of March; and as the proposition comes from the Eastern members, who have always been for sitting permanently, while the Southern are constant for early adjournment, I presume we shall rise then. In the meanwhile, they are about to renew the bill suspending intercourse with France, which is in fact a bill to prohibit the exportation of tobacco, and to reduce the tobacco States to passive obedience by poverty.
J. Randolph has entered into debate with great splendor and approbation. He used an unguarded word in his first speech, applying the word “ragmuffin” to the common soldiery. He took it back of his own accord, and very handsomely, the next day, when he had occasion to reply. Still, in the evening of the second day, he was jostled, and his coat pulled at the theatre by two officers of the Navy, who repeated the word “ragmuffin.” His friends present supported him spiritedly, so that nothing further followed. Conceiving, and, as I think, justly, that the House of Representatives (not having passed a law on the subject) could not punish the offenders, he wrote a letter to the President, who laid it before the House, where it is still depending. He has conducted himself with great propriety, and I have no doubt will come out with increase of reputation, being determined himself to oppose the interposition of the House when they have no law for it.
M. du Pont, his wife and family, are arrived at New York, after a voyage of three months and five days. I suppose after he is a little recruited from his voyage we shall see him here. His son is with him, as is also his son-in-law Bureau Pusy, the companion and fellow sufferer of Lafayette. I have a letter from Lafayette of April; he then expected to sail for America in July, but I suspect he awaits the effect of the mission of our ministers. I presume that Madame de Lafayette is to come with them, and that they mean to settle in America.
The prospect of returning early to Monticello is to me a most charming one. I hope the fishery will not prevent your joining us early in the spring. However, on this subject we can speak together, as I will endeavor, if possible, to take Mont Blanco and Eppington in my way.
A letter from Dr. Carr, of December 27, informed me he has just left you well. I become daily more anxious to hear from you, and to know that you continue well, your present state being one which is most interesting to a parent; and its issue, I hope, will be such as to give you experience what a parent’s anxiety may be. I employ my leisure moments in repassing often in my mind our happy domestic society when together at Monticello, and looking forward to the renewal of it. No other society gives me now any satisfaction, as no other is founded in sincere affection. Take care of yourself, my dear Maria, for my sake, and cherish your affections for me, as my happiness rests solely on yours, and on that of your sister’s and your dear connections. Present me affectionately to Mr. Eppes, to whom I enclosed some pamphlets some time ago without any letter; as I shall write no letters the ensuing year for political reasons which I explained to him. Present my affections also to Mrs. and Mr. Eppes, Senior, and all the family, for whom I feel every interest that I do for my own. Be assured yourself, my dear, of my most tender and constant love. Adieu. Yours affectionately and forever.
to joseph priestley
Philadelphia Jan. 18, 1800.
—I have to thank you for the pamphlets you were so kind as to send me. You will know what I thought of them by my having before sent a dozen sets to Virginia to distribute among my friends. Yet I thank you not the less for these, which I value the more as they came from yourself. The stock of them which Campbell had was, I believe, exhausted the first or second day of advertising them. The Papers of political arithmetic, both in your & Mr. Cooper’s pamphlets, are the most precious gifts that can be made to us; for we are running navigation mad, & commerce mad, & navy mad, which is worst of all. How desirable is it that you could pursue that subject for us. From the Porcupines of our country you will receive no thanks; but the great mass of our nation will edify & thank you. How deeply have I been chagrined & mortified at the persecutions which fanaticism & monarchy have excited against you, even here! At first I believed it was merely a continuance of the English persecution. But I observe that on the demise of Porcupine & division of his inheritance between Fenno & Brown, the latter (tho’ succeeding only to the federal portion of Porcupinism, not the Anglican, which is Fenno’s part) serves up for the palate of his sect, dishes of abuse against you as high seasoned as Porcupine’s were. You have sinned against church & king, & can therefore never be forgiven. How sincerely have I regretted that your friend, before he fixed his choice of a position, did not visit the vallies on each side of the blue ridge in Virginia, as Mr. Madison & myself so much wished. You would have found there equal soil, the finest climate & most healthy one on the earth, the homage of universal reverence & love, & the power of the country spread over you as a shield. But since you would not make it your country by adoption, you must now do it by your good offices. I have one to propose to you which will produce their good, & gratitude to you for ages, and in the way to which you have devoted a long life, that of spreading light among men.
We have in that state a college (Wm. & Mary) just well enough endowed to draw out the miserable existence to which a miserable constitution has doomed it. It is moreover eccentric in it’s position, exposed to bilious diseases as all the lower country is, & therefore abandoned by the public care, as that part of the country itself is in a considerable degree by it’s inhabitants. We wish to establish in the upper & healthier country, & more centrally for the state, an University on a plan so broad & liberal & modern, as to be worth patronizing with the public support, and be a temptation to the youth of other states to come and drink of the cup of knowledge & fraternize with us. The first step is to obtain a good plan; that is, a judicious selection of the sciences, & a practicable grouping of some of them together, & ramifying of others, so as to adapt the professorships to our uses & our means. In an institution meant chiefly for use, some branches of science, formerly esteemed, may be now omitted; so may others now valued in Europe, but useless to us for ages to come. As an example of the former, the oriental learning, and of the latter, almost the whole of the institution proposed to Congress by the Secretary of war’s report of the 5th inst. Now there is no one to whom this subject is so familiar as yourself. There is no one in the world who, equally with yourself, unites this full possession of the subject with such a knowledge of the state of our existence, as enables you to fit the garment to him who is to pay for it & to wear it. To you therefore we address our solicitations, and to lessen to you as much as possible the ambiguities of our object, I will venture even to sketch the sciences which seem useful & practicable for us, as they occur to me while holding my pen. Botany, Chemistry, Zoology, Anatomy, Surgery, Medicine, Natl Philosophy, Agriculture, Mathematics, Astronomy, Geology, Geography, Politics, Commerce, History, Ethics, Law, Arts, Fine arts. This list is imperfect because I make it hastily, and because I am unequal to the subject. It is evident that some of these articles are too much for one professor & must therefore be ramified; others may be ascribed in groups to a single professor. This is the difficult part of the work, & requires a head perfectly knowing the extent of each branch, & the limits within which it may be circumscribed, so as to bring the whole within the powers of the fewest professors possible, & consequently within the degree of expence practicable for us. We should propose that the professors follow no other calling, so that their whole time may be given to their academical functions; and we should propose to draw from Europe the first characters in science, by considerable temptations, which would not need to be repeated after the first set should have prepared fit successors & given reputation to the institution. From some splendid characters I have received offers most perfectly reasonable & practicable.
I do not propose to give you all this trouble merely of my own head, that would be arrogance. It has been the subject of consultation among the ablest and highest characters of our State, who only wait for a plan to make a joint & I hope successful effort to get the thing carried into effect. They will receive your ideas with the greatest deference & thankfulness. We shall be here certainly for two months to come; but should you not have leisure to think of it before Congress adjourns, it will come safely to me afterwards by post, the nearest post office being Milton.
Will not the arrival of Dupont tempt you to make a visit to this quarter? I have no doubt the alarmists are already whetting their shafts for him also, but their glass is nearly run out, and the day I believe is approaching when we shall be as free to pursue what is true wisdom as the effects of their follies will permit; for some of them we shall be forced to wade through because we are emerged in them.
Wishing you that pure happiness which your pursuits and circumstances offer, and which I am sure you are too wise to suffer a diminution of by the pigmy assaults made on you, and with every sentiment of affectionate esteem & respect, I am, dear Sir, your most humble, and most obedient servant.
to martha jefferson randolph1
Philadelphia Jan. 21st, 1800.
I am made happy by a letter from Mr. Eppes, informing me that Maria was become a mother, and was well. It was written the day after the event. These circumstances are balm to the painful sensations of this place. I look forward with hope to the moment when we are all to be united again. I inclose a little tale for Annie. To Ellen you must make big promises, which I know a bit of ginger-bread will pay off. Kiss them all for me. My affectionate salutations to Mr. Randolph, and tender and increasing love to yourself. Adieu, my dear Martha. Affectionately yours, etc.
to harry innes
Philadelphia Jan 23, 1800.
—Your favor of Dec 6 I received here on the 30th of same month, and have to thank you for the papers it contained. They serve to prove that if Cressap was not of the party of Logan’s murderers, yet no injury was done his character by believing it. I shall, while here this winter, publish such material testimony on the subject as I have received; which by the kindness of my friends will be amply sufficient. It will appear that the deed was generally imputed to Cressap by both whites & Indians, that his character was justly stained with their blood, perhaps that he ordered this transaction, but that he was not himself present at the time. I shall consequently make a proper change in the text of the Notes on Virginia, to be adopted, if any future edition of that work should be printed.
With respect to the judiciary district to be established for the Western states, nothing can be wilder than to annex to them any state on the Eastern waters. I do not know what may be the dispositions of the House of Representatives on that subject, but I should hope from what I recollect of those manifested by the Senate on the same subject at the former session, that they may be induced to set off the Western country in a distinct district. And I expect that the reason of the thing must bring both houses into the measure.
The Mississippi territory has petitioned to be placed at once in what is called the second stage of government. Surely, such a government as the first form prescribed for the territories is a despotic oligarchy without one rational object.
I had addressed the enclosed letters to the care of the postmaster at Louisville; but not knowing him, I have concluded it better to ask the favor of you to avail them of any passage which may offer down the river. I presume the boats stop of course at those places.
We have wonderful rumors here at this time. One that the king of England is dead. As this would ensure a general peace, I do not know that it would be any misfortune to humanity. The other is that Buonaparte, Sieyes & Ducos have usurped the French government. This is West-India news, and shews that after killing Buonaparte a thousand times, they have still a variety of parts to be acted by him. Were it really true—. While I was writing the last word a gentleman enters my room and brings a confirmation that something has happened at Paris. This is arrived at New York by a ship from Corke. The particulars differ from the West India account. We are therefore only to believe that a revolution of some kind has taken place, & that Buonaparte is at the head of it, but what are the particulars & what the object, we must wait with patience to learn. In the meantime we may speak hypothetically. If Buonaparte declares for royalty, either in his own person, or of Louis XVIII., he has but a few days to live. In a nation of so much enthusiasm, there must be a million of Brutuses who will devote themselves to death to destroy him. But, without much faith in Buonaparte’s heart, I have so much in his head, as to indulge another train of reflection. The republican world has been long looking with anxiety on the two experiments going on of a single elective Executive here, & a plurality there. Opinions have been considerably divided on the event in both countries. The greater opinion there has seemed to be heretofore in favor of a plurality, here it has been very generally, tho not universally, in favor of a single elective Executive. After 8. or 9. years’ experience of perpetual broils & factions in their Directory, a standing division (under all changes) of 3. against 2., which results in a government by a single opinion, it is possible they may think the experiment decided in favor of our form, & that Buonaparte may be for a single executive, limited in time & power, & flatter himself with the election to that office; & that to this change the nation may rally itself; perhaps it is the only one to which all parties could be rallied. In every case it is to be feared & deplored that that nation has yet to wade through half a century of disorder & convulsions. These, however, are conjectures only, which you will take as such, and accept assurances of the great esteem & attachment of, dear Sir, your friend and servant.
to joseph priestley
Philadelphia Jan 27, 1800.
—In my letter of the 18th, I omitted to say any thing of the languages as part of our proposed university. It was not that I think, as some do, that they are useless. I am of a very different opinion. I do not think them essential to the obtaining eminent degrees of science; but I think them very useful towards it. I suppose there is a portion of life during which our faculties are ripe enough for this, & for nothing more useful. I think the Greeks & Romans have left us the present models which exist of fine composition, whether we examine them as works of reason, or of style & fancy; and to them we probably owe these characteristics of modern composition. I know of no composition of any other antient people, which merits the least regard as a model for it’s matter or style. To all this I add, that to read the Latin & Greek authors in their original, is a sublime luxury; and I deem luxury in science to be at least as justifiable as in architecture, painting, gardening, or the other arts. I enjoy Homer in his own language infinitely beyond Pope’s translation of him, & both beyond the dull narrative of the same events by Dares Phrygius; & it is an innocent enjoyment. I thank on my knees, him who directed my early education, for having put into my possession this rich source of delight; and I would not exchange it for anything which I could then have acquired, & have not since acquired. With this regard for those languages, you will acquit me of meaning to omit them. About 20. years ago, I drew a bill for our legislature, which proposed to lay off every county into hundreds or townships of 5. or 6. miles square, in the centre of each of which was to be a free English school; the whole state was further laid off into 10. districts, in each of which was to be a college for teaching the languages, geography, surveying, and other useful things of that grade; and then a single University for the sciences. It was received with enthusiasm; but as I had proposed that Wm & Mary, under an improved form, should be the University, & that was at that time pretty highly Episcopal, the dissenters after a while began to apprehend some secret design of a preference to that sect and nothing could then be done. About 3. years ago they enacted that part of my bill which related to English schools, except that instead of obliging, they left it optional in the court of every county to carry it into execution or not. I think it probable the part of the plan for the middle grade of education, may also be brought forward in due time. In the meanwhile, we are not without a sufficient number of good country schools, where the languages, geography, & the first elements of Mathematics, are taught. Having omitted this information in my former letter, I thought it necessary now to supply it, that you might know on what base your superstructure was to be reared. I have a letter from M. Dupont, since his arrival at N. York, dated the 20th, in which he says he will be in Philadelphia within about a fortnight from that time; but only on a visit. How much would it delight me if a visit from you at the same time, were to shew us two such illustrious foreigners embracing each other in my country, as the asylum for whatever is great & good. Pardon, I pray you, the temporary delirium which has been excited here, but which is fast passing away. The Gothic idea that we are to look backwards instead of forwards for the improvement of the human mind, and to recur to the annals of our ancestors for what is most perfect in government, in religion & in learning, is worthy of those bigots in religion & government, by whom it has been recommended, & whose purposes it would answer. But it is not an idea which this country will endure; and the moment of their showing it is fast ripening; and the signs of it will be their respect for you, & growing detestation of those who have dishonored our country by endeavors to disturb our tranquility in it. No one has felt this with more sensibility than, my dear Sir, your respectful & affectionate friend & servant.
to john breckenridge
Philadelphia Jan 29, 1800.
—Your favor of the 13th has been duly received, as had been that containing the resolutions of your legislature on the subject of the former resolutions. I was glad to see the subject taken up, and done with so much temper, firmness and propriety. From the reason of the thing I cannot but hope that the Western country will be laid off into a separate Judiciary district. From what I recollect of the dispositions on the same subject at the last session, I should expect that the partiality to a general & uniform system would yield to geographical & physical impracticabilities. I was once a great advocate for introducing into chancery vivâ voce testimony, & trial by jury. I am still so as to the latter, but have retired from the former opinion on the information received from both your state & ours, that it worked inconveniently. I introduced it into the Virginia law, but did not return to the bar, so as to see how it answered. But I do not understand how the vivâ voce examination comes to be practiced in the Federal court with you, & not in your own courts; the Federal courts being decided by law to proceed & decide by the laws of the states.
A great revolution has taken place at Paris. The people of that country having never been in the habit of self-government, are not yet in the habit of acknoleging that fundamental law of nature, by which alone self government can be exercised by a society, I mean the lex majoris partis. Of the sacredness of this law, our countrymen are impressed from their cradle, so that with them it is almost innate. This single circumstance may possibly decide the fate of the two nations. One party appears to have been prevalent in the Directory & council of 500. the other in the council of antients. Sieyes & Ducos, the minority in the Directory, not being able to carry their points there seem to have gained over Buonaparte, & associating themselves with the majority of the Council of antients, have expelled1 120. odd members the most obnoxious of the minority of the Elders, & of the majority of the council of 500. so as to give themselves a majority in the latter council also. They have established Buonaparte, Sieyes & Ducos into an executive, or rather Dictatorial consulate, given them a committee of between 20. & 30. from each council, & have adjourned to the 20th of Feb. Thus the Constitution of the 3d year which was getting consistency & firmness from time is demolished in an instant, and nothing is said about a new one. How the nation will bear it is yet unknown. Had the Consuls been put to death in the first tumult & before the nation had time to take sides, the Directory & councils might have reestablished themselves on the spot. But that not being done, perhaps it is now to be wished that Buonaparte may be spared, as, according to his protestations, he is for liberty, equality & representative government, and he is more able to keep the nation together, & to ride out the storm than any other. Perhaps it may end in their establishing a single representative & that in his person. I hope it will not be for life, for fear of the influence of the example on our countrymen. It is very material for the latter to be made sensible that their own character & situation are materially different from the French; & that whatever may be the fate of republicanism there, we are able to preserve it inviolate here: we are sensible of the duty & expediency of submitting our opinions to the will of the majority and can wait with patience till they get right if they happen to be at any time wrong. Our vessel is moored at such a distance, that should theirs blow up, ours is still safe, if we will but think so.
I had recommended the enclosed letter to the care of the postmaster at Louisville; but have been advised it is better to get a friend to forward it by some of the boats. I will ask that favor of you. It is the duplicate of one with the same address which I inclosed last week to mr. Innes & should therefore go by a different conveyance. I am with great esteem dear sir your friend & servant.
to bishop james madison
Philadelphia Jan. 31, 1800.
—* * * I have lately by accident got a sight of a single volume (the 3d.) of the Abbe Barruel’s Antisocial conspiracy, which gives me the first idea I have ever had of what is meant by the Illuminatism against which “illuminate Morse” as he is now called, & his ecclesiastical & monarchical associates have been making such a hue and cry. Barruel’s own parts of the book are perfectly the ravings of a Bedlamite. But he quotes largely from Wishaupt whom he considers as the founder of what he calls the order. As you may not have had an opportunity of forming a judgment of this cry of “mad dog” which has been raised against his doctrines, I will give you the idea I have formed from only an hour’s reading of Barruel’s quotations from him, which you may be sure are not the most favorable. Wishaupt seems to be an enthusiastic Philanthropist. He is among those (as you know the excellent Price and Priestley also are) who believe in the indefinite perfectibility of man. He thinks he may in time be rendered so perfect that he will be able to govern himself in every circumstance so as to injure none, to do all the good he can, to leave government no occasion to exercise their powers over him, & of course to render political government useless. This you know is Godwin’s doctrine, and this is what Robinson, Barruel & Morse had called a conspiracy against all government. Wishaupt believes that to promote this perfection of the human character was the object of Jesus Christ. That his intention was simply to reinstate natural religion, & by diffusing the light of his morality, to teach us to govern ourselves. His precepts are the love of god & love of our neighbor. And by teaching innocence of conduct, he expected to place men in their natural state of liberty & equality. He says, no one ever laid a surer foundation for liberty than our grand master, Jesus of Nazareth. He believes the Free masons were originally possessed of the true principles & objects of Christianity, & have still preserved some of them by tradition, but much disfigured. The means he proposes to effect this improvement of human nature are “to enlighten men, to correct their morals & inspire them with benevolence. Secure of our success, sais he, we abstain from violent commotions. To have foreseen the happiness of posterity & to have prepared it by irreproachable means, suffices for our felicity. The tranquility of our consciences is not troubled by the reproach of aiming at the ruin or overthrow of states or thrones.” As Wishaupt lived under the tyranny of a despot & priests, he knew that caution was necessary even in spreading information, & the principles of pure morality. He proposed therefore to lead the Free masons to adopt this object & to make the objects of their institution the diffusion of science & virtue. He proposed to initiate new members into his body by gradations proportioned to his fears of the thunderbolts of tyranny. This has given an air of mystery to his views, was the foundation of his banishment, the subversion of the masonic order, & is the colour for the ravings against him of Robinson, Barruel & Morse, whose real fears are that the craft would be endangered by the spreading of information, reason, & natural morality among men. This subject being new to me, I have imagined that if it be so to you also, you may receive the same satisfaction in seeing, which I have had in forming the analysis of it: & I believe you will think with me that if Wishaupt had written here, where no secrecy is necessary in our endeavors to render men wise & virtuous, he would not have thought of any secret machinery for that purpose. As Godwin, if he had written in Germany, might probably also have thought secrecy & mysticism prudent. I will say nothing to you on the late revolution of France, which is painfully interesting. Perhaps when we know more of the circumstances which gave rise to it, & the direction it will take, Buonaparte, its chief organ, may stand in a better light than at present. I am with great esteem, dear sir, your affectionate friend.
to thomas mann randolph
Philadelphia Feb 2, 1800.
My letters to yourself and my dear Martha have been of Jan. 13, 21, & 28. I now enclose a letter lately received for her. You will see in the newspapers all the details we have of the proceedings of Paris. I observe that Lafayette is gone there. When we see him, Volney, Sieyes, Taleyrand, gathering round the new powers, we may conjecture from thence their views and principles. Should it be really true that Buonaparte has usurped the government with an intention of making it a free one, whatever his talents may be for war, we have no proofs that he is skilled in forming governments friendly to the people. Wherever he has meddled we have seen nothing but fragments of the old Roman government stuck into materials with which they can form no cohesion: we see the bigotry of an Italian to the antient splendour of his country, but nothing which bespeaks a luminous view of the organization of rational government. Perhaps however this may end better than we augur; and it certainly will if his head is equal to true & solid calculations of glory. It is generally hoped here that peace may take place. There was before no union of views between Austria & the members of the triple coalition; and the defeats of Suwarrow appear to have completely destroyed the confidence of Russia in that power, & the failure of the Dutch expedition to have weaned him from the plans of England. The withdrawing his armies we hope is the signal for the entire dissolution of the coalition, and for every one seeking his separate peace. We have great need of this event, that foreign affairs may no longer bear so heavily on ours. We have great need for the ensuing twelve months to be left to ourselves. The enemies of our constitution are preparing a fearful operation, and the dissensions in this state are too likely to bring things to the situation they wish, when our Buonaparte, surrounded by his comrades in arms, may step in to give us political salvation in his way. It behoves our citizens to be on their guard, to be firm in their principles, and full of confidence in themselves. We are able to preserve our self-government if we will but think so. I think the return of Lafayette to Paris ensures a reconciliation between them & us. He will so entwist himself with the envoys that they will not be able to draw off. Mr. C. Pinckney has brought into the Senate a bill for the uniform appointment of juries. A tax on public stock, bankstock. &c., is to be proposed. This would bring 150. millions into contribution with the lands, and levy a sensible proportion of the expences of a war on those who are so anxious to engage us in it. Robbins’ affair is perhaps to be inquired into. However, the majority against these things leave no hope of success. It is most unfortunate that while Virginia & N Carolina were steady, the middle states drew back: now that these are laying their shoulders to the draught, Virginia and N Carolina baulk; so that never drawing together, the Eastern states, steady & unbroken, draw all to themselves. I was mistaken last week in saying no more failures had happened. New ones have been declaring every day in Baltimore, others here and at New York. The last here have been Nottnagil, Montmollin & Co., & Peter Blight. These sums are enormous. I do not know the firms of the bankrupt houses in Baltimore, but the crush will be incalculable. In the present stagnation of commerce, & particularly that in tobo, it is difficult to transfer money from hence to Richmond. Government bills on their custom house at Bermuda can from time to time be had. I think it will be best for mr. Barnes always to keep them bespoke, and to remit in that way your instalments as fast as they are either due or within the discountable period. The 1st is due the middle of March, & so from 2. months to 2. months in 5. equal instalments. I am looking out to see whether such a difference of price here may be had as will warrant our bringing our tobo from N York here, rather than take 8. D. there. We have been very unfortunate in this whole business. First in our own miscalculation of the effect of the non-intercourse law; & when we had corrected our opinions, that our instructions were from good, but mistaken views, not executed. My constant love to my dear Martha, kisses to her young ones, and affectionate esteem to yourself.
to james monroe
Philada Feb. 6. 1800.
Nobody here has received mr. Madison’s report as it passed the house. The members of the different states are waiting to receive & forward a single copy to their states to be reprinted there. This would require half a dozen copies. But if you will send me one, we can have it reprinted here & sent out. Pray do it by the first post. If it was not printed there as amended in a separate pamphlet then send me those sheets of the journal in which it is contained. I expect Dupont the father at Philada every hour. Adieu affectionately.
to samuel adams
Philadelphia February 26, [1800.]
—Mr. Erving delivered me your favor of Jany. 31, and I thank you for making me acquainted with him. You will always do me a favor in giving me an opportunity of knowing gentlemen as estimable in their principles & talents as I find mr. Erving to be. I have not yet seen mr. Winthrop. A letter from you, my respectable friend, after three & twenty years of separation, has given me a pleasure I cannot express. It recalls to my mind the anxious days we then passed in struggling for the cause of mankind. Your principles have been tested in the crucible of time, & have come out pure. You have proved that it was monarchy, & not merely British monarchy, you opposed. A government by representatives, elected by the people at short periods, was our object; and our maxim at that day was, “where annual election ends, tyranny begins;” nor have our departures from it been sanctioned by the happiness of their effects. A debt of an hundred millions growing by usurious interest, and an artificial paper phalanx overruling the agricultural mass of our country, with other &c. &c. &c., have a portentous aspect.—I fear our friends on the other side of the water, laboring in the same cause, have yet a great deal of crime & misery to wade through. My confidence has been placed in the head, not in the heart of Buonaparte. I hoped he would calculate truly the difference between the fame of a Washington & a Cromwell. Whatever his views may be, he has at least transferred the destinies of the republic from the civil to the military arm. Some will use this as a lesson against the practicability of republican government. I read it as a lesson against the danger of standing armies. Adieu, my ever respected & venerable friend. May that kind & overruling providence which has so long spared you to our wishes, still foster your remaining years with whatever may make them comfortable to yourself & soothing to your friends. Accept the cordial salutations of your affectionate friend.
to george wythe
Philadelphia Feb. 28. 1800.
My dear Sir,
—I know how precious your time is & how exclusively you devote it to the duties of your office. Yet I venture to ask a few hours or minutes of it on motives of public service, as well as private friendship. I will explain the occasion of the application. You recollect enough of the old Congress to remember that their mode of managing the business of the House was not only unparliamentary, but that the forms were so awkward & inconvenient that it was impossible sometimes to get at the true sense of the majority. The House of Repr. of the U. S. are now pretty much in the same situation. In the Senate it is in our power to get into a better way. Our ground is this. The Senate have established a few rules for their government, & have subjected the decisions on these & on all other points of order without debate, & without appeal, to the judgment of their President. He, for his own use, as well as theirs must prefer recurring to some system of rules ready formed, & there can be no question that the Parliamentary rules are the best known to us for managing the debates, & obtaining the sense of a deliberative body. I have therefore made them my rule of decision, rejecting those of the old Congress altogether; & it gives entire satisfaction to the Senate; in so much that we shall not only have a good system there, but probably, by the example of it’s effects, produce a conformity in the other branch. But in the course of this business I find perplexities, having for twenty years been out of deliberative bodies & become rusty as to many points of proceeding. And so little has the Parliamentary branch of the law been attended to, that I not only find no person here, but not even a book to aid me. I had, at an early period of life, read a good deal on the subject, & commonplaced what I read. This commonplace has been my pillow, but there are many questions of practice on which that is silent. Some of them are so minute indeed & belong so much to every day’s practice that they have never been thought worthy of being written down. Yet from desuetude they have slipped my memory. You will see by the inclosed paper what they are. I know with what pain you write. Therefore I have left a margin in which you can write a simple negative or affirmative opposite every position, or perhaps with as little trouble correct the text by striking out or interlining. This is what I have earnestly to solicit from you: & I would not have given you the trouble if I had had any other resource. But you are in fact the only spark of parliamentary science now remaining to us. I am the more anxious, because I have been forming a manual of Parliamentary law, which I mean to deposit with the Senate as the standard by which I judge & am willing to be judged. Though I should be opposed to it’s being printed, yet it may be done perhaps without my consent; & in that case I should be sorry indeed should it go out with errors that a Tyro should not have committed. And yet it is precisely those to which I am most exposed. I am less afraid as to important matters, because for them I have printed authorities. But it is those small matters of daily practice, which 20. years ago were familiar to me, but have in that time escaped my memory. I hope under these circumstances you will pardon the trouble I propose to you in the inclosed paper. I am not pressed in time, so that your leisure will be sufficient for me. Accept the salutations of grateful & sincere friendship & attachment & many prayers for your health & happiness from Dear Sir yours affectionately.1
to james madison
Philadelphia Mar. 4, 1800.
I have never written to you since my arrival here, for reasons which were explained. Your’s of Dec. 29, Jan. 4, 9, 12, 18, & Feb. 14, have therefore remained unacknoleged. I have at different times enclosed to you such papers as seemed interesting. To-day I forward Bingham’s amendment to the election bill formerly enclosed to you, mr. Pinckney’s proposed amendmnt to the const’n, & the report of the Ways & Means. B[ingham’s] amendmt was lost by the usual majority of 2. to 1. A very different one will be proposed, containing the true sense of the Minority, viz. that the two houses, voting by heads, shall decide such questions as the constitution authorizes to be raised. This may probably be taken up in the other house under better auspices, for tho’ the federalists have a great majority there, yet they are of a more moderate temper than for some time past. The Senate, however, seem determined to yield to nothing which shall give the other house greater weight in the decision on elections than they have. Mr. Pinckney’s motion has been supported, and is likely to have some votes which were not expected. I rather believe he will withdraw it, and propose the same thing in the form of a bill; it being the opinion of some that such a regulation is not against the present constitution. In this form it will stand a better chance to pass, as a majority only in both houses will be necessary. By putting off the building of the 74’s & stopping enlistments, the loan will be reduced to 3½ millions. But I think it cannot be obtained. For though no new bankruptcies have happened here for some weeks, or in New York, yet they continue to happen in Baltimore, & the whole commercial race are lying on their oars, and gathering in their affairs, not knowing what new failures may put their resources to the proof. In this state of things they cannot lend money. Some foreigners have taken asylum among us, with a good deal of money, who may perhaps chuse that deposit. Robbins’s affair has been under agitation for some days. Livingston made an able speech of 2½ hours yesterday. The advocates of the measure feel it’s pressure heavily; & tho’ they may be able to repel L[ivingston’s] motion of censure, I do not believe they can carry Bayard’s of approbation. The landing of our envoys at Lisbon will risk a very dangerous consequence, insomuch as the news of Truxton’s aggression will perhaps arrive at Paris before our commissioners will. Had they gone directly there, they might have been two months ahead of that news. We are entirely without further information from Paris. By letters from Bordeaux, of Dec. 7, tobo was then from 25 to 27 D. pr. cwt. Yet did Marshall maintain on the non-intercourse bill, that it’s price at other markets had never been affected by that law. While the navigating and provision states, who are the majority, can keep open all the markets, or at least sufficient ones for their objects, the cries of the tobacco makers, who are the minority, and not at all in favor, will hardly be listened to. It is truly the fable of the cat pulling the nuts out of the fire with the monkey’s paw; and it shows that G. Mason’s proposition in the convention was wise, that on laws regulating commerce, two-thirds of the votes should be requisite to pass them. However, it would have been trampled under foot by a triumphant majority.
Mar. 8. My letter has lain by me till now, waiting mr. Trist’s departure. The question has been decided to-day on Livingston’s motion respecting Robbins; 35. for it, about 60. against it. Livingston, Nicholas, & Gallatin distinguished themselves on one side, & J. Marshall greatly on the other. Still it is believed they will not push Bayard’s motion of approbation. We have this day also decided in Senate on the motion for overhauling the editor of the Aurora. It was carried, as usual, by about 2. to 1.; H. Marshall voting of course with them, as did, & frequently does Anderson of Tennessee, who is perfectly at market. It happens that the other party are so strong, that they do not think either him or Marshall worth buying. As the conveyance is confidential, I can say something on a subject which, to those who do not know my real dispositions respecting it, might seem indelicate. The feds begin to be very seriously alarmed about their election next fall. Their speeches in private, as well as their public & private demeanor to me, indicate it strongly. This seems to be the prospect. Keep out Pennsylva, Jersey, & N York, & the rest of the states are about equally divided; and in this estimate it is supposed that N Carolina & Maryland added together are equally divided. Then the event depends on the 3. middle states before mentd. As to them, Pennsylva passes no law for an election at the present session. They confide that the next election gives a decided majority in the two houses, when joined together. M’Kean, therefore, intends to call the legislature to meet immediately after the new election, to appoint electors themselves. Still you will be sensible there may arise a difficulty between the two houses about voting by heads or by houses. The republican members here from Jersey are entirely confident that their two houses, joined together, have a majority of republicans; their council being republican by 6. or 8. votes, & the lower house federal by only 1. or 2.; and they have no doubt the approaching election will be in favor of the republicans. They appoint electors by the two houses voting together. In N York all depends on the success of the city election, which is of 12. members, & of course makes a difference of 24., which is sufficient to make the two houses, joined together, republican in their vote. Gov Clinton, Gen Gates, & some other old revolutionary characters, have been put on the republican ticket. Burr, Livingston, &c., entertain no doubt on the event of that election. Still these are the ideas of the republicans only in these three States, & we must make great allowance for their sanguine views. Upon the whole, I consider it as rather more doubtful than the last election, in which I was not deceived in more than a vote or two. If Pennsylvania votes, then either Jersey or New York giving a republican vote, decides the election. If Pennsylva does not vote, then New York determines the election. In any event, we may say that if the city election of N York is in favor of the Republican ticket, the issue will be republican; if the federal ticket for the city of N York prevails, the probabilities will be in favor of a federal issue, because it would then require a republican vote both from Jersey & Pennsylva to preponderate against New York, on which we could not count with any confidence. The election of New York being in April, it becomes an early & interesting object. It is probable the landing of our envoys in Lisbon will add a month to our session; because all that the Eastern men are anxious about, is to get away before the possibility of a treaty’s coming in upon us. You must consider the money you have in mr. Barnes’ hands as wholly at your disposal. I have no note here of the amount of our nail account; but it is small and will be quite as convenient to me to receive after I go home.
Present my respectful salutations to mrs. Madison and be assured of my constant and affectionate esteem.
to benjamin hawkins
Philadelphia Mar. 14, 1800.
—I had twice before attempted to open a correspondence by writing to you, but receiving no answer, I took for granted my letters did not reach you, & consequently that no communication could be found. Yesterday, however, your nephew put into my hands your favor of Jan 23, and informs me that a letter sent by post by way of fort Wilkinson, will be certain of getting safely to you. Still, I expect your long absence from this part of the states, has rendered occurrences here but little interesting to you. Indeed, things have so much changed their aspect, that it is like a new world. Those who know us only from 1775. to 1793. can form no better idea of us now than of the inhabitants of the moon; I mean as to political matters. Of these, therefore, I shall say not one word, because nothing I could say, would be any more intelligible to you, if said in English, than if said in Hebrew. On your part, however, you have interesting details to give us. I particularly take great interest in whatever respects the Indians, and the present state of the Creeks, mentioned in your letter, is very interesting. But you must not suppose that your official communications will ever be seen or known out of the offices. Reserve as to all their proceedings is the fundamental maxim of the executive department. I must, therefore, ask from you one communication to be made to me separately, & I am encouraged to it by that part of your letter which promises me something on the Creek language. I have long believed we can never get any information of the antient history of the Indians, of their descent & filiation, but from a knowledge & comparative view of their languages. I have, therefore, never failed to avail myself of any opportunity which offered of getting their vocabularies. I have now made up a large collection, and afraid to risk it any longer, lest by some accident it might be lost, I am about to print it. But I still want the great southern languages, Cherokee, Creeks, Choctaw, Chickasaw. For the Cherokee, I have written to another, but for the three others, I have no chance but through yourself. I have indeed an imperfect vocabulary of the Choctaw, but it wants all the words marked in the enclosed vocabulary1 with either this mark (*) or this (†). I therefore throw myself on you to procure me the Creek, Choctaw, & Chickasaw; and I enclose you a vocabulary of the particular words I want. You need not take the trouble of having others taken, because all my other vocabularies are confined to these words, and my object is only a comparative view. The Creek column I expect you will be able to fill up at once, and when done I should wish it to come on without waiting for the others. As to the Choctaw & Chickasaw, I know your relations are not very direct, but as I possess no means at all of getting at them, I am induced to pray your aid. All the despatch which can be conveniently used is desirable to me, because I propose this summer to arrange all my vocabularies for the press, and I wish to place every tongue in the column adjacent to it’s kindred tongues. Your letters, addressed by post to me at Monticello, near Charlottesville, will come safely, & more safely than if put under cover to any of the offices, where they may be mislaid & lost.
Your old friend, mrs. Trist, is now settled at Charlottesville, within 2½ miles of me. She lives with her son, who married here, & removed there. She preserves her health & spirits fully, and is much beloved with us, as she deserves to be. As I know she is a favorite correspondent of yours, I shall observe that the same channel will be a good one to her as I have mentioned for myself. Indeed, if you find our correspondence worth having, it can now be as direct as if you were in one of these states. Mr. Madison is well. I presume you have long known of his marriage. He is not yet a father. Mr. Giles is happily & wealthily married to a Miss Tabb. This I presume is enough for a first dose; after hearing from you, & knowing how it agrees with you, it may be repeated. With sentiments of constant & sincere esteem, I am, dear Sir, your affectionate friend & servant.
to james madison
Philadelphia Mar. 25, 1800.
Yours of the 15th is safely received. I perceive by that that I had by mistake sent you Ramsay’s Eulogy instead of Couper’s smaller pamphlet, which therefore I now inclose merely for the last paper in it, as the two first were in the copy I first sent you. I inclose also Mr. Nicholas’s amendment this day proposed to the bill concerning President & V. P. formerly sent you. We expect it will be rejected by 17. to 13. in Senate, but that it may be brought forward in the lower house with better prospects. We have nothing from Europe but what you will see in the newspapers. The Executive are sending off a frigate to France, but for what purposes we know not. The bankrupt law will pass. A complimentary vote of a medal to Truxton will pass. A judiciary law adding about 100,000 D. to the annual expense of that department is going through the H. of R. A loan of 3½ millions will pass. The money it is said will be furnished by some English houses. Bankruptcies continue at Baltimore, and great mercantile distress & stagnation here. The Republican spirit beginning to preponderate in Pennsa, Jersey & N. Y. & becoming respectable in Mass. N. Hampsh. & Connect. Of R. I. & Vermont I can say nothing. There are the strongest expectations that the Republican ticket will prevail in the city election of N. Y. Clinton, Gates & Burr are at the head of it. Its success decides the complexion of that legislature. We expect Gouvr. Morris to be chosen by the present legislature Senator of the U. S. in the room of Watson resigned. The legislature here parted in a state of distraction, their successors, as soon as chosen, will be convened: but it is very questionable if the Senate will not still be obstinate. We suppose Congress will rise in May. Respectful & affectionate salutations to mrs. Madison & yourself. Adieu.
to philip norborne nicholas
Philadelphia Apr. 7. 1800.
—Your favor of Feb. 2. came to hand Feb. 11. and I put off the acnoleging it, till I could forward to you some pamphlets on a subject very interesting to all the states, and containing views which I am anxious should be generally exhibited. In a former collection of tracts published by Mr. Cooper were two papers on Political arithmetic. He was printing a 2d edition of the whole, & was prevailed on to strike off an extra number of the two on Political arithmetic, adding to it some principles of government from a former work of his. I have forwarded to you by a vessel going from hence to Richmond 8. dozen of these, with a view that one should be sent to every county commee in the state, either from yourself personally or from your central commee. Tho’ I know that this is not the immediate object of your institution, yet I consider it as a most valuable object, to which the institution may most usefully be applied. I trust yourself only with the secret that these pamphlets go from me. You will readily see what a handle would be made of my advocating their contents. I must leave to yourself therefore to say how they come to you. Very possibly they will have got to you before this does, as I shall retain it for a private conveyance & know of none as yet. I dare trust nothing this summer through the post offices. At other times they would not have such strong motives to infidelity.
It is too early to think of a declaratory act as yet, but the time is approaching & not distant. Two elections more will give us a solid majority in the H. of R. and a sufficient one in the Senate. As soon as it can be depended on, we must have “a Declaration of the principles of the constitution” in nature of a Declaration of rights, in all the points in which it has been violated. The people in the middle states are almost rallied to Virginia already; & the eastern states are recommencing the vibration which had been checked by X. Y. Z. North Carolina is at present in the most dangerous state. The lawyers all tories, the people substantially republican, but uninformed & deceived by the lawyers, who are elected of necessity because few other candidates. The medicine for that State must be very mild & secretly administered. But nothing should be spared to give them true information. I am, dear Sir, yours affectionately.
to william hamilton of woodlands
Philadelphia Apr. 22. 1800.
—A little reflection enables me to understand the appearances of neglect which you were kind enough to mention to me the other day. It was in March, 1797 you did me the honor of calling on me. I had then come up to Philadelphia only to take the oath of office. On that occasion I received the visits not only of every one in the city who had known me, but of great numbers who did not. The Senate adjourned finally the same day; so that being to return immediately, it was impossible to repay the numerous visits I had received. I counted therefore on finding my excuse in the impossibility of the thing. Your distance from the town prevented your knowlege of this circumstance, while those who were in the city saw & felt my justification in my departure. During the ensuing summer came on the war-fever. Those who caught it seemed to consider every man as their personal enemy who would not catch their disorder, and many suffered themselves to think it was a sufficient cause for breaking off society with them. I became sensible of this on my next arrival in town, on perceiving that many declined visiting me with whom I had been on terms of the greatest friendship & intimacy. I determined, for the first time in my life, to stand on the ceremony of the first visit, even with my friends; because it served to sift out those who chose a separation. I was happy to be informed by yourself that your declining to visit was on a different ground; a ground too, which while it might well appear otherwise to you then, you will now be sensible I hope was involuntary & unavoidable on my part. I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. During the whole of the last war, which was trying enough, I never deserted a friend because he had taken an opposite side; & those of my own state who joined the British government can attest my unremitting zeal in saving their property, & can point out the laws in our statute book which I drew, & carried through in their favor. However I have seen during the late political paroxysm here numbers whom I had highly esteemed; draw off from me, in so much as to cross the street to avoid meeting me. The fever is abating and doubtless some of them will correct the momentary wanderings of their heart, & return again. If they do, they will meet the constancy of my esteem, & the same oblivion of this as of any other delirium which might happen to them.
I am happy to find you as clear of political antipathies as I am; & am particularly obliged by the frankness of your explanation. I owe to it the opportunity of placing myself justly before you, and of assuring you there was no person here to whom I had less disposition of shewing neglect than to yourself. The circumstances of our early acquaintance I have ever felt as binding me in morality as well as in affection, & there are so many agreeable points in which we are in perfect union that I am at no loss to find a justification of my constant esteem.
Among the many botanical curiosities you were so good as to shew me the other day, I forgot to ask if you had the Dionea muscipula, & whether it produces a seed with you. If it does, I should be very much disposed to trespass on your liberality so far as to ask a few seeds of that, as also of the Acacia Nilotica, or Farnesiana whichever you have. I pray you to accept assurances of the sincere attachment & respect of Dear Sir your most obedient humble servant.
to edward livingston
Philadelphia Apr. 30, 1800.
—I received with great pleasure your favour of the 11th inst. By this time I presume the result of your labours is known with you, tho’ not here. Whatever it may be, & my experience of the art, industry, & resources of the other party has not permitted me to be prematurely confident, yet I am entirely confident that ultimately the great body of the people are passing over from them. This may require one or two elections more; but it will assuredly take place. The madness & extravagance of their career is what ensures it. The people through all the states are for republican forms, republican principles, simplicity, economy, religious & civil freedom.
I have nothing to offer you but Congressional news. The Judiciary bill is postponed to the next session; so is the militia bill; so the military academy. The bill for the election of the Prest and V P has undergone much revolution. Marshall made a dexterous manœuvre; he declares against the constitutionality of the Senate’s bill, and proposes that the right of decision of their grand committee should be controllable by the concurrent vote of the two houses of congress; but to stand good if not rejected by a concurrent vote. You will readily estimate the amount of this sort of controul. The Committee of the H. of R, however, took from the Committee the right of giving any opinion, requiring them to report facts only, and that the votes returned by the states should be counted, unless reported by a concurrent vote of both houses. In what form they will pass them or us, cannot be foreseen. Our Jury bill in Senate will pass so as merely to accommodate N. York & Vermont. The H. of R. sent us yesterday a bill for incorporating a company to work Roosevelt’s copper mines in N. Jersey. I do not know whether it is understood that the Legislature of Jersey was incompetent to this, or merely that we have concurrent legislation under the sweeping clause. Congress are authorized to defend the nation. Ships are necessary for defence; copper is necessary for ships; mines necessary for copper; a company necessary to work mines; and who can doubt this reasoning who has ever played at “This is the House that Jack Built”? Under such a process of filiation of necessities the sweeping clause makes clean work. We shall certainly rise on the 12th. There is nothing to do now but to pass the ways & means, and to settle some differences of opinion of the two houses on the Georgia bill, the bill for dividing the North-Western territory, & that for the sale of the Western lands. Salutations & affectionate esteem. Adieu.
to robert r. livingston
Philadelphia Apr. 30, 1800.
—Your favour of Feb. 28. never came to my hand till the 17th inst. This must account for the greater portion of the delay which has attended the acknolegment of it. I thank you for the volume of your agricultural transactions: & as I perceive you take a great interest in whatever relates to this first & most precious of all the arts, I have packed in a small box, a model of a mouldboard of a plough, of my invention, if that term may be used for a mere change of form. It is accompanied by a block, which will shew the form in which the block is to be got for making the mouldboard & the manner of making it. However as this would not explain it’s principles, alone, I accompany it by the late volume of our Philosophical transactions, in which there is a minute description of the principles & construction. The printer having (on his removal from the yellow fever) lost several of the plates belonging to this volume & among them that relating to the mouldboard, I have supplied this last by some sketches which may enable you to understand the description. I shall avail myself of the first person of my acquaintance whom I shall know to be passing in the stage to New York, to forward them to you. The printer will have the lost plates ready to replace shortly.
I had before heard of your discovery of the method of making paper from a vegetable & from the specimen sent have no doubt of it’s great importance. For this article, the creature of art, & but latterly so comparatively, is now interwoven so much into the conveniences & occupations of men as to have become one of the necessaries of civilized life.
We are here engaged in improving our constitution by construction, so as to make it what the majority thinks it should have been. The Senate received yesterday a bill from the Representatives incorporating a company for Roosevelt’s copper mines in Jersey. This is under the sweeping clause of the constitution, & supported by the following pedigree of necessities. Congress are authorized to defend the country: ships are necessary for that defence: copper is necessary for ships: mines are necessary to produce copper: companies are necessary to work mines: and “this is the house that Jack built.”
I shall be happy to receive from you, at your leisure, the long letter which you promised. I have been long in the habit of valuing whatever comes from your pen. And my taste, which in 1775. was like yours, in politics, is now passed over with yours to more tranquilizing studies. Accept assurances of my respectful & affectionate esteem.
to james madison
Philadelphia May 12, [1800.]
—Congress will rise to-day or to-morrow. Mr. Nicholas proposing to call on you, you will get from him the Congressional news. On the whole, the federalists have not been able to carry a single strong measure in the lower house the whole session. When they met, it was believed they had a majority of 20; but many of these were new & moderate men, & soon saw the true character of the party to which they had been well disposed while at a distance. The tide, too, of public opinion sets so strongly against the federal proceedings, that this melted off their majority, & dismayed the heroes of the party. The Senate alone remained undismayed to the last. Firm to their purposes, regardless of public opinion, and more disposed to coerce than to court it, not a man of their majority gave way in the least; and on the electoral bill they adhered to John Marshal’s amendment, by their whole number: & if there had been a full Senate, there would have been but 11. votes against it, which includes H. Marshall, who has voted with the republicans this session. * * *
to james monroe
Eppington May 26, 1800.
—I am sorry your servant had such a chase to find me. I came to this place on Saturday. He got here in the night last night. Further reflection on the matter which had been proposed in conversation the evening before I left you, convinced me that it could not succeed, that obstacles must arise to it, and that these would give rise to disagreeable incidents. Could I have seen you therefore in the morning of my leaving Richmond I should have dissuaded the attempt. However, as it has been made it shews who are the Anti-Unionists in principle. My only anxiety is that the friends of our principle may take umbrage at my declining their proffered civility. I will thank you to express my particular respect to Doctr. Fancher, to whom it happened that I had not an opportunity of doing it sufficiently while we were together at your house. As to the calumny of Atheism, I am so broken to calumnies of every kind, from every department of government, Executive, Legislative, & Judiciary, & from every minion of theirs holding office or seeking it, that I entirely disregard it, and from Chace it will have less effect than from any other man in the United States. It has been so impossible to contradict all their lies, that I have determined to contradict none; for while I should be engaged with one, they would publish twenty new ones. Thirty years of public life have enabled most of those who read newspapers to judge of one for themselves.
I think it essentially just and necessary that Callender should be substantially defended. Whether in the first stages by publick interference, or private contributors, may be a question. Perhaps it might be as well that it should be left to the legislature, who will meet in time, & before whom you can lay the matter so as to bring it before them. It is become peculiarly their cause and may furnish them a fine opportunity of shewing their respect to the union & at the same time of doing justice in another way to those whom they cannot protect without committing the publick tranquility.
I leave this place tomorrow for Monticello, and shall be three days on the road. I think it possible that in the course of a month or two the Senate may be called to the Federal city by the arrival of a treaty with France. However I presume it will be a very short call. I shall give you notice when Dupont arrives at Monticello, as you may perhaps so time your visits of business to that quarter as to see him. Present my friendly respects to Mrs. Monroe, & accept yourself assurances of constant & affectionate attachment from, Dear Sir, your friend & servt.
to pierce butler
Aug. 11. 1800.
—Your favor of July 28. is safely received & received with great pleasure, it having been long since we have been without communication. You will have perceived, on your return to Philadelphia, a great change in the spirit of the place. “The arrogancy of the proud hath ceased, & the patient and meek look up.” I do not know how matters are in the quarter you have been in, but all north of the Roanoke has undergone a wonderful change. The state of the public mind in N. Carolina appears mysterious to us. Doubtless you know more of it than we do. What will be the effect, in that & the two other states south of that, of the new maneuvre of a third competitor proposed to be run at the ensuing election, & taken from among them? Will his personal interest or local politics derange the votes in that quarter which would otherwise have been given on principle alone? Nothing ever passed between the gentleman you mention and myself on the subject you mention. It is our mutual duty to leave those arrangements to others, & to acquiesce in their assignment. He has certainly greatly merited of his country, & the Republicans in particular, to whose efforts his have given a chance of success. Are we to see you at the Federal city, or will Philadelphia still monopolize the time you spare from S. Carolina? I shall be happy to meet you there and at all times to hear from you. Accept assurances of the high regard of dear sir your friend & servant.
to gideon granger
[Monticello,] Aug 13, 1800.
—I received with great pleasure your favor of June 4, and am much comforted by the appearance of a change of opinion in your state; for tho’ we may obtain, & I believe shall obtain, a majority in the legislature of the United States, attached to the preservation of the Federal constitution according to it’s obvious principles, & those on which it was known to be received; attached equally to the preservation to the states of those rights unquestionably remaining with them; friends to the freedom of religion, freedom of the press, trial by jury & to economical government; opposed to standing armies, paper systems, war, & all connection, other than commerce, with any foreign nation; in short, a majority firm in all those principles which we have espoused and the federalists have opposed uniformly; still, should the whole body of New England continue in opposition to these principles of government, either knowingly or through delusion, our government will be a very uneasy one. It can never be harmonious & solid, while so respectable a portion of it’s citizens support principles which go directly to a change of the federal constitution, to sink the state governments, consolidate them into one, and to monarchize that. Our country is too large to have all its affairs directed by a single government. Public servants at such a distance, & from under the eye of their constituents, must, from the circumstance of distance, be unable to administer & overlook all the details necessary for the good government of the citizens, and the same circumstance, by rendering detection impossible to their constituents, will invite the public agents to corruption, plunder & waste. And I do verily believe, that if the principle were to prevail, of a common law being in force in the U S, (which principle possesses the general government at once of all the powers of the state governments, and reduces us to a single consolidated government,) it would become the most corrupt government on the earth. You have seen the practises by which the public servants have been able to cover their conduct, or, where that could not be done, delusions by which they have varnished it for the eye of their constituents. What an augmentation of the field for jobbing, speculating, plundering, office-building & office-hunting would be produced by an assumption of all the state powers into the hands of the general government. The true theory of our constitution is surely the wisest & best, that the states are independent as to everything within themselves, & united as to everything respecting foreign nations. Let the general government be reduced to foreign concerns only, and let our affairs be disentangled from those of all other nations, except as to commerce, which the merchants will manage the better, the more they are left free to manage for themselves, and our general government may be reduced to a very simple organization, & a very unexpensive one; a few plain duties to be performed by a few servants. But I repeat, that this simple & economical mode of government can never be secured, if the New England States continue to support the contrary system. I rejoice, therefore, in every appearance of their returning to those principles which I had always imagined to be almost innate in them. In this State, a few persons were deluded by the X. Y. Z. duperies. You saw the effect of it in our last Congressional representatives, chosen under their influence. This experiment on their credulity is now seen into, and our next representation will be as republican as it has heretofore been. On the whole, we hope, that by a part of the Union having held on to the principles of the constitution, time has been given to the states to recover from the temporary frenzy into which they had been decoyed, to rally round the constitution, & to rescue it from the destruction with which it had been threatened even at their own hands. I see copied from the American Magazine two numbers of a paper signed Don Quixotte, most excellently adapted to introduce the real truth to the minds even of the most prejudiced.
I would, with great pleasure, have written the letter you desired in behalf of your friend, but there are existing circumstances which render a letter from me to that magistrate as improper as it would be unavailing. I shall be happy, on some more fortunate occasion, to prove to you my desire of serving your wishes.
I sometime ago received a letter from a Mr. M’Gregory of Derby, in your State; it is written with such a degree of good sense & appearance of candor, as entitles it to an answer. Yet the writer being entirely unknown to me, and the stratagems of the times very multifarious, I have thought it best to avail myself of your friendship, & enclose the answer to you. You will see it’s nature. If you find from the character of the person to whom it is addressed, that no improper use would probably be made of it, be so good as to seal & send it. Otherwise suppress it.
How will the vote of your State and R I be as to A. and P.?
I am, with great and sincere esteem, dear Sir, your friend and servant.
to jeremiah moor
Monticello Aug. 14. 1800.
—I have to acknowlge the receipt of your favor of July 12. The times are certainly such as to justify anxiety on the subject of political principles, & particularly those of the public servants. I have been so long on the public theatres that I supposed mine to be generally known. I make no secret of them: on the contrary I wish them known to avoid the imputation of those which are not mine. You may remember perhaps that in the year 1783. after the close of the war there was a general idea that a convention would be called in this state to form a constitution. In that expectation I then prepared a scheme of constitution which I meant to have proposed. This is bound up at the end of the Notes on Virginia, which being in many hands, I may venture to refer to it as giving a general view of my principles of government. It particularly shews what I think on the question of the right of electing & being elected, which is principally the subject of your letter. I found it there on a year’s residence in the country; or the possession of property in it, or a year’s enrollment in it’s militia. When the constitution of Virginia was formed I was in attendance at Congress. Had I been here I should probably have proposed a general suffrage: because my opinion has always been in favor of it. Still I find very honest men who, thinking the possession of some property necessary to give due independence of mind, are for restraining the elective franchise to property. I believe we may lessen the danger of buying and selling votes, by making the number of voters too great for any means of purchase: I may further say that I have not observed men’s honesty to increase with their riches. I observe however in the same scheme of a constitution, an abridgment of the right of being elected, which after 17. years more of experience & reflection, I do not approve. It is the incapacitation of a clergyman from being elected. The clergy, by getting themselves established by law, & ingrafted into the machine of government, have been a very formidable engine against the civil and religious rights of man. They are still so in many countries & even in some of these United States. Even in 1783, we doubted the stability of our recent measures for reducing them to the footing of other useful callings. It now appears that our means were effectual. The clergy here seem to have relinquished all pretension to privilege and to stand on a footing with lawyers, physicians &c. They ought therefore to possess the same rights.
I have with you wondered at the change of political principles which has taken place in many in this state however much less than in others. I am still more alarmed to see, in the other states, the general political dispositions of those to whom is confided the education of the rising generation. Nor are all the academies of this state free from grounds of uneasiness. I have great confidence in the common sense of mankind in general: but it requires a great deal to get the better of notions which our tutors have instilled into our minds while incapable of questioning them, & to rise superior to antipathies strongly rooted. However, I suppose when the evil rises to a certain height, a remedy will be found, if the case admits any other than the prudence of parents and guardians. The candour & good sense of your letter made it a duty in me to answer it, & to confide that no uncandid use will be made of the answer: & particularly that it be kept from the newspapers, a bear-garden field into which I do not chuse to enter. I am with esteem sir, your most obedient servant.
to james madison
Monticello Sep. 17. 1800.
—I now send by Bp. Madison the balance which should have gone from our last court by mr. Barber: but not seeing him the first day of the court, & that breaking up on the first day, contrary to usage, & universal expectation, mr. Barber was gone before I knew that fact.—Is it not strange the public should have no information of the proceedings & prospects of our envoys in a case so vitally interesting to our commerce? that at a time when, as we suppose, all differences are in a course of amicable adjustment, Truxton should be fitted out with double diligence that he may get out of court before the arrival of a treaty, & shed more human blood merely for the pleasure of shedding it? — I have a letter from Mr. Butler in which he supposes that the Republican vote of N. Carolina will be but a bare majority. Georgia he thinks will be unanimous with the Republicans; S. C. unanimous either with them or against them. but not certainly which. Dr. Rush & Burr give favorable accounts of Jersey. Granger & Burr even count with confidence on Connecticut. But that is impossible. The revolution there indeed is working with very unexpected rapidity. Before another Congressional election it will probably be complete. There is good reason to believe Massachusetts will increase her republican vote in Congress, & that Levi Lincoln will be one. He will be a host in himself; being undoubtedly the ablest & most respectable man of the Eastern states. Health, respect & affection.
to james monroe
Monticello Sep. 20. 1800.
—Mr. Craven, who was here at the receipt of your favor of the 15th & will probably be here a week longer, desires me to inform you that he communicates by this day’s post, your terms to Mr. Darrelle, and that he is thoroughly persuaded he will accede to them. He is very anxious you should retain the lands for Darrelle, who is his father in law, and whose removal into the neighborhood is therefore much wished for by him.
Where to stay the hand of the executioner is an important question. Those who have escaped from the immediate danger, must have feelings which would dispose them to extend the executions. Even here, where every thing has been perfectly tranquil, but where a familiarity with slavery, and a possibility of danger from that quarter prepare the general mind for some severities, there is a strong sentiment that there has been hanging enough. The other states & the world at large will forever condemn us if we indulge a principle of revenge, or go one step beyond absolute necessity. They cannot lose sight of the rights of the two parties, & the object of the unsuccessful one. Our situation is indeed a difficult one: for I doubt whether these people can ever be permitted to go at large among us with safety. To reprieve them and keep them in prison till the meeting of the legislature will encourage efforts for their release. Is there no fort & garrison of the state or of the Union, where they would be confined, & where the presence of the garrison would preclude all ideas of attempting a rescue. Surely the legislature would pass a law for their exportation, the proper measure on this & all similar occasions? I hazard these thoughts for your own consideration only, as I should be unwilling to be quoted in the case; you will doubtless hear the sentiments of other persons & places, and will thence be enabled to form a better judgment on the whole than any of us singly & in a solitary situation. Health, respect & affection.
to doctor benjamin rush
Monticello Sep. 23, 1800.
—I have to acknolege the receipt of your favor of Aug. 22, and to congratulate you on the healthiness of your city. Still Baltimore, Norfolk & Providence admonish us that we are not clear of our new scourge. When great evils happen, I am in the habit of looking out for what good may arise from them as consolations to us, and Providence has in fact so established the order of things, as that most evils are the means of producing some good. The yellow fever will discourage the growth of great cities in our nation, & I view great cities as pestilential to the morals, the health and the liberties of man. True, they nourish some of the elegant arts, but the useful ones can thrive elsewhere, and less perfection in the others, with more health, virtue & freedom, would be my choice.
I agree with you entirely, in condemning the mania of giving names to objects of any kind after persons still living. Death alone can seal the title of any man to this honor, by putting it out of his power to forfeit it. There is one other mode of recording merit, which I have often thought might be introduced, so as to gratify the living by praising the dead. In giving, for instance, a commission of chief justice to Bushrod Washington, it should be in consideration of his integrity, and science in the laws, and of the services rendered to our country by his illustrious relation, &c. A commission to a descendant of Dr. Franklin, besides being in consideration of the proper qualifications of the person, should add that of the great services rendered by his illustrious ancestor, Bn Fr, by the advancement of science, by inventions useful to man, &c. I am not sure that we ought to change all our names. And during the regal government, sometimes, indeed, they were given through adulation; but often also as the reward of the merit of the times, sometimes for services rendered the colony. Perhaps, too, a name when given, should be deemed a sacred property.
I promised you a letter on Christianity, which I have not forgotten. On the contrary, it is because I have reflected on it, that I find much more time necessary for it than I can at present dispose of. I have a view of the subject which ought to displease neither the rational Christian nor Deists, and would reconcile many to a character they have too hastily rejected. I do not know that it would reconcile the genus irritabile vatum who are all in arms against me. Their hostility is on too interesting ground to be softened. The delusion into which the X. Y. Z. plot shewed it possible to push the people; the successful experiment made under the prevalence of that delusion on the clause of the constitution, which, while it secured the freedom of the press, covered also the freedom of religion, had given to the clergy a very favorite hope of obtaining an establishment of a particular form of Christianity thro’ the U. S.; and as every sect believes its own form the true one, every one perhaps hoped for his own, but especially the Episcopalians & Congregationalists. The returning good sense of our country threatens abortion to their hopes, & they believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly; for I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: & enough too in their opinion, & this is the cause of their printing lying pamphlets against me, forging conversations for me with Mazzei, Bishop Madison, &c., which are absolute falsehoods without a circumstance of truth to rest on; falsehoods, too, of which I acquit Mazzei & Bishop Madison, for they are men of truth.
But enough of this: it is more than I have before committed to paper on the subject of all the lies that has been preached and printed against me. I have not seen the work of Sonnoni which you mention, but I have seen another work on Africa, (Parke’s,) which I fear will throw cold water on the hopes of the friends of freedom. You will hear an account of an attempt at insurrection in this state. I am looking with anxiety to see what will be it’s effect on our state. We are truly to be pitied. I fear we have little chance to see you at the Federal city or in Virginia, and as little at Philadelphia. It would be a great treat to receive you here. But nothing but sickness could effect that; so I do not wish it. For I wish you health and happiness, and think of you with affection. Adieu.
to james monroe
Monticello Nov. 8. 1800.
Yours by your servant has been delivered as also that by Mr. Erwin. I think Skipwith’s letter contains some paragraphs which would do considerable good in the newspapers. I shall inclose that & the other by Mr. Erwin to Mr. Madison, to be returned to you. I shall set out for Washington so as to arrive there as soon as I suppose the answer to the speech is delivered. It is possible some silly things may be put into the latter on the hypothesis of it’s being valedictory, & that these may be zealously answered by the federal majority in our house. They shall deliver it themselves therefore. I have not heard from Craven since I wrote to you. I told him I should leave this on the 12th therefore I think it certain he will be here before that date, as we have some important arrangements to make together. I shall not fail to encourage the purchase of your lands.—I am sincerely sorry I was absent when you were in the neighborhood. I wished to learn something of the excitements, the expectations & extent of this negro conspiracy, not being satisfied with the popular reports. I learnt with concern in Bedford that the important deposit of arms near New London is without even a centinel to guard it. There is said to be much powder in it. We cannot suppose the federal administration takes this method of offering arms to insurgent negroes: yet some in the neighborhood of the place suspect it. Would it not be justifiable in you to suggest to them the importance of a guard there? In truth that deposit should be removed to the river. Health, respect & affection.
to robert r. livingston
Washington Dec. 14, 1800.
—Your former communications on the subject of the steam engine, I took the liberty of laying before the American Philosophical society, by whom they will be printed in their volume of the present year. I have heard of the discovery of some large bones, supposed to be of the mammoth, at about 30. or 40. miles distance from you; and among the bones found, are said to be some of which we have never yet been able to procure. The 1st interesting question is, whether they are the bones of the mammoth? The 2d, what are the particular bones, and could I possibly procure them? The bones I am most anxious to obtain, are those of the head & feet, which are said to be among those found in your State, as also the ossa innominata, and the scapula. Others would also be interesting, though similar ones may be possessed, because they would show by their similarity that the set belong to the mammoth. Could I so far venture to trouble you on this subject, as to engage some of your friends near the place, to procure for me the bones above mentioned? If they are to be bought I will gladly pay for them whatever you shall agree to as reasonable; and will place the money in N York as instantaneously after it is made known to me, as the post can carry it, as I will all expenses of package, transportation, &c, to New York and Philadelphia, where they may be addressed to John Barnes, whose agent (he not being on the spot) will take care of them for me.
But I have still a more important subject whereon to address you. Tho’ our information of the votes of the several states be not official, yet they are stated on such evidence as to satisfy both parties that the Republican vote has been successful. We may, therefore, venture to hazard propositions on that hypothesis without being justly subjected to raillery or ridicule. The constitution to which we are all attached was meant to be republican, and we believe to be republican according to every candid interpretation. Yet we have seen it so interpreted and administered, as to be truly what the French have called, a monarchie masquée. Yet so long has the vessel run on this way and been trimmed to it, that to put her on her republican track will require all the skill, the firmness & the zeal of her ablest & best friends. It is a crisis which calls on them, to sacrifice all other objects, and repair to her aid in this momentous operation. Not only their skill is wanting, but their names also. It is essential to assemble in the outset persons to compose our administration, whose talents integrity and revolutionary name and principles may inspire the nation at once, with unbounded confidence, and impose an awful silence on all the maligners of republicanism; as may suppress in embryo the purpose avowed by one of their most daring & effective chiefs, of beating down the administration. These names do not abound at this day. So few are they, that yours, my friend, cannot be spared among them without leaving a blank which cannot be filled. If I can obtain for the public the aid of those I have contemplated, I fear nothing. If this cannot be done, then are we unfortunate indeed! We shall be unable to realize the prospects which have been held out to the people, and we must fall back into monarchism, for want of heads, not hands to help us out of it. This is a common cause, my dear Sir, common to all republicans. Tho’ I have been too honorably placed in front of those who are to enter the breach so happily made, yet the energies of every individual are necessary, & in the very place where his energies can most serve the enterprise. I can assure you that your colleagues will be most acceptable to you; one of them, whom you cannot mistake, peculiarly so. The part which circumstances constrain us to propose to you is, the secretaryship of the navy. These circumstances cannot be explained by letter. Republicanism is so rare in those parts which possess nautical skill, that I cannot find it allied there to the other qualifications. Tho’ you are not nautical by profession, yet your residence and your mechanical science qualify you as well as a gentleman can possibly be, and sufficiently to enable you to choose under-agents perfectly qualified, and to superintend their conduct. Come forward then, my dear Sir, and give us the aid of your talents & the weight of your character towards the new establishment of republicanism: I say, for it’s new establishment; for hitherto we have only seen it’s travestie. I have urged thus far, on the belief that your present office would not be an obstacle to this proposition. I was informed, and I think it was by your brother, that you wished to retire from it, & were only restrained by the fear that a successor of different principles might be appointed. The late change in your council of appointment will remove this fear. It will not be improper to say a word on the subject of expence. The gentlemen who composed Genl Washington’s first administration took up, too universally, a practice of general entertainment, which was unnecessary, obstructive of business, & so oppressive to themselves, that it was among the motives for their retirement. Their successors profited by the experiment, & lived altogether as private individuals, & so have ever continued to do. Here, indeed, it cannot be otherwise, our situation being so rural, that during the vacations of the Legislature we shall have no society but of the officers of the government, and in time of sessions the Legislature is become & becoming so numerous, that for the last half dozen years nobody but the President has pretended to entertain them. I have been led to make the application before official knowledge of the result of our election, because the return of Mr. Van Benthuysen, one of your electors & neighbors, offers me a safe conveyance at a moment when the post offices will be peculiarly suspicious & prying. Your answer may come by post without danger, if directed in some other hand writing than your own; and I will pray you to give me an answer as soon as you can make up your mind.
Accept assurances of cordial esteem & respect, & my friendly salutations.
to aaron burr
Washington Dec 15, 1800.
—Although we have not official information of the votes for President & Vice President, and cannot have until the first week in Feb, yet the state of the votes is given on such evidence, as satisfies both parties that the two republican candidates stand highest. From S Carolina we have not even heard of the actual vote; but we have learnt who were appointed electors, and with sufficient certainty how they would vote. It is said they would withdraw from yourself one vote. It has also been said that a General Smith, of Tennessee, had declared that he would give his 2d. vote to Mr. Gallatin, not from any indisposition towards you, but extreme reverence to the character of Mr. G. It is also surmised that the vote of Georgia will not be entire. Yet nobody pretends to know these things of a certainty, and we know enough to be certain that what it is surmised will be withheld, will still leave you 4. or 5. votes at least above Mr. A. However, it was badly managed not to have arranged with certainty what seems to have been left to hazard. It was the more material, because I understand several of the high-flying federalists have expressed their hope that the two republican tickets may be equal, & their determination in that case to prevent a choice by the H of R, (which they are strong enough to do,) and let the government devolve on a President of the Senate. Decency required that I should be so entirely passive during the late contest that I never once asked whether arrangements had been made to prevent so many from dropping votes intentionally, as might frustrate half the republican wish; nor did I doubt, till lately, that such had been made.
While I must congratulate you, my dear Sir, on the issue of this contest, because it is more honorable, and doubtless more grateful to you than any station within the competence of the chief magistrate, yet for myself, and for the substantial service of the public, I feel most sensibly the loss we sustain of your aid in our new administration. It leaves a chasm in my arrangements, which cannot be adequately filled up. I had endeavored to compose an administration whose talents, integrity, names, and dispositions should at once inspire unbounded confidence in the public mind, and insure a perfect harmony in the conduct of the public business. I lose you from the list, & am not sure of all the others. Should the gentlemen who possess the public confidence decline taking a part in their affairs, and force us to take persons unknown to the people, the evil genius of this country may realize his avowal that “he will beat down the administration.” The return of Mr. Van Benthuysen, one of your electors, furnishes me a confidential opportunity of writing this much to you, which I should not have ventured through the post office at this prying season. We shall of course see you before the 4th of March. Accept my respectful and affectionate salutations.
to john breckenridge
Washington Dec 18, 1800.
—I received, while at home, the letter you were so kind as to write me. The employments of the country have such irresistible attractions for me, that while I am at home, I am very unpunctual in acknoleging the letters of my friends. Having no refuge here from my room & writing-table, it is my regular season for fetching up the lee-way of my correspondence.
Before you receive this, you will have understood that the State of S Carolina (the only one about which there was uncertainty) has given a republican vote, and saved us from the consequences of the annihilation of Pennsylvania. But we are brought into dilemma by the probable equality of the two republican candidates. The federalists in Congress mean to take advantage of this, and either to prevent an election altogether, or reverse what has been understood to have been the wishes of the people, as to the President & Vice-president; wishes which the constitution did not permit them specially to designate. The latter alternative still gives us a republican administration. The former, a suspension of the federal government, for want of a head. This opens upon us an abyss, at which every sincere patriot must shudder. General Davie has arrived here with the treaty formed (under the name of a convention) with France. It is now before the Senate for ratification, and will encounter objections. He believes firmly that a continental peace in Europe will take place, and that England also may be comprehended.
to james madison
Washington Dec. 19, 1800.
—Mrs. Brown’s departure for Virginia enables me to write confidentially what I could not have ventured by the post at this prying season. The election in S. Carolina has in some measure decided the great contest. Tho’ as yet we do not know the actual votes of Tennessee, Kentucky, & Vermont, yet we believe the votes to be on the whole, J. 73, B. 73, A. 65, P. 64. Rhode isld withdrew one from P. There is a possibility that Tennessee may withdraw one from B., and Burr writes that there may be one vote in Vermont for J. But I hold the latter impossible, and the former not probable; and that there will be an absolute parity between the two republican candidates. This has produced great dismay and gloom on the republican gentlemen here, and equal exultation on the federalists, who openly declare they will prevent an election, and will name a President of the Senate, pro tem. by what they say would only be a stretch of the constitution. The prospect of preventing this, is as follows, G, N C, T, K, V, P, & N Y, can be counted on for their vote in the H of R, & it is thought by some that Baer of Maryland, & Linn of N J will come over. Some even count on Morris of Vermont. But you must know the uncertainty of such a dependence under the operation of caucuses and other federal engines. The month of February, therefore, will present us storms of a new character. Should they have a particular issue, I hope you will be here a day or two, at least, before the 4th of March. I know that your appearance on the scene before the departure of Congress, would assuage the minority, and inspire in the majority confidence and joy unbounded, which they would spread far & wide on their journey home. Let me beseech you then to come with a view of staying perhaps a couple of weeks, within which time things might be put into such a train, as would permit us both to go home for a short time, for removal. I wrote to R. R. L. by a confidential hand three days ago. The person proposed for the T has not come yet.
Davie is here with the Convention, as it is called; but it is a real treaty, and without limitation of time. It has some disagreeable features, and will endanger the compromising us with G B. I am not at liberty to mention it’s contents, but I believe it will meet with opposition from both sides of the house. It has been a bungling negotiation. Elsworth remains in France for the benefit of his health. He has resigned his office of C J. Putting these two things together, we cannot misconstrue his views. He must have had great confidence in Mr. A’s continuance to risk such a certainty as he held. Jay was yesterday nominated Chief Justice. We were afraid of something worse. A scheme of government for the territory is cooking by a committee of each house, under separate authorities, but probably a voluntary harmony. They let out no hints. It is believed that the judiciary system will not be pushed, as the appointments, if made by the present administration, could not fall on those who create them. But I very much fear the road system will be urged. The mines of Peru would not supply the monies which would be wasted on this object, nor the patience of any people stand the abuses which would be incontrolably committed under it. I propose, as soon as the state of the election is perfectly ascertained, to aim at a candid understanding with Mr. A. I do not expect that either his feelings or his views of interest will oppose it. I hope to induce in him dispositions liberal and accommodating. Accept my affectionate salutations.
to cæsar rodney
Washington Dec. 21. 1800.
—I received in due time your favor of Oct. 12. and, as it did not require a particular answer I have postponed the acknolegement of it to this time & place. It seems tolerable well ascertained (though not officially) that the two republican candidates on the late election have a decided majority. Probably of 73. to 65. but equally probable that they are even between themselves & that the Federalists are disposed to make the most of the embarrassment this occasions, by preventing any election by the H. of Representatives. It is far from certain that 9. representatives in that House can be got to vote for any candidate. What the issue of such a dilemma may be cannot be estimated. The French treaty is before the Senate. It is not agreeable in all its parts to anybody, but it is to be hoped it will be ratified with a limitation of time which cannot produce difficulty with the other party. Congress seemed hardly disposed to do anything this session. The Judiciary bill, the territorial government, & the taking into their hands the making roads through the union are the subjects talked of. The last will be a bottomless abyss for money, the most fruitful field for [illegible] and the richest provision for jobs to favorites that has ever yet been proposed. We have been 12. years grasping at all the expenses of the union. A shorter time will suffice to restore them to whom they belong & who would manage them with so much more correctness & raise them in ways so much less burthensome to the people than we can. Foreign relations are our province: domestic regulations & institutions belong, in every state, to itself. I pray you to accept the assurances of my high regard & esteem, & to present my affectionate veneration to mr. Dickinson. Adieu.
to james madison
[Washington,] Dec. 26, 1800.
—All the votes have now come in, except of Vermont & Kentuckey, and there is no doubt that the result is a perfect parity between the two republican characters. The Feds appear determined to prevent an election, & to pass a bill giving the government to Mr. Jay, appointed Chief Justice, or to Marshall as Secy of state. Yet I am rather of opinion that Maryland & Jersey will give the 7 republican majorities. The French treaty will be violently opposed by the Feds; the giving up the vessels is the article they cannot swallow. They have got their judiciary bill forwarded to commitment. I dread this above all the measures meditated, because appointments in the nature of freehold render it difficult to undo what is done. We expect a report for a territorial government which is to pay little respect to the rights of man.—Your’s of the 20th came safely to hand. I am almost certain that you sent money by me to Lyon, which he sent to me for & received as soon as he heard I was arrived. As I was merely the bearer I did not take a receipt. I will inquire into it, and do what is necessary. No answer yet from R. R. L.
Cordial and affectionate salutations. Adieu.
to tench coxe
December 31, 1800.
I shall neither frank nor subscribe my letter, because I do not chuse to commit myself to the fidelity of the post-office. For the same reason, I have avoided putting pen to paper through the whole summer, except on mere business, because I knew it was a prying season. I received from time to time papers under your superscription, which shewed that our friends were not inattentive to the great operation which was agitating the nation. You are by this time apprised of the embarrassment produced by the equality of votes between the two republican candidates. The contrivance in the Constitution for marking the votes works badly, because it does not enounce precisely the true expression of the public will. We do not see what is to be the issue of the present difficulty. The federalists, among whom those of the republican section are not the strongest, propose to prevent an election in Congress, and to transfer the government by an act to the C. J. (Jay) or Secretary of State, or to let it devolve on the Pres pro tem. of the Senate, till next December, which gives them another year’s predominance, and the chances of future events. The republicans propose to press forward to an election. If they fail in this, a concert between the two higher candidates may prevent the dissolution of the government and danger of anarchy, by an operation, bungling indeed & imperfect, but better than letting the Legislature take the nomination of the Executive entirely from the people. Excuse the infrequency of my acknowledgments of your kind attentions. The danger of interruption makes it prudent for me not to indulge my personal wishes in that way. I pray you to accept assurances of my great esteem.
services of jefferson
I have sometimes asked myself whether my country is the better for my having lived at all? I do not know that it is. I have been the instrument of doing the following things; but they would have been done by others; some of them, perhaps, a little better.
The Rivanna had never been used for navigation; scarcely an empty canoe had ever passed down it. Soon after I came of age, I examined its obstructions, set on foot a subscription for removing them, got an Act of Assembly passed, and the thing effected, so as to be used completely and fully for carrying down all our produce.
The Declaration of Independence.
I proposed the demolition of the church establishment, and the freedom of religion. It could only be done by degrees; to wit, the Act of 1776, c. 2, exempted dissenters from contributions to the church, and left the church clergy to be supported by voluntary contributions of their own sect; was continued from year to year, and made perpetual 1779, c. 36. I prepared the act for religious freedom in 1777, as part of the revisal, which was not reported to the Assembly till 1779, and that particular law not passed till 1785, and then by the efforts of Mr. Madison.
The act putting an end to entails.
The act prohibiting the importation of slaves.
The act concerning citizens, and establishing the natural right of man to expatriate himself, at will.
The act changing the course of descents, and giving the inheritance to all the children, &c., equally, I drew as part of the revisal.
The act for apportioning crimes and punishments, part of the same work, I drew. When proposed to the legislature, by Mr. Madison, in 1785, it failed by a single vote. G. K. Taylor afterwards, in 1796, proposed the same subject; avoiding the adoption of any part of the diction of mine, the text of which had been studiously drawn in the technical terms of the law, so as to give no occasion for new questions by new expressions. When I drew mine, public labor was thought the best punishment to be substituted for death. But, while I was in France, I heard of a society in England, who had successfully introduced solitary confinement, and saw the drawing of a prison at Lyons, in France, formed on the idea of solitary confinement. And, being applied to by the Governor of Virginia for the plan of a Capitol and Prison, I sent him the Lyons plan, accompanying it with a drawing on a smaller scale, better adapted to our use. This was in June, 1786. Mr. Taylor very judiciously adopted this idea, (which had now been acted on in Philadelphia, probably from the English model) and substituted labor in confinement, to the public labor proposed by the Committee of revisal; which themselves would have done, had they been to act on the subject again. The public mind was ripe for this in 1796, when Mr. Taylor proposed it, and ripened chiefly by the experiment in Philadelphia; whereas, in 1785, when it had been proposed to our assembly, they were not quite ripe for it.
In 1789 and 1790, I had a great number of olive plants, of the best kind, sent from Marseilles to Charleston, for South Carolina and Georgia. They were planted, and are flourishing; and, though not yet multiplied, they will be the germ of that cultivation in those States.
In 1790, I got a cask of heavy upland rice, from the river Denbigh, in Africa, about lat. 9° 30′ North, which I sent to Charleston, in hopes it might supersede the culture of the wet rice, which renders South Carolina and Georgia so pestilential through the summer. It was divided, and a part sent to Georgia. I know not whether it has been attended to in South Carolina; but it has spread in the upper parts of Georgia, so as to have become almost general, and is highly prized. Perhaps it may answer in Tennessee and Kentucky. The greatest service which can be rendered any country is, to add an useful plant to its culture; especially, a bread grain; next in value to bread is oil.
Whether the act for the more general diffusion of knowledge will ever be carried into complete effect, I know not. It was received by the legislature with great enthusiasm at first; and a small effort was made in 1796, by the act to establish public schools, to carry a part of it into effect, viz., that for the establishment of free English schools; but the option given to the courts has defeated the intention of the act.
[1 ]From S. N. Randolph’s Domestic Life of Jefferson.
[1 ]From S. N. Randolph’s Domestic Life of Jefferson.
[1 ]60. were expelled from the 500, so as to change the majority there to the other side. It seems doubtful whether any were expelled from the Antients. The majority there was already with the Consular party. T. J.
[1 ]In pursuance of this subject, Jefferson wrote Wythe:
[1 ]This vocabulary is missing.