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1802 - to the attorney general (levi lincoln) - 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 the attorney general (levi lincoln)
Jan 1, 1802.
Averse to receive addresses, yet unable to prevent them, I have generally endeavored to turn them to some account, by making them the occasion, by way of answer, of sowing useful truths & principles among the people, which might germinate and become rooted among their political tenets. The Baptist address, now enclosed, admits of a condemnation of the alliance between Church and State, under the authority of the Constitution. It furnishes an occasion, too, which I have long wished to find, of saying why I do not proclaim fastings & thanksgivings, as my predecessors did.
The address, to be sure, does not point at this, & it’s introduction is awkward. But I foresee no opportunity of doing it more pertinently. I know it will give great offence to the New England clergy; but the advocate of religious freedom is to expect neither peace nor forgiveness from them. Will you be so good as to examine the answer, and suggest any alterations which might prevent an ill effect, or promote a good one among the people? You understand the temper of those in the North, and can weaken it, therefore, to their stomachs: it is at present seasoned to the Southern taste only. I would ask the favor of you to return it, with the address, in the course of the day or evening. Health & affection.
to james cheetham
Washington Jan. 17, 1802.
—Your favor of Dec. 29 was received in due time. Although it is all important for public as well as personal considerations, that I should receive information of every interesting occurrence, yet it is little in my power to entitle myself to it by regular correspondence on my part. In fact it is rare I can answer a private letter at all, being for the most part obliged to leave even my best friends to read the answer in what is done, or not done, in consequence of their letters. This must account for my late answer to yours of the 29th ult. and for my failures to answer at all on other occasions. The fact of the suppression of a work mentioned by you is curious, and pregnant with considerations.1 Is it impossible to get a single copy of the work? A good history of the period it comprehended will doubtless be valuable. Should it be undertaken as you suggest, I should suppose it indispensable in you, rather to visit this place, at your own convenience, for the information you desire as to a particular document, and for such other as the work itself will suggest to you. In the meantime I can assure you that I have only read that document with the extracts from it, in Callender’s History of 1796. Pa. 172 to 181 & find the latter not only substantially, but almost verbally exact. With respect to the compensation to the negotiator, I think the printed public accounts show that he received his salary as C. J. and his actual expenses on the mission.
A certain description of persons are so industrious in misconstruing and misrepresenting every word from my pen, that I must pray you, after reading this, to destroy it, that no accident happening to it may furnish matter for new slanders. Accept my respects and best wishes.
to wilson cary nicholas
Washington Jan. 26, 1802.
—The enclosed paper was put into my hands by Mr. Madison to fill up some dates, but I have been so engaged as to do little to it; and supposing you will want it to-day I send it as it is. To that list may be added the appointment of Gouvr. Morris to negotiate with the court of London, by letter written and signed by Genl. Washington, and Dav. Humphreys to negotiate with Liston by letter. Commissions were not given in form because no ministers had yet been sent here by those courts. But all the powers were given them, and half the salary (as they were not to display the diplomatic ranks, half salary was thought sufficient) but they were compleatly officers on salaries, and no notice given the senate till afterwards.
The phrase in the constitution is: “to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate.” This may mean “vacancies that may happen to be” or “may happen to fall” it is certainly susceptible of both constructions, and we took the practice of our predecessors as the commentary established. This was done without deliberation; and we have not before taken an exact view of the precedents. They more than cover our cases, but I think some of them are not justifiable. We propose to take the subject into consideration, and to fix on such a rule of conduct, within the words of the constitution, as may save the government from serious injury, and yet restrain the executive within limits which might admit mischief. You will observe the cases of Reade & Putnam, where the persons nominated declining to accept the vacancy remained unfilled and had happened before the recess. It will be said these vacancies did not remain unfilled by the intention of the executive, who had, by nomination, endeavored to fill them. So in our cases, they were not unfilled by the intention of the successor, but by the omission of the predecessor. Chas. Lee informed me that wherever an office became vacant so short a time before congress rose, as not to give an opportunity of inquiring for a proper character, they let it lie always till recess. However this discussion is too long for a letter. We must establish a correct and well digested rule of practice, to bind up our successors as well as ourselves. If we find that any of our cases go beyond the limits of such a rule, we must consider what will be the best way of preventing their being considered authoritative examples. In the meantime I think it would be better to give the subject the go for the present, that we may have time to consider and to do what will be best for the general safety. Health & respect.
P. S.—When you are done with the enclosed paper I shall be very glad to receive it again to copy it for publication.
to john page
Washington Feb. 20, 1802.
My dear friend,
—I pray you, in the first place, that the contents of this letter may be inviolably secret, until promulgated by some public act. In my letter of March 2d, I mentioned to you that the mint had been left at Philadelphia merely because taken up by the legislature too late to decide on it. The subject is now resumed, and there is no doubt the institution will be suppressed. This of course prevents the prospect of employing your talents worthily in that department. Another difficulty has occurred, of which at that time I was not apprized. Virginia is greatly over her due proportion of appointments in the general government; and tho’ this has not been done by me, it would be imputed as blamed to me to add to her proportion. So that for all general offices persons to fill them must for some time be sought from other states, and only offices which are to be exercised within the state can be given to its own citizens. This leaves but little scope for placing talents in offices to which they are analogous, and must apologize for what I am about to propose to you. Col. Heath, the collector of the customs at Petersburg must be removed on account of the irritability of his temper, and the fury of his Federalism. His office will probably be worth in future from 2. to 3. thousand D. a year as you will see by the inclosed paper. In proposing it to you, I am governed only by a desire to be useful to you, and at the same time to place the office in hands equal to its duties and acceptable to the public. What its labours are, I know not. Its responsibility is very great; as prodigious sums pass through it, which, where there is no bank to deposit them in for safe-keeping, lie at considerable risk. It requires too the utmost vigilance of the principal over his clerks, as we have seen the collectors of South Carolina, Pennsylva and N. York and some others, not only ruin themselves, but their securities also, and still great loss falling on the public; and this from the sole fraud of the clerk. I should suppose indeed that nothing could secure the principal but a vigorous refusal to let his clerks ever touch a dollar, and an inflexible reservation of the care and custody of the iron chest to himself. With this precaution, these officers are the best in the U. S. Although I know your character to be much inclined to indulgence, and confidence in others, yet I know also that when you are apprized that the safety of yourself and family, of your securities and of the public and your own reputation also would require you not to trust any body but yourself, your sense of duty is too strong to leave any hesitation. I mention these circumstances, because I wish you to be apprized of the dangers as well as the benefits of the office, and to make up your judgment on a view of the whole subject. It would require your removal to Petersburgh where the office is kept. Taking convenient time to consider of it, you will be so good as to inform me as soon as you can decide whether you will accept the office or not. There was for some time an expectation that Colonel Davies’s death would have produced a vacancy in that office, which is a better one than that of Petersburg. But I believe that expectation is over. Present me respectfully to Mrs. Page, and accept yourself assurances of my constant and affectionate esteem.1
P. S. Mar. 9. I have withheld this letter some days on an expectation that Mr. Gallatin would be able to say something further on the subject of the emoluments of the office. He says that a committee are about to propose reductions of the emoluments of all the collectors. He is of opinion this will be reduced so as to stand somewhere between two & three thousand dollars. I thought it best to apprize you of everything. Gallatin mentions a very necessary caution against trusting the merchants beyond the time of their bonds so as to make yourself responsible. Mr. Gallatin says the office at Norfolk is not near so profitable as that of Petersburg.
to the u. s. minister to france (robert r. livingston)
Washington Mar. 16, 1802.
—Your favor of Dec. 26, was received the 5th inst. and one of a later date to the Secretary of state has been communicated to me. The present is intended as a commentary on my letter to you of Aug. 28. When I wrote that letter I did not harbor a doubt that the disposition on that side the water was as cordial, as I knew ours to be. I thought it important that the agents between us should be such as both parties would be willing to open themselves to freely. I ought to have expressed in that letter the distinction between the two characters therein named, which really existed in my mind. Of one of them I thought nothing good. As to the other (whom you mention to be the real one contemplated) I considered him well disposed to this country, but not towards its political principles. I had confidence in him to a certain extent; but that confidence had limits. I thought a slight hint of this might have had some effect on the choice of an agent. But the dispositions now understood to exist there, impose of themselves limits to the openness of our communications, and bring us within the extent of that reposed in the agent under consideration. Consequently it is adequate to all the purposes for which it will be used. I wish you therefore not only to suggest nothing against his mission, but on the contrary to impress him that it will be agreeable, and even desirable, which is the truth. For I firmly believe him well disposed to preserve amity between that country and this. Tho’ clouds may occasionally obscure the horizon between us yet there is a fund of friendship and attachment between the mass of the two nations which will always in time dispel those nebulosities. The present administration of this country have these feelings of their constituents, and will be true to them. We shall act steadily on the desire of cementing our interests and affections; and of this you cannot go too far in assuring them. In every event we will receive with satisfaction any missionary they chuse to send. Not being very sure of the channel of conveyance for this letter, I have explained the former one so that you will understand it: and reserve myself on other subjects to some future occasion. Accept assurances of my high esteem & consideration.
to the attorney general (levi lincoln.)
Mar. 24, 1802.
I had no conception there were persons enough to support a paper whose stomachs could bear such aliment as the enclosed papers contain. They are far beyond even the Washington Federalist. To punish however is impracticable until the body of the people, from whom juries are to be taken, get their minds to rights; and even then I doubt its expediency. While a full range is proper for actions by individuals, either private or public, for slanders affecting them, I would wish much to see the experiment tried of getting along without public prosecutions for libels. I believe we can do it. Patience and well doing, instead of punishment, if it can be found sufficiently efficacious, would be a happy change in the instruments of government.
Health & affectionate salutations.
to the secretary of the treasury (albert gallatin.)
Washington Apl. 1, 1802.
—I have read and considered your report on the operations of the sinking fund, and entirely approve of it, as the best plan on which we can set out. I think it an object of great importance, to be kept in view and to be undertaken at a fit season, to simplify our system of finance, and bring it within the comprehension of every member of Congress. Hamilton set out on a different plan. In order that he might have the entire government of his machine, he determined so to complicate it as that neither the President or Congress should be able to understand it, or to control him. He succeeded in doing this, not only beyond their reach, but so that he at length could not unravel it himself. He gave to the debt, in the first instance, in finding it, the most artificial and mysterious form he could devise. He then moulded up his appropriations of a number of scraps & remnants, many of which were nothing at all, and applied them to different objects in reversion and remainder, until the whole system was involved in impenetrable fog; and while he was giving himself the airs of providing for the payment of the debt, he left himself free to add to it continually, as he did in fact, instead of paying it. I like your idea of kneading all his little scraps & fragments into one batch, and adding to it a complementary sum, which, while it forms it into a single mass from which everything is to be paid, will enable us, should a breach of appropriation ever be charged on us, to prove that the sum appropriated, & more, has been applied to its specific object.
But there is a point beyond this on which I should wish to keep my eye, and to which I should aim to approach by every tack which previous arrangements force upon us. That is, to form into one consolidated mass all the moneys received into the treasury, and to the several expenditures, giving them a preference of payment according to the order in which they should be arranged. As for example. 1. The interest of the public debt. 2. Such portion of principal as are exigible. 3. The expenses of government. 4. Such other portions of principal as, thou’ not exigible, we are still free to pay when we please. The last object might be made to take up the residuum of money remaining in the treasury at the end of every year, after the three first objects were complied with, and would be the barometer whereby to test the economy of the administration. It would furnish a simple measure by which every one could mete their merit, and by which every one could decide when taxes were deficient or superabundant. If to this can be added a simplification of the form of accounts in the treasury department, and in the organization of its officers, so as to bring everything to a single centre, we might hope to see the finances of the Union as clear and intelligible as a merchant’s books, so that every member of Congress, and every man of any mind in the Union, should be able to comprehend them, to investigate abuses, and consequently to control them. Our predecessors have endeavored by intricacies of system, and shuffling the investigator over from one officer to another, to cover everything from detection. I hope we shall go in the contrary direction, and that by your honest and judicious reformations, we may be able, within the limits of our time, to bring things back to that simple & intelligible system on which they should have been organized at first.
I have suggested only a single alteration in the report, which is merely verbal & of no consequence. We shall now get rid of the commissioner of the internal revenue, & superintendent of stamps. It remains to amalgamate the comptroller & auditor into one, and reduce the register to a clerk of accounts; and then the organization will consist, as it should at first, of a keeper of money, a keeper of accounts, & the head of the department. This constellation of great men in the treasury department was of a piece with the rest of Hamilton’s plans. He took his own stand as a Lieutenant General, surrounded by his Major Generals, and stationing his Brigadiers & Colonels under the name of Supervisors, Inspectors, &c., in the different States. Let us deserve well of our country by making their interests the end of all our plans, and not our own pomp, patronage and irresponsibility. I have hazarded these hasty & crude ideas, which occurred on contemplating your report. They may be the subject of future conversation and correction. Accept my affectionate salutations.
to william branch giles
Apr. 6, 1802.
I enclose you an extract of a letter from Mr. Brown to Mr. Lincoln under whom acting as Secretary of State and Genl. Smith acting voluntarily for the department of secretary of the navy, but without appointment or reward, the latter part of what respected the Berceau was conducted. The other letter of Brown’s which I mentioned relates merely to the details of the repairs.
The question whether the Berceau was to be delivered up under the treaty was of executive cognizance entirely and without appeal. So was the question as to the condition in which she should be delivered. And it is as much an invasion of its independence for a coordinate branch to call for the reasons of the decision, as it would be to call on the Supreme Court for its reasons on any judiciary decision. If an appropriation were asked, the legislature would have a right to ask reasons. But in this case they had confided an appropriation (for naval contingencies) to the discretion of the Executive. Under this appropriation our predecessors bought the vessel (for there was no order of congress authorizing them to buy) and began her repairs: we completed them. I will not say that a very gross abuse of discretion in a past appropriation would not furnish ground to the legislature to take notice of it. In what form is not now necessary to decide. But so far from a gross abuse, the decision in this case was correct, honorable, and advantageous to the nation. I cannot see to what legitimate objects any resolution of the House on the subject can lead: and if one is passed on ground not legitimate, our duty will be to resist it. These gentlemen wish to abuse the liberality of the majority by harrassing the Executive with malicious inquiries, and sewing tares among their enemies. So far they ought not to be indulged. They wish also to create occasions for evacuation of their ill humor. They have no doubt had the evacuation. But after indulging them with that, to give them any sanction by a vote of the House yielding to their demands, is to give color to all the calumnies they have before uttered against the Executive. Be so good as to return me the enclosed paper when you shall have made your uses of it.
to the u. s. minister to france (robert r. livingston.)
Washington Apr. 18, 1802.
—A favorable and a confidential opportunity offering by Mr. Dupont de Nemours, who is revisiting his native country gives me an opportunity of sending you a cipher to be used between us, which will give you some trouble to understand, but, once understood, is the easiest to use, the most indecipherable, and varied by a new key with the greatest facility of any one I have ever known. I am in hopes the explanation inclosed will be sufficient. Let our key of letters be [some figures which are illegible] and the key of lines be [figures illegible] and lest we should happen to lose our key or be absent from it, it is so formed as to be kept in the memory and put upon paper at pleasure; being produced by writing our names and residences at full length, each of which containing 27 letters is divided into two parts of 9. letters each; and each of the 9. letters is then numbered according to the place it would hold if the 9. were arranged alphabetically, thus [so blotted as to be illegible]. The numbers over the letters being then arranged as the letters to which they belong stand in our names, we can always construct our key. But why a cipher between us, when official things go naturally to the Secretary of State, and things not political need no cipher. 1. matters of a public nature, and proper to go on our records, should go to the secretary of state. 2. matters of a public nature not proper to be placed on our records may still go to the secretary of state, headed by the word “private.” But 3. there may be matters merely personal to ourselves, and which require the cover of a cipher more than those of any other character. This last purpose and others which we cannot foresee may render it convenient and advantageous to have at hand a mask for whatever may need it. But writing by Mr. Dupont I need no cipher. I require from him to put this into your own and no other hand, let the delay occasioned by that be what it will.
The cession of Louisiana and the Floridas by Spain to France works most sorely on the U. S. On this subject the Secretary of State has written to you fully. Yet I cannot forbear recurring to it personally, so deep is the impression it makes in my mind. It compleatly reverses all the political relations of the U. S. and will form a new epoch in our political course. Of all nations of any consideration France is the one which hitherto has offered the fewest points on which we could have any conflict of right, and the most points of a communion of interests. From these causes we have ever looked to her as our natural friend, as one with which we never could have an occasion of difference. Her growth therefore we viewed as our own, her misfortunes ours. There is on the globe one single spot, the possessor of which is our natural and habitual enemy. It is New Orleans, through which the produce of three-eighths of our territory must pass to market, and from its fertility it will ere long yield more than half of our whole produce and contain more than half our inhabitants. France placing herself in that door assumes to us the attitude of defiance. Spain might have retained it quietly for years. Her pacific dispositions, her feeble state, would induce her to increase our facilities there, so that her possession of the place would be hardly felt by us, and it would not perhaps be very long before some circumstance might arise which might make the cession of it to us the price of something of more worth to her. Not so can it ever be in the hands of France. The impetuosity of her temper, the energy and restlessness of her character, placed in a point of eternal friction with us, and our character, which though quiet, and loving peace and the pursuit of wealth, is high-minded, despising wealth in competition with insult or injury, enterprising and energetic as any nation on earth, these circumstances render it impossible that France and the U. S. can continue long friends when they meet in so irritable a position. They as well as we must be blind if they do not see this; and we must be very improvident if we do not begin to make arrangements on that hypothesis. The day that France takes possession of N. Orleans fixes the sentence which is to restrain her forever within her low water mark. It seals the union of two nations who in conjunction can maintain exclusive possession of the ocean. From that moment we must marry ourselves to the British fleet and nation. We must turn all our attentions to a maritime force, for which our resources place us on very high grounds: and having formed and cemented together a power which may render reinforcement of her settlements here impossible to France, make the first cannon, which shall be fired in Europe the signal for tearing up any settlement she may have made, and for holding the two continents of America in sequestration for the common purposes of the united British and American nations. This is not a state of things we seek or desire. It is one which this measure, if adopted by France, forces on us, as necessarily as any other cause, by the laws of nature, brings on its necessary effect. It is not from a fear of France that we deprecate this measure proposed by her. For however greater her force is than ours compared in the abstract, it is nothing in comparison of ours when to be exerted on our soil. But it is from a sincere love of peace, and a firm persuasion that bound to France by the interests and the strong sympathies still existing in the minds of our citizens, and holding relative positions which insure their continuance we are secure of a long course of peace. Whereas the change of friends, which will be rendered necessary if France changes that position, embarks us necessarily as a belligerent power in the first war of Europe. In that case France will have held possession of New Orleans during the interval of a peace, long or short, at the end of which it will be wrested from her. Will this short-lived possession have been an equivalent to her for the transfer of such a weight into the scale of her enemy? Will not the amalgamation of a young, thriving, nation continue to that enemy the health and force which are at present so evidently on the decline? And will a few years possession of N. Orleans add equally to the strength of France? She may say she needs Louisiana for the supply of her West Indies. She does not need it in time of peace. And in war she could not depend on them because they would be so easily intercepted. I should suppose that all these considerations might in some proper form be brought into view of the government of France. Tho’ stated by us, it ought not to give offence; because we do not bring them forward as a menace, but as consequences not controulable by us, but inevitable from the course of things. We mention them not as things which we desire by any means, but as things we deprecate; and we beseech a friend to look forward and to prevent them for our common interests.
If France considers Louisiana however as indispensable for her views she might perhaps be willing to look about for arrangements which might reconcile it to our interests. If anything could do this it would be the ceding to us the island of New Orleans and the Floridas. This would certainly in a great degree remove the causes of jarring and irritation between us, and perhaps for such a length of time as might produce other means of making the measure permanently conciliatory to our interests and friendships. It would at any rate relieve us from the necessity of taking immediate measures for countervailing such an operation by arrangements in another quarter. Still we should consider N. Orleans and the Floridas as equivalent for the risk of a quarrel with France produced by her vicinage. I have no doubt you have urged these considerations on every proper occasion with the government where you are. They are such as must have effect if you can find the means of producing thorough reflection on them by that government. The idea here is that the troops sent to St. Domingo, were to proceed to Louisiana after finishing their work in that island. If this were the arrangement, it will give you time to return again and again to the charge, for the conquest of St. Domingo will not be a short work. It will take considerable time to wear down a great number of souldiers. Every eye in the U. S. is now fixed on this affair of Louisiana. Perhaps nothing since the revolutionary war has produced more uneasy sensations through the body of the nation. Notwithstanding temporary bickerings have taken place with France, she has still a strong hold on the affections of our citizens generally. I have thought it not amiss, by way of supplement to the letters of the Secretary of State to write you this private one to impress you with the importance we affix to this transaction. I pray you to cherish Dupont. He has the best dispositions for the continuance of friendship between the two nations, and perhaps you may be able to make a good use of him. Accept assurances of my affectionate esteem and high consideration.
to cæsar a. rodney
Washington Apr. 24, 1802.
—I have yet to acknowledge your favor of Mar. 15. Recd the 25th. I had hoped that the proceedings of this session of Congress would have rallied the great body of our citizens at once to one opinion. But the inveteracy of their quondam leaders have been able by intermingling the grossest lies and misrepresentations to check the effect in some small degree until they shall be exposed. The great sources and authors of these are in Congress. Besides the slanders in their speeches, such letters have been written to their constituents as I shall forbear to qualify by the proper terms. I am glad to observe that you have been properly struck with these things: and that you confide in the progress of republicanism notwithstanding them. The vote for your governor shews the majority of your state was then republican, and I cannot but believe it will increase. I am told you are the only person who can unite the greatest portion of the republican votes, and the only one perhaps who can procure the dismission of your present representative to that obscurity of situation where his temper and principles may be disarmed of all effect. You are, then, my dear sir, bound to do this good office to the rest of America. You owe to your state to make her useful to her friends, instead of being an embarrassment and a burthen. Her long speeches and wicked workings at this session have added at least 30. days to its length, cost us 30,000 D. and filled the union with falsehoods and misrepresentations. Relieve us then, my dear sir, from this hostile procedure by undertaking that office which your fellow-citizens will gladly confide to your truth, candor and republicanism. A man standing under such circumstances owes himself to his country, because they can find no other in whom they can all agree to have confidence. Be so good as to answer me on this point and to be assured of my affectionate esteem & respect.
to joel barlow1
Washington May 3, 1802.
—I have doubted whether to write to you, because yours of Aug. 25, received only March 27, gives me reason to expect you are now on the ocean. However, as I know voyages so important are often delayed, I shall venture a line with Mr. Dupont de Nemours. The Legislature rises this day. They have carried into execution steadily almost all the propositions submitted to them in my message at the opening of the session. Some few are laid over for want of time. The most material of which is the militia, the plan of which they cannot easily modify to the general approbation. Our majority in the House of Representatives has been about two to one—in the Senate, eighteen to fourteen. After another election it will be two to one in the Senate, and it would not be for the public good to have it greater, a respectable minority is useful as censors. The present one is not respectable; being the bitterest cup of the remains of Federalism rendered desperate and furious by despair. A small check in the tide of republicanism in Massachusetts, which has showed itself very unexpectedly at the late election, is not accounted for. Everywhere else we are becoming one. In Rhode Island the late election gave us two to one through the whole state. Vermont is decidedly with us. It is said and believed that New Hampshire has got a majority of republicans now in its Legislature; and wanted a few hundreds only of turning out their federal governor. He goes assuredly the next trial. Connecticut is supposed to have gained for us about fifteen or twenty per cent, since her last election; but the exact issue is not yet known here. Nor is it certainly known how we shall stand in the House of Representatives of Massachusetts. In the Senate there, we have lost ground. The candid federalists acknowledged that their party can never more raise its head. The operations of this session of Congress, when known among the people at large, will consolidate them. We shall now be so strong that we shall certainly split again; for freemen thinking differently and speaking and acting as they think, will form into classes of sentiment, but it must be under another name, that of federalism is to become so scouted that no party can rise under it. As the division between whig and tory is founded in the nature of men, the weakly and nerveless, the rich and the corrupt seeing more safety and accessibility in a strong executive; the healthy, firm and virtuous feeling confidence in their physical and moral resources, and willing to part with only so much power as is necessary for their good government, and therefore to retain the rest in the hands of the many, the division will substantially be into whig and tory, as in England, formerly. As yet no symptoms show themselves, nor will till after election.
I am extremely happy to learn that you are so much at your ease that you can devote the rest of your life to the information of others. The choice of a place of residence is material. I do not think you can do better than to fix here for a while, until you become Americanized and understand the map of the country. This may be considered as a pleasant country-residence, with a number of neat little villages scattered around within the distance of a mile and a half, and furnishing a plain and substantially good society. They have begun their buildings in about four or five different points, at each of which there are buildings enough to be considered as a village. The whole population is about six thousand. Mr. Madison and myself have cut out a piece of work for you, which is to write the history of the United States, from the close of the War downwards. We are rich ourselves in materials, and can open all the public archives to you; but your residence here is essential, because a great deal of the knowledge of things is not on paper, but only within ourselves for verbal communication. John Marshall is writing the life of Gen. Washington from his papers. It is intended to come out just in time to influence the next presidential election. It is written therefore principally with a view to electioneering purposes; but it will consequently be out in time to aid you with information as well as to point out the perversions of truth necessary to be rectified. Think of this, and agree to it, and be assured of my high esteem and attachment.
P. S. There is a most lovely seat adjoining this city on a hill commanding a most extensive view of the Potomac. On it there is a superb house, gardens &c., with thirty or forty acres of ground. It will be sold under circumstances of distress, and will probably go for half of what it cost. It was built by Gustavus Mott, who is dead, bankrupt, &c.
to charles wilson peale
Washington May 5, 1802.
—I am this moment setting out on a short visit to Monticello, but a thought coming into my head which may be useful to your son who is carrying the mamoth to Europe, I take time to hint it to you. My knowledge of the scene he will be on enables me to suggest what might not occur to him a stranger. When in a great city, he will find persons of every degree of wealth. To jumble these all into a room together I know from experience is very painful to the decent part of them, who would be glad to see a thing often, and would not regard paying every time, but that they revolt at being next with pick-pockets, chimney sweeps &c. Set three different divisions of the day at three different prices, selecting for the highest when the beau monde can most conveniently attend; the 2d price when merchants and respectable citizens have most leisure, and the residue for the lower description. A few attending at the highest price will countervail many of the lowest, and be more agreeable to themselves and to him. I hope and believe you will make a fortune by the exhibition of that one, and that when tired of showing it you may sell it there for another fortune. Nobody wishes it more sincerely than I do. Accept my assurances of this and of my great esteem.
to the governor of virginia (james monroe.)
Washington June 2, 1802.
—I observe that the resolution of the legislature of Virginia of Jan. 23 in desiring us to look out for some proper place to which insurgent negroes may be sent, expresses a preference of the continent of Africa, or some of the Spanish or Portuguese settlements in S. America: in which preference, and especially as to the former, I entirely concur. On looking towards Africa for our objects the British establishment at Sierra Leone at once presents itself. You know that that establishment was undertaken by a private company and was first suggested by the suffering state of the blacks, who were carried over to England during the revolutionary war, and who were perishing [illegible] and misery in the streets of London. A number of benevolent persons subscribed for the establishment of a company who might carry these people to the coast of Africa, and there employ them usefully for themselves, and indemnify the company by commercial operations: Sierre Leone was fixed on as the place, the blacks then in England were carried thither, and a vessel or vessels sent to Nova Scotia which carried to the same place the blacks who had gone to that country. The settlement is consequently composed of negroes formerly inhabitants of the southern states of our union. Having asked a conversation on this subject with Mr. Thornton the British chargé des affaires here, he informs me the establishment is prosperous, and he thinks there will be no objection on the part of the company to receive blacks from us, not of the character of common felons, but guilty of insurgency only, provided they are sent as free persons, the principles of their institution admitting no slavery among them. I propose therefore, if it meets your approbation, to write to Mr. King our minister in London to propose this matter to the Sierre Leone company who are resident in London; and if leave can be obtained to send black insurgents there, to inquire further whether the regulations of the place would permit us to carry or take there any mercantile objects which by affording some commercial profit, might defray the expenses of the transportation. As soon as I can be favored with your sentiments on this proposition and your approbation of it I will write to Mr. King that we may have the matter finally arranged. Should any mercantile operation be permitted to be combined with the transportation of these persons, so as to lessen or to pay the expense, it might then become eligible to make that the asylum for the other description also, to wit, the freed slaves and persons of color. If not permitted, so distant a colonization of them would perhaps be thought too expensive. But while we are ascertaining this point, we may be making inquiry what other suitable places may be found in the West Indies, or the southern continent of America, so as to have some other resource provided if the one most desirable should be unattainable. In looking out for another place we should prefer placing them with whatever power is least likely to become an enemy, and to use the knowledge of these exiles in predatory expeditions against us. Portugal and Holland would be of this character. But I wish to have your sentiments on both branches of the subject before I commit it by any actual step. Accept assurances of my affectionate and high esteem & respect.
to cæsar a. rodney
Washington June 14, 1802.
—I am later in acknowledging the receipt of your favor of May 16 because it found me at Monticello just on my departure from that place. Since my arrival here I have been in the constant hope of seeing Mr. Beckley and endeavoring to procure from his office a copy of the journals of the H. of Rep. for you. I do not know that they can be had any where else. His confinement by the remains of a fit of the gout has hitherto prevented my object, but I shall keep it in view. I have received two addresses from meetings of democratic republicans at Dover, praying the removal of Allen McLane. One of them was forwarded by Govr. Hall. The grounds are stated so generally that I cannot judge from thence whether he has done anything deserving removal since his former trial and acquittal, certainly nothing beyond that should be brought up a second time. I write this to you confidentially and ask the favor of you to explain to me the real foundation of these applications. If he has been active in electioneering in favor of those who wish to subvert the present order of things, it would be a serious circumstance. I do not mean as to giving his personal vote, in which he ought not to be controuled; but as to using his influence (which necessarily includes his official influence) to sway the votes of others. I withold answering these applications till I hear from you, and may do it on ground which will not fail me. I hope you are fixed on as the republican candidate at the ensuing election for Congress. Accept assurances of my great esteem and respect.1
P. S. Will you also be so good as to recommend to me 4. commissioners of bankruptcy for Wilmington and Newcastle. Two should be lawyers and two merchants, all republicans. If one resides in Newcastle and three in Wilmington it would be desirable: but this circumstance must yield to respectability of character, which is essential.
to the secretary of the treasury (albert gallatin.)
June 19, 1802.
With respect to the bank of Penna, their difficulties proceed from excessive discounts. The 3,000,000 D. due to them comprehend doubtless all the desperate debts accumulated since their institution. Their buildings should only be counted at the value of the naked ground belonging to them; because, if brought to market, they are worth to private builders no more than their materials, which are known by experience to be worth no more than the cost of pulling down and removing them. Their situation then is
To pay which 1,235,000, they depend on 3,000,000 of debts due to them, the amount of which shows they are of long standing, a part desperate, a part not commandable. In this situation it does not seem safe to desposit public money with them, and the effect would only be to enable them to nourish their disease by continuing their excessive discounts, the checking of which is the only means of saving themselves from bankruptcy. The getting them to pay the Dutch debt, is but a deposit in another tho’ a safer form. If we can with propriety recommend indulgence to the bank of the U S, it would be attended with the least danger to us of any of the measures suggested, but it is in fact asking that bank to lend to the one of Pennsylvania, that they may be enabled to continue lending to others. The monopoly of a single bank is certainly an evil. The multiplication of them was intended to cure it; but it multiplied an influence of the same character with the first, and compleated the supplanting the precious metals by a paper circulation. Between such parties the less we meddle the better.
to doctor joseph priestley
Washington June 19, 1802.
—Your favor of the 12th has been duly received, and with that pleasure which the approbation of the good & the wise must ever give. The sentiments it expresses are far beyond my merits or pretensions; they are precious testimonies to me however, that my sincere desire to do what is right & just is viewed with candor. That it should be handed to the world under the authority of your name is securing it’s credit with posterity. In the great work which has been effected in America, no individual has a right to take any great share to himself. Our people in a body are wise, because they are under the unrestrained and unperverted operation of their own understandings. Those whom they have assigned to the direction of their affairs, have stood with a pretty even front. If any one of them was withdrawn, many others entirely equal, have been ready to fill his place with as good abilities. A nation, composed of such materials, and free in all it’s members from distressing wants, furnishes hopeful implements for the interesting experiment of self-government; and we feel that we are acting under obligations not confined to the limits of our own society. It is impossible not to be sensible that we are acting for all mankind; that circumstances denied to others, but indulged to us, have imposed on us the duty of proving what is the degree of freedom and self-government in which a society may venture to leave it’s individual members. One passage, in the paper you enclosed to me, must be corrected. It is the following, “and all say it was yourself more than any other individual, that planned & established it,” i. e. the Constitution. I was in Europe when the Constitution was planned, & established, & never saw it until after it was established. On receiving it I wrote strongly to Mr. Madison, urging the want of provision for the freedom of religion, freedom of the press, trial by jury, habeas corpus, the substitution of militia for a standing army, and an express reservation to the States of all rights not specifically granted to the Union. He accordingly moved in the first session of Congress for these amendments, which were agreed to & ratified by the States as they now stand. This is all the hand I had in what related to the Constitution. Our predecessors made it doubtful how far even these were of any value; for the very law which endangered your personal safety, as well as that which restrained the freedom of the press, were gross violations of them. However, it is still certain that tho’ written constitutions may be violated in moments of passion or delusion, yet they furnish a text to which those who are watchful may again rally & recall the people; they fix too for the people the principles of their political creed. We shall all absent ourselves from this place during the sickly season; say from about the 22d of July to the last of September. Should your curiosity lead you hither either before or after that interval, I shall be very happy to receive you, and shall claim you as my guest. I wish the advantages of a mild over a winter climate had been tried for you before you were located where you are. I have ever considered this as a public as well as personal misfortune. The choice you made of our country for your asylum was honorable to it; and I lament that for the sake of your happiness and health it’s most benign climates were not selected. Certainly it is a truth that climate is one of the sources of the greatest sensual enjoyment. I received in due time the letter of Apr 10 referred to in your last, with the pamphlet it enclosed, which I read with the pleasure I do everything from you. Accept assurances of my highest veneration and respect.
to john langdon
Washington June 29, 1802.
—Your’s of the 19th was received last night. That of May 14. had arrived while I was on a short trip to Monticello from whence I returned on the 30th ult. Commissioners of bankruptcy made up from yours and some other recommendations were appointed on the 14th inst. And no doubt were received a few days after the date of your last. Nicholas Gilman, John Goddard, Henry S. Langdon and John McClintock were named. The three last were in your recommendation. Although we have not yet got a majority into the fold of republicanism in your state, yet one long pull more will affect it. We can hardly doubt that one twelve month more will give an executive and legislature in that state whose opinions may harmonize with their sister states. Unless it be true as is sometimes said that N. H. is but a satellite of Massachusetts. In this last state the public sentiment seems to be under some influence additional to that of the clergy and lawyers. I suspect there must be a leven of state pride at seeing itself deserted by the public opinion, and that their late popular song of Rule New England betrays one principle of their present variance from the union. But I am in hopes they will in time discover that the shortest road to rule is to join the majority. Adieu and accept assurances of my sincere affection & respect.
to the u. s. minister to great britain (rufus king)
Washington July 13, 1802.
—The course of things in the neighbouring islands of the West Indies appears to have given a considerable impulse to the minds of the slaves in different parts of the U. S. A great disposition to insurgency has manifested itself among them, which, in one instance, in the state of Virginia, broke out into actual insurrection. This was easily suppressed: but many of those concerned, (between 20. and 30. I believe) fell victims to the law. So extensive an execution could not but excite sensibility in the public mind, and beget a regret that the laws had not provided, for such cases, some alternative, combining more mildness with equal efficacy. The legislature of the state, at a subsequent meeting, took the subject into consideration, and have communicated to me through the governor of the state, their wish that some place could be provided, out of the limits of the U. S. to which slaves guilty of insurgency might be transported; and they have particularly looked to Africa as offering the most desirable receptacle. We might for this purpose, enter into negociations with the natives, on some part of the coast, to obtain a settlement, and, by establishing an African company, combine with it commercial operations, which might not only reimburse expenses but procure profit also. But there being already such an establishment on that coast by the English Sierre Leone Company, made for the express purpose of colonizing civilized blacks to that country, it would seem better, by incorporating our emigrants with theirs, to make one strong rather than two weak colonies. This would be the more desirable because the blacks settled at Sierre Leone, having chiefly gone from these states would often receive among those we should send, their acquaintances and relations. The object of this letter, therefore, is to ask the favor of you to enter into conference with such persons private and public as would be necessary to give us permission to send thither the persons under contemplation. It is material to observe that they are not felons, or common malefactors, but persons guilty of what the safety of society, under actual circumstances, obliges us to treat as a crime, but which their feelings may represent in a far different shape. They are such as will be a valuable acquisition to the settlement already existing there, and well calculated to cooperate in the plan of civilization.
As the expense of so distant a transportation would be very heavy, and might weigh unfavorable in deciding between the modes of punishment, it is very desirable that it should be lessened as much as is practicable. If the regulations of the place would permit these emigrants to dispose of themselves, as the Germans and others do who come to this country poor, by giving their labor for a certain term to some one who will pay their passage; and if the master of the vessel could be permitted to carry articles of commerce from this country and take back others from that which might yield him a mercantile profit sufficient to cover the expenses of the voyage, a serious difficulty would be removed. I will ask your attention therefore to arrangements necessary for this purpose.
The consequences of permitting emancipations to become extensive, unless a condition of emigration be annexed to them, furnish also matter of solicitude to the legislature of Virginia, as you will perceive by their resolution inclosed to you. Although provision for the settlement of emancipated negroes might perhaps be obtainable nearer home than Africa, yet it is desirable that we should be free to expatriate this description of people also to the colony of Sierre Leone, if considerations respecting either themselves or us should render it more expedient. I pray you therefore to get the same commission extended to the reception of these as well as those first mentioned. Nor will there be a selection of bad subjects; the emancipations for the most part being either of the whole slaves of the master, or of such individuals as have particularly deserved well. The latter is most frequent.
The request of the legislature of Virginia having produced to me this occasion of addressing you I avail myself of it to assure you of my perfect satisfaction with the manner in which you have conducted the several matters confided to you by us; and to express my hope that through your agency we may be able to remove everything inauspicious to a cordial friendship between this country and the one in which you are stationed: a friendship dictated by too many considerations not to be felt by the wise and the dispassionate of both nations. It is therefore with the sincerest pleasure I have observed on the part of the British government various manifestations of just and friendly disposition towards us.1 We wish to cultivate peace and friendship with all nations, believing that course most conducive to the welfare of our own. It is natural that these friendships should bear some proportion to the common interests of the parties. The interesting relations between Great Britain and the U. S. are certainly of the first order; and as such are estimated, and will be faithfully cultivated by us. These sentiments have been communicated to you from time to time in the official correspondence of the secretary of state: but I have thought it might not be unacceptable to be assured that they perfectly concur with my own personal conviction, both in relation to yourself and the country in which you are. I pray you to accept assurances of my high consideration and respect.
to james monroe
Washington July 15, 1802.
—Your favor of the 7th has been duly received. I am really mortified at the base ingratitude of Callender. It presents human nature in a hideous form. It gives me concern because I perceive that relief, which was afforded him on mere motives of charity, may be viewed under the aspect of employing him as a writer. When the political progress of Britain first appeared in this country it was in a periodical publication called the bee, where I saw it. I was speaking of it in terms of strong approbation to a friend in Philadelphia, when he asked me if I knew that the author was then in the city, a fugitive from prosecution on account of that work, and in want of employ for his subsistence. This was the first of my learning that Callender was author of the work. I considered him as a man of science fled from persecution, and assured my friend of my readiness to do whatever could serve him. It was long after this before I saw him, probably not till 1798. He had in the mean time written a 2nd part of the political progress much inferior to the first, and his history of the U. S. In 1798, I think I was applied to by Mr Leiper to contribute to his relief. I did so. In 1799, I think S. T. Mason applied for him. I contributed again. He had by this time paid me two or three personal visits. When he fled in a panic from Philadelphia to Genl Mason’s, he wrote to me that he was a fugitive, in want of employ, wished to know if he could get into a counting house, or a school in my neighborhood or in that of Richmond; that he had materials for a volume, and if he could get as much money as would buy the paper, the profit of the sale would be all his own. I availed myself of this pretext to cover a mere charity, by desiring him to consider me a subscriber for as many copies of his book as the money inclosed (50 D.) amounted to; but to send me two copies only, as the others might lie till called for. But I discouraged his coming into my neighborhood. His first writings here had fallen far short of his original political progress and the scurrilities of his subsequent ones began evidently to do mischief. As to myself no man wished more to see his pen stopped: but I considered him still as a proper object of benevolence. The succeeding year he again wanted money to buy paper for another volume. I made his letter, as before, the occasion of giving him another 50 D. He considers these as proofs of my approbation of his writings, when they were mere charities, yielded under a strong conviction that he was injuring us by his writings. It is known to many that the sums given to him were such and even smaller than I was in the habit of giving to others in distress of the federal as well as the republican party without attention to political principles. Soon after I was elected to the government, Callender came on here wishing to be made postmaster at Richmond. I knew him to be totally unfit for it: and however ready I was to aid him with my own charities (and I then gave him 50. D.) I did not think the public offices confided to me to give away as charities. He took it in mortal offence, and from that moment has been hauling off to his former enemies the federalists. Under the letter I wrote him in answer to the one from Genl. Mason, I wrote him another containing answers to two questions he addressed to me. 1. whether Mr. Jay received salary as chief justice and envoy at the same time; and 2. something relative to the expenses of an embassy to Constantinople. I think these were the only letters I ever wrote him in answer to volumes he was perpetually writing to me. This is the true state of what has passed between him and me. I do not know that it can be used without committing me in controversy as it were with one too little respected by the public to merit that notice. I leave to your judgment what use can be made of these facts. Perhaps it will be better judged of when we see what use the tories will endeavour to make of their new friend. I shall leave this on the 21st and be at Monticello probably on the 24th or between 2. or 3. days of that, and shall hope ere long to see you there. Accept assurances of my affectionate attachment.1
to elbridge gerry
Monticello Aug. 28, 1802.
—You very justly suppose, in yours of the 9th inst., that the act of duty which removed your brother from office, was one of the most painful and unwilling which I have had to perform. Very soon after our administration was formed, the situation of his accounts was placed under the notice of the secretary of the Treasury, and consequently communicated to me. He was written to. The failure to render accounts periodically, the disagreement among those he did render, gave reason to believe he was imprudently indulging himself in the use of the public money. What were the circumstances which led him to this, was not an inquiry permitted to us. If the perquisites of his office were insufficient to support him, it was a case for the legislature not for us to remedy. Our duty was to see their will carried into execution. We could only give a little more or less time for the ratification of his proceedings, according to our hope of its being effected. Besides monitory letters which were unanswered, friends were relied on to give the necessary warning. The derangements of his accounts being known to you, and the deficiency, though ultimately to fall on you as his security, not being paid up, on which he would have been continued, was evidence to me that you probably thought that if he were relieved by such a [faded] on your part, he would relapse again, and that therefore you had made up your mind to let legal consequences take their course. It became then an indispensable duty to put an end to indulgences, which after being extended from quarter to quarter for nearly 18. months, gave no hope but of further deficiency. However afflicting this act of duty might be to you, I know you would see in it a proof of that justice which was the foundation of your esteem and confidence in the administration. Mr. Warren having declined accepting the place, another was appointed before the receipt of your letter. Although the performance of the same officer in other cases was cutting down the foes instead of the friends of republican government, yet like the office [illegible] it has excited the most revolting sensations. The safety of the government absolutely required that its direction in its higher departments should be taken into friendly hands. Its safety did not even admit that the whole of its immense patronage should be left at the command of its enemies to be exercised secretly or openly to reestablish the tyrannical and delapidating system of the preceding administration, and their deleterious principles of government. Rigorous justice too required that as they had filled every office with their friends to the avowed exclusion of republicans, that the latter should be admitted to a participation of office, by the removal of some of the former. This was done to the extent of about 20. only out of some thousands, and no more was intended. But instead of their acknowledging its moderation, it has been a ground for their more active enmity. After a twelve months trial I have at length been induced to remove three or four more of those most marked for their bitterness and active zeal in slandering and in electioneering. Whether we shall proceed any further will depend on themselves. Those who are quiet, and take no part against that order of things which the public will has established, will be safe. Those who continue to clamor against it, to slander and oppose it, shall not be armed with its wealth and power for its own destruction. The late removals have been intended merely as monitory, but such officers as shall afterwards continue to bid us defiance shall as certainly be removed, if the case shall become known. A neutral conduct is all I ever desired, and this the public have a right to expect. Our information from every quarter is that republican principles spread more and more. Indeed the body of the people may be considered as consolidated into one mass from the Delaware southwardly and westwardly. New Jersey is divided, and in New York a schism may render inefficacious what the great majority would be equal to. In your corner alone priestcraft and lawcraft are still able to throw dust into the eyes of the people. But, as the Indian says, they are clearing the dust out of their eyes there also. The republican portion will at length rise, and the sediment of monarchism be left as lees at the bottom. Accept assurances of my affectionate esteem and high consideration.
to gideon granger
Monticello Aug. 29, 1802.
—Not knowing whether the postmasters from hence to and at Boston are all true, I inclose the within to you and ask the favor of your cover to the postmaster or any other person you can confide in at Boston to deliver it. Your favors of Aug. 23. and 24. are received. Pray forward me by post one of Mr. Bishop’s new pamphlets, and let it stand in account between us till we meet. I see with sincere grief that the schism at New York is setting good republicans by the ears, and is attacking characters which nobody doubts. It is not for me to meddle in this matter; but there can be no harm in wishing for forbearance. If the mortification arising from our division could be increased, it would be by the triumph and chucklings and fomentations of the Federalists. Accept assurances of my great esteem and respect.
to the secretary of the treasury (albert gallatin.)
Monticello September 13, 1802.
— * * * I have always forgotten to ask of you a general idea of the effect of the peace on our revenues so far as we have gone. It is of the utmost importance, if these diminish, to diminish our expenses; this may be done in the Naval Department. I wish it were possible to increase the impost on any articles affecting the rich chiefly, to the amount of the sugar tax, so that we might relinquish that at the next session. But this must depend on our receipts keeping up. As to the tea and coffee tax, the people do not regard it. The next tax which an increase of revenue should enable us to suppress should be the salt tax, perhaps; indeed, the production of that article at home is already undermining that tax. * * *
to the secretary of state (james madison.)
Monticello Sept. 13, 1802.
—I now return you the papers which came in your letter of the 11th. I am not satisfied that the ground taken by the Chancellor Livingston is advantageous. For the French government and the Spanish have only to grant him all he asks (and they will in justice & policy do that at once) & his mouth must be shut: because after-sought objections would come from him to great disadvantage. Whereas the true and solid objection remains in full force after they shall have the merit of granting all he asks. * * *
to the secretary of the treasury (albert gallatin.)
October 7, 1802.
The application of the Bank of Baltimore is of great importance. The consideration is very weighty that it is held by citizens, while the stock of the United States Bank is held in so great a proportion by foreigners. Were the Bank of the United States to swallow up the others and monopolize the whole banking business of the United States, which the demands we furnish them with tend shortly to favor, we might, on a misunderstanding with a foreign power, be immensely embarrassed by any disaffection in that bank. It is certainly for the public good to keep all the banks competitors for our favors by a judicious distribution of them, and thus to engage the individuals who belong to them in the support of the reformed order of things, or at least in an acquiescence under it. I suppose that on the condition of participating in the deposits the banks would be willing to make such communications of their operations and the state of their affairs as might satisfy the Secretary of the Treasury of their stability. It is recommended to Mr. Gallatin to leave such an opening in his answer to this letter, as to leave us free to do hereafter what shall be advisable on a broad view of all the banks in the different parts of the Union. * * *
to the u. s. minister to france (robert r. livingston.)
Washington Oct. 10, 1802.
—The departure of Made Brugnard for France furnishes me a safe conveyance of a letter, which I cannot avoid embracing, altho I have nothing particular for the subject of it. It is well, however, to be able to inform you, generally, through a safe channel, that we stand, completely corrected of the error, that either the government or the nation of France has any remains of friendship for us. The portion of that country which forms an exception, though respectable in weight, is weak in numbers. On the contrary, it appears evident, that an unfriendly spirit prevails in the most important individuals of the government, towards us. In this state of things, we shall so take our distance between the two rival nations, as, remaining disengaged till necessity compels us, we may haul finally to the enemy of that which shall make it necessary. We see all the disadvantageous consequences of taking a side, and shall be forced into it only by a more disagreeable alternative; in which event, we must countervail the disadvantages by measures which will give us splendor & power, but not as much happiness as our present system. We wish, therefore, to remain well with France. But we see that no consequences, however ruinous to them, can secure us with certainty against the extravagance of her present rulers. I think, therefore, that while we do nothing which the first nation on earth would deem crouching, we had better give to all our communications with them a very mild, complaisant, and even friendly complexion but always independent. Ask no favors, leave small & irritating things to be conducted by the individuals interested in them, interfere ourselves but in the greatest cases, & then not push them to irritation. No matter at present existing between them & us is important enough to risk a breach of peace; peace being indeed the most important of all things to us, except the preserving an erect & independent attitude. Although I know your own judgment leads you to pursue this line identically, yet I thought it just to strengthen it by the concurrence of my own. You will have seen by our newspapers, that with the aid of a lying renegado from republicanism, the federalists have opened all their sluices of calumny. They say we lied them out of power, and openly avow they will do the same by us. But it was not lies or argument on our part which dethroned them, but their own foolish acts, sedition laws, alien laws, taxes, extravagance & heresies. Porcupine, their friend, wrote them down. Callender, their new recruit, will do the same. Every decent man among them revolts at his filth; and there cannot be a doubt, that were a Presidential election to come on this day, they would have but three New England States, and about half a dozen votes from Maryland & North Carolina; these two States electing by districts. Were all the States to elect by a general ticket, they would have but 3 out of 16 States. And these 3 are coming up slowly. We do, indeed, consider Jersey & Delaware as rather doubtful. Elections which have lately taken place there, but their event not yet known here, will show the present point of their varying condition.
My letters to you being merely private, I leave all details of business to their official channel.
Accept assurances of my constant friendship and high respect.
P. S. We have received your letter announcing the arrival of M. Dupont.
to the secretary of the treasury (albert gallatin.)
Oct. 13, 1802.
You know my doubts, or rather convictions, about the unconstitutionality of the act for building piers in the Delaware, and the fears that it will lead to a bottomless expense, & to the greatest abuses. There is, however, one intention of which the act is susceptible, & which will bring it within the Constitution; and we ought always to presume that the real intention which is alone consistent with the Constitution. Altho’ the power to regulate commerce does not give a power to build piers, wharves, open ports, clear the beds of rivers, dig canals, build warehouses, build manufacturing machines, set up manufactories, cultivate the earth, to all of which the power would go if it went to the first, yet a power to provide and maintain a navy, is a power to provide receptacles for it, and places to cover & preserve it. In choosing the places where this money should be laid out, I should be much disposed, as far as contracts will permit, to confine it to such place or places as the ships of war may lie at, and be protected from ice; & I should be for stating this in a message to Congress, in order to prevent the effect of the present example. This act has been built on the exercise of the power of building light houses, as a regulation of commerce. But I well remember the opposition, on this very ground, to the first act for building a light house. The utility of the thing has sanctioned the infraction. But if on that infraction we build a 2d, on that 2d a 3d, &c., any one of the powers in the Constitution may be made to comprehend every power of government. Will you read the enclosed letters on the subject of New Orleans, and think what we can do or propose in the case?
to the attorney-general (levi lincoln.)
Washington Oct. 25, 1802.
—Your favor of the 16th is received, and that of July 24 had come to hand while I was at Monticello. I sincerely condole with you on the sickly state of your family, and hope this will find them re-established with the approach of the cold season. As yet, however, we have had no frost at this place, and it is believed the yellow fever still continues in Philadelphia, if not in Baltimore. We shall all be happy to see you here whenever the state of your family admits it. You will have seen by the newspapers that we have gained ground generally in the elections, that we have lost ground in not a single district of the U S, except Kent county in Delaware, where a religious dissension occasioned it. In Jersey the elections are always carried by small majorities, consequently the issue is affected by the smallest accidents. By the paper of the last night we have a majority of 3. in their Council, & 1. in their House of Representatives; another says it is only of 1. in each House: even the latter is sufficient for every purpose. The opinion I originally formed has never been changed, that such of the body of the people as thought themselves federalists, would find that they were in truth republicans, and would come over to us by degrees; but that their leaders had gone too far ever to change. Their bitterness increases with their desperation. They are trying slanders now which nothing could prompt but a gall which blinds their judgments as well as their consciences. I shall take no other revenge, than, by a steady pursuit of economy and peace, and by the establishment of republican principles in substance and in form, to sink federalism into an abyss from which there shall be no resurrection for it. I still think our original idea as to office is best; that is, to depend, for the obtaining a just participation, on deaths, resignations, & delinquencies. This will least affect the tranquillity of the people, and prevent their giving into the suggestion of our enemies, that ours has been a contest for office, not for principle. This is rather a slow operation, but it is sure if we pursue it steadily, which, however, has not been done with the undeviating resolution I could have wished. To these means of obtaining a just share in the transaction of the public business, shall be added one other, to wit, removal for electioneering activity, or open & industrious opposition to the principles of the present government, legislative & executive. Every officer of the government may vote at elections according to his conscience; but we should betray the cause committed to our care, were we to permit the influence of official patronage to be used to overthrow that cause. Your present situation will enable you to judge of prominent offenders in your State, in the case of the present election. I pray you to seek them, to mark them, to be quite sure of your ground, that we may commit no error or wrong, and leave the rest to me. I have been urged to remove Mr. Whittemore, the surveyor of Gloucester, on grounds of neglect of duty and industrious opposition. Yet no facts are so distinctly charged as to make the step sure which we should take in this. Will you take the trouble to satisfy yourself on this point? I think it not amiss that it should be known that we are determined to remove officers who are active or open mouthed against the government, by which I mean the legislature as well as the executive. Accept assurances of my sincere friendship & high respect.
to thomas cooper
Washington Nov. 29, 1802.
—Your favor of Oct 25 was received in due time, and I thank you for the long extract you took the trouble of making from Mr. Stone’s letter. Certainly the information it communicates as to Alexander kindles a great deal of interest in his existence, and strong spasms of the heart in his favor. Tho his means of doing good are great, yet the materials on which he is to work are refractory. Whether he engages in private correspondences abroad, as the King of Prussia did much, his grandmother sometimes, I know not; but certainly such a correspondence would be very interesting to those who are sincerely anxious to see mankind raised from their present abject condition. It delights me to find that there are persons who still think that all is not lost in France: that their retrogradation from a limited to an unlimited despotism, is but to give themselves a new impulse. But I see not how or when. The press, the only tocsin of a nation, is compleatly silenced there, and all means of a general effort taken away. However, I am willing to hope, as long as anybody will hope with me; and I am entirely persuaded that the agitations of the public mind advance its powers, and that at every vibration between the points of liberty and despotism, something will be gained for the former. As men become better informed, their rulers must respect them the more. I think you will be sensible that our citizens are fast returning, from the panic into which they were artfully thrown to the dictates of their own reason; and I believe the delusions they have seen themselves hurried into will be useful as a lesson under similar attempts on them in future. The good effects of our late fiscal arrangements will certainly tend to unite them in opinion, and in a confidence as to the views of their public functionaries, legislative & executive. The path we have to pursue is so quiet that we have nothing scarcely to propose to our Legislature. A noiseless course, not meddling with the affairs of others, unattractive of notice, is a mark that society is going on in happiness. If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy. Their finances are now under such a course of application as nothing could derange but war or federalism. The gripe of the latter has shown itself as deadly as the jaws of the former. Our adversaries say we are indebted to their providence for the means of paying the public debt. We never charged them with the want of foresight in providing money, but with the misapplication of it after they had levied it. We say they raised not only enough, but too much; and that after giving back the surplus we do more with a part than they did with the whole.
Your letter of Nov 18 is also received. The places of midshipman are so much sought that (being limited) there is never a vacancy. Your son shall be set down for the 2d, which shall happen; the 1st being anticipated. We are not long generally without vacancies happening. As soon as he can be appointed you shall know it. I pray you to accept assurances of my great attachment and respect.
to dr. joseph priestley
Washington Nov. 29, 1802.
—Your favor of Oct. 29 was received in due time, and I am very thankful for the extract of Mr. Stone’s letter on the subject of Alexander. The apparition of such a man on a throne is one of the phænomena which will distinguish the present epoch so remarkable in the history of man. But he must have an herculean task to devise and establish the means of securing freedom and happiness to those who are not capable of taking care of themselves. Some preparation seems necessary to qualify the body of a nation for self-government. Who could have thought the French nation incapable of it? Alexander will doubtless begin at the right end, by taking means for diffusing instruction and a sense of their natural rights through the mass of his people, and for relieving them in the meantime from actual oppression. I should be puzzled to find a person capable of preparing for him the short analytical view of our constitution which you propose. It would be a short work, but a difficult one. Mr. Cooper’s Propositions respecting the foundation of civil government; your own piece on the First principles of government; Chipman’s Sketches on the principles of government, and the Federalist would furnish the principles of our constitution and their practical development in the several parts of that instrument. I question whether such a work can be so well executed for his purpose by any other, as by a Russian presenting exactly that view of it which that people would seize with advantage. It would be easy to name some persons who could give a perfect abstract view, adapted to an English or an American mind: But they would find it difficult to disengage themselves sufficiently from other pursuits. However, if we keep it in view we may perhaps get it done. Your letter to Mr. Stone shall be taken care of.
Our busy scene is now approaching. The quiet tract into which we are endeavoring to get, neither meddling with the affairs of other nations, nor with those of our fellow citizens, but letting them go on in their own way, will show itself in the statement of our affairs to Congress. We have almost nothing to propose to them but “to let things alone.” The effects of the fiscal arrangements of the last session will show themselves very satisfactorily. The only speck in our horizon which can threaten anything, is the cession of Louisiana to France. Tho’ probable, it is not yet entirely certain how far it will be carried into effect. I am sorry you cannot be absent this winter from the cold of the position in which you are. I have a great opinion of the favorable influence of genial climates in winter, and especially on old persons. Altho’ Washington does not offer the best, yet it is probably much milder than that in which you are. Otherwise it could offer little but the affectionate reception you should have experienced. The notice of me which you are so good as to prefix to your book, cannot but be consolatory, in as much as it testifies what one great and good man thinks of me. But in truth I have no pretensions but to have wished the good of mankind with very moderate talents for carrying it into effect. My chief object is to let the good sense of the nation have fair play, believing it will best take care of itself. Praying for you many days of life and health, and of leisure still to inform the understandings of man, I tender you the assurances of my sincere esteem and attachment and high respect.
second annual message1
December 15, 1802.
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:
When we assemble together, fellow-citizens, to consider the state of our beloved country, our just attentions are first drawn to those pleasing circumstances which mark the goodness of that Being from whose favor they flow, and the large measure of thankfulness we owe for his bounty. Another year has come around, and finds us still blessed with peace and friendship abroad; law, order, and religion, at home; good affection and harmony with our Indian neighbors; our burdens lightened, yet our income sufficient for the public wants, and the produce of the year great beyond example. These, fellow-citizens, are the circumstances under which we meet; and we remark with special satisfaction, those which, under the smiles of Providence, result from the skill, industry and order of our citizens, managing their own affairs in their own way and for their own use, unembarrassed by too much regulations, unoppressed by fiscal exactions.
On the restoration of peace in Europe, that portion of the general carrying trade which had fallen to our share during the war, was abridged by the returning competition of the belligerent powers. This was to be expected, and was just. But in addition we find in some parts of Europe monopolizing discriminations, which, in the form of duties, tend effectually to prohibit the carrying thither our own produce in our own vessels. From existing amities, and a spirit of justice, it is hoped that friendly discussion will produce a fair and adequate reciprocity. But should false calculations of interest defeat our hope, it rests with the legislature to decide whether they will meet inequalities abroad with countervailing inequalities at home, or provide for the evil in any other way.
It is with satisfaction I lay before you an act of the British parliament anticipating this subject so far as to authorize a mutual abolition of the duties and countervailing duties permitted under the treaty of 1794. It shows on their part a spirit of justice and friendly accommodation which it is our duty and our interest to cultivate with all nations. Whether this would produce a due equality in the navigation between the two countries, is a subject for your consideration.
Another circumstance which claims attention, as directly affecting the very source of our navigation, is the defect or the evasion of the law providing for the return of seamen, and particularly of those belonging to vessels sold abroad. Numbers of them, discharged in foreign ports, have been thrown on the hands of our consuls, who, to rescue them from the dangers into which their distresses might plunge them, and save them to their country, have found it necessary in some cases to return them at the public charge.
The cession of the Spanish province of Louisiana to France, which took place in the course of the late war, will, if carried into effect, make a change in the aspect of our foreign relations which will doubtless have just weight in any deliberations of the legislature connected with that subject.
There was reason, not long since, to apprehend that the warfare in which we were engaged with Tripoli might be taken up by some others of the Barbary powers. A reinforcement, therefore, was immediately ordered to the vessels already there. Subsequent information, however, has removed these apprehensions for the present. To secure our commerce in that sea with the smallest force competent, we have supposed it best to watch strictly the harbor of Tripoli. Still, however, the shallowness of their coast, and the want of smaller vessels on our part, has permitted some cruisers to escape unobserved; and to one of these an American vessel unfortunately fell a prey. The captain, one American seaman, and two others of color, remain prisoners with them unless exchanged under an agreement formerly made with the bashaw, to whom, on the faith of that, some of his captive subjects had been restored.
The convention with the State of Georgia has been ratified by their legislature, and a repurchase from the Creeks has been consequently made of a part of the Tallahassee county. In this purchase has also been comprehended part of the lands within the fork of Oconee and Oakmulgee rivers. The particulars of the contract will be laid before Congress so soon as they shall be in a state of communication.
In order to remove every ground of difference possible with our Indian neighbors, I have proceeded in the work of settling with them and marking the boundaries between us. That with the Choctaw nation is fixed in one part, and will be through the whole in a short time. The country to which their title had been extinguished before the revolution is sufficient to receive a very respectable population, which Congress will probably see the expediency of encouraging so soon as the limits shall be declared. We are to view this position as an outpost of the United States, surrounded by strong neighbors and distant from its support. And how far that monopoly which prevents population should be here guarded against, and actual habitation made a condition of the continuance of title, will be for your consideration. A prompt settlement, too, of all existing rights and claims within this territory, presents itself as a preliminary operation.
In that part of the Indian territory which includes Vincennes, the lines settled with the neighboring tribes fix the extinction of their title at a breadth of twenty-four leagues from east to west, and about the same length parallel with and including the Wabash. They have also ceded a tract of four miles square, including the salt springs near the mouth of the river.
In the department of finance it is with pleasure I inform you that the receipts of external duties for the last twelve months have exceeded those of any former year, and that the ratio of increase has been also greater than usual. This has enabled us to answer all the regular exigencies of government, to pay from the treasury in one year upwards of eight millions of dollars, principal and interest, of the public debt, exclusive of upward of one million paid by the sale of bank stock, and making in the whole a reduction of nearly five millions and a half of principal; and to have now in the treasury four millions and a half of dollars, which are in a course of application to a further discharge of debt and current demands. Experience, too, so far, authorizes us to believe, if no extraordinary event supervenes, and the expenses which will be actually incurred shall not be greater than were contemplated by Congress at their last session, that we shall not be disappointed in the expectations then formed. But nevertheless, as the effect of peace on the amount of duties is not yet fully ascertained, it is the more necessary to practice every useful economy, and to incur no expense which may be avoided without prejudice.
The collection of the internal taxes having been completed in some of the States, the officers employed in it are of course out of commission. In others, they will be so shortly. But in a few, where the arrangement for the direct tax had been retarded, it will still be some time before the system is closed. It has not yet been thought necessary to employ the agent authorized by an act of the last session for transacting business in Europe relative to debts and loans. Nor have we used the power confided by the same act, of prolonging the foreign debts by reloans, and of redeeming, instead thereof, an equal sum of the domestic debt. Should, however, the difficulties of remittances on so large a scale render it necessary at any time, the power shall be executed, and the money thus unemployed abroad shall, in conformity with that law, be faithfully applied here in an equivalent extinction of domestic debt. When effects so salutary result from the plans you have already sanctioned, when merely by avoiding false objects of expense we are able, without a direct tax, without internal taxes, and without borrowing to make large and effectual payments toward the discharge of our public debt and the emancipation of our posterity from that moral canker, it is an encouragement, fellow-citizens, of the highest order, to proceed as we have begun, in substituting economy for taxation, and in pursuing what is useful for a nation placed as we are, rather than what is practiced by others under different circumstances. And whensoever we are destined to meet events which shall call forth all the energies of our countrymen, we have the firmest reliance on those energies, and the comfort of leaving for calls like these the extraordinary resources of loans and internal taxes. In the meantime, by payments of the principal of our debt, we are liberating, annually, portions of the external taxes, and forming from them a growing fund still further to lessen the necessity of recurring to extraordinary resources.
The usual accounts of receipts and expenditures for the last year, with an estimate of the expenses of the ensuing one, will be laid before you by the secretary of the treasury.
No change being deemed necessary in our military establishment, an estimate of its expenses for the ensuing year on its present footing, as also of the sums to be employed in fortifications and other objects within that department, has been prepared by the secretary of war, and will make a part of the general estimates which will be presented to you.
Considering that our regular troops are employed for local purposes, and that the militia is our general reliance for great and sudden emergencies, you will doubtless think this institution worthy of a review, and give it those improvements of which you find it susceptible.
Estimates for the naval department, prepared by the secretary of the navy for another year, will in like manner be communicated with the general estimates. A small force in the Mediterranean will still be necessary to restrain the Tripoline cruisers, and the uncertain tenure of peace with some other of the Barbary powers, may eventually require that force to be augmented. The necessity of procuring some smaller vessels for that service will raise the estimate, but the difference in their maintenance will soon make it a measure of economy.
Presuming it will be deemed expedient to expend annually a sum towards providing the naval defence which our situation may require, I cannot but recommend that the first appropriations for that purpose may go to the saving what we already possess. No cares, no attentions, can preserve vessels from rapid decay which lie in water and exposed to the sun. These decays require great and constant repairs, and will consume, if continued, a great portion of the money destined to naval purposes. To avoid this waste of our resources, it is proposed to add to our navy-yard here a dock, within which our vessels may be laid up dry and under cover from the sun. Under these circumstances experience proves that works of wood will remain scarcely at all affected by time. The great abundance of running water which this situation possesses, at heights far above the level of the tide, if employed as is practised for lock navigation, furnishes the means of raising and laying up our vessels on a dry and sheltered bed. And should the measure be found useful here, similar depositories for laying up as well as for building and repairing vessels may hereafter be undertaken at other navy-yards offering the same means. The plans and estimates of the work, prepared by a person of skill and experience, will be presented to you without delay; and from this it will be seen that scarcely more than has been the cost of one vessel is necessary to save the whole, and that the annual sum to be employed toward its completion may be adapted to the views of the legislature as to naval expenditure.
To cultivate peace and maintain commerce and navigation in all their lawful enterprises; to foster our fisheries and nurseries of navigation and for the nurture of man, and protect the manufactures adapted to our circumstances; to preserve the faith of the nation by an exact discharge of its debts and contracts, expend the public money with the same care and economy we would practise with our own, and impose on our citizens no unnecessary burden; to keep in all things within the pale of our constitutional powers, and cherish the federal union as the only rock of safety—these, fellow-citizens are the landmarks by which we are to guide ourselves in all our proceedings. By continuing to make these our rule of action, we shall endear to our countrymen the true principles of their constitution, and promote a union of sentiment and of action equally auspicious to their happiness and safety. On my part, you may count on a cordial concurrence in every measure for the public good, and on all the information I possess which may enable you to discharge to advantage the high functions with which you are invested by your country.
to cæsar a. rodney
Washington Dec. 31, 1802.
— * * * Congress is not yet engaged in business of any note. We want men of business among them. I really wish you were here. I am convinced it is in the power of any man who understands business, and who will undertake to keep a file of the business before Congress and press it as he would his own docket in a court, to shorten the sessions a month one year with another and to save in that way 30,000 D. a year. An ill-judged modesty prevents those from undertaking it who are equal to it.
You will have seen by the message that there is little interesting proposed to be done. The settlement of the Mississippi territory is among the most important. So also, in my opinion, is the proposition for the preservation of our navy, which otherwise will either be entirely rotten in 6. or 8. years, or will cost us 3. or 4. millions in repairs. Whether the proposition will surmount the doubts of some, and false economy of others I know not. Accept assurances of my great esteem and respect.
[1 ]Probably Wood’s History of the Administration of John Adams.
[1 ]The history of Page’s office holding furnishes perhaps the most curious instance of the use of public offices for private benefit, and deserves to be told at length. In continuance of the above letter, Jefferson wrote:
[1 ]From the Historical Magazine, V., 89.
[1 ]On this matter of McLane, Jefferson further wrote to Rodney.
[1 ]In the draft, the following paragraph is stricken out.
[1 ]On this subject, Jefferson further wrote to Monroe:
[1 ]On the subject of this message, Jefferson wrote to Gallatin: