Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1803 - to james monroe - The Works, vol. 9 (1799-1803)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
1803 - to james monroe - Thomas Jefferson, The Works, vol. 9 (1799-1803) 
The Works of Thomas Jefferson, Federal Edition (New York and London, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904-5). Vol. 9.
About Liberty Fund:
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
to james monroe
Washington Jan. 10, 1803.
—I have but a moment to inform you that the fever into which the western mind is thrown by the affair at N. Orleans stimulated by the mercantile, and generally the federal interest threatens to overbear our peace. In this situation we are obliged to call on you for a temporary sacrifice of yourself, to prevent this greatest of evils in the present prosperous tide of our affairs. I shall tomorrow nominate you to the Senate for an extraordinary mission to France, and the circumstances are such as to render it impossible to decline; because the whole public hope will be rested on you. I wish you to be either in Richmond or Albemarle till you receive another letter from me, which will be written two days hence if the Senate decide immediately or later according to the time they will take to decide. In the meantime pray work night and day to arrange your affairs for a temporary absence; perhaps for a long one. Accept affectionate salutations.
to thomas paine
Jan. 13, 1803.
The bearer brings your models. You have certainly misconceived what you deem shyness. Of that I have not had a thought towards you, but on the contrary have openly maintained in conversation the duty of showing our respect to you and of defying federal calumny in this as in other cases, by doing what is right. As to fearing it, if I ever could have been weak enough for that, they have taken care to cure me of it thoroughly. The fact is that I am now so pressed with business till 1. or 2. o’clock and then to get a little exercise before I am engaged again with company to dine, from which I am not disengaged till night, that I have only the evening in which I can indulge in the society of my friends. And as to mechanics, mathematics, philosophy &c., I am obliged to give one answer to the many communications on those subjects, that I am obliged to abandon them entirely, as I have not a moment to give to them which would not be taken from some pressing duty. I thank you for the sight of the models. They are all interesting to the public; the one for planing is most so to me personally. I imagine somebody at your new establishment will set up the trade of making them; and when that is the case I will apply to him for a pair. Accept my friendly salutations and respects.
to the special envoy to france (james monroe.)
Washington Jan. 13, 1803.
—I dropped you a line on the 10th informing you of a nomination I had made of you to the Senate, and yesterday I enclosed you their approbation not then having time to write. The agitation of the public mind on occasion of the late suspension of our right of deposit at N. Orleans is extreme. In the western country it is natural and grounded on honest motives. In the seaports it proceeds from a desire for war which increases the mercantile lottery; in the federalists generally and especially those of Congress the object is to force us into war if possible, in order to derange our finances, or if this cannot be done, to attach the western country to them, as their best friends, and thus get again into power. Remonstrances memorials &c. are now circulating through the whole western country and signing by the body of the people. The measures we have been pursuing being invisible, do not satisfy their minds. Something sensible therefore was become necessary; and indeed our object of purchasing N. Orleans and the Floridas is a measure liable to assume so many shapes, that no instructions could be squared to fit them, it was essential then to send a minister extraordinary to be joined with the ordinary one, with discretionary powers, first however well impressed with all our views and therefore qualified to meet and modify to these every form of proposition which could come from the other party. This could be done only in full and frequent oral communications. Having determined on this, there could not be two opinions among the republicans as to the person. You possess the unlimited confidence of the administration and of the western people; and generally of the republicans everywhere; and were you to refuse to go, no other man can be found who does this. The measure has already silenced the Feds. here. Congress will no longer be agitated by them: and the country will become calm as fast as the information extends over it. All eyes, all hopes, are now fixed on you; and were you to decline, the chagrin would be universal, and would shake under your feet the high ground on which you stand with the public. Indeed I know nothing which would produce such a shock, for on the event of this mission depends the future destinies of this republic. If we cannot by a purchase of the country insure to ourselves a course of perpetual peace and friendship with all nations, then as war cannot be distant, it behooves us immediately to be preparing for that course, without, however, hastening it, and it may be necessary (on your failure on the continent) to cross the channel.
We shall get entangled in European politics, and figuring more, be much less happy and prosperous. This can only be prevented by a successful issue to your present mission. I am sensible after the measures you have taken for getting into a different line of business, that it will be a great sacrifice on your part, and presents from the season and other circumstances serious difficulties. But some men are born for the public. Nature by fitting them for the service of the human race on a broad scale, has stamped with the evidences of her destination and their duty.
But I am particularly concerned that in the present case you have more than one sacrifice to make. To reform the prodigalities of our predecessors is understood to be peculiarly our duty, and to bring the government to a simple and economical course. They, in order to increase expense, debt, taxation, and patronage tried always how much they could give. The outfit given to ministers resident to enable them to furnish their house, but given by no nation to a temporary minister, who is never expected to take a house or to entertain, but considered on a footing of a voyageur, they gave to their extraordinary missionaries by wholesale. In the beginning of our administration, among other articles of reformation in expense, it was determined not to give an outfit to missionaries extraordinary, and not to incur the expense with any minister of sending a frigate to carry him or bring him. The Boston happened to be going to the Mediterranean, and was permitted therefore to take up Mr. Livingstone and touch in a port of France. A frigate was denied to Charles Pinckney and has been refused to Mr. King for his return. Mr. Madison’s friendship and mine to you being so well known, the public will have eagle eyes to watch if we grant you any indulgences of the general rule; and on the other hand, the example set in your case will be more cogent on future ones, and produce greater approbation to our conduct. The allowance therefore will be in this and all similar cases, all the expenses of your journey and voiage, taking a ship’s cabin to yourself, 9,000 D. a year from your leaving home till the proceedings of your mission are terminated, and then the quarter’s salary for the expenses of the return as prescribed by law. As to the time of your going you cannot too much hasten it, as the moment in France is critical. St. Domingo delays their taking possession of Louisiana, and they are in the last distress for money for current purposes. You should arrange your affairs for an absence of a year at least, perhaps for a long one. It will be necessary for you to stay here some days on your way to New York. You will receive here what advance you chuse. Accept assurances of my constant and affectionate attachment.
confidential message on expedition to the pacific1
Jan. 18th, 1803.
Gentlemen of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives:
As the continuance of the act for establishing trading houses with the Indian tribes will be under the consideration of the Legislature at its present session, I think it my duty to communicate the views which have guided me in the execution of that act, in order that you may decide on the policy of continuing it, in the present or any other form, or discontinue it altogether, if that shall, on the whole, seem most for the public good.
The Indian tribes residing within the limits of the United States, have, for a considerable time, been growing more and more uneasy at the constant diminution of the territory they occupy, although effected by their own voluntary sales: and the policy has long been gaining strength with them, of refusing absolutely all further sale, on any conditions; insomuch that, at this time, it hazards their friendship, and excites dangerous jealousies and perturbations in their minds to make any overture for the purchase of the smallest portions of their land. A very few tribes only are not yet obstinately in these dispositions. In order peaceably to counteract this policy of theirs, and to provide an extension of territory which the rapid increase of our numbers will call for, two measures are deemed expedient. First: to encourage them to abandon hunting, to apply to the raising stock, to agriculture and domestic manufacture, and thereby prove to themselves that less land and labor will maintain them in this, better than in their former mode of living. The extensive forests necessary in the hunting life, will then become useless, and they will see advantage in exchanging them for the means of improving their farms, and of increasing their domestic comforts. Secondly: to multiply trading houses among them, and place within their reach those things which will contribute more to their domestic comfort, than the possession of extensive, but uncultivated wilds. Experience and reflection will develop to them the wisdom of exchanging what they can spare and we want, for what we can spare and they want. In leading them to agriculture, to manufactures, and civilization; in bringing together their and our settlements, and in preparing them ultimately to participate in the benefits of our governments, I trust and believe we are acting for their greatest good. At these trading houses we have pursued the principles of the act of Congress, which directs that the commerce shall be carried on liberally, and requires only that the capital stock shall not be diminished. We consequently undersell private traders, foreign and domestic, drive them from the competition; and thus, with the good will of the Indians, rid ourselves of a description of men who are constantly endeavoring to excite in the Indian mind suspicions, fears, and irritations towards us. A letter now enclosed, shows the effect of our competition on the operations of the traders, while the Indians, perceiving the advantage of purchasing from us, are soliciting generally, our establishment of trading houses among them. In one quarter this is particularly interesting. The Legislature, reflecting on the late occurrences on the Mississippi, must be sensible how desirable it is to possess a respectable breadth of country on that river, from our Southern limit to the Illinois at least; so that we may present as firm a front on that as on our Eastern border. We possess what is below the Yazoo, and can probably acquire a certain breadth from the Illinois and Wabash to the Ohio; but between the Ohio and Yazoo, the country all belongs to the Chickasaws, the most friendly tribe within our limits, but the most decided against the alienation of lands. The portion of their country most important for us is exactly that which they do not inhabit. Their settlements are not on the Mississippi, but in the interior country. They have lately shown a desire to become agricultural; and this leads to the desire of buying implements and comforts. In the strengthening and gratifying of these wants, I see the only prospect of planting on the Mississippi itself, the means of its own safety. Duty has required me to submit these views to the judgment of the Legislature; but as their disclosure might embarrass and defeat their effect, they are committed to the special confidence of the two Houses.
While the extension of the public commerce among the Indian tribes, may deprive of that source of profit such of our citizens as are engaged in it, it might be worthy the attention of Congress, in their care of individual as well as of the general interest, to point, in another direction, the enterprise of these citizens, as profitably for themselves, and more usefully for the public. The river Missouri, and the Indians inhabiting it, are not as well known as is rendered desirable by their connexion with the Mississippi, and consequently with us. It is, however, understood, that the country on that river is inhabited by numerous tribes, who furnish great supplies of furs and peltry to the trade of another nation, carried on in a high latitude, through an infinite number of portages and lakes, shut up by ice through a long season. The commerce on that line could bear no competition with that of the Missouri, traversing a moderate climate, offering according to the best accounts, a continued navigation from its source, and possibly with a single portage, from the Western Ocean, and finding to the Atlantic a choice of channels through the Illinois or Wabash, the lakes and Hudson, through the Ohio and Susquehanna, or Potomac or James rivers, and through the Tennessee and Savannah, rivers. An intelligent officer, with ten or twelve chosen men, fit for the enterprise, and willing to undertake it, taken from our posts, where they may be spared without inconvenience, might explore the whole line, even to the Western Ocean, have conferences with the natives on the subject of commercial intercourse, get admission among them for our traders, as others are admitted, agree on convenient deposits for an interchange of articles, and return with the information acquired, in the course of two summers. Their arms and accoutrements, some instruments of observation, and light and cheap presents for the Indians, would be all the apparatus they could carry, and with an expectation of a soldier’s portion of land on their return, would constitute the whole expense. Their pay would be going on, whether here or there. While other civilized nations have encountered great expense to enlarge the boundaries of knowledge by undertaking voyages of discovery, and for other literary purposes, in various parts and directions, our nation seems to owe to the same object, as well as to its own interests, to explore this, the only line of easy communication across the continent, and so directly traversing our own part of it. The interests of commerce place the principal object within the constitutional powers and care of Congress, and that it should incidentally advance the geographical knowledge of our own continent, cannot be but an additional gratification. The nation claiming the territory, regarding this as a literary pursuit, which is in the habit of permitting within its dominions, would not be disposed to view it with jealousy, even if the expiring state of its interests there did not render it a matter of indifference. The appropriation of two thousand five hundred dollars, “for the purpose of extending the external commerce of the United States,” while understood and considered by the Executive as giving the legislative sanction, would cover the undertaking from notice, and prevent the obstructions which interested individuals might otherwise previously prepare in its way.
to the governor of kentucky (james garrard.)
Washington Jan. 18, 1803.
—Soon after the date of my letter to you of Dec. 16th the memorial of the Senate and House of Representatives of Kentucky to the President of the U. S. and the Senate and House of Representatives of Congress came to hand. In that letter I informed you that we had reason to believe that the suspension of the right of deposit at New Orleans was an act merely of the intendant, unauthorized by his government; that immediately on information of it we had taken measures to have it rectified, and that we had been seconded in these by the cordial interposition of the minister of his catholic majesty residing here. Further information showing that this act of the intendant was unauthorized has strengthened our expectation that it will be corrected.
In order, however, to provide against the hazard which beset our interests & peace in that quarter, I have determined with the approbation of the Senate, to send James Monroe, late governor of Virginia, with full powers to him and our ministers in France and Spain to enter with those governments into such arrangements as may effectually secure our rights & interest in the Mississippi, and in the country eastward of that. He is now here and will depart immediately. In the meantime knowing how important it is that the obstructions shall be removed in time for the produce which will begin to descend the river in February, the Spanish minister, has, at our request, reiterated his interposition with the intendant of New Orleans.
I inclose you a resolution of the House of Representatives on this subject, which with the measures taken by the executive, will, I hope, furnish new grounds for the confidence which the legislature of Kentucky is pleased to express in the government of the U. S., and evince to them that that government is equally and impartially alive to the interests of every portion of the union.
to p. s. dupont de nemours
Washington Feb 1, 1803.
—I have to acknolege the receipt of your favors of Aug 16 and Oct 4. And the latter I received with peculiar satisfaction; because, while it holds up terms which cannot be entirely yielded, it proposes such as a mutual spirit of accommodation and sacrifice of opinion may bring to some point of union. While we were preparing on this subject such modifications of the propositions of your letter of Oct 4, as we could assent to, an event happened which obliged us to adopt measures of urgency. The suspension of the right of deposit at New Orleans, ceded to us by our treaty with Spain, threw our whole country into such a ferment as imminently threatened its peace. This, however, was believed to be the act of the Intendant, unauthorized by his government. But it showed the necessity of making effectual arrangements to secure the peace of the two counties against the indiscreet acts of subordinate agents. The urgency of the case, as well as the public spirit, therefore induced us to make a more solemn appeal to the justice and judgment of our neighbors, by sending a minister extraordinary to impress them with the necessity of some arrangement. Mr. Monroe has been selected. His good dispositions cannot be doubted. Multiplied conversations with him, and views of the subject taken in all the shapes in which it can present itself, have possessed him with our estimates of everything relating to it, with a minuteness which no written communication to Mr. Livingston could ever have attained. These will prepare them to meet and decide on every form of proposition which can occur, without awaiting new instructions from hence, which might draw to an indefinite length a discussion where circumstances imperiously oblige us to a prompt decision. For the occlusion of the Mississippi is a state of things in which we cannot exist. He goes, therefore, joined with Chancellor Livingston, to aid in the issue of a crisis the most important the U S have ever met since their independence, and which is to decide their future character & career. The confidence which the government of France reposes in you will undoubtedly give great weight to your information. An equal confidence on our part, founded on your knowledge of the subject, your just views of it, your good dispositions towards this country, and my long experience of your personal faith and friendship, assures me that you will render between us all the good offices in your power. The interests of the two countries being absolutely the same as to this matter, your aid may be conscientiously given. It will often perhaps, be possible for you, having a freedom of communication, omnibus horis, which diplomatic gentlemen will be excluded from by forms, to smooth difficulties by respresentations & reasonings, which would be received with more suspicion from them. You will thereby render great good to both countries. For our circumstances are so imperious as to admit of no delay as to our course; and the use of the Mississippi so indispensable, that we cannot hesitate one moment to hazard our existence for its maintenance. If we fail in this effort to put it beyond the reach of accident, we see the destinies we have to run, and prepare at once for them. Not but that we shall still endeavor to go on in peace and friendship with our neighbors as long as we can, if our rights of navigation & deposit are respected; but as we foresee that the caprices of the local officers, and the abuse of those rights by our boatmen & navigators, which neither government can prevent, will keep up a state of irritation which cannot long be kept inactive, we should be criminally improvident not to take at once eventual measures for strengthening ourselves for the contest. It may be said, if this object be so all-important to us, why do we not offer such a sum as to insure its purchase? The answer is simple. We are an agricultural people, poor in money, and owing great debts. These will be falling due by instalments for 15. years to come, and require from us the practice of a rigorous economy to accomplish their payment; and it is our principle to pay to a moment whatever we have engaged, and never to engage what we cannot, and mean not faithfully to pay. We have calculated our resources, and find the sum to be moderate which they would enable us to pay, and we know from late trials that little can be added to it by borrowing. The country, too, which we wish to purchase, except the portion already granted, and which must be confirmed to the private holders, is a barren sand 600. miles from east to west, & from 30. to 40. & 50. miles from north to south, formed by deposition of the sands by the Gulf Stream in its circular course round the Mexican Gulf, and which being spent after performing a semicircle, has made from its last depositions the sand bank of East Florida. In West Florida, indeed, there are on the borders of the rivers some rich bottoms, formed by the mud brought from the upper country. These bottoms are all possessed by individuals. But the spaces between river and river are mere banks of sand; and in East Florida there are neither rivers, nor consequently any bottoms. We cannot then make anything by a sale of the lands to individuals. So that it is peace alone which makes it an object with us, and which ought to make the cession of it desirable to France. Whatever power, other than ourselves, holds the country east of the Mississippi becomes our natural enemy. Will such a possession do France as much good, as such an enemy may do her harm? And how long would it be hers, were such an enemy, situated at its door, added to G Britain? I confess, it appears to me as essential to France to keep at peace with us, as it is to us to keep at peace with her; and that, if this cannot be secured without some compromise as to the territory in question, it will be useful for both to make some sacrifices to effect the compromise.
You see, my good friend, with what frankness I communicate with you on this subject; that I hide nothing from you, and that I am endeavoring to turn our private friendship to the good of our respective countries. And can private friendship ever answer a nobler end than by keeping two nations at peace, who, if this new position which one of them is taking were rendered innocent, have more points of common interest, and fewer of collision, than any two on earth; who become natural friends, instead of natural enemies, which this change of position would make them. My letters of Apr. 25, May 5, and this present one have been written, without any disguise, in this view; and while safe in your hands they can never do anything but good. But you and I are now at that time of life when our call to another state of being cannot be distant, and may be near. Besides, your government is in the habit of seizing papers without notice. These letters might thus get into hands, which, like the hornet which extracts poison from the same flower that yields honey to the bee, might make them the ground of blowing up a flame between our two countries, and make our friendship and confidence in each other effect exactly the reverse of what we are aiming at. Being yourself thoroughly possessed of every idea in them, let me ask from your friendship an immediate consignment of them to the flames. That alone can make all safe and ourselves secure.
I intended to have answered you here, on the subject of your agency in transacting what money matters we may have at Paris, and for that purpose meant to have conferred with Mr. Gallatin. But he has, for 2. or 3. days, been confined to his room, and is not yet able to do business. If he is out before Mr. Monroe’s departure, I will write an additional letter on that subject. Be assured that it will be a great additional satisfaction to me to render services to yourself & sons by the same acts which shall at the same time promote the public service. Be so good as to present my respectful salutations to Made. Dupont, & to accept yourself assurances of my constant and affectionate friendship and great respect.
to the u. s. minister to france (robert r. livingston.)
Washington Feb. 3, 1803.
—My last to you was by Mr. Dupont. Since that I received yours of May 22. Mr. Madison supposes you have written a subsequent one which has never come to hand. A late suspension by the Intendant of N Orleans of our right of deposit there, without which the right of navigation is impracticable, has thrown this country into such a flame of hostile disposition as can scarcely be described. The western country was peculiarly sensible to it as you may suppose. Our business was to take the most effectual pacific measures in our power to remove the suspension, and at the same time to persuade our countrymen that pacific measures would be the most effectual and the most speedily so. The opposition caught it as a plank in a shipwreck, hoping it would enable them to tack the Western people to them. They raised the cry of war, were intriguing in all the quarters to exasperate the Western inhabitants to arm & go down on their own authority & possess themselves of New Orleans, and in the meantime were daily reiterating, in new shapes, inflammatory resolutions for the adoption of the House. As a remedy to all this we determined to name a minister extraordinary to go immediately to Paris & Madrid to settle this matter. This measure being a visible one, and the person named peculiarly proper with the Western country, crushed at once & put an end to all further attempts on the Legislature. From that moment all has become quiet; and the more readily in the Western country, as the sudden alliance of these new federal friends had of itself already began to make them suspect the wisdom of their own course. The measure was moreover proposed from another cause. We must know at once whether we can acquire N Orleans or not. We are satisfied nothing else will secure us against a war at no distant period; and we cannot press this season without beginning those arrangements which will be necessary if war is hereafter to result. For this purpose it was necessary that the negotiators should be fully possessed of every idea we have on the subject, so as to meet the propositions of the opposite party, in whatever form they may be offered; and give them a shape admissible by us without being obliged to await new instructions hence. With this view, we have joined Mr. Monroe to yourself at Paris, & to Mr. Pinkney at Madrid, altho’ we believe it will be hardly necessary for him to go to this last place. Should we fail in this object of the mission, a further one will be superadded for the other side of the channel. On this subject you will be informed by the Secretary of State, & Mr Monroe will be able also to inform you of all our views and purposes. By him I send another letter to Dupont, whose aid may be of the greatest service, as it will be divested of the shackles of form. The letter is left open for your perusal, after which I wish a wafer stuck in it before it be delivered. The official and the verbal communications to you by Mr. Monroe will be so full and minute, that I need not trouble you with an inofficial repetition of them. The future destinies of our country hang on the event of this negotiation, and I am sure they could not be placed in more able or more zealous hands. On our parts we shall be satisfied that what you do not effect, cannot be effected. Accept therefore assurances of my sincere & constant affection and high respect.
P. S. Feb. 10. your letters of May 4. & Oct. 28. never came to my hands till last night. I am sincerely sorry for the misunderstanding therein explained. As Mr. Sumpter has long since asked & received permission to retire from his office, it cannot be necessary for me to say anything on the subject but that I hope the dispositions to conciliate therein manifested, will be cherished and carried into effect by both.
to the secretary of the treasury (albert gallatin.)
Feb. 10, 1803.
I inclose you Crowninshield’s and Jibaut’s letters recommending Stevens and Storer. Storer was also recommended by Mr. Lincoln. Illsley by Genl. Dearborn. The circumstance of exhibiting our recommendations even to our friends, requires great consideration. Recommendations, when honestly written should detail the bad as well as good qualities of the person recommended. That gentlemen may do freely, if they know their letter is to be confined to the president or the head of a department. But if communicated further it may bring on them troublesome quarrels. In Gl. Washington’s time he resisted every effort to bring forth his recommendations. In Mr. Adams time I only know that the republicans knew nothing of them. I have always considered the controul of the Senate as meant to prevent any bias or favoritism in the President towards his own relations, his own religion, towards particular states &c. and perhaps to keep very obnoxious persons out of offices of the first grade. But in all subordinate cases I have ever thought that the selection made by the President ought to inspire a general confidence that it has been made on due inquiry and investigation of character, and that the Senate should interpose their negative only in those particular cases where something happens to be within their knowledge, against the character of the person and unfitting him for the appointment. To Mr. Tracy at any rate no exhibition or information of recommendations ought to be communicated. He may be told that the President does not think it regular to communicate the grounds or reasons of his decision. Friendly salutations and respect.
P. S. To exhibit recommendations would be to turn the Senate into a court of honor, or a court of slander, and to expose the character of every man nominated to an ordeal, without his own consent, subjecting the Senate to heats and waste of time, of which those who were present at the nomination of Colo. W. S. Smith, have seen an example. There a committee sat weeks in judgment upon scandal from every quarter.
to benjamin hawkins
Washington Feb. 18, 1803.
—Mr. Hill’s return to you offers so safe a conveyance for a letter, that I feel irresistibly disposed to write one, tho’ there is but little to write about. You have been so long absent from this part of the world, and the state of society so changed in that time, that details respecting those who compose it are no longer interesting or intelligible to you. One source of great change in social intercourse arose while you were with us, tho’ it’s effects were as yet scarcely sensible on society or government. I mean the British treaty, which produced a schism that went on widening and rankling till the years ’98, ’99, when a final dissolution of all bonds, civil & social, appeared imminent. In that awful crisis, the people awaked from the phrenzy into which they had been thrown, began to return to their sober and ancient principles, & have now become five-sixths of one sentiment, to wit, for peace, economy, and a government bottomed on popular election in its legislative & executive branches. In the public counsels the federal party hold still one-third. This, however, will lessen, but not exactly to the standard of the people; because it will be forever seen that of bodies of men even elected by the people, there will always be a greater proportion aristocratic than among their constituents. The present administration had a task imposed on it which was unavoidable, and could not fail to exert the bitterest hostility in those opposed to it. The preceding administration left 99. out of every hundred in public offices of the federal sect. Republicanism had been the mark on Cain which had rendered those who bore it exiles from all portion in the trusts & authorities of their country. This description of citizens called imperiously & justly for a restoration of right. It was intended, however, to have yielded to this in so moderate a degree as might conciliate those who had obtained exclusive possession; but as soon as they were touched, they endeavored to set fire to the four corners of the public fabric, and obliged us to deprive of the influence of office several who were using it with activity and vigilance to destroy the confidence of the people in their government, and thus to proceed in the drudgery of removal farther than would have been, had not their own hostile enterprises rendered it necessary in self-defence. But I think it will not be long before the whole nation will be consolidated in their ancient principles, excepting a few who have committed themselves beyond recall, and who will retire to obscurity & settled disaffection.
Altho’ you will receive, thro’ the official channel of the War Office, every communication necessary to develop to you our views respecting the Indians, and to direct your conduct, yet, supposing it will be satisfactory to you, and to those with whom you are placed, to understand my personal dispositions and opinions in this particular, I shall avail myself of this private letter to state them generally. I consider the business of hunting as already become insufficient to furnish clothing and subsistence to the Indians. The promotion of agriculture, therefore, and household manufacture, are essential in their preservation, and I am disposed to aid and encourage it liberally. This will enable them to live on much smaller portions of land, and indeed will render their vast forests useless but for the range of cattle; for which purpose, also, as they become better farmers, they will be found useless, and even disadvantageous. While they are learning to do better on less land, our increasing numbers will be calling for more land, and thus a coincidence of interests will be produced between those who have lands to spare, and want other necessaries, and those who have such necessaries to spare, and want lands. This commerce, then, will be for the good of both, and those who are friends to both ought to encourage it. You are in the station peculiarly charged with this interchange, and who have it peculiarly in your power to promote among the Indians a sense of the superior value of a little land, well cultivated, over a great deal, unimproved, and to encourage them to make this estimate truly. The wisdom of the animal which amputates & abandons to the hunter the parts for which he is pursued should be theirs, with this difference, that the former sacrifices what is useful, the latter what is not. In truth, the ultimate point of rest & happiness for them is to let our settlements and theirs meet and blend together, to intermix, and become one people. Incorporating themselves with us as citizens of the U. S., this is what the natural progress of things will of course bring on, and it will be better to promote than to retard it. Surely it will be better for them to be identified with us, and preserved in the occupation of their lands, than be exposed to the many casualties which may endanger them while a separate people. I have little doubt but that your reflections must have led you to view the various ways in which their history may terminate, and to see that this is the one most for their happiness. And we have already had an application from a settlement of Indians to become citizens of the U. S. It is possible, perhaps probable, that this idea may be so novel as that it might shock the Indians, were it even hinted to them. Of course, you will keep it for your own reflection; but, convinced of its soundness, I feel it consistent with pure morality to lead them towards it, to familiarize them to the idea that it is for their interest to cede lands at times to the U S, and for us thus to procure gratifications to our citizens, from time to time, by new acquisitions of land. From no quarter is there at present so strong a pressure on this subject as from Georgia for the residue of the fork of Oconee & Ockmulgee; and indeed I believe it will be difficult to resist it. As it has been mentioned that the Creeks had at one time made up their minds to sell this, and were only checked in it by some indiscretions of an individual, I am in hopes you will be able to bring them to it again. I beseech you to use your most earnest endeavors; for it will relieve us here from a great pressure, and yourself from the unreasonable suspicions of the Georgians which you notice, that you are more attached to the interests of the Indians than of the U S, and throw cold water on their willingness to part with lands. It is so easy to excite suspicion, that none are to be wondered at; but I am in hopes it will be in your power to quash them by effecting the object.
Mr. Madison enjoys better health since his removal to this place than he had done in Orange. Mr. Giles is in a state of health feared to be irrecoverable, although he may hold on for some time, and perhaps be re-established. Browze Trist is now in the Mississippi territory, forming an establishment for his family, which is still in Albemarle, and will remove to the Mississippi in the spring. Mrs. Trist, his mother, begins to yield a little to time. I retain myself very perfect health, having not had 20. hours of fever in 42 years past. I have sometimes had a troublesome headache, and some slight rheumatic pains; but now sixty years old nearly, I have had as little to complain of in point of health as most people. I learn you have the gout. I did not expect that Indian cookery or Indian fare would produce that; but it is considered as a security for good health otherwise. That it may be so with you, I sincerely pray, and tender you my friendly and respectful salutations.
to thomas mckean
Washington Feb. 19, 1803.
—Your’s of the 7th inst. has been duly received. The late election in Pennsylvania has to be sure been a triumphant proof of the progress of the Republican spirit: and must afford great consolation to yourself personally, as a mark of the public approbation of your administration. I believe we may consider the mass of the states south & west of Connecticut & Massachusetts as now a consolidated body of republicanism. In Connecticut, Massachusetts & N. Hampshire there is still a federal ascendancy, but it is near it’s last. If we can settle happily the difficulties of the Mississippi, I think we may promise ourselves smooth seas during our time. The Federal candidates for the general government I believe are certainly to be Mr. King & Genl. Pinckney. Of this I believe you may be assured. Mr. Ross so strongly marked by popular rejection in his late competition with you, and to retire from the Senate within a few days by a like rejection by the representatives of his state, is setting himself up by his war movements here as if he were their only friend & the only person who has their confidence. (I have been told he has declared the people of his quarter would go of their own authority & take N. Orleans, & that he would head them himself). But I rather suppose it sufficient, that a measure has his approbation, to produce their distrust of it. Mr. Harris has been informed that a consulship (I believe it is at Rotterdam) is vacant, if it will suit him. For Mr. T. Rodney I should certainly be glad to do any service; but really do not foresee any vacancy likely to happen where he could be employed. So also as to Mr. McLanachan. The fact is that we have put down the great mass of offices which gave such patronage to the President of the U. S. These had been so numerous, that presenting themselves to the public eye at all times & places, office began to be looked to as a resource for every man whose affairs were getting into derangement, or who was too indolent to pursue his profession, and for young men just entering into life. In short it was poisoning the very source of industry, by presenting an easier resource for a livelihood, and was corrupting the principles of the great mass of those who passed a wishful eye on office. The case is now quite changed. We have almost nothing to give, in such a state as Pennsylvania for instance, I recollect but 6. offices within my appointment, 3. of which are of the law, & 3. in the customs. For I do not count the commissioners of bankruptcy, who will so soon be put down with the law. While the habit of looking for office therefore continues, the means of gratifying it have been given up.
On the subject of prosecutions, what I say must be entirely confidential, for you know the passion for torturing every sentiment & word which comes from me. The federalists having failed in destroying the freedom of the press by their gag-law, seem to have attacked it in an opposite form, that is by pushing it’s licentiousness & it’s lying to such a degree of prostitution as to deprive it of all credit. And the fact is that so abandoned are the tory presses in this particular that even the least informed of the people have learnt that nothing in a newspaper is to be believed. This is a dangerous state of things, and the press ought to be restored to it’s credibility if possible. The restraints provided by the laws of the states are sufficient for this if applied. And I have therefore long thought that a few prosecutions of the most prominent offenders would have a wholesome effect in restoring the integrity of the presses. Not a general prosecution, for that would look like persecution: but a selected one. The paper I now inclose appears to me to offer as good an instance in every respect to make an example of, as can be selected. However of this you are the best judge. I inclose it lest you should not have it. If the same thing be done in some other of the states it will place the whole band more on their guard. Accept my friendly salutations & assurances of my high respect & consideration.
to benjamin rush
Washington Feb. 28, 1803.
—I wish to mention to you in confidence that I have obtained authority from Congress to undertake the long desired object of exploring the Missouri & whatever river, heading with that, leads into the western ocean. About 10. chosen woodsmen headed by Capt. Lewis my secretary will set out on it immediately & probably accomplish it in two seasons. Capt. Lewis is brave, prudent, habituated to the woods, & familiar with Indian manners and character. He is not regularly educated, but he possesses a great mass of accurate observation on all the subjects of nature which present themselves here, & will therefore readily select those only in his new route which shall be new. He has qualified himself for those observations of longitude & latitude necessary to fix the points of the line he will go over. It would be very useful to state for him those objects on which it is most desirable he should bring us information. For this purpose I ask the favor of you to prepare some notes of such particulars as may occur in his journey & which you think should draw his attention & enquiry. He will be in Philadelphia about 2. or 3. weeks hence & will wait on you.
I have owed, now a twelve month, an answer to your very friendly letter of Mar. 12, 1802. But when certain things press, & others will bear delay, we naturally take up the former, & the latter lie over. After all my life having enjoyed the benefit of well formed organs of digestion, and departation, I was 2 years ago taken with the diarrhœa, after having dined moderately on fish which had never affected me before. In the course of 2 or 3 weeks it wore me down by the frequency of calls, but then got so much better as to call on me but once a day, but still of watery consistence, and distressing me with troublesome barberygmi. For a twelve month past however these circumstances are more favorable and though they continue to a certain degree I enjoy good health. In the course of it I have made experiments of every kind of diet, & regimen: and I find that fish is the only article which affects me; & what is remarkable while fish & sturgeon affect me powerfully neither oysters nor crabs do. I find it important too to be moderate in the quantity of food. The stomach has never failed in the least, but performs its functions most perfectly: the bowels alone are weak and labor in their operations. I have troubled you with these details because your friendship called for them. I have found that riding is my remedy. A journey brings me to my antient habits for some days, and daily rides of an hour or two keep me free from the inconvenience from the visceral weakness. I see at present nothing more in it than a liability to a return whenever an unfavorable affection occurs in any part of my system. I doubt the effect of medicine in chronical cases of this kind at any period of life, and still more so at mine. The system however may perhaps gradually recover its strength. But these unlettered ideas are laid at your feet. Your information & experience will regard nothing but the facts; and certainly my confidence not only in your skill but your friendship will render truly valuable to me any ideas which you can without trouble throw on paper, for my government in the event of a return of the complaints to a troublesome degree; For at present it exists only in a perfectly innocent state. I pray you to accept assurances of my affectionate friendship & sincere respect.
to the secretary of state (james madison.)
Monticello Mar. 22, 1803.
—Yours of the 17th is received. I concur in your ideas that the request from the Bey of Tunis of a frigate of 36. guns should be complacently refused. I think the greatest dispatch should be used in sending either the gun carriages or money to Simpson for the Emperor of Marocco, and the stores to Algiers; & if you approve it, the powder on account: or perhaps it would be better to authorize the purchase of it in Europe on the Dey’s agreeing to receive it on account. We must keep these two powers friendly by a steady course of justice aided occasionally with liberality. Mr. Smith has suggested the sending another frigate. But no new fact justifies a change of plan. Our misfortune has been that our vessels have been employed in particular convoys, instead of a close blockade equivalent to universal convoy. I suppose Murray may be for sending more ships there. Every officer in the navy, & every merchant in the U. S. would be for that: because they see but one object, themselves. I see the federalists find one paper in Kentucky into which they can get what they write either here or there. Bradford’s Guardian of freedom of Mar. 4 has a piece recommending immediate separation. A cool calculation of interest however would show that Eastern America would not be the greatest sufferer by that folly. Accept my affectionate salutations.
to the secretary of the treasury (albert gallatin.)
Monticello Mar. 28, 1803.
—Yours of the 21st came to hand on the 25th. I now return the letters of Thornton and Muhlenberg with entire approbation of your answers. I am in all cases for a liberal conduct towards other nations, believing that the practice of the same friendly feelings and generous dispositions which attach individuals in private life will attach societies on the large scale, which are composed of individuals. I have for some time believed that Commodore Morris’s conduct would require investigation. His progress from Gibralter has been astonishing. I know of but one supposition which can cover him; that is, that he has so far mistaken the object of his mission as to spend his time convoying. I do not know the fact; we gave great latitude to his discretion, believing he had an ambition to distinguish himself, and unwilling to check it by positive instructions.
I have for some time been satisfied a schism was taking place in Pennsylvania between the moderates and high-flyers. The same will take place in Congress whenever a proper head for the latter shall start up, and we must expect division of the same kind in other States as soon as the Republicans shall be so strong as to fear no other enemy. I hope those of Philadelphia will not address on the subject of removals; it would be a delicate operation indeed. Briggs reserved till my return to decide; but he will accept. I had hoped to be with you by the 1st of April, but I now apprehend it will be that date before I can leave this place without leaving the objects of my visits unaccomplished. The thermometer is at 29° with us this morning, the peach-trees in blossom for a week past. Accept affectionate salutations.
syllabus of an estimate of the merit of the doctrines of jesus, compared with those of others1
In a comparative view of the Ethics of the enlightened nations of antiquity, of the Jews and of Jesus, no notice should be taken of the corruptions of reason among the ancients, to wit, the idolatry & superstition of the vulgar, nor of the corruptions of Christianity by the learned among its professors.
Let a just view be taken of the moral principles inculcated by the most esteemed of the sects of ancient philosophy, or of their individuals; particularly Pythagoras, Socrates, Epicurus, Cicero, Epictetus, Seneca, Antoninus.
I. Philosophers. 1. Their precepts related chiefly to ourselves, and the government of those passions which, unrestrained, would disturb our tranquillity of mind.1 In this branch of philosophy they were really great.
2. In developing our duties to others, they were short and defective. They embraced, indeed, the circles of kindred & friends, and inculcated patriotism or the love of our country in the aggregate, as a primary obligation: toward our neighbors & countrymen they taught justice, but scarcely viewed them as within the circle of benevolence. Still less have they inculcated peace, charity & love to our fellow men, or embraced with benevolence the whole family of mankind.
II. Jews. 1. Their system was Deism; that is, the belief of one only God. But their ideas of him & of his attributes were degrading & injurious.
2. Their Ethics were not only imperfect, but often irreconcilable with the sound dictates of reason & morality, as they respect intercourse with those around us; & repulsive & anti-social, as respecting other nations. They needed reformation, therefore, in an eminent degree.
III. Jesus. In this state of things among the Jews Jesus appeared. His parentage was obscure; his condition poor; his education null; his natural endowments great; his life correct and innocent: he was meek, benevolent, patient, firm, disinterested, & of the sublimest eloquence.
The disadvantages under which his doctrines appear are remarkable.
1. Like Socrates & Epictetus, he wrote nothing himself.
2. But he had not, like them, a Xenophon or an Arrian to write for him. On the contrary, all the learned of his country, entrenched in its power and riches, were opposed to him, lest his labors should undermine their advantages; and the committing to writing his life & doctrines fell on the most unlettered & ignorant men; who wrote, too, from memory, & not till long after the transactions had passed.
3. According to the ordinary fate of those who attempt to enlighten and reform mankind, he fell an early victim to the jealousy & combination of the altar and the throne, at about 33. years of age, his reason having not yet attained the maximum of its energy, nor the course of his preaching, which was but of 3. years at most, presented occasions for developing a complete system of morals.
4. Hence the doctrines which he really delivered were defective as a whole, and fragments only of what he did deliver have come to us mutilated, misstated, & often unintelligible.
5. They have been still more disfigured by the corruptions of schismatising followers, who have found an interest in sophisticating & perverting the simple doctrines he taught by engrafting on them the mysticisms of a Grecian sophist, frittering them into subtleties, & obscuring them with jargon, until they have caused good men to reject the whole in disgust, & to view Jesus himself as an impostor.
Notwithstanding these disadvantages, a system of morals is presented to us, which, if filled up in the true style and spirit of the rich fragments he left us, would be the most perfect and sublime that has ever been taught by man.
The question of his being a member of the God-head, or in direct communication with it, claimed for him by some of his followers, and denied by others is foreign to the present view, which is merely an estimate of the intrinsic merit of his doctrines.
1. He corrected the Deism of the Jews, confirming them in their belief of one only God, and giving them juster notions of his attributes and government.
2. His moral doctrines, relating to kindred & friends, were more pure & perfect than those of the most correct of the philosophers, and greatly more so than those of the Jews; and they went far beyond both in inculcating universal philanthropy, not only to kindred and friends, to neighbors and countrymen, but to all mankind, gathering all into one family, under the bonds of love, charity, peace, common wants and common aids. A development of this head will evince the peculiar superiority of the system of Jesus over all others.
3. The precepts of philosophy, & of the Hebrew code, laid hold of actions only. He pushed his scrutinies into the heart of man; erected his tribunal in the region of his thoughts, and purified the waters at the fountain head.
4. He taught, emphatically, the doctrines of a future state, which was either doubted, or disbelieved by the Jews; and wielded it with efficacy, as an important incentive, supplementary to the other motives to moral conduct.
to john bacon
Washington Apr. 30, 1803.
—Your favor of the 11th has been received, & I thank you for the communication on Indian affairs. I observe what you say on the aspect of your elections. Although federalism appears to have boasted prematurely of it’s gains, yet it does not appear to have yielded as we might have expected to the evidence either of their reason or their senses. Two facts are certainly as true as irreconcileable. The people of Massachusetts love economy and freedom, civil & religious. The present legislative & executive functionaries endeavor to practice economy & to strengthen civil & religious freedom. Yet they are disapproved by the people of Massachusetts. It cannot be that these had rather give up principles than men. However the riddle is to be solved, our duty is plain, to administer their interests faithfully & to overcome evil with good.
You have seen that the government of Spain has instantly redressed the infraction of treaty by her intendant at New Orleans; and that, by a reasonable and peaceable process, we have obtained in 4. months what would have cost us 7. years of war, 100,000 human lives, 100 millions of additional debt, besides ten hundred millions lost by the want of market for our produce, or depredations on it in seeking markets, and the general demoralizing of our citizens which war occasions. I have the satisfaction to add that we have received official information that in the instrument cession of Louisiana by Spain to France, is this clause “saving the right acquired by other powers in virtue of treaties made with them by Spain.” Although I am not sanguine in obtaining a cession of New Orleans for money, yet I am confident in the policy of putting off the day of contention for it, till we are stronger in ourselves, & stronger in allies, but especially till we shall have planted such a population on the Mississippi as will be able to do their own business, without the necessity of marching men from the shores of the Atlantic 1500 or 2000 miles thither, to perish by fatigue & change of climate. Accept my friendly salutations & assurances of high respect.
P. S. I enclose you a pamphlet.
to the postmaster general (gideon granger.)
Washington May 8, 1803.
—I promised to inform you of the result of the Virginia elections. One only has issued differently from what I expected; that is the Eastern shore district. The 2. Eastern shore counties were almost in the [faded] a body of tories during the revolutionary war, among whom we were obliged to station a regiment or two to keep them in order. They have never lost that spirit. They have now given 735 federal votes & 33 republican. There being some division in the western shore counties of the residue of the district, the federal candidate has carried it by a majority of about 150. out of about 1920 votes given in the whole district, say 1000 against 900. Brent’s case you have [faded] a Fed., by a majority not yet known. [faded] He had been living in the state but one year, unfortunately had attached interest enough to him to be able to prevent Lawrence Washington (nephew of the General and) a good republican, who could otherwise have been elected with certainty. Holmes, where the Feds counted to carry their man, got 1000 against [faded] Jackson where they had been very sure also, carried his by about 200. We have therefore 2. black sheep in our flock of 22. Monroe’s appointment was known at Paris Feb. 24. He may be expected to have arrived there the middle of Apr. In the journal des [faded] (the special paper of Buonaparte, edited by his secretary) is a pretty long tirade against those, whom they call Anglo-men, in the U. S. for endeavoring to irritate our citizens against France by pretending that the act of the intendant of N. Orleans was dictated by France, and quoting with approbation the republican papers which proved that the body of our nation had seen through the wicked design de ces feuilles excitratices, (these inflammatory papers.) The ground of war between England and France is much deeper & more irremoveable than the public are aware. I consider it as next to impossible that they should compromise the real difference. Accept my affectionate & respectful salutations.
to christopher ellery1
Washington May 19, 1803.
—I have lately received a letter from Ingraham, who is in prison under a ca. sa. on a judgement of 14000 dollars & costs, one moiety (I presume) to the U. S. for having been the master of a vessel which brought from Africa a cargo of the natives of that country to be sold in slavery. He petitions for a pardon, as does his wife on behalf of herself, her children & his mother. His situation, as far as respects himself, merits no commiseration: that of his wife, children & mother, suffering for want of his aid, does: so also does the condition of the unhappy human beings whom he forcibly brought away from their native country, & whose wives, children & parents are now suffering for want of their aid & comfort. Between these two sets of suffering beings whom his crimes have placed in that condition, we are to apportion our commiseration. I presume his conviction was under the act of 1794, c. 11—which inflicts pecuniary punishment only, without imprisonment, as that punishment was sometimes evaded by the insolvency of the offenders, the legislature in 1800, added for subsequent cases, imprisonment not exceeding 2 years. Ingraham’s case is exactly such an one as the law of 1800 intended to meet; and tho’ it could not be retrospective, yet if its measure be just now, it would have been just then, and consequently we shall act according to the views of the legislature, by restricting his imprisonment to their maximum of 2 years, instead of letting it be perpetual as the law of ’94, under which he was convicted, would make it, in his case of insolvency. He must remain therefore the 2 years in prison: and at the end of that term I would wish a statement by the Judges & District attorney, who acted in the cause, of such facts as are material, & of their judgment on them, recommending him, or not, at their discretion, to pardon at the end of 2 years or any other term they think will be sufficient to operate as a terror to others meditating the same crime, without losing a just attention to the sufferings of his family. This of course can only respect the moiety of the U. S. The interest you took in this case during the last Congress has encouraged me to hope you would lend your instrumentality to the bringing it to a close, which would gratify me, so far as it could be done without abusing the power of pardon, confided to the discretion of the Executive to be used in cases, which tho’ within the words, are not within the intention of the law. The law certainly did not intend perpetual imprisonment. Accept my friendly salutations and high respect.
to the postmaster general (gideon granger.)
Washington May 20, 1803.
—I received last night yours of the 13th and rejoice that in some forms, tho’ not in all, republicanism shews progress in Connecticut. As clerical bondage is the root of the evil, I have more hopes, from the petition you enclosed me, of seeing that loosened, than from any other agency. The lawyers, the other pillar of federalism, are from the nature of their calling so ready to take either side, that as soon as they see as much, or perhaps more money to be got on one side than the other, they will tack over. The clergy are unwilling to exchange the certain resource of legal compulsion for the uncertain one of their own merit & industry. Although the solidity & duration of republicanism in these states is so certain, that I would not give one dollar to ensure it’s ascendancy during our lives, yet the three federal states of New England withdraw from their affections to the constituted authorities, from a stock on which the feeble branches of federalism in the other states engraft themselves, nourish the malcontent habits, & keep open the bleeding wounds of society. Their recognition therefore of their own principles in those from whom they have been persuaded to separate is desirable as well to harmonize as to consolidate the strength of the union. It is possible my letter may have led you into an error in which I may have been myself. It is now said by the federalists that another tory Lewis is elected in opposition to Moore. And they make it probable by stating the fact that another republican candidate took from Moore 400. votes, which gave a majority of 200. to Lewis when Moore would otherwise have had a majority of 200. If this be true, we shall have 4. federalists out of 22. in Congress. This is the more curious as in our legislature we shall have but 15. out of 200. But the fact is that there is so little federalism in Virginia that it is not feared, nor attended to, nor a principle of voting. What little we have is in the string of Presbyterian counties in the valley between the blue ridge & North Mountain where the clergy are as bitter as they are in Connecticut. Our advices from Paris & London are to the last of March. War, tho’ deprecated by Buonaparte, will hardly be avoided. Accept my friendly salutations & respects.
to levi lincoln
June 1, 1803.
On reading a paragraph in the N. Y. Evening Post, I took up my pen to write a squib on it; but the subject run away with me till I found I had written a treatise. It is one on which I have a great desire to reconcile the parties among the republicans, & the paragraph in the post seemed to offer an occasion of taking just ground & introducing a public discussion of it, on which I have do doubt the opinion of all candid men would settle together with that of the executive. The interest I take in the question made me willing to hazard a few lines for the press, altho’ I have thro’ life scrupulously refrained from it; inasmuch that this is but the second instance of my being willing to depart from my rule. I have written it under the character of a Massachusetts citizen, with a view to it’s appearing in a paper there. The Chronicle I suppose is most read, but how to get it there [faded] of the evidence of my handwriting. Think of this if you please; correct the paper also to make it what it should be, & we will talk of it the first time we meet. Friendly salutations, & religious silence about it.1
answer to gabriel jones1
Mr. Gabriel Jones has given to the public the statement of a pecuniary transaction of about 20. years ago, between the President & himself, with comments of so angry a complection as to excite at once doubts in the mind of a candid reader that there must have been something more in the case than is there presented to the view. In truth the history of the times is so necessary to the explanation of the money transactions of the day, that these cannot be understood without a recurrence to that, and with this recurrence alone, Mr. Jones own facts will enable us to judge whether, like many others, he has not suffered his political antipathies to distort his estimate of characters, whose “honour, honesty & integrity” proved to him in more dispassionate times himself acknowledged to have “inspired him with the highest confidence.”
Mr. Jefferson on some emergency borrowed £50 of Mr. Jones who was in the habit of lending money on interest, and gave his bond for repaiment. This, Mr. Jones says, was in the autumn 1773, consequently about the period of the destruction of the tea in Boston, which was followed by Genl. Gage’s arrival in Boston with an army, and by other events in rapid succession which brought on the Revolution, & suspended in a great degree the ordinary intercourse of business. This state of things, & the known habit of Mr. Jones of leaving his money at interest in good hands, may furnish the reasons why his £50 in this instance were not repaid so soon as contemplated. All the hard money of the U. S. was suddenly exported to procure arms, ammunition and other necessaries for the times, and it’s place was supplied by emissions of paper merely bottomed on the faith of the nation. Of this faith the Whigs had no doubt, and the money maintained it’s ground at par for a considerable time. And even when successive emissions, aided by the efforts of the disaffected, had begun to make an impression on it, the Whigs were still confident it would be redeemed dollar for dollar, & therefore continued to receive & pay it for par. In Jany. & May 1779 Congress by circular letters, encouraged their fellow citizens to maintain the credit of their paper; represented to them the false policy of asking “enormous prices for the product of their farms, when a little reflection might convince them that it was injurious to their interests, & to the general welfare;” and affirmed that the whole emissions (which as late as Sep. 3. 1779 they stated at less than 160 millions) might “without public inconvenience of private distress, be cancelled by taxes in a period so limited as must leave the possessor of the bills satisfied with his security.” Such was the Whig sentiment as late as Sep. 79. The offer of paiment by Mr. Jefferson had been in April preceding. It was the only one he could offer, for a paiment in hard money was then impossible. Mr. Jones, not chusing to receive it, sent it back to Mr. Jefferson, with his bond, under a blank cover; & Mr. Jefferson, not meaning to cancel the debt, returned the bond to Mr. Jones under a blank cover also; the inference from which was plainly that Mr. Jefferson was willing, as Mr. Jones seemed to be, to let the matter lie over till there should be hard money to pay it. But Mr. Jones finds ground of crimination even in the mode of conveying the letter. Yet he well knows that no cross posts existed at that day, & that indirect conveyances could alone be resorted to. The imputation he raises on this is as unjustifiable as it would be to impute to him a receipt of the letter in due time, & a willingness now to deny it. That he received it late is probable since he says so, and that the delay was accidental is much more probable than the [faded] one which his passions impute to Mr. Jefferson. To shew further the [faded] with respect to the revolutionary money, it may be noted that in the June following the date of this offer, Mr. Jefferson was chosen Governor of Virginia & continued till June, 1781, during the whole of which time he received his salary at the rate of £1000 a year of the same money, the rate at which it had been fixed by law before any emission [faded]. The legislature therefore considered the money as equivalent to what it called itself, for two years after the transaction in question. It may be remembered that a letter of Mr. Jefferson’s to the House of Farrell & Jones of England was published by their agent as an act of justice to him, from which it appeared that after this date he had received between 4 & 5,000£ for lands sold in 1773, to pay the debt of his father in [faded] Mr. Wales to that house. This fact, & the lands sold are known to many. They lie in the counties of Cumberland & Bedford. In Aug. 1780 Congress first had a table of depreciation established with reference to their new emission of 40 to 1. & in Aug. 1781 they extended it to specie. By the retrospective information of that table we are now enabled to say that in Apr. 1779 paper money was to specie as 1. to 11 not as 1. to 20 as Mr. Jones suggests. But this was neither known or believed at the time by persons well affected to the revolution. It was not till the close of 1781 or beginning of 1782 that the Virginia legislature formally acknowledged a depreciation by establishing a scale for it. Mr. Jefferson went to Europe immediately after the peace; and his agent is known to have declared that the instructions he left were that this debt to Mr. Jones, principal and interest should be the very first paid as soon as hard money could be obtained.
[1 ]This wish to explore the great West had long been a favorite hobby of Jefferson (see VII., 208), and as soon as Congress gave him the necessary authority, he organized an expedition, the history of which is too well known to need notice here.
[1 ]This was drawn up for Benjamin Rush, and was sent him with the following letter:
[1 ]To explain, I will exhibit the heads of Seneca’s & Cicero’s philosophical works, the most extensive of any we have received from the ancients. Of 10. heads in Seneca, 7. relate to ourselves, to wit de ira, consolatio, de tranquilitate, de constantia sapientis, de otio sapientis, de vita, beata, de brevitate vitæ; 2 relate to others, de clementia, de beneficiis; & 1. relates to the government of the world, de providentia. Of 11 tenets of Cicero, 5 respect ourselves, viz. de finibus, Tusculana, academica, paradoxa, de Senectute; 1. de officiis., partly to ourselves, partly to others; 1., de amicitia, relates to others; and 4. are on different subjects, to wit, de natura deorum, de divinatione, de fato, and somnium Scipionis.—T. J.
[1 ]From the Historical Magazine, VII., 260.
[1 ]The following is the article:
[1 ]See Vol. II., page 364.