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TO GEORGE WASHINGTON - Thomas Jefferson, The Works, vol. 5 (Correspondence 1786-1789) 
The Works of Thomas Jefferson, Federal Edition (New York and London, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904-5). Vol. 5.
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TO GEORGE WASHINGTON
Paris Dec., 4, 1788.
—Your favor of Aug. 31. came to hand yesterday; and a confidential conveiance offering, by the way of London, I avail myself of it to acknolege the receipt.
I have seen, with infinite pleasure, our new constitution accepted by 11. states, not rejected by the 12th. and that the 13th. happens to be a state of the least importance. It is true, that the minorities in most of the accepting states have been very respectable, so much so as to render it prudent, were it not otherwise reasonable, to make some sacrifice to them. I am in hopes that the annexation of the bill of rights to the constitution will alone draw over so great a proportion of the minorities, as to leave little danger in the opposition of the residue; and that this annexation may be made by Congress and the assemblies, without calling a convention which might endanger the most valuable parts of the system. Calculation has convinced me that circumstances may arise, and probably will arise, wherein all the resources of taxation will be necessary for the safety of the state. For tho’ I am decidedly of opinion we should take no part in European quarrels, but cultivate peace and commerce with all, yet who can avoid seeing the source of war, in the tyranny of those nations who deprive us of the natural right of trading with our neighbors? The products of the U. S. will soon exceed the European demand; what is to be done with the surplus, when there shall be one? It will be employed, without question, to open by force a market for itself with those placed on the same continent with us, and who wish nothing better. Other causes too are obvious, which may involve us in war; and war requires every resource of taxation & credit. The power of making war often prevents it, and in our case would give efficacy to our desire of peace. If the new government wears the front which I hope it will, I see no impossibility in the availing ourselves of the wars of others to open the other parts of America to our commerce, as the price of our neutrality. * * *
Your communications to the Count de Moustier, whatever they may have been, cannot have done injury to my endeavors here to open the W. Indies to us. On this head the ministers are invincibly mute, tho’ I have often tried to draw them into the subject. I have therefore found it necessary to let it lie till war or other circumstance may force it on. Whenever they are in war with England, they must open the islands to us, and perhaps during that war they may see some price which might make them agree to keep them always open. In the meantime I have laid my shoulder to the opening the markets of this country to our produce, and rendering it’s transportation a nursery for our seamen. A maritime force is the only one by which we can act on Europe. Our navigation law (if it be wise to have any) should be the reverse of that of England. Instead of confining importations to home-bottoms or those of the producing nations, I think we should confine exportations to home bottoms or to those of nations having treaties with us. Our exportations are heavy, and would nourish a great force of our own, or be a tempting price to the nation to whom we should offer a participation of it in exchange for free access to all their possessions. This is an object to which our government alone is adequate in the gross, but I have ventured to pursue it, here, so far as the consumption of productions by this country extends. Thus in our arrangements relative to tobacco, none can be received here but in French or American bottoms. This is emploiment for nearly 2000 seamen, and puts nearly that number of British out of employ. By the Arret of Dec. 1787, it was provided that our whale oils should not be received here but in French or American bottoms, and by later regulations all oils but those of France and America are excluded. This will put 100 English whale vessels immediately out of employ, and 150. ere long; and call so many of French & American into service. We have had 6000 seamen formerly in this business, the whole of whom we have been likely to lose. The consumption of rice is growing fast in this country, and that of Carolina gaining ground on every other kind. I am of opinion the whole of the Carolina rice can be consumed here. It’s transportation employs 2500 sailors, almost all of them English at present; the rice being deposited at Cowes & brought from thence here. It would be dangerous to confine this transportation to French & American bottoms the ensuing year, because they will be much engrossed by the transportation of wheat & flour hither, and the crop of rice might lie on hand for want of vessels; but I see no objections to the extensions of our principle to this article also, beginning with the year 1790. However, before there is a necessity of deciding on this I hope to be able to consult our new government in person, as I have asked of Congress a leave of absence for 6. months, that is to say from April to November next. It is necessary for me to pay a short visit to my native country, first to reconduct my family thither, and place them in the hands of their friends, & secondly to place my private affairs under certain arrangements. When I left my own house, I expected to be absent but 5 months, & I have been led by events to an absence of 5 years. I shall hope therefore for the pleasure of personal conferences with your Excellency on the subject of this letter and others interesting to our country, of getting my own ideas set to rights by a communication of yours, and of taking again the tone of sentiment of my own country which we lose in some degree after a certain absence. You know doubtless of the death of the Marquise de Chastellux. The Marquis de La Fayette is out of favor with the court, but high in favor with the nation. I once feared for his personal liberty, but I hope he is on safe ground at present. On the subject of the whale fishery I inclose you some observations I drew up for the ministry here, in order to obtain a correction of their Arret of Sepr last, whereby they had involved our oils with the English in a general exclusion from their ports. They will accordingly correct this, so that our oils will participate with theirs in the monopoly of their markets. There are several things incidentally introduced which do not seem pertinent to the general question. They were rendered necessary by particular circumstances the explanation of which would add to a letter already too long. I will trespass no further then than to assure you of the sentiments of sincere attachment and respect with which I have the honor to be your Excellency’s most obedt. humble servant.
P. S. The observations inclosed, tho’ printed, have been put into confidential hands only.
TO JOHN JAY1
— * * * As the character of the Prince of Wales is becoming interesting, I have endeavored to learn what it truly is. This is less difficult in his case than it is in other persons of rank, because he has taken no pains to hide himself from the world. The information I most rely on is from a person here, with whom I am intimate, who divides his time between Paris and London—an Englishman by birth, of truth, sagacity, and science. He is of a circle, when in London, which has had good opportunities of knowing the Prince, but he has also, himself, had special occasions of verifying their information by his own personal observations. He happened, when last in London, to be invited to a dinner of three persons. The Prince came by chance, and made the fourth. He ate half a leg of mutton; and did not taste of small dishes, because small; drank Champagne and Burgundy as small beer during dinner, and Bourdeaux after dinner, as the rest of the company. Upon the whole, he ate as much as the other three, and drank about two bottles of wine without seeming to feel it.
My informant sat next him, and being until then unknown to the Prince personally (though not by character) and lately from France, the Prince confined his conversation to him almost entirely. Observing to the Prince that he spoke French, without the slightest foreign accent, the Prince told him that, when very young, his father had put only French servants about him, and it was to that circumstance he owed his pronunciation. He led him from this to give an account of his education, the total of which was the learning a little Latin. He has not a single element of mathematics, of natural or moral philosophy, or any other science on earth, nor has the society he has kept been such as to supply the void of education. It has been that of the lowest, the most illiterate and profligate persons of the kingdom, without choice of rank or mind, and with whom the subjects of conversation are only horses, drinking-matches, bawdy-houses, and in terms the most vulgar. The young nobility who begin by associating with him soon leave him disgusted by the insupportable profligacy of his society; and Mr. Fox, who has been supposed his favorite, and not over-nice in the choice of company, would never keep his company habitually. In fact, he never associated with a man of sense. He has not a single idea of justice, morality, religion, or of the rights of men, or any anxiety for the opinion of the world. He carries that indifference for fame so far, that he probably would not be hurt if he were to lose his throne, provided he could be assured of having always meat, horses and women. In the article of women, nevertheless, he has become more correct since his connection with Mrs. Fitzherbert, who is an honest and worthy woman; he is even less crapulous than he was.
He had a fine person, but it is becoming coarse. He possesses good native common sense, is affable, polite, and very good-humored—saying to my informant, on another occasion, “Your friend such a one dined with me yesterday, and I made him damned drunk”; he replied, “I am sorry for it. I had heard that your royal highness had left off drinking.” The Prince laughed, tapped him on the shoulder very good-naturedly, without saying a word, or ever after showing any displeasure.
The Duke of York, who was for some time cried up as the prodigy of the family, is as profligate and of less understanding. To these particular traits, from a man of sense and truth, it would be superfluous to add the general terms of praise or blame in which he is spoken of by other persons, in whose impartiality and penetration I have less confidence. A sample is better than a description. For the peace of Europe, it is best that the King should give such gleanings of recovery as would prevent the Regent or his ministry from thinking themselves firm, and yet that he should not recover. * * *
[1 ]From S. N. Randolph’s Domestic Life of Jefferson, page 139.