Front Page Titles (by Subject) NOTES ON PROF. EBELING'S LETTER OF JULY 30, 95 1 - The Works, vol. 8 (Correspondence 1793-1798)
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NOTES ON PROF. EBELING’S LETTER OF JULY 30, 95 1 - Thomas Jefferson, The Works, vol. 8 (Correspondence 1793-1798) 
The Works of Thomas Jefferson, Federal Edition (New York and London, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904-5). Vol. 8
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NOTES ON PROF. EBELING’S LETTER OF JULY 30, 951
Professor Ebeling mentioning the persons in America from whom he derives information for his work, it may be useful for him to know how far he may rely on their authority.
President Stiles, an excellent man, of very great learning, but remarkable for his credulity.
But South of that their information is worse than none at all, except as far as they quote good authorities. They both I believe took a single journey through the Southern parts, merely to acquire the right of being considered as eye-witnesses. But to pass once along a public road thro’ a country, & in one direction only, to put up at it’s taverns, and get into conversation with the idle, drunken individuals who pass their time lounging in these taverns, is not the way to know a country, it’s inhabitants, or manners. To generalize a whole nation from these specimens is not the sort of information which Professor Ebeling would wish to compose his work from.
The people of America, before the revolution-war, being attached to England, had taken up, without examination, the English ideas of the superiority of their constitution over every thing of the kind which ever had been or ever would be tried. The revolution forced them to consider the subject for themselves, and the result was an universal conversion to republicanism. Those who did not come over to this opinion, either left us, & were called Refugees, or staid with us under the name of tories; & some, preferring profit to principle took side with us and floated with the general tide. Our first federal constitution, or confederation as it was called, was framed in the first moments of our separation from England, in the highest point of our jealousies of independance as to her & as to each other. It formed therefore too weak a bond to produce an union of action as to foreign nations. This appeared at once on the establishment of peace, when the pressure of a common enemy which had hooped us together during the war, was taken away. Congress was found to be quite unable to point the action of the several states to a common object. A general desire therefore took place of amending the federal constitution. This was opposed by some of those who wished for monarchy to wit, the Refugees now returned, the old tories, & the timid whigs who prefer tranquility to freedom, hoping monarchy might be the remedy if a state of complete anarchy could be brought on. A Convention however being decided on, some of the monocrats got elected, with a hope of introducing an English constitution, when they found that the great body of the delegates were strongly for adhering to republicanism, & for giving due strength to their government under that form, they then directed their efforts to the assimilation of all the parts of the new government to the English constitution as nearly as was attainable. In this they were not altogether without success; insomuch that the monarchical features of the new constitution produced a violent opposition to it from the most zealous republicans in the several states. For this reason, & because they also thought it carried the principle of a consolidation of the states farther than was requisite for the purpose of producing an union of action as to foreign powers, it is still doubted by some whether a majority of the people of the U. S. were not against adopting it. However it was carried through all the assemblies of the states, tho’ by very small majorities in the largest states. The inconveniences of an inefficient government, driving the people as is usual, into the opposite extreme, the elections to the first Congress run very much in favor of those who were known to favor a very strong government. Hence the anti-republicans appeared a considerable majority in both houses of Congress. They pressed forward the plan therefore of strengthening all the features of the government which gave it resemblance to an English constitution, of adopting the English forms & principles of administration, and of forming like them a monied interest, by means of a funding system, not calculated to pay the public debt, but to render it perpetual, and to make it an engine in the hands of the executive branch of the government which, added to the great patronage it possessed in the disposal of public offices, might enable it to assume by degrees a kingly authority. The biennial period of Congress being too short to betray to the people, spread over this great continent, this train of things during the first Congress, little change was made in the members to the second. But in the mean time two very distinct parties had formed in Congress; and before the third election, the people in general became apprised of the game which was playing for drawing over them a kind of government which they never had in contemplation. At the 3d. election therefore a decided majority of Republicans were sent to the lower house of Congress; and as information spread still farther among the people after the 4th. election the anti-republicans have become a weak minority. But the members of the Senate being changed but once in 6. years, the completion of that body will be much slower in it’s assimilation to that of the people. This will account for the differences which may appear in the proceedings & spirit of the two houses. Still however it is inevitable that the Senate will at length be formed to the republican model of the people, & the two houses of the legislature, once brought to act on the true principles of the Constitution, backed by the people, will be able to defeat the plan of sliding us into monarchy, & to keep the Executive within Republican bounds, notwithstanding the immense patronage it possesses in the disposal of public offices, notwithstanding it has been able to draw into this vortex the judiciary branch of the government & by their expectancy of sharing the other offices in the Executive gift to make them auxiliary to the Executive in all it’s views instead of forming a balance between that & the legislature as it was originally intended and notwithstanding the funding phalanx which a respect for public faith must protect, tho it was engaged by false brethren. Two parties then do exist within the U. S. they embrace respectively the following descriptions of persons.
The Anti-republicans consist of
1. The old refugees & tories.
2. British merchants residing among us, & composing the main body of our merchants.
3. American merchants trading on British capital. Another great portion.
4. Speculators & Holders in the banks & public funds.
5. Officers of the federal government with some exceptions.
6. Office-hunters, willing to give up principles for places. A numerous & noisy tribe.
7. Nervous persons, whose languid fibres have more analogy with a passive than active state of things.
The Republican part of our Union comprehends
1. The entire body of landholders throughout the United States.
2. The body of labourers, not being landholders, whether in husbanding or the arts.
The latter is to the aggregate of the former party probably as 500 to one; but their wealth is not as disproportionate, tho’ it is also greatly superior, and is in truth the foundation of that of their antagonists. Trifling as are the numbers of the Anti-republican party, there are circumstances which give them an appearance of strength & numbers. They all live in cities, together, & can act in a body readily & at all times; they give chief employment to the newspapers, & therefore have most of them under their command. The Agricultural interest is dispersed over a great extent of country, have little means of intercommunication with each other, and feeling their own strength & will, are conscious that a single exertion of these will at any time crush the machinations against their government. As in the commerce of human life, there are commodities adapted to every demand, so there are newspapers adapted to the Antirepublican palate, and others to the Republican. Of the former class are the Columbian Centinel, the Hartford newspaper, Webster’s Minerva, Fenno’s Gazette of the U. S., Davies’s Richmond paper &c. Of the latter are Adams’s Boston paper, Greenleaf’s of New York, Freneau’s of New Jersey, Bache’s of Philadelphia, Pleasant’s of Virginia &c. Pleasant’s paper comes out twice a week, Greenleaf’s & Freneau’s one a week, Bache’s daily. I do not know how often Adam’s. I shall according to your desire endeavor to get Pleasant’s for you for 1794, & 95. and will have it forwarded through 96 from time to time to your correspondent at Baltimore.
While on the subject of authorities and information, the following works are recommended to Professor Ebeling.
Minot’s history of the insurrection in Massachusetts in 1786. 8vo.
Mazzei. Recherches historiques et politiques sur les E. U. de l’Amerique. 4 vol. 8vo. This is to be had from Paris. The author is an exact man.
The article ‘Etats Unis de l’Amerique’ in the Dictionnaire d’Economie politique et diplomatique, de l’Encyclopedie methodique. This article occupies about 90. pages, is by De Meusnier, and his materials were worthy of confidence, except so far as they were taken from the Abbé Raynal. Against these effusions of an imagination in delirio it is presumed Professor Ebeling needs not be put on his guard. The earlier editions of the Abbé Raynal’s work were equally bad as to both South & North America. A gentleman however of perfect information as to South America, undertook to reform that part of the work, and his changes & additions were for the most part adopted by the Abbé in his latter editions. But the North-American part remains in it’s original state of worthlessness.
TO ARCHIBALD STUART1
Monticello, Jan. 3, ’96.
I troubled you once before on the subject of my nails, and must trouble you once more, but hope my present plan will protect you from all further embarrasment with it. I set out with refusing to retail, expecting the merchants of my neighborhood and the upper country would have given a preference to my supplies, because delivered here at the Richmond wholesale prices, and at hand to be called for in small parcels, so that they need not to keep large sums invested in that article & lying dead on their hands. The importing merchants however decline taking them from a principle of suppressing every effort towards domestic manufacture, & the merchants who purchase here being much under the influence of the importers, take their nails from them with their other goods. I have determined therefore to establish deposits of my nails to be retailed at Milton, Charlottesville, Staunton, Wormester, & Warren, but first at the three first places, because I presume my present works, which turn out a ton a month, will fully furnish them, and two additional fires which will be at work in a short time, will raise it to a ton and a half a month, and enable me to extend my supplies to Wormester & Warren. I shall retail at Richmond wholesale prices, laying on 5 percent at Milton & Charlottesville for commission to the retailers, and 10. percent at the other places for commission & transportation. My present retailing prices at Staunton would be
It is tolerably certain that the moment my deposit opens there will be an entire stoppage to the sale of all imported nails, for a body can retail them in the upper country at the Richmond wholesale prices, advanced only 5 or 10 percent. and as I mean to employ only one person in each place to retail, it will be of some advantage to the merchant who will undertake it, to have the entire monopoly of the nail business, & so draw to his store every one who wants nails, besides the commission of 5 percent, which in an article to be sold for ready money only, and where he does not employ a farthing of his own capital, I am advised is a sufficient allowance for commission. I should expect them to send me a copy of their sales once a month, and to hold the proceeds ready for my draughts at stated periods, say monthly. I trouble you to engage some person whom you can recommend for punctuality, to retail for me. I heard very favorable accounts of a Mr. Stuart, mercht. of Staunton, & should not hesitate to prefer him if he will undertake it. If not, pray do me the favor to find some other. I have written you the details, not that you need trouble yourself with explaining them to any person but that you may put this letter into his hands. As soon as you will name to me the person you engage I will send him an assortment of nails by the first waggons which will take them in.—Will you be so good as to procure for me a good bearskin, dressed, with a soft skin & the hair on. Dr. Johnson will on your application be so good as to pay for it, and take credit on his account with me. My respectful salutations to Mrs. Stuart, and assurances of attachment to yourself from yours affectionately.
[1 ]Undated, but probably written late in 1795. Christoph Daniel Ebeling was at this time preparing his Biography and History of North America.
[1 ]From the original in the possession of the Virginia Historical Society.