Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1796 - TO ARCHIBALD STUART 1 - The Works, vol. 8 (Correspondence 1793-1798)
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1796 - TO ARCHIBALD STUART 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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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.
TO GEORGE WYTHEJ. MSS.
Monticello, January 16, 1796.
In my letter which accompanied the box containing my collection of Printed laws, I promised to send you by post a statement of the contents of the box. On taking up the subject I found it better to take a more general view of the whole of the laws I possess, as well Manuscript as printed, as also of those which I do not possess, and suppose to be no longer extant. This general view you will have in the enclosed paper, whereof the articles stated to be printed constitute the contents of the box I sent you. Those in MS. were not sent, because not supposed to have been within your view, and because some of them will not bear removal, being so rotten, that in turning over a leaf it sometimes falls into powder. These I preserve by wrapping & sewing them up in oiled cloth, so that neither air nor moisture can have access to them. Very early in the course of my researches into the laws of Virginia, I observed that many of them were already lost, and many more on the point of being lost, as existing only in single copies in the hands of careful or curious individuals, on whose death they would probably be used for waste paper. I set myself therefore to work, to collect all which were then existing, in order that when the day should come in which the public should advert to the magnitude of their loss in these precious monuments of our property, and our history, a part of their regret might be spared by information that a portion has been saved from the wreck, which is worthy of their attention & preservation. In searching after these remains, I spared neither time, trouble, nor expense; and am of opinion that scarcely any law escaped me, which was in being as late as the year 1778 in the middle or Southern parts of the State. In the Northern parts, perhaps something might still be found. In the clerk’s office in the antient counties, some of these MS. copies of the laws may possibly still exist, which used to be furnished at the public expense to every county, before the use of the press was introduced; and in the same places, and in the hands of antient magistrates or of their families, some of the fugitive sheets of the laws of separate sessions, which have been usually distributed since the practice commenced of printing them. But recurring to what we actually possess, the question is, what means will be the most effectual for preserving these remains from future loss? All the care I can take of them, will not preserve them from the worm, from the natural decay of the paper, from the accidents of fire, or those of removal when it is necessary for any public purposes, as in the case of those now sent you. Our experience has proved to us that a single copy, or a few, deposited in MS. in the public offices, cannot be relied on for any great length of time. The ravages of fire and of ferocious enemies have had but too much part in producing the very loss we are now deploring. How many of the precious works of antiquity were lost while they were preserved only in manuscript? Has there ever been one lost since the art of printing has rendered it practicable to multiply & disperse copies? This leads us then to the only means of preserving those remains of our laws now under consideration, that is, a multiplication of printed copies. I think therefore that there should be printed at public expense, an edition of all the laws ever passed by our legislatures which can now be found; that a copy should be deposited in every public library in America, in the principle public offices within the State, and some perhaps in the most distinguished public libraries of Europe, and that the rest should be sold to individuals, towards reimbursing the expences of the edition. Nor do I think that this would be a voluminous work. The MSS. would probably furnish matter for one printed volume in folio, would comprehend all the laws from 1624 to 1701, which period includes Purvis. My collection of Fugitive sheets forms, as we know, two volumes, and comprehends all the extant laws from 1734 to 1783; and the laws which can be gleaned up from the Revisals to supply the chasm between 1701 & 1734, with those from 1783 to the close of the present century, (by which term the work might be compleated,) would not be more than the matter of another volume. So that four volumes in folio, would give every law ever passed which is now extant; whereas those who wish to posses as many of them as can be procured, must now buy the six folio volumes of Revisals, to wit, Purvis & those of 1732, 1748, 1768, 1783, & 1794, and in all of them possess not one half of what they wish. What would be the expence of the edition I cannot say, nor how much would be reimbursed by the sales; but I am sure it would be moderate, compared with the rates which the public have hitherto paid for printing their laws, provided a sufficient latitude be given as to printers & places. The first step would be to make out a single copy for the MSS., which would employ a clerk about a year or something more, to which expence about a fourth should be added for the collation of the MSS., which would employ 3. persons at a time about half a day, or a day in every week. As I have already spent more time in making myself acquainted with the contents & arrangement of these MSS. than any other person probably ever will, & their condition does not admit their removal to a distance, I will chearfully undertake the direction & superintendence of this work, if it can be done in the neighboring towns of Charlottesville or Milton, farther than which I could not undertake to go from home. For the residue of the work, my printed volumes might be delivered to the Printer.
I have troubled you with these details, because you are in the place where they may be used for the public service, if they admit of such use, & because the order of assembly, which you mention, shews they are sensible of the necessity of preserving such of these laws as relate to our landed property; and a little further consideration will perhaps convince them that it is better to do the whole work once for all, than to be recurring to it by piece-meal, as particular parts of it shall be required, & that too perhaps when the materials shall be lost. You are the best judge of the weight of these observations, & of the mode of giving them any effect they may merit. Adieu affectionately.
TO JOHN ADAMSJ. MSS.
Monticello Feb. 28. 96.
I am to thank you my dear Sir for forwarding M. D’Ivernois’ book on the French Revolution. I receive everything with respect which comes from him. But it is on politics, a subject I never loved, & now hate. I will not promise therefore to read it thoroughly. I fear the oligarchical executive of the French will not do. We have always seen a small council get into cabals & quarrels, the more bitter & relentless the fewer they are. We saw this in our committee of the states; & that they were from their bad passions, incapable of doing the business of their country. I think that for the prompt, clear & consistent action so necessary in an executive, unity of person is necessary as with us. I am aware of the objection to this, that the office becoming more important may bring on serious discord in elections. In our country I think it will be long first; not within our day, & we may safely trust to the wisdom of our successors the remedies of the evil to arise in theirs. Both experiments however are not fairly committed & the result will be seen. Never was a finer convass presented to work on than our countrymen. All of them engaged in agriculture or the pursuits of honest industry independent in their circumstances, enlightened as to their rights & firm in their habits of order & obedience to the laws. This I hope will be the age of experiments in government, & that their basis will be founded in principles of honesty, not of mere force. We have seen no instance of this since the days of the Roman republic, nor do we read of any before that. Either force or corruption has been the principle of every modern government, unless the Dutch perhaps be excepted, & I am not well enough informed to accept them absolutely. If ever the morals of a people could be made the basis of their own government it is our case; & who could propose to govern such a people by the corruption of a legislature, before he could have one night of quiet sleep must convince himself that the human soul as well as body is mortal. I am glad to see that whatever grounds of apprehension may have appeared of a wish to govern us otherwise than on principles of reason & honesty, we are getting the better of them. I am sure from the honesty of your heart, you join me in detestation of the corruptions of the English government, & that no man on earth is more incapable than yourself of seeing that copied among us, willingly. I have been among those who have feared the design to introduce it here, & it has been a strong reason with me for wishing there was an ocean of fire between that island and us. But away politics.
I owe a letter to the Auditor on the subject of my accounts while a foreign minister, & he informs me yours hang on the same difficulties with mine. Before the present government there was a usage either practised on or understood which regulated our charges. This government has directed the future by a law. But this is not retrospective, & I cannot conceive why the treasury cannot settle accounts under the old Congress on the principles that body acted on. I shall very shortly write to Mr. Harrison on this subject & if we cannot have it settled otherwise I suppose we must apply to the Legislature. In this I will act in concert with you if you approve of it. Present my very affectionate respects to Mrs. Adams & be assured that no one more cordially esteems your virtues than, dear Sir, your sincere friend & servant.
TO JAMES MONROEMON. MSS.
Mar. 2. 96.
I wrote you two letters in the course of the last twelve months to wit May 26. & Sep. 6. 95. and have received from you those of Sep. 7. 94. & June 23. 95. neither of which were late enough to inform me if either of mine had got to hand. In those I gave you all the details public & private which my situation enabled me to do. In the last I asked the delivery of a note to Frouillé for some books, particularly the sequel of the Encyclopedia, come out since he last furnished me. I hope these have got to hand.
The most remarkable political occurrence with us has been the treaty with England, of which no man in the U S. has had the effrontery to affirm that it was not a very bad one except A. H. under the signature of Camillus. It’s most zealous defenders only pretended that it was better than war, as if war was not invited rather than avoided by unfounded demands. I have never known the public pulse beat so full and in such universal union on any subject since the declaration of Independance, the House of representatives of the U. S. has manifested its disapprobation of the treaty. We are yet to learn whether they will exercise their constitutional right of refusing the means which depend on them for carrying it into execution. Should they be induced to lend their hand to it it will be hard swallowing with their constituents, but will be swallowed from the habits of order & obedience to the laws which so much distinguish our countrymen. The resignation or rather the removal of R. you will have learnt. His vindication bears hard on the executive in the opinions of this quarter, and tho’ it clears him in their judgment of the charge of bribery, it does not give them high ideas of his wisdom or steadiness. The appointment of J. Rutledge to be C. J. seems to have been intended merely to establish a precedent against the descent of that office by seniority, and to keep five mouths always gaping for one sugar plumb: for it was immediately negatived by the very votes which so implicitly concur with the will of the executive. I may consign the appointment of Chase to the bench to your own knolege of him & reflections. McHenry secty. at war, Charles Lee Atty Genl, with Pickering & Wolcott by their devotion to genuine republicanism will show to our citizens on what principles alone they can expect to rise. The office of Secy. of State was offered to P. H. in order to draw him over & gain some popularity: but not till there was a moral certainty that he would not accept it. I presume you receive the newspapers, & will have seen the amendments to the constitution proposed by the Virginia Assembly. Their reception by some of the other assemblies has been such as to call for the sacrifice of all feeling rather than ruffle the harmony so necessary to the common good. The finances are said to have been left by the late financier in the utmost derangement, and his tools are urging the funding the new debts they have contracted. Thus posterity is to be left to pay the ordinary expenses of our government in time of peace. As small news may escape the notice of your other correspondents, I shall give you what occurs to me. The James river canal is now conducted into the town of Richmond & full toll is exacted. 30. Doll. a share more however are necessary to complete it. The Patowmac & Norfolk canals are not in such forwardness. Mayo’ bridge, nearly destroyed by a flood, is reestablished. R. is settled again in Richmond in the business of the law.—Carter’s lands on the back of yours & Mr Short’s have got into the hands of one of the sons, Ned, who is coming to live on them. The price of wheat is 13/ here the bushel, & corn 20/ the barrel, and not to be had indeed at any price. I have been desirous of planting some fruit trees for you that they may be growing during your absence. But Mr Jones’s visits to the neighborhood have been so rare & short that I have not had an opportunity of asking from him the inclosure & allotment of the piece of ground which seems proper for it. The season is now passing. Do not fail to send over the Abricotpeche. Bartram would receive & plant it, and then furnish new plants.—Deaths are Zane, & Thos. Pleasants of 4. Mile Creek. Mr Pendleton is also said to be all but gone. A remarkable marriage is that of Capt Alcock with the widow of Dr. Walker. Your brother and family well. Derieux living in Goochland under great sufferance, and hoping a renovation of the aid promised from his aunt. My sincere affections to Mrs Monroe & to yourself. Adieu.
TO JAMES MADISONMAD. MSS.
Mar. 6, 96.
I wrote you Feb 21, since which I have recd yours of the same day. Indeed, mine of that date related only to a single article in yours of Jan 31 & Feb 7. I do not at all wonder at the condition in which the finances of the U S are found. Ham’s object from the beginning, was to throw them into forms which should be utterly undecypherable. I ever said he did not understand their condition himself, nor was able to give a clear view of the excess of our debts beyond our credits, nor whether we were diminishing or increasing the debt. My own opinion was, that from the commencemt of this government to the time I ceased to attend to the subject, we had been increasing our debt about a million of D. annually. If mr. Gallatin would undertake to reduce this chaos to order, present us with a clear view of our finances, & put them into a form as simple as they will admit, he will merit immortal honor. The accounts of the U S ought to be, and may be made as simple as those of a common farmer, and capable of being understood by common farmers.
Disapproving, as I do, of the unjustifiable largess to the dau’r’s of the C de Grasse, I will certainly not propose to rivet it by a second example on behalf of M. de Chastellux’s son. It will only be done in the event of such a repetition of the precedent, as will give every one a right to share in the plunder. It is, indeed, surprising you have not yet received the British treaty in form. I presume you would never receive it were not your co-operation on it necessary. But this will oblige the formal notification of it to you.
I thank you for your information respecting Lownes. There is one article still necessary to be known from mr Howell. Lownes began with credit of 90. days from the time of the departure of the nailrod from Philadelphia (not his delivery of it to the vessel; for that makes a difference sometimes of many weeks) but he afterwards reduced it to 60. days. What would be mr. Howell’s credits? I know that credit in Virginia startle a merchant in Philadelphia; but I presume that mr. Howell could have confidence enough in me (tho not personally known to him) to make a trial, & govern himself afterwards according to the result, & to the punctuality with which he would receive his remittances. I wish to know this, tho I am not yet decided to drop Lownes, on account of his being a good man, & I like much to be in the hands of good men. There is great pleasure in unlimited confidence. My consumption has now advanced from 3. to 4. tons a quarter. I call for a quarter’s supply at once, so that the last quarter’s supply is always paid for before the next is called for, or at the very time.—The Spanish treaty will have some disagreeable features, seeds of chicanery & eternal broils, instead of peace & friendship. At a period not long before that, they had been ready to sign one giving us vastly more than we had ever contemplated; particularly in our intercourse with their W. Indies.—I by no means think of declining the work we have spoken of. On the contrary, I wish with ardor to begin it, since the change of form into which I propose to put it: the first ideas had always oppressed me from a consciousness of my want both of talents & materials to execute it. But it will be impossible for a year to come: and I am not certain whether, even after the present year, I shall not be obliged to put my farms under such direction as that I should be considered as not here as to them, while I should be here as to my papers.
My salutations to mrs. Madison, friendly esteem to mr. Giles, Page, &c.
P. S. Have you considered all the consequences of your proposition respecting post roads? I view it as a source of boundless patronage to the executive, jobbing to members of Congress & their friends, and a bottomless abyss of public money. You will begin by only appropriating the surplus of the post office revenues; but the other revenues will soon be called into their aid, and it will be a scene of eternal scramble among the members, who can get the most money wasted in their State; and they will always get most who are meanest. We have thought, hitherto, that the roads of a State could not be so well administered even by the State legislature as by the magistracy of the county, on the spot. What will it be when a member of N H is to mark out a road for Georgia? Does the power to establish post roads, given you by Congress, mean that you shall make the roads, or only select from those already made, those on which there shall be a post? If the term be equivocal, (& I really do not think it so,) which is the safest construction? That which permits a majority of Congress to go to cutting down mountains & bridging of rivers, or the other, which if too restricted may refer it to the states for amendment, securing still due measure & proportion among us, and providing some means of information to the members of Congress tantamount to that ocular inspection, which, even in our county determinations, the magistrate finds cannot be supplied by any other evidence? The fortification of harbors were liable to great objection. But national circumstances furnished some color. In this case there is none. The roads of America are the best in the world except those of France & England. But does the state of our population, the extent of our internal commerce, the want of sea & river navigation, call for such expense on roads here, or are our means adequate to it? Think of all this, and a great deal more which your good judgment will suggest, and pardon my freedom.
TO WILLIAM B. GILESJ. MSS.
Monticello, Mar 19, 96.
I know not when I have received greater satisfaction than on reading the speech of Dr. Lieb, in the Pennsylvania Assembly. He calls himself a new member. I congratulate honest republicanism on such an acquisition, and promise myself much from a career which begins on such elevated ground. We are in suspense here to see the fate and effect of mr. Pitt’s bill against democratic societies. I wish extremely to get at the true history of this effort to suppress freedom of meeting, speaking, writing and printing. Your acquaintance with Sedgwick will enable you to do it. Pray get from him the outlines of the bill he intended to have brought in for this purpose. This will enable us to judge whether we have the merit of the invention; whether we were really beforehand with the British minister on this subject; whether he took his hint from our proposition, or whether the concurrence in the sentiment is merely the result of the general truth that great men will think alike and act alike, tho without intercommunication. I am serious in desiring extremely the outlines of the bill intended for us. From the debates on the subject of our seamen, I am afraid as much harm as good will be done by our endeavours to arm our seamen against impressments. It is proposed I observe to register them & give them certificates of citizenship to protect them from foreign impressment. But these certificates will be lost in a thousand ways; a sailor will neglect to take his certificate; he is wet twenty times in a voyage; if he goes ashore without it, he is impressed; if with it, he gets drunk, it is lost, stolen from him, taken from him, and then the want of it gives authority to impress, which does not exist now. After ten years’ attention to the subject, I have never been able to devise anything effectual, but that the circumstance of an American bottom be made ipso facto, a protection for a number of seamen porportioned to her tonnage; to oblige American captains when called on by foreign officers, to parade the men on deck, which would show whether they exceeded their own quota, and allow the foreign officers to send 2. or 3. persons aboard and hunt for any suspected to be concealed. This, mr. Pinckney was instructed to insist upon with Great Britain; to accept of nothing short of it; and, most especially, not to agree that a certificate of citizenship should be requirable from our seamen; because it would be made a ground for the authorized impressment of them. I am still satisfied that such a protection will place them in a worse situation than they are at present. It is true, the British minister has not shown any disposition to accede to my proposition: but it was not totally rejected; and if he still refuses, lay a duty of 1 d. sterling a yard on British oznabrigs, to make a fund for paying the expenses of the agents you are obliged to employ to seek out our suffering seamen. I congratulate you on the arrival of mr. Ames & the British treaty. The newspapers had said they would arrive together. We have had a fine winter. Wheat looks well. Corn is scarce and dear. 22/ here, 30/ in Amherst. Our blossoms are but just opening. I have begun the demolition of my house, and hope to get through its re-edification in the course of the summer. But do not let this discourage you from calling on us if you wander this way in the summer. We shall have the eye of a brick-kiln to poke you into, or an Octagon to air you in. Adieu affectionately.
TO JAMES MONROEMON. MSS.
Monticello Mar. 21. 96.
I wrote you on the 2d inst. and now take the liberty of troubling you in order to have the inclosed letter to Mr Gautier safely handed to him. I will thank you for information that it gets safely to hand, as it is of considerable importance to him, to the U S. to the state of Virginia, & to myself, by conveying to him the final arrangement of the accounts of Grand & Co. with all those parties.
Mr Jones happened fortunately to come into our neighborhood a few days after the date of my last, and ordered the proper ground to be inclosed & reserved for trees for you. My gardener is this day gone to plant such as we had, which will serve for a beginning. We shall engraft more for you this spring & plant them the next.
The British treaty has been formally at length laid before Congress. All America is a tip-toe to see what the H. of Representatives will decide on it. We conceive the constitutional doctrine to be that tho’ the P. & Senate have the general power of making treaties yet whenever they include in a treaty matters confided by the constitution to the three branches of legislature, an act of legislation will be requisite to confirm these articles, and that the H. of Repr. as one branch of the legislature are perfectly free to pass the act or to refuse it, governing themselves by their own judgment whether it is for the good of their constituents to let the treaty go into effect or not. On the precedent now to be set will depend the future construction of our constitution, and whether the powers of legislation shall be transferred from the P. Senate & H. of R. to the P. Senate & Piarningo or any other Indian, Algerine or other chief. It is fortunate that the first decision is to be in a case so palpably atrocious as to have been predetermined by all America.—The appointmte. of Elsworth C. J. and Chace one of the judges is doubtless communicated to you. My friendly respects to mrs Monroe. Adieu affectionately.
TO JAMES MADISONMAD. MSS.
Mar. 27, 96.
Yours of the 13th is received. I am enchanted with mr. Gallatin’s speech in Bache’s paper of Mar. 14. It is worthy of being printed at the end of the Federalist, as the only rational commentary on the part of the constitution to which it relates. Not that there may not be objections, and difficult ones, to it, and which I shall be glad to see his answers to; but if they are never answered, they are more easily to be gulped down than those which lie to the doctrines of his opponents, which do in fact annihilate the whole of the powers given by the constitution to the legislature. According to the rule established by usage & common sense, of construing one part of the instrument by another, the objects on which the P & S may exclusively act by treaty are much reduced, but the field on which they may act with the sanction of the legislature, is large enough; and I see no harm in rendering their sanction necessary, and not much harm in annihilating the whole treaty-making power, except as to making peace. If you decide in favor of your right to refuse co-operation in any case of treaty, I should wonder on what occasion it is to be used, if not on one where the rights, the interest, the honor & faith of our nation are so grossly sacrificed; where a faction has entered into a conspiracy with the enemies of their country to chain down the legislature at the feet of both; where the whole mass of your constituents have condemned this work in the most unequivocal manner, and are looking to you as their last hope to save them from the effects of the avarice & corruption of the first agent, the revolutionary machinations of others, and the incomprehensible acquiescence of the only honest man who has assented to it. I wish that his honesty and his political errors may not furnish a second occasion to exclaim, “curse on his virtues, the ’ve undone his country.”—Cold weather, mercury at 26. in the morning. Corn fallen at Richmond to 20/—stationary here; Nicholas sure of his election; R. Jouett and Jo. Monroe in competition for the other vote of the county. Affections to mrs. M. and yourself. Adieu.
TO JAMES MADISONMAD. MSS.
Apr. 17, 1796.
Yours of the 4th came to hand the day before yesterday. I have turned to the Conventional history, and enclose you an exact copy of what is there on the subject you mentioned. I have also turned to my own papers, & send you some things extracted from them, which shew that the recollection of the P has not been accurate when he supposed his own opinion to have been uniformly that declared in his answer of Mar 30. The records of the Senate will vouch for this. * * *
Extract, verbatim, from last page but one & the last page.
“Mr. King suggested that the journals of the Convention should be either destroyed, or deposited in the custody of the President. He thought, if suffered to be made public, a bad use would be made of them by those who would wish to prevent the adoption of the constitution.
“Mr. Wilson preferred the 2d expedient. He had at one time liked the first best; but as false suggestions may be propagated, it should not be made impossible to contradict them.
“A question was then put on depositing the journals & other papers of the Convention in the hands of the President, on which N H, ay, M, ay, Ct, ay, N J, ay, Penna, ay, Del, ay, Md, no, Virga, ay, N C, ay, S C, ay, Georgia, ay. This negative of Maryland was occasioned by the language of the instructions to the Deputies of that state, which required them to report to the state the proceedings of the Convention.
“The President having asked what the Convention meant should be done with the journals, &c., whether copies were to be allowed to the members, if applied for, it was resolved nem. con. ‘that he retain the journals & other papers subject to the order of the Congress, if ever formed under the Constitution.’
“The members then proceeded to sign the instrument, &c.”
“In the Senate, Feb 1, 1791.
“The commee, to whom was referred that part of the speech of the Prt of the U S, at the opening of the session, which relates to the commerce of the Mediterranean, & also the letter from the Secy of state, dated 20 Jan, 1791, with the papers accompanying the same, reported: whereupon,
“Resolved, that the Senate do advise & consent, that the Pr of the U S take such measures as he may think necessary for the redemption of the citizens of the U S, now in captivity at Algiers, provided the expense shall not exceed 40,000. Dolls, & also, that measures be taken to confirm the treaty now existing between the U S and the Emperor of Morocco.”
The above is a copy of a resoln of Senate, referred to me by the Pt, to prepare an answer to, and I find immediately following this, among my papers, a press copy, from an original written fairly in my own hand, ready for the P’s signature, & to be given in to the Senate, the following answer:
“Gent of the Senate,—
“I will proceed to take measures for the ransom of our citizens in captivity at Algiers, in conformity with your resoln of advice of the 1st inst, so soon as the moneys necessary shall be appropriated by the Legislature, & shall be in readiness.
“The recognition of our treaty with the new Emperor of Morocco requires also previous appropriation & provision. The importance of this last to the liberty & property of our citizens, induces me to urge it on your earliest attention.”
Tho’ I have no memm. of the delivery of this to the Senate, yet I have not the least doubt it was given in to them, & will be found among their records.
I find among my press copies, the following in my hand writing:
“The committee to report, that the President does not think that circumstances will justify, in the present instance, his entering into absolute engagements for the ransom of our captives in Algiers, nor calling for money from the treasury, nor raising it by loan, without previous authority from both branches of the legislature.”
“Apr 9, 1792.”
I do not recollect the occasion of the above paper with certainty; but I think there was a comme appointed by the Senate to confer with the P on the subject of the ransom, and to advise what is there declined, and that a member of the commee advising privately with me as to the report they were to make to the House, I minuted down the above, as the substance of what I conceived to be the proper report, after what had passed with the Prt, and gave the original to the member, preserving the press copy. I think the member was either mr. Izard or mr. Butler, and have no doubt such a report will be found on the files of the Senate.
On the 8th of May following, in consequence of questions proposed by the Prt to the Senate, they came to a resolution, on which a mission was founded. * * *
TO PHILLIP MAZZEIJ. MSS.
Monticello, Apr. 24, 1796.
My Dear Friend,—
Your letter of Oct. 26. 1795. is just received and gives me the first information that the bills forwarded for you to V. S. & H. of Amsterdam on V. Anderson for £39-17-10½ & on George Barclay for £70-8-6 both of London have been protested. I immediately write to the drawers to secure the money if still unpaid. I wonder I have never had a letter from our friends of Amsterdam on that subject as well as acknoleging the subsequent remittances. Of these I have apprised you by triplicates, but for fear of miscarriage will just mention that on Sep. 8. I forwarded them Hodgden’s bill on Robinson Saunderson & Rumney of Whitehaven for £300. and Jan. 31. that of the same on the same for £137-16-6 both received from mr. Blair for your stock sold out. I have now the pleasure to inform you that Dohrman has settled his account with you, has allowed the New York damage of 20. per cent for the protest, & the New York interest of 7. per cent. and after deducting the partial payments for which he held receipts the balance was three thousand & eighty-seven dollars which sum he has paid into mr. Madison’s hands & as he (mr. Madison) is now in Philadelphia, I have desired him to invest the money in good bills on Amsterdam & remit them to the V. Staphorsts & H. whom I consider as possessing your confidence as they do mine beyond any house in London. The pyracies of that nation lately extended from the sea to the debts due from them to other nations renders theirs an unsafe medium to do business through. I hope these remittances will place you at your ease & I will endeavor to execute your wishes as to the settlement of the other small matters you mention: tho’ from them I expect little. E. R.1 is bankrupt, or tantamount to it. Our friend M. P.2 is embarrassed, having lately sold the fine lands he lives on, & being superlatively just & honorable I expect we may get whatever may be in his hands. Lomax is under greater difficulties with less means, so that I apprehend you have little more to expect from this country except the balance which will remain for Colle after deducting the little matter due to me, & what will be recovered by Anthony. This will be decided this summer.
I have written to you by triplicates with every remittance I sent to the V. S. & H. & always recapitulated in each letter the objects of the preceding ones. I enclosed in two of them some seeds of the squash as you desired. Send me in return some seeds of the winter vetch, I mean that kind which is sewn in autumn & stands thro the cold of winter, furnishing a crop of green fodder in March. Put a few seeds in every letter you may write to me. In England only the spring vetch can be had. Pray fail not in this. I have it greatly at heart.1
The aspect of our politics has wonderfully changed since you left us. In place of that noble love of liberty, & republican government which carried us triumphantly thro’ the war, an Anglican monarchical, & aristocratical party has sprung up, whose avowed object is to draw over us the substance, as they have already done the forms, of the British government. The main body of our citizens, however, remain true to their republican principles; the whole landed interest is republican, and so is a great mass of talents. Against us are the Executive, the Judiciary, two out of three branches of the legislature, all the officers of the government, all who want to be officers, all timid men who prefer the calm of despotism to the boisterous sea of liberty, British merchants & Americans trading on British capitals, speculators & holders in the banks & public funds, a contrivance invented for the purposes of corruption, & for assimilating us in all things to the rotten as well as the sound parts of the British model. It would give you a fever were I to name to you the apostates who have gone over to these heresies, men who were Samsons in the field & Solomons in the council, but who have had their heads shorn by the harlot England. In short, we are likely to preserve the liberty we have obtained only by unremitting labors & perils. But we shall preserve them; and our mass of weight & wealth on the good side is so great, as to leave no danger that force will ever be attempted against us. We have only to awake and snap the Lilliputian cords with which they have been entangling us during the first sleep which succeeded our labors. I will forward the testimonial of the death of mrs. Mazzei, which I can do the more incontrovertibly as she is buried in my grave yard, and I pass her grave daily. The formalities of the proof you require, will occasion delay. John Page & his son Mann are well. The father remarried to a lady from N. York. Beverley Randolph e la sua consorte living & well. Their only child married to the 2d of T. M. Randolph. The eldest son you know married my eldest daughter, is an able learned & worthy character, but kept down by ill health. They have two children & still live with me. My younger daughter well. Colo. Innis is well, & a true republican still as are all those before named. Colo. Monroe is our M. P. at Paris a most worthy patriot & honest man. These are the persons you inquire after. I begin to feel the effects of age. My health has suddenly broke down, with symptoms which give me to believe I shall not have much to encounter of the tedium vitæ. While it remains, however, my heart will be warm in it’s friendships, and among these, will always foster the affection with which I am, dear Sir, your friend and servant.
This indenture made on the 12th day of May, 1796, between Thomas Jefferson of Virginia of the one part and Nicholas and Jacob Vanstaphorst and Hubbard of Amsterdam, bankers, of the other part, witnesseth that whereas the sd Thomas is indebted to them in the two sums of one thousand and four dollars fifty-four cents, and eight hundred and eighty-eight dollars sixty seven cents, making together eighteen hundred ninety three dollars twenty one cents for so much paid for him by them to the United States, for the purpose of securing the said whole sum last mentioned, to them, and in consideration that they will forbear to demand by process in law one third of the sd sum & interest till July 1797, one other third & interest till July 1798. and one other third & interest till July 1799. And for the further considn. of five shillings to him by them paid he the sd Thomas hath given granted & conveyed to the sd Nicholas and Jacob Van Staphorst & Hubbard the following slaves, to wit, Ned and Jenny his wife & Ned, Fanny, Dick, Gill & Scilla their children, Rachel & Nancy & Abraham her children, old Betty and Val. residing at the lands of the sd Thomas in Albermarle called Tufton, and Bagwell & Minerva his wife and Ursulla, and Mary and Virginia their children residing on his lands in Albermarle called Lago, in all seventeen, to have & to hold the sd slaves to the sd Nicholas & Jacob Van Staphorst & Hubbard their heirs exrs. & admrs. Provided that if the sd Thomas shall pay to the sd. Nicholas & Jacob Van Staphorst & Hubbard one third of the sd debt & interest before July, 1797. one other third before July 1798. and one-third before July 1799. or if they should demand in law earlier paiment then these presents to be void. In witness whereof the sd Thomas hath set his hand and seal the day and year first above written.
TO JAMES MONROEMON. MSS.
June 12, 1796.
The dreadful misfortune of poor Derieux, who has lost his house & all it’s contents by fire occasions the present letter to cover one from him to his aunt. I send it open for your perusal. Be so good as to seal & send it. I hope she will, if she has not done it already, send him some relief.
I received only 3. weeks ago your favor of Nov. 18. It has been 5. months on it’s way to me. The reason for engaging laborers to prepare for your buildings was then over. They are to be got only about the new year’s day. To this is added that the plan you promised to send me is not come. It is perhaps not unfortunate that nothing was begun this year. Corn @ 25/ to 30/ a barrel would have rendered building this year extremely dear. It does so to me who had engaged in it before that circumstance was foreseen. If your plan arrives, I will consult with Mr. Jones, and according to the result of our Consultation make preparations in the winter for the next year’s work.
Congress has risen. You will have seen by their proceedings the truth of what I always observed to you, that one man outweighs them all in influence over the people who have supported his judgment against their own & that of their representatives. Republicanism must lie on it’s oars, resign the vessel to it’s pilot, and themselves to the course he thinks best for them.—I had always conjectured, from such facts as I could get hold of, that our public debt was increasing about a million of dollars a year. You will see by Gallatin’s speeches that the thing is proved. You will see further that we are compleatly saddled & bridled, & that the bank is so firmly mounted on us that we must go where they will guide. They openly publish a resolution that the national property being increased in value they must by an increase of circulating medium furnish an adequate representation of it, and by further additions of active capital promote the enterprises of our merchants. It is supposed that the paper in circulation in and around Philadelphia amounts to 20. millions of Doll. and that in the whole union to 100. millions. I think the last too high. All the imported commodities are raised about 50 per cent. by the depreciation of the money. Tobo shares the rise because it has no competition abroad. Wheat has been extravagantly high from other causes. When these cease, it must fall to it’s antient nominal price notwithstanding the depreciation of that, because it must contend at market with foreign wheats. Lands have risen within the notice of the papers, and as far out as that can influence. They are not risen at all here. On the contrary they are lower than they were 20. years ago. Those I had mentioned to you, to wit, Carter’s & Colle were sold before your letter came. Colle @ two dollars the acre. Carter’s had been offered me for two French crowns (13/2). Mechanics here get from a dollar to a dollar & a half a day, yet are much worse of than at old prices.—Volney is with me at present. He is on his way to the Illinois. Some late appointments judiciary & diplomatic you will have heard and stared at. The death of R. Jouett is the only small news in our neighborhood. Our best affections attend Mrs. Monroe, Eliza & yourself.
TO GEORGE WASHINGTONJ. MSS.
Monticello, June 19, 1796.
In Bache’s Aurora, of the 9th inst which came here by the last post, a paper appears, which, having been confided, as I presume, to but few hands, makes it truly wonderful how it should have got there. I cannot be satisfied as to my own part, till I relieve my mind by declaring, and I attest everything sacred & honorable to the declaration, that it has got there neither thro’ me nor the paper confided to me. This has never been from under my own lock & key, or out of my own hands. No mortal ever knew from me, that these questions had been proposed. Perhaps I ought to except one person, who possesses all my confidence, as he has possessed yours. I do not remember, indeed, that I communicated it even to him. But as I was in the habit of unlimited trust & council with him, it is possible I may have read it to him; no more: for the quire of which it makes a part was never in any hand but my own, nor was a word ever copied or taken down from it, by any body. I take on myself, without fear, any divulgation on his part. We both know him incapable of it. From myself, then, or my paper, this publication has never been derived. I have formerly mentioned to you, that from a very early period of my life, I had laid it down as a rule of conduct, never to write a word for the public papers. From this, I have never departed in a single instance; & on a late occasion, when all the world seemed to be writing, besides a rigid adherence to my own rule, I can say with truth, that not a line for the press was ever communicated to me, by any other, except a single petition referred for my correction; which I did not correct, however, though the contrary, as I have heard, was said in a public place, by one person through error, thro’ malice by another. I learn that this last has thought it worth his while to try to sow tares between you & me, by representing me as still engaged in the bustle of politics, & in turbulence & intrigue against the government. I never believed for a moment that this could make any impression on you, or that your knowledge of me would not overweigh the slander of an intriguer, dirtily employed in sifting the conversations of my table, where alone he could hear of me; and seeking to atone for his sins against you by sins against another, who had never done him any other injury than that of declining his confidences. Political conversations I really dislike, & therefore avoid where I can without affectation. But when urged by others, I have never conceived that having been in public life requires me to belie my sentiments, or even to conceal them. When I am led by conversation to express them, I do it with the same independence here which I have practiced everywhere, and which is inseparable from my nature. But enough of this miserable tergiversator, who ought indeed either to have been of more truth, or less trusted by his country.1
While on the subject of papers, permit me to ask one from you. You remember the difference of opinion between Hamilton & Knox on the one part, & myself on the other, on the subject of firing on the little Sarah, and that we had exchanged opinions & reasons in writing. On your arrival in Philadelphia I delivered you a copy of my reasons, in the presence of Colo. Hamilton. On our withdrawing he told me he had been so much engaged that he had not been able to prepare a copy of his & General Knox’s for you, and that if I would send you the one he had given me, he would replace it in a few days. I immediately sent it to you, wishing you should see both sides of the subject together. I often after applied to both the gentlemen but could never obtain another copy. I have often thought of asking this one, or a copy of it, back from you, but have not before written on subjects of this kind to you. Tho I do not know that it will ever be of the least importance to me, yet one loves to possess arms, tho they hope never to have occasion for them. They possess my paper in my own handwriting. It is just I should possess theirs. The only thing amiss is, that they should have left me to seek a return of the paper, or a copy of it, from you.
I put away this disgusting dish of old fragments, & talk to you of my peas & clover. As to the latter article, I have great encouragement from the friendly nature of our soil. I think I have had, both the last & present year, as good clover from common grounds, which had brought several crops of wheat & corn without ever having been manured, as I ever saw on the lots around Philadelphia. I verily believe that a yield of 34. acres, sowed on wheat April was twelvemonth, has given me a ton to the acre at it’s first cutting this spring. The stalks extended, measured 3½ feet long very commonly. Another field, a year older, & which yielded as well the last year, has sensibly fallen off this year. My exhausted fields bring a clover not high enough for hay, but I hope to make seed from it. Such as these, however, I shall hereafter put into peas in the broadcast, proposing that one of my sowings of wheat shall be after two years of clover, & the other after 2. years of peas. I am trying the white boiling pea of Europe (the Albany pea) this year, till I can get the hog pea of England, which is the most productive of all. But the true winter vetch is what we want extremely. I have tried this year the Caroline drill. It is absolutely perfect. Nothing can be more simple, nor perform it’s office more perfectly for a single row. I shall try to make one to sow four rows at a time of wheat or peas, at 12. inches distance. I have one of the Scotch threshing machines nearly finished. It is copied exactly from a model mr. Pinckney sent me, only that I have put the whole works (except the horse wheel) into a single frame, movable from one field to another on the two axles of a wagon. It will be ready in time for the harvest which is coming on, which will give it a full trial. Our wheat and rye are generally fine, and the prices talked of bid fair to indemnify us for the poor crops of the two last years.
I take the liberty of putting under your cover a letter to the son of the M. de la Fayette, not exactly, knowing where to direct to him.
With very affectionate compliments to mrs. Washington, I have the honor to be, with great & sincere esteem & respect, Dear Sir, your most obedient & most humble servant.
TO JONATHAN WILLIAMSJ. MSS.
Monticello, July 3, 1796.
I take shame to myself for having so long left unanswered your valuable favor on the subject of the mountains. But in truth, I am become lazy to everything except agriculture. The preparations for harvest, and the length of the harvest itself, which is not yet finished, would have excused the delay however, at all times & under all dispositions. I examined, with great satisfaction, your barometrical estimate of the heights of our mountains; and with the more, as they corroborated conjectures on this subject which I had made before. My estimates had made them a little higher than yours (I speak of the blue ridge). Measuring with a very nice instrument the angle subtended vertically by the highest mountain of the Blue ridge opposite to my own house, a distance of about 18. miles southwestward, I made the highest about 2000. f. as well as I remember, for I can no longer find the notes I made. You make the south side of the mountain near Rockfish gap, 1722. f. above Woods’. You make the other side of the mountain 767 f. Mr. Thomas Lewis dec’d, an accurate man, with a good quadrant, made the north side of the highest mountain opposite my house something more (I think) than 1000. f.; but the mountain estimated by him & myself is probably higher than that next Rockfish gap. I do not remember from what principles I estimated the peaks of Otter at 4000. f.; but some late observations of Judge Tucker’s coincided very nearly with my estimate. Your measures confirm another opinion of mine, that the blue ridge, on it’s south side, is the highest ridge in our country compared with it’s base. I think your observations on these mountains well worthy of being published, and hope you will not scruple to let them be communicated to the world.—You wish me to present to the Philosophical society the result of my philosophical researches since my retirement. But, my good Sir, I have made researches into nothing but what is connected with agriculture. In this way, I have a little matter to communicate, and will do it ere long. It is the form of a mould-board of least resistance. I had some years ago conceived the principles of it, and I explained them to mr. Rittenhouse. I have since reduced the thing to practice, and have reason to believe the theory fully confirmed. I only wish for one of those instruments used in England for measuring the force exerted in the draughts of different ploughs, &c., that I might compare the resistance of my mould-board with that of others. But these instruments are not to be had here. In a letter of this date to mr. Rittenhouse, I mention a discovery in animal history, very signal indeed, of which I shall lay before the society the best account I can, as soon as I shall have received some other materials which are collecting for me.
I have seen, with extreme indignation, the blasphemies lately vended against the memory of the father of American philosophy. But his memory will be preserved and venerated as long as the thunders of heaven shall be heard or feared.
With good wishes to all of his family, and sentiments of great respect & esteem for yourself, I am, dear Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.
TO JAMES MONROEMON. MSS.
July 10. 96.
Your brother received a letter from you a few days since in which he says you mention having received but two from me since you left us. I have not been a very troublesome correspondent to you, I acknoledge, but have written letters of the following dates to you, to wit 1794. Mar. 11. Apr. 24.—1795. May 26. Sep. 6.—1796 June 12. In this last I acknoleged the receipt of yours of Nov. 18. and mentioned that your plan was not yet come to hand, which with the difficulty & expence of getting laborers at this season would prevent beginning your works till the new year. I have been in daily expectation of hearing of the arrival of Mr. Short, having no news from him since his leaving Madrid for Paris. I am often asked when you will return. My answer is when Eliza is 14. years old. Longer than that you will be too wise to stay. Till then I presume you will retain a post which the public good requires to be filled by a republican. I put under your cover some letters from M. de Liancourt. I wish the present government would permit his return. He is an honest man, sincerely attached to his Country, zealous against its enemies, and very desirous of being permitted to live retired in the bosom of his family. My sincere affection for his connections at Rocheguyon, and most especially for Madame D’anville would render it a peculiar felicity to me to be any ways instrumental in having him restored to them. I have no means however unless you can interpose without giving offence. If you can, I should be much pleased. The Campaign of Congress is closed, tho’ the Anglomen have in the end got their treaty through, and so far have triumphed over the cause of republicanism. Yet it has been to them a dear bought victory. It has given the most radical shock to their party which it has ever received: and there is no doubt they would be glad to be replaced on the ground they possessed the instant before Jay’s nomination extraordinary. They see that nothing can support them but the Colossus of the President’s merits with the people, and the moment he retires, that his successor, if a Monocrat, will be overborne by the republican sense of his Constituents, if a republican he will of course give fair play to that sense, and lead things into the channel of harmony between the governors & governed. In the mean time, patience.—Among your neighbors there is nothing new. Mr. Rittenhouse is lately dead. Governor Brook has lost his lady. We have had the finest harvest ever known in this part of the country. Both the quantity & quality of our wheat are extraordinary. We got 15/ a bushel for the last crop, & hope two thirds of that at least for the present one.—Most assiduous court is paid to P. H. He has been offered every thing which they knew he would not accept. Some impression is thought to be made, but we do not believe it is radical. If they thought they could count on him they would run him for V. P. their first object being to produce a schism in this state.
As it is they will run Mr. Pinckney, in which they regard his southern position rather than his principles. Mr. J. and his advocate Camillus are compleatly treaty-foundered. We all join in love to Mrs. Monroe & Elvie, and accept for yourself assurances of sincere & affectionate friendship. Adieu.
TO COLONEL JOHN STUARTJ. MSS.
Monticello, Nov. 10, 1796.
I have to acknolege the receipt of your last favor, together with the bones of the Great-claw, which accompanied it. My anxiety to obtain a thigh bone is such, that I defer communicating what we have to the Philosophical society, in the hope of adding that bone to the collection. We should then be able to fix the stature of the animal, without going into conjecture & calculation, as we should possess a whole limb, from the haunch bone to the claw inclusive. Whenever you announce to me that the recovery of a thigh bone is desperate, I shall make the communication to the Philosophical society. I think it happy that this incident will make known to them a person so worthy as yourself to be taken into their body, and without whose attention to these extraordinary remains, the world might have been deprived of the knowledge of them. I cannot, however, help believing that this animal, as well as the mammoth, are still existing. The annihilation of any species of existence, is so unexampled in any parts of the economy of nature which we see, that we have a right to conclude, as to the parts we do not see, that the probabilities against such annihilation are stronger than those for it. In hopes of hearing from you, as soon as you can form a conclusion satisfactory to yourself, that the thigh bone will or will not be recovered, I remain, with great respect & esteem, Dear Sir, your most obedient servant.
TO JAMES MADISONMAD. MSS.
Monticello, Dec. 17, 1796.
Your favor of the 5th came to hand last night. The first wish of my heart was, that you should have been proposed for the administration of the government. On your declining it, I wish any body rather than myself; and there is nothing I so anxiously hope, as that my name may come out either second or third. These would be indifferent to me; as the last would leave me at home the whole year, & the other two-thirds of it. I have no expectation that the Eastern states will suffer themselves to be so much outwitted, as to be made the tools for bringing in P. instead of A. I presume they will throw away their second vote. In this case, it begins to appear possible, that there may be an equal division where I had supposed the republican vote would have been considerably minor. It seems also possible, that the Representatives may be divided. This is a difficulty from which the constitution has provided no issue. It is both my duty & inclination, therefore, to relieve the embarrassment, should it happen; and in that case, I pray you and authorize you fully, to solicit on my behalf that mr. Adams may be preferred. He has always been my senior, from the commencement of my public life, and the expression of the public will being equal, this circumstance ought to give him the preference. And when so many motives will be operating to induce some of the members to change their vote, the addition of my wish may have some effect to preponderate the scale. I am really anxious to see the speech. It must exhibit a very different picture of our foreign affairs from that presented in the adieu, or it will little correspond with my views of them. I think they never wore so gloomy an aspect since the year 83. Let those come to the helm who think they can steer clear of the difficulties. I have no confidence in myself for the undertaking.
We have had the severest weather ever known in November. The thermometer was at 12° here & in Goochland, & I suppose generally. It arrested my buildings very suddenly, when eight days more would have completed my walls, & permitted us to cover in. The drought is excessive. From the middle of October to the middle of December, not rain enough to lay the dust. A few days ago there fell a small rain, but the succeeding cold has probably prevented it from sprouting the grain sown during the drought.
Present me in friendly terms to Messrs. Giles, Venable, Page. Adieu affectionately.
P. S. I enclose a letter for Volney because I do not know where to address to him.
Pray send me Gallatin’s view of the finances of the U. S. and Paine’s lre to the President if within the compass of a conveyance by post.
TO EDWARD RUTLEDGEJ. MSS.
Monticello, Dec. 27, 1796.
My Dear Sir,—
* * * You have seen my name lately tacked to so much of eulogy & of abuse, that I dare say you hardly thought it meant your old acquaintance of ’76. In truth, I did not know myself under the pens either of my friends or foes. It is unfortunate for our peace, that unmerited abuse wounds, while unmerited praise has not the power to heal. These are hard wages for the services of all the active & healthy years of one’s life. I had retired after five & twenty years of constant occupation in public affairs, and total abandonment of my own. I retired much poorer than when I entered the public service, and desired nothing but rest & oblivion. My name, however, was again brought forward, without concert or expectation on my part; (on my salvation I declare it.) I do not as yet know the result, as a matter of fact; for in my retired canton we have nothing later from Philadelphia than of the 2d week of this month. Yet I have never one moment doubted the result. I knew it was impossible mr. Adams should lose a vote North of the Delaware, and that the free and moral agency of the South would furnish him an abundant supplement. On principles of public respect I should not have refused; but I protest before my god, that I shall, from the bottom of my heart, rejoice at escaping. I know well that no man will ever bring out of that office the reputation which carries him into it. The honey moon would be as short in that case as in any other, & its moments of extasy would be ransomed by years of torment & hatred. I shall highly value, indeed, the share which I may have had in the late vote, as an evidence of the share I hold in the esteem of my countrymen. But in this point of view, a few votes more or less will be little sensible, and in every other, the minor will be preferred by me to the major vote. I have no ambition to govern men; no passion which would lead me to delight to ride in a storm. Flumina amo, sylvasque, inglorius. My attachment to my home has enabled me to make the calculation with rigor, perhaps with partiality, to the issue which keeps me there. The newspapers will permit me to plant my corn, peas, &c., in hills or drills as I please (and my oranges, by-the-bye, when you send them), while our Eastern friend will be struggling with the storm which is gathering over us; perhaps be shipwrecked in it. This is certainly not a moment to covet the helm.
I have often doubted whether most to praise or to blame your line of conduct. If you had lent to your country the excellent talents you possess, on you would have fallen those torrents of abuse which have lately been poured forth on me. So far, I praise the wisdom which has descried & steered clear of a water-spout ahead. But now for the blame. There is a debt of service due from every man to his country, proportioned to the bounties which nature & fortune have measured to him. Counters will pay this from the poor of spirit; but from you, my friend, coin was due. There is no bankrupt law in heaven, by which you may get off with shillings in the pound; with rendering to a single State what you owed to the whole confederacy. I think it was by the Roman law that a father was denied sepulture, unless his son would pay his debts. Happy for you & us, that you have a son whom genius & education have qualified to pay yours. But as you have been a good father in everything else, be so in this also. Come forward & pay your own debts. Your friends, the mr. Pinckneys, have at length undertaken their tour. My joy at this would be complete if you were in gear with them. I love to see honest and honorable men at the helm, men who will not bend their politics to their purses, nor pursue measures by which they may profit, & then profit by their measures. Au diable les Bougres! I am at the end of my curse and bottom of my page, so God bless you and yours. Adieu affectionately.
TO JOHN ADAMS1
Monticello, Dec. 28, 1796.
The public & the papers have been much occupied lately in placing us in a point of opposition to each other. I trust with confidence that less of it has been felt by ourselves personally. In the retired canton where I am, I learn little of what is passing: pamphlets I see never: papers but a few; and the fewer the happier. Our latest intelligence from Philadelphia at present is of the 16th inst. but tho’ at that date your election to the first magistracy seems not to have been known as a fact, yet with me it has never been doubted. I knew it impossible you should lose a vote north of the Delaware, and even if that of Pennsylvania should be against you in the mass, yet that you would get enough South of that to place your succession out of danger. I have never one single moment expected a different issue; & tho’ I know I shall not be believed, yet it is not the less true that I have never wished it. My neighbors as my compurgators could aver that fact, because they see my occupations & my attachment to them. Indeed it is impossible that you may be cheated of your succession by a trick worthy the subtlety of your arch-friend of New York who has been able to make of your real friends tools to defeat their and your just wishes. Most probably he will be disappointed as to you; and my inclinations place me out of his reach. I leave to others the sublime delights of riding in the storm, better pleased with sound sleep and a warm birth below, with the society of neighbors, friends & fellow-laborers of the earth, than of spies & sycophants. No one then will congratulate you with purer disinterestedness than myself. The share indeed which I may have had in the late vote, I shall still value highly, as an evidence of the share I have in the esteem of my fellow citizens. But while in this point of view, a few votes less would be little sensible, the difference in the effect of a few more would be very sensible and oppressive to me. I have no ambition to govern men. It is a painful and thankless office. Since the day too on which you signed the treaty of Paris our horizon was never so overcast. I devoutly wish you may be able to shun for us this war by which our agriculture, commerce & credit will be destroyed. If you are, the glory will be all your own; and that your administration may be filled with glory, and happiness to yourself and advantage to us is the sincere wish of one who tho’ in the course of our own voyage thro’ life, various little incidents have happened or been contrived to separate us, retains still for you the solid esteem of the moments when we were working for our independence, and sentiments of respect & affectionate attachment.1
[1 ]From the original in the possession of the Virginia Historical Society.
[1 ]Edmund Randolph.
[2 ]Mann Page.
[1 ]From this point begins the extract which is known as the “Mazzei letter.” It originally appeared in a Florentine paper, from the Italian text was translated into French and printed in the Moniteur, and from that was retranslated into English, first appearing in America in The Minerva of May 14, 1797, as follows:
[1 ]Here, in the margin of the copy, is written, apparently at a later date, “General H. Lee.”
[1 ]From the original in the possession of Dr. Thomas Addis Emmet, of New York.
[1 ]Statement by memory, of a letter I wrote to John Adams; copy omitted to be retained.
Monticello, Dec. 28, 1796.
The public, & the public papers, have been much occupied lately in placing us in a point of opposition to each other. I confidently trust we have felt less of it ourselves. In the retired canton where I live, we know little of what is passing. Pamphlets I see none: papers very few, & the fewer the happier. Our last information from Philada is of the 16th inst. At that date the issue of the late election seems not to have been known as a matter of fact. With me, however, its issue was never doubted. I knew the impossibility of your losing a single vote North of the Delaware; and even if you should lose that of Pennsylva in the mass, you would get enough South of that to make your election sure. I never for a single moment expected any other issue; & tho’ I shall not be believed, yet it is not the less true, that I never wished any other. My neighbors, as my compurgators, could aver this fact, as seeing my occupations & my attachment to them. It is possible, indeed, that even you may be cheated of your succession by a trick worthy the subtlety of your arch friend of New York, who has been able to make of your real friends tools for defeating their & your just wishes. Probably, however, he will be disappointed as to you; and my inclinations put me out of his reach. I leave to others the sublime delights of riding in the storm, better pleased with sound sleep & a warmer berth below it, encircled with the society of my neighbors, friends, & fellow laborers of the earth, rather than with spies & sycophants. Still, I shall value highly the share I may have had in the late vote, as a measure of the share I hold in the esteem of my fellow citizens. In this point of view, a few votes less are but little sensible, while a few more would have been in their effect very sensible & oppressive to me. I have no ambition to govern men. It is a painful and thankless office. And never since the day you signed the treaty of Paris, has our horizon been so overcast. I devoutly wish you may be able to shun for us this war, which will destroy our agriculture, commerce, & credit. If you do, the glory will be all your own. And that your administration maybe filled with glory & happiness to yourself, & advantage to us, is the sincere prayer of one, who, tho’ in the course of our voyage, various little incidents have happened or been contrived to separate us, yet retains for you the solid esteem of the times when we were working for our independence, and sentiments of sincere respect & attachment.
[1 ]From this point begins the extract which is known as the “Mazzei letter.” It originally appeared in a Florentine paper, from the Italian text was translated into French and printed in the Moniteur, and from that was retranslated into English, first appearing in America in The Minerva of May 14, 1797, as follows:
[*]There seems to be a mistake in the original in this passage, or we mistake the construction.—Translator.