Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1797 - TO JAMES MADISON MAD. MSS. - The Works, vol. 8 (Correspondence 1793-1798)
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1797 - TO JAMES MADISON MAD. MSS. - 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 JAMES MADISONMAD. MSS.
Jan. 1. 97.
Yours of Dec. 19. has come safely. The event of the election has never been a matter of doubt in my mind. I knew that the Eastern states were disciplined in the schools of their town meetings to sacrifice differences of opinion to the great object of operating in phalanx, & that the more free & moral agency practiced in the other states would always make up the supplement of their weight. Indeed the vote comes much nearer an equality than I had expected. I know the difficulty of obtaining belief to one’s declarations of a disinclination to honors, & that it is greatest with those who still remain in the world. But no arguments were wanting to reconcile me to a relinquishment of the first office or acquiescence under the second. As to the first it was impossible that a more solid unwillingness settled on full calculation, could have existed in any man’s mind, short of the degree of absolute refusal. The only view on which I would have gone into it for awhile was to put our vessel on her republican tack before she should be thrown too much to leeward of her true principles. As to the second, it is the only office in the world about which I am unable to decide in my own mind whether I had rather have it or not have it. Pride does not enter into the estimate; for I think with the Romans that the general of today should be a soldier tomorrow if necessary. I can particularly have no feelings which would revolt at a secondary position to mr. Adams. I am his junior in life, was his junior in Congress, his junior in the diplomatic line, his junior lately in the civil government. Before the receipt of your letter I had written the enclosed one to him. I had intended it some time, but had deferred it from time to time under the discouragement of a despair of making him believe I could be sincere in it. The papers by the last post not rendering it necessary to change anything in the letter I enclose it open for your perusal, not only that you may possess the actual state of dispositions between us, but that if anything should render the delivery of it ineligible in your opinion, you may return it to me. If mr. Adams can be induced to administer the government on it’s true principles, & to relinquish his bias to an English constitution, it is to be considered whether it would not be on the whole for the public good to come to a good understanding with him as to his future elections. He is perhaps the only sure barrier against Hamilton’s getting in.
Since my last I have received a packet of books & pamphlets, the choiceness of which testifies that they come from you. The incidents of Hamilton’s insurrection is a curious work indeed. The hero of it exhibits himself in all the attitudes of a dexterous balance master.
The Political progress is a work of value & of a singular complexion. The eye of the author seems to be a natural achromatic, which divests every object of the glare of colour. The preceding work under the same title had the same merit. One is disgusted indeed with the ulcerated state which it presents of the human mind: but to cure an ulcer we must go to its bottom: & no writer has ever done this more radically than this one. The reflections into which he leads one are not flattering to our species. In truth I do not recollect in all the animal kingdom a single species but man which is eternally & systematically engaged in the destruction of its own species. What is called civilization seems to have no other effect on him than to teach him to pursue the principle of bellum omnium in omnia on a larger scale, & in place of the little contests of tribe against tribe, to engage all the quarters of the earth in the same work of destruction. When we add to this that as to the other species of animals, the lions & tigers are mere lambs compared with man as a destroyer, we must conclude that it is in man alone that nature has been able to find a sufficient barrier against the too great multiplication of other animals & of man himself, an equilibrating power against the fecundity of generation. My situation points my views chiefly to his wars in the physical world: yours perhaps exhibit him as equally warring in the moral one. We both, I believe, join in wishing to see him softened. Adieu.1
TO ARCHIBALD STUART1
Monticello, Jan 4, 1797.
In answer to your favor of Dec. 31. & to the question whether adviseable to address the President on the subject of war against France, I shall speak explicitly, because I know I may do it safely to you. Such is the popularity of the President that the people will support him in whatever he will do or will not do, without appealing to their own reason or to anything but their feelings toward him. His mind has been so long used to unlimited applause that it could not brook contradiction, or even advice offered unasked. To advise, when asked, he is very open. I have long thought therefore it was best for the republican interest to soothe him by flattering where they could approve his measures, & to be silent where they disapprove, that they may not render him desperate as to their affections, & entirely indifferent to their wishes, in short to lie on their oars while he remains at the helm, and let the bark drift as his will and a superintending providence shall direct. By his answer to the House of Representatives on the subject of the French war, & also by private information, it seems he is earnest that the war should be avoided, & to have the credit of leaving us in full peace. I think then it is best to leave him to his own movements, & not to risk the ruffling them by what he might deem an improper interference with the constituted authorities. The rather too because we do not hear of any movement in any other quarter concurrent with what you suggest, & because it would scarcely reach him before his departure from office. As to the President elect, there is reason to believe that he (Mr. Adams I mean) is detached from Hamilton, & there is a possibility he may swerve from his politics in a greater or less degree. Should the British faction attempt to urge him to the war by addresses of support with life & fortune, as may happen, it would then be adviseable to counteract their endeavors by dissuasive addresses. At this moment therefore, at our distance from the scene of information & influence, I should think it most adviseable to be silent till we see what turn the new administration will take. At the same time I mix so little with the world, that my opinion merits less attention than anybody’s else, and ought not to be weighed against your own good judgment. If therefore I have given it freely, it is because you have desired it, & not because I think it worth your notice.
My information from Philadelphia confirms the opinion I gave you as to the event of the election. Mr. Adams will have a majority of three votes with respect to myself, & whether Mr. Pinckney will have a few more or less than him seems uncertain. The votes of N. H. R. I. and Vermont had not come in, nor those of Georgia & the two Western states. You shall receive a gong by the first conveyance. It is but fair reciprocity to give me an opportunity of gratifying you sometimes, and to prove by accepting this, that my repeated intrusions on you have not been too troublesome. It is a great satisfaction to know that the object will be acceptable to you. With every wish for your happiness I am Dear Sir your affectionate friend & servt.
TO JAMES MADISONMAD. MSS.
Jan. 8 97.
Yours of Dec. 25 is safely received. I much fear the issue of the present dispositions of France & Spain. Whether it be in war or in the suppression of our commerce it will be very distressing and our commerce seems to be already sufficiently distressed through the wrongs of the belligerent nations and our own follies. It was impossible the bank and paper-mania should not produce great & extensive ruin. The President is fortunate to get off just as the bubble is bursting, leaving others to hold the bag. Yet, as his departure will mark the moment when the difficulties begin to work, you will see, that they will be ascribed to the new administration, and that he will have his usual good fortune of reaping credit from the good acts of others, and leaving to them that of his errors.—We apprehend our wheat is almost entirely killed: and many people are expecting to put something else in the ground. I have so little expectations from mine, that as much as I am an enemy to tobacco, I shall endeavor to make some for taxes and clothes. In the morning of the 23d of Dec. my thermometer was 5° below 0, & the 24th it was at 0. The last day of Dec. we had a snow 1½ I. deep & the 4th of this month one of 3. I. deep which is still on the ground. Adieu affectionately.
TO JAMES MADISONMAD. MSS.
Monticello Jan. 16. 97.
The usual accidents of the winter, ice, floods, rains, have prevented the Orange post from coming to Charlottesville the last post-day, so that we have nothing from Philadelphia the last week. I see however by the Richmond papers a probability that the choice of V. P. has fallen on me. I have written the enclosed letter therefore to Mr. Tazewell as a private friend, & have left it open for your perusal. It will explain its own object & I pray you & Mr. Tazewell to decide in your own discretion how it may best be used for its object, so as to avoid the imputation of an indecent forwardness in me.
I observe doubts are still expressed as to the validity of the Vermont election. Surely in so great a case, substance & not form should prevail. I cannot suppose that the Vermont constitution has been strict in requiring particular forms of expressing the legislative will. As far as my disclaimer may have any effect, I pray you to declare it on every occasion foreseen or not foreseen by me, in favor of the choice of the people substantially expressed, & to prevent the phænomenon of a Pseudo-president at so early a day. Adieu. Yours affectionately.
TO HENRY TAZEWELLJ. MSS.
Monticello, Jan 16, 1797.
As far as the public papers are to be credited, I may suppose that the choice of Vicepresident has fallen on me. On this hypothesis I trouble you, and only pray, if it be wrong, that you will consider this letter as not written. I believe it belongs to the Senate to notify the V P of his election. I recollect to have heard, that on the first election of President & Vice President, gentlemen of considerable office were sent to notify the parties chosen. But this was the inauguration of our new government, & ought not to be drawn into example. At the 2d election, both gentlemen were on the spot and needed no messengers. On the present occasion, the President will be on the spot, so that what is now to be done respects myself alone; and considering that the season of notification will always present one difficulty, that the distance in the present case adds a second, not inconsiderable, and may in future happen to be sometimes much more considerable, I hope the Senate will adopt that method of notification, which will always be least troublesome and most certain. The channel of the post is certainly the least troublesome, is the most rapid, &, considering also that it may be sent by duplicates & triplicates, is unquestionably the most certain. Inclosed to the postmaster at Charlottesville, with an order to send it by express, no hazard can endanger the notification. Apprehending, that should there be a difference of opinion on this subject in the Senate, my ideas of self-respect might be supposed by some to require something more formal & inconvenient, I beg leave to avail myself of your friendship to declare, if a different proposition should make it necessary, that I consider the channel of the post-office as the most eligible in every respect, & that it is to me the most desirable; which I take the liberty of expressing, not with a view of encroaching on the respect due to that discretion which the Senate have a right to exercise on the occasion, but to render them the more free in the exercise of it, by taking off whatsoever weight the supposition of a contrary desire in me might have in the mind of any member.
TO JAMES MADISONMAD. MSS.
Jan. 22, 97.
Yours of the 8th came to hand yesterday. I was not aware of any necessity of going on to Philadelphia immediately, yet I had determined to do it, as a mark of respect to the public, and to do away the doubts which have spread, that I should consider the second office as beneath my acceptance. The journey, indeed, for the month of February, is a tremendous undertaking for me, who have not been seven miles from home since my re-settlement. I will see you about the rising of Congress; and presume I need not stay there a week. Your letters written before the 7th of Feb will still find me here. My letters inform me that mr. A speaks of me with great friendship, and with satisfaction in the prospect of administering the government in concurrence with me.1 I am glad of the first information, because tho I saw that our antient friendship was affected by a little leaven, produced partly by his constitution, partly by the contrivance of others, yet I never felt a diminution of confidence in his integrity, and retained a solid affection for him. His principles of government I knew to be changed, but conscientiously changed. As to my participating in the administration, if by that he meant the executive cabinet, both duty & inclination will shut that door to me. I cannot have a wish to see the scenes of 93. revived as to myself, & to descend daily into the arena like a gladiator, to suffer martyrdom in every conflict. As to duty, the constitution will know me only as the member of a legislative body; and it’s principle is, that of a separation of legislative, executive & judiciary functions, except in cases specified. If this principle be not expressed in direct terms, yet it is clearly the spirit of the constitution, & it ought to be so commented & acted on by every friend of free government.
I sincerely deplore the situation of our affairs with France. War with them, and consequence alliance with Great Britain, will completely compass the object of the Executive council, from the commencement of the war between France & England; taken up by some of them from that moment, by others more latterly. I still, however, hope it will be avoided. I do not believe mr. A wishes war with France; nor do I believe he will truckle to England as servilely as has been done. If he assumes this front at once, and shews that he means to attend to self-respect & national dignity with both the nations, perhaps the depredations of both on our commerce may be amicably arrested. I think we should begin first with those who first begin with us, and, by an example on them, acquire a right to re-demand the respect from which the other party has departed.—I suppose you are informed of the proceeding commenced by the legislature of Maryland, to claim the South branch of the Potomac as their boundary, and thus of Albemarle, now the central county of the state, to make a frontier. As it is impossible, upon any consistent principles, & after such a length of undisturbed possession, that they can expect to establish their claim, it can be ascribed to no other than an intention to irritate & divide; and there can be no doubt from what bow the shaft is shot. However, let us cultivate Pennsylvania, & we need not fear the universe. The Assembly have named me among those who are to manage this controversy. But I am so averse to motion & contest, and the other members are so fully equal to the business, that I cannot undertake to act in it. I wish you were added to them. Indeed, I wish & hope you may consent to be added to our Assembly itself. There is no post where you can render greater services, without going out of your State. Let but this block stand firm on it’s basis, & Pennsylvania do the same, our Union will be perpetual, & our General Government kept within the bounds & form of the constitution. Adieu affectionately.
TO GEORGE WYTHEJ. MSS.
Monticello, Jan. 22. 97.
It seems probable that I will be called on to preside in a legislative chamber. It is now so long since I have acted in the legislative line, that I am entirely rusty in the Parliamentary rules of procedure. I know they have been more studied and are better known by you than by any man in America, perhaps by any man living. I am in hopes that while inquiring into the subject you made notes on it. If any such remain in your hands, however informal, in books or in scraps of paper, and you will be so good as to trust me with them for a little while, they shall be most faithfully returned. If they lie in small compass they might come by post, without regard to expense. If voluminous, mr. Randolph will be passing through Richmond on his way from Varina to this place about the 10th of Feb, and could give them a safe conveyance. Did the Assembly do anything for the preservation by publication of the laws? With great affection, adieu.
TO JOHN LANGDONJ. MSS.
Monticello, Jan. 22, 1797.
Your friendly letter of the 2d inst, never came to hand till yesterday, & I feel myself indebted for the solicitude you therein express for my undertaking the office to which you inform me I am called. I know not from what source an idea has spread itself, which I have found to be generally spread, that I would accept the office of President of the U S, but not of Vice President. When I retired from the office I last held, no man in the Union less expected than I did, ever to have come forward again; and, whatever has been insinuated to the contrary, to no man in the Union was the share which my name bore in the late contest, more unexpected than it was to me. If I had contemplated the thing beforehand, & suffered my will to enter into action at all on it, it would have been in a direction exactly the reverse of what has been imputed to me; but I had no right to a will on the subject, much less to controul that of the people of the U S in arranging us according to our capacities. Least of all could I have any feelings which would revolt at taking a station secondary to mr. Adams. I have been secondary to him in every situation in which we ever acted together in public life for twenty years past. A contrary position would have been the novelty, & his the right of revolting at it. Be assured then, my dear Sir, that if I had had a fibre in my composition still looking after public office, it would have been gratified precisely by the very call you are pleased to announce to me, and no other. But in truth I wish for neither honors nor offices. I am happier at home than I can be elsewhere. Since, however, I am called out, an object of great anxiety to me is that those with whom I am to act, shutting their minds to the unfounded abuse of which I have been the subject, will view me with the same candor with which I shall certainly act. An acquaintance of many long years ensures to me your just support, as it does to you the sentiments of sincere respect and attachment with which I am, dear Sir, your friend and servant.
TO DOCTOR JOHN EDWARDSJ. MSS.
Monticello, Jan. 22, 97.
I was yesterday gratified with the receipt of your favor of December 15th, which gave me the first information of your return from Europe. On the 28th of Oct I received a letter of July 30. from Colo Monroe, but did not know through what channel it came. I should be glad to see the Defence of his conduct which you possess, tho no paper of that title is necessary for me. He was appointed to an office during pleasure merely to get him out of the Senate, & with an intention to seize the first pretext for exercising the pleasure of recalling him. As I shall be at Philadelphia the first week in March, perhaps I may have an opportunity of seeing the paper there in mr. Madison’s hands. I think with you it will be best to publish nothing concerning Colo Monroe till his return, that he may accommodate the complexion of his publication to times & circumstances. When you left America you had not a good opinion of the train of our affairs. I dare say you do not find that they have got into better train. It will never be easy to convince me that by a firm yet just conduct in 1793, we might not have obtained such a respect for our neutral rights from Great Britain, as that her violations of them & use of our means to wage her wars, would not have furnished any pretence to the other party to do the same. War with both would have been avoided, commerce & navigation protected & enlarged. We shall now either be forced into a war, or have our commerce & navigation at least totally annihilated, and the produce of our farms for some years left to rot on our hands. A little time will unfold these things, and shew which class of opinions would have been most friendly to the firmness of our government, & to the interests to those for whom it was made. I am, with great respect, dear Sir, your most obedient servant.
TO DOCTOR BENJAMIN RUSHJ. MSS.
Monticello, Jan 22, 97.
I received yesterday your kind favor of the 4th instant, and the eulogium it covered on the subject of our late invaluable friend Rittenhouse, & I perused it with the avidity & approbation which the matter & manner of everything from your pen has long taught me to feel. I thank you too for your congratulations on the public call on me to undertake the 2d office in the U S, but still more for the justice you do me in viewing as I do the escape from the first. I have no wish to meddle again in public affairs, being happier at home than I can be anywhere else. Still less do I wish to engage in an office where it would be impossible to satisfy either friends or foes, and least of all at a moment when the storm is about to burst, which has been conjuring up for four years past. If I am to act however, a more tranquil & unoffending station could not have been found for me, nor one so analogous to the dispositions of my mind. It will give me philosophical evenings in the winter, & rural days in summer. I am indebted to the Philosophical society [for] a communication of some bones of an animal of the lion kind, but of most exaggerated size. What are we to think of a creature whose claws were 8 Inches long, when those of the lion are not 1 1-2 I; whose thigh-bone was 6 1-4 I. diameter; when that of the lion is not 1 1-2 I? Were not these things within the jurisdiction of the rule & compass, and of ocular inspection, credit to them could not be obtained. I have been disappointed in getting the femur as yet, but shall bring on the bones I have, if I can, for the Society, & have the pleasure of seeing you for a few days in the first week of March. I wish the usual delays of the publications of the society may admit the addition to our new volume, of this interesting article, which it would be best to have first announced under the sanction of their authority. I am, with sincere esteem, dear Sir, your friend and servant.
TO JAMES MADISONMAD. MSS.
Jan. 30, 97.
Yours of the 15th came to hand yesterday. I am very thankful for the discretion you have exercised over the letter. That has happened to be the case, which I knew to be possible, that the honest expression of my feelings towards mr. A might be rendered mal-apropos from circumstances existing, & known at the seat of government, but not seen by me in my retired situation. Mr. A & myself were cordial friends from the beginning of the revolution. Since our return from Europe, some little incidents have happened, which were capable of affecting a jealous mind like his. The deviation from that line of politics on which we have been united, has not made me less sensible of the rectitude of his heart; and I wished him to know this, & also another truth, that I am sincerely pleased at having escaped the late draught for the helm, and have not a wish which he stands in the way of. That he should be convinced of these truths, is important to our mutual satisfaction, & perhaps to the harmony & good of the public service. But there was a difficulty in conveying them to him, & a possibility that the attempt might do mischief there or somewhere else; & I would not have hazarded the attempt, if you had not been in place to decide upon it’s expediency. It is now become unnecessary to repeat it by a letter. I have had occasion to write to Langdon, in answer to one from him, in which I have said exactly the things which will be grateful to mr. A. & no more. This I imagine will be shewn to him. * * *
I have turned to the constitution & laws, and find nothing to warrant the opinion that I might not have been qualified here, or wherever else I could meet with a Senator; every member of that body being authorized to administer the oath, without being confined to time or place, & consequently to make a record of it, and to deposit it with the records of the Senate. However, I shall come on, on the principle which had first determined me,—respect to the public. I hope I shall be made a part of no ceremony whatever. I shall escape into the city as covertly as possible. If Gov Mifflin should show any symptoms of ceremony, pray contrive to parry them. We have now fine mild weather here. The thermometer is above the point which renders fires necessary. Adieu affectionately.
TO JAMES SULLIVAN
Monticello, Feb 9, 1797.
I have many acknolegements to make for the friendly anxiety you are pleased to express in your letter of Jan. 12, for my undertaking the office to which I have been elected. The idea that I would accept the office of President, but not that of Vice President of the U S, had not its origin with me. I never thought of questioning the free exercise of the right of my fellow citizens, to marshal those whom they call into their service according to their fitness, nor ever presumed that they were not the best judges of these. Had I indulged a wish in what manner they should dispose of me, it would precisely have coincided with what they have done. Neither the splendor, nor the power, nor the difficulties, nor the fame or defamation, as may happen, attached to the first magistracy, have any attractions for me. The helm of a free government is always arduous, & never was ours more so, than at a moment when two friendly people are like to be committed in war by the ill temper of their administrations. I am so much attached to my domestic situation, that I would not have wished to leave it at all. However, if I am to be called from it, the shortest absences & most tranquil station suit me best. I value highly, indeed, the part my fellow citizens gave me in their late vote, as an evidence of their esteem, & I am happy in the information you are so kind as to give, that many in the Eastern quarter entertain the same sentiment.
Where a constitution, like ours, wears a mixed aspect of monarchy & republicanism, its citizens will naturally divide into two classes of sentiment, according as their tone of body or mind, their habits, connections & callings, induce them to wish to strengthen either the monarchial or the republican features of the constitution. Some will consider it as an elective monarchy, which had better be made hereditary, & therefore endeavor to lead towards that all the forms and principles of its administration. Others will view it as an energetic republic, turning in all its points on the pivot of free and frequent elections. The great body of our native citizens are unquestionably of the republican sentiment. Foreign education, & foreign connections of interest, have produced some exceptions in every part of the Union, North and South, & perhaps other circumstances in your quarter, better known to you, may have thrown into the scale of exceptions a greater number of the rich. Still there, I believe, and here, I am sure, the great mass is republican. Nor do any of the forms in which the public disposition has been pronounced in the last half dozen years, evince the contrary. All of them, when traced to their true source, have only been evidences of the preponderent popularity of a particularly great character. That influence once withdrawn, & our countrymen left to the operation of their own unbiassed good sense, I have no doubt we shall see a pretty rapid return of general harmony, & our citizens moving in phalanx in the paths of regular liberty, order, and a sacrosanct adherence to the constitution. Thus I think it will be, if war with France can be avoided. But if that untoward event comes athwart us in our present point of deviation, nobody, I believe, can foresee into what port it will drive us.
I am always glad of an opportunity of inquiring after my most antient & respected friend mr. Samuel Adams. His principles, founded on the immovable basis of equal right & reason, have continued pure & unchanged. Permit me to place here my sincere veneration for him, & wishes for his health & happiness; & to assure yourself of the sentiments of esteem & respect with which I am, Dear Sir, your most obedient & most humble servant.
TO ELBRIDGE GERRYJ. MSS.
Philadelphia, May 13, 97.
My Dear Friend,—
Your favor of the 4th instt came to hand yesterday. That of the 4th of Apr, with the one for Monroe, has never been received. The first, of Mar 27, did not reach me till Apr 21, when I was within a few days of setting out for this place, & I put off acknoleging it till I should come here. I entirely commend your dispositions towards mr. Adams; knowing his worth as intimately and esteeming it as much as any one, and acknoleging the preference of his claims, if any I could have had, to the high office conferred on him. But in truth, I had neither claims nor wishes on the subject, tho I know it will be difficult to obtain belief of this. When I retired from this place & the office of Secy of state, it was in the firmest contemplation of never more returning here. There had indeed been suggestions in the public papers, that I was looking towards a succession to the President’s chair, but feeling a consciousness of their falsehood, and observing that the suggestions came from hostile quarters, I considered them as intended merely to excite public odium against me. I never in my life exchanged a word with any person, on the subject, till I found my name brought forward generally, in competition with that of mr. Adams. Those with whom I then communicated, could say, if it were necessary, whether I met the call with desire, or even with a ready acquiescence, and whether from the moment of my first acquiescence, I did not devoutly pray that the very thing might happen which has happened. The second office of this government is honorable & easy, the first is but a splendid misery.
You express apprehensions that stratagems will be used, to produce a misunderstanding between the President and myself. Tho not a word having this tendency has ever been hazarded to me by any one, yet I consider as a certainty that nothing will be left untried to alienate him from me. These machinations will proceed from the Hamiltons by whom he is surrounded, and who are only a little less hostile to him than to me. It cannot but damp the pleasure of cordiality, when we suspect that it is suspected. I cannot help fearing, that it is impossible for mr. Adams to believe that the state of my mind is what it really is; that he may think I view him as an obstacle in my way. I have no supernatural power to impress truth on the mind of another, nor he any to discover that the estimate which he may form, on a just view of the human mind as generally constituted, may not be just in its application to a special constitution. This may be a source of private uneasiness to us; I honestly confess that it is so to me at this time. But neither of us are capable of letting it have effect on our public duties. Those who may endeavor to separate us, are probably excited by the fear that I might have influence on the executive councils; but when they shall know that I consider my office as constitutionally confined to legislative functions, and that I could not take any part whatever in executive consultations, even were it proposed, their fears may perhaps subside, & their object be found not worth a machination.
I do sincerely wish with you, that we could take our stand on a ground perfectly neutral & independent towards all nations. It has been my constant object thro public life; and with respect to the English & French, particularly, I have too often expressed to the former my wishes, & made to them propositions verbally & in writing, officially & privately, to official & private characters, for them to doubt of my views, if they would be content with equality. Of this they are in possession of several written & formal proofs, in my own hand writing. But they have wished a monopoly of commerce & influence with us; and they have in fact obtained it. When we take notice that theirs is the workshop to which we go for all we want; that with them centre either immediately or ultimately all the labors of our hands and lands; that to them belongs either openly or secretly the great mass of our navigation; that even the factorage of their affairs here, is kept to themselves by factitious citizenships; that these foreign & false citizens now constitute the great body of what are called our merchants, fill our sea ports, are planted in every little town & district of the interior country, sway everything in the former places by their own votes, & those of their dependants, in the latter, by their insinuations & the influence of their ledgers; that they are advancing fast to a monopoly of our banks & public funds, and thereby placing our public finances under their control; that they have in their alliance the most influential characters in & out of office; when they have shewn that by all these bearings on the different branches of the government, they can force it to proceed in whatever direction they dictate, and bend the interests of this country entirely to the will of another; when all this, I say, is attended to, it is impossible for us to say we stand on independent ground, impossible for a free mind not to see & to groan under the bondage in which it is bound. If anything after this could excite surprise, it would be that they have been able so far to throw dust in the eyes of our own citizens, as to fix on those who wish merely to recover self-government the charge of subserving one foreign influence, because they resist submission to another. But they possess our printing presses, a powerful engine in their government of us. At this very moment, they would have drawn us into a war on the side of England, had it not been for the failure of her bank. Such was their open & loud cry, & that of their gazettes till this event. After plunging us in all the broils of the European nations, there would remain but one act to close our tragedy, that is, to break up our Union; and even this they have ventured seriously & solemnly to propose & maintain by arguments in a Connecticut paper. I have been happy, however, in believing, from the stifling of this effort, that that dose was found too strong, & excited as much repugnance there as it did horror in other parts of our country, & that whatever follies we may be led into as to foreign nations, we shall never give up our Union, the last anchor of our hope, & that alone which is to prevent this heavenly country from becoming an arena of gladiators. Much as I abhor war, and view it as the greatest scourge of mankind, and anxiously as I wish to keep out of the broils of Europe, I would yet go with my brethren into these, rather than separate from them. But I hope we may still keep clear of them, notwithstanding our present thraldom, & that time may be given us to reflect on the awful crisis we have passed through, and to find some means of shielding ourselves in future from foreign influence, political, commercial, or in whatever other form it may be attempted. I can scarcely withhold myself from joining in the wish of Silas Deane, that there were an ocean of fire between us & the old world.1
A perfect confidence that you are as much attached to peace & union as myself, that you equally prize independence of all nations, and the blessings of self-government, has induced me freely to unbosom myself to you, and let you see the light in which I have viewed what has been passing among us from the beginning of the war. And I shall be happy, at all times, in an intercommunication of sentiments with you, believing that the dispositions of the different parts of our country have been considerably misrepresented & misunderstood in each part, as to the other, and that nothing but good can result from an exchange of information & opinions between those whose circumstances & morals admit no doubt of the integrity of their views.
I remain, with constant and sincere esteem, Dear Sir, your affectionate friend and servant.
TO JAMES MADISONMAD. MSS.
Philadelphia, May 18. 97.
I was informed on my arrival here that Govr Pinckney’s dispatches had on their first receipt excited in the administration a great deal of passion, that councils were held from day to day, and their ill temper fixed at length in war; that under this impression Congress was called: that the tone of the party in general became high, and so continued till the news of the failure of the bank of England. This first gave it a check, & a great one & they have been cooling down ever since, the most intemperate only still asking permission to arm the vessels for their own defence, while the more prudent disapprove of putting it in the power of their brethren & leaving to their discretion to begin the war for us. The impression was too that the executive had for some time been repenting that they had called us, & wished the measure undone. All the members from North as well as South concurred in attesting that negociation or any thing rather than war was the wish of their constituents. What was our surprise then at receiving the speech which will come to you by this post. I need make no observation to you on it. I believe there was not a member of either house, out of the secret, who was not much disappointed. However some had been prepared. The spirit of supporting the Executive was immediately given out in the lower house & is working there. The Senate admits of no fermentation. Tracy, Laurence & Livermore were appointed to draw an answer for them, Venable, Freeman, Rutledge, Griswold & NA for the representatives the former will be reported to day, & will be in time to be inclosed: the other not till tomorrow when the post will be gone. We hope this last will be in general terms, but this is not certain, a majority as is believed (of the commitee) being for arming the merchantmen, finishing the frigates, fortifying harbors, & making all other military preparations as an aid to negociation. How the majority of the house will be is very doubtful. If all were here, it is thought it would be decidedly pacific, but all are not here & will not be here. The division on the choice of a clerk was 41. for Condy, 40 for Beckley. Besides the loss of the ablest clerk in the US. & the outrage committed on the absent members, prevented by the suddenness of the call & their distance from being here on the 1st day of the session, it excites a fear that the republican interest has lost by the new changes. It is said that three from Virginia separate from their brethren. The hope however is that as the anti-Republicans take the high ground of war, and their opponents are for everything moderate that the most moderate of those who came under contrary dispositions will join them. Langdon tells me there is a considerable change working in the minds of the people to the Eastward: that the idea that they have been deceived begins to gain ground, and that were the elections to be now made their result would be considerably different. This however is doubted & denied by others. France has asked of Holland to send away our Minister from them & to treat our Commerce on the plan of their late decree. The Batavian government answered after due consideration that their commerce with us was now their chief commerce, that their money was in our funds, that if they broke off correspondence with us they should be without resources for themselves, for their own public & for France, & therefore declined doing it. France acquiesced. I have this from the President who had it from his son still at Hague. I presume that France has made the same application to Spain. For I know that Spain has memorialized our Executive against the effect of the British treaty, as to the articles concerning neutral bottoms, contraband, and the Missisipi, has been pressing for an answer & has not yet been able to obtain one. It does not seem candid to have kept out of sight in the speech this discontent of Spain which is strongly and seriously pronounced & to have thereby left it to be imagined that France is the only power of whom we are in danger.—The failure of the bank of England, & the fear of having a paper tender there, has stopped buying bills of exchange. Specie is raked up from all quarters, & remitted for paiments at a disadvantage from risks &c. of 20. per cent. The bankruptcies here have been immense. I heard a sensible man well acquainted with them conjecture that the aggregate of the clear losses on all these added together in all the states would be not less than 10. millions of Dollars, a heavy tax indeed, to which are to be added the Maritime spoliations, and this tax falling on only a particular description of Citizens.—Bills of lading are arrived to a merchant for goods shipped from Bordeaux for this place in a vessel in which Monroe is coming passenger. We hope hourly therefore to receive him.—Innes is arrived & that board going to work.
May 19. the answer of the Senate is reported by the Commitee. It is perfectly an echo and full as high toned as the speech. Amendments may & will be attempted but cannot be carried.—Note to me the day you receive this that I may know whether I conjecture rightly what is our true post day here.
TO THOMAS PINCKNEYJ. MSS.
Philadelphia, May 29, 1797.
I received from you, before I left England, a letter enclosing one from the Prince of Parma. As I learnt soon after that you were shortly to return to America, I concluded to join my acknolegments of it to my congratulations on your arrival; & both have been delayed by a blameable spirit of procrastination, forever suggesting to our indolence that we need not do to-day what may be done to-morrow. Accept these now in all the sincerity of my heart. It is but lately I have answered the Prince’s letter. It required some time to establish arrangements which might effect his purpose, & I wished also to forward a particular article or two of curiosity. You have found on your return a higher style of political difference than you had left here. I fear this is inseparable from the different constitutions of the human mind, & that degree of freedom which permits unrestrained expression. Political dissension is doubtless a less evil than the lethargy of despotism, but still it is a great evil, and it would be as worthy the efforts of the patriot as of the philosopher, to exclude it’s influence, if possible, from social life. The good are rare enough at best. There is no reason to subdivide them by artificial lines. But whether we shall ever be able so far to perfect the principles of society, as that political opinions shall, in it’s intercourse, be as inoffensive as those of philosophy, mechanics, or any other, may well be doubted. Foreign influence is the present & just object of public hue and cry, &, as often happens, the most guilty are foremost & loudest in the cry. If those who are truly independent, can so trim our vessels as to beat through the waves now agitating us, they will merit a glory the greater as it seems less possible. When I contemplate the spirit which is driving us on here, & that beyond the water which will view us as but a mouthful the more, I have little hope of peace. I anticipate the burning of our sea ports, havoc of our frontiers, household insurgency, with a long train of et ceteras, which is enough for a man to have met once in his life. The exchange, which is to give us new neighbors in Louisiana (probably the present French armies when disbanded) has opened us to combinations of enemies on that side where we are most vulnerable. War is not the best engine for us to resort to, nature has given us one in our commerce, which, if properly managed, will be a better instrument for obliging the interested nations of Europe to treat us with justice. If the commercial regulations had been adopted which our legislature were at one time proposing, we should at this moment have been standing on such an eminence of safety & respect as ages can never recover. But having wandered from that, our object should now be to get back, with as little loss as possible, & when peace shall be restored to the world, endeavor so to form our commercial regulations as that justice from other nations shall be their mechanical result. I am happy to assure you that the conduct of Genl. Pinckney has met universal approbation. It was marked with that coolness, dignity, & good sense which we expected from him. I am told that the French government had taken up an unhappy idea, that Monroe was recalled for the candor of his conduct in what related to the British treaty, & Genl. Pinckney was sent as having other dispositions towards them. I learn further, that some of their well-informed citizens here are setting them right as to Genl. Pinckney’s dispositions, so well known to have been just towards them; & I sincerely hope, not only that he may be employed as envoy extraordinary to them, but that their minds will be better prepared to receive him. I candidly acknolege, however, that I do not think the speech & addresses of Congress as conciliatory as the preceding irritations on both sides would have rendered wise. I shall be happy to hear from you at all times, to make myself useful to you whenever opportunity offers, and to give every proof of the sincerity of the sentiments of esteem & respect with which I am, Dear Sir, your most obedient and most humble servant.
TO HORATIO GATESJ. MSS.
Philadelphia, May 30, 1797.
I thank you for the pamphlet of Erskine enclosed in your favor of the 9th inst, and still more for the evidence which your letter affords me of the health of your mind, and I hope of your body also. Erskine has been reprinted here, & has done good. It has refreshed the memory of those who had been willing to forget how the war between France and England has been produced; and who, apeing St. James’, called it a defensive war on the part of England. I wish any events could induce us to cease to copy such a model, & to assume the dignity of being original. They had their paper system, stockjobbing, speculations, public debt, moneyed interest, &c., and all this was contrived for us. They raised their cry against jacobinism and revolutionists, we against democratic societies & anti-federalists; their alarmists sounded insurrection, ours marched an army to look for one, but they could not find it. I wish the parallel may stop here, and that we may avoid, instead of imitating, a general bankruptcy and disastrous war.
Congress, or rather the representatives, have been a fortnight debating a more or less irritating answer to the President’s speech. The latter was lost yesterday, by 48. against 51. or 52. It is believed, however, that when they come to propose measures leading directly to war, they will lose some of their numbers. Those who have no wish but for the peace of their country, & its independence of all foreign influence, have a hard struggle indeed, overwhelmed by a cry as loud & imposing as if it were true, of being under French influence, & this raised by a faction composed of English subjects residing among us, or such as are English in all their relations & sentiments. However, patience will bring all to rights, and we shall both live to see the mask taken from their faces, and our citizens sensible on which side true liberty & independence are sought. Should any circumstance draw me further from home, I shall with great cordiality pay my respects to you at Rose Hill, & am not without hope of meeting you here some time.
Here, there, & everywhere else, I am with great & sincere attachment & respect, your friend and servant.
TO JAMES MADISONJ. MSS.
Philadelphia, June 1, [1797.]
I wrote you on the 18th of May. The address of the Senate was soon after that. The first draught was responsive to the speech, & higher toned. Mr. Henry arrived the day it was reported; the addressers had not yet their strength around them. They listened therefore to his objections, recommitted the papers, added him and Tazewell to the committee, and it was reported with considerable alterations; but one great attack was made on it, which was to strike out the clause approving everything heretofore done by the Executive. This clause was retained by a majority of four. They received a new accession of members, held a caucus, took up all the points recommended in the speech, except the raising money, agreed the lists of every committee, and on Monday passed the resolutions & appointed the committees, by an uniform vote of 17 to 11. (Mr. Henry was accidentally absent; Ross not then come.) Yesterday they put up the nomination of J. Q. Adams to Berlin, which had been objected to as extending our diplomatic establishment. It was approved by 18 to 14. (Mr. Tatnall accidentally absent.) From the proceedings we were able to see, that 18 on the one side & 10 on the other, with two wavering votes, will decide every question. Schuyler is too ill to come this session, & Gunn has not yet come. Pinckney (the Genl), John Marshall & Dana are nominated envoys extraordinary to France. Charles Lee consulted a member from Virginia to know whether Marshall would be agreeable. He named you, as more likely to give satisfaction. The answer was, “Nobody of mr. Madison’s way of thinking will be appointed.”
The representatives have not yet got through their address. An amendment of mr. Nicholas’, which you will have seen in the papers, was lost by a division of 46 to 52. A clause by mr. Dayton, expressing a wish that France might be put on an equal footing with other nations, was inserted by 52. against 47. This vote is most worthy of notice, because the moderation & justice of the proposition being unquestionable, it shews that there are 47. decided to go all lengths to [illegible] They have received a new orator from the district of mr. Ames. He is the son of the Secretary of the Senate. They have an accession from S C also, that State being exactly divided. In the H of Repr. I learned the following facts, which give me real concern. When the British treaty arrived at Charleston, a meeting, as you know, was called, and a committee of seventeen appointed, of whom General Pinckney was one. He did not attend. They waited for him, sent for him; he treated the mission with great hauteur, and disapproved of their meddling. In the course of the subsequent altercations, he declared that his brother, T. Pinckney, approved of every article in the treaty, under the existing circumstances, and since that time, the politics of Charleston have been assuming a different hue. Young Rutledge joining Smith and Harper, is an ominous fact as to that whole interest.
Tobacco is at 9. dollars, and flour very dull of sale. A great stagnation in commerce generally. During the present bankruptcy in England, the merchants seem disposed to lie on their oars. It is impossible to conjecture the rising of Congress, as it will depend on the system they decide on; whether of preparation for war, or inaction. In the vote of 46. to 52. Morgan, Macher & Evans were of the majority, and Clay kept his seat, refusing to vote with either. In that of 47 to 52, Evans was the only one of our delegation who voted against putting France on an equal footing with other nations.
P. M. So far, I had written in the morning. I now take up my pen to add, that the addresses having been reported to the House, it was moved to disagree to so much of the amendment as went to the putting France on an equal footing with other nations, & Morgan and Macher turning tail, (in consequence, as is said, of having been closeted last night by Charles Lee,) the vote was 49. to 50. So the principle was saved by a single vote. They then proposed that compensations for spoliations shall be a sine qua non, and this will be decided on tomorrow. Yours affectionately.
TO PEREGRINE FITZHUGHJ. MSS.
Philadelphia, June 4, 1797.
I am favoured with yours of May 19, & thank you for your intentions as to the corn & the large white clover which if forwarded to mr. Archibald Stuart at Staunton will find daily means of conveyance from thence to me. That indeed is the nearest post road between you & myself by 60. or 70. miles, the one by Georgetown being very circuitous.
The representatives have at length got through their address. As you doubtless receive the newspapers regularly from hence you will have seen in them the address, & all the amendments made or proposed (while mentioning newspapers it is doing a good office to as distant places as yours & mine to observe that Bache has begun to publish his Aurora for his country customers on 3. sheets a week instead of six. You observe that the 1st & 4th pages are only of advertisement. The 2d & 3d contain all the essays & laws. He prints therefore his 2d & 3d. pages of Monday’s & Tuesday’s papers on opposite sides of the same sheet, omitting the 1st & 4th, so that we have the news pages of 2. papers on one. This costs but 5. instead of 8. dollars & saves half the postage. Smith begins in July to publish a weekly paper without advertisements which will probably be a good one. Cary’s paper is an excellent one & Bradford’s compiled by Lloyd perhaps the best in the city; but both of these are daily papers. Thinking this episode on newspapers might not be unacceptable in a position as distant as yours, I return to Congress & to politics.) You will perceive by the votes that the Republican majority of the last congress has been much affected by the changes of the late election. Still however if all were here the majority would be on the same side, though a small one. They will now proceed to consider what is to be done. It is not easy nor safe to prophecy, but I think the expectation is that they will not permit the merchant vessels to arm, that they will leave the militia as it stands for the present season, vote further sums for going on with the fortifications & frigates & prefer borrowing the money of the bank to the taking up the subject of taxation generally at this inconvenient season. In fact I consider the calling of Congress so out of season an experiment of the new administration to see how far & on what lines they could count on its support. Nothing new had intervened between the late separation & the summons, for Pinckney’s non-reception was then known. It is possible from the complexion of the President’s speech that he was disposed or perhaps advised to proceed on a line which would endanger the peace of our country: & though the address is nearly responsive yet it would be too bold to proceed on so small a majority. The first unfavorable event, & even the necessary taxes, would restore preponderance to the side of peace. The nomination of the envoys for France does not prove a thorough conversion to the pacific system. Our greatest security perhaps is in the impossibility of either borrowing or raising the money which would be necessary. I am suggesting an idea on the subject of taxation which might perhaps facilitate much that business & reconcile all parties. That is to say, to lay a land tax leviable in 1798 &c. But if by the last day of 1798 any state bring it’s whole quota into the federal Treasury, the tax shall be suspended one year for that state. If by the end of the next year they bring another year’s tax, it shall be suspended a 2d year as to them & so toties quoties forever. If they fail, the federal collectors will go on of course to make their collection. In this way those who prefer excises may raise their quota by excises, & those who prefer land taxes may raise by land taxes, either on the federal plan, or on any other of their own which they like better. This would tend, I think, to make the general government popular & to render the state legislatures useful allies & associates instead of NA rivals, & to mollify the harsh tone of government which has been asserted. I find the idea pleasing to most of those to whom I have suggested it. It will be objected to by those who are for a consolidation. You mention the retirement of mr. Ames. You will observe that he has sent us a successor Mr. H. G. Otis as rhetorical as himself. You have perhaps seen an attack made by a Mr. Luther Martin on the facts stated in the Notes on Virginia relative to Logan, his speech, the fate of his family & the share Col. Cresap had in their extermination. I do not desire to enter the field in the newspapers with Mr. Martin, but if any injury has been done Col. Cresap in the statement I have given it shall certainly be corrected whenever another edition of that work shall be published. I have given it as I have received it. I think you told me Cresap had lived in your neighbourhood hence I have imagined you could in the ordinary course of conversations in the societies there find the real truth of the whole transaction & the genuine character and conduct of Cresap. If you will be so good as to keep this subject in your mind, to avail yourself of the opportunities of enquiry & evidence which may occur, & communicate the result to me you will singularly oblige me. The proceedings in the federal court of Virginia to overawe the communications between the people & their representatives excite great indignation. Probably a great fermentation will be produced by it in that state. Indeed it is the common cause of the confederacy as it is one of their courts which has taken the step. The charges of the federal judges have for a considerable time been inviting the grand juries to become inquisitors on the freedom of speech, of writing & of principle of their fellow-citizens. Perhaps the grand juries in the other states as well as in that of Virginia may think it incumbent in their next presentment to enter protestations against this perversion of their institution from a legal to a political engine, & even to present those concerned in it. The hostile use which is made of whatever can be laid hold of of mine, obliges me to caution the friends to whom I write, never to let my letters go out of their own hands lest they should get into the newspapers. I pray you to present my most friendly respects to your father, & wishes for the continuance of his health & good faculties, to accept yourself assurances of the esteem with which I am dear sir your most obedt & most humble servt.
TO FRENCH STROTHERJ. MSS.
Philadelphia, June 8, 1797.
In compliance with the desire you expressed in the few short moments I had the pleasure of being with you at Fredericksburg, I shall give you some account of what is passing here. The President’s speech you will have seen; and how far its aspect was turned towards war. Our opinion here is that the Executive had that in contemplation, and were not without expectation that the legislature might catch the flame. A powerful part of that has shown a disposition to go all lengths with the Executive; and they have been able to persuade some of more moderate principles to go so far with them as to join them in a very sturdy address. They have voted the compleating & manning the three frigates, & going on with the fortifications. The Senate have gone much further, they have brought in bills for buying more armed vessels, sending them & the frigates out as convoys to our trade, raising more cavalry, more artillerists, and providing a great army, to come into actual service only, if necessary. They have not decided whether they will permit the merchants to arm. The hope & belief is that the Representatives will concur in none of these measures, though their divisions hitherto have been so equal as to leave us under doubt & apprehension. The usual majorities have been from 1. to 6. votes, & these sometimes one way, sometimes the other. Three of the Virginia members dividing from their colleagues occasion the whole difficulty. If they decline these measures, we shall rise about the 17th inst. It appears that the dispositions of the French government towards us wear a very angry cast indeed, and this before Pickering’s letter to Pinckney was known to them. We do not know what effect that may produce. We expect Paine every day in a vessel from Havre, & Colo Monroe in one from Bordeaux. Tobacco keeps up to a high price & will still rise; flour is dull at 7½ Dollars. I am, with great esteem, dear Sir, your friend and servant.
TO JAMES MADISON1J. MSS.
Philad. June 8, 97.
Amdmt of address puttg France on equal footing clogged with demand for spoliation, which tho’ right in principle, may enable Exve to make it sine qua non, to indulge their own disposns to rupture.
Repr. have voted complete & man frigates, go on with fortfycns. Will prob pass bill from Senate prohibg exportn arms & ammunition & preventg our citizens from engaging in armed vessels.
Bills for cavalry—artillery—9 vessels—provnal army. Will pass Senate by 18 to 12.
Permittg merchts to arm negativd. in commee Senate 3 to 2. Bingham’s informa that merchts did not wish it. Some of the Senate for it.
Smith & Harper proposed permit merchts to arm yesterday.
Buonaparte’s late victory & panic of Brit govmt produced sensible effect here. Before that the party partly from inclinn partly devotn to Exve. willing to meet hostilities from France. Now will not force that nail but doing so much of most innocent things as may veil the folly or boldness of convening Congress, leave more offensive measures to issue of negocn or their own next meeting.
Difficult to say if Republicans have majority. Votes carrd both ways by from 1. to 6. Our 3 renegadoes make the difference. Clay firm. Never separated but on the vote mentd in former lre.
Paine expected.—Nothing of Monroe.
P. M. Represent. have decided 46 to 34. yt W. India trade shall not arm. Hence augur well of other resolns. Senate have voted on 2d. reading the 9. vessels. Cost 60 M. D. each these bills originating in Senate & going under their sanction to H. Repr in so vibratory a state, have mischievous effect. Expect to rise Saturday 17th. I shall probably be with you 26th or 27th.
TO JOHN MOODYJ. MSS.
Philadelphia, June 13. 97.
I might sooner have acknoleged the receipt of your favor of May 15. but I could not sooner have done it with anything satisfactory on the subject it concerned. The first opening of the session of Congress was rather inauspicious to those who consider war as among the greatest calamities to our country. Private conversation, public discussion, & thorough calculation, aided by the events of Europe, have nearly brought everyone to the same sentiment, not only to wish for a continuance of peace, but to let no false sense of honor lead us to take a threatening attitude, which to a nation prompt in its passions & flushed with victory might produce a blow from them. I rather believe that Congress will think it best to do little or nothing for the present to give fair play to the negotiation proposed, & in the meantime lie on their oars till their next meeting in November. Still however both English & French spoliations continue in a high degree. Perhaps the prospects in Europe may deaden the activity of the former, & call home all their resources, but I see nothing to check the depredations of the French but the natural effect they begin to produce of starving themselves by deterring us from venturing to sea with provisions. This is the best general view I am able to give you of the probable course of things for the summer so far as they may be interesting to commerce. The liberties which the presses take in mutilating whatever they can get hold of, obliges me to request every gentleman to whom I write to take care that nothing from me may be put within their power.
TO JAMES MADISONMAD. MSS.
Philadelphia, June 15, 97.—a.m.
My last was of the 8th inst. I had enclosed you separately a paper giving you an account of Buonaparte’s last great victory. Since that, we receive information that the preliminaries of peace were signed between France & Austria. Mr. Hammond will have arrived at Vienna too late to influence the terms. The victories lately obtained by the French on the Rhine, were as splendid as Buonaparte’s. The mutiny on board the English fleet, tho’ allayed for the present, has impressed that country with terror. King has written letters to his friends recommending a pacific conduct towards France, “notwithstanding the continuance of her injustices.” Volney is convinced France will not make peace with England, because it is such an opportunity for sinking her as she never had & may not have again. Buonaparte’s army would have to march 700. miles to Calais. Therefore, it is imagined the armies of the Rhine will be destined for England. The Senate yesterday rejected on it’s 2d reading their own bill for raising 4. more companies of light dragoons, by a vote of 15 to 13. Their cost would have been about 120,000 D a year. To-day the bill for manning the frigates & buying 9 vessels @ about 60,000 D each, comes to it’s 3d reading. Some flatter us we may throw it out. The trial will be in time to mention the issue herein. The bills for preventing our citizens from engaging in armed vessels of either party, & for prohibitg exportation of arms & ammunition, have passed both houses. The fortification bill is before the Representatives still. It is thought by many that with all the mollifying clauses they can give it, it may perhaps be thrown out. They have a separate bill for manning the 3. frigates, but its fate is uncertain. These are probably the ultimate measures which will be adopted, if even these be adopted. The folly of the convocation of Congress at so inconvenient a season & an expense of 60,000 D, is now palpable to everybody; or rather it is palpable that war was the object, since, that being out of the question, it is evident there is nothing else. However, nothing less than the miraculous string of events which have taken place, to wit, the victories of the Rhine & Italy, peace with Austria, bankruptcy of England, mutiny in her fleet, and King’s writing letters recommending peace, could have cooled the fury of the British faction. Even all that will not prevent considerable efforts still in both houses to shew our teeth to France. We had hoped to have risen this week. It is now talked of for the 24th, but it is impossible yet to affix a time. I think I cannot omit being at our court (July 3,) whether Congress rises or not. If so, I shall be with you on the Friday or Saturday preceding. I have a couple of pamphlets for you, (Utrum Horum, & Paine’s Agrarian Justice,) being the only things since Erskine which have appeared worth notice. Besides Bache’s paper there are 2. others now accommodated to country circulation. Gale’s (successor of Oswald) twice a week without advertisements at 4. dollars. His debates in Congress are the same with Claypole’s. Also Smith proposes to issue a paper once a week, of news only, and an additional sheet while Congress shall be in session, price 4. dollars. The best daily papers now are Bradford’s compiled by Lloyd, and Markland & Cary’s. Claypole’s you know. Have you remarked the pieces signed Fabius? they are written by John Dickinson.
P. M. The bill before the Senate for equipping the 3 frigates, & buying 9. vessels of not more than 20. guns, has this day passed on it’s 3d reading by 16. against 13. The fortification bill before the representatives as amended in commee of the whole, passed to it’s 3d reading by 48. against 41. Adieu affectionately, with my best respects to Mrs. Madison.
TO AARON BURRJ. MSS.
Philadelphia, June 17, 1797.
The newspapers give so minutely what is passing in Congress, that nothing of detail can be wanting for your information. Perhaps, however, some general view of our situation & prospects, since you left us, may not be unacceptable. At any rate, it will give me an opportunity of recalling myself to your memory, & of evidencing my esteem for you. You well know how strong a character of division had been impressed on the Senate by the British treaty. Common error, common censure, & common efforts of defence had formed the treaty majority into a common band, which feared to separate even on other subjects. Towards the close of the last Congress, however, it had been hoped that their ties began to loosen, & their phalanx to separate a little. This hope was blasted at the very opening of the present session, by the nature of the appeal which the President made to the nation; the occasion for which had confessedly sprung from the fatal British treaty. This circumstance rallied them again to their standard, and hitherto we have had pretty regular treaty votes on all questions of principle. And indeed I fear, that as long as the same individuals remain, so long we shall see traces of the same division. In the H of Representatives the republican body has also lost strength. The non-attendance of 5. or 6. of that description, has left the majority very equivocal indeed. A few individuals of no fixed system at all, governed by the panic or the prowess of the moment, flap as the breeze blows against the republican or the aristocratic bodies, and give to the one or the other a preponderance entirely accidental. Hence the dissimilar aspect of the address, & of the proceedings subsequent to that. The inflammatory composition of the speech excited sensations of resentment which had slept under British injuries, threw the wavering into the war scale, and produced the war address. Buonaparte’s victories & those on the Rhine, the Austrian peace, British bankruptcy, mutiny of the seamen, and mr. King’s exhortations to pacific measures, have cooled them down again, & the scale of peace preponderates. The threatening propositions therefore, founded in the address, are abandoned one by one, & the cry begins now to be, that we have been called together to do nothing. The truth is, there is nothing to do, the idea of war being scouted by the events of Europe; but this only proves that war was the object for which we were called. It proves that the executive temper was for war; & that the convocation of the Representatives was an experiment on the temper of the nation, to see if it was in unison. Efforts at negociation indeed were promised; but such a promise was as difficult to withhold, as easy to render nugatory. If negociation alone had been meant, that might have been pursued without so much delay, and without calling the Representatives; and if strong & earnest negotiation had been meant, the additional nomination would have been of persons strongly & earnestly attached to the alliance of 1778. War then was intended. Whether abandoned or not, we must judge from future indications & events; for the same secrecy & mystery is affected to be observed by the present, which marked the former administration. I had always hoped, that the popularity of the late president being once withdrawn from active effect, the natural feelings of the people towards liberty would restore the equilibrium between the Executive & Legislative departments, which had been destroyed by the superior weight & effect of that popularity; & that their natural feelings of moral obligation would discountenance the ungrateful predilection of the executive in favor of Great Britain. But unfortunately, the preceding measures had already alienated the nation who was the object of them, had excited reaction from them, & this reaction has on the minds of our citizens an effect which supplies that of the Washington popularity. This effect was sensible on some of the late congressional elections, & this it is which has lessened the republican majority in Congress. When it will be reinforced, must depend on events, & these are so incalculable, that I consider the future character of our republic as in the air; indeed its future fortune will be in the air, if war is made on us by France, & if Louisiana becomes a Gallo-American colony.
I have been much pleased to see a dawn of change in the spirit of your State. The late elections have indicated something, which, at a distance, we do not understand. However, what with the English influence in the lower, and the Patroon influence in the upper part of your State, I presume little is to be hoped. If a prospect could be once opened upon us of the penetration of truth into the eastern States; if the people there, who are unquestionably republicans, could discover that they have been duped into the support of measures calculated to sap the very foundations of republicanism, we might still hope for salvation, and that it would come, as of old, from the east. But will that region ever awake to the true state of things? Can the middle, Southern & Western states hold on till they awake? These are painful & doubtful questions; and if, in assuring me of your health, you can give me a comfortable solution of them, it will relieve a mind devoted to the preservation of our republican government in the true form & spirit in which it was established, but almost oppressed with apprehensions that fraud will at length effect what force could not, & that what with currents & counter-currents, we shall, in the end, be driven back to the land from which we launched 20. years ago. Indeed, my dear Sir, we have been but a sturdy fish on the hook of a dexterous angler, who, letting us flounce till we have spent our force, brings us up at last.
I am tired of the scene, & this day sen’night shall change it for one, where, to tranquillity of mind may be added pursuits of private utility, since none public are admitted by the state of things.
I am, with great & sincere esteem, dear Sir, your friend and servant.
P. S. Since writing the above, we have received a report that the French Directory has proposed a declaration of war against the U. S. to the Council of Antients, who have rejected it. Thus we see two nations who love one another affectionately, brought by the ill temper of their executive administrations, to the very brink of a necessity to imbrue their hands in the blood of each other.
TO ELBRIDGE GERRYJ. MSS.
Philadelphia, June 21, 1797.
My dear Friend,—
It was with infinite joy to me, that you were yesterday announced to the Senate, as envoy extraordinary, jointly with Genl. Pinckney & mr. Marshall, to the French republic. It gave me certain assurance that there would be a preponderance in the mission, sincerely disposed to be at peace with the French government & nation. Peace is undoubtedly at present the first object of our nation. Interest & honor are also national considerations. But interest, duly weighed, is in favor of peace even at the expence of spoliations past & future; & honor cannot now be an object. The insults & injuries committed on us by both the belligerent parties, from the beginning of 1793 to this day, & still continuing, cannot now be wiped off by engaging in war with one of them. As there is great reason to expect this is the last campaign in Europe, it would certainly be better for us to rub thro this year, as we have done through the four preceding ones, and hope that on the restoration of peace, we may be able to establish some plan for our foreign connections more likely to secure our peace, interest & honor, in future. Our countrymen have divided themselves by such strong affections, to the French & the English, that nothing will secure us internally but a divorce from both nations; and this must be the object of every real American, and it’s attainment is practicable without much self-denial. But for this, peace is necessary. Be assured of this, my dear Sir, that if we engage in a war during our present passions, & our present weakness in some quarters, that our Union runs the greatest risk of not coming out of that war in the shape in which it enters it. My reliance for our preservation is in your acceptance of this mission. I know the tender circumstances which will oppose themselves to it. But it’s duration will be short, and it’s reward long. You have it in your power, by accepting and determining the character of the mission, to secure the present peace & eternal union of your country. If you decline, on motives of private pain, a substitute may be named who has enlisted his passions in the present contest, & by the preponderance of his vote in the mission may entail on us calamities, your share in which, & your feelings, will outweigh whatever pain a temporary absence from your family could give you. The sacrifice will be short, the remorse would be never ending. Let me, then, my dear Sir, conjure your acceptance, and that you will, by this act, seal the mission with the confidence of all parties. Your nomination has given a spring to hope, which was dead before. I leave this place in three days, and therefore shall not here have the pleasure of learning your determination. But it will reach me in my retirement, and enrich the tranquillity of that scene. It will add to the proofs which have convinced me that the man who loves his country on it’s own account, and not merely for it’s trappings of interest or power, can never be divorced from it, can never refuse to come forward when he finds that she is engaged in dangers which he has the means of warding off. Make then an effort, my friend, to renounce your domestic comforts for a few months, and reflect that to be a good husband and good father at this moment, you must be also a good citizen. With sincere wishes for your acceptance & success, I am, with unalterable esteem, dear Sir, your affectionate friend and servant.
TO JAMES MADISONJ. MSS.
Philadelphia, June 22, 97.
The Senate have this day rejected their own bill for raising a provisional army of 15,000 men. I think they will reject that for permitting private vessels to arm. The Representatives have thrown out the bill of the Senate for raising artillery. They (Wednesday) put off one forbidding our citizens to serve in foreign vessels of war till Nov, by a vote of 52. to 44. This day they came to a resolution proposing to the Senate to adjourn on Wednesday, the 28th, by a majority of 4. Thus it is now perfectly understood that the convocation of Congress is substantially condemned by their several decisions that nothing is to be done. I may be with you somewhat later than I expected, say from the 1st to the 4th. Preliminaries of peace between Austria & France are signed. Dana has declined the mission to France. Gerry is appointed in his room, being supported in Senate by the republican vote; 6 nays of the opposite description. No news of Monroe or Payne. Adieu.
TO EDWARD RUTLEDGEJ. MSS.
Philadelphia, June 24, 97.
My Dear Sir,—
I have to acknolege your two favors of May 4 & 19, and to thank you for your attentions to the commissions for the peas & oranges, which I learn are arrived in Virginia. Your draft I hope will soon follow on Mr. John Barnes, merchant, here; who, as I before advised you, is directed to answer it.
When Congress first met, the assemblage of facts presented in the President’s speech, with the multiplied accounts of spoliations by the French West Indians, appeared by sundry votes on the address, to incline a majority to put themselves in a posture of war. Under this influence the address was formed, & its spirit would probably have been pursued by corresponding measures, had the events of Europe been of an ordinary train. But this has been so extraordinary, that numbers have gone over to those, who, from the first, feeling with sensiblity the French insults, as they had felt those of England before, thought now as they thought then, that war measures should be avoided, & those of peace pursued. Their favorite engine, on the former occasion, was commercial regulations, in preference to negociations, to war preparations & increase of debt. On the latter, as we have no commerce with France, the restriction of which could press on them, they wished for negociation. Those of the opposite sentiment had, on the former occasion, preferred negociation, but at the same time voted for great war preparations, and increase of debt; now also they were for negociation, war preparations & debt. The parties have in debate mutually charged each other with inconsistency, & with being governed by an attachment to this or that of the belligerent nations, rather than the dictates of reason & pure Americanism. But, in truth, both have been consistent; the same men having voted for war measures who did before, & the same against them now who did before. The events of Europe coming to us in astonishing & rapid succession, to wit, the public bankruptcy of England, Buonaparte’s successes, the successes on the Rhine, the Austrian peace, mutiny of the British fleet, Irish insurrection, a demand of 43. millions for the current services of the year, and, above all, the warning voice, as is said, of Mr. King, to abandon all thought of connection with Great Britain, that she is going down irrecoverably, & will sink us also, if we do not clear ourselves, have brought over several to the pacific party, so as, at present, to give majorities against all threatening measures. They go on with frigates and fortifications, because they were going on with them before. They direct 80,000 of their militia to hold themselves in readiness for service. But they reject the propositions to raise cavalry, artillery, & a provisional army, & to trust private ships with arms in the present combustible state of things. They believe the present is the last campaign of Europe, & wish to rub through this fragment of a year as they have through the four preceding ones, opposing patience to insult, & interest to honor. They will, therefore, immediately adjourn. This is, indeed, a most humiliating state of things, but it commenced in 93. Causes have been adding to causes, & effects accumulating on effects, from that time to this. We had, in 93, the most respectable character in the universe. What the neutral nations think of us now, I know not; but we are low indeed with the belligerents. Their kicks & cuffs prove their contempt. If we weather the present storm, I hope we shall avail ourselves of the calm of peace, to place our foreign connections under a new & different arrangement. We must make the interest of every nation stand surety for it’s justice, & their own loss to follow injury to us, as effect follows its cause. As to everything except commerce, we ought to divorce ourselves from them all. But this system would require time, temper, wisdom, & occasional sacrifice of interest; & how far all of these will be ours, our children may see, but we shall not. The passions are too high at present, to be cooled in our day. You & I have formerly seen warm debates and high political passions. But gentlemen of different politics would then speak to each other, & separate the business of the Senate from that of society. It is not so now. Men who have been intimate all their lives, cross the streets to avoid meeting, & turn their heads another way, lest they should be obliged to touch their hats. This may do for young men with whom passion is enjoyment. But it is afflicting to peaceable minds. Tranquillity is the old man’s milk. I go to enjoy it in a few days, & to exchange the roar & tumult of bulls & bears, for the prattle of my grand-children & senile rest. Be these yours, my dear friend, through long years, with every other blessing, & the attachment of friends as warm & sincere, as yours affectionately.
TO EDMUND RANDOLPHJ. MSS.
Philadelphia, June 27, 97.
I have to acknolege the receipt of your two favors of may 26. & 29, which came to hand in due time, and relieved my mind considerably, tho it was not finally done. During the vacation we may perhaps be able to hunt up the letters which are wanting, and get this tornado which has been threatening us, dissipated.
You have seen the speech & the address, so nothing need be said on them. The spirit of both has been so whittled down by Buonaparte’s victories, the victories on the Rhine, the Austrian peace, Irish insurgency, English bankruptcy, insubordination of the fleet, &c., that Congress is rejecting one by one the measures brought in on the principles of their own address. But nothing less than such miraculous events as have been pouring in on us from the first of our convening could have assuaged the fermentation produced in men’s minds. In consequence of these events, what was the majority at first, is by degrees become the minority, so that we may say that in the Representatives moderation will govern. But nothing can establish firmly the republican principles of our government but an establishment of them in England. France will be the apostle for this. We very much fear that Gerry will not accept the mission to Paris. The delays which have attended this measure have left a dangerous void in our endeavors to preserve peace, which can scarcely be reconciled to a wish to preserve it. I imagine we shall rise from the 1st to the 3d of July. I am, Dear Sir, your friend and servant.
P. S. The interruption of letters is becoming so notorious, that I am forming a resolution of declining correspondence with my friends through the channels of the post altogether.
TO JAMES MADISONMAD. MSS.
Philadelphia, June 29. 97.
The day of adjournment walks before us like our shadow. We shall rise on the 3d or 4th of July. Consequently I shall be with you about the 8th or 9th. The two houses have jointly given up the 9. small vessels. The Senate have rejected at the 3d reading their own bill authorizing the President to lay embargoes. They will probably reject a very unequal tax passed by the Repr. on the venders of wines & spirituous liquors (not in retail). They have passed a bill for postponing their next meeting to the constitutional day; but whether the Repr. will concur is uncertain. The Repr. are cooking up a stamp tax which it is thought themselves will reject. The fate of the bill for private armaments is yet undecided in the Senate. The expenses of the session are estimated at 80.000 Doll.—Monroe & family arrived here the day before yesterday, well. They will make a short visit to N. York & then set their faces homewards. My affectionate respects to Mrs. Madison, and salutations to yourself. Adieu.
TO JAMES MADISONJ. MSS.
Monticello, July 24. 97.
In hopes that Mrs. Madison & yourself & Miss Madison will favor us with a visit when Colo Monroe calls on you, I write this to inform you that I have had the Shadwell & Secretary’s ford both well cleaned. If you come the lower road, the Shadwell ford is the proper one. It is a little deepened but clear of stone & perfectly safe. If you come the upper road you will cross at the Secretary’s ford, turning in at the gate on the road soon after you enter the 3. notched road. The draught up the mountain that way is steady but uniform. I see Hamilton has put a short piece into the papers in answer to Callender’s publication, & promises shortly something more elaborate. I am anxious to see you here soon, because in about three weeks we shall begin to unroof our house, when the family will be obliged to go elsewhere for shelter. My affectionate respects to the family. Adieu.
PETITION TO VIRGINIA HOUSE OF DELEGATES1J. MSS.
To the Speaker and House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia, being a Protest against interference of Judiciary between Representative and Constituent.
The petition of the subscribers, inhabitants of the counties of Amherst, Albemarle, Fluvanna, and Goochland, sheweth:
That by the constitution of this State, established from its earliest settlement, the people thereof have professed the right of being governed by laws to which they have consented by representatives chosen by themselves immediately: that in order to give to the will of the people the influence it ought to have, and the information which may enable them to exercise it usefully, it was a part of the common law, adopted as the law of this land, that their representatives, in the discharge of their functions, should be free from the cognizance or coercion of the coordinate branches, Judiciary and Executive; and that their communications with their constituents should of right, as of duty also, be free, full, and unawed by any: that so necessary has this intercourse been deemed in the country from which they derive principally their descent and laws, that the correspondence between the representative and constituent is privileged there to pass free of expense through the channel of the public post, and that the proceedings of the legislature have been known to be arrested and suspended at times until the Representatives could go home to their several counties and confer with their constituents.
That when, at the epoch of Independence, the constitution was formed under which we are now governed as a commonwealth, so high were the principles of representative government esteemed, that the legislature was made to consist of two branches, both of them chosen immediately by citizens; and that general system of laws was continued which protected the relations between the representative and constituent, and guarded the functions of the former from the control of the Judiciary and Executive branches.
That when circumstances required that the ancient confederation of this with the sister States, for the government of their common concerns, should be improved into a more regular and effective form of general government, the same representative principle was preserved in the new legislature, one branch of which was to be chosen directly by the citizens of each State, and the laws and principles remained unaltered which privileged the representative functions, whether to be exercised in the State or General Government, against the cognizance and notice of the co-ordinate branches, Executive and Judiciary; and for its safe and convenient exercise, the inter-communication of the representative and constituent has been sanctioned and provided for through the channel of the public post, at the public expense.
That at the general partition of this commonwealth into districts, each of which was to choose a representative to Congress, the counties of Amherst, Albemarle, Fluvanna, and Goochland, were laid off into one district: that at the elections held for the said district, in the month of April, in the years 1795 and 1797, the electors thereof made choice of Samuel Jordan Cabell, of the county of Amherst, to be their representative in the legislature of the general government; that the said Samuel Jordan Cabell accepted the office, repaired at the due periods to the legislature of the General Government, exercised his functions there as became a worthy member, and as a good and dutiful representative was in the habit of corresponding with many of his constituents, and communicating to us, by way of letter, information of the public proceedings, of asking and receiving our opinions and advice, and of contributing, as far as might be with right, to preserve the transactions of the general government in unison with the principles and sentiments of his constituents: that while the said Samuel J. Cabell was in the exercise of his functions as a representative from this district, and was in the course of that correspondence which his duty and the will of his constituents imposed on him, the right of thus communicating with them, deemed sacred under all the forms in which our government has hitherto existed, never questioned or infringed even by Royal judges or governors, was openly and directly violated at a Circuit court of the General Government, held at the city of Richmond, for the district of Virginia, in the month of May of this present year, 1797: that at the said court, A, B, &c., some of whom were foreigners, having been called upon to serve in the office of grand jurors before the said court, were sworn to the duties of said office in the usual forms of the law, the known limits of which duties are to make presentment of those acts of individuals which the laws have declared to be crimes or misdemeanors: that departing out of the legal limits of their said office, and availing themselves of the sanction of its cover, wickedly and contrary to their fidelity to destroy the rights of the people of this commonwealth, and the fundamental principles of representative government, they made a presentment of the act of the said Samuel J. Cabell, in writing letters to his constituents in the following words, to wit: “We, of the grand jury of the United States, for the district of Virginia, present as a real evil, the circular letters of several members of the late Congress, and particularly letters with the signature of Samuel J. Cabell, endeavoring, at a time of real public danger, to disseminate unfounded calumnies against the happy government of the United States, and thereby to separate the people therefrom; and to increase or produce a foreign influence, ruinous to the peace, happiness, and independence of these United States.”
That the grand jury is a part of the Judiciary, not permanent indeed, but in office, pro hac vice and responsible as other judges are for their actings and doings while in office: that for the Judiciary to interpose in the legislative department between the constituent and his representative, to control them in the exercise of their functions or duties towards each other, to overawe the free correspondence which exists and ought to exist between them, to dictate what communications may pass between them, and to punish all others, to put the representative into jeopardy or criminal prosecution, of vexation, expense, and punishment before the Judiciary, if his communications, public or private, do not exactly square with their ideas of fact or right, or with their designs of wrong, is to put the legislative department under the feet of the Judiciary, is to leave us, indeed, the shadow, but to take away the substance of representation, which requires essentially that the representative be as free as his constituents would be, that the same interchange of sentiment be lawful between him and them as would be lawful among themselves were they in the personal transaction of their own business; is to do away the influence of the people over the proceedings of their representatives by excluding from their knowledge, by the terror of punishment, all but such information or misinformation as may suit their own views; and is the more vitally dangerous when it is considered that grand jurors are selected by officers nominated and holding their places at the will of the Executive: that they are exposed to influence from the judges who are nominated immediately by the Executive, and who, although holding permanently their commissions as judges, yet from the career of additional office and emolument actually opened to them of late, whether constitutionally or not, are under all those motives which interest or ambition inspire, of courting the favor of that branch from which appointments flow: that grand juries are frequently composed in part of by-standers, often foreigners, of foreign attachments and interests, and little knowledge of the laws they are most improperly called to decide on; and finally, is to give to the Judiciary, and through them to the Executive, a complete preponderance over the legislature rendering ineffectual that wise and cautious distribution of powers made by the constitution between the three branches, and subordinating to the other two that branch which most immediately depends on the people themselves, and is responsible to them at short periods.
That independently of these considerations of a constitutional nature, the right of free correspondence between citizen and citizen on their joint interests, public or private, and under whatsoever laws these interests arise, is a natural right of every individual citizen, not the gift of municipal law, but among the objects for the protection of which municipal laws are instituted: that so far as the attempt to take away this natural right of free correspondence is an offence against the privileges of the legislative house, of which the said Samuel J. Cabell is a member, it is left to that house, entrusted with the preservation of its own privileges, to vindicate its immunities against the encroachments and usurpations of a co-ordinate branch; but so far as it is an infraction of our individual rights as citizens by other citizens of our own State, the judicature of this commonwealth is solely competent to its cognizance, no other possessing any powers of redress: that the commonwealth retains all its judiciary cognisances not expressly alienated in the grant of powers to the United States as expressed in their constitution: that that constitution alienates only those enumerated in itself, or arising under laws or treaties of the United States made in conformity with its own tenor: but the right of free correspondence is not claimed under that constitution or the laws or treaties derived from it, but as a natural right, placed originally under the protection of our municipal laws, and retained under the cognizance of our own courts.
Your petitioners further observe that though this crime may not be specifically defined and denominated by any particular statute, yet it is a crime, and of the highest and most alarming nature; that the constitution of this commonwealth, aware it would sometimes happen that deep and dangerous crimes, pronounced as such in the heart of every friend to his country and its free constitution, would often escape the definitions of the law, and yet ought not to escape its punishments, fearing at the same time to entrust such undescribed offences to the discretion of ordinary juries and judges, has reserved the same to the cognizance of the body of the commonwealth acting by their representatives in general assembly, for which purpose provision is made by the constitution in the following words, to wit: “The Governor, when he is out of office, and others offending against the State, either by mal-administration, corruption, or other means by which the safety of the State may be endangered, shall be impeachable by the House of Delegates. Such impeachment to be prosecuted by the Attorney General or such other person or persons as the house may appoint in the general court, according to the laws of the land. If found guilty, he or they shall be either forever disabled to hold any office under government, or removed from such offices pro tempore, or subjected to such pains or penalties as the law shall direct.”
Considering then the House of Delegates as the standing inquest of the whole commonwealth so established by the constitution, that its jurisdiction as such extends over all persons within its limits, and that no pale, no sanctuary has been erected against their jurisdiction to protect offenders who have committed crimes against the laws of the commonwealth and rights of its citizens: that the crime committed by the said grand jurors is of that high and extraordinary character for which the constitution has provided extraordinary procedure: that though the violation of right falls in the first instance on us, your petitioners and the representative chosen immediately by us, yet in principle and consequence it extends to all our fellow-citizens, whose safety is passed away whenever their representatives are placed, in the exercise of their functions, under the direction and coercion of either of the other departments of government, and one of their most interesting rights is lost when that of a free communication of sentiment by speaking or writing is suppressed: We, your petitioners, therefore pray that you will be pleased to take your constitutional cognizance of the premises, and institute such proceedings for impeaching and punishing the said A, B, &c., as may secure to the citizens of this commonwealth their constitutional right: that their representatives shall in the exercise of their functions be free and independent of the other departments of government, may guard that full intercourse between them and their constituents which the nature of their relations and the laws of the land establish, may save to them the natural right of communicating their sentiments to one another by speaking and writing, and may serve as a terror to others attempting hereafter to subvert those rights and the fundamental principles of our constitution, to exclude the people from all direct influence over the government they have established by reducing that branch of the legislature which they choose directly, to a subordination under those over whom they have but an indirect, distant, and feeble control.
And your petitioners further submit to the wisdom of the two houses of assembly whether the safety of the citizens of this commonwealth in their persons, their property, their laws, and government, does not require that the capacity to act in the important office of a juror, grand or petty, civil or criminal, should be restrained in future to native citizens of the United States, or such as were citizens at the date of the treaty of peace which closed our revolutionary war, and whether the ignorance of our laws and natural partiality to the countries of their birth are not reasonable causes for declaring this to be one of the rights incommunicable in future to adoptive citizens.
We, therefore, your petitioners, relying with entire confidence on the wisdom and patriotism of our representatives in General assembly, clothed preeminently with all the powers of the people which have not been reserved to themselves, or enumerated in the grant to the General Government delegated to maintain all their rights and relations not expressly and exclusively transferred to other jurisdictions, and stationed as sentinels to observe with watchfulness and oppose with firmness all movements tending to destroy the equilibrium of our excellent but complicated machine of government, invoke from you that redress of our violated rights which the freedom and safety of our common country calls for. We denounce to you a great crime, wicked in its purpose, and mortal in its consequences unless prevented, committed by citizens of this commonwealth against the body of their country. If we have erred in conceiving the redress provided by the law, we commit the subject to the superior wisdom of this house to devise and pursue such proceedings as they shall think best; and we, as in duty bound, shall ever pray, &c.
TO JAMES MADISONMAD. MSS.
Monticello, Aug 3, 97.
I scribbled you a line on the 24th ult; it missed of the post, and so went by a private hand. I perceive from yours by mr. Bringhurst, that you had not received it. In fact, it was only on earnest exhortation to come here with Monroe, which I still hope you will do. In the meantime, I enclose you a letter from him, and wish your opinion on its principal subject. The variety of other topics the day I was with you, kept out of sight the letter to Mazzei imputed to me in the papers, the general substance of which is mine, tho’ the diction has been considerably varied in the course of it’s translations from English into Italian, from Italian into French, & from French into English. I first met with it at Bladensburg, and for a moment conceived I must take the field of the public papers. I could not disavow it wholly, because the greatest part was mine, in substance tho’ not in form. I could not avow it as it stood, because the form was not mine, and, in one place, the substance very materially falsified. This, then, would render explanations necessary; nay, it would render proofs of the whole necessary, & draw me at length into a publication of all (even the secret) transactions of the administration while I was of it; and embroil me personally with every member of the Executive, with the Judiciary, and with others still. I soon decided in my own mind, to be entirely silent. I consulted with several friends at Philadelphia, who, every one of them, were clearly against my avowing or disavowing, & some of them conjured me most earnestly to let nothing provoke me to it. I corrected, in conversation with them, a substantial misrepresentation in the copy published. The original has a sentiment like this (for I have it not before me), “they are endeavoring to submit us to the substance, as they already have to the forms of the British government;” meaning by forms, the birth-days, levees, processions to parliament, inauguration pomposities, &c. But the copy published says, “as they have already submitted us to the form of the British,” &c., making me express hostility to the form of our government, that is to say, to the constitution itself. For this is really the difference of the word form, used in the singular or plural, in that phrase, in the English language. Now it would be impossible for me to explain this publicly, without bringing on a personal difference between Genl Washington & myself, which nothing before the publication of this letter has ever done. It would embroil me also with all those with whom his character is still popular, that is to say, nine tenths of the people of the U S; and what good would be obtained by my avowing the letter with the necessary explanations? Very little indeed, in my opinion, to counterbalance a good deal of harm. From my silence in this instance, it can never be inferred that I am afraid to own the general sentiments of the letter. If I am subject to either imputation, it is to that of avowing such sentiments too frankly both in private & public, often when there is no necessity for it, merely because I disdain everything like duplicity. Still, however, I am open to conviction. Think for me on the occasion, and advise me what to do, and confer with Colo Monroe on the subject.
Let me entreat you again to come with him; there are other important things to consult on. One will be his affair. Another is the subject of the petition now enclosed you, to be proposed to our district, on the late presentment of our representative by the grand jury: the idea it brings forward is still confined to my own breast. It has never been mentioned to any mortal, because I first wish your opinion on the expediency of the measure. If you approve it, I shall propose to P. Carr or some other, to father it, and to present it to the counties at their general muster. This will be in time for our Assembly. The presentment going in the public papers just at the moment when Congress was together, produced a great effect both on it’s friends & foes in that body, very much to the disheartening & mortification of the latter. I wish this petition, if approved, to arrive there under the same circumstance, to produce the counter-effect so wanting for their gratification. I could have wished to receive it from you again at our court on Monday, because P. Carr & Wilson Nicholas will be there, and might also be consulted, and commence measures for putting it into motion. If you can return it then, with your opinion and corrections, it will be of importance. Present me affectionately to mrs. Madison, & convey to her my entreaties to interpose her good offices & persuasives with you to bring her here, and before we uncover our house, which will yet be some weeks.
Salutations & Adieu.
TO ST. GEORGE TUCKERJ. MSS.
Monticello, Aug 28, 97.
I have to acknolege the receipt of your two favors of the 2d & 22d inst. and to thank you for the pamphlet covered by the former.1 You know my subscription to it’s doctrines; and to the mode of emancipation, I am satisfied that that must be a matter of compromise between the passions, the prejudices, & the real difficulties which will each have their weight in that operation. Perhaps the first chapter of this history, which has begun in St. Domingo, & the next succeeding ones, which will recount how all the whites were driven from all the other islands, may prepare our minds for a peaceable accommodation between justice, policy & necessity; & furnish an answer to the difficult question, whither shall the colored emigrants go? and the sooner we put some plan underway, the greater hope there is that it may be permitted to proceed peaceably to it’s ultimate effect. But if something is not done, & soon done, we shall be the murderers of our own children. The ‘murmura venturos nautis prodentia ventos’ has already reached us; the revolutionary storm, now sweeping the globe, will be upon us, and happy if we make timely provision to give it an easy passage over our land. From the present state of things in Europe & America, the day which begins our combustion must be near at hand; and only a single spark is wanting to make that day to-morrow. If we had begun sooner, we might probably have been allowed a lengthier operation to clear ourselves, but every day’s delay lessens the time we may take for emancipation. Some people derive hope from the aid of the confederated States. But this is a delusion. There is but one state in the Union which will aid us sincerely, if an insurrection begins, and that one may, perhaps, have it’s own fire to quench at the same time. The facts stated in yours of the 22d, were not identically known to me, but others like them were. From the general government no interference need be expected. Even the merchant and navigator, the immediate sufferers, are prevented by various motives from wishing to be redressed. I see nothing but a State procedure which can vindicate us from the insult. It is in the power of any single magistrate, or of the Attorney for the Commonwealth, to lay hold of the commanding officer, whenever he comes ashore, for the breach of the peace, and to proceed against him by indictment. This is so plain an operation, that no power can prevent it’s being carried through with effect, but the want of will in the officers of the State. I think that the matter of finances, which has set the people of Europe to thinking, is now advanced to that point with us, that the next step, & it is an unavoidable one, a land tax, will awaken our constituents, and call for inspection into past proceedings. I am, with great esteem, dear Sir, your friend and servant.
TO COLONEL ARTHUR CAMPBELLJ. MSS.
Monticello, Sepr 1, 97.
I have to acknolege the receipt of your favor of July 4. and to recognize in it the sentiments you have ever held, & worthy of the day on which it is dated. It is true that a party has risen up among us, or rather has come among us, which is endeavoring to separate us from all friendly connection with France, to unite our destinies with those of Great Britain, & to assimilate our government to theirs. Our lenity in permitting the return of the old tories, gave the first body to this party; they have been increased by large importations of British merchants and factors, by American merchants dealing on British capital, and by stock dealers & banking companies, who, by the aid of a paper system, are enriching themselves to the ruin of our country, and swaying the government by their possession of the printing presses, which their wealth commands, and by other means, not always honorable to the character of our countrymen. Hitherto, their influence & their system has been irresistible, and they have raised up an Executive power which is too strong for the legislature. But I flatter myself they have passed their zenith. The people, while these things were doing, were lulled into rest and security from a cause which no longer exists. No prepossessions now will shut their ears to truth. They begin to see to what port their leaders were steering during their slumbers, and there is yet time to haul in, if we can avoid a war with France. All can be done peaceably, by the people confiding their choice of Representatives & Senators to persons attached to republican government & the principles of 1776, not office-hunters, but farmers, whose interests are entirely agricultural. Such men are the true representatives of the great American interest, and are alone to be relied on for expressing the proper American sentiments. We owe gratitude to France, justice to England, good will to all, and subservience to none. All this must be brought about by the people, using their elective rights with prudence & self-possession, and not suffering themselves to be duped by treacherous emissaries. It was by the sober sense of our citizens that we were safely and steadily conducted from monarchy to republicanism, and it is by the same agency alone we can be kept from falling back. I am happy in this occasion of reviving the memory of old things, and of assuring you of the continuance of the esteem & respect of, dear Sir, your friend and servant.
TO JOHN FRANCIS MERCERJ. MSS.
Monticello, September 5, 1797.
* * * We have now with us our friend Monroe. He is engaged in stating his conduct for the information of the public. As yet, however, he has done little, being too much occupied with re-arranging his household. His preliminary skirmish with the Secretary of state has, of course, bespoke a suspension of the public mind, till he can lay his statement before them. Our Congressional district is fermenting under the presentment of their representative by the Grand jury: and the question of a Convention for forming a State Constitution will probably be attended to in these parts. These are the news of our canton. Those of a more public nature you know before we do. My best respects to mrs. Mercer, and assurances to yourself of the affectionate esteem of, dear Sir, your friend and servant.
TO JAMES MONROEJ. MSS.
Monticello, Sep 7, 97.
The doubt which you suggest as to our jurisdiction over the case of the grand jury vs. Cabell, had occurred to me, & naturally occurs on first view of the question. But I knew, that to send the petition to the Ho of Represent. in Congress, would make bad worse; that a majority of that House would pass a vote of approbation. On examination of the question, too, it appeared to me that we could maintain the authority of our own government over it.
A right of free correspondence between citizen & citizen, on their joint interests, whether public or private, & under whatsoever laws these interests arise, (to wit, of the state, of Congress, of France, Spain, or Turkey), is a natural right; it is not the gift of any municipal law, either of England, or of Virginia, or of Congress; but in common with all our other natural rights, is one of the objects for the protection of which society is formed, & municipal laws established.
The courts of this commonwealth (and among them the General court, as a court of impeachment) are originally competent to the cognizance of all infractions of the rights of one citizen by another citizen; and they still retain all their judiciary cognizances not expressly alienated by the federal constitution.
The federal constitution alienates from them all cases arising, 1st, under that constitution; 2dly, under the laws of Congress; 3dly, under treaties, &c. But this right of free correspondence, whether with a public representative in General assembly, in Congress, in France, in Spain, or with a private one charged with a pecuniary trust, or with a private friend the object of our esteem, or any other, has not been given to us under, 1st, the federal constitution; 2dly, any law of Congress; or 3dly, any treaty; but as before observed, by nature. It is therefore not alienated, but remains under the protection of our courts.
Were the question even doubtful, it is no reason for abandoning it. The system of the General government, is to seize all doubtful ground. We must join in the scramble, or get nothing. Where first occupancy is to give a right, he who lies still loses all. Besides, it is not right for those who are only to act in a preliminary form, to let their own doubts preclude the judgment of the court of ultimate decision. We ought to let it go to the Ho of delegates for their consideration, & they, unless the contrary be palpable, ought to let it go to the General court, who are ultimately to decide on it.
It is of immense consequence that the States retain as complete authority as possible over their own citizens. The withdrawing themselves under the shelter of a foreign jurisdiction, is so subversive of order and so pregnant of abuse, that it may not be amiss to consider how far a law of præmunire should be revived & modified, against all citizens who attempt to carry their causes before any other than the State courts, in cases where those other courts have no right to their cognizance. A plea to the jurisdiction of the courts of their State, or a reclamation of a foreign jurisdiction, if adjudged valid, would be safe; but if adjudged invalid, would be followed by the punishment of præmunire for the attempt.
Think further of the preceding part of this letter, and we will have further conference on it. Adieu.
P. S. Observe, that it is not the breach of mr. Cabell’s privilege which we mean to punish: that might lie with Congress. It is the wrong done to the citizens of our district. Congress has no authority to punish that wrong. They can only take cognizance of it in vindication of their member.
TO ALEXANDER WHITEJ. MSS.
Monticello, Sept. 10, 97.
So many persons have of late found an interest or a passion gratified by imputing to me sayings and writings which I never said or wrote, or by endeavoring to draw me into newspapers to harass me personally, that I have found it necessary for my quiet & my other pursuits to leave them in full possession of the field, and not to take the trouble of contradicting them in private conversation. If I do it now, it is out of respect to your application, made by private letter & not thro’ the newspapers, & under the perfect assurance that what I write to you will not be permitted to get into a newspaper, while you are at full liberty to assert it in conversation under my authority.
I never gave an opinion that the Government would not remove to the federal city. I never entertained that opinion; but on the contrary, whenever asked the question, I have expressed my full confidence that they would remove there. Having had frequent occasion to declare this sentiment, I have endeavored to conjecture on what a contrary one could have been ascribed to me. I remember that in Georgetown, where I passed a day in February in conversation with several gentlemen on the preparations there for receiving the government, an opinion was expressed by some, & not privately, that there would be few or no private buildings erected in Washington this summer, and that the prospect of their being a sufficient number in time, was not flattering. This they grounded on the fact that the persons holding lots, from a view to increase their means of building, had converted their money at low prices, into Morris & Nicholson’s notes, then possessing a good degree of credit, & that having lost these by the failure of these gentlemen, they were much less able to build than they would have been. I then observed, and I did it with a view to excite exertion, that if there should not be private houses in readiness sufficient for the accommodation of Congress & the persons annexed to the Government, it could not be expected that men should come there to lodge, like cattle, in the fields, and that it highly behooved those interested in the removal to use every exertion to provide accommodations. In this opinion, I presume I shall be joined by yourself & every other. But delivered, as it was, only on the hypothesis of a fact stated by others, it could not authorize the assertion of an absolute opinion, separated from the statement of fact on which it was hypothetically grounded. I have seen no reason to believe that Congress have changed their purpose with respect to the removal. Every public indication from them, & every sentiment I have heard privately expressed by the members, convinces me they are steady in the purpose. Being on this subject, I will suggest to you, what I did privately at Georgetown to a particular person, in confidence that it should be suggested to the managers, if in event it should happen that there should not be a sufficiency of private buildings erected within the proper time, would it not be better for the commissioners to apply for a suspension of the removal for one year, than to leave it to the hazard which a contrary interest might otherwise bring on it? Of this however you have yet two summers to consider, and you have the best knolege of the circumstances on which a judgment may be formed whether private accommodations will be provided. As to the public buildings, every one seems to agree that they will be in readiness.
I have for five or six years been encouraging the opening a direct road from the Southern part of this State, leading through this county to Georgetown. The route proposed is from Georgetown by Colol. Alexander’s, Elk - run Church, Norman’s Ford, Stevensburg, the Racoon Ford, the Marquis’s Road, Martin Key’s Ford on the Rivanna, the mouth of Slate River, the high bridge on Appomattox, Prince Edward C. H., Charlotte C. H., Cole’s ferry on Stanton, Dix’s ferry on Dan, Guilford C. H., Salisbury, Croswell’s ferry on Saluda, Ninety-six, Augusta. It is believed this road will shorten the distance along the continent 100. miles. It will be to open anew only from Georgetown to Prince Edward courthouse. An actual survey has been made from Stevensburg to Georgetown, by which that much of the road will be shortened 20. miles, & be all a dead level. The difficulty is to get it first through Fairfax & Prince William. The counties after that will very readily carry it on. We consider it as opening to us a direct road to the market of the federal city, for all the beef & mutton we could raise, for which we have no market at present. I am in possession of the survey, & had thought of getting the Bridge co at Georgetown to undertake to get the road carried through Fairfax & Prince William, either by those counties or by themselves. But I have some apprehension that by pointing our road to the bridge, it might get out of the level country, and be carried over the hills, which will be but a little above it. This would be inadmissible. Perhaps you could suggest some means of our getting over the obstacle of those two counties. I shall be very happy to concur in any measure which can effect all our purposes. I am with esteem, dear Sir, your most obedient servant.
TO JAMES MONROEJ. MSS.
Monticello Oct. 25. 97.
I like your second title better than the first because it is shorter. I should like the following better than either: “The Foreign affairs of the U. S. during the years 1794.5.6. laid before his fellow citizens by J. M. their late M. P. to the Republic of France.” The reason of my preference is that it implies no inculpation of the Executive. Such an implication will determine prejudiced men against buying or reading the book. The following title would be better but for one reason: “An account of the foreign affairs of the U. S. during the years 1794.5.6 rendered to his fellow citizens by J. M. their late M. P. to the Republic of France,” but that it would raise the old hue and cry against the attempt to separate the people from their government. For this reason it might be questionable whether the words “laid before his fellow citizens” in the first title I propose, had not better be omitted. In that case the words “a view of” should be premised, so as to make it “a view of the Foreign affairs of the U. S. during &c.—by J. M. &c. Decide among them.
I should not be for publishing the long letters from the Secy of State to Fauchet, & Hammond, because they were no part of your business & because they are already printed by the Executive. Perhaps it would be well to refer in a note to E. R.’s letter to you that it enclosed such and such letters which may be seen in such a publication, quoting the pages. I rather think that to you relative to Fenwick ought to be published 1. because it is to you. 2. because it will show how vigorous they were when the English interests were affected. 3. because it was a malversation in Fenwick if true, & ought to be published for the honor of the U. S. & warning to other consuls. Skipwith’s report might be referred to as already printed. As to the question whether a Minister is that of his country or of G. W. or J. A. I do not think will need a very formal discussion. A bare statement of it with a few such strong observations as will occur currente calamo, will suffice. Still it is necessary to be stated, to bring indolent readers to reflection. Appearances might otherwise lead them astray. Adieu.
TO JOHN WAYLES EPPESJ. MSS.
Philadelphia Dec. 21. 97.
Presuming that you get the newspapers I shall not repeat the public news which they detail. The great victory obtained by the English over the Dutch fleet is placed beyond doubt. They have taken 9. out of 16. As to the proceedings of Congress, they have passed a bill putting off the commencement of the Stamp act till July next. The land tax will not be taken up this session. It is suspected that the approaching elections have had as much influence in both these measures, as the condition of the Treasury, which is said to be better than was expected. Congress therefore have absolutely nothing to do, but to wait for news from our Parisian envoys. If that is of a peaceable aspect I know nothing which ought to keep us long from home. And that it will be of peaceable aspect there is solid reason to expect, notwithstanding the newspaper paragraphs of a contrary import, fabricated to give a hostile impulse to Congress. We learn from Norfolk that Barry is made Judge of Admiralty in the French West Indies, & has forbidden the capture of any American vessels except going to rebel ports. This looks as if they wish to distinguish between real American vessels, & English ones under American papers. They suppose & probably that Barry will be able to distinguish them.
I send according to your desire Paine’s letter. In my next I will enclose another pamphlet on the same subject. Monroe’s book appears this day. It is of near 500. pages, consequently too large to go by post. Bache will send on 2. or 300 copies to Richmond. I have put on board Stratton’s schooner an anvil, vice & beek-iron for George, proposing as soon as he receives them, that Isaac shall take those he has. We had hoped 2. or 3. days ago that the vessels here would have got out. But the weather has now set in so as to render it doubtful whether they are not shut for the winter. If so, it will be February before these things get on. You would do well to employ Isaac in the meantime in preparing coal for his year’s work. He should have about 2000. bushels laid in. Nor will it be amiss to cord his wood in order to excite him to an emulation in burning it well. I am in hopes you or mr. Randolph will prepare for the road contract. It is very interesting to us all. Tell my dear Maria I received her letter of the 8th from Chestnut Grove this day. I will write to her next. In the meantime convey to her the warmest expressions of my love. Present me affectionately to mr. & mrs. Eppes & to all the younger ones. Adieu with sincere affection.
P. S. I am entirely at a loss to what post office to direct your letters. I have conjectured you have most intercourse with Petersburg.
TO JOHN TAYLORJ. MSS.
Philadelphia Dec. 23. 97.
* * * Our stamp act is put off till July next. The land tax will also be put off. The approach of the elections may have had its weight in both these measures. The affluence of the Treasury has rendered it possible to go on a year longer without a land tax. The questions about beginning a Navy & permitting our merchants (alias the English merchants) to arm & begin the war for us, must of course be discussed, because the speech has recommended these measures. But I see no reason to apprehend any change in the opinion of Congress on these points since the summer session. These therefore & Blount’s impeachment will serve to give us an appearance of business for sometime. For an honest truth I believe every man here acknoleges we have nothing to do: that there is literally nothing which the public good requires us to act upon. As we are together, I think myself we ought not to separate till we hear from our envoys at Paris & I think we may expect by the last of January not only to hear from them, but to see what is likely to be the aspect of our affairs with France. If peaceable, I know no reason why we should not go home immediately, & economise something on the daily expenses of our session, which in truth are enormous. The French envoy here tells me he has a letter from his government mentioning that they expect our envoys & that they will be well received. A pamphlet written by Fauchet is come here. I have not read it but I understand that the sum of it is that our Executive are the enemies of France, our citizens generally friendly, but that the mutual interests of both countries require a continuance of friendly intercourse between the two republics. A bill extending for three years the law respecting foreign coins has passed the representatives with some difficulty & may possibly fail in the Senate. Whether [illegible] fears for the mint or whether ground [illegible] I know not. But if it fails we are left almost without a coin for legal tenders. As you are in session it behooves you to see that your laws fixing the value of foreign coin & making them a tender are in [illegible] footing. By the constitution Congress may regulate the value of foreign coin, but if they do not do it, the old power revives to the state, the Constitution only forbidding them to make anything but gold & silver coin a tender in payment of debts. This construction is admitted here by persons not disposed to give to the states more powers than they are entitled to. Adieu. Affectionately.
TO JAMES MONROEJ. MSS.
Philadelphia, Dec. 27, 97.
I communicated to Mr. M. the evening I was with him the papers you sent by me for Mr. D. He was clearly of opinion nothing further ought to be done. D. was decisively of the same opinion. This being the case then there was no ground for consulting L. or B. & accordingly nothing has been said to them. Your book was later coming than was to have been wished: however it works irresistably. It would be very gratifying to you to hear the unqualified eulogies both on the matter & manner by all who are not hostile to it from principle. A pamphlet written by Fauchet (and now reprinting here) reinforced the views you have presented of the duplicity of the administration here. The Republican party in the H. of Representatives is stronger than its antagonistic party in all strong questions. Today on a question to put off a bill for permitting private vessels to arm, it was put off to the 1st Monday of Feb. by 40. to 37. & on a motion to reconsider was confirmed by 44. to 38. We have half a dozen members absent, who if here would give decisive preponderance. Two of these are of our state, Giles & Cabell. The stamp act is put off to July, & the Land tax will not be touched this session. Before the next the elections will be over. We have therefore literally nothing to do, but to await intelligence from our envoys at Paris, & as soon as we learn that our affairs there will be of peaceable aspect (as there is reason to expect) I see nothing which ought to keep us here. The question about building a navy, to be sure must be discussed out of respect to the speech: but it will only be to reject them. A bill has passed the representatives giving three years longer currency to foreign coins. It is in danger in the Senate. The effect of stopping the currency of gold & silver is to force bank paper through all the states. However I presume the state legislatures will exercise their acknoleged right of regulating the value of foreign coins, when not regulated by Congress, & their exclusive right of declaring them a tender. The Marquis Fayette was expected in the ship John from Hamburg. She is cast away in this river. 70 passengers were said to be got ashore & the rest still remaining on the wreck, but we do not know that he was actually a passenger. Some late elections have been remarkable. Lloyd of Maryland in the place of Henry by a majority of 1. against Winder the Republican candidate. Chipman, Senator of Vermont, by a majority of 1. against J. Smith the Republican candidate. Tichenor chosen governor of Vermont by a small majority against the Republican candidate. Governor Robertson of that state writes that the people there are fast coming over to a sound understanding of the state of our affairs. The same is said of some other of the N. England states. In this state that spirit rises very steadily. The Republicans have a firm majority of about 6. in the H. of Representatives here, a circumstance which has not been seen for some years. Even their Senate is purifying. The contest for the government will be between McKean & Ross, & will probably be an extreme hard one. In N. York it will be the same between Livingston & Jay, who is becoming unpopular with his own party. We are anxious to see how the N. York representatives are. The dismission of Tench Coxe from office without any reason assigned is considered as one of the bold acts of the President. Tant mieux. As soon as Fauchet’s pamphlet appears I will send you a copy. Your book so far has sold rapidly. I received from mr. Madison paper for 500 D. for you, which will be paid in the course of a few weeks. I shall desire Barnes to receive and hold it subject to your order. Present me respectfully to mrs. Monroe & accept assurances of my sincere friendship. Adieu.
[1 ]Statement from memory, of a letter I wrote to James Madison: copy omitted to be retained.
Monticello, Jan. 1, 97.
Yours of Dec. 19 is safely received. I never entertained a doubt of the event of the election. I knew that the eastern troops were trained in the schools of their town meetings to sacrifice little differences of opinion to the solid advantages of operating in phalanx, and that the more free and moral agency of the other States would fully supply their deficiency. I had no expectation, indeed, that the vote would have approached so near an equality. It is difficult to obtain full credit to declarations of disinclination to honors, and most so with those who still remain in the world. But never was there a more solid unwillingness, founded on rigorous calculation, formed in the mind of any man, short of peremptory refusal. No arguments, therefore, were necessary to reconcile me to a relinquishment of the first office, or acceptance of the second. No motive could have induced me to undertake the first, but that of putting our vessel upon her republican tack, and preventing her being driven too far to leeward of her true principles. And the second is the only office in the world about which I cannot decide in my own mind, whether I had rather have it or not have it. Pride does not enter into the estimate. For I think with the Romans of old, that the General of to-day should be a common soldier to-morrow, if necessary. But as to Mr. Adams, particularly, I could have no feelings which would revolt at being placed in a secondary station to him. I am his junior in life, I was his junior in Congress, his junior in the diplomatic line, and lately his junior in our civil government. I had written him the enclosed letter before the receipt of yours. I had intended it for some time, but had put it off, from time to time, from the discouragement of despair to make him believe me sincere. As the information by the last post does not make it necessary to change anything in the letter, I enclose it open for your perusal, as well that you may be possessed of the true state of dispositions between us, as that if there be any circumstance which might render its delivery ineligible, you may return it to me. If Mr. Adams could be induced to administer the government on its true principles, quitting his bias for an English constitution, it would be worthy consideration whether it would not be for the public good, to come to a good understanding with him as to his future elections. He is the only sure barrier against Hamilton’s getting in. . . .
The Political Progress is a work of value and of a singular complexion. The author’s eye seems to be a natural achromatic, divesting every object of the glare of color. The former work of the same title possessed the same kind of merit. They disgust one, indeed, by opening to his view the ulcerated state of the human mind. But to cure an ulcer you must go to the bottom of it, which no author does more radically than this. The reflections into which it leads us are not very flattering to the human species. In the whole animal kingdom I recollect no family but man, steadily and systematically employed in the destruction of itself. Nor does what is called civilization produce any other effect, than to teach him to pursue the principle of the bellum omnium in omnia on a greater scale, and instead of the little contest between tribe and tribe, to comprehend all the quarters of the earth in the same work of destruction. If to this we add, that as to other animals, the lions and tigers are mere lambs compared with man as a destroyer, we must conclude that nature has been able to find in man alone a sufficient barrier against the too great multiplication of other animals and of man himself, an equilibrating power against the fecundity of generation. While in making these observations, my situation points my attention to the welfare of man in the physical world, yours may perhaps present him as equally warring in the moral one. Adieu. Yours affectionately.
[1 ]From the original in the possession of the Virginia Historical Society.
[1 ]Adams wrote to Tristam Dalton on Jan. 19, 1797:
[1 ]The following is the last paragraph in the draft of this letter, afterwards stricken out and changed as in the print:
[1 ]Endorsed: “No copy retained. The above is the sum.”
[1 ]See letters to Madison, Mercer, and Monroe, post, pp. 331, 338, and 339.
[1 ]Dissertation on Slavery.