TO THE SPECIAL ENVOY
Washington Jan. 8, 1804.
—A confidential opportunity offering by Mr. Baring, I can venture to write to you with less reserve than common conveyances admit. The 150 livres you paid to Mr. Chas for me shall be replaced in the hands of Mr. Lewis your manager here, with thanks to you for honoring what you had no reason to doubt was a just claim on me. I do not know him personally or any otherwise than by his history of our Revolution, & of Buonaparte, a single copy of which he sent me. I never heard of any other being sent, nor should I have undertaken, or he expected me, to be the vender of his books here, to keep accounts and make remittances for him. If he has sent any copies for sale to my care, I have never heard of them. Isaac Coles, son of Colo. Coles our neighbor is gone to London, Paris, &c. He asked from me a letter to you. I told him I had been obliged to make it a rule to give no letters of introduction while in my present office; but that in my first letter to you I would mention to you the reason why I gave him none. He is a most worthy young man, & one whom I had intended to have asked to be my Secretary, had Mr. Harvie declined the offer. You know the worth of his family. I inclose you two letters for Mr. Williams, asking you from your knolege of persons and things to use your discretion for me, and deliver whichever you think best, suppressing the other. With respect to my correspondence with literary characters in Europe, to the great mass of those who send me copies of their works, being otherwise unknown to me, or perhaps not advantageously known, I return them simple notes of thanks, sometimes saying I have no doubt I shall have great satisfaction in persuing their works as soon as my occupations will permit; and, where I have found the work to possess merit, saying so in a complimentary way. With Volney, Dupont, Cabanis, Cepede, I had intimate & very friendly intercourse in France, & with the two first here. With Sr. John Sinclair I had the same in France & England, and with Mr. Strickland here. To these persons I write freely on subjects of literature, and to a certain degree on politics, respecting however their personal opinions, and their situation so as not to compromit them were a letter intercepted. Indeed what I write to them in this way are for the most part such truths & sentiments as would do us good if known to their government, and, as probably as not, are communicated to them. To the Earl Buchan I have written one letter in answer to the compliment of a volume of his which he sent me. He is an honorable, patriotic, & virtuous character, was in correspondence with Dr. Franklin and General Washington, & had every title to a respectful answer from me. I expressed myself to him in terms which were true, & therefore the more satisfactory to him. I have received a volume of geology, of great merit, from Faufas de St. Fond. I did not know him personally, nor do I know the standing he holds in society or his government; but an intimate acquaintance of his here gives me a good account of him as an amiable and virtuous man. My answer to him will be more than a mere compliment of thanks, but confined to the branch of science which is the subject of his work. An opening has been given me of making a communication which will be acceptable to the emperor Alexander, either directly or indirectly, and as from one private individual to another. I have not decided whether to do it or not. This is the whole extent of the literary correspondence which I now keep up in Europe, and I set the more value on it inasmuch as I can make private friendships instrumental to the public good by inspiring a confidence which is denied to public, and official communications.
I expect this evening’s post will bring us the account that Louisiana was formally delivered to us about the 16th of December. This acquisition is seen by our constituents in all it’s importance, & they do justice to all those who have been instrumental towards it. Fortunately, the federal leaders have had the imprudence to oppose it pertinaciously, which has given an occasion to a great proportion of their quondam honest adherents to abandon them and join the republican standard. They feel themselves now irretrievably lost, and are ceasing to make further opposition in the states, or anywhere but in Congress. I except however N. Hampshire, Mass. Connect. & Delaware. The 1st will be with us in the course of this year; Connecticut is advancing with a slow but steady step, never losing the ground she gains; Massachusetts has a Republicanism of so flaccid a texture, and Delaware so much affected by every little topical information, that we must wait for them with patience & good Humour. Congress is now engaged in a bill for the government of Louisiana. It is impossible to foresee in what shape it will come out. They talk of giving 5,000 D. to the Governor, but the bill also proposes to commence at the close of this session. I have in private conversations demonstrated to individuals that that is impossible; that the necessary officers cannot be mustered there under 6 months. If they give that time for it’s commencement, it may admit our appointing you to that office, as I presume you could be in place with a term not much beyond that, & in the interval the Secretary of the state would govern. But the idea of the public as to the importance of that office would not bear a long absence of the principal. You are not to calculate that 5,000 D. would place you by any means as much at your ease there as 9,000 D. where you are. In that station you cannot avoid expensive hospitality. Where you are, altho’ it is not pleasant to fall short in returning civilities, yet necessity has rendered this so familiar in Europe as not to lessen respect for the person whose circumstances do not permit a return of hospitalities. I see by your letters the pain which this situation gives you, and I can estimate its acuteness from the generosity of your nature. But, my dear friend, calculate with mathematical rigour the pain annexed to each branch of the dilemma & pursue that which brings the least. To give up entertainment, & to live with the most rigorous economy till you have cleared yourself of every demand is a pain for a definite time only: but to return here with accumulated encumbrances on you, will fill your life with torture. We wish to do everything for you which law & rule will permit. But more than this would injure you as much as us. Believing that the mission to Spain will enable you to suspend expense greatly in London, & to apply your salary during your absence to the clearing off your debt, you will be instructed to proceed there as soon as you shall have regulated certain points of neutral right for us with England, or as soon as you find nothing in that way can be done. This you should hurry as much as possible, that you may proceed to Spain, for settling with that court the boundaries of Louisiana. On this subject Mr. Madison will send you the copy of a memoir of mine, written last summer while I was among my books at Monticello. We scarcely expect any liberal or just settlement with Spain, and are perfectly determined to obtain or to take our just limits. How far you will suffer yourself to be detained there by the procrastinations of artifice or indolence must depend on the prospects which arise, and on your own determination to accept the government of Louisiana, which will admit but of a limited delay. It is probable that the inhabitants of Louisiana on the left bank of the Mississippi and inland Eastwardly to a considerable extent, will very soon claim to be received under our jurisdiction, and that this end of W. Florida will thus be peaceably got possession of. For Mobile and the Eastern end we shall await favorable conjunctures. If they refuse to let our vessels have free ingress & egress in the Mobile to & from the Tombiggy settlements, and if Spain is at war, the crisis there will be speedy. Fulwar Skipwith wishes office in Louisiana. But he should be made sensible of the impossibility of an office remaining vacant till we can import an incumbent from Europe. That of Govr. is the only one for which the law has made that sort of provision. Besides he has been so long absent from America, that he cannot have habits and feelings, and the tact necessary to be in unison with his countrymen here. He is much fitter for any matters of business (below that of diplomacy) which we may have to do in Europe. There is here a great sense of the inadequacy of C. Pinckney to the office he is in. His continuance is made a subject of standing reproach to myself personally, by whom the appointment was made before I had collected the administration. He declared at the time that nothing would induce him to continue so as not to be here at the ensuing Presidential election. I am persuaded he expected to be proposed at it as V. P. After he got to Europe his letters asked only a continuance of two years. But he now does not drop the least hint of a voluntary return. Pray, my dear sir, avail yourself of his vanity, his expectations, his fears, and whatever will weigh with him to induce him to ask leave to return, and obtain from him to be the bearer of the letter yourself. You will render us in this the most acceptable service possible. His enemies here are perpetually dragging his character in the dirt, and charging it on the administration. He does, or ought to know this, and to feel the necessity of coming home to vindicate himself, if he looks to anything further in the career of honor.
You ask for small news. Mr. Randolph & Mr. Eppes are both of Congress, and now with me, their wives lying in at home. Trist was appointed collector of Natchez and on the removal of that office down to New Orleans will be continued there. His family still remain in Albemarle, but will join him in the spring. Dr. Bache has been to N. Orleans as Physician to the hospital there. He is returned to Philadelphia where his wife is, and where they will probably remain. Peachey Gilmer has married Miss House, and will go with the family to N. Orleans. Mr. Short has been to Kentucky, and will return to Europe in the spring. The deaths of Samuel Adams & Judge Pendleton you will have heard of. Colo. N. Lewis, Divers & the Carrs are all well and their families. Sam. Carr is now living in Albemarle. J. F. Mercer’s quarrel with his counsel has carried him over openly to the federalists. He is now in the Maryland legislature entirely thrown off by the republicans. He has never seen or written on these things to Mr. Madison or myself. When mentioning your going to N. Orleans & that the salary there would not increase the ease of your situation, I meant to have added that the only considerations which might make it eligible to you were the facility of getting there the richest land in the world, the extraordinary profitableness of their culture, and that the removal of your slaves there might immediately put you under way. You alone however can weigh these things for yourself, and after all, it may depend on the time the legislature may give for commencing the new government. But, let us hear from you as soon as you can determine, that we may not incur the blame of waiting for nothing. Mr. Merry is with us, and we believe him to be personally as desirable a character as could have been sent us. But he is unluckily associated with one of an opposite character in every point. She has already disturbed our harmony extremely. He began by claiming the first visit from the national ministers. He corrected himself in this. But a pretension to take precedence at dinners &c. over all others is persevered in. We have told him that the principle of society, as well as of government, with us, is the equality of the individuals composing it. That no man here would come to a dinner, where he was to be marked with inferiority to any other. That we might as well attempt to force our principle of equality at St. James’s as he his principle of precedent here. I had been in the habit, when I invited female company (having no lady in my family) to ask one of the ladies of the 4. secretaries to come & take care of my company; and as she was to do the honors of the table I handed her to dinner myself. That Mr. Merry might not construe this as giving them a precedence over Mrs. Merry, I have discontinued it. And here as well as in private houses, the pêle-mêle practice, is adhered to. They have got Yrujo to take a zealous part in the claim of precedence: it has excited generally emotions of great contempt and indignation, (in which the members of the legislature participate sensibly,) that the agents of foreign nations should assume to dictate to us what shall be the laws of our society. The consequence will be that Mr. & Mrs. Merry will put themselves into Coventry, & that he will lose the best half of his usefulness to his nation, that derived from a perfectly familiar & private intercourse with the secretaries & myself. The latter be assured, is a virago, and in the short course of a few weeks has established a degree of dislike among all classes which one would have thought impossible in so short a time. Thornton has entered into their ideas. At this we wonder, because he is a plain man, a sensible one, & too candid to be suspected of wishing to bring on their recall & his own substitution. To counterwork their misrepresentations, it would be well their government should understand as much of these things as can be communicated with decency, that they may know the spirit in which their letters are written. We learn that Thornton thinks we are not as friendly now to Great Britain as before our acquisition of Louisiana. This is totally without foundation. Our friendship to that nation is cordial and sincere. So is that with France. We are anxious to see England maintain her standing, only wishing she would use her power on the ocean with justice. If she had done this heretofore, other nations would not have stood by and looked on with unconcern on a conflict which endangers her existence. We are not indifferent to it’s issue, nor should we be so on a conflict on which the existence of France should be in danger. We consider each as a necessary instrument to hold in check the disposition of the other to tyrannize over other nations. With respect to Merry, he appears so reasonable and good a man, that I should be sorry to lose him as long as there remains a possibility of reclaiming him to the exercise of his own dispositions. If his wife perseveres, she must eat her soup at home, and we shall endeavor to draw him into society as if she did not exist. It is unfortunate that the good understanding of nations should hang on the caprice of an individual, who ostensibly has nothing to do with them. Present my friendly & respectful salutations to Mrs. Monroe & Miss Eliza: and be assured yourself of my constant affections.
Jan. 16. Louisiana was delivered to our Commissioners on the 20th. Dec.
TO THOMAS McKEAN
Washington Jan. 17, 1804.
—I have duly received your favor of the 8th but the act of ratification which it announces is not yet come to hand. No doubt it is on it’s way. That great opposition is and will be made by federalists to this amendment is certain. They know that if it prevails, neither a Presidt or Vice President can ever be made but by the fair vote of the majority of the nation, of which they are not. That either their opposition to the principle of discrimination now, or their advocation of it formerly was on party, not moral motives, they cannot deny. Consequently they fix for themselves the place in the scale of moral rectitude to which they are entitled. I am a friend to the discriminating principle; and for a reason more than others have, inasmuch as the discriminated vote of my constituents will express unequivocally the verdict they wish to cast on my conduct. The abominable slanders of my political enemies have obliged me to call for that verdict from my country in the only way it can be obtained, and if obtained it will be my sufficient voucher to the rest of the world & to posterity, and leave me free to seek, at a definite time, the repose I sincerely wished to have retired to now. I suffer myself to make no inquiries as to the persons who are to be placed on the rolls of competition for the public favor. Respect for myself as well as for the public requires that I should be the silent & passive subject of their consideration. We are now at work on a territorial division & government for Louisiana. It will probably be a small improvement of our former territorial governments, or first grade of government. The act proposes to give them an assembly of Notables, selected by the Governor from the principal characters of the territory. This will, I think, be a better legislature than the former territorial one, & will not be a greater departure from sound principle. Accept my friendly salutations & assurances of high respect & consideration.
TO DOCTOR JOSEPH PRIESTLEY
Washington Jan. 29, 1804.
—Your favor of December 12 came duly to hand, as did the 2d. letter to Doctor Linn, and the treatise of Phlogiston, for which I pray you to accept my thanks. The copy for Mr. Livingston has been delivered, together with your letter to him, to Mr. Harvie, my secretary, who departs in a day or two for Paris, & will deliver them himself to Mr. Livingston, whose attention to your matter cannot be doubted. I have also to add my thanks to Mr. Priestley, your son, for the copy of your Harmony, which I have gone through with great satisfaction. It is the first I have been able to meet with, which is clear of those long repetitions of the same transaction, as if it were a different one because related with some different circumstances.
I rejoice that you have undertaken the task of comparing the moral doctrines of Jesus with those of the ancient Philosophers. You are so much in possession of the whole subject, that you will do it easier & better than any other person living. I think you cannot avoid giving, as preliminary to the comparison, a digest of his moral doctrines, extracted in his own words from the Evangelists, and leaving out everything relative to his personal history and character. It would be short and precious. With a view to do this for my own satisfaction, I had sent to Philadelphia to get two testaments Greek of the same edition, & two English, with a design to cut out the morsels of morality, and paste them on the leaves of a book, in the manner you describe as having been pursued in forming your Harmony. But I shall now get the thing done by better hands.
I very early saw that Louisiana was indeed a speck in our horizon which was to burst in a tornado; and the public are unapprized how near this catastrophe was. Nothing but a frank & friendly development of causes & effects on our part, and good sense enough in Bonaparte to see that the train was unavoidable, and would change the face of the world, saved us from that storm. I did not expect he would yield till a war took place between France and England, and my hope was to palliate and endure, if Messrs. Ross, Morris, &c. did not force a premature rupture, until that event. I believed the event not very distant, but acknolege it came on sooner than I had expected. Whether, however, the good sense of Bonaparte might not see the course predicted to be necessary & unavoidable, even before a war should be imminent, was a chance which we thought it our duty to try; but the immediate prospect of rupture brought the case to immediate decision. The dénoument has been happy; and I confess I look to this duplication of area for the extending a government so free and economical as ours, as a great achievement to the mass of happiness which is to ensue. Whether we remain in one confederacy, or form into Atlantic and Mississippi confederacies, I believe not very important to the happiness of either part. Those of the western confederacy will be as much our children & descendants as those of the eastern, and I feel myself as much identified with that country, in future time, as with this; and did I now foresee a separation at some future day, yet I should feel the duty & the desire to promote the western interests as zealously as the eastern, doing all the good for both portions of our future family which should fall within my power.
Have you seen the new work of Malthus on population? It is one of the ablest I have ever seen. Altho’ his main object is to delineate the effects of redundancy of population, and to test the poor laws of England, & other palliations for that evil, several important questions in political economy, allied to his subject incidentally, are treated with a masterly hand. It is a single 4to. volume, and I have been only able to read a borrowed copy, the only one I have yet heard of. Probably our friends in England will think of you, & give you an opportunity of reading it. Accept my affectionate salutations, and assurances of great esteem & respect.
TO CÆSAR A. RODNEY
Washington Feb. 24, 04.
—I receive with sincere grief your letter of the 21st and lament the necessity which calls for your retirement, if that necessity really exists. I had looked to you as one of those calculated to give cohesion to our rope of sand. You now see the composition of our public bodies, and how essential system and plan are for conducting our affairs wisely with so bitter a party in opposition to us, who look not at all to what is best for the public, but how they may thwart whatever we may propose, tho’ they should thereby sink their country. Talents in our public councils are at all times important; but perhaps there never was a moment when the loss of any would be more injurious than at the present. The condition of our affairs is advantageous. But it is also true that we are now under a crisis which is not without hazard from different quarters at home and abroad. But all this you understand perfectly, and if under such circumstances you withdraw I shall believe that the necessity which occasions it is imperious, and shall lament it most sincerely. Accept my affectionate salutations.
TO ELBRIDGE GERRY
Washington March 3, 1804.
—Altho’ it is long since I received your favor of Oct. 27, yet I have not had leisure sooner to acknolege it. In the middle Southern States, as great an union of sentiment has now taken place as is perhaps desirable. For as there will always be an opposition, I believe it had better be from avowed monarchists than republicans. New York seems to be in danger of republican division; Vermont is solidly with us; R. I. with us on anomalous grounds; N. H. on the verge of the republican shore; Connecticut advancing towards it very slowly, but with steady step; your State only uncertain of making port at all. I had forgotten Delaware, which will be always uncertain, from the divided character of her citizens. If the amendment of the Constitution passes R. I., (and we expect to hear in a day or two,) the election for the ensuing 4 years seems to present nothing formidable. I sincerely regret that the unbounded calumnies of the federal party have obliged me to throw myself on the verdict of my country for trial, my great desire having been to retire, at the end of the present term, to a life of tranquillity; and it was my decided purpose when I entered into office. They force my continuance. If we can keep the vessel of State as steadily in her course another 4 years, my earthly purposes will be accomplished, and I shall be free to enjoy, as you are doing, my family, my farm, & my books. That your enjoiments may continue as long as you shall wish them, I sincerely pray, and tender you my friendly salutations, and assurances of great respect & esteem.
TO COL. THOMAS NEWTON
Washington Mar. 5, 1804.
—We have just heard of the calamitous event of Norfolk. I have not heard whether any persons are named to receive donations for the relief of the poor sufferers, and therefore take the liberty of inclosing two hundred dollars to you, & of asking the favor of you to have it applied in the way you think best, for the relief of such description of sufferers as you shall think best. I pray not to be named in newspapers on this occasion. Accept my friendly salutations & assurances of respect.
TO THE POSTMASTER-GENERAL
Monticello April 16, 1804.
—In our last conversation you mentioned a federal scheme afloat, of forming a coalition between the federalists and republicans, of what they called the 7 Eastern States. The idea was new to me, and after time for reflection I had no opportunity of conversing with you again. The federalists know, that, eo nominie, they are gone forever. Their object, therefore, is, how to return into power under some other form. Undoubtedly they have but one means, which is to divide the republicans, join the minority, and barter with them for the cloak of their name. I say, join the minority; because the majority of the republicans not needing them, will not buy them. The minority, having no other means of ruling the majority, will give a price for auxiliaries, and that price must be principle. It is true that the federalists, needing their numbers also, must also give a price, and principle is the coin they must pay in. Thus a bastard system of federo-republicanism will rise on the ruins of the true principles of our revolution. And when this party is formed, who will constitute the majority of it, which majority is then to dictate? Certainly the federalists. Thus their proposition of putting themselves into gear with the republican minority, is exactly like Roger Sherman’s proposition to add Connecticut to Rhode island. The idea of forming 7 Eastern States is moreover clearly to form the basis of a separation of the Union. Is it possible that real republicans can be gulled by such a bait? & for what? What do they wish that they have not? Federal measures? That is impossible. Republican measures? Have they them not? Can any one deny, that in all important questions of principle, republicanism prevails? But do they want that their individual will shall govern the majority? They may purchase the gratification of this unjust wish, for a little time, at a great price; but the federalists must not have the passions of other men, if, after getting thus into the seat of power, they suffer themselves to be governed by their minority. This minority may say, that whenever they relapse into their own principles, they will quit them, & draw the seat from under them. They may quit them, indeed, but, in the meantime, all the venal will have become associated with them, & will give them a majority sufficient to keep them in place, & to enable them to eject the heterogeneous friends by whose aid they get again into power. I cannot believe any portion of real republicans will enter into this trap; and if they do, I do not believe they can carry with them the mass of their States, advancing so steadily as we see them, to an union of principle with their brethren. It will be found in this, as in all other similar cases, that crooked schemes will end by overwhelming their authors & coadjutors in disgrace, and that he alone who walks strait & upright, and who, in matters of opinion, will be contented that others should be as free as himself, & acquiesce when his opinion is fairly overruled, will attain his object in the end. And that this may be the conduct of us all, I offer my sincere prayers, as well as for your health & happiness.
TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE
Monticello Apr. 23, 04.
—I return by this mail the letters &c. received with yours of the 15th. I think with you that a cordial answer should be given to Mr. Merry on the orders he communicated, altho’ they were merely the correction of an injustice. Would to god that nation would so far be just in her conduct, as that we might with honor give her that friendship it is so much our interest to bear her. She is now a living example that no nation however powerful, any more than an individual, can be unjust with impunity. Sooner or later public opinion, an instrument merely moral in the beginning, will find occasion physically to inflict it’s sentences on the unjust. Nothing else could have kept the other nations of Europe from relieving her under her present crisis. The lesson is useful to the weak as well as the strong.
On the 17th instant our hopes & fears here took their ultimate form. I had originally intended to have left this towards the end of the present week. But a desire to see my family in a state of more composure before we separate will keep me somewhat longer. Still it is not probable I shall be here to answer any letter which leaves Washington after the 26th, because those of the succeeding post (the 30th) could not be answered till the 7th of May, when I may probably be on the road. Not having occasion to write to-day to the other heads of departments, will you be so good as to mention this to them? Accept my affectionate salutations.
TO THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY
Monticello Apr. 27, 04.
—I now return you the sentence of the court of inquiry in Morris’s case. What is the next step? I am not military jurist enough to say. But if it be a court marshal to try and pass the proper sentence on him, pray let it be done without delay while our captains are here. This opportunity of having a court should not be lost.
I have never been so mortified as at the conduct of our foreign functionaries on the loss of the Philadelphia. They appear to have supposed that we were all lost now, & without resource: and they have hawked us in forma pauperis begging alms at every court in Europe. This self-degradation is the more unpardonable as, uninstructed & unauthorized, they have taken measures which commit us by moral obligations which cannot be disavowed. The most serious of these is with the first consul of France, the Emperor of Russia & Grand Seigneur. The interposition of the two first has been so prompt, so cordial, so energetic, that it is impossible for us to decline the good offices they have done us. From the virtuous & warm-hearted character of the Emperor, and the energy he is using with the Ottoman Porte, I am really apprehensive that our squadron will, on it’s arrival, find our prisoners all restored. If this should be the case, it would be ungrateful and insulting to these three great powers, to chastise the friend (Tripoli) whom they had induced to do us voluntary justice. Our expedition will in that case be disarmed and our just desires of vengeance disappointed, and our honor prostrated. To anticipate these measures, and to strike our blow before they shall have had their effect, are additional & cogent motives for getting off our squadron without a moment’s avoidable delay. At the same time it has now become necessary to decide before it goes, what is to be the line of conduct of the Commodore if he should find our prisoners restored. I shall be with you about this day fortnight. Should the frigates be ready to go before that, I must desire you to have a consultation of the heads of departments as to the instructions, and to give orders to the Commodore in conformity. I would wish at the same time a question to be taken whether the Commodore should not be instructed immediately on his arrival at his rendez-vous in the Mediterranean to send off at our expense the presents destined by Tripoli for the Grand Seigneur, and intercepted by us, with a letter from the Secretary of State to their analogous officer, who I believe is called the Reis effendi. I am not without hope Preble will have had the good sense to do this of his own accord. It’s effect will now be lessened, as it will be considered, not as spontaneous, but in consequence of what the Porte may have done on the interference of the Emperor of Russia. Accept my affectionate salutations & assurances of attachment.
TO GENERAL JOHN ARMSTRONG
Washington May 26, 04.
—We find it of advantage to the public to ask of those to whom appointments are proposed, if they are not accepted, to say nothing of the offer, at least for a convenient time. The refusal cheapens the estimation of the public appointments and renders them less acceptable to those to whom they are secondarily proposed. The occasion of this remark will be found in a letter you will receive from the Secretary of State proposing to you the appointment to Paris as successor to Chancellor Livingston. I write this private letter to remove some doubts which might perhaps arise in your mind. You have doubtless heard of the complaints of our foreign ministers as to the incompetency of their salaries. I believe it would be better were they somewhat enlarged. Yet a moment’s reflection will satisfy you that a man may live in any country on any scale he pleases, and more easily in that than this, because there the grades are more distinctly marked. From the ambassador there a certain degree of representation is expected. But the lower grades of Envoy, minister resident, Chargé, have been introduced to accommodate both the sovereign & missionary as to the scale of expense. I can assure you from my own knowledge of the ground that these latter grades are left free in the opinion of the place to adopt any style they please, & that it does not lessen their estimation or their usefulness. When I was at Paris two-thirds of the diplomatic men of the 2d and 3d orders entertained nobody. Yet they were as much invited out and honored as those of the same grades who entertained. I suspect from what I hear that the Chancellor having always stood on a line with those of the first expense here, has not had resolution enough to yield place there, & that he has taken up the ambassadorial scale of expense. This procures one some sunshine friends who like to eat of your good things, but has no effect on the men of real business, the only men of real use to you, in a place where every man is estimated at what he really is. But this subject requires more detail than can be given but in conversation. If you accept, I think it will be necessary for you to come and pass some days here in reading the correspondence with the courts of Paris, London & Madrid, that you may be fully possessed of the state of things on that side the water so far as they concern us. The Chancellor being extremely urging in his last letters to be immediately relieved, we are obliged to ask all the expedition in departure which is practicable. The state of affairs between us & France as they respect St. Domingo is somewhat embarrassing & urgent. Accept my friendly salutations & assurances of great esteem & respect.
TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY
May 30, 04.
Altho’ I know that it is best generally to assign no reason for a removal from office, yet there are also times when the declaration of a principle is advantageous. Such was the moment at which the New Haven letter appeared. It explained our principles to our friends, and they rallied to them. The public sentiment has taken a considerable stride since that, and seems to require that they should know again where we stand. I suggest therefore for your consideration, instead of the following passage in your letter to Bowen, “I think it due to candor at the same time to inform you, that I had for some time been determined to remove you from office, although a successor has not yet been appointed by the President, nor the precise time fixed for that purpose communicated to me;” to substitute this, “I think it due to candor at the same time to inform you, that the President considering that the patronage of public office should no longer be confided to one who uses it for active opposition to the national will, had, some time since, determined to place your office in other hands. But a successor not being yet fixed on, I am not able to name the precise time when it will take place.”
My own opinion is, that the declaration of this principle will meet the entire approbation of all moderate republicans, and will extort indulgence from the warmer ones. Seeing that we do not mean to leave arms in the hands of active enemies, they will care the less at our tolerance of the inactive. Nevertheless, if you are strongly of opinion against such a declaration, let the letter go as you had written it.
TO THOMAS LEIPER
Washington June 11, 04.
—A Mr. John Hill of Philadelphia asks of me whether Mr. Duane senr ever said in my presence “that the members of the St. Patrick’s society in Phila were all Federalists.” I do not know Mr. Hill, and the liberties which have been taken in publishing my letters renders it prudent not to commit them to persons whom I do not know, yet a desire never to be wanting to truth and justice makes me wish it to be known that Mr. Duane never did use such an expression or anything like it to me either verbally or in writing or any other way, nor utter a sentiment disrespectful of the society. I remember a considerable time ago to have had a letter from one of the society stating that such information they heard had been given me, but not saying by whom, which letter I immediately answered with an assurance that no such suggestion had ever been made to me. I cannot now recollect to whom the answer was given and therefore cannot turn to it. Our friends in Philadelphia seem to have got into such a jumble of subdivision that not knowing how they stand individually, I have been at a loss to whom I should address this with a request to repeat verbally the substance of this declaration as on my authority but not letting the letter go out of his hands. I have concluded to ask that favor of you whose justice I am sure will induce you to give the assurance where it may contribute to justice, and whose friendship will excuse the trouble of this request. Accept my friendly salutations & assurances of esteem & respect.
TO MRS. JOHN ADAMS
Washington June 13, 04.
—The affectionate sentiments which you have had the goodness to express in your letter of May 20, towards my dear departed daughter, have awakened in me sensibilities natural to the occasion, & recalled your kindnesses to her, which I shall ever remember with gratitude & friendship. I can assure you with truth, they had made an indelible impression on her mind, and that to the last, on our meetings after long separations, whether I had heard lately of you, and how you did, were among the earliest of her inquiries. In giving you this assurance I perform a sacred duty for her, & at the same time, am thankful for the occasion furnished me, of expressing my regret that circumstances should have arisen, which have seemed to draw a line of separation between us. The friendship with which you honored me has ever been valued, and fully reciprocated; & altho’ events have been passing which might be trying to some minds, I never believed yours to be of that kind, nor felt that my own was. Neither my estimate of your character, nor the esteem founded in that, have ever been lessened for a single moment, although doubts whether it would be acceptable may have forbidden manifestations of it.
Mr. Adams’s friendship & mine began at an earlier date. It accompanied us thro’ long & important scenes. The different conclusions we had drawn from our political reading & reflections, were not permitted to lessen mutual esteem; each party being conscious they were the result of an honest conviction in the other. Like differences of opinion existing among our fellow citizens, attached them to one or the other of us, and produced a rivalship in their minds which did not exist in ours. We never stood in one another’s way; for if either had been withdrawn at any time, his favorers would not have gone over to the other, but would have sought for some one of homogeneous opinions. This consideration was sufficient to keep down all jealousy between us, & to guard our friendship from any disturbance by sentiments of rivalship; and I can say with truth, that one act of Mr. Adams’s life, and one only, ever gave me a moment’s personal displeasure. I did consider his last appointments to office as personally unkind. They were from among my most ardent political enemies, from whom no faithful co-operation could ever be expected; and laid me under the embarrassment of acting thro’ men whose views were to defeat mine, or to encounter the odium of putting others in their places. It seemed but common justice to leave a successor free to act by instruments of his own choice. If my respect for him did not permit me to ascribe the whole blame to the influence of others, it left something for friendship to forgive, and after brooding over it for some little time, and not always resisting the expression of it, I forgave it cordially, and returned to the same state of esteem & respect for him which had so long subsisted. Having come into life a little later than Mr. Adams, his career has preceded mine, as mine is followed by some other; and it will probably be closed at the same distance after him which time originally placed between us. I maintain for him, & shall carry into private life, an uniform & high measure of respect and good will and for yourself a sincere attachment.
I have thus, my dear Madam, opened myself to you without reserve, which I have long wished an opportunity of doing; and without knowing how it will be received, I feel relief from being unbosomed. And I have now only to entreat your forgiveness for this transition from a subject of domestic affliction, to one which seems of a different aspect. But tho’ connected with political events, it has been viewed by me most strongly in it’s unfortunate bearings on my private friendships. The injury these have sustained has been a heavy price for what has never given me equal pleasure. That you may both be favored with health, tranquillity and long life, is the prayer of one who tenders you the assurance of his highest consideration and esteem.
TO THE SECRETARY OF THE STATE.
July 5, 04.
We did not collect the sense of our brethren the other day by regular questions, but as far as I could understand from what was said, it appeared to be,—1. That an acknolegment of our right to the Perdido, is a sine qua non, and no price to be given for it. 2. No absolute & perpetual relinquishment of right is to [be] made of the country East of the Rio Bravo del Norte even in exchange for Florida. (I am not quite sure that this was the opinion of all.) It would be better to lengthen the term of years to any definite degree than to cede in perpetuity. 3. That a country may be laid off within which no further settlement shall be made by either party for a given time, say thirty years. This country to be from the North river eastwardly towards the Rio Colorado, or even to, but not beyond the Mexican or Sabine river. To whatever river it be extended, it might from its’ source run N. W., as the most eligible direction; but a due north line would produce no restraint that we should feel in 20 years. This relinquishment, & 2 millions of Dollars, to be the price of all the Floridas East of the Perdido, or to be apportioned to whatever part they will cede.
But on entering into conferences, both parties should agree that, during their continuance, neither should strengthen their situation between the Iberville, Missipi & Perdido, nor interrupt the navigation of the rivers therein. If they will not give such an order instantly, they should be told that we have for peace sake only, forborne till they could have time to give such an order, but that as soon as we receive notice of their refusal to give the order we shall enter into the exercise of our right of navigating the Mobile, & protect it, and increase our force there pari passu with them.
TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE
July 14. 04.
The inclosed reclamations of Girod & Chote against the claims of Bapstropp to a monopoly of the Indian commerce supposed to be under the protection of the 3d article of the Louisiana Convention, as well as some other claims to abusive grants, will probably force us to meet that question. The article has been worded with remarkable caution on the part of our negociators. It is that the inhabitants shall be admitted as soon as possible, according to the principles of our Constn., to the enjoyment of all the rights of citizens, and, in the mean time, en attendant, shall be maintained in their liberty, property & religion. That is that they shall continue under the protection of the treaty, until the principles of our constitution can be extended to them, when the protection of the treaty is to cease, and that of our own principles to take it’s place. But as this could not be done at once, it has been provided to be as soon as our rules will admit. Accordingly Congress has begun by extending about 20. particular laws by their titles, to Louisiana. Among these is the act concerning intercourse with the Indians, which establishes a system of commerce with them admitting no monopoly. That class of rights therefore are now taken from under the treaty & placed under the principles of our laws. I imagine it will be necessary to express an opinion to Govr. Claiborne on this subject, after you shall have made up one. Affectte. salutations.
TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE
Monticello Aug: 7, 04
—Yours of the 4th came to hand last night & I now return you the letters of Livingston, Bourne, Lee, Lynch, Villandry & Mr. King. Stewart’s is retained for communication with the P. M. Genl. I send also for your perusal a letter of a Mr Farquhar of Malta. Mr. Livingston’s letters (two short ones excepted) being all press copies & very bad ones, I can make nothing distinct of them. When manuscript copies are received I shall be glad to read them. The conduct of the commissioners at Paris merits examination. But what Mr. Livingston means by delays on our part in the execution of the Convention is perfectly incomprehensible. I do not know that a single day was unnecessarily lost on our part. In order however to lessen the causes of appeal to the Convention, I sincerely wish that Congress at the next session may give to the Orleans territory a legislature to be chosen by the people, as this will be advancing them quite as fast as the rules of our government will admit; and the evils which may arise from the irregularities which such a legislature may run into, will not be so serious as leaving them the pretext of calling in a foreign umpire between them & us. The answer to Mr. Villandry should certainly be what you mention, that the objects of his application are only within the competence of Congress, to whom they must apply by petition, if they chuse it. Perhaps it would be but kind & candid to add that as there has been no example of such measures taken by Congress as they ask, they should consider whether it would not be wise in them to act for themselves as they would do were no such measures expected. I expect daily to receive answers from the principal officers for the Orleans government. These received, I will proceed to make out the whole arrangement, and inclose it to you, asking your counsel on it without delay. It will not be practicable to submit it to the other members, but I have so often conversed with them on the subject as to possess their sentiments. As we count on the favor of a family visit could you accommodate that in point of time so as that we might be together at making out the final list? Affectionate salutations & assurances of friendship.
TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE
Monticello Aug 15, 04.
—Your letter dated the 7th should probably have been of the 14th, as I received it only by that day’s post. I return you Monroe’s letter, which is of an awful complexion; and I do not wonder the communication it contains made some impression on him. To a person placed in Europe, surrounded by the immense resources of the nations there, and the greater wickedness of their courts, even the limits which nature imposes on their enterprises are scarcely sensible. It is impossible that France and England should combine for any purpose; their mutual distrust and deadly hatred of each other admit no co-operation. It is impossible that England should be willing to see France re-possess Louisiana, or get footing on our continent, and that France should willingly see the U S re-annexed to the British dominions. That the Bourbons should be replaced on their throne and agree to any terms of restitution, is possible; but that they and England joined, could recover us to British dominion, is impossible. If these things are not so, then human reason is of no aid in conjecturing the conduct of nations. Still, however, it is our unquestionable interest & duty to conduct ourselves with such sincere friendship & impartiality towards both nations, as that each may see unequivocally, what is unquestionably true, that we may be very possibly driven into her scale by unjust conduct in the other. I am so much impressed with the expediency of putting a termination to the right of France to patronize the rights of Louisiana, which will cease with their complete adoption as citizens of the U S, that I hope to see that take place on the meeting of Congress. I enclosed you a paragraph from a newspaper respecting Saint Domingo, which gives me uneasiness. Still I conceive the British insults in our harbor as more threatening. We cannot be respected by France as a neutral nation, nor by the world ourselves as an independent one, if we do not take effectual measures to support, at every risk, our authority in our own harbors. I shall write to Mr. Wagner directly (that a post may not be lost by passing thro you) to send us blank commissions for Orleans & Louisiana, ready sealed, to be filled up, signed and forwarded by us. Affectionate salutations & constant esteem.
TO JOHN PAGE
Monticello Aug. 16, 04.
—I inclose for your perusal a letter from Dr. Rush, asking the favor of you to return it. On the question whether the yellow fever is infectious, or endemic, the medical faculty is divided into parties, and it certainly is not the office of the public functionaries to denounce either party as the Doctr. proposes. Yet, so far as they are called on to act, they must form for themselves an opinion to act on. In the early history of the disease, I did suppose it to be infectious. Not reading any of the party papers on either side, I continued in this supposition until the fever at Alexandria brought facts under my own eye, as it were, proving it could not be communicated but in a local atmosphere, pretty exactly circumscribed. With the composition of this atmosphere we are unacquainted. We know only that it is generated near the water side, in close built cities, under warm climates. According to the rules of philosophizing when one sufficient cause for an effect is known, it is not within the economy of nature to employ two. If local atmosphere suffices to produce the fever, miasmata from a human subject are not necessary and probably do not enter into the cause. Still it is not within my province to decide the question; but as it may be within yours to require the performance of quarantine or not, I execute a private duty in submitting Doctr. Rush’s letter to your consideration. But on this subject “nil mihi rescribas, et tamen ipsi veni.” Accept for yourself & Mrs. Page affectionate & respectful salutations.
TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY
Monticello Aug. 23, 04.
—Your’s of the 16th was received on the 21st. Dickerson’s delay of proceeding to N. Orleans will give us time. If Pinckney accepts the office of judge, Robert Williams might be the attorney; if Pinckney does not accept, or does not arrive in time (and a few days only must now decide the latter point) Williams must be the judge. Hill accepts as district judge. With respect to Neufville I am not satisfied with Freneau’s recommendation & especially as he sais nothing of his Politics. His situation would naturally bias a man of feeling to speak favorably of him. I have therefore written to Mr. Wagner for a blank commission which I will inclose blank to Freneau, desiring him to fill it up for Doyley if he will accept of it; if not, then with whatever name he thinks best, having regard to moral & political character & standing in society. I have no fear to trust to his fidelity & secrecy. I shall immediately direct a commission for Mr. Travis: & shall forward to Mr. Nicholas the new recommendations for Hampton for his advice. Accept affectionate salutations.
TO THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY
Monticello Aug. 28, 04.
—I inclose you a letter and other papers which I received from Capt. Truxtun by the last post. The malice and falsehood so habitual in Federal zealots had prepared me against surprise at the insinuations of this officer against you & myself. But what was his view in inclosing the letter to me? Was it to give greater point to his disrespect? Or did he imagine I should make him overtures to prevent his publication? I would rather he would publish than not; for while his writings will let the public see what he is, & what are the motives of his discontent, a few sentences of plain fact will set everything in them to rights as to our conduct. Be so good as to return me the written letter.
The following paragraph which comes to me from a friend in Philadelphia I quote for your notice.
“It is said here that George Harrison has applied for the place in the navy that Genl. Irvine had. He has got too much already for any Federalist who has rendered his country no personal service in the field. This man is married to Thos. Willing’s niece. Willing is Presidt. of the Bank of the U. S. You may also observe he was chairman at a meeting when they agreed to hoist the black cockade on the left arm in honor of Hamilton. They also resolved and expected the clergymen would preach in his favor.”
The writer is a most solid Republican, and who generally expresses the feelings of the republicans in Philadelphia pretty faithfully. I know not what functions Irvine executed for the navy; but if any, the above sentiments are worthy of attention, as the emploiment of Harrison has given them heart burnings. I know nothing of him, whether moderate or violent; but until the party learn a little more moderation & decency, no new favors should be conferred on them. Pennsylvania seems to have in it’s bowels a good deal of volcanic matter, & some explosion may be expected. We must be neutral between the discordant republicans but not between them & their common enemies. I salute you with sincere affection & respect.
TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY
Monticello September 1, 1804.
—After waiting to the twelfth hour to get all the information I could respecting the government of Orleans, I have on consultation with Mr. Madison, sent on the commissions by the mail which left Charlottesville yesterday morning for the westward. It is very much what had been approved by the heads of Departments separately and provisionally, with a few alterations shown to be proper by subsequent information. It is as follows:
Secretary, James Brown.
Judges of Superior Court, Kirby, Prevost, and Pinkney or Williams.
Judge of District, Hall.
Marshal, Urquhart, or Clouast, or Guillot, or any native Frenchman Claiborne prefers.
Legislative Council, Morgan, Watkins, Clarke, Jones, Roman, and Wikoff certain. Don or George Pollock, as Claiborne chooses. Boré, Poydras, and Bellechasse certain, and any three which Claiborne may choose of these five, to wit: Derbigue, Detrehan, Dubruys, Cantarelle, Sauvé.
TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY
Monticello Sep. 8, 04.
—As we shall have to lay before Congress the proceedings of the British vessels at N York, it will be necessary for us to say to them with certainty which specific aggressions were committed within the common law, which within the admiralty jurisdiction, & which on the high seas. The rule of the common law is that wherever you can see from land to land, all the water within the line of sight is in the body of the adjacent county & within common law jurisdiction. Thus, if in this curvature you can see from a to b, all the water within the line of sight is within common law jurisdiction, & a murder committed at c is to be tried as at common law. Our coast is generally visible, I believe, by the time you get within about 25 miles. I suppose that at N York you must be some miles out of the Hook before the opposite shores recede 25. miles from each other. The 3. miles of maritime jurisdiction is always to be counted from this line of sight. It will be necessary we should be furnished with the most accurate chart to be had of the shores & waters in the neighborhood of the Hook; & that we may be able to ascertain on it the spot of every aggression. I presume it would be within the province of Mr. Gelston to procure us such a chart, & to ascertain the positions of the offending vessels. If I am right in this, will you be so good as to instruct him so to do?
I think the officers of the federal government are meddling too much with the public elections. Will it be best to admonish them privately or by proclamation? This for consideration till we meet. I shall be at Washington by the last day of the month. I salute you with affection & respect.
TO THE SPANISH MINISTER
(MARQUÉS DE CASA-YRUJO.)
Monticello Sept. 15, 04.
—Your letter of the 7th inst. came to hand on the 14th only, by which it seems to have lost a post by the way. This therefore cannot be in Washington but on the evening of the 17th. No information has been received from Mr. Pinckney of the character which your letter supposes. The latest we have from him inclosed a letter to him from M. de Cevallos in a tone not as friendly as heretofore used by that Minister towards us, more suited, as we thought, to the close of an unsuccessful discussion, than the beginning of a friendly one, and not calculated to impress a nation whose intentions are just but firm and unyielding to any other motive than justice. What followed the reception of that letter is entirely unknown to us; & what we have seen in the public papers was so little like what would flow from anything done on our part, or expected from yours, that we have given no credit to it. The state of things between us seems indeed to require unreserved explanations, cool & calm discussion, to avoid those evils which neither party probably intends, yet unfounded jealousies & suspicions may beget. These discussions should regularly be between yourself & the Secretary of State: But, a friend to the substance of business, & disregarding all forms which obstruct the way to it, I agree with readiness to the direct & personal interview you propose; and shall receive you here with pleasure at your earliest convenience, as I am to leave this place for Washington on the 26th or 27th instant. Being totally uninformed of what has past I must rely on you to bring any documents or other papers which may be necessary to present a full view of the subject of communication.
Mrs. Randolph will be happy in the opportunity of paying her respects to the Marchioness Yrujo at Monticello, & of contributing her attentions to render the time we may possess her here as agreeable as she can. She joins me in respects to the Marchioness & I add my friendly salutations to yourself & assurances of great consideration & respect.
TO THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL
Monticello Sept. 16, 1804.
—It will be necessary to lay before Congress the aggressions of the British vessels before the harbor of New York. For this purpose it will be necessary in the first place to examine all the cases, and to class them according to the principle of the aggression, and secondly to prepare a succinct statement of them, for I believe that would be more proper than to furnish them the documents. They are not called on to legislate on each case, for then they should inquire into it specifically, but are told by the Executive that such things have happened, in order that they may pass laws to prevent such in future. As the American citizen of N. Y. has kept a steady eye on them and stated the cases I have cut them out of the paper, and now inclose them to you; as they will give you more time to consider the cases, and an opportunity perhaps of consulting your own library on questionable points. Authentic documents & fuller information on every case will be ready for you at Washington, for which place I set out the 27th inst. The Spanish minister here seems to have found means of exciting his court considerably on the act for establishing a port of entry on the Mobile: and something serious has passed between Pinckney and them of which we are not informed. I take for granted that such circumstances as these will be easily allayed by good humor and reason, between reasonable men. The new administration in England is entirely cordial. There has never been a time when our flag was so little molested by them in the European seas, or irregularities there so readily & respectfully corrected. As the officers here began their insults before the change, it is a proof it did not proceed from that change. We must expect however unequivocal measures from them to prevent such things in future, while Congress should enable us to arrest them by our own means, and not expose us to pass such another year of insulted jurisdiction. Accept my affectionate salutations & assurances of great esteem & respect.
TO DE WITT CLINTON
Washington Oct. 6, 1804.
—Your favor of Sep. 21 was received on my return to this place. Certainly the distribution of so atrocious a libel as the pamphlet Aristides, and still more the affirming its contents to be true as holy writ, presents a shade in the morality of Mr. Swartwout, of which his character had not before been understood to be susceptible. Such a rejection of all regard to truth, would have been sufficient cause against receiving him into the corps of executive officers at first; but whether it is expedient after a person is appointed, to be as nice on a question of removal requires great consideration. I proposed soon after coming into office to enjoin the executive officers from intermeddling with elections as inconsistent with the true principles of our Constitution. It was laid over for consideration: but late occurrences prove the propriety of it, and it is now under consideration. In the absence of the Secretary of State I desired his chief clerk to inclose you an extract of a letter respecting Genl. Moreau. That as private individuals we should receive him with cordiality is just. But any public display would be injurious to him, and to our harmony with his former government. I salute you with friendship & respect.
FOURTH ANNUAL MESSAGE.
November 8, 1804.
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:
To a people, fellow citizens, who sincerely desire the happiness and prosperity of other nations; to those who justly calculate that their own well-being is advanced by that of the nations with which they have intercourse, it will be a satisfaction to observe that the war which was lighted up in Europe a little before our last meeting has not yet extended its flames to other nations, nor been marked by the calamities which sometimes stain the footsteps of war. The irregularities too on the ocean, which generally harass the commerce of neutral nations, have, in distinct parts, disturbed ours less than on former occasions. But in the American seas they have been greater from peculiar causes; and even within our harbors and jurisdiction, infringements on the authority of the laws have been committed which have called for serious attention. The friendly conduct of the governments from whose officers and subjects these acts have proceeded, in other respects and in places more under their observation and control, gives us confidence that our representations on this subject will have been properly regarded.
While noticing the irregularities committed on the ocean by others, those on our own part should not be omitted nor left unprovided for. Complaints have been received that persons residing within the United States have taken on themselves to arm merchant vessels, and to force a commerce into certain ports and countries in defiance of the laws of those countries. That individuals should undertake to wage private war, independently of the authority of their country, cannot be permitted in a well-ordered society. Its tendency to produce aggression on the laws and rights of other nations, and to endanger the peace of our own is so obvious, that I doubt not you will adopt measures for restraining it effectually in future.
Soon after the passage of the act of the last session, authorizing the establishment of a district and port of entry on the waters of the Mobile, we learnt that its object was misunderstood on the part of Spain. Candid explanations were immediately given, and assurances that, reserving our claims in that quarter as a subject of discussion and arrangement with Spain, no act was meditated, in the meantime, inconsistent with the peace and friendship existing between the two nations, and that conformably to these intentions would be the execution of the law. The government had, however, thought proper to suspend the ratification of the convention of 1802. But the explanations which would reach them soon after, and still more, the confirmation of them by the tenor of the instrument establishing the port and district, may reasonably be expected to replace them in the dispositions and views of the whole subject which originally dictated the convention.
I have the satisfaction to inform you that the objections which had been urged by that government against the validity of our title to the country of Louisiana have been withdrawn, its exact limits, however, remaining still to be settled between us. And to this is to be added that, having prepared and delivered the stock created in execution of the convention of Paris, of April 30, 1803, in consideration of the cession of that country, we have received from the government of France an acknowledgment, in due form, of the fulfilment of that stipulation.
With the nations of Europe in general our friendship and intercourse are undisturbed, and from the governments of the belligerent powers especially we continue to receive those friendly manifestations which are justly due to an honest neutrality, and to such good offices consistent with that as we have opportunities of rendering.
The activity and success of the small force employed in the Mediterranean in the early part of the present year, the reinforcement sent into that sea, and the energy of the officers having command in the several vessels, will, I trust, by the sufferings of war, reduce the barbarians of Tripoli to the desire of peace on proper terms. Great injury, however, ensues to ourselves as well as to others interested, from the distance to which prizes must be brought for adjudication, and from the impracticability of bringing hither such as are not seaworthy.
The bey of Tunis having made requisitions unauthorized by our treaty, their rejection has produced from him some expressions of discontent. But to those who expect us to calculate whether a compliance with unjust demands will not cost us less than a war, we must leave as a question of calculation for them, also, whether to retire from unjust demands will not cost them less than a war. We can do to each other very sensible injuries by war, but the mutual advantages of peace make that the best interest of both.
Peace and intercourse with the other powers on the same coast continue on the footing on which they are established by treaty.
In pursuance of the act providing for the temporary government of Louisiana, the necessary officers for the territory of Orleans were appointed in due time, to commence the exercise of their functions on the first day of October. The distance, however, of some of them, and indispensable previous arrangements, may have retarded its commencement in some of its parts; the form of government thus provided having been considered but as temporary, and open to such improvements as further information of the circumstances of our brethren there might suggest, it will of course be subject to your consideration.
In the district of Louisiana, it has been thought best to adopt the division into subordinate districts, which had been established under its former government. These being five in number, a commanding officer has been appointed to each, according to the provision of the law, and so soon as they can be at their station, that district will also be in its due state of organization; in the meantime their places are supplied by the officers before commanding there. The functions of the governor and judges of Indiana have commenced; the government, we presume, is proceeding in its new form. The lead mines in that district offer so rich a supply of that metal, as to merit attention. The report now communicated will inform you of their state, and of the necessity of immediate inquiry into their occupation and titles.
With the Indian tribes established within our newly-acquired limits, I have deemed it necessary to open conferences for the purpose of establishing a good understanding and neighborly relations between us. So far as we have yet learned, we have reason to believe that their dispositions are generally favorable and friendly; and with these dispositions on their part, we have in our own hands means which cannot fail us for preserving their peace and friendship. By pursuing a uniform course of justice toward them, by aiding them in all the improvements which may better their condition, and especially by establishing a commerce on terms which shall be advantageous to them and only not losing to us, and so regulated as that no incendiaries of our own or any other nation may be permitted to disturb the natural effects of our just and friendly offices, we may render ourselves so necessary to their comfort and prosperity, that the protection of our citizens from their disorderly members will become their interest and their voluntary care. Instead, therefore, of an augmentation of military force proportioned to our extension of frontier, I propose a moderate enlargement of the capital employed in that commerce, as a more effectual, economical, and humane instrument for preserving peace and good neighborhood with them.
On this side of the Mississippi an important relinquishment of native title has been received from the Delawares. That tribe, desiring to extinguish in their people the spirit of hunting, and to convert superfluous lands into the means of improving what they retain, have ceded to us all the country between the Wabash and the Ohio, south of, and including the road from the rapids towards Vincennes, for which they are to receive annuities in animals and implements for agriculture, and in other necessaries. This acquisition is important, not only for its extent and fertility, but as fronting three hundred miles on the Ohio, and near half that on the Wabash. The produce of the settled countries descending those rivers, will no longer pass in review of the Indian frontier but in a small portion, and with the cession heretofore made with the Kaskaskias, nearly consolidates our possessions north of the Ohio, in a very respectable breadth, from Lake Erie to the Mississippi. The Piankeshaws having some claim to the country ceded by the Delawares, it has been thought best to quiet that by fair purchase also. So soon as the treaties on this subject shall have received their constitutional sanctions, they shall be laid before both houses.
The act of Congress of February 28th, 1803, for building and employing a number of gun-boats, is now in a course of execution to the extent there provided for. The obstacle to naval enterprise which vessels of this construction offer for our seaport towns; their utility towards supporting within our waters the authority of the laws; the promptness with which they will be manned by the seamen and militia of the place the moment they are wanting; the facility of their assembling from different parts of the coast to any point where they are required in greater force than ordinary; the economy of their maintenance and preservation from decay when not in actual service; and the competence of our finances to this defensive provision, without any new burden, are considerations which will have due weight with Congress in deciding on the expediency of adding to their number from year to year, as experience shall test their utility, until all our important harbors, by these and auxiliary means, shall be insured against insult and opposition to the laws.
No circumstance has arisen since your last session which calls for any augmentation of our regular military force. Should any improvement occur in the militia system, that will be always seasonable.
Accounts of the receipts and expenditures of the last year with estimates for the ensuing one, will as usual be laid before you.
The state of our finances continues to fulfil our expectations. Eleven millions and a half of dollars, received in the course of the year ending on the 30th of September last, have enabled us, after meeting all the ordinary expenses of the year, to pay upward of $3,600,000 of the public debt, exclusive of interest. This payment, with those of the two preceding years, has extinguished upward of twelve millions of the principal, and a greater sum of interest, within that period; and by a proportional diminution of interest, renders already sensible the effect of the growing sum yearly applicable to the discharge of the principal.
It is also ascertained that the revenue accrued during the last year, exceeds that of the preceding; and the probable receipts of the ensuing year may safely be relied on as sufficient, with the sum already in the treasury, to meet all the current demands of the year, to discharge upward of three millions and a half of the engagements incurred under the British and French conventions, and to advance in the farther redemption of the funded debts as rapidly as had been contemplated. These, fellow citizens, are the principal matters which I have thought it necessary at this time to communicate for your consideration and attention. Some others will be laid before you in the course of the session, but in the discharge of the great duties confided to you by our country, you will take a broader view of the field of legislation. Whether the great interests of agriculture, manufactures, commerce, or navigation, can, within the pale of your constitutional powers, be aided in any of their relations; whether laws are provided in all cases where they are wanting; whether those provided are exactly what they should be; whether any abuses take place in their administration, or in that of the public revenues; whether the organization of the public agents or of the public force is perfect in all its parts; in fine, whether anything can be done to advance the general good, are questions within the limits of your functions which will necessarily occupy your attention. In these and other matters which you in your wisdom may propose for the good of our country, you may count with assurance on my hearty co-operation and faithful execution.
TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE
Nov. 18, 04.
I send you 2 sheets of my commonplace, because on the 5 last pages of them are my abridgments of certain admiralty cases interesting to us, with some observations; it will be well that we mutually understand how far we go together, & what consequently we may propose with joint satisfaction. I think the English practice of not requiring a prize to be hazarded further than to the nearest neutral port is so much for the interest of all weak nations that we ought to strengthen it by our example, & prevent that change of practice which Sr. W. Scott seems to be aiming at; evidently swayed by considerations of the interest of his nation.
TO JOHN RANDOLPH
Washington Nov. 19, ’04.
—I mentioned to you in a cursory way the other evening that before the meeting of Congress I had conferred with my executive associates on the subject of insults in our harbors, and that we had settled in our own minds what we thought it would be best to do on that subject, which I had thrown into the form of a bill. I meant to have communicated this to you: but on the reference of that part of the message to a special committee it was thought necessary to communicate it without delay to a member of the committee. But the outlines are these. In the 1st place foreign armed vessels entering our harbors are to report themselves, to take such position, & conform to such regulations respecting health, repairs, supplies, stay, intercourse & departure as shall be prescribed. On not conforming to these, the vessel may be ordered away. And not obeying that order, the following gradation of coercive measures is proposed. To forbid supplies to be furnished to them, to cut off all intercourse between them & the shore or other vessels, not to receive the entry at the custom house at that port of any vessel of the same nation till she removes. To extend the prohibition to all custom-houses of the U. S. so long as the refractory vessel remain: & lastly to recur to force. These were our ideas suggested from practice and a knolege of facts: and the communication of them in form of a bill is merely as a canvass or premiere ebauche for Congress to work on, & to make of it whatever they please. They cannot be the worse for knowing the result of our information & reflection on the subject, which has been privately communicated as more respectful than to have recommended these measures in the message in detail as the Constitution permits. With the same view I state them merely as subjects for your consideration. Accept affectionate salutations & assurances of respect.
TO LARKIN SMITH
Washington Nov. 26, 04.
—Your letter of the 10th came to hand yesterday evening. It was written with frankness and independance and will be answered in the same way. You complain that I did not answer your letters applying for office. But if you will reflect a moment you may judge whether this ought to be expected. To the successful applicant for an office the commission is the answer. To the unsuccessful multitude am I to go with every one into the reasons for not appointing him? Besides that this correspondence would literally engross my whole time, into what controversies would it lead me. Sensible of this dilemma, from the moment of coming into office I laid it down as a rule to leave the applicants to collect their answer from the facts. To entitle myself to the benefit of the rule in any case it must be observed in every one: and I never have departed from it in a single case, not even for my bosom friends. You observe that you are, or probably will be appointed an elector. I have no doubt you will do your duty with a conscientious regard to the public good & to that only. Your decision in favor of another would not excite in my mind the slightest dissatisfaction towards you. On the contrary I should honor the integrity of your choice. In the nominations I have to make, do the same justice to my motives. Had you hundreds to nominate, instead of one, be assured they would not compose for you a bed of roses. You would find yourself in most cases with one loaf and ten wanting bread. Nine must be disappointed, perhaps become secret, if not open enemies. The transaction of the great interests of our country costs us little trouble or difficulty. There the line is plain to men of some experience. But the task of appointment is a heavy one indeed. He on whom it falls may envy the lot of a Sisyphus or Ixion. Their agonies were of the body: this of the mind. Yet, like the office of hangman it must be executed by some one. It has been assigned to me and made my duty. I make up my mind to it therefore, & abandon all regard to consequences. Accept my salutations & assurances of respect.
TO WILSON CARY NICHOLAS
Washington Dec. 6, 04.
—I thank you for your description of the state of parties. As to one of the extremes I find I have not been mistaken. The line between them and their more moderate brethren I have not so well understood. It is of importance for my government.
From the Federalists there I expect nothing on any principle of duty or patriotism: but I did suppose they would pay some attentions to the interests of Norfolk. Is it the interest of that place to strengthen the hue and cry against the policy of making the Eastern branch our great naval deposit? Is it their interest that this should be removed to New York or Boston to one of which it must go if it leaves this? Is it their interest to scout a defence by gunboats in which they would share amply, in hopes of a navy which will not be built in our day, & would be no defence if built, or of forts which will never be built or maintained, and would be no defence if built? Yet such are the objects which they patronize in their papers. This is worthy of more consideration than they seem to have given it. Accept affectionate salutations & assurances of great esteem & respect.
Washington Mar. 9, 04.
—I have duly received your favor of the 5th inst, and I hasten to assure you that neither Doctr Leib nor Mr. Duane have ever given the least hint to me that yourself or your associates of the St. Patrick’s society meditated joining a third party; or schismatizing in any way from the great body of republicans. That the rudiments of such a 3d party were formed in Pennsylvania & New York has been said in the newspapers, but not proved. Altho’ I shall learn it with concern whenever it does happen, and think it possibly may happen that we shall divide among ourselves whenever federalism is compleatly eradicated, yet I think it the duty of every republican to make great sacrifices of opinion to put off the evil day, and that yourself and associates have as much disposition to do this as any portion of our body I have never seen reason to doubt. Recommending therefore sincerely a mutual indulgence, and candor among brethren and that we be content to obtain the best measures we can get, if we cannot get all we would wish, I tender you my salutations and respects.
Washington July 22, 04.
Monticello Sep 11, ’04.
Your letter, Madam, of the 18th of Aug has been some days received, but a press of business has prevented the acknolegment of it: perhaps, indeed, I may have already trespassed too far on your attention. With those who wish to think amiss of me, I have learned to be perfectly indifferent; but where I know a mind to be ingenuous, & to need only truth to set it to rights, I cannot be as passive. The act of personal unkindness alluded to in your former letter, is said in your last to have been the removal of your eldest son from some office to which the judges had appointed him. I conclude then he must have been a commissioner of bankruptcy. But I declare to you, on my honor, that this is the first knolege I have ever had that he was so. It may be thought, perhaps, that I ought to have inquired who were such, before I appointed others. But it is to be observed, that the former law permitted the judges to name commissioners occasionally only, for every case as it arose, & not to make them permanent officers. Nobody, therefore, being in office, there could be no removal. The judges, you well know, have been considered as highly federal; and it was noted that they confined their nominations exclusively to federalists. The Legislature, dissatisfied with this, transferred the nomination to the President, and made the officers permanent. The very object in passing the law was, that he should correct, not confirm, what was deemed the partiality of the judges. I thought it therefore proper to inquire, not whom they had employed, but whom I ought to appoint to fulfil the intentions of the law. In making these appointments, I put in a proportion of federalists, equal, I believe, to the proportion they bear in numbers through the Union generally. Had I known that your son had acted, it would have been a real pleasure to me to have preferred him to some who were named in Boston, in what was deemed the same line of politics. To this I should have been led by my knolege of his integrity, as well as my sincere dispositions towards yourself & Mr. Adams.
You seem to think it devolved on the judges to decide on the validity of the sedition law. But nothing in the Constitution has given them a right to decide for the Executive, more than to the Executive to decide for them. Both magistracies are equally independent in the sphere of action assigned to them. The judges, believing the law constitutional, had a right to pass a sentence of fine and imprisonment; because that power was placed in their hands by the Constitution. But the Executive, believing the law to be unconstitutional, was bound to remit the execution of it; because that power has been confided to him by the Constitution. That instrument meant that its co-ordinate branches should be checks on each other. But the opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional, and what not, not only for themselves in their own sphere of action, but for the Legislature & Executive also, in their spheres, would make the judiciary a despotic branch. Nor does the opinion of the unconstitutionality, & consequent nullity of that law, remove all restraint from the overwhelming torrent of slander, which is confounding all vice and virtue, all truth & falsehood, in the U. S. The power to do that is fully possessed by the several State Legislatures. It was reserved to them, & was denied to the General Government, by the Constitution, according to our construction of it. While we deny that Congress have a right to control the freedom of the press, we have ever asserted the right of the States, and their exclusive right, to do so. They have accordingly, all of them, made provisions for punishing slander, which those who have time and inclination, resort to for the vindication of their characters. In general, the State laws appear to have made the presses responsible for slander as far as is consistent with its useful freedom. In those States where they do not admit even the truth of allegations to protect the printer, they have gone too far.
The candor manifested in your letter, & which I ever believed you to possess, has alone inspired the desire of calling your attention, once more, to those circumstances of fact and motive by which I claim to be judged. I hope you will see these intrusions on your time to be, what they really are, proofs of my great respect for you. I tolerate with the utmost latitude the right of others to differ from me in opinion without imputing to them criminality. I know too well the weakness & uncertainty of human reason to wonder at it’s different results. Both of our political parties, at least the honest portion of them, agree conscientiously in the same object—the public good; but they differ essentially in what they deem the means of promoting that good. One side believes it best done by one composition of the governing powers; the other, by a different one. One fears most the ignorance of the people; the other, the selfishness of rulers independent of them. Which is right, time and experience will prove. We think that one side of this experiment has been long enough tried, and proved not to promote the good of the many; & that the other has not been fairly and sufficiently tried. Our opponents think the reverse. With whichever opinion the body of the nation concurs, that must prevail. My anxieties on the subject will never carry me beyond the use of fair & honorable means, of truth and reason; nor have they ever lessened my esteem for moral worth, nor alienated my affections from a single friend, who did not first withdraw himself. Whenever this has happened, I confess I have not been insensible to it; yet have ever kept myself open to a return of their justice. I conclude with sincere prayers for your health & happiness, that yourself & Mr. Adams may long enjoy the tranquillity you desire and merit, and see in the prosperity of your family what is the consummation of the last and warmest of human wishes.
An act for the more effectual preservation of the peace in the harbors and waters of the U. S. & on board vessels.
Foreign armed vessels within the harbours committing breaches of law. C. line 4. after ‘felony’ insert ‘infraction of revenue law or other Statute.’ I had rather extend the provision to cases cognizable by the authority of individual States, but if this be objectionable the cases cognizable by the authority of the U. S. should be defined. Was the impressment in N.Y. harbour a case cognizable by the authority of the U. S.? And, why, supposing it was should outrages against the public peace & affecting the personal property of citizens, but exclusively punishable by State authority, remain unprovided against?
See for similar powers Act 5, June 94. § 7. 8. pa. 91–93 vol. 3. and act 28 Feb. 95. § 2. 9. pa. 189–191 vol. 3.
The objects of 94. June 5. are, 1. Takg. or issuing commissions in foreign service. 2. Enlisting in do. within U. S. 3. Arm ships to serve foreign power. 4. Set. on foot within U. S. expedn. agt. foreign power. 5. Capture of a vessel within waters of U. S. Resistance of process by armed vessel. In these cases the President may use force. The 6th case vaguely looks towards the objects of this 1st section.
Exclusion of foreign armed vessels from our harbours; and regulation of their conduct while in them.
After ‘they’ insert ‘are entitled to said privilege by virtue of any treaty or when they’
Dele ‘customs at the place’ and insert ‘district.’A. G.
Qu. are not armed vessels of some nations exempted from making report and entry by virtue of treaties?
Foreign armed vessels refusing to depart.
Be it enacted &c. that whensoever any treason, felony, misprision, misdemean, breach of the peace or of the revenue laws shall have been committed within the jurisdiction of the U. S. and in a case cognisable by the authority thereof and the person committing the same shall be on board of any foreign armed vessel in any harbour of the U. S. or in the waters within their jurisdiction, and the ordinary posse comitatus shall be deemed insufficient to enable the officer of the U. S. charged with the process of law, to serve the same, it shall be lawful for him to apply to any officer having command of militia, of regular troops or of armed vessels of the U. S. in the vicinity to aid him in the execution of the process with which he is so charged, which officer conforming himself in all things to the instructions he shall receive, or shall have received from the President of the U. S. or other person duly authorized by him, shall first demand a surrender of the person charged in the said process, and if delivery be not made, or if he be obstructed from making the demand, he shall use all the means in his power by force of arms to arrest and seize the said person, and all those who are with him giving him aid or countenance, and the same to convey and deliver under safe custody to the civil authority to be dealt with according to law, and if death ensues on either side it shall be justifiable or punishable as in cases of homicide in resisting a civil officer.
And in order to prevent insults to the authority of the laws within the said harbours and waters, and thereby endangering our peace with foreign nations, be it further enacted that it shall be lawful for the President of the U. S. to interdict the entrance of the harbours & waters under the jurisdiction of the U. S. to all armed vessels belonging to any foreign nation and by force to repel & remove them from the same except where they shall be forced in by distress, by the dangers of the sea, or by pursuit of any enemy, or where they shall be charged with dispatches or business from the government to which they belong to that of the U. S., in which cases as also in all others where they shall be voluntarily permitted to enter the officer commanding such vessel shall immediately report his vessel to the Collector of the district stating the causes & object of his entering the harbour or waters, shall take such position in the harbour or waters as shall be assigned to him by such Collector & shall conform himself, his vessel & people to such regulations respecting health, repairs, supplies, stay, intercourse & departure as shall be signified to him by the said Collector, under the authority and instructions of the President of the U. S. and not conforming thereto shall be compelled to depart the U. S.
And be it further enacted that whensoever any armed vessel of a foreign nation, entering the waters within the jurisdiction of the U. S. and required to depart therefrom, shall fail so to do, it shall be lawful for the President of the U. S. in order to avoid unnecessary recurrence to force, to forbid all intercourse with such vessel and with every armed vessel of the same nation & the people thereto belonging; to prohibit all supplies and aids from being furnished them and also to instruct the Collector of the district where such armed vessel shall be & of any or every other district of the U. S. to refuse permission to any vessel belonging to the same nation or its people to make entry or unlade so long as the said armed vessel shall, in defiance of the public authority remain within the harbours or waters of the U. S. and all persons offending herein shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by fine & imprisonment and shall moreover be liable to be bound to the good behavior according to law.