TO URIAH TRACY.
—I have received your letter of Dec. 31 wherein on behalf of a committee of the Senate charged to inquire concerning the characters and qualifications of Peter Walsh, Joseph Deville Bellechasse & others for the offices to which they are nominated you desire “that I will cause to be laid before them the proper information on the subject.”
It is with real pain that I feel a difficulty in complying with the desires of a committee for whom I have the most unqualified respect. My nominations are sometimes made on my own knolege of the persons; sometimes on the information of others given either voluntarily, or at my request & in personal confidence to me. This I could not communicate without a breach of confidence, not I am sure, under the contemplation of the committee. They are sensible the Constitution has made it my duty to nominate; and has not made it my duty to lay before them the evidences or reasons whereon my nominations are founded: & of the correctness of this opinion the established usage in the intercourse between the Senate & President is a proof. During nearly the whole of the time this Constitution has been in operation I have been in situations of intimacy with this part of it & may observe from my own knolege that it has not been the usage for the President to lay before the Senate or a committee, the information on which he makes his nominations. In a single instance lately, I did make a communication of papers, but there were circumstances so peculiar in that case as to distinguish it from all others.
To this I must further add that a just solicitude to cover from all hazard that cordial good will which it is so vitally interesting to our country should ever subsist between its highest functionaries has led the two houses, as far as can be collected from their practice, to reserve to their own discretion alone to decide what official applications on their part shall be made to the President directly. It does not appear that that authority has been yielded to a committee.
TO THE SECRETARY AT WAR
(HENRY A. DEARBORN.)
Jan. 6, 1806.
—Colo. Hawkins has just put into my hands the papers respecting the claim of the Creek nation on behalf of Emantlau Thlucco, from whom two horses were stolen within the Indian limits by Harris & Allen citizens of the U. S., the former of whom has fled out of the U. S. leaving no property & the other is dead insolvent: he communicated to me also the Attorney general’s opinion on the case. This case being of importance as a precedent, I have considered it maturely under the law, the treaty & the principles which prevail between independent nations; the Creeks being in law as well as in fact an independent nation.
The opinion of the Atty Genl is unquestionable, considering the case as it relates to the offending individuals. The laws have reserved to all our citizens, charged within our jurisdiction with any crime or misdemeanor wheresoever committed, a right of being tried by a jury, before a court of competent authority, before they can be punished. Whether prosecuted capitally, or for the penalty of double value, the sentence of a court could alone subject them to evil. Accordingly the 15th § of the act of Congress provides explicitly how, where the offender may be tried, convicted & punished, and evidently confines its views to the proceedings against the citizen solely. But when death, flight, insolvency, or other accident puts the offender out of the way, it then becomes a question between nation & nation, between whom the municipal laws of evidence of either can have no bearing on the other. The same law therefore in it’s 4th § only declares that if the offender be unable to pay for the property he has taken from an Indian, the U. S. shall pay, without saying where the fact shall be tried or on what evidence; and in it’s 14th § enacts that if an Indian shall take property within our limits, the superintendent being furnished with the necessary documents & proofs, shall demand satisfaction from the Indian nation, without specifying that these must be such documents & proofs as would be required by our municipal law, to which the Indian nation is not at all subject. The proofs then of course are to be such as are usually resorted to between nation & nation, that is to say public documents, depositions, affidavits, certificates, letters, parol evidence, or even common report. All of these are freely adduced between nations, each of them is weighed in the scales of reason & experience, and according to the aggregate impression they make on the common sense of mankind, they are estimated in determining the belief or disbelief of the fact. Neither party thinks of calling the other to a trial of the fact in a court of its own, where it would be both party and judge. The constitutional organs for foreign relations of the two nations compose jointly the competent tribunal. The instruction therefore given originally by a preceding executive to the agent for Indian affairs, appears to have been well weighed when it directs him to ascertain, by the best evidence in his power, the value of the property taken: and of course authorizes him to receive, as well the testimony of Red men, given in what they deem the most solemn manner, as such other evidence as can be obtained, and may be of any weight in the common judgment of mankind towards producing a belief or disbelief of the fact in question. This is the only practical construction which can be given of the act of Congress, which never could be carried into execution in this part if a strict conformity with our municipal laws were requisite, because such evidence as is required by our courts of justice between citizen and citizen could never be had in the cases now under consideration. The law therefore, wisely and justly, avoids specifying the evidence, and leaves the fact to be settled agreeably to the usage of nations. Here then the Creeks affirm that property has been taken from one of their nation, that this cannot be recovered in our courts of justice by the individual injured because one offender is dead, the other fled & no property of either existing; & the law says, if the offender is unable, paiment shall be made out of the Treasury of the U. S. The Superintendent therefore, according to his instructions, is “to ascertain the fact affirmed by the Creeks, by the best evidence in his power, and make report of the same & of the case to the Department of War that justice may be done.” I do not see any cause for changing the course of proceeding so established, but on the contrary I believe it to be right & lawful & that it ought to be pursued in this instance.
TO WILLIAM A. BURWELL
Washington Jan. 15 1806.
—Your favor of Dec. 26th was duly received, as also the correspondence therein referred to. Mr. Coles delivered me to-day your request of a copy of the Parl. manual for yourself, and another for the speaker. I therefore send one to each of you in separate packages by this post. You will have seen an account in all the papers (with so many details, as to make one forget for a moment that they never utter a truth) of our affairs being entirely made up with Spain. There is not one word of truth in it, if we may judge from Mr. Pinckney’s silence in a letter dated the day before he left Madrid. I may say further, it is impossible it should be true. Congress are not unanimous in the Spanish business. They act in it however by a strong majority. When our affairs with England come on there will be much greater & more irreconcilable differences of opinion. The classification of the militia has been reported against by a committee. But if any judgment can be formed from individual conversations it will be established. If it is, we need never raise a regular in expectation of war. A militia of young men will hold on until regulars can be raised, & will be the nursery which will furnish them. I had rather have that classification established, than any number of regulars which could be voted at this time. We are told you are to come to Congress. In the meantime your berth here stands in statu quo. I shall always be glad to hear from you and to give you every assurance of my constant affection. Accept with it that of my respect & esteem.
SPECIAL MESSAGE ON NEUTRAL COMMERCE
January 17, 1806.
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:—
In my message to both houses of Congress at the opening of their present session, I submitted to their attention, among other subjects, the oppression of our commerce and navigation by the irregular practices of armed vessels, public and private, and by the introduction of new principles, derogatory of the rights of neutrals, and unacknowledged by the usage of nations.
The memorials of several bodies of merchants of the United States are now communicated, and will develop these principles and practices which are producing the most ruinous effects on our lawful commerce and navigation.
The rights of a neutral to carry on a commercial intercourse with every part of the dominions of a belligerent, permitted by the laws of the country (with the exception of blockaded ports and contraband of war), was believed to have been decided between Great Britain and the United States by the sentence of the commissioners mutually appointed to decide on that and other questions of difference between the two nations, and by the actual payment of damages awarded by them against Great Britain for the infractions of that right. When, therefore, it was perceived that the same principle was revived with others more novel, and extending the injury, instructions were given to the minister plenipotentiary of the United States at the court of London, and remonstrances duly made by him on this subject, as will appear by documents transmitted herewith. These were followed by a partial and temporary suspension only, without any disavowal of the principle. He has therefore been instructed to urge this subject anew, to bring it more fully to the bar of reason, and to insist on the rights too evident and too important to be surrendered. In the meantime, the evil is proceeding under adjudications founded on the principle which is denied. Under these circumstances the subject presents itself for the consideration of Congress.
On the impressment of our seamen our remonstrances have never been intermitted. A hope existed at one moment of an arrangement which might have been submitted to, but it soon passed away, and the practice, though relaxed at times in the distant seas, has been constantly pursued in those in our neighborhood. The grounds on which the reclamations on this subject have been urged, will appear in an extract from instructions to our minister at London now communicated.
TO JAMES OGILVIE
Washington Jan. 31, 06.
—Your favor of the 26th came to hand yesterday. I had understood that Mr. Randolph had directed that you should have the free use of the library at Monticello, or I should have directed it myself. I have great pleasure in finding an opportunity of making it useful to you. The key is at present in the hands of Mr. Dinsmore, at the place, who on sight of this letter will consider you as at all times authorized to have access to the library & to take from it any books you please. I will only ask the favor of you to keep a piece of paper on one of the tables of the room, & to note on it the books you have occasion to take out, and to blot it out when returned. The object in this is that should I want a book at any time when at home, I may know where it is. The arrangement is as follows: 1. Antient history. 2. Modern do. 3. Physics. 4. Nat. Hist. proper. 5. Technical arts. 6. Ethics. 7. Jurisprudence. 8. Mathematics. 9. Gardening, architecture, sculpture, painting, music, poetry. 10. Oratory. 11. Criticism. 12. Polygraphical. You will find this on a paper nailed up somewhere in the library. The arrangement begins behind the partition door leading out of the Bookroom into the Cabinet, & proceeds from left to right round the room; Then entering the Cabinet it begins at the eastern angle, & goes round that room. The presses not having sufficed to contain the whole, the latter part of polygraphics was put into the kind of closet at the first entrance of the book-room. As after using a book, you may be at a loss in returning it to it’s exact place, & they cannot be found again when misplaced, it will be better to leave them on a table in the room. My familiarity with their places will enable me to replace them readily. I hope in April the pleasure of seeing you there. In the meantime accept my friendly salutations & assurances of great esteem & respect.
TO C. F. COMTE DE VOLNEY
Washington Feb. 11, 1806.
—Since mine of Feb. 18 of the last year, I have received yours of July 2. I have been constantly looking out for an opportunity of sending your Polygraph; but the blockade of Havre has cut off that resource, and I have feared to send it to a port from which there would be only land carriage. A safe conveyance now offering to Nantes, & under the particular care of Mr. Skipwith, who is returning to France, he will take care of it from Nantes by land if an easy carriage is found, or if not, then by the canal of Briare. Another year’s constant use of a similar one attaches me more and more to it as a most valuable convenience. I send you also a pamphlet published here against the English doctrine which denies to neutrals a trade in war not open to them in peace in which you will find it pulverized by a logic not to be controverted.
Our last news of Captn Lewis was that he had reached the upper part of the Missouri, & had taken horses to cross the Highlands to the Columbia river. He passed the last winter among the Manians 1610 miles above the mouth of the river. So far he had delineated it with as great accuracy as will probably be ever applied to it, as his courses & distances by mensuration were corrected by almost daily observations of latitude and longitude. With his map he sent us specimens or information of the following animals not before known to the northern continent of America. 1. The horns of what is perhaps a species of Ovis Ammon. 2. A new variety of the deer having a black tail. 3. An antelope. 4. The badger, not before known out of Europe. 5. A new species of marmotte. 6. A white weasel. 7. The magpie. 8. The Prairie hen, said to resemble the Guinea hen (peintade). 9. A prickly lizard. To these are added a considerable collection of minerals, not yet analyzed. He wintered in Lat. 47° 20′ and found the maximum of cold 43° below the zero of Fahrenheit. We expect he has reached the Pacific, and is now wintering on the head of the Missouri, and will be here next autumn. Having been disappointed in our view of sending an exploring party up the Red river the last year, they were sent up the Washita, as far as the hot springs, under the direction of Mr. Dunbar. He found the temperature of the springs 150° of Fahrenheit & the water perfectly potable when cooled. We obtain also the geography of that river, so far with perfect accuracy. Our party is just at this time setting out from Natchez to ascend the Red river. These expeditions are so laborious, & hazardous, that men of science, used to the temperature & inactivity of their closet, cannot be induced to undertake them. They are headed therefore by persons qualified expressly to give us the geography of the rivers with perfect accuracy, and of good common knolege and observation in the animal, vegetable & mineral departments. When the route shall be once open and known, scientific men will undertake, & verify & class it’s subjects. Our emigration to the western country from these states the last year is estimated at about 100,000. I conjecture that about one-half the number of our increase will emigrate westwardly annually. A newspaper paragraph tells me, with some details, that the society of agriculture of Paris had thought a mould-board of my construction worthy their notice & Mr. Dupont confirms it in a letter, but not specifying anything particular. I send him a model with an advantageous change in the form, in which however the principle is rigorously the same. I mention this to you lest he should have left France for America, and I notice it no otherwise lest there should have been any error in the information. Present my respectful salutations to Doctr. Cabanis & accept them yourself with assurances of my constant friendship & attachment.
TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE
Washington Feb. 14, 06.
My dear Friend,
—Your letters of 1805 which I have to acknolege are of Apr. 22 & June 4, the last delivered by M de Lessert a week ago. In your preceding ones of 1804 the reason assigned for your not venturing across the ocean was certainly weighty, as a capture by the English would have been a very serious misfortune. Your presence at New Orleans would give security to our government there, but in the present state of things it is not certain you could give us your service there, for it seems very uncertain which of the two powers of Spain or England, by commencing hostilities against us first will force us into the scale of the other. If the former commences first, and it seems most imminent, you probably could take no part. As, before the receipt of your powers on the subject of your lands, I had ordered a survey of the vacant parcel adjoining to New Orleans, I have continued to press that part of the location, because it is under a peculiar difficulty. The law requires your locations to be in parcels of not less than 1000 acres each. The survey sent to me made but 6. or 700 as. I have requested Govr. Claiborne, either by including part of the lake or by some other device to have it made up 1000 as. in which case I can immediately sign a grant. It will be some time before I shall receive his answer. Mr. Madison has appointed M. Duplantier to make the other locations, for which no person is better qualified or better disposed. I inclose a letter for M. Tracy, making him my acknolegements for the very acceptable present he was so good as to make me of his two works. For details of our affairs it is safer to refer you to Mr. Skipwith the bearer of this. Present my friendly respects to Me. De Lafayette, M. & Me. De Tessy, & accept assurances of my constant & affectionate friendship & respect.
TO THE U. S. MINISTER TO FRANCE
Washington Feb. 14, 1806.
—Mr. Skipwith will inform you what a terrible tempest has been excited against you by an opinion said to have been given by you in the case of the New Jersey & a letter of yours on that subject published in the papers. The body of merchants & insurers of New York have presented an address, the object of which tho’ not expressed, cannot be mistaken, & it is expected their example will be followed by the other cities making common cause. I inclose you the answer of N. York, from which you will perceive the expediency on your own account as well as the public, to send a statement of the case, the points on which it is decided, and how your opinion happened to be given in that stage of the business, with documents to establish such facts as are not known. The hope is further, that in the business confided to you by this conveyance you may be able to obtain a success which may place you where you wish to be in the public favor. There are several circumstances at this time which you may so use as to produce favorable dispositions in the party with which you are to negotiate. 1. The law prohibiting intercourse with St. Domingo, which could not of right be demanded from us. 2. A second law to render the first more effectual in the main point by prohibiting the exportation of military stores to any part of America. These two laws will be passed in time to go by this conveyance. 3. The measures which will be explained to you for procuring a solid establishment of neutral rights. 4. Measures which will be taken to exclude British commerce from the U. S. in a great degree. 5. An effective navigation act. We cannot yet say what will be the precise form of the two last; but they will unquestionably be effectual. Considering the accidents which may happen to this by the way, it is not signed. That is unnecessary for your information that it comes from one whose friendship & respect to you are real.
TO JOSEPH HAMILTON DAVEISS
Washington Feb. 15, ’06.
—Your letter of January 10. came safely to hand a week ago. According to your permission it has been communicated to Mr. Madison, and Mr. Gallatin. I have also communicated it to General Dearborn, because one of the persons named by you is particularly under his observation; so far as it was necessary and not further, I will be responsible for its secrecy. The information is so important that it is my duty to request a full communication of everything known or heard by you relating to it, and particularly of the names of all persons whether engaged in the combination, or witnesses to any part of it. At the same time I pledge myself to you that it shall be known no further than it now is, until it shall become necessary to place them in the hands of the law; and that even then no unnecessary communication shall be made of the channel through which we received our information.
You will be sensible that the names are peculiarly important to prevent a misplacing of our confidence either in the investigation of this subject particularly, or in the general trust of public affairs. In hopes of hearing from you without delay, I pray you to accept my salutations and assurances of great respect.
TO JOEL BARLOW
Feb. 24, 06.
I return you the draft of the bill for the establishment of a National Academy & University at the city of Washington, with such alterations as we talked over the last night. They are chiefly verbal. I have often wished we could have a Philosophical society or academy so organized as that while the central academy should be at the seat of government, it’s members dispersed over the states, should constitute filiated academies in each state, publish their communications, from which the central academy should select unpublished what should be most choice. In this way all the members wheresoever dispersed might be brought into action, and an useful emulation might arise between the filiated societies. Perhaps the great societies now existing might incorporate themselves in this way with the National one. But time does not allow me to pursue this idea, nor perhaps had we time at all to get it into the present bill. I procured an Agricultural society to be established (voluntarily) on this plan, but it has done nothing. Friendly salutations.
CIRCULAR TO CABINET ON DEFENCE OF NEW ORLEANS
Feb. 28, 06.
What would you think of raising a force for the defence of New Orleans in this manner? Give a bounty of 50 acres of land, to be delivered immediately, to every able-bodied man who will immediately settle on it, & hold himself in readiness to perform 2 years military service (on the usual pay) if called on within the first seven years of his residence. The lands to be chosen by himself of any of those in the Orleans territory, on the west side of the Mississippi, actually surveyed & unsold, each to have his choice in the order of their arrival on the spot, a proclamation to be issued to this effect to engage as many as will go on & present themselves to the officer there; & moreover recruiting officers to be sent into different parts of the union to raise and conduct settlers at the public expense. When settled there, to be well trained as a militia by officers living among them.
A similar provision for Tombigbee.
TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE
Mar. 5, 1806.
I think the several modifications in Mr. Gallatin’s paper may be reduced to simple instructions in some such form as follows:
The sum to be paid will consist I. of 2 millions ready money. II. of a residuary sum, not exceeding 3 millions, to be paid afterwards as shall be agreed.
I. The ready money (as a 1st proposition) not to be paid till possession of the whole country ceded is delivered & evacuated.
But, in ultimato, to be paid on putting into our hands orders for an absolute delivery of the government to us, on sight of the order, an evacuation of the country by all troops in the same instant & the departure of all officers & agents within 3 months after.
II. The residuary sum to be a fund for paying claimants under the convention; either to be settled by a commission, in which case any surplus will belong to Spain & any defect be supplied by her; or, which would be far preferable, that residuum to be left with us for the sufferers, we exonerating Spain from all further demands on their part.
But, in ultimato, the residuary sum to be paid to Spain by bills on the Treasury in annual instalments, if that can be obtained, or by stock to be created, if insisted on: & a fixed sum of 2, 3, or 4 millions to be immediately paid by colonial bills to the U. S. who, on receipt of the money, exonerates Spain from all further demands from the claimants under the Convention.
If the sum to be allowed by Spain for spoliations, be retained by us out of the residuary price, & be less than that residuum, the difference to be paid to her by bills on our Treasury at the end of one year.
Perhaps the above ideas may aid you in framing your instructions. They are hazarded with that view only.
TO JAMES MONROE
Washington Mar. 18, 1806.
SPECIAL MESSAGE ON SPANISH BOUNDARIES
March 20, 1806.
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:
It was reasonably expected, that while the limits between the territories of the United States and of Spain were unsettled, neither party would have innovated on the existing state of their respective positions. Some time since, however, we learned that the Spanish authorities were advancing into the disputed country to occupy new posts and make new settlements. Unwilling to take any measures which might preclude a peaceable accommodation of differences, the officers of the United States were ordered to confine themselves within the country on this side of the Sabine river; which, by the delivery of its principal post (Natchitoches), was understood to have been itself delivered up by Spain; and at the same time to permit no adverse post to be taken, nor armed men to remain within it. In consequence of these orders, the commanding officer of Natchitoches, learning that a party of Spanish troops had crossed the Sabine river and were posting themselves on this side the Adais, sent a detachment of his force to require them to withdraw to the other side of the Sabine, which they accordingly did.
I have thought it proper to communicate to Congress the letters detailing this incident, that they may fully understand the state of things in that quarter, and be enabled to make such provision for its security as in their wisdom they shall deem sufficient.
TO WILLIAM DUANE
Washington March 22, 06.
I thank you, my good Sir, cordially, for your letter of the 12, which however I did not receive till the 20th. It is a proof of sincerity, which I value above all things; as, between those who practise it, falsehood & malice work their efforts in vain. There is an enemy somewhere endeavoring to sow discord among us. Instead of listening first, then doubting, & lastly believing anile tales handed round without an atom of evidence, if my friends will address themselves to me directly, as you have done, they shall be informed with frankness and thankfulness. There is not a truth on earth which I fear or would disguise. But secret slanders cannot be disarmed, because they are secret. Although you desire no answer, I shall give you one to those articles admitting a short answer, reserving those which require more explanation than the compass of a letter admits, to conversation on your arrival here. And as I write this for your personal satisfaction, I rely that my letter will, under no circumstances, be communicated to any mortal, because you well know how every syllable from me is distorted by the ingenuity of my political enemies.
In the 1st. place, then, I have had less communication, directly or indirectly, with the republicans of the east, this session, than I ever had before. This has proceeded from accidental circumstances, not from design. And if there be any coolness between those of the south & myself, it has not been from me towards them. Certainly there has been no other reserve than to avoid taking part in the divisions among our friends. That Mr. R. has openly attacked the administration is sufficiently known. We were not disposed to join in league with Britain, under any belief that she is fighting for the liberties of mankind, & to enter into war with Spain, & consequently France. The H. of Repr. were in the same sentiment, when they rejected Mr. R.’s resolutions for raising a body of regular troops for the Western service. We are for a peaceable accommodation with all those nations, if it can be effected honorably. This, perhaps, is not the only ground of his alienation; but which side retains its orthodoxy, the vote of 87. to 11. republicans may satisfy you; but you will better satisfy yourself on coming here, where alone the true state of things can be known, and where you will see republicanism as solidly embodied on all essential points, as you ever saw it on any occasion.
That there is only one minister who is not opposed to me, is totally unfounded. There never was a more harmonious, a more cordial administration, nor ever a moment when it has been otherwise. And while differences of opinion have been always rare among us, I can affirm, that as to present matters, there was not a single paragraph in my message to Congress, or those supplementary to it, in which there was not an unanimity of concurrence in the members of the administration. The fact is, that in ordinary affairs every head of a department consults me on those of his department, & where anything arises too difficult or important to be decided between us, the consultation becomes general.
That there is an ostensible cabinet and a concealed one, a public profession & concealed counteraction, is false.
That I have denounced republicans by the epithet of Jacobins, and declared I would appoint none but those called moderates of both parties, & that I have avowed or entertain any predilection for those called the third party, or Quids, is in every tittle of it false.
That the expedition of Miranda was countenanced by me, is an absolute falsehood, let it have gone from whom it might; & I am satisfied it is equally so as to Mr. Madison. To know as much of it as we could was our duty, but not to encourage it.
Our situation is difficult; & whatever we do is liable to the criticisms of those who wish to represent it awry. If we recommend measures in a public message, it may be said that members are not sent here to obey the mandates of the President, or to register the edicts of a sovereign. If we express opinions in conversation, we have then our Charles Jenkinsons, & back-door counsellors. If we say nothing, “we have no opinions, no plans, no cabinet.” In truth it is the fable of the old man, his son & ass, over again.
These are short facts which may suffice to inspire you with caution, until you can come here & examine for yourself. No other information can give you a true insight into the state of things; but you will have no difficulty in understanding them when on the spot. In the meantime, accept my friendly salutations & cordial good wishes.
TO WILSON CARY NICHOLAS
Washington Mar. 24, 1806.
—A last effort at friendly settlement with Spain is proposed to be made at Paris, and under the auspices of France. For this purpose, Genl Armstrong & Mr. Bowdoin (both now at Paris) have been appointed joint comrs; but such a cloud of dissatisfaction rests on Genl Armstrong in the minds of many persons, on account of a late occurrence stated in all the public papers, that we have in contemplation to add a 3d commissioner, in order to give the necessary measure of public confidence to the commission. Of these two gentlemen, one being of Massachusetts & one of N. York, it is thought the 3d should be a Southern man; & the rather, as the interests to be negociated are almost entirely Southern & Western. This addition is not yet ultimately decided on; but I am inclined to believe it will be adopted. Under this expectation, & my wish that you may be willing to undertake it, I give you the earliest possible intimation of it, that you may be preparing both your mind & your measures for the mission. The departure would be required to be very prompt; tho’ the absence I think will not be long, Bonaparte not being in the practice of procrastination. This particular considern will, I hope, reconcile the voyage to your affairs & your feelings. The allowance to an extra mission, is salary from the day of leaving home, & expenses to the place of destination, or in lieu of the latter, & to avoid settlements, a competent fixed sum may be given. For the return, a continuance of the salary for three months after fulfilment of the commission. Be so good as to make up your mind as quickly as possible, & to answer me as early as possible. Consider the measure as proposed provisionally only, & not to be communicated to any mortal until we see it proper.
TO CÆSAR A. RODNEY
Washington Mar. 24, 06.
—I return you the letter you were so good as to inclose me with thanks for the communication. The real occurrences at Natchitoches & the Sabine had, as usual, swelled greatly on their way to Natchez. The 500 horse were really but 20 who retired without opposition on Capt. Turner’s requisition. The official reports of Majr. Porter & Capt. Turner assured us of these facts. Some unexpected occurrences have lately taken place here. The separation of a member of great talents & weight from the present course of things, scattered dismay for a time among those who had been used to see him with them. A little time however enabled them to rally to their own principles & to resume their track under the guidance of their own good sense. As long as we pursue without deviation the principles we have always professed, I have no fear of deviation from them in the main body of republicans. Here everything is understood, & nothing apprehended but protraction of debate. It will take more time for the public mind to understand the true state of things, but I have no fear that in a little time they will settle down with a correct view of them. Accept my affectionate salutations & assurances of great esteem & respect.
TO THOMAS PAINE
Washington Mar. 25, 06.
—It has not been in my power to sooner acknolege the receipt of your favor of Mar. 15. With France we have no difference, no subject of negotiation. Our differences are with Spain & England. With the former we are making a last effort at peaceable accommodation. The subject is merely a settlement of the limits of Louisiana & our right of passing down the rivers of Florida. This negotiation is to be held at Paris, where we may have the benefit of the good offices of France, but she will be no party to the contract. Mr. Bowdoin our minister to Spain being now at Paris, & Armstrong there of course, the full powers have been sent to them for that reason. It has not been in contemplation to look for any other hand. Lately indeed it has been pressed that these gentlemen being from the middle & northern divisions of the country, & the interest to be arranged being merely a geographical one, exclusively concerning the Southern & Western states, some person of that geographical position ought to be added whose knowledge of the subject & interest in it would give security & confidence to the Southern & Western states that it will be pursued with knowledge & zeal. Should this opinion prevail the 3d commissioner must of course be selected geographically.
With respect to the rights of neutrality, we have certainly a great interest in their settlement. But this depends exclusively on the will of two characters, Buonaparte & Alexander. The dispositions of the former to have them placed on liberal grounds are known. The interest of the latter should insure the same disposition. The only thing to be done is to bring the two characters together to treat on the subject. All the minor maritime powers of Europe will of course concur with them. We have not failed to use such means as we possess to induce these two sovereigns to avail the world of it’s present situation to declare and enforce the laws of nature & convenience on the seas. But the organization of the treaty making power by our Constitution is too particular for us to commit the nation in so great an operation with all the European powers. With such a federal phalanx in the Senate, compact & vigilant for opportunities to do mischief, the addition of a very few other votes, misled by accidental or imperfect views of the subject, would suffice to commit us most dangerously. All we can do therefore is to encourage others to declare & guarantee neutral rights, by excluding all intercourse with any nation which infringes them, & so leave a niche in their compact for us, if our treaty making power shall chuse to occupy it.
From these views you will perceive that geographical & accidental circumstances have designated our commissioners, and that we cannot derive from your agency on this occasion the benefits you have heretofore rendered in a different line.
With England I flatter myself our difficulties will be dissipated by the disasters of her allies, the change of her ministry, and the measures which Congress are likely to adopt to furnish motives for her becoming just to us: and on the whole I cannot but hope that in the general settlement of the affairs of nations now on the tapis, ours also will be satisfactorily settled; so as to ensure to us those years of peace & prosperity which will place us beyond the reach of European wrong-doers. Accept my friendly salutations & assurances of esteem & respect.
TO NATHANIEL MACON
Washington Mar. 26, 06.
My Dear Sir,
—Some enemy, whom we know not, is sowing tares among us. Between you & myself nothing but opportunities of explanation can be necessary to defeat those endeavours. At least on my part my confidence in you is so unqualified that nothing further is necessary for my satisfaction. I must therefore ask a conversation with you. This evening my company may stay late: but tomorrow evening, or the next I can be alone. I mention the evening because it is the time at which alone we can be free from interruption: however take the day & hour most convenient to yourself. Accept my affectionate salutations.
TO THE EMPEROR ALEXANDER OF RUSSIA
Washington April 19, 1806.
I owe an acknowledgment to your Imperial Majesty for the great satisfaction I have received from your letter of Aug. 20, 1805, and embrace the opportunity it affords of giving expression to the sincere respect and veneration I entertain for your character. It will be among the latest and most soothing comforts of my life, to have seen advanced to the government of so extensive a portion of the earth, and at so early a period of his life, a sovereign whose ruling passion is the advancement of the happiness and prosperity of his people; and not of his own people only, but who can extend his eye and his good will to a distant and infant nation, unoffending in its course, unambitious in its views.
The events of Europe come to us so late, and so suspiciously, that observations on them would certainly be stale, and possibly wide of their actual state. From their general aspect, however, I collect that your Majesty’s interposition in them has been disinterested and generous, and having in view only the general good of the great European family. When you shall proceed to the pacification which is to re-establish peace and commerce, the same dispositions of mind will lead you to think of the general intercourse of nations, and to make that provision for its future maintenance which, in times past, it has so much needed. The northern nations of Europe, at the head of which your Majesty is distinguished, are habitually peaceable. The United States of America, like them, are attached to peace. We have then with them a common interest in the neutral rights. Every nation indeed, on the continent of Europe, belligerent as well as neutral, is interested in maintaining these rights, in liberalizing them progressively with the progress of science and refinement of morality, and in relieving them from restrictions which the extension of the arts has long since rendered unreasonable and vexatious.
Two personages in Europe, of which your Majesty is one, have it in their power, at the approaching pacification, to render eminent service to nations in general, by incorporating into the act of pacification, a correct definition of the rights of neutrals on the high seas. Such a definition, declared by all the powers lately or still belligerent, would give to those rights a precision and notoriety, and cover them with an authority, which would protect them in an important degree against future violation; and should any further sanction be necessary, that of an exclusion of the violating nation from commercial intercourse with all the others, would be preferred to war, as more analogous to the offence, more easy and likely to be executed with good faith. The essential articles of these rights, too, are so few and simple as easily to be defined.
Having taken no part in the past or existing troubles of Europe, we have no part to act in its pacification. But as principles may then be settled in which we have a deep interest, it is a great happiness for us that they are placed under the protection of an umpire, who, looking beyond the narrow bounds of an individual nation, will take under the cover of his equity the rights of the absent and unrepresented. It is only by a happy concurrence of good characters and good occasions, that a step can now and then be taken to advance the well-being of nations. If the present occasion be good, I am sure your Majesty’s character will not be wanting to avail the world of it. By monuments of such good offices, may your life become an epoch in the history of the condition of man; and may He who called it into being, for the good of the human family, give it length of days and success, and have it always in His holy keeping.
TO JOHN TYLER
Washington Apr. 26, 06.
—Your favor of Mar. 25 has been received, & the letter therein inclosed is referred to the Secretary of the Navy, who will give it just consideration whenever a vacancy in the body of midshipmen occurs. If anything can be done he will give notice of it.
Congress have just closed a long & uneasy session, in which they had great difficulties external & internal to encounter. With respect to the ex-basha of Tripoli, & many other more important matters, such a spirit of dissension existed, & such misrepresentations of fact, that it will be difficult for the public to come at truth. The change in the British Ministry & the events of Europe will I think insure a friendly settlement with her. Whether we shall obtain the same from France & Spain is more doubtful. At the beginning of the session it was in our power, but if passion should there be opposed to passion here, the issue may become serious: and if peace takes place in Europe immediately, a great obstacle to the indulgence of passion will be withdrawn. Should the war however continue another year, cool sober sense on both sides may befriend both. Unexpected & strange phænomena in the early part of the session, produced a momentary dismay within the walls of the House of R. However the body of republicans soon discovered their true situation, rallied to their own principles, and moved on towards their object in a solid phalanx: in so much that the session did most of the good which was in their power & did it well. Republicanism may perhaps have lost a few of it’s anomalous members, but the steadiness of it’s great mass has considerably increased on the whole my confidence in the solidity & permanence of our government. Accept my friendly salutations & assurances of constant esteem & respect.
TO WILLIAM CHARLES COLES CLAIBORNE
Washington Ap. 27, 06.
—This letter is confidential, but not official. It is meant to give you a general idea of our views as to N. Orleans, of which you will receive the particulars from the Secretary at War, whose instructions nothing here said is meant to controul should they vary in any particular. At the meeting of Congress, I recommended an arrangement of our militia, which, by giving us a selection of the younger part of it, would have enabled us, if necessary to have sent a very efficient support to N. Orleans. A diversity of ideas however among the members, arising from partialities to local systems, defeated that. Then we endeavored to encourage settlers West of the Missipi by a bounty of land, conditioned to serve there 2. years as regulars if called on. This also failed. Congress having closed their session, the means furnished for the support of N. O. have at length assumed their definitive shape, and I believe are adequate to the present state & prospect of things. According to our last dispatches from Spain that government shews such pacific dispositions, that if any hostilities take place in your quarter they will certainly not be by order of that government, but will be merely the effect of the passions & interests of her officers. Were Spain disposed, she could send no troops across the Atlantic. At Havanna she is so far from having any to spare, that she is obliged to use militia for ordinary garrison duty. At Pensacola & Mobille she has about 600. men. At Baton rouge about 170. These are all we know of which she could bring to attack you. What force she has in Mexico we know not. The means of defence to be immediately furnished you will be as follows: 1. three gun-boats will immediately proceed from the Atlantic border to Lake Pontchartrain. 2. bomb-vessels (being the only vessels we have in readiness here at this moment) will proceed to the Missipi to remain until relieved by 6 gunboats, either of those directly expected from the Mediterranean, or of those built on the Ohio, whichever shall first be in place. These 9 gunboats we consider as sufficient to secure all the water approaches to N. Orleans against any force we have a right to suppose can be brought against it under present circumstances.
2. We propose immediately to prepare block houses, pickets &c. on the defiles leading by land to the city; particularly on the road from Mashac, & on the approaches from the lakes. It is thought best on account of their health, not to bring the troops into the island, but to keep them in the nearest healthy situations from which they can repair to the city on very short notice. 1200 including those now in the city will be so placed. We presume you can raise about 1500 of militia and seamen, on an emergency, to be depended on; and that these behind their defensive works while the gunboats guard the water communications will secure the city effectually. 3. The militia of Tombigbee & Natchez will be ordered to be immediately put into a state of organization & readiness, so that should the garrisons of Pensacola, Mobile & Baton rouge, be drawn off to attack you, the respective militias may seize on these posts, & close in the rear of the attackers, to cut off their retreat. I have said that this letter is confidential, because our means ought not to be known to the Spaniards until they are seen. It will therefore be proper to prepare your militia with diligence, yet under the profession of ordinary precaution only. An engineer will be immediately sent forward to plan & execute the works. Congress has voted a sufficient sum of money for our postal: but to avoid giving new irritation to Spain, it has confined it’s expenditure to within the 31st degree. We are therefore obliged to relinquish for the present the road from Fort Stoddert direct to the mouth of Pearl & to go from Fort Stoddert to Pinckneyville keeping above the line. This is sorely against my will, & will continue no longer than necessity requires.
As the road thus proposed will soon strike the Pascagola, we think to use that river for the present in our communications between N. O. and Fort Stoddert. We expect that one of the gunboats of the lakes can ascend above the line. This is done because we wish to avoid collision with the Spanish authorities as much as possible till we can hear from Paris, & judge of the turn things will take there.
I have lately seen a letter from Mr. Duplantier to Mr. Madison, and am much pleased with his zeal in the interest of M. de Lafayette. Congress has permitted lots to be taken for him as low as 500 acres. This secures to us the parcel on the canal of Carondelet; but at the same time cuts off those smaller locations proposed by Mr. Duplantier. Indeed it would not be for the interest of the General to let his claim get into collision with any public interest. Were it to lose it’s popularity it might excite an opposition neither agreeable to his feelings nor interests.
I promised a Mr. Reibelt to speak to you of him. He is a Swiss by birth, a strong republican in principle, was in favor of the French Directory, and is I think a very honest man, and certainly a man of great literary information. Having a family, & under some difficulties as to property which he says he has in Europe, he has accepted the care of the Indian factory at Natchitoches, where I think his philanthropy will recommend him to the attachment of the Indians. It is in compliance with his request to be made known to you that I mention these things.
I thank you for a bag of peccans lately received from you. If you could think of me in the autumn, when they are fresh, they will always be very acceptable, partly to plant, partly for table use.
I observe a motion in your legislature to desire me to chuse a fifth counsellor out of the 10 before nominated. This being against law cannot be done; I hope therefore they will have nominated two as the law requires.
Accept my friendly salutations & assurances of esteem & respect.
DRAFT OF PROCLAMATION CONCERNING “LEANDER”
[May 3, 1806.]
Whereas satisfactory information has been received that Henry Whitby, commanding a British armed vessel called the Leander, did, on the 25th day of the month of April last past, within the waters & jurisdiction of the U. S. and near to the entrance of the harbor of New York by a cannon shot fired from the sd. vessel Leander, commit a murder on the body of John Pearce a citizen of the U. S. then pursuing his lawful vocations within the same waters & jurisdiction of the U. S. and near to their shores, & that the sd. Henry Whitby cannot be brought to justice by the ordinary process of law:
And whereas it does further appear that both before & after the said day sundry trespasses, wrongs, & unlawful interruptions & vexations on trading vessels coming to the U. S. and within their waters & vicinity were committed by the sd. armed vessel the Leander her officers, & people, by one other armed vessel called the Cambrian, commanded by her officers and people, and by one other armed vessel called the Driver commanded by her officers & people, which vessels being all of the same nation were aiding & assisting to each other in the trespasses, interruptions & vexations aforesaid:
Now therefore to the end that the sd Henry Whitby may be brought to justice & due punishment inflicted for the sd murder, I do hereby especially enjoin & require all officers having authority civil or military, and all other persons within the limits or jurisdiction of the U. S. wheresoever the said Henry Whitby may be found now or hereafter, to apprehend & secure the said Henry Whitby, & him safely & diligently to deliver to the civil authority of the place to be proceeded against according to law.
And I do hereby further require that the sd armed vessel the Leander with her other officers & people, & the sd armed vessels the Cambrian & Driver their officers & people, immediately & without any delay, depart from the harbours & waters of the U. S. And I do forever interdict the entrance of all the harbours & waters of the U. S. to the sd armed vessels, & to all other vessels which shall be commanded by the sd and or either of them.
And if the said vessels or any of them shall fail to depart as aforesaid, or shall reenter the harbours or waters aforesaid, I do in that case forbid all intercourse with the sd armed vessels the Leander the Cambrian & the Driver or with any of them, & the officers & crews thereof, and do prohibit all supplies & aid from being furnished them or any of them. And I do declare and make known that if any person from, or within, the jurisdictional limits of the U. S. shall afford any aid to either of the sd armed vessels contrary to the prohibition contained in this proclamation, either in repairing such vessel, or in furnishing her officers or crew with supplies of any kind, or in any manner whatsoever or if any pilot shall assist in navigating any of the sd armed vessels, unless it be for the purpose of carrying them in the first instance beyond the limits & jurisdiction of the U. S. such person or persons shall on conviction, suffer all the pains & penalties by the laws provided for such offences. And I do hereby enjoin & require all persons bearing office civil or military within the U. S. & all other citizens or inhabitants thereof or being within the same with vigilance & promptitude to exert their respective authorities, & to be aiding & assisting to the carrying this proclamation & every part thereof into full effect.
In testimony whereof I have caused the seal of the U. S. to be affixed to these presents and signed the same with my hand. Given at the city of Washington the 3d day of May, in the year of our lord 1806 & of the sovereignty & independence of the U. S. the 30th.
TO THE U. S. MINISTER TO GREAT BRITAIN
Washington May 4, 06.
—I wrote you on the 16th of March by a common vessel, & then expected to have had, on the rising of Congress, an opportunity of peculiar confidence to you. Mr. Beckley then supposed he should take a flying trip to London, on private business. But I believe he does not find it convenient. He could have let you into the arcana rerum, which you have interests in knowing. Mr. Pinckney’s pursuits having been confined to his peculiar line, he has only that general knowledge of what has passed here which the public possess. He has a just view of things so far as known to him. Our old friend, Mercer, broke off from us some time ago; at first professing to disdain joining the federalists, yet, from the habit of voting together, becoming soon identified with them. Without carrying over with him one single person, he is now in a state of as perfect obscurity as if his name had never been known. Mr. J. Randolph is in the same track, and will end in the same way. His course has excited considerable alarm. Timid men consider it as a proof of the weakness of our government, & that it is to be rent into pieces by demagogues, & to end in anarchy. I survey the scene with a different eye, and draw a different augury from it. In a house of Representatives of a great mass of good sense, Mr. R’s popular eloquence gave him such advantages as to place him unrivalled as the leader of the house; and, altho’ not conciliatory to those whom he led, principles of duty & patriotism induced many of them to swallow the humiliations he subjected them to, and to vote as was right, as long as he kept the path of right himself. The sudden defection of such a man could not but produce a momentary astonishment, & even dismay; but for a moment only. The good sense of the house rallied around it’s principles, & without any leader pursued steadily the business of the session, did it well, & by a strength of vote which has never before been seen. Upon all trying questions, exclusive of the federalists, the minority of republicans voting with him has been from 4. to 6. or 8., against from 90, to 100.; and altho’ he yet treats the federalists with ineffable contempt, yet, having declared eternal opposition to this administration, & consequently associated with them, in his votes, he will, like Mercer, end with them. The augury I draw from this is, that there is a steady, good sense in the Legislature, and in the body of the nation, joined with good intentions, which will lead them to discern & to pursue the public good under all circumstances which can arise, and that no ignis fatuus will be able to lead them long astray. In the present case, the public sentiment, as far as declarations of it have yet come in, is, without a single exception, in firm adherence to the administration. One popular paper is endeavoring to maintain equivocal ground; approving the administration in all it’s proceedings, & Mr. R in all those which have heretofore merited approbation, carefully avoiding to mention his late aberrations. The ultimate view of this paper is friendly to you; & the editor, with more judgement than him who assumes to be at the head of your friends, sees that the ground of opposition to the administration is not that on which it would be advantageous to you to be planted. The great body of your friends are among the firmest adherents to the administration; and in their support of you, will suffer Mr. R to have no communications with them. My former letter told you the line which both duty & inclination would lead me sacredly to pursue. But it is unfortunate for you to be embarrassed with such a soi-disant friend. You must not commit yourself to him. These views may assist you to understand such details as Mr. Pinckney will give you. If you are here at any time before the fall, it will be in time for any object you may have, and by that time the public sentiment will be more decisively declared. I wish you were here at present, to take your choice of the two governments of Orleans & Louisiana, in either of which I could now place you; and I verily believe it would be to your advantage to be just that much withdrawn from the focus of the ensuing contest, until it’s event should be known. The one has a salary of 5000 D., the other of 2000 D.; both with excellent hotels for the Governor. The latter at St. Louis, where there is good society, both French & American; a healthy climate, & the finest field in the U S for acquiring property. The former not unhealthy, if you begin a residence there in the month of November. The Mrs. Trists & their connections are established there. As I think you can within 4. months inform me what you say to this, I will keep things in their present state till the last day of August, for your answer.
The late change in the ministry I consider as insuring us a just settlement of our differences, and we ask no more. In Mr. Fox, personally, I have more confidence than in any man in England, & it is founded in what, through unquestionable channels, I have had opportunities of knowing of his honesty & his good sense. While he shall be in the administration, my reliance on that government will be solid. We had committed ourselves in a line of proceedings adapted to meet Mr. Pitt’s policy & hostility, before we heard of his death, which self-respect did not permit us to abandon afterwards; and the late unparalleled outrage on us at New York excited such sentiments in the public at large, as did not permit us to do less than has been done. It ought not to be viewed by the ministry as looking towards them at all, but merely as the consequences of the measures of their predecessors, which their nation has called on them to correct. I hope, therefore, they will come to just arrangements. No two countries upon earth have so many points of common interest & friendship; & their rulers must be great bunglers indeed, if, with such dispositions, they break them asunder. The only rivality that can arise is on the ocean. England may, by petty larceny, thwartings, check us on that element a little, but nothing she can do will retard us there one year’s growth. We shall be supported there by other nations, & thrown into their scale to make a part of the great counterpoise to her navy. If, on the other hand, she is just to us, conciliatory, and encourages the sentiment of family feelings & conduct, it cannot fail to befriend the security of both. We have the seamen & materials for 50. ships of the line, & half that number of frigates; and were France to give us the money & England the dispositions to equip them, they would give to England serious proofs of the stock from which they are sprung, & the school in which they have been taught; and added to the effects of the immensity of sea coast lately united under one power, would leave the state of the ocean no longer problematical. Were, on the other hand, England to give the money, & France the dispositions to place us on the sea in all our force, the whole world, out of the continent of Europe, might be our joint monopoly. We wish for neither of these scenes. We ask for peace & justice from all nations; & we will remain uprightly neutral in fact, tho’ leaning in belief to the opinion that an English ascendancy on the ocean is safer for us than that of France. We begin to broach the idea that we consider the whole gulph Stream as of our waters, in which hostilities & cruising are to be frowned on for the present, and prohibited so soon as either consent or force will permit us. We shall never permit another privateer to cruise within it, and shall forbid our harbors to national cruisers. This is essential for our tranquility & commerce. Be so good as to have the enclosed letters delivered; to present me to your family, and be assured yourself of my unalterable friendship.
For fear of accidents, I shall not make the unnecessary addition of my name.
TO SAMUEL SMITH
Washington May 4, 06.
—I received your favor covering some papers from Genl Wilkinson. I have repented but of one appointment there, that of Lucas, whose temper I see overrules every good quality & every qualification he has. Not a single fact has appeared, which occasions me to doubt that I could have made a fitter appointment than Genl Wilkinson. One qualm of principle I acknowledge I do feel, I mean the union of the civil & military authority. You remember that when I came into office, while we were lodging together at Conrad’s, he was pressed on me to be made Governor of the Missipi territory; & that I refused it on that very principle. When, therefore, the H of R took that ground, I was not insensible to it’s having some weight. But in the appointment to Louisiana, I did not think myself departing from my principle, because I consider it not as a civil government, but merely a military station. The Legislature had sanctioned that idea by the establishment of the office of Commandant, in which were compleatly blended the civil & military powers. It seemed, therefore, that the Governor should be in suit with them. I observed, too, that the H of R, on the very day they passed the stricture on this union of authorities, passed a bill making the Govr. of Michigan commander of the regular troops which should at any time be within his government. However, on the subject of Genl Wilkinson nothing is in contemplation at this time. We shall see what turn things take at home & abroad in the course of the summer. Monroe has had a 2d. conversation with Mr. Fox, which gives us hopes that we shall have an amicable arrangement with that government. Accept my friendly salutations, & assurances of great esteem & respect.
TO JACOB CROWNINSHIELD
Monticello May 13, 06.
—I was able to get from Washington a few days ago, and am here for about three weeks to unbend, as much as the current business will permit, with the aid of the country recreations. A little before my departure the incident took place at New York, on the subject of which I saw letters from yourself & General Barnham who were witnesses of the effect produced. Altho’ the scenes which were acted on shore were overdone with electioneering views, yet the act of the British officer was an atrocious violation of our territorial rights. The question what should be done was a difficult one, the sending three frigates was one suggestion. Our peace establishment allows the emploiment of 925 men, which might man 3 frigates; & I think the construction sound that the force in the Mediterranean might be considered as our war establishment making no part of the 925 men, but as having been sent there under another law. But if no part of our peace establishment, the war being over they must be called home if considered under the war statute, and if kept there it could be only as a part of the peace establishment. We had in fact ordered home one frigate and directed one to remain there with two brigs. The Chesapeake was under repair, destined for the Mediterranean on account of the Tunisian threats, but would not be ready within a month. While we were thus unable to present a force of that kind at N. York we received from Mr. Merry the most solemn assurances that the meeting of the three British vessels at New York was entirely accidental from different quarters & that they were not to remain there. We concluded therefore that it was best to do what you have seen in the proclamation, and to make a proper use of the outrage and of our forbearance at St. James’s, to obtain better provisions for the future. We expect daily to hear of the return of our Mediterranean gunboats to Charleston, which with those expected to descend the Ohio, & some from Commodore Preble, will enable us to put N. Orleans & N. York (our most vulnerable points) the former in a state of good security, the latter out of danger of having the city assaulted by a small force. And the boats to be constructed this year, with land-batteries will give to N. York also good security. But the building some ships of the line instead of our most indifferent frigates is not to be lost sight of. That we should have a squadron properly composed to prevent the blockading our ports is indispensable. The Atlantic frontier from numbers, wealth, & exposure to potent enemies have a proportionate right to be defended with the Western frontier, for whom we keep up 3000 men. Bringing forward the measure therefore in a moderate form, placing it on the ground of comparative right, our nation which is a just one, will come into it, notwithstanding the repugnance of some on the subject being first presented. A second conference between Monroe and Fox gives us confident hope that our matters there will be properly settled. The measures we have taken were necessary even to alarm the British merchants & to give the ministry their support in what they were disposed to do. Accept friendly salutations & assurances of great esteem.
TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE
Monticello May 23, 06.
—Your’s by the last post was received yesterday, and I now return Monroe’s letters. That Armstrong should be returning so suddenly & without notice is quite an impossibility. Any other hypothesis for his journey to Amsterdam would be more probable. I send you a letter from Pierpont Edwards respecting Swartwout. His testimony against him cannot be suspected, considering their mutual relation to a common center, Burr. I send you also a letter from Mr. Gallatin on account of the last paragraph tho’ as far as I can trust my memory every article suggested has been provided for. These two letters to be returned. I have desired the postmasters of Washington & Richmd to send nothing here after the 28th, proposing to leave this on the 4th & be in Washington on the 7th of June. It occurred to me yesterday that a letter is necessary from me to the Basha of Tripoli, and I have hastily prepared a draft which will need much correction. I pray you to give it freely, and submit it to Mr. Smith also. If you can return the fair draught by the post leaving Washington on the 28th I may sign & send it by the return of the same post, so that you may receive it the 3rd of June. Or if not wanting sooner it may lie with you till the 7th when I can sign it at Washington. At length we have had a copious rain. It continued with slight remissions two days (Wed & Thursday) falling moderately so that the earth is saturated without raising the streams. It was from the N. E. and has cleared up cold, the wind at N. & thermometer 50°. Mr. Burwell is here. He understands well the occurrences at Washington, but had not so well understood Clarke. Accept affectionate salutations.
The above was written yesterday morning. In the evening it recommenced raining, continued steadily tho’ moderately thro’ the night, and still continues this morning, with the wind at N. W. The earth has enough, but more is wanting for the springs and streams. May 24, 7 o’clock a.m.
TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY
June 15, 1806.
On the 27th of April I wrote to Governor Claiborne in these words:
“Congress has permitted lots to be taken for M. de la Fayette as low as 500 acres. This secures to us the parcel on the canal of Carondelet; but at the same time cuts off those similar locations proposed by M. Duplantier. Indeed, it would not be for the interest of the General to let his claim get into collision with any public interest. Were it to lose its popularity it might excite an opposition neither agreeable to his feelings or interest.”
This may already have produced some effect towards abating the expectations of M. Duplantier and the fears of the city. Still, I think it better that Mr. Madison should write explicitly to him. Indeed, I think we had better have a consultation, and determine on the proper limits of the public reservation. For, however justifiably desirous we may be to relieve a man who stands so high in the public affection as La Fayette, still, it should be only by granting to him such lands as would be granted to others if not located by him. The idea of consolidating by getting Suarez’s land was to satisfy the limit of 1000 acres then imposed on him, while others would have been free to have taken these smaller parcels. That idea may now be waived.
With respect to Colonel Newton’s inquiries what measures are to be taken with armed vessels coming into that harbor, I think he may be told to go on as we have done until further orders. These ought not to be given till we have gunboats there to enforce them. Then I shall be for an exact police over these vessels. Should we not by special letters keep the collectors on the alert as to the three proscribed vessels and commanders? It is very desirable to get hold of Whitby. Affectionate salutations.
TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY
June 19, 1806.
I have had a consultation with Mr. Madison on the application of the British vessel of war for stores. We are both of opinion that if by this term be meant sea-stores only, or even munitions de bouche, or provisions generally, there can be no objection to their taking them, or indeed anything except contraband of war. But what should be deemed contraband of war in this case we are not agreed. He thinks that as the English deem naval stores to be contraband, and as such take them from our vessels at sea, we ought to retaliate their own definition on them. I think we ought to act on the opinion that they are not contraband; because by treaties between all the nations (I think) having treaties with another they are agreed not to be contraband; even England herself, with every nation but ours, makes them non-contraband, and the only treaty making them contraband (Jay’s) is now expired. We ought then at once to rally with all the other nations on the ground that they are non-contraband; and if England treats them as contraband in our ships, instead of admitting it by retaliation, let us contest it on its true ground. Mr. M. thinks France might complain of this; but I think not, as we shall permit both nations equally to take naval stores; or at least such articles of them as may be used for peaceable as well as warlike purposes; this being the true line. This therefore becomes a question on which it will be advisable for us soon to come to a fixed determination. In the mean time, it will be better to leave the construction of the term to Mr. Gelston, by not defining the term to him, because any error of his will be easily got over. Affectionate salutations.
TO LEVI LINCOLN
Washington June 25, 06.
—It gave me great pleasure to receive your letter of the 17th and especially to learn you had accepted your new post. The newspapers tell us that Dr. Eustis has qualified. Mr. Gerry I presume & Genl. Heath must have reasons of justification for declining unknown to us at a distance. Otherwise we should say that a good souldier does not retire on carrying the town merely, while the citadel is still in the enemy’s hands. I presume however it will be surrendered at the end of this campaign, as all hopes of relief will then be desperate.
Every communication from Mr. Monroe strengthens our expectation that the new pretence of the British to controul our commerce with belligerent colonies will be properly restricted, and the outrages on our seamen brought to an end. I had apprehended that the attempts of a little party of seceders in Congress, to assassinate our negotiations for peace & justice from Spain and France by proclaiming views communicated to them in confidence, and using a language of irritation calculated to indispose those powers to listen to us, would have effected their views and forced us into what they deemed necessary for the liberties of mankind, war with Spain & France & consequently alliance with Britain. But the course which things are taking in Europe & some symptoms at Madrid & Paris induce me now to hope we may obtain the same ground which was put in our power last autumn. On the whole I do hope that at the next session of Congress we may inform the nation that we have brought to an end the wrongs they have been suffering from one people, and obtained from another justice, peace, & perhaps an arrondissement of empire which may promise us long years of tranquility. There will be some gratification too personally, in proving to our constituents, that their old servants have done nothing either in the way of wickedness or folly to forfeit their confidence, nor their new & unfledged friends anything to merit it. As our measures will have resulted in peace, the inference is that the contrary measures pressed on us would have resulted in contrary effects.
The proposition respecting the marshallship mentioned in your letter, was, as you supposed, not the first. Another had been weightily patronized, & had produced such a degree of commitment as cannot but have influenced our final determination. Certainly every act would give me superior pleasure inasmuch as it would be pleasing to you. But my knowledge of you also placed me at my ease in giving to all considerations the whole weight which they are in justice & duty entitled to receive. Accept my friendly salutations & assurances of continued attachment & respect.
TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY
June 26, 1806.
The Attorney-General being absent, we must decide for ourselves the question raised by Colonel Newton’s letter, whether Mr. Cooper can own a registered vessel? or, in other words, whether he is a citizen of the United States?
I hold the right of expatriation to be inherent in every man by the laws of nature, and incapable of being rightfully taken from him even by the united will of every other person in the nation. If the laws have provided no particular mode by which the right of expatriation may be exercised, the individual may do it by any effectual and unequivocal act or declaration. The laws of Virginia have provided a mode; Mr. Cooper is said to have exercised his right solemnly and exactly according to that mode, and to have departed from the Commonwealth; whereupon the law declares that “he shall thenceforth be deemed no citizen.” Returning afterwards he returns an alien, and must proceed to make himself a citizen if he desires it, as every other alien does. At present he can hold no lands, receive nor transmit any inheritance, nor enjoy any other right peculiar to a citizen.
The general government has nothing to do with this question. Congress may by the Constitution “establish an uniform rule of naturalization,” that is, by what rule an alien may become a citizen. But they cannot take from a citizen his natural right of divesting himself of the character of a citizen by expatriation.
TO THOMAS MANN RANDOLPH
Washington July 13, 06.
—Your letter of the 5th. came to hand on the 7th. & at the same time the Enquirer of the 4th. From the two together I derived inexpressible consolation: because while the Enquirer contained a piece which shews that the other party did not propose, for any thing which had yet past to remove the question from before the tribunal of the public, your letter gave me confidence that if that piece contained any fact necessary to be set to rights, it would be done by a simple statement of the fact, without commentary of reflection, but indeed whatever that piece might contain of error, it’s contradiction is rendered unnecessary by general opinion. I find but one sentiment prevailing (and I have that from very many) that the thing may stop where it now is with entire honour to yourself, and with no other diminution of it by the other party than shewing that he has not that ravenous appetite for unnecessary risk which some had ascribed to him; and which indeed is the falsest of honour, as a mere compound of crime & folly. I hope therefore that the matter is at an end, and that great care will be taken not to revive it. I believe that will be the case on his side; for I think you have been mistaken in supposing he meant to try any experiment on your sensibility. Of this he is acquitted I find by all who had opportunities of observing his selection of characters to be the subjects of his sarcasms. This termination however restores peace of mind and happiness to us all. The young ones indeed would have got over it; but to two persons at least it would have ended but with life. This period might have been long with one; with the other short, but unceasingly bitter. A sincere affection for you personally, a reliance on you for succeeding to cares which age is unfitting me for, sympathies with a beloved survivor, and tender anxieties for those who would have had to embark in the world without guide or protection, would have filled with gloom my remaining time.
God bless you & give you a long life.
TO THE U. S. MINISTER TO SPAIN
July 26, 1806.
—I wrote you a long letter on the 10th inst. since which your favor of May 20 has come to hand. By this I perceive, & with the deepest affliction, not only that a misunderstanding has taken place between yourself & Genl. Armstrong, but that it has occasioned a misconstruction of your powers likely to defeat the object of your mission, a mission on the result of which the eyes of all our citizens are anxiously fixed, as that which can alone give them a convenient & certain boundary with the prospect of long peace. The commission sent you is in the precise words (as to it’s formal parts) of that under which Messrs. Monroe & C. Pinckney acted at Madrid in the same business; & the same also as that formerly given to Mr. Livingston & Monroe, & the one lately given to Monroe & W. Pinckney. It’s purport is indeed joint or several; it’s intention that if found together, the ministers shall act jointly, but if the death, sickness or absence of either should happen, then the other should have authority to proceed separately. Never before has this form met with any objections; & never before was it constructed to give to either the power to do a single act relative to it’s object, but in conjunction with the other. In the instructions indeed a small variation in form only happened from this circumstance. They were prepared before we were certain that you would be at Paris when they should arrive, and as we had determined no more to address ourselves to Madrid, but thro’ the medium of France, where Genl. Armstrong was accredited, the instructions were at first addressed to him singly. When it was afterwards determined to join you in a negotiation, the caption was made to declare that they were common to you both: and the address on the back was joint. This change in the caption & superscription completely changed the effect of every paragraph in the instrns & addressed it’s contents to both of you. I cannot see how it could be inferred that these instructions were not to have operation until the authority at Paris shall be ready on the part of Spain? On the contrary they were in operation from the moment they were received, and from that moment neither had a right to take a single step, formal or informal, but with the concurrence of the other. As France had neither right nor interest in the provinces coterminous with Louisiana either on the East or West which were to be the subject of negotiation, she could not become a party to the treaty. No diploma was necessary therefore to be addressed to her formally. The friendly dispositions which dictated our requests of her good offices, would induce her to yield them on being informally satisfied that you had full powers to conclude with Spain. This she would have been by a sight of your full-powers, or of a letter or another less formal manifestation of your authority: and on this she would naturally invite Spain to meet us in negotiation at Paris, where her good offices could be rendered to both. This was the course we supposed the business would take. If Genl. Armstrong has written to you “that you are to have nothing to do with the negotiation until Spanish agents are upon the ground” it is wrong, because you had equal authority with him to take the measures properly necessary to bring them on the ground. No greater authority was given or intended for the one than the other.
I hardly suppose this explanation can reach Paris in time to remedy—
I have much higher hopes that gentlemen so selected for the superiority of their characters & understanding will have had so much greatness of mind as to silence their individual passions in the presence of such great public interests, and to have exerted all the powers of their mind to bring them to the result so much desired. This disposition would, of course, be inforced by the consideration that the evil arises at such a distance from us as to admit of no remedy till too late. That private indisposns towd each other should sometimes exist in difft agents of the same govmt is what is to be found in all govmnt. With these the public have no concern, but were these indisposns to prevent them from executing dispassionately & faithfully any public duties which brought them together, would be a ground of serious blame. My estimation of you both must be obvious from my selection of you from the whole body of our country for the discharge of it’s highest trusts. My confidence in you has kept me without pain & without a fear that everything would [be] done to accomplish the great object committed to you, which patriotism & talents could affect, and I will not believe yet that
TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE
Monticello Aug. 8, 06.
—Yours of the 4th is received. I think the course which has been taken for sending Mellimenni home is the best; and I concur with you in the expediency of giving no answer to Turreau. Indeed his letter does not seem to call for one. In the present state of our affairs it will certainly be better not to appoint a consul at St. Thomas’s. We must not risk great things for small. A consul merely to patronize a commerce which the laws forbid, would be a measure in opposition to the law, & not for it’s execution. I have received an impression from some cause or other that we had a convention with Spain for the mutual surrender of fugitives from justice in cases of murder and forgery: but on examining my collection of the laws here (which however is imperfect) I do not find such an one. If we have such a convention the murderer of his negro must certainly be given up. If we have not, he as certainly cannot. Of this I imagine you can satisfy yourself. If he is to be given up our constitution secures to him a previous trial by jury. He should be regularly indicted for having committed a certain crime within the territories of Spain, and the jury finding him guilty, the judgment of the court should be that he be delivered up to the Spanish authority. The case is of new creation by the convention, and should therefore take the course of analogous cases already known to the law.
The fact mentioned by Govr. Lewis, that the British have a fort on the Isthmus near Carleton or Buck Island is equally unknown & astonishing to me. Certainly we are bound to look into it immediately. The first step to be taken I think is to ascertain the fact, for which purpose I should suppose it best that Genl. Dearborn should send a discreet judicious officer to the place, with orders to do nothing more than to satisfy himself of the fact and report it to him. I think a new marshall should now be appointed for N. York, & will thank you to order a blank commission for this purpose to be forwarded to Mr. Gallatin, as was settled before we parted. I now return you the letters of P. Edwards, Cathcart, Govr. Lewis, Turreau & Govr. Claiborne; and I inclose to you for your office Mellimenni’s letter to me, Brown’s with an official report, Jones’s petn for a pardon, Govr. Claiborne’s & Judge Hall’s recommendation in Perryman’s case, on which two last, pardons are to be issued; and Phelp’s letter to be lodged in the patent office.
I am likely to be detained here a week more before I can set out for Bedford. My absence will be of about 10 days. If you can have my great coat put into the hands of the stage driver as he passes on Wednesday afternoon, I shall get it in time for my journey, and be very thankful to you for the accommodation. My affectionate salutations are tendered to yourself & Mrs. Madison.
TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY
Monticello Aug. 15, 1806.
Yours of the 7th received yesterday; and I have this day enclosed Mr. Sandford’s letter to Mr. Madison for perusal and to be forwarded by him to you. The skill and spirit with which Mr. Sandford and Mr. Edwards conducted the prosecution give perfect satisfaction, nor am I dissatisfied with the result. I had no wish to see Smith imprisoned; he has been a man of integrity and honor, led astray by distress. Ogden was too small an insect to excite any feelings. Palpable cause for removal of the marshal has been furnished, for which good though less evident cause existed before, and we have shown our tenderness towards judicial proceedings in delaying his removal till these were ended. We have done our duty, and I have no fear the world will do us justice. All is well therefore.
I approve of the appointment of Thos. Fowler to command the cutter at Savannah, and wish you to direct the commission accordingly. There was a recommendation of a Mr. Newell under favorable circumstances; but that of Fowler is more weighty. Mr. R. S. has had a commission given to Eli Williams as commissioner of the Western road. I am sorry he has gone out of Baltimore for the appointment, and also out of the ranks of Republicanism. It will furnish new matter for clamor. I set out to my possessions in Bedford in a day or two, and shall be absent ten days. This may explain delays in answering your communications, should any occur. The effects of drought are beyond anything known here since 1755. There will not be 10,000 hogsheads of tobacco made in the State. If it should rain plentifully within a week, the corn in rich lands may form nubbings; all the old field corn is past recovery, and will not yield a single ear. This constitutes the bulk of our crop; there will be no fodder. The potatoes are generally dead. Emigration will be great this fall from necessity. Affectionate salutations.
TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY
Monticello August 16, 1806.
—I have made it a rule to grant no pardon in any criminal case but on the recommendation of the judges who sat on the trial, and the district attorney, or two of them. I believe it a sound rule, and not to be departed from but in extraordinary cases. This occasions me to trouble you with the enclosed petition. It is probable the party petitioning, or his friends, on being informed of the rule, will take the petition and present it for the necessary signature; I ask the favor of you accordingly to put it into their hands with the necessary information. I salute you with affection and respect.
TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY
Monticello August 28, 1806.
—I returned hither the day before yesterday, and found your two letters of the 15th. I am much pleased with the expectation of Mr. Thompson’s continuance in office in the Orleans land office. The appointment of Robert Sargent as second mate of the revenue cutter of Delaware is approved. On the subject of the negotiation for the Floridas, not one word further than is known to you has been received. You shall immediately know when anything is received. As to the proposition for employing the Hornet to transport money for certain merchants from a belligerent port to the United States, Mr. Miller seems to have viewed one side of the question only. The other would not withstand a moment’s reflection. Every neutral vessel, armed or unarmed, transporting merchandise of money or other goods, is rightfully liable to search by the ships of war of a belligerent. Private vessels, even armed, are accordingly searched. The public armed ships are not, because no nation uses them but for the protection of private commerce, not for carrying it on. The honor of the nation is relied on that they are not so employed; and the nation who lend them to such purposes must give up their exemption from search. Should a British frigate, having intimation of the Hornet’s cargo, demand and make a search, he would find on board the proofs that our public ships abuse their privilege and of course must be denied it. The license to four British vessels to sail to Lima proves that belligerents may, either by compact or force, conduct themselves towards one another as they please; but not that a neutral may, unless by express permission of the belligerent. If the money said to have been brought from Jamaica by Murray & Mullony was private property, the act was wrong and ought not to be repeated. There are other insuperable reasons in this case, but this one is sufficient. I must take a little more time to consider and answer as to the Western roads and Louisiana instructions. Affectionate salutations.
TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY
Monticello August 31, 1806.
—I now return you the papers respecting the Louisiana Board of Commissioners, with only the alteration of omitting the words in the Xth instruction, about which you had doubted yourself. At the same time it is without confidence I give any opinion on this subject, having always considered your knowledge on it so exact as to supersede the necessity of my studying it minutely. If any opinion in aid of yours be necessary, I am sorry we could not call in that of the Attorney General, who is acquainted with the subject.
I return also the papers on the Western roads. I have not here a complete copy of the laws of the last session, and particularly no copy of that respecting the road from the Mississippi to the Ohio. If I recollect it rightly, it authorized us to open but one road. If so, the branchings proposed by Mr. Badollet may be beyond our powers. At any rate, they should be secondary, and not attempted till we know there will be money left after accomplishing the principal one. I submit to you, therefore, whether we should not suspend all measures respecting the branching roads. With respect to the great and important road which is the principal object:
1. Why should not the guide-line from St. Louis to Vincennes be direct, instead of bending to B?
2. I like your idea of straightening the guide-line from Vincennes, although it may pass through a corner of the Indian lands. But if necessary to cross the river at A on account of the ford, should not the guide-line go thence direct to Cincinnati, as I have pencilled it, or to Dayton, if that be the shortest way to Chillicothe? and even in that case the fork to Cincinnati might be transferred to C.
3. But the post-office map (the only one I have here) must be egregiously wrong if Dayton is not much out of the direct road from Vincennes to Chillicothe. According to that Cincinnati is in the direct line. But perhaps the deviation by Dayton is from economy, and to spare our fund the expense of opening the road from Cincinnati to Chillicothe and Marietta. But I doubt whether for a temporary reason we ought to do a permanent injury, especially as we may with certainty expect that Congress will enlarge the appropriation.
As to the branches of the roads, if it be lawful and advisable to extend our operations to them, I presume that to Louisville C. H. will be the most important. But should the fund hold out, that to Kaskaskia may be taken in ultimately. I think Mr. Badollet is right in proposing that the road shall not be opened more than a rod wide. Accept affectionate salutations, and assurances of constant esteem and respect.
TO JOSEPH HAMILTON DAVEISS
Monticello Sept. 12, ’06.
—Your letter of Aug. 14 has been just received. The first of Jan. 10 was acknowledged in mine of Feb. 15. After that, those of Feb. 10, Mar. 5, April 5 and 21, came in due time. As their matter do not require answer, their acknowledgment was postponed to avoid the suspicion of which you seemed to be aware, as well as to await your return from the journey you had undertaken. The acknowledgment of their receipt is now therefore made to relieve you from any anxiety respecting their safety, and you may rely on the most inviolable secrecy as to the past and any future communication you may think proper to make. Your letters are not filed in the offices; but will be kept among my private papers.
Accept my salutations and assurances of respect.
TO W. A. BURWELL
Monticello Sept. 17, 06.
—Yours of Aug. 7, from Liberty, never got to my hands till the 9th instant. About the same time I received the Enquirer, in which Decius was so judiciously answered. The writer of that paper observed, that the matter of Decius consisted, 1st of facts; 2dly, of inferences from these facts: that he was not well enough informed to affirm or deny his facts, & he therefore examines his inferences, and in a very masterly manner shews that even were his facts true, the reasonable inferences from them are very different from those drawn by Decius. But his facts are far from truth, and should be corrected. It happened that Mr. Madison & Genl Dearborne were here when I received your letter. I therefore, with them, took up Decius & read him deliberately; & our memories aided one another in correcting his bold & unauthorized assertions. I shall note the most material of these in the order of the paper.
1. It is grossly false that our ministers, as it is said in a note, had proposed to surrender our claims to compensation for Spanish spoliations, or even for French. Their instructions were to make no treaty in which Spanish spoliations were not provided for; and altho they were permitted to be silent as to French spoliations carried into Spanish ports, they were not expressly to abandon even them. 2. It is not true that our ministers, in agreeing to establish the Colorado as our Western boundary, had been obliged to exceed the authority of their instructions. Altho’ we considered our title good as far as the Rio Bravo, yet in proportion to what they could obtain East of the Missipi, they were to relinquish to the Westward, & successive sacrifices were marked out, of which even the Colorado was not the last. 3. It is not true that the Louisiana treaty was antedated, lest Great Britain should consider our supplying her enemies with money as a breach of neutrality. After the very words of the treaty were finally agreed to, it took some time, perhaps some days, to make out all the copies in the very splendid manner of Bonaparte’s treaties. Whether the 30th of Apr., 1803, the date expressed, was the day of the actual compact, or that on which it was signed, our memories do not enable us to say. If the former, then it is strictly conformable to the day of the compact; if the latter, then it was postdated, instead of being antedated. The motive assigned too, is as incorrect as the fact. It was so far from being thought, by any party, a breach of neutrality, that the British minister congratulated Mr. King on the acquisition, & declared that the King had learned it with great pleasure; & when Baring, the British banker, asked leave of the minister to purchase the debt & furnish the money to France, the minister declared to him, that so far from throwing obstacles in the way, if there were any difficulty in the paiment of the money, it was the interest of Great Britain to aid it. 4. He speaks of a double set of opinions & principles; the one ostensible, to go on the journals & before the public, the other efficient, and the real motives to action. But where are these double opinions and principles? The executive informed the legislature of the wrongs of Spain, & that preparation should be made to repel them, by force, if necessary. But as it might still be possible to negotiate a settlement, they asked such means as might enable them to meet the negociation, whatever form it might take. The 1st part of this system was communicated publicly, the 2d privately; but both were equally official, equally involved the responsibility of the Executive, and were equally to go on the journals. 5. That the purchase of the Floridas was in direct opposition to the views of the executive, as expressed in the President’s official communication. It was not in opposition even to the public part of the communication, which did not recommend war, but only to be prepared for it. It perfectly harmonized with the private part, which asked the means of negociation in such terms as covered the purchase of Florida as evidently as it was proper to speak it out. He speaks of secret communications between the executive and members, of backstairs’ influence, &c. But he never spoke of this while he and Mr. Nicholson enjoyed it almost solely. But when he differed from the executive in a leading measure, & the executive, not submitting to him, expressed it’s sentiments to others, the very sentiments (to wit, the purchase of Florida) which he acknoleges they expressed to him, then he roars out upon backstairs’ influence. 6. The committee, he sais, “forbore to recommend offensive measures.” Is this true? Did not they recommend the raising — regiments? Besides, if it was proper for the comee to forbear recommending offensive measures, was it not proper for the executive & Legislature to exercise the same forbearance? 7. He sais Monroe’s letter had a most important bearing on our Spanish relations. Monroe’s letter related, almost entirely, to our British relations. Of those with Spain he knew nothing particular since he left that country. Accordingly, in his letter he simply expressed an opinion on our affairs with Spain, of which he knew we had better information than he could possess. His opinion was no more than that of any other sensible man; & his letter was proper to be communicated with the English papers, & with them only. That the executive did not hold it up on account of any bearing on Spanish affairs, is evident from the fact that it was communicated when the Senate had not yet entered on the Spanish affairs, & had not yet received the papers relating to them from the other House. The moment the Representatives were ready to enter on the British affairs, Monroe’s letter, which peculiarly related to them, and was official solely as to them, was communicated to both Houses, the Senate being then about entering on Spanish affairs.
It remains now to consider on what authority these corrections of fact can be advanced without compromitting the Executive. It would seem to be best that the writer should assume the mask of a member of the Legislature. As to the 1st & 2d articles it might be said that although the instructions to the ministers for the Spanish negociation were never officially made known, yet that they were often the subject of conversation during the sessions at Washington, where it was understood that they were as above stated, however that if Decius pretends to know that they were not, let him bring forward his proofs, or avow the back-stairs information he received to the contrary. As to the 3d all the circumstances were freely mentioned by the different members of the administrn in conversations during the session which confirmed the Louisiana treaty. No secret was made of them. The 4th, 5th & 6th require no proofs but what are public. The 7th may be affirmed in the assumed character of a member, without any danger of it’s being denied.
These, my dear Sir, are the principal facts worth correction. Make any use of them you think best, without letting your source of information be known. Can you send me some cones or seeds of the cucumber tree? Accept affectionate salutations, & assurances of great esteem & respect.
TO GEORGE MORGAN
Monticello Sep. 19, ’06.
—Your favor of Aug. 29. came to hand on the 15th inst. I thank you for the information, which claims the more attention as it coincides with what has been learned from other quarters. Your situation and the knowledge you already possess would probably put it in your power to trace the footsteps of this enterprise on the public peace with more effect than any other with whom I could communicate. Whatever zeal you might think proper to use in this pursuit, would be used in fulfilment of the duties of a good citizen, and any communications you may be so good as to make to me on the subject shall be thankfully received, and so made use of as not to commit you any further than yourself may think proper to express. A knowledge of the persons who may reject, as well as of those who may accept parricide propositions will be peculiarly useful. Accept my salutations & assurances of esteem & respect.
TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE
Monticello Sept. 23, 06.
—Yours by yesterday’s post has been received, and I now return you the letters of Yznardi, Wilkinson, Cathcart, Clinton, Toulman & Turreau. In the answer to the latter I think it would be better to lay more stress on the constitutional bar to our furnishing the money, because it would apply in an occasion of peace as well as war. I submit to you therefore the striking out the words “it is not &c.” within Crotchets () in your draught & inserting “but in indulging these dispositions the President is bound to stop at the limits prescribed by our Constitution & law to the authorities placed in his hands. One of the limits is that ‘no money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in consequence of appropriations made by law’ & no law having made any appropriation of money for any purpose similar to that expressed in your letter it lies of course beyond his constitutional powers. This insuperable bar renders it unnecessary to inquire whether the aid you request could be reconciled to” &c. But both as to the matter and form of this alteration, you will decide. I do not think the loan of our navy yard any more contrary to neutrality than that of our ports. It is merely admitting a ship to a proper station in our waters. But this may be a subject of future consultation. I send for your persual two letters from Yznardi, and an anonymous one. The postmark on this last was Philadelphia, & you will be at no loss to conjecture it’s Spanish source.
TO ALBERT GALLATIN
Washington Oct. 12, ’06.
—You witnessed in the earlier part of the administration, the malignant & long-continued efforts which the federalists exerted in their newspapers, to produce misunderstanding between Mr. Madison & myself. These failed compleatly. A like attempt was afterwards made, through other channels, to effect a similar purpose between Genl Dearborne & myself, but with no more success. The machinations of the last session to put you at cross questions with us all, were so obvious as to be seen at the first glance of every eye. In order to destroy one member of the administration, the whole were to be set to loggerheads to destroy one another. I observe in the papers lately, new attempts to revive this stale artifice, & that they squint more directly towards you & myself. I cannot, therefore, be satisfied, till I declare to you explicitly, that my affections & confidence in you are nothing impaired, & that they cannot be impaired by means so unworthy the notice of candid & honorable minds. I make the declaration, that no doubts or jealousies, which often beget the facts they fear, may find a moment’s harbor in either of our minds. I have so much reliance on the superior good sense & candor of all those associated with me, as to be satisfied that they will not suffer either friend or foe to sow tares among us. Our administration now drawing towards a close, I have a sublime pleasure in believing it will be distinguished as much by having placed itself above all the passions which could disturb its harmony, as by the great operations by which it will have advanced the well-being of the nation.
Accept my affectionate salutations, & assurances of my constant & unalterable respect & attachment.
TO MERIWETHER LEWIS
Washington Oct. 20, 06.
I received, my dear sir, with unspeakable joy your letter of Sep. 23 announcing the return of yourself, Capt. Clarke & your party in good health to St. Louis. The unknown scenes in which you were engaged, & the length of time without hearing of you had begun to be felt awfully. Your letter having been 31 [28?] days coming, this cannot find you at Louisville & I therefore think it safe to lodge it at Charlottesville. Its only object is to assure you of what you already know my constant affection for you & the joy with which all your friends here will receive you. Tell my friend of Mandane also that I have already opened my arms to receive him. Perhaps, while in our neighborhood, it may be gratifying to him, & not otherwise to yourself to take a ride to Monticello and see in what manner I have arranged the tokens of friendship I have received from his country particularly, as well as from other Indian friends: that I am in fact preparing a kind of Indian Hall. Mr. Dinsmore, my principal workman, will shew you everything there. Had you not better bring him by Richmond, Fredericksburg & Alexandria? He will thus see what none of the others have visited & the conveniences of the public stages will facilitate your taking that route. I salute you with sincere affection.
TO THE U. S. MINISTER TO GREAT BRITAIN
Washington Oct. 26, 06.
—I see with great concern that unavoidable delays are likely still to procrastinate your negotiations beyond what had been expected: & I sincerely regret the particular circumstance to which this is owing, the illness, probably the death of Mr. Fox. His sound judgment saw that political interest could never be separated in the long run from moral right, & his frank & great mind would have made a short business of a just treaty with you. I fear that one of those appointed to negotiate with you is too much wedded to the antient maritime code & navigation principles of England, too much practised in the tactics of diplomacy, to expect either an early or just result. If it is not concluded early in December, from the known length of passages in that season, it cannot be here before Congress will be over (March 4) and then it cannot be ratified till December twelve months, because it will probably contain articles which will bring it within the constitutional rights of the H. of R. In that case the non-importation law, and the extensions of it which cannot be avoided at the ensuing session, will have a long run, and an unfavorable influence on the popular temper of both countries. You know the interregnum after the 4th of March till the elections are compleated, the utter repugnance of members to be here in the sickly months from July to Sep., and that moreover the public expense & private inconvenience of the members absolutely forbid any special convocation of them. You may therefore proceed on the fact that if a treaty be not ratified before the 4th of March, it will not be until December twelve month. Believing that this letter will still find you in England & having occasion for some mathematical instruments, I take the liberty of troubling you with the inclosed commission to Mr. Jones an instrument maker in Holborn. What the cost of them will be is unknown to me; and having no money correspondent in London I have ventured to say to him you will pay his bill. It will be somewhere between 10 & 15 guineas: but whatever it be it shall be repaid you on your landing in the U. S. and may be therefore considered as so much brought over in your pocket for use in the first moments of your return. I would wish you to bring the packet with the seed from Jones with you on your return. If you would prefer drawing on me for the amount in favor of any person here, it shall be paid at sight.
To prevent that depression of spirits which experience has taught me to expect on returning after a long absence from one’s home, and that you may be prepared & fortified for a discouraging view, I will just observe to you that our neighborhood considers your manager Mr. Lewis as one of the honestest & best men in the world, but the poorest manager. They think he has not made your estate maintain itself, & that you will find it unprovided with present subsistence. Nobody has made this season half a year’s provision of corn & your estate less than most others: & it is said there is no stock of any kind remaining on the farm for your immediate subsistence. To restock the farm with bread, requires a year, & with animals 2 or 3 years. A previous communication of these circumstances (if you have received them from no other) will enable you to come prepared to meet them. You will have heard of the death of Chancellor Wythe. I recollect no other personal incident which may interest you. Present my friendly respects to Mrs. Monroe and your daughter and be assured yourself of my constant & affectionate esteem & attachment.
TO ANDREW ELLICOTT
Washington Nov. 1, 1806.
—Your letter of Aug. 18 with the account of the eclipse you were so kind as to inclose, found me at Monticello & I meant to have acknoledged it immediately on my arrival here, but I found on my return such an accumulation of business, that altho your letter has continued on my file of those to be answered, I have not been able to get to it till now. I thank you for the communication of your observations of the eclipse. Fortune seems to have favored every other place but this with a fair view of it. This spot was covered by a dense cloud through the whole of it’s duration, & for some time before & after. I hope the great extent of the path of this eclipse round the globe, & especially thro’ our states will furnish many useful corrections of our longitudes. Capt. Lewis will bring us a treasure in this way.
Your opinions of intolerance are mine. When I entered on office, after giving a very small participation in office to republicans by removal of a very few federalists, selected on the very principle of their own intolerance while in office, I never meant to have touched another, but to leave to the ordinary accidents to make openings for republicans, but the vindictive, indecent & active opposition of some individuals has obliged me from time to time to disarm them of the influence of office. But that such a spirit of intolerance should arise between the different sections of republicans, furnishes a poor presage of future tranquility. Of the unhappy effects of the schisms in Pennsylva and N. York, you see the fruit in the state lying between them, where the federalists have recovered a majority in one branch of the legislature, are very near it in the other, & as soon as they shall reach it, they place the executive & every office under it in federal hands. If the two sections of republicans were irreconcileable, still the minor one should not have coalesced with, and voted for federalists. If on the contrary they would keep themselves independent & set up their own ticket, their whole body would come forward & vote, which would give them the benefit of that part of their force which kept back because it could not support federalists, and the federalists themselves having no hope of bringing in men of their own would have to chuse between the two republican tickets that least disagreeable to themselves. This would only bring into the public councils the different shades of republicans so that the whole body should be represented.
For my part I determined from the first dawn of the first schism never to take part in any schism of republicans, nor in distributing the public trusts ever to ask of which section a party was. The port of retirement is now within sight, it is viewed with longing eyes, and my greatest consolation in it will be the undivided approbation of those with whom, & for whom I have labored. Accept my friendly salutations & the assurances of my respect.
PROCLAMATION AGAINST BURR’S PLOT
[Nov. 27, 1806]
Whereas information has been received that sundry persons, citizens of the U. S. or resident within the same, are conspiring & confederating together to begin & set on foot, provide & prepare the means for a military expedition or enterprise against the dominions of Spain, against which nation war has not been declared by the constitutional authority of the U. S.; that for this purpose they are fitting out & arming vessels in the western waters of the U. S., collecting provisions, arms, military stores & other means; are deceiving & seducing honest & well meaning citizens under various pretences to engage in their criminal enterprises; are organizing, officering & arming themselves for the same, contrary to the laws in such cases made & provided, I have therefore thought fit to issue this my proclamation, warning and enjoining all faithful citizens who have been led to participate in the sd unlawful enterprises without due knolege or consideration to withdraw from the same without delay & commanding all persons whatsoever engaged or concerned in the same to cease all further proceedings therein as they will answer the contrary at their peril, and will incur prosecution with all the rigors of the law. And I hereby enjoin and require all officers civil or military, of the U. S. or of any of the states or territories, & especially all governors, & other executive authorities, all judges, justices, and other officers of the peace, all military officers of the army or navy of the U. S., & officers of the militia, to be vigilant, each within his respective department and according to his functions in searching out & bringing to condign punishment all persons engaged or concerned in such enterprise and in seizing & detaining subject to the dispositions of the law all vessels, arms, military stores, or other means provided or providing for the same, & in general in preventing the carrying on such expedition or enterprise by all the lawful means within their power. And I require all good & faithful citizens, and others within the U. S. to be aiding & assisting herein & especially in the discovery, apprehension, & bringing to justice, of all such offenders, and in the giving information against them to the proper authorities.
In testimony whereof I have caused the seal of the U. S. to be affixed to these presents & have signed the same with my hand. Given at the city of Washington on the 27th day of November 1806 and of the sovereignty & independence of the U. S. the 31st.
SIXTH ANNUAL MESSAGE
December 2, 1806.
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States in Congress assembled:
It would have given me, fellow citizens, great satisfaction to announce in the moment of your meeting that the difficulties in our foreign relations, existing at the time of your last separation, had been amicably and justly terminated. I lost no time in taking those measures which were most likely to bring them to such a termination, by special missions charged with such powers and instructions as in the event of failure could leave no imputation on either our moderation or forbearance. The delays which have since taken place in our negotiations with the British government appear to have proceeded from causes which do not forbid the expectation that during the course of the session I may be enabled to lay before you their final issue. What will be that of the negotiations for settling our differences with Spain, nothing which had taken place at the date of the last despatches enables us to pronounce. On the western side of the Mississippi she advanced in considerable force, and took post at the settlement of Bayou Pierre, on the Red river. This village was originally settled by France, was held by her as long as she held Louisiana, and was delivered to Spain only as a part of Louisiana. Being small, insulated, and distant, it was not observed, at the moment of redelivery to France and the United States, that she continued a guard of half a dozen men which had been stationed there. A proposition, however, having been lately made by our commander-in-chief, to assume the Sabine river as a temporary line of separation between the troops of the two nations until the issue of our negotiations shall be known; this has been referred by the Spanish commandant to his superior, and in the meantime, he has withdrawn his force to the western side of the Sabine river. The correspondence on this subject, now communicated, will exhibit more particularly the present state of things in that quarter.
The nature of that country requires indispensably that an unusual proportion of the force employed there should be cavalry or mounted infantry. In order, therefore, that the commanding officer might be enabled to act with effect, I had authorized him to call on the governors of Orleans and Mississippi for a corps of five hundred volunteer cavalry. The temporary arrangement he has proposed may perhaps render this unnecessary. But I inform you with great pleasure of the promptitude with which the inhabitants of those territories have tendered their services in defence of their country. It has done honor to themselves, entitled them to the confidence of their fellow-citizens in every part of the Union, and must strengthen the general determination to protect them efficaciously under all circumstances which may occur.
Having received information that in another part of the United States a great number of private individuals were combining together, arming and organizing themselves contrary to law, to carry on military expeditions against the territories of Spain, I thought it necessary, by proclamations as well as by special orders, to take measures for preventing and suppressing this enterprise, for seizing the vessels, arms, and other means provided for it, and for arresting and bringing to justice its authors and abettors. It was due to that good faith which ought ever to be the rule of action in public as well as in private transactions; it was due to good order and regular government, that while the public force was acting strictly on the defensive and merely to protect our citizens from aggression, the criminal attempts of private individuals to decide for their country the question of peace or war, by commencing active and unauthorized hostilities, should be promptly and efficaciously suppressed.
Whether it will be necessary to enlarge our regular force will depend on the result of our negotiation with Spain; but as it is uncertain when that result will be known, the provisional measures requisite for that, and to meet any pressure intervening in that quarter, will be a subject for your early consideration.
The possession of both banks of the Mississippi reducing to a single point the defence of that river, its waters, and the country adjacent, it becomes highly necessary to provide for that point a more adequate security. Some position above its mouth, commanding the passage of the river, should be rendered sufficiently strong to cover the armed vessels which may be stationed there for defence, and in conjunction with them to present an insuperable obstacle to any force attempting to pass. The approaches to the city of New Orleans, from the eastern quarter also, will require to be examined, and more effectually guarded. For the internal support of the country, the encouragement of a strong settlement on the western side of the Mississippi, within reach of New Orleans, will be worthy the consideration of the legislature.
The gun-boats authorized by an act of the last session are so advanced that they will be ready for service in the ensuing spring. Circumstances permitted us to allow the time necessary for their more solid construction. As a much larger number will still be wanting to place our seaport towns and waters in that state of defence to which we are competent and they entitled, a similar appropriation for a further provision for them is recommended for the ensuing year.
A further appropriation will also be necessary for repairing fortifications already established, and the erection of such works as may have real effect in obstructing the approach of an enemy to our seaport towns, or their remaining before them.
In a country whose constitution is derived from the will of the people, directly expressed by their free suffrages; where the principal executive functionaries, and those of the legislature, are renewed by them at short periods; where under the characters of jurors, they exercise in person the greatest portion of the judiciary powers; where the laws are consequently so formed and administered as to bear with equal weight and favor on all, restraining no man in the pursuits of honest industry, and securing to every one the property which that acquires, it would not be supposed that any safeguards could be needed against insurrection or enterprise on the public peace or authority. The laws, however, aware that these should not be trusted to moral restraints only, have wisely provided punishments for these crimes when committed. But would it not be salutary to give also the means of preventing their commission? Where an enterprise is meditated by private individuals against a foreign nation in amity with the United States, powers of prevention to a certain extent are given by the laws; would they not be as reasonable and useful were the enterprise preparing against the United States? While adverting to this branch of the law, it is proper to observe, that in enterprises meditated against foreign nations, the ordinary process of binding to the observance of the peace and good behavior, could it be extended to acts to be done out of the jurisdiction of the United States, would be effectual in some cases where the offender is able to keep out of sight every indication of his purpose which could draw on him the exercise of the powers now given by law.
The states on the coast of Barbary seem generally disposed at present to respect our peace and friendship; with Tunis alone some uncertainty remains. Persuaded that it is our interest to maintain our peace with them on equal terms, or not at all, I propose to send in due time a reinforcement into the Mediterranean, unless previous information shall show it to be unnecessary.
We continue to receive proofs of the growing attachment of our Indian neighbors, and of their disposition to place all their interests under the patronage of the United States. These dispositions are inspired by their confidence in our justice, and in the sincere concern we feel for their welfare; and as long as we discharge these high and honorable functions with the integrity and good faith which alone can entitle us to their continuance, we may expect to reap the just reward in their peace and friendship.
The expedition of Messrs. Lewis and Clarke, for exploring the river Missouri, and the best communication from that to the Pacific ocean, has had all the success which could have been expected. They have traced the Missouri nearly to its source, descended the Columbia to the Pacific ocean, ascertained with accuracy the geography of that interesting communication across our continent, learned the character of the country, of its commerce, and inhabitants; and it is but justice to say that Messrs. Lewis and Clarke, and their brave companions, have by this arduous service deserved well of their country.
The attempt to explore the Red river, under the direction of Mr. Freeman, though conducted with a zeal and prudence meriting entire approbation, has not been equally successful. After proceeding up it about six hundred miles, nearly as far as the French settlements had extended while the country was in their possession, our geographers were obliged to return without completing their work.
Very useful additions have also been made to our knowledge of the Mississippi by Lieutenant Pike, who has ascended to its source, and whose journal and map, giving the details of the journey, will shortly be ready for communication to both houses of Congress. Those of Messrs. Lewis and Clarke, and Freeman, will require further time to be digested and prepared. These important surveys, in addition to those before possessed, furnish materials for commencing an accurate map of the Mississippi, and its western waters. Some principal rivers, however, remain still to be explored, toward which the authorization of Congress, by moderate appropriations, will be requisite.
I congratulate you, fellow-citizens, on the approach of the period at which you may interpose your authority constitutionally, to withdraw the citizens of the United States from all further participation in those violations of human rights which have been so long continued on the unoffending inhabitants of Africa, and which the morality, the reputation, and the best interests of our country, have long been eager to proscribe. Although no law you may pass can take prohibitory effect till the first day of the year one thousand eight hundred and eight, yet the intervening period is not too long to prevent, by timely notice, expeditions which cannot be completed before that day.
The receipts at the treasury during the year ending on the 30th of September last, have amounted to near fifteen millions of dollars, which have enabled us, after meeting the current demands, to pay two millions seven hundred thousand dollars of the American claims, in part of the price of Louisiana; to pay of the funded debt upward of three millions of principal, and nearly four of interest; and in addition, to reimburse, in the course of the present month, near two millions of five and a half per cent. stock. These payments and reimbursements of the funded debt, with those which have been made in the four years and a half preceding, will, at the close of the present year, have extinguished upwards of twenty-three millions of principal.
The duties composing the Mediterranean fund will cease by law at the end of the present season. Considering, however, that they are levied chiefly on luxuries, and that we have an impost on salt, a necessary of life, the free use of which otherwise is so important, I recommend to your consideration the suppression of the duties on salt, and the continuation of the Mediterranean fund, instead thereof, for a short time, after which that also will become unnecessary for any purpose now within contemplation.
When both of these branches of revenue shall in this way be relinquished, there will still ere long be an accumulation of moneys in the treasury beyond the instalments of public debt which we are permitted by contract to pay. They cannot, then, without a modification assented to by the public creditors, be applied to the extinguishment of this debt, and the complete liberation of our revenues—the most desirable of all objects; nor, if our peace continues, will they be wanting for any other existing purpose. The question, therefore, now comes forward,—to what other objects shall these surpluses be appropriated, and the whole surplus of impost, after the entire discharge of the public debt, and during those intervals when the purposes of war shall not call for them? Shall we suppress the impost and give that advantage to foreign over domestic manufactures? On a few articles of more general and necessary use, the suppression in due season will doubtless be right, but the great mass of the articles on which impost is paid is foreign luxuries, purchased by those only who are rich enough to afford themselves the use of them. Their patriotism would certainly prefer its continuance and application to the great purposes of the public education, roads, rivers, canals, and such other objects of public improvement as it may be thought proper to add to the constitutional enumeration of federal powers. By these operations new channels of communication will be opened between the States; the lines of separation will disappear, their interests will be identified, and their union cemented by new and indissoluble ties. Education is here placed among the articles of public care, not that it would be proposed to take its ordinary branches out of the hands of private enterprise, which manages so much better all the concerns to which it is equal; but a public institution can alone supply those sciences which, though rarely called for, are yet necessary to complete the circle, all the parts of which contribute to the improvement of the country, and some of them to its preservation. The subject is now proposed for the consideration of Congress, because, if approved by the time the State legislatures shall have deliberated on this extension of the federal trusts, and the laws shall be passed, and other arrangements made for their execution, the necessary funds will be on hand and without employment. I suppose an amendment to the constitution, by consent of the States, necessary, because the objects now recommended are not among those enumerated in the constitution, and to which it permits the public moneys to be applied.
The present consideration of a national establishment for education, particularly, is rendered proper by this circumstance also, that if Congress, approving the proposition, shall yet think it more eligible to found it on a donation of lands, they have it now in their power to endow it with those which will be among the earliest to produce the necessary income. This foundation would have the advantage of being independent on war, which may suspend other improvements by requiring for its own purposes the resources destined for them.
This, fellow citizens, is the state of the public interest at the present moment, and according to the information now possessed. But such is the situation of the nations of Europe, and such too the predicament in which we stand with some of them, that we cannot rely with certainty on the present aspect of our affairs that may change from moment to moment, during the course of your session or after you shall have separated. Our duty is, therefore, to act upon things as they are, and to make a reasonable provision for whatever they may be. Were armies to be raised whenever a speck of war is visible in our horizon, we never should have been without them. Our resources would have been exhausted on dangers which have never happened, instead of being reserved for what is really to take place. A steady, perhaps a quickened pace in preparations for the defence of our seaport towns and waters; an early settlement of the most exposed and vulnerable parts of our country; a militia so organized that its effective portions can be called to any point in the Union, or volunteers instead of them to serve a sufficient time, are means which may always be ready yet never preying on our resources until actually called into use. They will maintain the public interests while a more permanent force shall be in course of preparation. But much will depend on the promptitude with which these means can be brought into activity. If war be forced upon us in spite of our long and vain appeals to the justice of nations, rapid and vigorous movements in its outset will go far toward securing us in its course and issue, and toward throwing its burdens on those who render necessary the resort from reason to force.
The result of our negotiations, or such incidents in their course as may enable us to infer their probable issue; such further movements also on our western frontiers as may show whether war is to be pressed there while negotiation is protracted elsewhere, shall be communicated to you from time to time as they become known to me, with whatever other information I possess or may receive, which may aid your deliberations on the great national interests committed to your charge.
SPECIAL MESSAGE ON GREAT BRITAIN
December 3, 1806.
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:
I have the satisfaction to inform you that the negotiation depending between the United States and the government of Great Britain is proceeding in a spirit of friendship and accommodation which promises a result of mutual advantage. Delays indeed have taken place, occasioned by the long illness and subsequent death of the British minister charged with that duty. But the commissioners appointed by that government to resume the negotiation have shown every disposition to hasten its progress. It is, however, a work of time, as many arrangements are necessary to place our future harmony on stable grounds. In the meantime, we find by the communications of our plenipotentiaries, that a temporary suspension of the act of the last session prohibiting certain importations, would, as a mark of candid disposition on our part, and of confidence in the temper and views with which they have been met, have a happy effect on its course. A step so friendly will afford further evidence that all our proceedings have flowed from views of justice and conciliation, and that we give them willingly that form which may best meet corresponding dispositions.
Add to this, that the same motives which produced the postponement of the act till the fifteenth of November last, are in favor of its further suspension; and as we have reason to hope that it may soon yield to arrangements of mutual consent and convenience, justice seems to require that the same measure may be dealt out to the few cases which may fall within its short course, as to all others preceding and following it. I cannot, therefore, but recommend the suspension of this act for a reasonable time, on considerations of justice, amity, and the public interests.
TO CÆSAR A. RODNEY
Washington Dec. 5, 06.
—I have not sooner been able to acknolege the receipt of your favors of the 21st & 29th ult. and to thank you for the communication of the letters they covered, & which are now re-inclosed. The designs of our Catèline are as real as they are romantic, but the parallel he has selected from history for the model of his own course corresponds but by halves. It is true in it’s principal character, but the materials to be employed are totally different from the scourings of Rome. I am confidant he will be compleatly deserted on the appearance of the proclamation, because his strength was to consist of people who had been persuaded that the government connived at the enterprise. However we have not trusted to this weapon alone. Altho’ we shall possibly come to blows with Spain, it will accelerate the treaty instead of preventing it. The appointment of a successor to judge Patterson was bound up by rule. The last judiciary system requiring a judge for each district, rendered it proper that he should be of the district. This has been observed in both the appointments to the supreme bench made by me. Where an office is local we never go out of the limits for the officer. Accept my friendly salutations & assurances of great esteem & respect.
TO THE SECRETARY OF WAR
Dec. 12, 06.
Th. Jefferson returned to General Dearborn yesterday the letter of Mr. John Randolph, to which he thinks some of the following ideas might enter into the answer; to wit that the military establishment of the U. S. being known, it is only necessary to observe that it is nearly full; that a considerable portion of it is necessarily retained at the several forts & posts of the U. S. to preserve them & the property at them; that all the residue were on the line of frontier between the U. S. & the Spanish dominions, under the command of Genl. Wilkinson, who has also authority to call on the territories of Orleans & Mississippi for militia; that the force which Spain has on the Sabine has been represented as amounting to 1500 men, but it is believed to be considerably below that; that it is impossible to say what force she can bring from her extensive dominions West & South of us or from beyond sea; probably the less on account of the war in which she is engaged, & which endangers other parts of her possessions; that the President in his message of Dec. 2 expressed his ideas of the means of protecting our citizens in the commencement of a war & until time could be given for raising regulars; but that the right of deciding on these being with the legislature, he will rely on those means which they shall think it most expedient to provide &c. &c.
TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY
December 12, 1806.
Although I have the most perfect confidence in the integrity of Briggs, and very little in Davies, his accuser, yet where a charge is so specific and direct, our duty calls for investigation. The distance is too great to wait for preliminary explanation. I think with you that Mr. Williams, the former register will be a proper person to inquire into the charge, but that he would probably be less willing to undertake it alone than joined with another; and I would propose to join with him Mr. Dunbar, who deserves entire confidence. In the case of the removal proposed by the collector of Baltimore, I consider it as entirely out of my sphere, and resting solely with yourself. Were I to give an opinion on the subject, it would only be by observing that in the cases under my immediate care, I have never considered the length of time a person has continued in office, nor the money he has made in it, as entering at all into the reasons for a removal. The want of a collector at Chestertown shall be attended to with the first nominations. The allegations against Pope, of New Bedford, are insufficient. Although meddling in political caucusses is no part of that freedom of personal suffrage which ought to be allowed him, yet his mere presence at a caucus does not necessarily involve an active and official influence in opposition to the government which employs him. Affectionate salutations.
PROCLAMATION CONCERNING “CAMBRIAN,” ETC.
[Dec. 20, 1806.]
Whereas by a proclamation bearing date the 3d day of May last, for reasons therein stated, the British vessels of war called the Leander, the Cambrian & the Driver, were forever interdicted the entrance of the harbors & the waters under the jurisdiction of the U. S. and in case of any of them reentering the harbors or waters aforesaid, all intercourse with them was forbidden, all supplies and aid prohibited from being furnished them under the penalties of law provided: and whereas one of the said armed vessels, the Cambrian, has lately entered into the waters of the Chesapeake, within which, with certain other British armed vessels, she still remains: I have therefore thought fit to issue this my Proclamation, forbidding, so long as the said Cambrian shall be within the waters of the Chesapeake all intercourse, not only with the said armed vessel the Cambrian, but with every armed vessel of the same nation, their officers, & crews now in the sd bay of Chesapeake, or it’s waters, or which may enter the same. And I do declare & make known, that if any person from, or within, the jurisdictional limits of the U. S. shall afford any aid to any of the said armed vessels, contrary to the prohibition contained in this proclamation, either in repairing any of them, or in furnishing them, their officers or crews, with supplies of any kind, or in any manner whatsoever or if any pilot shall assist in navigating any of the said armed vessels, unless it be for the purpose of carrying them, in the first instance, beyond the limits & jurisdiction of the U. S. such person or persons shall, on conviction, suffer all the pains & penalties by the laws provided for such offences. And I do hereby enjoin & require all persons bearing office civil or military within the U. S., and all others, citizens or inhabitants thereof, or being within the same, with vigilance & promptitude, to exert their respective authorities, & to be aiding & assisting to the carrying this proclamation and every part thereof into full effect.
In testimony whereof I have caused the seal of the U. S. to be affixed to these presents, and have signed the same with my hand. Given at the city of Washington the 20th day of December in the year of our Lord 1806 and of the sovereignty and independence of the United States the 31st.
TO THE GOVERNOR OF LOUISIANA
(WILLIAM CHARLES COLE CLAIBORNE.)
Washington Dec. 20, 06.
—You will receive your formal instructions from Genl. Dearborn. This is private of course & merely for your more full information. You already have a general knowledge of the insurrection prepared by Colo. Burr. His object is to take possession of N. Orleans, as a station from whence to make an expedition against Vera Cruz & Mexico. His party began their formation at the mouth Beaver, from whence they started the 1st or 2d of this month, and would collect all the way down the Ohio. We trust that the opposition we have provided at Marietta, Cincinnati, Louisville & Massac will be sufficient to stop him; but we are not certain because we do not know his strength. It is therefore possible he may escape & then his great rendezvous is to be at Natchez. You can judge as well as I when he can be there, leaving Pittsburg or Beaver Dec. 1. We send our present orders by both the Tennessee & Athens routes, in expectation they will reach Natchez & N. Orleans in time for the whole force of both countries to be collected & to take the best point for opposition. The orders are to the governor of Missipi to bring forward the whole force of his militia instantly to act in conjunction with the force at Fort Adams: to the commanding officer of the gunboats &c. to move with his whole force immediately up the river & to take the station which shall be thought best: we presume it will be a little above Fort Adams or Fort Coupee, but within reach of them, that he may fall back under the protection of their guns if in danger from superior numbers. We expect you will collect all your force of militia, act in conjunction with Colo. Freeman & take such a stand as shall be concluded best. These orders are given to the several officers distinctly, because Genl. Wilkinson is believed to be kept at bay on the west side of the Misipi by the Spanish force under advice from Yrujo, who has been duped by Burr to believe he means only the capture of N. Orleans & the separation of the western country. This is a summary of the orders given; but, if they vary in any point from what the Secretaries of war and of the navy direct, you are to suppose that I recite them incorrectly, & that theirs are the real orders, which it is my intention should be followed. Do not suffer yourself to be lulled into a moment’s delay by any information which shall not come to you in the most unquestionable form. Should he get possession of N. Orleans measures are now taking for it’s immediate recovery, and for calling forth such a force as will be sufficient. He has been able to decoy a great proportion of his people by making them believe the government secretly approves of this expedition against the Spanish territories. We are looking with anxiety to see what exertions the western country will make in the first instance for their own defence; and I confess that my confidence in them is entire.
TO THOMAS LEIPER
Washington Dec. 22, 06.
—This is merely a private letter, intended for yourself individually. If I have not answered the very friendly & flattering address I received through you, and the many others I have received, it is not from an insensibility to their kind and gratifying contents. No man feels them more powerfully than I do; no breast ever felt more consolation from such testimonies of good will. And the having given no answer to them has been the hardest act of self denial I have been called upon to perform. But on consultation with friends here, there is but one opinion, that the question presented by these addresses cannot be touched without endangering the harmony of the present session of Congress, and disturbing the tranquility of the nation itself prematurely & injuriously. I express these sentiments to you, privately, because they will enable you to give in conversation a true solution to the fact of my giving no answer. The present session is important as having new & great questions to decide & in the decision of which no schismatic view should take any part. It may become still more important, should the measures we have taken fail to suppress the insurrectionary expedition now going on under Colo. Burr. A few days will let us know whether the western states suppress that enterprise, or whether it is to require from us a serious national armament. Our little band in Congress has as yet been quiet: but some think it is from a sense of importance, not a conviction of error, or motives of good will. But all these schisms, small or great only accumulate truths of the solid qualifications of our citizens for self government. Accept my friendly salutations and assurances of great & constant esteem.
TO THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY
Washington Dec. 23, 06.
—Yours of yesterday has been duly considered. What I had myself in contemplation was to wait until we got news from Louisville of Dec. 15 (the day of Burr’s proposed general rendez-vous). The post comes from thence in 12 days. The mail next expected will be of that date. If we then find that his force has had no effectual opposition at either Mariette or Cincinnati, & will not be stopped at Louisville, then, without depending on the opposition at Fort Adams, tho’ I have more dependence on that than on any other) I should propose to lay the whole matter before Congress, ask an immediate appropriation for a naval equipment and at the same time order 20,000 militia (or volunteers) from the western states to proceed down the river to retake N. O. presuming our naval equipment would be there before them. In the meantime I would recommend to you to be getting ready & giving orders of preparation to the officers and vessels which we can get speedily ready that is to say, the 3 sloops at Washington, the 2 gunboats and ketch at N. York, the 3 gunboats (not including No. 1) and ketch at Norfolk & the 3 gunboats at Charleston: all this on the supposition that the officers are of opinion that the gunboats can be safely sent at this season. We now see what would be the value of strong vessels of little draught for the shoaly coasts of the Gulf of Mexico. At any rate we should have some as powerful as a 12 feet draught of water could be made to bear. Affectionate salutations.
c’—to ‘lands’ l. 11. a consequence of amendment B.
1. Resolved by the Senate & H. of R. of the U. S. of A. that the indemnities for which Spain is answerable to citizens of the U. S. for spoliations and wrongs committed in violation of the law of nations or of treaty, are objects too just and important not to be pursued to effect by the U. S.
2. Resolved that no armed men, subjects of any foreign power, ought to be permitted to enter or remain, nor any authority but the U. S to be exercised within the former colony or province of Louisiana, in the extent in which it was delivered by Spain under the treaty of St. Ildefonso.
3. Resolved that as to the residue of the sd. former colony or province of Louisiana, and provisions necessary to avoid future collisions and controversies, an equitable adjustment is most reasonable.
4. Resolved that pending any measures for such adjustment neither party ought to take new posts therein, nor to strengthen those they held before the 1st day of October 1800. And that any proceeding to the contrary on the part of Spain ought to be opposed by force and by taking possession of such posts as may be necessary to maintain the rights of the U. S.
5. Resolved &c. that the subjects of Spain still on the Mississippi and its waters, ought to be allowed an innocent passage, free from all imposts, along that part of the river below them which passes through the territory of the U. S.: and the citizens of the U. S. on the Mobile and its waters ought to be allowed an innocent passage free from all imposts, along that part of the river below them, which passes through the territory still held by Spain, but claimed by both parties.
6. Resolved that a copy of these resolutions be presented to the President of the U. S. for his approbation, with an assurance that he will receive from the legislature the support necessary for carrying them into execution.
Washington Apr. 13, 06.
—The situation of your affairs certainly furnishes good cause for your not acceding to my proposition of a special mission to Europe. My only hope had been, that they could have gone on one summer without you. An unjust hostility against Genl Armstrong will, I am afraid, shew itself whenever any treaty made by him shall be offered for ratification. I wished, therefore, to provide against this, by joining a person who would have united the confidence of the whole Senate. Genl Smith was so prominent in the opposition to Armstrong, that it would be impossible for them to act together. We conclude, therefore, to leave the matter with Armstrong & Bowdoin. Indeed, my dear Sir, I wish sincerely you were back in the Senate; & that you would take the necessary measures to get yourself there. Perhaps, as a preliminary, you should go to our Legislature. Giles’ absence has been a most serious misfortune. A majority of the Senate means well. But Tracy & Bayard are too dexterous for them & have very much influenced their proceedings. Tracy has been of nearly every committee during the session, & for the most part the chairman, & of course drawer of the reports. 7. federalists voting always in phalanx, and joined by some discontented republicans, some oblique ones, some capricious, have so often made a majority as to produce very serious embarrassment to the public operations, and very much do I dread the submitting to them, at the next session, any treaty which can be made with either England or Spain, when I consider that 5. joining the federalists, can defeat a friendly settlement of our affairs. The H of R is as well disposed as I ever saw one. The defection of so prominent a leader, threw them into dismay & confusion for a moment; but they soon rallied to their own principles, & let him go off with 5. or 6. followers only. One half of these are from Virginia. His late declaration of perpetual opposition to this administration, drew off a few others who at first had joined him, supposing his opposition occasional only, & not systematic. The alarm the House has had from this schism, has produced a rallying together & a harmony, which carelessness & security had begun to endanger. On the whole, this little trial of the firmness of our representatives in their principles, & that of the people also, which is declaring itself in support of their public functionaries, has added much to my confidence in the stability of our government; and to my conviction, that, should things go wrong at any time, the people will set them to rights by the peaceable exercise of their elective rights. To explain to you the character of this schism, it’s objects and combinations, can only be done in conversation; & must be deferred till I see you at Monticello, where I shall probably be about the 10th or 12th of May, to pass the rest of the month there. Congress has agreed to rise on Monday, the 21st.
Accept my affectionate salutations.
Monticello Sep. 19, 06.
—I thank you for the information contained in your letter of the 6th inst. which merits attention the more as it coincides with information received from other quarters. It is certainly very interesting that we keep our eye on the proceedings of the persons who are the subjects of your letter, and should you be able to obtain any further information respecting them or their measures, besides fulfilling the duties of a patriotic citizen, you will confer an obligation on me, by communications from time to time of what you may learn. They shall be made no further use of than what you shall prescribe. Accept my salutations & assurances of respect.
Madison’s Memoranda. (Indorsed: “Received Nov. 16, 06, Message.”)
Foreign Relations. Insert ‘since’ before ‘taken place’ at the beginning of line 11. The preceding delay did not altogether proceed from events independent of the will of one of the parties, and those who are chargeable with it, ought not to be acquitted of the consequences. Perhaps the following change of the whole sentence would answer. ‘The delays which have since taken place in our negotiations with the British govt appear to have proceeded from causes which leave me in expectation that &c.’Spain. Instead of Spain has ‘consented’ &c., it might be better to say Spain has taken steps preparatory to the negotiation at Paris in which our ministers are authorized to meet her. The term used may seem to imply a proposition from the U. S. wch was consented to.In the penult line of p. 1. For ‘hope of friendly settlement’ perhaps ‘course of friendly negotiation’ might be a more suitable expression. Such a change however cannot be material if proper.
The last instructions to Wilkinson do not assume the Sabine as the essential line of separation for the troops. They authorize him to settle a provisional line, and in no event to pass himself beyond that river. It may be well therefore to vary the sentence on that point so as to run ‘in that quarter to maintain a temporary line, separating the troops of the two nations & to permit no new settlement or post to be taken eastward of the Sabine river.’
Would it not be well to allude to a continuance of our friendly standing with France, & the other belligerent nations, or generally with other nations of Europe?
New Orleans. Instead of ‘to secure that point by all the means in our power’—‘to provide for that point a more adequate security.’
Insurrections. This paragraph suggests several legal questions; such as whether in strictness any preventive measures are consistent with our principles except security for the peace & good behavior. Whether this remedy is not already applicable to the case in question, where a preparation of force justifies a suspicion of criminal intention, and whether the existing provision for the case of an enterprise meditated vs. a foreign nation is not rather penal agst a crime actually committed by the preparation of means with such an intention, than preventive of the actual commission of a crime. To guard agst the criticisms which may be founded on these questions, some such change as the following is suggested for consideration:
‘For those crimes when actually committed the laws make provision. Would it not moreover be salutary to provide for cases where the means of force are prepared only for a meditated enterprise agst the U. S. as has been done for cases where the enterprise is meditated by private individuals against a foreign nation? It merits consideration also whether the preventive process of binding to the observance of the peace and good behaviour ought not to be expressly extended to acts without the limits of the U. S. in cases where the acts are contrary to law and there is sufficient ground for suspecting the intention to commit them.’
This change is suggested on the supposition that the occasion requires a paragraph should be addressed to Congress; manifestly alluding to the late information &c. Perhaps the question may be decided with the advantage of new lights from the westward in time for the message.
Barbary. ‘The late mission’ may be equivocal or obscure. ‘With Tunis alone some uncertainty remains’ would perhaps be sufficient.
Missouri. The tenor of this paragraph ought to be such as to give as little topic as possible for foreign jealousy or complaint; especially as we are not prepared to say that the expedition did not enter limits within which Spain has real or plausible claims. It is certain that it will be presented to Spain as a measure at which she has a right to take offence. The paragraph might better parry the inconvenience, by being made less particular & by avoiding any allusion to the uses to which the Pacific country may be applied.
Red River. ‘Nearly as far as the French establishments &c’ has the advantage of suggesting a plausible reason for not going on: but may it not also imply that those establishments were the limit to our claim?
Mississippi. The survey of the Mississippi furnished, certainly, a very apt occasion for bringing into view our legitimate boundaries in the latitude 49; but as the mere assertion by ourselves will not strengthen our title, and may excite British sensations unseasonably, it may be doubted whether that much of the paragraph had not as well be omitted.
University &c. The denounciation of standing armies, navies, & fortifications cannot be better expressed, if there be no room to apprehend that so emphatic a one may not at the present juncture embolden the presumption in foreign nations that an insuperable aversion to those objects guarantees the infinity of their insults and aggressions.
‘Arts, Manufactures & other objects of public improvement,’ seem to give latitude nearly equivalent to ‘general welfare’ afterwards suggested to be too dangerous to remain a part of the Constitution. ‘& other objects of public improvement which it may be thought proper to specify’ would avoid the inconsistency.
After ‘the present state of our country’ might be added ‘and with the aid of the sale of public lands would be adequate to Roads & Canals also.’
Instead of ‘sweep away all restraints &c.’—‘demolish the essential barriers between the General & the State Govts.’
Conclusion ‘as far as they are capable of defence’ suggests a disagreeable and impolitic idea. ‘Preparations for the defence &c.’ without that expression, will suffice. This member of the sentence ought to be separated from the succeeding ones, which do not &c., not being like these without expense till called into actual use.
It does not seem correct to say that war is forced on us by vain appeals to the justice of other nations. In spite of appeals &c., or some such turn to the expression would obviate the criticism.
The Secretary of War in answer to a letter from the President of Nov. 17, wrote:
H. Dearborn has looked over & considered the inclosed, without observing anything that he can consider as a defect, or requiring alteration.
Gallatin’s Notes. (Indorsed: “Received Nov. 16, 06, Message.”)
1st page. Foreign Relations ‘could leave no imputation on either our moderation or forbearance.’ The plan determining the Spanish differences by the purchase of Florida, will, if successful, prove highly advantageous to the United States, but is ill relished by Spain and in case of failure will not alone afford proofs of moderation or forbearance. These must be found in the contingent instructions given to our ministers in case they should fail in the principal object. What have these been? And do they fully justify the assertion? I have not seen them & mention this merely for consideration. [The ultimatum of our instructions is, 1. satisfaction for spoliations, & 2. silence as to limits, leaving each party to pursue it’s own course as to these. Insert by T. J.]
England. ‘Whether this (issue) will be such as &c. must depend on that issue.’ There is some inaccuracy in the construction of that sentence, the meaning of which is that the necessity of the repeal or reinforcement &c. depends on the issue of the negotiations.
Spain. ‘has consented to meet us &c.’ Is the fact positively asserted by Mr. Armstrong? Mr. Erving in his last letter denies it.
2d page. ‘and to permit no new settlement or post to be taken within it.’ The last instructions permit as an ultimatum & under certain circumstances the maintenance of the increased force at Bayou pierre. But the whole of this paragraph will probably require some modification if the intelligence of an arrangement between Wilkinson and Herrada proves true.
Army. Might not the words ‘in other respects our,’ or some to that effect be substituted to ‘our regular.’ For it seems to me that the continuance of a corps of cavalry by voluntary enlistment & for the term stated in the preceding paragraph is to all intents an increase of regular force as contradistinguished from militia or volunteers.
New Orleans. I would omit the words ‘perhaps the present fort of Plaquemine.’ 1st. In order to avoid unnecessary commitment of opinion. 2dly. Because Plaquemine is not, I believe, below all the firm lands. Observe also that the approaches by Lake Ponchartrain must be defended as well as those by the Mississippi.
3d page. Fortifications. Substitute a for some; as this last expression may be construed into an evidence of disregard for that mode of defence. And considering the lively interest felt in a certain quarter on that question and the use made of it, is it necessary to speak of that object in terms as decisive as those used at the end of page 78? Might not these last be omitted or modified?
4th page. Insurrection. If the information received is not sufficiently decisive to affix criminality to certain individuals, the word ‘are’ at the end of 4th line may be omitted; but if the proofs received, without being legal evidence, are sufficient to impress a conviction that the object was of an internal nature, the word should remain.
‘Where an enterprise is meditated &c.’ The following paragraph shews that there are cases in which the powers of prevention given by the laws are not sufficient against enterprises meditated against foreign nations. On that account, & because it appears important, considering the Miranda’s expedition, not to impress too forcibly the opinion that those powers are really sufficient, I would suggest not only to substitute another word to ‘meditated,’ but to place the defect of the existing laws in that respect in a more prominent point of view than is done by the following paragraph. This may perhaps be affected by making that subject a distinct head instead of mentioning it incidentally and by indicating it in more general terms. For pointing out a single particular defect seems to diminish its importance. Quere Whether some more direct allusion to Miranda’s expedition would not be politick & practicable?
Indians. ‘We have nothing to fear from that quarter.’ The assurance seems too positive as danger may arise from causes not under our controul, such as the intrigues of Spanish agents to the south & of British traders on the northwest.
5th and 6th pages. Red River. Mississippi. The details seem comparatively too long, both in relation to the other parts of the message generally & to the Missouri expedition. But I would, at all events avoid a commitment respecting the northern boundary of either Louisiana or the U. States. The boundary fixed by the Treaty of Utrecht might be & probably was intended for Canada rather than for Louisiana; and Crozat’s charter expressly limits the last province to the 45th degree of latitude. As to the U. States, we have conceded that a parallel westwdly from the Lake of the Woods was not our necessary boundary, and have agreed heretofore to a straight line from that lake to the source of the Mississippi.
7th page. Salt tax. This has never amounted to 600,000 dollars & averages about 550,000. The Mediterranean fund at present & whilst the European war continues is worth almost a million. The words ‘not materially different in amount’ are not therefore correct. Observe also that 2/5 of the salt tax, 8 cents per bushel, expire on 3d March, 1811. We may dispense with the whole of it from the present time, or say from 1 July next, provided the Medit fund be continued only for 2 years longer or till 1 Jany. 1809. If circumstances should then render a further continuation necessary it may then be again extended. I would, on the whole, propose to suppress the words ‘not materially different in amount,’ and that the next line should read ‘by continuing for a limited time the Medit fund.’
University. ‘They cannot then be applied to the extinguishment &c.’ I would wish that between the words then & the the following should be inserted ‘without a modification assented to by the public creditors.’ Or that the idea should be inserted in some other way in the paragraph. It will be consistent with the opinion expressed that the extinguishment &c. & liberation &c. are the most desirable of all objects, and Congress have now under consideration a plan for the purpose which I submitted last session & was postponed because reported too late by the Comee of Ways & Means.
On Fortifications &c. This is the paragraph which I think might without injury to the sense be omitted.
8th page. ‘To be partitioned among the States in a federal & just ratio.’ Would it not be best to omit these words, as neither improvements nor education can ever in practice be exactly partitioned in that manner? And the suggestion might embarrass or defeat the amendment when before the House.
‘The surplusses indeed which will arise &c.’ It may be observed on whatever relates to the connection between those surplusses & the proposed improvements & university, 1st that, war excepted, the surplusses will, certainly & under any circumstance, even while the debt will be in a course of payment, be after 1 January 180 sufficient for any possible improvement. I have no doubt that they will amount to at least 2 millions a year and if no modification in the debt takes place to nearly five. 2dly. That it will take at least the two intervening years to obtain an amendment, pass the laws designating improvements and make the arrangements preparatory to any large expense. 3rdly. That the existing surplusses are at this moment sufficient for any university or national institute. But the whole of this part of the message rests on the supposition that a longer time must elapse before we are ready for any considerable expenditure for improvements, and that we would not be able to meet even that for the University before the time which must elapse in obtaining an amendment. The general scope of this part of the message seems also to give a preference to the University over general improvements; and it must not be forgotten, apart from any consideration of their relative importance, that the last proposition may probably be popular & that the other, for university, will certainly be unpopular. I think indeed that the only chance of its adoption arises from the ease with which funds in public lands may be granted. It appears to me therefore that the whole of that part from the words above quoted ‘the surplusses indeed &c’ to the words ‘to which our funds may become equal’ should undergo a revisal; introducing in the same place the substance of the last paragraph of the 9th page respecting a donation of lands, which seems to be misplaced where it now stands. If a total revision is not approved, the following alterations are suggested.
Erase from ‘the surplusses’ in 15th line to ‘first’ inclusively in 18th line; and insert ‘the surplusses are already at this moment adequate to’ or words to that effect.
Erase from ‘to such’ in 8th line from bottom to the end of the page and insert, ‘But whether our views be restrained.’
9th. page. To the word ‘may’ in 2d line substitute ‘will soon,’ and in 3d line between ‘equal’ & ‘I’ substitute a comma to a full stop.
Would it not be better to stop, when speaking of the amendment at the words ‘to be applied’ 7th line? It would avoid a discussion on the words ‘general welfare’: And it must be observed that if even those words had the greatest extent in the constittn of which they are susceptible vixt that Congress had power to raise taxes &c for every purpose, which they might consider producive of public welfare, yet that would not give them the power to open roads, canals through the several states. The first reason given that the objects now recommended are not among those enumerated &c. is conclusive and seems sufficient. At all events I would suppress the paragraph which suggests an amendment to erase from the constitution those words as questionable in its nature & because the proposition seems to acknowledge that the words are susceptible of a very dangerous meaning.
Madison’s Notes. (Indorsed: “Received Nov. 29, 06. Message.”)
that whilst the public force was acting strictly on the defensive, & merely to protect our citizens from aggression, the criminal attempts of private individuals to decide for their country the question of peace or war, by commencing active and unauthorized hostilities ought to be promptly and effectually suppressed.
Madison’s Notes. (Indorsed: “Message British. Rec. Nov. 27”)
I have the satisfaction to inform you that the negotiation on foot between the U. States & the govt of G. B. is proceeding in a spirit of friendship & accommodation which promises a result of mutual advantage. The delays which have taken place are to be regretted; but as they were occasioned by the long illness which ended in the death of the British Minister charged with that duty, they could not have been foreseen nor taken into calculation: and it appears that the commissioners appointed to resume the negotiation, have shown every disposition to hasten its progress. Under these circumstances our special ministers recommend a suspension of the acts prohibiting certain importations the commencement of which was postponed till the 15th of last month when it went into operation, and assured us that such a mark of candor and confidence in the temper & views with which they have been met in the negotiation will have a happy effect on the course of it; whilst a disregard of that friendly consideration may have a different tendency. Considering that justice & conciliation have been the real objects of all our measures, and that whatever will promote them will be most conformable to our wishes & our interests, I cannot but join in the recommendation that the operation of the act be suspended for such additional term as may be deemed reasonable. It is not known here &c.