Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1808 - TO THE SECRETARY AT WAR 1 (HENRY DEARBORN.) - The Works, vol. 11 (Correspondence and Papers 1808-1816)
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1808 - TO THE SECRETARY AT WAR 1 (HENRY DEARBORN.) - Thomas Jefferson, The Works, vol. 11 (Correspondence and Papers 1808-1816) 
The Works of Thomas Jefferson, Federal Edition (New York and London, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904-5). Vol. 11.
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TO THE SECRETARY AT WAR1
Washington, January 8, 1808
—Your letter of Dec. 29 brings to my mind a subject which never has presented itself but with great pain, that of your withdrawing from the administration, before I withdraw myself. It would have been to me the greatest of consolations to have gone thro my term with the same coadjutors, and to have shared with them the merit, or demerit, of whatever good or evil we may have done. The integrity, attention, skill, & economy with which you have conducted your department, have given me the most compleat and unqualified satisfaction, and this testimony I bear to it with all the sincerity of truth and friendship; and should a war come on, there is no person in the U.S. to whose management and care I could commit it with equal confidence. That you as well as myself, & all our brethren, have maligners, who from ill-temper, or disappointment, seek opportunities of venting their angry passions against us, is well known, & too well understood by our constituents to be regarded. No man who can succeed you will have fewer, nor will any one enjoy a more extensive confidence thro the nation. Finding that I could not retain you to the end of my term, I had wished to protract your stay, till I could with propriety devolve on another the naming of your successor. But this probably could not be done till about the time of our separation in July. Your continuance however, till after the end of the session, will relieve me from the necessity of any nomination during the session, & will leave me only a chasm of 2 or 3 months over which I must hobble as well as I can. My greatest difficulty will arise from the carrying on the system of defensive works we propose to erect. That these should have been fairly under way, and in a course of execution, under your direction, would have peculiarly relieved me; because we concur so exactly in the scale on which they are to be executed. Unacquainted with the details myself, I fear that when you are gone, aided only by your chief clerk, I shall be assailed with schemes of improvement and alterations which I shall be embarrassed to pronounce on, or withstand, and incur augmentations of expense, which I shall not know how to control. I speak of the interval between the close of this session, when you propose to retire, & the commencement of our usual recess in July. Because during that recess, we are in the habit of leaving things to the chief clerks; and, by the end of it, my successor may be pretty well known, and prevailed on to name yours. However, I am so much relieved by your ekeing out your continuance to the end of the session, that I feel myself bound to consult your inclinations then, & to take on myself the difficulties of the short period then ensuing. In public or private, and in all situations, I shall retain for you the most cordial esteem, and satisfactory recollections of the harmony & friendship with which we have run our race together; and I pray you now to accept sincere assurances of it, & of my great respect & attachment.
TO CHARLES THOMSON1
Washington, Jan. 11, 08
My dear and antient Friend,
—I see by the newspapers your translation of the Septuagint is now to be printed, and I write this to pray to be admitted as a subscriber. I wish it may not be too late for you to reconsider the size in which it is to be published. Folios and quartos are now laid aside because of their inconvenience. Everything is now printed in 8vo, 12mo or petit format. The English booksellers print their first editions indeed in 4to, because they can assess a larger price on account of the novelty; but the bulk of readers generally wait for the 2d edition, which is for the most part in 8vo. This is what I have long practised myself. Johnson, of Philadelphia, set the example of printing handsome edition of the Bible in 4v., 8vo. I wish yours were in the same form. I have learnt from time to time with great satisfaction that you retain your health, spirits and activity of mind and body. Mr. Dickinson too is nearly in the same way; he exchanges a letter with me now and then. The principal effect of age of which I am sensible is an indisposition to be goaded by business from morning to night, from laboring in an Augean stable, which cleared out at night presents an equal task the next morning. I want to have some time to turn to subjects more congenial to my mind. Mr. Rose still stays on board his ship at Hampton, we know not why. If he is seeking time we may indulge time. Time prepares us for defence; time may produce peace in Europe that removes the ground of difference with England until another European war, and that may find our revenues liberated by the discharge of our national debt, our wealth and numbers increased, our friendship and our enmity more important to every nation. God bless you and give you years and health to your own wishes. Remember me respectfully to Mrs. Thomson and accept yourself my affectionate salutation.
TO REV. SAMUEL MILLER
Washington, Jan. 23, 08
—I have duly received your favor of the 18th and am thankful to you for having written it, because it is more agreeable to prevent than to refuse what I do not think myself authorized to comply with. I consider the government of the US. as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises. This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment, or free exercise, of religion, but from that also which reserves to the states the powers not delegated to the U. S. Certainly no power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the general government. It must then rest with the states, as far as it can be in any human authority. But it is only proposed that I should recommend, not prescribe a day of fasting & prayer. That is, that I should indirectly assume to the U. S. an authority over religious exercises which the Constitution has directly precluded them from. It must be meant too that this recommendation is to carry some authority, and to be sanctioned by some penalty on those who disregard it; not indeed of fine and imprisonment, but of some degree of proscription perhaps in public opinion. And does the change in the nature of the penalty make the recommendation the less a law of conduct for those to whom it is directed? I do not believe it is for the interest of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct it’s exercises, it’s discipline, or it’s doctrines; nor of the religious societies that the general government should be invested with the power of effecting any uniformity of time or matter among them. Fasting & prayer are religious exercises. The enjoining them an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the times for these exercises, & the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and this right can never be safer than in their own hands, where the constitution has deposited it.
I am aware that the practice of my predecessors may be quoted. But I have ever believed that the example of state executives led to the assumption of that authority by the general government, without due examination, which would have discovered that what might be a right in a state government, was a violation of that right when assumed by another. Be this as it may, every one must act according to the dictates of his own reason, & mine tells me that civil powers alone have been given to the President of the US. and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents.
I again express my satisfaction that you have been so good as to give me an opportunity of explaining myself in a private letter, in which I could give my reasons more in detail than might have been done in a public answer: and I pray you to accept the assurances of my high esteem & respect.
SPECIAL MESSAGE ON NEUTRALS
February 2, 1808
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:—
Having received an official communication of certain orders of the British government against the maritime rights of neutrals, bearing date the 11th of November, 1807, I transmit it to Congress, as a further proof of the increasing dangers to our navigation and commerce which led to the provident measures of the present session, laying an embargo on our own vessels.
TO JAMES MONROE
Washington, Feb. 18, ’08
My dear Sir,
—You informed me that the instruments you had been so kind as to bring for me from England, would arrive at Richmond with your baggage, and you wished to know what was to be done with them there. I will ask the favor of you to deliver them to Mr. Jefferson, who will forward them to Monticello in the way I shall advise him. And I must entreat you to send me either a note of their amount, or the bills, that I may be enabled to reimburse you. There can be no pecuniary matter between us, against which this can be any set-off. But if, contrary to my recollection or knoledge, there were anything, I pray that that may be left to be settled by itself. If I could have known the amount beforehand, I should have remitted it, and asked the advance only under the idea that it should be the same as ready money to you on your arrival. I must again, therefore, beseech you to let me know its amount.
I see with infinite grief a contest arising between yourself and another, who have been very dear to each other, and equally so to me. I sincerely pray that these dispositions may not be affected between you; with me I confidently trust they will not. For independently of the dictates of public duty, which prescribe neutrality to me, my sincere friendship for you both will ensure it’s sacred observance. I suffer no one to converse with me on the subject. I already perceive my old friend Clinton, estranging himself from me. No doubt lies are carried to him, as they will be to the other two candidates, under forms which however false, he can scarcely question. Yet I have been equally careful as to him also, never to say a word on this subject. The object of the contest is a fair & honorable one, equally open to you all; and I have no doubt the personal conduct of all will be so chaste, as to offer no ground of dissatisfaction with each other. But your friends will not be as delicate. I know too well from experience the progress of political controversy, and the exacerbation of spirit into which it degenerates, not to fear for the continuance of your mutual esteem. One piquing thing said draws on another, that a third, and always with increasing acrimony, until all restraint is thrown off, and it becomes difficult for yourselves to keep clear of the toils in which your friends will endeavor to interlace you, and to avoid the participation in their passions which they will endeavor to produce. A candid recollection of what you know of each other will be the true corrective. With respect to myself, I hope they will spare me. My longings for retirement are so strong, that I with difficulty encounter the daily drudgeries of my duty. But my wish for retirement itself is not stronger than that of carrying into it the affections of all my friends. I have ever viewed Mr. Madison and yourself as two principal pillars of my happiness. Were either to be withdrawn, I should consider it as among the greatest calamities which could assail my future peace of mind. I have great confidence that the candor & high understanding of both will guard me against this misfortune, the bare possibility of which has so far weighed on my mind, that I could not be easy without unburthening it.
Accept my respectful salutations for yourself and Mrs. Monroe, & be assured of my constant & sincere friendship.1
TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE
Mar. 11, 08
I suppose we must dispatch another packet by the 1st of Apr. at farthest. I take it to be an universal opinion that war will become preferable to a continuance of the embargo after a certain time. Should we not then avail ourselves of the intervening period to procure a retraction of the obnoxious decrees peaceably, if possible? An opening is given us by both parties, sufficient to form a basis for such a proposition.
I wish you to consider, therefore, the following course of proceeding, to wit:
To instruct our ministers at Paris & London, by the next packet, to propose immediately to both these powers a declaration on both sides that these decrees & orders shall no longer be extended to vessels of the United States, in which case we shall remain faithfully neutral; but, without assuming the air of menace, to let them both perceive that if they do not withdraw these orders & decrees, there will arrive a time when our interests will render war preferable to a continuance of the embargo; that when that time arrives, if one has withdrawn & the other not, we must declare war against that other; if neither shall have withdrawn, we must take our choice of enemies between them. This it will certainly be our duty to have ascertained by the time Congress shall meet in the fall or beginning of winter; so that taking off the embargo, they may decide whether war must be declared, & against whom. Affectionate salutations.
SPECIAL MESSAGE ON COMMERCIAL DECREES
March 17, 1808
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:—
I have heretofore communicated to Congress the decrees of the government of France of November 21st, 1806, and of Spain, February 19th, 1807, with the orders of the British government, of January and November, 1807.
I now transmit a decree of the Emperor of France, of December 17th, 1807, and a similar decree of the 3d January last, by his Catholic Majesty. Although the decree of France has not been received by official communication, yet the different channels of promulgation through which the public are possessed of it, with the formal testimony furnished by the government of Spain, in their decree, leave us without a doubt that such a one has been issued. These decrees and orders, taken together, want little of amounting to a declaration that every neutral vessel found on the high seas, whatsoever be her cargo, and whatsoever foreign port be that of her departure or destination, shall be deemed lawful prize; and they prove, more and more, the expediency of retaining our vessels, our seamen, and property, within our own harbors, until the dangers to which they are exposed can be removed or lessened.
SPECIAL MESSAGE ON BRITISH NEGOTIATION
March 22, 1808
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:—
At the opening of the present session I informed the legislature that the measures which had been taken with the government of Great Britain for the settlement of our neutral and national rights, and of the conditions of commercial intercourse with that nation, had resulted in articles of a treaty which could not be acceded to on our part; that instructions had consequently been sent to our ministers there to resume the negotiations, and to endeavor to obtain certain alterations; and that this was interrupted by the transaction which took place between the frigates Leopard and Chesapeake. To call on that government for reparation of this wrong produced, as Congress have already been informed, the mission of a special minister to this country, and the occasion is now arrived when the public interest permits and requires that the whole of these proceedings should be made known to you.
I therefore now communicate the instructions given to our minister resident at London, and his communications to that government on the subject of the Chesapeake, with the correspondence which has taken place here between the Secretary of State and Mr. Rose, the special minister charged with the adjustment of that difference; the instructions to our ministers for the formation of a treaty; their correspondence with the British commissioners and with their own government on that subject; the treaty itself, and written declaration of the British commissioners accompanying it, and the instructions given by us for resuming the negotiations, with the proceedings and correspondence subsequent thereto. To these I have added a letter lately addressed to the Secretary of State from one of our late ministers, which, though not strictly written in an official character, I think it my duty to communicate, in order that his views of the proposed treaty and its several articles may be fairly presented and understood.
Although I have heretofore and from time to time made such communications to Congress as to keep them possessed of a general and just view of the proceedings and dispositions of the government of France toward this country, yet, in our present critical situation, when we find no conduct on our part, however impartial and friendly, has been sufficient to insure from either belligerent a just respect for our rights, I am desirous that nothing shall be omitted on my part which may add to your information on this subject, or contribute to the correctness of the views which should be formed. The papers which for these reasons I now lay before you embrace all the communications, official or verbal, from the French government, respecting the general relations between the two countries which have been transmitted through our minister there, or through any other accredited channel, since the last session of Congress, to which time all information of the same kind had from time to time been given them. Some of these papers have already been submitted to Congress; but it is thought better to offer them again, in order that the chain of communications, of which they make a part, may be presented unbroken.
When, on the 26th of February, I communicated to both houses the letter of General Armstrong to M. Champagny, I desired it might not be published, because of the tendency of that practice to restrain injuriously the freedom of our foreign correspondence. But perceiving that this caution, proceeding purely from a regard for the public good, has furnished occasion for disseminating unfounded suspicions and insinuations, I am induced to believe that the good which will now result from its publication, by confirming the confidence and union of our fellow citizens, will more than countervail the ordinary objection to such publications. It is my wish therefore, that it may be now published.
MESSAGE ON PUBLIC DEFENCE1
[Mar. ? 1808.]
In proceeding to carry into exn the act &c. it is found that the sites most advantageous for the defense of our harbors and rivers, and sometimes the only sites competent to that defense are in some cases the property of minors incapable of giving a valid consent to their alienation, in others belong to persons who on no terms will alienate, and in others the proprietors demand such exaggerated compensn as, however liberally the public ought to compensate in such cases, would exceed all bounds of justice or liberality. From this cause the defense of our seaboard, so necessary to be pressed during the present season will in various parts be defeated, unless the national legislature can apply a constitutional remedy. The power of repelg invasions, and making laws necessary for carrying that power into execution seems to include that of occupyg those sites which are necessary to repel an enemy; observing only the amendment to the constitution which provides that private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation. I submit therefore to the consideration of Congress, where the necessary sites cannot be obtained by the joint & valid consent of parties, whether provision should be made by a process of ad quod damnum, or any other more eligible means for authorizing the sites which are necessary for the public defence to be appropriated to that purpose.
I am aware that as the consent of the legislature of the state to the purchase of the site may not, in some instances have been previously obtained, exclusive legislation cannot be exercised therein by Congress until that consent is given. But in the meantime it will be held under the same laws which protect the property of individuals in that state and other property of the U. S. and the legislatures at their next meetings will have opportunities of doing what will be so evidently called for by the interest of their own state.
TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY
Mar. 31, 08
If, on considering the doubts I shall suggest, you shall still think your draught of a supplementary embargo law sufficient, in its present form, I shall be satisfied it is so, for I have but one hour in the morning in which I am capable of thinking, and that is too much crowded with business to give me time to think.1
1. Is not the first paragraph against the Constitution, which says no preference shall be given to the ports of one State over those of another? You might put down those ports as ports of entry, if that could be made to do.
2. Could not your 2d paragraph be made to answer by making it say that no clearance shall be furnished to any vessel laden with provisions or lumber, to go from one port to another of the U S, without special permission, &c.? In that case we might lay down rules for the necessary removal of provisions and lumber, inland, which should give no trouble to the citizens, but refuse licenses for all coasting transportation of those articles but on such applications from a Governor as may ensure us against any exportation but for the consumption of his State. Portsmouth, Boston, Charleston, & Savannah, are the only ports which cannot be supplied inland. I should like to prohibit collections, also, made evidently for clandestine importation.
3. I would rather strike out the words “in conformity with treaty” in order to avoid any express recognition at this day of that article of the British treaty. It has been so flagrantly abused to excite the Indians to war against us, that I should have no hesitation in declaring it null, as soon as we see means of supplying the Indians ourselves.
I should have no objections to extend the exception to the Indian furs purchased by our traders & sent into Canada. Affectionate salutns.
TO CORNELIA JEFFERSON RANDOLPH1
Washington, April 3, ’08
My Dear Cornelia,
—I have owed you a letter two months, but have had nothing to write about, till last night I found in a newspaper the four lines which I now inclose to you: and as you are learning to write, they would be a good lesson to convince you of the importance of minding your stops in writing. I allow you a day to find out yourself how to read these lines, so far as to make them true. If you cannot do it in that time, you may call in assistance. At the same time, I will give you four other lines, which I learnt when I was but a little older than you, and I still remember.
P.S.—April 5. I have kept my letter open till to-day, and am able to say now, that my headache for the last two days has been scarcely sensible.1
TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE U. S.1
April 24, 1808
Th. Jefferson returns the endorsed to Mr. Rodney with thanks for the communication. It is very evident that our embargo, added to the exclusions from the continent will be most easily felt in England and Ireland. Liverpool is remonstrating & endeavoring to get the other ports into motion. Yet the bill confirming the orders of Council is ordered to a 3d reading, which shews it will pass. Congress has just passed an additional embargo law, on which if we act as boldly as I am disposed to do, we can make it effectual. I think the material parts of the enclosed should be published. It will show our people that while the embargo gives no double rations it is starving our enemies. This six months session has drawn me down to a state of almost total incapacity for business. Congress will certainly rise tomorrow night, and I shall leave this for Monticello on the 5th of May to be here again on the 8th of June.
I salute you with constant affection & respect
TO THE U. S. MINISTER TO FRANCE
Washington, May 2, 08
—A safe conveyance offering by a special messenger to Paris, I avail myself of it to bring up my arrears to my foreign correspondents. I give them the protection of your cover, but to save the trouble of your attention to their distribution, I give them an inner cover to Mr. Warden, whose attentions heretofore have encouraged me to ask this favor of him. But should he not be with you, I must pray you to open my packages to him, & have them distributed, as it is of importance that some of them should be delivered without delay. I shall say nothing to you on the subject of our foreign relations, because you will get what is official on that subject from Mr. Madison.
During the present paroxysm of the insanity of Europe, we have thought it wisest to break off all intercourse with her. We shall, in the course of this year, have all our seaports, of any note, put into a state of defence against naval attack. Against great land armies we cannot attempt it but by equal armies. For these we must depend on a classified militia, which will give us the service of the class from 20 to 26, in the nature of conscripts, composing a body of about 250,000, to be specially trained. This measure, attempted at a former session, was pressed at the last, and might, I think, have been carried by a small majority. But considering that great innovations should not be forced on a slender majority, and seeing that the general opinion is sensibly rallying to it, it was thought better to let it lie over to the next session, when, I trust, it will be passed. Another measure has now twice failed, which I have warmly urged, the immediate settlement by donation of lands, of such a body of militia in the territories of Orleans & Mississippi, as will be adequate to the defence of New Orleans. We are raising some regulars in addition to our present force, for garrisoning our seaports, & forming a nucleus for the militia to gather to. There will be no question who is to be my successor. Of this be assured, whatever may be said by newspapers and private correspondences. Local considerations have been silenced by those dictated by the continued difficulties of the times. One word of friendly request: be more frequent & full in your communications with us. I salute you with great friendship and respect.
TO GENERAL BENJAMIN SMITH
Monticello, May 20, 08
—I return you my thanks for the communication by your letter of Apr 19, of the resolutions of the Grand jury of Brunswick, approving of the embargo. Could the alternative of war or the embargo have been presented to the whole nation, as it occurred to their representatives, there could have been but the one opinion that it was better to take the chance of one year by the embargo, within which the orders & decrees producing it may be repealed, or peace take place in Europe, which may secure peace to us. How long the continuance of the embargo may be preferable to war, is a question we shall have to meet, if the decrees & orders & war continues. I am sorry that in some places, chiefly on our northern frontier, a disposition even to oppose the law by force has been manifested. In no country on earth is this so impracticable as in one where every man feels a vital interest in maintaining the authority of the laws, and instantly engages in it as in his own personal cause. Accordingly, we have experienced this spontaneous aid of our good citizens in the neighborhoods where there has been occasion, as I am persuaded we ever shall on such occasions. Through the body of our country generally our citizens appear heartily to approve & support the embargo. I am also to thank you for the communication of the Wilmington proceedings, and I add my salutations & assurances of great respect.
TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE
Monticello, May 24, 08
—What has been already said on the subject of Casa Calvo, Yrujo, Miranda, is sufficient, and that these should be seriously brought up again argues extreme weakness in Cavallos, or a plan to keep things unsettled with us. But I think it would not be amiss to take him down from his high airs as to the right of the sovereign to hinder the upper inhabitants from the use of the Mobile, by observing, 1, that we claim to be the sovereign, although we give time for discussion. But 2, that the upper inhabitants of a navigable water have always a right of innocent passage along it. I think Cavallos will not probably be the minister when the letter arrives at Madrid, and that an eye to that circumstance may perhaps have some proper influence on the style of the letter, in which, if meant for himself, his hyperbolic airs might merit less respect. I think too that the truth as to Pike’s mission might be so simply stated as to need no argument to show that (even during the suspension of our claims to the eastern border of the Rio Norte) his getting on it was mere error, which ought to have called for the setting him right, instead of forcing him through the interior country.
Sullivan’s letter. His view of things for some time past has been entirely distempered.
TO DOCTOR THOMAS LEIB
Washington, June 23, 08
—I have duly received your favor covering a copy of the talk to the Tammany society, for which I thank you, and particularly for the favorable sentiments expressed towards myself. Certainly, nothing will so much sweeten the tranquillity and comfort of retirement, as the knoledge that I carry with me the good will & approbation of my republican fellow citizens, and especially of the individuals in unison with whom I have so long acted. With respect to the federalists, I believe we think alike; for when speaking of them, we never mean to include a worthy portion of our fellow citizens, who consider themselves as in duty bound to support the constituted authorities of every branch, and to reserve their opposition to the period of election. These having acquired the appellation of federalists, while a federal administration was in place, have not cared about throwing off their name, but adhering to their principle, are the supporters of the present order of things. The other branch of the federalists, those who are so in principle as well as in name, disapprove of the republican principles & features of our Constitution, and would, I believe, welcome any public calamity (war with England excepted) which might lessen the confidence of our country in those principles & forms. I have generally considered them rather as subjects for a mad-house. But they are now playing a game of the most mischievous tendency, without perhaps being themselves aware of it. They are endeavoring to convince England that we suffer more by the embargo than they do, & that if they will but hold out awhile, we must abandon it. It is true, the time will come when we must abandon it. But if this is before the repeal of the orders of council, we must abandon it only for a state of war. The day is not distant, when that will be preferable to a longer continuance of the embargo. But we can never remove that, & let our vessels go out & be taken under these orders, without making reprisal. Yet this is the very state of things which these federal monarchists are endeavoring to bring about; and in this it is but too possible they may succeed. But the fact is, that if we have war with England, it will be solely produced by their manœuvres. I think that in two or three months we shall know what will be the issue.
I salute you with esteem & respect.
TO GENERAL JAMES WILKINSON
June 24. 08
Thomas Jefferson presents his compliments to Genl Wilkinson, and in answer to his letters of yesterday observes that during the course of the Burr conspiracy, the voluminous communications he received were generally read but once & then committed to the Attorney General, and were never returned to him. It is not in his power, therefore, to say that General Wilkinson did or did not denounce eminent persons to him, & still less who they were. It was unavoidable that he should from time to time mention persons known or supposed to be accomplices of Burr, and it is recollected that some of these suspicions were corrected afterwards on better information. Whether the undefined term denunciation goes to cases of this kind or not Th J does not know, nor could he now name from recollection the persons suspected at different times. He salutes General Wilkinson respectfully.
TO THOMAS MANN RANDOLPH
Washington, June 28th, 08
—I enclose you a mercantile advertiser for the sake of the extraordinary fabrication in it’s Postscript by an arrival from Cork with London dates to the 9th of May. The arrival of the Osage in England (which had been detained in France by Armstrong himself) furnishes the occasion of amusing that nation with the forgeries of fact which I have included in an inked line on the margin, within which line every word is false. Yet this lie will run through all the papers. Few readers will think of asking themselves how this London (or Cork) printer should know all the particulars he states, & for which he quotes no authority. The fact is that there never has been a proposition or intimation to us from France to join them in the war, unless Champagny’s letter be so considered: nor has there ever been the slightest disrespect to Armstrong, as far as we have a right to conclude from his silence and from that of Turreau. So from England we have in like manner had no such intimation except in Holland & Auckland’s note subjoined to the treaty. We have nothing from Armstrong or Pinckney. Indeed we can have nothing interesting from France while the Emperor is absent. I continue to send you the Public Advertiser & citizen of N. Y. while their fire is kept up on the presidential election. The papers of the other states are almost entirely silent on the subject. It seems understood that De Witt Clinton sinks with his tool Cheetham. We have proof on the oath of a credible man that he set Burr on board the last British packet in the evening of her departure. He was disguised in a sailor’s habit, as were two other gentlemen unknown to the person, but one of whom Burr called Ogden at taking leave. He was met at N. York by Mrs. Alston, whose child babbled out in his play with another that “Grandpapa was come.”
I charged Bacon very strictly to keep the water of the canal always running over the waste, as Shoemaker has made the want of water the ground of insisting on a suspension of rent, and will probably continue to do it. Present my tender love to Martha & the family and be assured yourself of my affectionate attachment & respect.
TO MERIWETHER LEWIS
Washington, July 17, 08
—Since I parted with you in Albemarle in Sep. last, I have never had a line from you, nor I believe has the Secretary at War with whom you have much connection through the Indian department. The misfortune which attended the effort to send the Mandane chief home, became known to us before you had reached St. Louis. We took no step on the occasion, counting on receiving your advice so soon as you should be in place, and knowing that your knoledge of the whole subject & presence on the spot would enable you to judge better than we could what ought to be done. The constant persuasion that something from you must be on it’s way to us, has as constantly prevented our writing to you on the subject. The present letter, however, is written to put an end at length to this mutual silence, and to ask from you a communication of what you think best to be done to get the chief & his family back. We consider the good faith, and the reputation of the nation, as pledged to accomplish this. We would wish indeed not to be obliged to undertake any considerable military expedition in the present uncertain state of our foreign concerns & especially not till the new body of troops shall be raised. But if it can be effected in any other way & at any reasonable expense, we are disposed to meet it.
A powerful company is at length forming for taking up the Indian commerce on a large scale. They will employ a capital the first year of 300,000 D. and raise it afterwards to a million. The English Mackinac company will probably withdraw from the competition. It will be under the direction of a most excellent man, a Mr. Astor, merch’t of New York, long engaged in the business, & perfectly master of it. He has some hope of seeing you at St. Louis, in which case I recommend him to your particular attention. Nothing but the exclusive possession of the Indian commerce can secure us their peace.
Our foreign affairs do not seem to clear up at all. Should they continue as at present, the moment will come when it will be a question for the Legislature whether war will not be preferable to a longer continuance of the embargo.
The Presidential question is clearing up daily, and the opposition subsiding. It is very possible that the suffrage of the nation may be undivided. But with this question it is my duty not to intermeddle. I have not lately heard of your friends in Albemarle. They were well when I left that in June, and not hearing otherwise affords presumptions they are well. But I presume you hear that from themselves. We have no tidings yet of the forwardness of your printer. I hope the first part will not be delayed much longer. Wishing you every blessing of life & health, I salute you with constant affection & respect.
TO JOHN LANGDON
Monticello, Aug. 2, 08
My dear Sir,
—The inclosed are formal, and for the public; but in sending them to you, I cannot omit the occasion of indulging my friendship in a more familiar way, & of recalling myself to your recollection. How much have I wished to have had you still with us through the years of my emploiment at Washington. I have seen with great pleasure the moderation & circumspection with which you have been kind enough to act under my letter of May 6, and I have been highly gratified with the late general expressions of public sentiment in favor of a measure which alone could have saved us from immediate war, & give time to call home 80 millions of property, 20, or 30,000 seamen, & 2,000 vessels. These are now nearly at home, & furnish a great capital, much of which will go into manufactures and seamen to man a fleet of privateers, whenever our citizens shall prefer war to a longer continuance of the embargo. Perhaps however the whale of the ocean may be tired of the solitude it has made on that element, and return to honest principles; and his brother robber on the land may see that, as to us, the grapes are sour. I think one war enough for the life of one man: and you and I have gone through one which at least may lessen our impatience to embark in another. Still, if it becomes necessary we must meet it like men, old men indeed, but yet good for something. But whether in peace or war, may you have as many years of life as you desire, with health & prosperity to make them happy years. I salute you with constant affection & great esteem & respect.
TO THE SECRETARY AT WAR
Monticello, August 9, 08
—Yours of July 27th is received. It confirms the accounts we receive from others that the infractions of the embargo in Maine & Massachusetts are open. I have removed Pope, of New Bedford, for worse than negligence. The collector of Sullivan is on the totter. The tories of Boston openly threaten insurrection if their importation of flour is stopped. The next post will stop it. I fear your Governor is not up to the tone of these parricides, and I hope, on the first symptom of an open opposition to the laws by force, you will fly to the scene and aid in suppressing any commotion.
TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY
Monticello, August 11, 08
TO THE SECRETARY AT WAR
Monticello, Aug. 12, 08
—Yours of July 27 has been received. I now enclose you the letters of Hawkins, Harrison, Wells, Hull, & Claiborne, received from the war office, and as I conjecture, not yet seen by you. Indian appearances, both in the northwest & south, are well. Beyond the Mississippi they are not so favorable. I fear Governor Lewis has been too prompt in committing us with the Osages so far as to oblige us to go on. But it is astonishing we get not one word from him. I enclose you letters of Mr. Griff & Maclure, which will explain themselves. A letter of June 5 from Mr. Pinckney informs us he was to have a free conference with Canning in a few days. Should England make up with us, while Bonaparte continues at war with Spain, a moment may occur when we may without danger of commitment with either France or England seize to our own limits of Louisiana as of right, & the residue of the Floridas as reprisal for spoliations. It is our duty to have an eye to this in rendezvousing & stationing our new recruits & our armed vessels, so as to be ready, if Congress authorizes it, to strike in a moment. I wish you to consider this matter in the orders to the southern recruits, as I have also recommended to the Secretary of the Navy, as to the armed vessels in the South. Indeed, I would ask your opinion as to the positions we had better take with a view to this with our armed vessels as well as troops. The force in the neighborhood of Baton Rouge is enough for that. Mobile, Pensacola & St. Augustine are those we should be preparing for. The enforcing the embargo would furnish a pretext for taking the nearest healthy position to St. Mary’s, and on the waters of Tombigbee. I salute you with affection & respect.
TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE
Monticello, Aug 12, 08
—Yours of the 10th came to hand yesterday, & I return you Foronda’s, Tuft’s, Soderstrom’s, & Turreau’s letters. I think it is become necessary to let Turreau understand explicitly that the vessels we permit foreign ministers to send away are merely transports, for the conveyance of such of their subjects as were here at the time of the embargo; that the numbers must be proportioned to the vessels, as is usual with transports; and that all who meant to go away must be presumed to have gone before now,—at any rate, that none will be accommodated after the present vessel. We never can allow one belligerent to buy & fit out vessels here, to be manned with his own people, & probably act against the other. You did not return my answer to Sullivan. But fortunately I have received another letter, which will enable me to give the matter an easier turn, & let it down more softly. Should the conference announced in Mr. Pinckney’s letter of June 5, settle friendship between England & us, & Bonaparte continue at war with Spain, a moment may occur favorable, without compromitting us with either France or England, for seizing our own from the Rio Bravo to Perdido, as of right, & the residue of Florida, as a reprisal for spoliations. I have thought it proper to suggest this possibility to Genl Dearborne & Mr. Smith, & to recommend an eye to it in their rendezvousing & stationing the new southern recruits & gun-boats, so that we may strike in a moment when Congress says so. I have appointed Genl Steele successor to Shee. Mr. & Mrs. Barlow, & Mrs. Blagden, will be here about the 25th. May we hope to see Mrs. Madison & yourself then, or when? I shall go to Bedford about the 10th of September. I salute you with constant affection & respect.
TO THE GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS
Monticello, Aug 12, 08
—Your letter of July 21 has been received some days; that of July 23 not till yesterday. Some accident had probably detained it on the road considerably beyond its regular passage. In the former you mention that you had thought it advisable to continue issuing certificates for the importation of flour, until you could hear further from me; and in the latter, that you will be called from the Capital in the fall months, after which it is your desire that the power of issuing certificates may be given to some other, if it is to be continued.
In mine of July 16th I had stated that, during the two months preceding that, your certificates, received at the Treasury, amounted, if I rightly recollect, to about 60,000 barrels of flour, & a proportionable quantity of corn. If this whole quantity had been bonâ fide landed & retained in Massachusetts, I deemed it certain there could not be a real want for a considerable time, &, therefore, desired the issues of certificates might be discontinued. If, on the other hand, a part has been carried to foreign markets, it proves the necessity of restricting reasonably this avenue to abuse. This is my sole object, and not that a real want of a single individual should be one day unsupplied. In this I am certain we shall have the concurrence of all the good citizens of Massachusetts, who are too patriotic and too just to desire, by calling for what is superfluous, to open a door for the frauds of unprincipled individuals who, trampling on the laws, and forcing a commerce shut to all others, are enriching themselves on the sacrifices of their honester fellow citizens;—sacrifices to which these are generally & willingly submitting, as equally necessary whether to avoid or prepare for war.
Still further, however, to secure the State against all danger of want, I will request you to continue issuing certificates, in the moderate way proposed in your letter, until your departure from the Capital, as before stated, when I will consider it as discontinued, or make another appointment if necessary. There is less risk of inconvenience in this, as, by a letter from the Secretary of the Treasury, of May 20th, the collectors were advised not to detain any vessel, the articles of whose lading were so proportioned as to give no cause of suspicion that they were destined for a foreign market. This mode of supply alone seems to have been sufficient for the other importing States, if we may judge from the little use they have made of the permission to issue certificates.
Should these reasonable precautions be followed, as is surmised in your letter of July 21, by an artificial scarcity, with a view to promote turbulence of any sort or on any pretext, I trust for an ample security against this danger to the character of my fellow citizens of Massachusetts, which has, I think, been emphatically marked by obedience to law, & a love of order. And I have no doubt that whilst we do our duty, they will support us in it. The laws enacted by the general government, will have made it our duty to have the embargo strictly observed, for the general good; & we are sworn to execute the laws. If clamor ensue, it will be from the few only, who will clamor whatever we do. I shall be happy to receive the estimate promised by your Excellency, as it may assist to guide us in the cautions we may find necessary. And here I will beg leave to recall your attention to a mere error of arithmetic in your letter of July 23. The quantity of flour requisite on the date there given, would be between thirteen & fourteen thousand barrels per month. I beg you to accept my salutations, & assurances of high respect & consideration.
TO THE EMPEROR OF RUSSIA
United States, Aug. 29, 1808
Great and good Friend and Emperor,
—Desirous of promoting useful intercourse & good understanding between your majesty’s subjects & the citizens of the U S, and especially to cultivate the friendship of Y. M., I have appointed William Short, one of our distinguished citizens, to be in quality of Minister Plenipo. of the U S, the bearer to you of assurances of their sincere friendship, and of their desire to maintain with Y. M. & your subjects the strictest relations of amity & commerce: He will explain to Y. M. the peculiar position of these States, separated by a wide ocean from the powers of Europe, with interests and pursuits distinct from theirs, and consequently without the motives or the aptitudes for taking part in the associations or oppositions which a different system of interests produces among them; he is charged to assure Y. M. more particularly of our purpose to observe a faithful neutrality towards the contending powers, in the war to which your majesty is a party, rendering to all the services & courtesies of friendship, and praying for the re-establishment of peace & right among them; and we entertain an entire confidence that this just & faithful conduct on the part of the U S will strengthen the friendly dispositions you have manifested towards them, and be a fresh motive with so just & magnanimous a sovereign to enforce, by the high influence of your example, the respect due to the character & the rights of a peaceable nation. I beseech you, great and good friend & emperor, to give entire credence to whatever he shall say to you on the part of these States, & most all of when he shall assure you of their cordial esteem & respect for Y. M’s. person & character, praying God always to have you in his safe & holy keeping.1
TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE
Monticello, Sept. 6, 08
—I return you Pinckney’s letter, the complexion of which I like. If they repeal their orders, we must repeal our embargo. If they make satisfaction for the Chesapeake, we must revoke our proclamation, and generalize its operation by a law. If they keep up impressments, we must adhere to non-intercourse, manufactures & a navigation act. I enclose for your perusal a letter of Mr. Short’s. I inform him that any one of the persons he names would be approved, the government never recognizing a difference between the two parties of republicans in Pennsylvania.
I do not think the anonymous rhapsody is Cheatham’s. Tho’ mere declamation, it is of too high an order for him. I think it quite in Gouv. Morris’s dictatorial manner. It’s matter is miserable sophistry.
I salute you with constant affection.
TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE
Monticello, Sept. 13, 08
—I send you a letter of Short’s for perusal, & one of Edgar Patterson, asking what is already I presume provided for, and one of General Armstrong, which I do not well understand, because I do not recollect the particular letter which came by Haley. I presume the counsel he refers to is to take possession of the Floridas. This letter of June 15 is written after the cession by Carlos to Bonaparte of all his dominions, when he supposed England would at once pounce on the Floridas as a prey, or Bonaparte occupy it as a neighbor. His next will be written after the people of Spain will have annihilated the cession, England become the protector of Florida, and Bonaparte without title or means to plant himself there as our neighbor.
Ought I to answer such a petition as that of Rowley? The people have a right to petition, but not to use that right to cover calumniating insinuations.
Turreau writes like Armstrong so much in the buskin, that he cannot give a naked fact in an intelligible form. I do not know what it is he asks for. If a transport or transports to convey sailors, there has been no refusal; and if any delay of answer, I presume it can be explained. If he wishes to buy vessels here, man them with French seamen, and send them elsewhere, the breach of neutrality would be in permitting, not in refusing it. But have we permitted this to England? His remedy is easy in every case. Repeal the decrees. I presume our Fredericksburg rider need not come after his next trip. I salute you affectionately.
TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON
Washington, Oct. 15, 08
—Your letter of Sept 22 waited here for my return, and it is not till now that I have been able to acknowledge it. The explanation of his principles given you by the French Emperor, in conversation, is correct as far as it goes. He does not wish us to go to war with England, knowing we have no ships to carry on that war. To submit to pay to England the tribute on our commerce which she demands by her orders of council, would be to aid her in the war against him, & would give him just ground to declare war with us. He concludes, therefore, as every rational man must, that the embargo, the only remaining alternative, was a wise measure. These are acknowledged principles, and should circumstances arise which may offer advantage to our country in making them public, we shall avail ourselves of them. But as it is not usual nor agreeable to governments to bring their conversation before the public, I think it would be well to consider this on your part as confidential, leaving to the government to retain or make it public, as the general good may require. Had the Emperor gone further, and said that he condemned our vessels going voluntarily into his ports in breach of his municipal laws, we might have admitted it rigorously legal, tho’ not friendly. But his condemnation of vessels taken on the high seas, by his privateers, & carried involuntarily into his ports, is justifiable by no law, is piracy, and this is the wrong we complain of against him.
Supposing that you may be still at Clermont, from whence your letter is dated, I avail myself of this circumstance to request your presenting my friendly respects to Chancellor Livingston. I salute you with esteem & respect.
TO DOCTOR JAMES BROWN
Washington Oct. 27, 08
—You will wonder that your letter of June 3 should not be acknoledged till this date. I never received it till Sep 12, and coming soon after to this place, the accumulation of business I found here has prevented my taking it up till now. That you ever participated in any plan for a division of the Union, I never for one moment believed. I knew your Americanism too well. But as the enterprise against Mexico was of a very different character, I had supposed what I heard on that subject to be possible. You disavow it; that is enough for me, and I forever dismiss the idea. I wish it were possible to extend my belief of innocence to a very different description of men in N O; but I think there is sufficient evidence of there being there a set of foreign adventurers, & native mal-contents, who would concur in any enterprise to separate that country from this. I did wish to see these people get what they deserved; and under the maxim of the law itself, that inter arma silent leges, that in an encampment expecting daily attack from a powerful enemy, self-preservation is paramount to all law, I expected that instead of invoking the forms of the law to cover traitors, all good citizens would have concurred in securing them. Should we have ever gained our Revolution, if we had bound our hands by manacles of the law, not only in the beginning, but in any part of the revolutionary conflict? There are extreme cases where the laws become inadequate even to their own preservation, and where, the universal resource is a dictator, or martial law. Was N O. in that situation? Altho’ we knew here that the force destined against it was suppressed on the Ohio, yet we supposed this unknown at N O at the time that Burr’s accomplices were calling in the aid of the law to enable them to perpetrate its suppression, and that it was reasonable according to the state of information there, to act on the expectation of a daily attack. Of this you are the best judge.
Burr is in London, and is giving out to his friends that that government offers him 2. millions of dollars the moment he can raise an ensign of rebellion as big as a handkerchief. Some of his partisans will believe this, because they wish it. But those who know him best will not believe it the more because he says it. For myself, even in his most flattering periods of the conspiracy, I never entertained one moment’s fear. My long & intimate knowledge of my countrymen, satisfied & satisfies me, that let there ever be occasion to display the banners of the law, & the world will see how few & pitiful are those who shall array themselves in opposition. I as little fear foreign invasion. I have indeed thought it a duty to be prepared to meet even the most powerful, that of a Bonaparte, for instance, by the only means competent, that of a classification of the militia, & placing the junior classes at the public disposal; but the lesson he receives in Spain extirpates all apprehensions from my mind. If, in a peninsula, the neck of which is adjacent to him and at his command, where he can march any army without the possibility of interception or obstruction from any foreign power, he finds it necessary to begin with an army of 300.000 men, to subdue a nation of 5 millions, brutalized by ignorance, and enervated by long peace, and should find constant reinforcements of thousands after thousands, necessary to effect at last a conquest as doubtful as deprecated, what numbers would be necessary against 8 millions of free Americans, spread over such an extent of country as would wear him down by mere marching, by want of food, autumnal diseases, &c.? How would they be brought, and how reinforced across an ocean of 3000 miles, in possession of a bitter enemy, whose peace, like the repose of a dog, is never more than momentary? And for what? For nothing but hard blows. If the Orleanese Creoles would but contemplate these truths, they would cling to the American Union, soul & body, as their first affection, and we should be as safe there as we are everywhere else. I have no doubt of their attachment to us in preference of the English.
I salute you with sincere friendship & respect.
TO THE GOVERNOR OF LOUISIANA
Washington, Oct. 29, 08
—I send the enclosed letter under the benefit of your cover, & open, because I wish you to know it’s contents. I thought the person to whom it is addressed a very good man when here,—he is certainly a very learned and able one. I thought him peculiarly qualified to be useful with you. But in the present state of my information, I can say no more than I have to him. When you shall have read the letter, be so good as to stick a wafer in it, & not let it be delivered till it is dry, that he may not know that any one but himself sees it. The Spanish paper you enclosed me is an atrocious one. I see it has been republished in Havanna. The truth is that the patriots of Spain have no warmer friends than the administration of the U S, but it is our duty to say nothing & to do nothing for or against either. If they succeed, we shall be well satisfied to see Cuba & Mexico remain in their present dependence; but very unwilling to see them in that of either France or England, politically or commercially. We consider their interests & ours as the same, and that the object of both must be to exclude all European influence from this hemisphere. We wish to avoid the necessity of going to war, till our revenue shall be entirely liberated from debt. Then it will suffice for war, without creating new debt or taxes. These are sentiments which I would wish you to express to any proper characters of either of these two countries, and particularly that we have nothing more at heart than their friendship. I salute you with great esteem & respect.
EIGHTH ANNUAL MESSAGE1
November 8, 1808
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:—
It would have been a source, fellow citizens, of much gratification, if our last communications from Europe had enabled me to inform you that the belligerent nations, whose disregard of neutral rights has been so destructive to our commerce, had become awakened to the duty and true policy of revoking their unrighteous edicts. That no means might be omitted to produce this salutary effect, I lost no time in availing myself of the act authorizing a suspension, in whole or in part, of the several embargo laws. Our ministers at London and Paris were instructed to explain to the respective governments there, our disposition to exercise the authority in such manner as would withdraw the pretext on which the aggressions were originally founded, and open a way for a renewal of that commercial intercourse which it was alleged on all sides had been reluctantly obstructed. As each of those governments had pledged its readiness to concur in renouncing a measure which reached its adversary through the incontestable rights of neutrals only, and as the measure had been assumed by each as a retaliation for an asserted acquiescence in the aggressions of the other, it was reasonably expected that the occasion would have been seized by both for evincing the sincerity of their profession, and for restoring to the commerce of the United States its legitimate freedom. The instructions to our ministers with respect to the different belligerents were necessarily modified with reference to their different circumstances, and to the condition annexed by law to the executive power of suspension, requiring a degree of security to our commerce which would not result from a repeal of the decrees of France. Instead of a pledge, therefore, of a suspension of the embargo as to her in case of such a repeal, it was presumed that a sufficient inducement might be found in other considerations, and particularly in the change produced by a compliance with our just demands by one belligerent, and a refusal by the other, in the relations between the other and the United States. To Great Britain, whose power on the ocean is so ascendant, it was deemed not inconsistent with that condition to state explicitly, that on her rescinding her orders in relation to the United States their trade would be opened with her, and remain shut to her enemy, in case of his failure to rescind his decrees also. From France no answer has been received, nor any indication that the requisite change in her decrees is contemplated. The favorable reception of the proposition to Great Britain was the less to be doubted, as her orders of council had not only been referred for their vindication to an acquiesence on the part of the United States no longer to be pretended, but as the arrangement proposed, while it resisted the illegal decrees of France, involved, moreover, substantially, the precise advantages professedly aimed at by the British orders. The arrangement has nevertheless been rejected.
This candid and liberal experiment having thus failed, and no other event having occurred on which a suspension of the embargo by the executive was authorized, it necessarily remains in the extent originally given to it. We have the satisfaction, however, to reflect, that in return for the privations by the measure, and which our fellow citizens in general have borne with patriotism, it has had the important effects of saving our mariners and our vast mercantile property, as well as of affording time for prosecuting the defensive and provisional measures called for by the occasion. It has demonstrated to foreign nations the moderation and firmness which govern our councils, and to our citizens the necessity of uniting in support of the laws and the rights of their country, and has thus long frustrated those usurpations and spoliations which, if resisted, involve war; if submitted to, sacrificed a vital principle of our national independence.
Under a continuance of the belligerent measures which, in defiance of laws which consecrate the rights of neutrals, overspread the ocean with danger, it will rest with the wisdom of Congress to decide on the course best adapted to such a state of things; and bringing with them, as they do, from every part of the Union, the sentiments of our constituents, my confidence is strengthened, that in forming this decision they will, with an unerring regard to the essential rights and interests of the nation, weigh and compare the painful alternatives out of which a choice is to be made. Nor should I do justice to the virtues which on other occasions have marked the character of our fellow citizens, if I did not cherish an equal confidence that the alternative chosen, whatever it may be, will be maintained with all the fortitude and patriotism which the crisis ought to inspire.
The documents containing the correspondences on the subject of the foreign edicts against our commerce, with the instructions given to our ministers at London and Paris, are now laid before you.
The communications made to Congress at their last session explained the posture in which the close of the discussion relating to the attack by a British ship of war on the frigate Chesapeake left a subject on which the nation had manifested so honorable a sensibility. Every view of what had passed authorized a belief that immediate steps would be taken by the British government for redressing a wrong, which, the more it was investigated, appeared the more clearly to require what had not been provided for in the special mission. It is found that no steps have been taken for the purpose. On the contrary, it will be seen, in the documents laid before you, that the inadmissible preliminary which obstructed the adjustment is still adhered to; and, moreover, that it is now brought into connection with the distinct and irrelative case of the orders in council. The instructions which had been given to our ministers at London with a view to facilitate, if necessary, the reparation claimed by the United States, are included in the documents communicated.
Our relations with the other powers of Europe have undergone no material changes since your last session. The important negotiations with Spain, which had been alternately suspended and resumed, necessarily experience a pause under the extraordinary and interesting crisis which distinguished her internal situation.
With the Barbary powers we continue in harmony, with the exception of an unjustifiable proceeding of the dey of Algiers toward our consul to that regency. Its character and circumstances are now laid before you, and will enable you to decide how far it may, either now or hereafter, call for any measures not within the limits of the executive authority.
With our Indian neighbors the public peace has been steadily maintained. Some instances of individual wrong have, as at other times, taken place, but in nowise implicating the will of the nation. Beyond the Mississippi, the Iowas, the Sacs, and the Alabamas, have delivered up for trial and punishment individuals from among themselves accused of murdering citizens of the United States. On this side of the Mississippi, the Creeks are exerting themselves to arrest offenders of the same kind; and the Choctaws have manifested their readiness and desire for amicable and just arrangements respecting depredations committed by disorderly persons of their tribe. And, generally, from a conviction that we consider them as part of ourselves, and cherish with sincerity their rights and interests, the attachment of the Indian tribes is gaining strength daily—is extending from the nearer to the more remote, and will amply requite us for the justice and friendship practised towards them. Husbandry and household manufacture are advancing among them, more rapidly with the southern than the northern tribes, from circumstances of soil and climate; and one of the two great divisions of the Cherokee nation have now under consideration to solicit the citizenship of the United States, and to be identified with us in laws and government, in such progressive manner as we shall think best.
In consequence of the appropriations of the last session of Congress for the security of our seaport towns and harbors, such works of defence have been erected as seemed to be called for by the situation of the several places, their relative importance, and the scale of expense indicated by the amount of the appropriation. These works will chiefly be finished in the course of the present season, except at New York and New Orleans, where most was to be done; and although a great proportion of the last appropriation has been expended on the former place, yet some further views will be submitted by Congress for rendering its security entirely adequate against naval enterprise. A view of what has been done at the several places, and of what is proposed to be done, shall be communicated as soon as the several reports are received.
Of the gun-boats authorized by the act of December last, it has been thought necessary to build only one hundred and three in the present year. These, with those before possessed, are sufficient for the harbors and waters exposed, and the residue will require little time for their construction when it is deemed necessary.
Under the act of the last session for raising an additional military force, so many officers were immediately appointed as were necessary for carrying on the business of recruiting, and in proportion as it advanced, others have been added. We have reason to believe their success has been satisfactory, although such returns have not yet been received as enable me to present to you a statement of the numbers engaged.
I have not thought it necessary in the course of the last season to call for any general detachments of militia or volunteers under the law passed for that purpose. For the ensuing season, however, they will require to be in readiness should their services be wanted. Some small and special detachments have been necessary to maintain the laws of embargo on that portion of our northern frontier which offered peculiar facilities for evasion, but these were replaced as soon as it could be done by bodies of new recruits. By the aid of these, and of the armed vessels called into actual service in other quarters, the spirit of disobedience and abuse which manifested itself early, and with sensible effect while we were unprepared to meet it, has been considerably repressed.
Considering the extraordinary character of the times in which we live, our attention should unremittingly be fixed on the safety of our country. For a people who are free, and who mean to remain so, a well-organized and armed militia is their best security. It is, therefore, incumbent on us, at every meeting, to revise the condition of the militia, and to ask ourselves if it is prepared to repel a powerful enemy at every point of our territories exposed to invasion. Some of the States have paid a laudable attention to this object; but every degree of neglect is to be found among others. Congress alone have power to produce a uniform state of preparation in this great organ of defence; the interests which they so deeply feel in their own and their country’s security will present this as among the most important objects of their deliberation.
Under the acts of March 11th and April 23d, respecting arms, the difficulty of procuring them from abroad, during the present situation and dispositions of Europe, induced us to direct our whole efforts to the means of internal supply. The public factories have, therefore, been enlarged, additional machineries erected, and in proportion as artificers can be found or formed, their effect, already more than doubled, may be increased so as to keep pace with the yearly increase of the militia. The annual sums appropriated by the latter act, have been directed to the encouragement of private factories of arms, and contracts have been entered into with individual undertakers to nearly the amount of the first year’s appropriation.
The suspension of our foreign commerce, produced by the injustice of the belligerent powers, and the consequent losses and sacrifices of our citizens, are subjects of just concern. The situation into which we have thus been forced, has impelled us to apply a portion of our industry and capital to internal manufactures and improvements. The extent of this conversion is daily increasing, and little doubt remains that the establishments formed and forming will—under the auspices of cheaper materials and subsistence, the freedom of labor from taxation with us, and of protecting duties and prohibitions—become permanent. The commerce with the Indians, too, within our own boundaries, is likely to receive abundant aliment from the same internal source, and will secure to them peace and the progress of civilization, undisturbed by practices hostile to both.
The accounts of the receipts and expenditures during the year ending on the 30th day of September last, being not yet made up, a correct statement will hereafter be transmitted from the Treasury. In the meantime, it is ascertained that the receipts have amounted to near eighteen millions of dollars, which, with the eight millions and a half in the treasury at the beginning of the year, have enabled us, after meeting the current demands and interest incurred, to pay two millions three hundred thousand dollars of the principal of our funded debt, and left us in the treasury, on that day, near fourteen millions of dollars. Of these, five millions three hundred and fifty thousand dollars will be necessary to pay what will be due on the first day of January next, which will complete the reimbursement of the eight per cent. stock. These payments, with those made in the six years and a half preceding, will have extinguished thirty-three millions five hundred and eighty thousand dollars of the principal of the funded debt, being the whole which could be paid or purchased within the limits of the law and our contracts; and the amount of principal thus discharged will have liberated the revenue from about two millions of dollars of interest, and added that sum annually to the disposable surplus. The probable accumulation of the surpluses of revenue beyond what can be applied to the payment of the public debt, whenever the freedom and safety of our commerce shall be restored, merits the consideration of Congress. Shall it lie unproductive in the public vaults? Shall the revenue be reduced? Or shall it rather be appropriated to the improvements of roads, canals, rivers, education, and other great foundations of prosperity and union, under the powers which Congress may already possess, or such amendment of the constitution as may be approved by the States? While uncertain of the course of things, the time may be advantageously employed in obtaining the powers necessary for a system of improvement, should that be thought best.
Availing myself of this the last occasion which will occur of addressing the two houses of the legislature at their meeting, I cannot omit the expression of my sincere gratitude for the repeated proofs of confidence manifested to me by themselves and their predecessors since my call to the administration, and the many indulgences experienced at their hands. The same grateful acknowledgments are due to my fellow citizens generally, whose support has been my great encouragement under all embarrassments. In the transaction of their business I cannot have escaped error. It is incident to our imperfect nature. But I may say with truth, my errors have been of the understanding, not of intention; and that the advancement of their rights and interests has been the constant motive for every measure. On these considerations I solicit their indulgence. Looking forward with anxiety to their future destinies, I trust that, in their steady character unshaken by difficulties, in their love of liberty, obedience to law, and support of the public authorities, I see a sure guaranty of the permanence of our republic; and retiring from the charge of their affairs, I carry with me the consolation of a firm persuasion that Heaven has in store for our beloved country long ages to come of prosperity and happiness.
TO ABRAHAM BISHOP
Washington, Nov. 13, 08
—Not knowing whether Colo. Humphreys would be at present at or in the neighborhood of New Haven, or in Boston, I take the liberty of addressing a request to yourself. Homespun is become the spirit of the times: I think it an useful one, & therefore that it is a duty to encourage it by example. The best fine cloth made in the U. S. is, I am told, at the manufacture of Colo. Humphreys in your neighborhood. Could I get the favor of you to procure me there as much of his best as would make me a coat. I should prefer a deep blue, but, if not to be had, then a black. Some person coming on in the stage can perhaps be found who would do me the favor of taking charge of it. The amount shall be remitted to you the moment you shall be so kind as to notify it to me, or paid to any member of the legislature here whom yourself or Colonel Humphreys’ agent shall indicate. Having so little acquaintance in or near New Haven, I hope you will pardon the liberty I take in proposing this trouble to you towards which the general motive will perhaps avail something. I salute you with esteem & respect.1
TO LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR LEVI LINCOLN
Washington, Nov. 13, 08
—I enclose you a petition from Nantucket, & refer it for your decision. Our opinion here is, that that place has been so deeply concerned in smuggling, that if it wants, it is because it has illegally sent away what it ought to have retained for its own consumption. Be so good as to bear in mind that I have asked the favor of you to see that your State encounters no real want, while, at the same time, where applications are made merely to cover fraud, no facilities towards that be furnished. I presume there can be no want in Massachusetts as yet, as I am informed that Governor Sullivan’s permits are openly bought & sold here & in Alexandria & at other markets. The congressional campaign is just opening: three alternatives alone are to be chosen from. 1. Embargo. 2. War. 3. Submission and tribute. &, wonderful to tell, the last will not want advocates. The real question, however, will lie between the two first, on which there is considerable division. As yet the first seems most to prevail; but opinions are by no means yet settled down. Perhaps the advocates of the 2d may, to a formal declaration of war, prefer general letters of mark & reprisal, because, on a repeal of their edicts by the belligerent, a revocation of the letters of mark restores peace without the delay, difficulties, & ceremonies of a treaty. On this occasion, I think it is fair to leave to those who are to act on them, the decisions they prefer, being to be myself but a spectator. I should not feel justified in directing measures which those who are to execute them would disapprove. Our situation is truly difficult. We have been pressed by the belligerents to the very wall, & all further retreat impracticable.
I salute you with sincere friendship.
TO WILLIAM A. BURWELL
Washington, Nov. 22, 08
My Dear Sir,
—Your friendly intimations to me as to matters respecting myself, never need an apology. I know them always to proceed from the kindest motives, & am thankful for them. I have had too many proofs of the interest you take in what concerns me to have a doubt of this. But the story from Richmond is one of those unfounded falsehoods which assail me regularly in whatever direction I move. Mr. Jefferson had instructions in December or January last to sell my tobo. then delivered him whenever he could get 7 Dollars. You know the slight expectation entertained in the summer that Gr. Britain would revoke her decrees & you now know the ground of that expectation. But from the moment of the return of the St. Michael, which was about the beginning of October, it was known publicly that this vessel brought the most unfavorable accounts. Notwithstanding this, from pretended London letters & lies of the Federalists themselves, a new hope was excited among the speculators, who had given 6. 7. & 8. D. for tobo. at Richmond some weeks before mine was sold. At length the price originally limited for mine was offered to Mr. Jefferson, who thereupon sold, receiving one-half in cash, the other payable in 60 days. Since the transaction, the bitter spirits of the place have tacked to it a story that Mr. Coles had written & his letter was shewn saying the embargo would be taken off. In the first place I never heard of any letter written by Mr. Coles till I saw it mentioned in a N. Y. paper, after my tobo. was sold & the first payment remitted me. In the next place, Mr. Coles letter did not say one word about the embargo; it only stated to his brother that he had heard Mr. Madison say the night before that wheat was at 14/sterling in England & therefore, expecting that that would in some way affect prices here, he strongly dissuaded him from selling his wheat. He accordingly declined selling & went home. This letter discouraging the sale of wheat, was by that perversion so habitual with these people, made to be an encouragement to the sale of my tobo. Mr. Coles has fully stated this in the Richmond papers, and I pray you to speak with him on the subject, as he knows that his letter was totally unknown to me, & in fact had no more connection with the sale of my tobo. nor could, when candidly stated, have no more effect on it’s price, than on the price of Louisiana. Your suggestion of relinquishing the contract has not I think been well weighed. The consequence would inevitably be that instead of giving me credit for a liberal act, the Federalists would consider it as a plea of guilty, and give to the story a new form of tenfold malignity & difficulty to refute. “Conscious of having cheated the purchasers, he has slunk out of a transaction which he knew could not be supported, & claims merit for his meanness as if it were a liberality.” As sure as we live this turn, or a worse one, if they could find a worse would be given it. And the inference of guilt would be rendered more plausible. No, my dear friend, it has been a fair & honorable transaction, and my reputation is pledged to maintain it as such: and long experience has convinced me that this is not to be done by shuffling the question from one ground to another, but by taking & holding to the original ground of truth. Were I to buy off every Federal lie by a sacrifice of 2 or 3 thousand D. a very few such purchases would make me as bankrupt in reputation as in fortune. To buy off one lie is to give a premium for the invention of others. From the moment I was proposed for my present office, the volumes of calumny & falsehood issued to the public, rendered impracticable every idea of going into the work of finding & proving. I determined therefore to go straight forward in what was right, and to rest my character with my countrymen not on depositions & affidavits, but on what they should themselves witness, the course of my life. I have had no reason to be dissatisfied with the confidence reposed in the public, on the contrary great encouragement to persevere in it to the end. The Federalists, very evidently, instead of lying me down, have lied themselves down and so near the end of my career, it would not be wise in me to give them a new credit by paying a respect to a new falsehood which I had never done to former ones. Many of these would have required only a simple denial, but I saw that even that would have led to the infallible inference, that whatever I had not denied was to be presumed true. I have therefore never done even this, but to such of my friends as happen to converse on these subjects, and I have never believed that my character could hang upon every two-penny lie of our common enemies. The story in question is now an old one, of about a month, yet it had made so little impression on me that I had never thought of it in our conversations, or I should have mentioned it to you. And I cannot help believing that on reconsideration you will think that the course I propose is consonant with a system from which it would not be advisable to depart at this late day. Still the interest you have felt on the subject is an additional proof of your friendship, and meets my sincere acknolegements, to which permit me to add the assurances of my affectionate attachment & respect.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON RANDOLPH1
Washington, November 24, 1808
My Dear Jefferson,
—I have just received the enclosed letter under cover from Mr. Bankhead which I presume is from Anne, and will inform you she is well. Mr. Bankhead has consented to go & pursue his studies at Monticello, and live with us till his pursuits or circumstances may require a separate establishment. Your situation, thrown at such a distance from us, & alone, cannot but give us all great anxieties for you. As much has been secured for you, by your particular position and the acquaintance to which you have been recommended, as could be done towards shielding you from the dangers which surround you. But thrown on a wide world, among entire strangers, without a friend or guardian to advise, so young too and with so little experience of mankind, your dangers are great, & still your safety must rest on yourself. A determination never to do what is wrong, prudence and good humor, will go far towards securing to you the estimation of the world. When I recollect that at 14 years of age, the whole care & direction of myself was thrown on myself entirely, without a relation or friend qualified to advise or guide me, and recollect the various sorts of bad company with which I associated from time to time, I am astonished I did not turn off with some of them, & become as worthless to society as they were. I had the good fortune to become acquainted very early with some characters of very high standing, and to feel the incessant wish that I could ever become what they were. Under temptations & difficulties, I would ask myself what would Dr. Small, Mr. Wythe, Peyton Randolph do in this situation? What course in it will insure me their approbation? I am certain that this mode of deciding on my conduct, tended more to its correctness than any reasoning powers I possessed. Knowing the even & dignified line they pursued, I could never doubt for a moment which of two courses would be in character for them. Whereas, seeking the same object through a process of moral reasoning, & with the jaundiced eye of youth, I should often have erred. From the circumstances of my position, I was often thrown into the society of horse racers, card players, fox hunters, scientific & professional men, and of dignified men; and many a time have I asked myself, in the enthusiastic moment of the death of a fox, the victory of a favorite horse, the issue of a question eloquently argued at the bar, or in the great council of the nation, well, which of these kinds of reputation should I prefer? That of a horse jockey? a fox hunter? an orator? or the honest advocate of my country’s rights? Be assured, my dear Jefferson, that these little returns into ourselves, this self-catechising habit, is not trifling nor useless, but leads to the prudent selection & steady pursuit of what is right.
I have mentioned good humor as one of the preservatives of our peace & tranquillity. It is among the most effectual, and its effect is so well imitated and aided, artificially, by politeness, that this also becomes an acquisition of first rate value. In truth, politeness is artificial good humor, it covers the natural want of it, & ends by rendering habitual a substitute nearly equivalent to the real virtue. It is the practice of sacrificing to those whom we meet in society, all the little conveniences & preferences which will gratify them, & deprive us of nothing worth a moment’s consideration; it is the giving a pleasing & flattering turn to our expressions, which will conciliate others, and make them pleased with us as well as themselves. How cheap a price for the good will of another! When this is in return for a rude thing said by another, it brings him to his senses, it mortifies & corrects him in the most salutary way, and places him at the feet of your good nature, in the eyes of the company. But in stating prudential rules for our government in society, I must not omit the important one of never entering into dispute or argument with another. I never saw an instance of one of two disputants convincing the other by argument. I have seen many, on their getting warm, becoming rude, & shooting one another. Conviction is the effect of our own dispassionate reasoning, either in solitude, or weighing within ourselves, dispassionately, what we hear from others, standing uncommitted in argument ourselves. It was one of the rules which, above all others, made Doctor Franklin the most amiable of men in society, “never to contradict anybody.” If he was urged to announce an opinion, he did it rather by asking questions, as if for information, or by suggesting doubts. When I hear another express an opinion which is not mine, I say to myself, he has a right to his opinion, as I to mine; why should I question it? His error does me no injury, and shall I become a Don Quixote, to bring all men by force of argument to one opinion? If a fact be misstated, it is probable he is gratified by a belief of it, & I have no right to deprive him of the gratification. If he wants information, he will ask it, & then I will give it in measured terms; but if he still believes his own story, & shows a desire to dispute the fact with me, I hear him & say nothing. It is his affair, not mine, if he prefers error. There are two classes of disputants most frequently to be met with among us. The first is of young students, just entered the threshold of science, with a first view of its outlines, not yet filled up with the details & modifications which a further progress would bring to their knoledge. The other consists of the ill-tempered & rude men in society, who have taken up a passion for politics. (Good humor & politeness never introduce into mixed society, a question on which they foresee there will be a difference of opinion.) From both of those classes of disputants, my dear Jefferson, keep aloof, as you would from the infected subjects of yellow fever or pestilence. Consider yourself, when with them, as among the patients of Bedlam, needing medical more than moral counsel. Be a listener only, keep within yourself, and endeavor to establish with yourself the habit of silence, especially on politics. In the fevered state of our country, no good can ever result from any attempt to set one of these fiery zealots to rights, either in fact or principle. They are determined as to the facts they will believe, and the opinions on which they will act. Get by them, therefore, as you would by an angry bull; it is not for a man of sense to dispute the road with such an animal. You will be more exposed than others to have these animals shaking their horns at you, because of the relation in which you stand with me. Full of political venom, and willing to see me & to hate me as a chief in the antagonist party, your presence will be to them what the vomit grass is to the sick dog, a nostrum for producing ejaculation. Look upon them exactly with that eye, and pity them as objects to whom you can administer only occasional ease. My character is not within their power. It is in the hands of my fellow citizens at large, and will be consigned to honor or infamy by the verdict of the republican mass of our country, according to what themselves will have seen, not what their enemies and mine shall have said. Never, therefore, consider these puppies in politics as requiring any notice from you, & always show that you are not afraid to leave my character to the umpirage of public opinion. Look steadily to the pursuits which have carried you to Philadelphia, be very select in the society you attach yourself to, avoid taverns, drinkers, smokers, idlers, & dissipated persons generally; for it is with such that broils & contentions arise; and you will find your path more easy and tranquil. The limits of my paper warn me that it is time for me to close with my affectionate adieu.
P. S. Present me affectionately to Mr. Ogilvie, &, in doing the same to Mr. Peale, tell him I am writing with his polygraph, & shall send him mine the first moment I have leisure enough to pack it.
TO CHARLES THOMSON
Washington, Dec. 25, 08
I thank you, my dear & antient friend, for the two volumes of your translation, which you have been so kind as to send me. I have dipped into it at the few moments of leisure which my vocations permit, and I perceive that I shall use it with great satisfaction on my return home. I propose there, among my first emploiments, to give to the Septuagint an attentive perusal, and shall feel the aid you have now given me. I am full of plans of emploiment when I get there,—they chiefly respect the active functions of the body. To the mind I shall administer amusement chiefly. An only daughter and numerous family of grandchildren, will furnish me great resources of happiness. I learn with sincere pleasure that you have health & activity enough to have performed the journey to & from Lancaster without inconvenience. It has added another proof that you are not wearied with well-doing. Altho I have enjoyed as uniform health through life as reason could desire, I have no expectation that, even if spared to your age, I shall at that period be able to take such a journey. I am already sensible of decay in the power of walking, and find my memory not so faithful as it used to be. This may be partly owing to the incessant current of new matter flowing constantly through it; but I ascribe to years their share in it also. That you may be continued among us to the period of your own wishes, & that it may be filled with continued health & happiness, is the sincere prayer of your affectionate friend.
[1 ]Jefferson further wrote to Dearborn:
Monticello, May 25, 08
—There is a subject on which I wished to speak with you before I left Washington; but an apt occasion did not occur. It is that of your continuance in office. Perhaps it is as well to submit my thoughts to you by letter. The present summer is too important in point of preparation, to leave your department unfilled, for any time, as I once thought might be done; and it would be with extreme reluctance that, so near the time of my own retirement, I should proceed to name any high officer, especially one who must be of the intimate councils of my successor, and who ought of course to be in his unreserved confidence. I think too it would make an honorable close of your term as well as mine, to leave our country in a state of substantial defence, which we found quite unprepared for it. Indeed, it would for me be a joyful annunciation to the next meeting of Congress, that the operations of defence are all compleat. I know that New York must be an exception; but perhaps even that may be closed before the 4th of March, when you & I might both make our bow with approbation & satisfaction. Nor should I suppose that under present circumstances, anything interesting in your future office could make it important for you to repair to it’s immediate occupation. In February my successor will be declared, and may then, without reserve, say whom he would wish me to nominate to the Senate in your place. I submit these circumstances to your consideration, & wishing in all things to consult your interests, your fame & feelings, it will give me sincere joy to learn that you will ‘watch with me to the end.’ I salute you with great affection and respect.
[1 ]From Collections of the N. Y. Historical Society for 1878, p. 256.
[1 ]The following letters from Jefferson to Monroe, relate to this “sore headedness” of the latter:
Washington, Mar. 10, ’08
—Such was the accumulation of business awaiting me here, that it was not till this day that I could take time to look into my letters to you. As my copies are with the Polygraph I can refer to the originals in your hands by the page and line.
Letter of Feb. 18. 1st paragraph to be omitted, being merely of private business.
Pa. 1. l. 22. Perhaps the word ‘old’ may be misunderstood, & therefore better omitted.
Mar. 10. Omit the 1st paragraph, as merely of private business.
Pa. 1. l. 13. Strike out ‘were I to take &c.’ to ‘in its justification that’ and insert ‘but.’ You will be readily sensible that this whole passage would have an unpleasant effect both to myself & others if published.
L. 21. Strike out ‘still however &c.’ to the end of the paragraph in p. 2. l. 14. for the reason preceding.
Apr. 11. pa. 1. l. 12. Strike out ‘I will state &c.’ to page 3 l. 22. ‘to wit’ inclusive, and insert ‘you observe.’
These details would be perverted & malignantly commented by our common enemies, and have bearings which render them improper for publication.
Pa. 5. Strike out the last paragraph respecting Lafayette’s affairs. Indeed the whole of these letters were written without the least idea that they would ever be before the public and therefore, after stating the preceding omissions, I would rather trust your judgment than my own in deciding whether there be anything more which had better be omitted whether as respects myself or others. To me it is desirable that the public should know the high estimation in which I hold both you and Mr. Madison, & that no circumstance has abated my affection for either. I salute you with sincere friendship & respect.
“I am aware &c.
“(For consideration) As the constitutionality will be much agitated, it is doubted whether a precise opinion on that or the legal process be eligible.”
Indorsed “Dept. of State recd Mar. 24 08 Message for Sites.”
[1 ]The following is the Jefferson draught alluded to above, together with the most important letters concerning the matter. The whole correspondence is given in Adams’s Writings of Gallatin:
March 30, 1808
A bill supplementary to the several Acts for laying an embargo on vessels, &c.
For vessels coming down rivers, &c.—Be it enacted, &c., that it shall not be lawful for any vessel laden with provisions or lumber to pass by or depart from any port of entry of the United States without examination and a special license from the collector of the customs of such port; nor shall any vessel be so laden on any part of the coasts or shores of the United States without the limits of any port of entry until previously examined by some person authorized by the nearest collector of the customs, and a special license from the said collector to be so laden, and to depart according to her lawful destination, on pain of incurring the same penalties and forfeitures as if the said lading had been exported contrary to the tenor of the Acts for laying on embargo, &c. And it shall be lawful for all officers of the revenue and of the armed vessels of the United States to bring to and examine all vessels suspected to be laden with provisions or lumber, and to have departed, or to be about to depart, without having obtained such license and on examination and probable grounds to seize and place the same under a due course of legal inquiry.
For Passamaquoddy and St. Mary’s, and the secret coves and inlets of the coast.—And be it further enacted, &c., that wheresoever, in any port or on the coasts or shores of the United States elsewhere, a collection of provisions or of lumber shall be made or making which is suspected to be intended for exportation contrary to the provisions of the said laws for laying an embargo, it shall be lawful for the collector of the same port, or of the nearest port, by any agent to be appointed by him, to have the same deposited, if provisions, in warehouses to be approved by him, and to be duly secured by lock, the key of which shall remain with such agent; or if lumber, then to be placed under a sufficient guard by day and night, the expense of which shall be paid by the owner of such lumber, or be levied by sale of a sufficient part thereof; and not to permit the said provisions or lumber to be removed but to such other places, and on such conditions, as shall in his judgment sufficiently guard their being exported contrary to the provisions of the said Acts. And the said collectors and agents shall in all cases within the purview of this Act be governed by such regulations as shall be prescribed by the Secretary of the Treasury, with the approbation of the President of the United States, in all matters of detail necessary for preventing the evasion of this law and for carrying the same into effectual execution.
TH. J. TO A. G.:
April 2, 1808
On the amendments of the embargo laws I am perfectly satisfied with whatever you have concluded on after consideration of the subject. My view was only to suggest for your consideration, having not at all made myself acquainted with the details of that law. I therefore return you your bill, and wish it to be proposed. I will this day nominate Elmer. The delegates of North Carolina expect daily to receive information on the subject of a marshal. Is the register’s office at New Orleans vacant? Claiborne says it is, and strongly recommends Robertson, the secretary. He will be found one of the most valuable men we have brought into the public service, for integrity, talents, and amiability. Affectionate salutations.
October 25, 1808
Would it not be well to have a bill ready for Congress on the defects which experience has developed in the embargo laws? Mandamus. The discretion of the collector expressly subjected to instructions from hence. To seize all suspected deposits. Bonds to be equal to what the cargoes would sell for in the highest foreign market, &c. Such other amendments as have occurred to you. The passing the law at their meeting would have a good effect in Europe, and would not pledge themselves to a continuance. Affectionate salutations.
[1 ]Daughter of Thomas Mann, and Martha (Jefferson) Randolph. She afterwards married Nicholas Phillips Trist.
[1 ]Jefferson later wrote to her:
Washington, Dec. 26, ’08
I congratulate you, my dear Cornelia, on having acquired the valuable art of writing. How delightful to be enabled by it to converse with an absent friend, as if present! To this we are indebted for all our reading; because it must be written before we can read it. To this we are indebted for the Iliad, the Ænead, the Columbiad, Henriad, Dunciad, and now for the most glorious poem of all, the Terrapiniad, which I now enclose to you. This sublime poem consigns to everlasting fame the greatest achievement in war ever known to ancient or modern times; in the battle of David and Goliath, the disparity between the combatants was nothing in comparison to our case. I rejoice that you have learnt to write, for another reason; for as that is done with a goose-quill, you now know the value of a goose and of course you will assist Ellen in taking care of the half-dozen very fine grey geese which I shall send by Davy. But as I do this, I must refer to your mamma to decide whether they will be safest at Edgehill or at Monticello till I return home, and to give orders accordingly. I received letters a few days ago from Mr. Bankhead and Anne. They are well. I had expected a visit from Jefferson at Christmas, had there been a sufficient intermission in his lectures. But I suppose there was not, as he is not come. Remember me affectionately to your papa and mamma, and kiss Ellen and all the children for me.
P.S. Since writing the above I have a letter from Mr. Peale informing me that Jefferson is well, and saying the best things of him.
[1 ]From a copy courteously furnished by Mr. John Boyd Thacher, of Albany, N. Y.
[1 ]On the subject of this mission, Jefferson wrote to the Secretary of the Treasury:
Monticello, Aug. 30, 08
—Mr. Madison & myself on repeated consultations, (and some of the other members of the executive expressed the same opinion before they left Washington,) have concluded that the mission to Petersburgh should not be delayed. Being special, and not permanent, the waiting the meeting of the Senate is less important &, if we waited that it could not go till spring, and we know not what this summer & the ensuing winter may produce. We think secrecy also important, & that the mission should be as little known as possible, till it is in Petersburgh, which could not be, if known to the Senate. Mr. Short goes therefore in the aviso from Philadelphia, to be engaged for Sept. 15. He is peculiarly distressed by sickness at sea, & of course more so the smaller the vessel. I think, therefore, the occasion justifies the enlargement of our vessel somewhat beyond what might be necessary for a mere aviso. The season, too, by the time of her return, might render it desirable for safety, which circumstance may be mentioned in your instructions to the collector, to prevent his suspicions of the real ground. I salute you with affection & respect.
[1 ]The following papers relate to this message:
Gallatin’s Draft of Message
Would it be improper, in order to repel some late false assertions, to state the precise time & vessel by which the instructions were sent? Adding that when that vessel left Europe ‘no change had yet taken place &c.’ The definitive answer to our proposition which is every day expected not having at that time been yet given. This would modify the disagreeable intelligence that no change had yet taken place, & without raising improper expectations state the real fact & therefore that a possibility still existed of a change.
(The arrival of the Hope was not known when this page was written. Still I wish the President to read it.)
First and second paragraphs. The conduct of the belligerent affords certainly the most just ground of complaint. Yet those two paragraphs strike me as being too much in a tone of complaint & despondency. If the President should, on reading them over, think the observation correct, it will be easy to make a few verbal alterations. But there are two additions at the end of the first & second paragraphs which would produce the effect I wish, & be in other respects useful.
1. When speaking of the advantages resulting from the embargo to add, the opportunity thereby given of demonstrating to foreign nations the fairness of our conduct, of placing our cause on irrefragable grounds of justice, and of thereby uniting the whole of our nation who must now be convinced of the sincerity of the efforts of the Executive & of the persevering injustice of the belligerent.
2. In speaking of the painful alternatives out of which Congress must choose, to add the confidence of the executive that the crisis, be it what it may, will be met with fortitude &c.
Third paragraph. I think this much too long, considering the degree of importance now attached to it by the nation. I would omit the opinion that the seamen will be restored.
Seventh paragraph. I would omit the sentence ‘as the additional expense to affect this would be very considerable, it will rest with Congress to decide on its being undertaken.’ For the fact is sufficiently evident without stating it; and under existing circumstances the sentence might be misrepresented as intended to prevent the adoption of the measure.
Tenth paragraph. The conclusion of this paragraph announces I fear more than has been performed. I would omit from ‘and force has imposed’ to the end of the paragraph.
Eleventh paragraph. This paragraph appears to me the most objectionable in the message. From the manner in which it is expressed it might be inferred as the President’s opinion, that a positive benefit is derived from the introduction of manufactures caused by the annihilation of commerce. I think the opinion, if it did exist, incorrect; but, be that as it may, its avowal, (for it will be construed as an avowal) will produce a pernicious effect & furnish a powerful weapon to the disaffected in the seaports & in all the eastern states. All that seems important to be communicated, and it is only in relation to the British govt. & nation that it is important, is that the situation in which we have been forced has compelled us to apply a portion of our industry & capital to manufactures, & that those establishments will be permanent for the reasons mentioned. But I would omit everything which looks like a contrast between commerce & manufactures, & exultation at the result. This result should, it seems to me, be given as consolation, & not as matter of congratulation in the abstract. Nor have we any data which would justify the supposition that the mass of our future wants will be supplied from among ourselves. The expressions which appear to me most objectionable are ‘The nation at large will derive sensible advantage from the conversion &c.’
‘the extent is far beyond expectation’—and ‘the mass of our future wants &c.’
‘& the produce of the agriculturist &c.’ to the end of the sentence, particularly the contrast with the necessity heretofore incurred ‘to traverse the ocean exposed to its dangers & to rapine’ which is little less than a denunciation of commerce.
Twelfth paragraph. The balance in the Treasury on 30th septr was about 13,600,000 dollars. But this great accumulation is due principally to our having redeemed but very little debt during the year; the great bulk of reimbursement falling for this calendar year on 31st Decr next, when we will have to pay near six millions, chiefly principal of the eight pr. cent stock. Those six millions must therefore be considered as a deduction from the balance in the Treasury; and as this is the last time that the President will address Congress on that subject, I would propose to include in the redemption of the debt what will be paid on 31 Decr. next. (stating it as such) presenting thereby in a single view the total amount of debt extinguished during the eight years of the President’s administration. For there will be no paiments on that account between the 1st January & the 4th March next. I will be able Tuesday or Wednesday next to prepare a financial paragraph to that effect and to fill the blanks in round numbers. The President may then either substitute it, or fill the blanks of the present one.
But it follows that we cannot draw from this apparent accumulations the inferences next following in the message. The words ‘if we are to have war’ do also state the case in words which have been avoided in other parts of the message: Nor do they state all the contingencies under which the application of all our funds will be obvious. For in case of the embargo being continued, we will have still less revenue & will therefore still more want the money in hand than in case of war. I would therefore submit the propriety of substituting, to that part of the message, in substance what follows. ‘The probable accumulation of the surpluses of revenue whenever the freedom & safety of our commerce shall be restored beyond what can be applied to the payment of the public debt merits the consideration of Congress. Shall it be unproductive? Shall the revenue be reduced? or shall it not &c.’
I would omit the words ‘and at hazard in the public vaults.’
When the subject of improvements was recommended two years ago by the President I prevailed on him to omit the idea of an apportionment amongst the several states. For the same reason I wish extremely that the words ‘Securing to each of them the employment of their proportionate share within their respective states.’ It may ultimately be necessary to insert such provision in the amendment in order to insure its success; but it is very desirable that it should be adopted without such restriction. A just apportionment will naturally result from the conflicting interests on the floor of Congress. But the strict rule in a constitutional provision would be very embarrassing & sometimes defeat the most important objects, because it often happens that an improvement is as useful or more useful to an adjacent state than to that through which it passes. Thus the Chesapeake & Delaware canal is almost altogether in the state of Delaware & does not touch Pennsylvania to which it is more useful than to any other state. According to the rule, its expense should be considered as the apportionment of Delaware; and Pennsylvania would receive her whole apportionment for other works, as if that was not done principally on her account. Indeed as Delaware is not 1/100 part of the union, if the part of the canal which passes through that state costs 600,000 dollars, it never could be done unless sixty millions of dollars were expended in the whole. I am clearly of opinion that without an amendment to the Constitution nothing efficient can be done; but in order to insure the execution of the great national communications, the application should if possible be left by the amendment to Congress unrestrained by special rules.
There are I think two omissions in the message.
1st. In the case of war or continued embargo, the revenue will be evidently insufficient to meet the expenses.
2. Although former recommendations have not been successful, I would again call the attention of Congress to improvement in the militia, that defence which events have now so clearly demonstrated to be the only one on which nations can rely with safety.
[1 ]Jefferson later wrote to Colonel Humphreys:
Washington, January 20, 1809
—I have to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of December 12th, and to return you my thanks for the cloth furnished me. It came in good time, and does honor to your manufactory, being as good as any one would wish to wear in any country. Amidst the pressure of evils with which the belligerent edicts have afflicted us, some permanent good will arise; the spring given to manufactures will have durable effects. Knowing most of my own State, I can affirm with confidence that were free intercourse opened again to-morrow, she would never again import one-half of the coarse goods which she has done down to the date of the edicts. These will be made in our families. For finer goods we must resort to the larger manufactories established in the towns. Some jealousy of this spirit of manufacture seems excited among commercial men. It would have been as just when we first began to make our own ploughs and hoes. They have certainly lost the profit of bringing these from a foreign country. My idea is that we should encourage home manufactures to the extent of our own consumption of everything of which we raise the raw material. I do not think it fair in the ship-owners to say we ought not to make our own axes, nails, &c., here, that they may have the benefit of carrying the iron to Europe, and bringing back the axes, nails, &c. Our agriculture will still afford surplus produce enough to employ a due proportion of navigation. Wishing every possible success to your undertaking, as well for your personal as the public benefit, I salute you with assurances of great esteem and respect.
[1 ]His grandson.