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TO WILSON CARY NICHOLAS - 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 WILSON CARY NICHOLAS
Monticello, June 13, 1809
—I did not know till Mr. Patterson called on us, a few days ago, that you had passed on to Washington. I had recently observed in the debates of Congress, a matter introduced, on which I wished to give explanations more fully in conversation, which I will now do by abridgement in writing. Mr. Randolph has proposed an inquiry into certain prosecutions at common law in Connecticut, for libels on the government, and not only himself but others have stated them with such affected caution, and such hints at the same time, as to leave on every mind the impression that they had been instituted either by my direction, or with my acquiescence, at least. This has not been denied by my friends, because probably the fact is unknown to them. I shall state it for their satisfaction, and leave it to be disposed of as they think best.
I had observed in a newspaper, (some years ago, I do not recollect the time exactly,) some dark hints of a prosecution in Connecticut, but so obscurely hinted that I paid little attention to it. Some considerable time after, it was again mentioned, so that I understood that some prosecution was going on in the federal court there, for calumnies uttered from the pulpit against me by a clergyman. I immediately wrote to Mr. Granger, who, I think, was in Connecticut at the time, stating that I had laid it down as a law to myself, to take no notice of the thousand calumnies issued against me, but to trust my character to my own conduct, and the good sense and candor of my fellow citizens; that I had found no reason to be dissatisfied with that course, and I was unwilling it should be broke through by others as to any matter concerning me; and I therefore requested him to desire the district attorney to dismiss the prosecution. Some time after this, I heard of subpœnas being served on General Lee, David M. Randolph, and others, as witnesses to attend the trial. I then for the first time conjectured the subject of the libel. I immediately wrote to Mr. Granger, to require an immediate dismission of the prosecution. The answer of Mr. Huntington, the district attorney, was, that these subpœnas had been issued by the defendant without his knowledge, that it had been his intention to dismiss all the prosecutions at the first meeting of the court, and to accompany it with an avowal of his opinion, that they could not be maintained, because the federal court had no jurisdiction over libels. This was accordingly done. I did not till then know that there were other prosecutions of the same nature, nor do I now know what were their subjects. But all went off together; and I afterwards saw in the hands of Mr. Granger, a letter written by the clergyman, disavowing any personal ill will towards me, and solemnly declaring he had never uttered the words charged. I think Mr. Granger either showed me, or said there were affidavits of at least half a dozen respectable men, who were present at the sermon and swore no such expressions were uttered, and as many equally respectable who swore the contrary. But the clergyman expressed his gratification at the dismission of the prosecution. I write all this from memory, and after too long an interval of time to be certain of the exactness of all the details; but I am sure there is no variation material, and Mr. Granger, correcting small lapses of memory, can confirm everything substantial. Certain it is, that the prosecution had been instituted, and had made considerable progress, without my knowledge, that they were disapproved by me as soon as known, and directed to be discontinued. The attorney did it on the same ground on which I had acted myself in the cases of Duane, Callendar, and others; to wit, that the sedition law was unconstitutional and null, and that my obligation to execute what was law, involved that of not suffering rights secured by valid laws, to be prostrated by what was no law. I always understood that these prosecutions had been invited, if not instituted, by Judge Edwards, and the marshal being republican, had summoned a grand jury partly or wholly republican; but that Mr. Huntington declared from the beginning against the jurisdiction of the court, and had determined to enter nolle prosequis before he received my directions.
I trouble you with another subject. The law making my letters post free, goes to those to me only, not those from me. The bill had got to its passage before this was observed (and first I believe by Mr. Dana), and the House under too much pressure of business near the close of the session to bring in another bill. As the privilege of freedom was given to the letters from as well as to both my predecessors, I suppose no reason exists for making a distinction. And in so extensive a correspondence as I am subject to, and still considerably on public matters, it would be a sensible convenience to myself, as well as those who have occasion to receive letters from me. It happens too, as I was told at the time, (for I have never looked into it myself,) that it was done by two distinct acts on both the former occasions. Mr. Eppes, I think, mentioned this to me. I know from the Post Master General, that Mr. Adams franks all his letters. I state this matter to you as being my representative, which must apologize for the trouble of it. We have been seasonable since you left us. Yesterday evening and this morning we have had refreshing showers, which will close and confirm the business of planting. Affectionately yours.