Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO CLEMENT CAINE - The Works, vol. 11 (Correspondence and Papers 1808-1816)
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TO CLEMENT CAINE - 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 CLEMENT CAINE
Monticello, September 16, 1811
—Your favor of April 2d was not received till the 23d of June last, with the volume accompanying it, for which be pleased to accept my thanks. I have read it with great satisfaction, and received from it information, the more acceptable as coming from a source which could be relied on. The retort on European censors, of their own practices on the liberties of man, the inculcation on the master of the moral duties which he owes to the slave, in return for the benefit of his service, that is to say, of food clothing, care in sickness, and maintenance under age and disability, so as to make him in fact as comfortable and more secure than the laboring man in most parts of the world; and the idea suggested of substituting free whites in all household occupations and manual arts, thus lessening the call for the other kind of labor, while it would increase the public security, give great merit to the work, and will, I have no doubt, produce wholesome impressions. The habitual violation of the equal rights of the colonist by the dominant (for I will not call them the mother) countries of Europe, the invariable sacrifice of their higher interests to the minor advantages of any individual trade or calling at home, are as immoral in principle as the continuance of them is unwise in practice, after the lessons they have received. What in short, is the whole system of Europe towards America but an atrocious and insulting tyranny? One hemisphere of the earth, separated from the other by wide seas on both sides, having a different system of interests flowing from different climates, different soils, different productions, different modes of existence, and its own local relations and duties, is made subservient to all the petty interests of the other, to their laws, their regulations, their passions and wars, and interdicted from social intercourse, from the interchange of mutual duties and comforts with their neighbors, enjoined on all men by the laws of nature. Happily these abuses of human rights are drawing to a close on both our continents, and are not likely to survive the present mad contest of the lions and tigers of the other. Nor does it seem certain that the insular colonies will not soon have to take care of themselves, and to enter into the general system of independence and free intercourse with their neighboring and natural friends. The acknowledged depreciation of the paper circulation of England, with the known laws of its rapid progression to bankruptcy, will leave that nation shortly without revenue, and without the means of supporting the naval power necessary to maintain dominion over the rights and interests of different nations. The intention too, which they now formally avow, of taking possession of the ocean as their exclusive domain, and of suffering no commerce on it but through their ports, makes it the interest of all mankind to contribute their efforts to bring such usurpations to an end. We have hitherto been able to avoid professed war, and to continue to our industry a more salutary direction. But the determination to take all our vessels bound to any other than her ports, amounting to all the war she can make (for we fear no invasion), it would be folly in us to let that war be all on one side only, and to make no effort towards indemnification and retaliation by reprisal. That a contest thus forced on us by a nation a thousand leagues from us both, should place your country and mine in relations of hostility, who have not a single motive or interest but of mutual friendship and interchange of comforts, shows the monstrous character of the system under which we live. But however, in the event of war, greedy individuals on both sides, availing themselves of its laws, may commit depredations on each other, I trust that our quiet inhabitants, conscious that no cause exists but for neighborly good will, and the furtherance of common interests, will feel only those brotherly affections which nature has ordained to be those of our situation.
A letter of thanks for a good book has thus run away from its subject into fields of speculation into which discretion perhaps should have forbidden me to enter, and for which an apology is due. I trust that the reflections I hazard will be considered as no more than what they really are, those of a private individual, withdrawn from the councils of his country, uncommunicating with them, and responsible alone for any errors of fact or opinion expressed; as the reveries, in short, of an old man, who, looking beyond the present day, looks into times not his own, and as evidences of confidence in the liberal mind of the person to whom they are so freely addressed. Permit me, however, to add to them my best wishes for his personal happiness, and assurances of the highest consideration and respect.
TO JAMES MONROE
Monticello, January 11, 1812
—I thank you for your letter of the 6th. It is a proof of your friendship, and of the sincere interest you take in whatever concerns me. Of this I have never had a moment’s doubt, and have ever valued it as a precious treasure. The question indeed whether I knew or approved of General Wilkinson’s endeavors to prevent the restoration of the right of deposit at New Orleans, could never require a second of time to answer. But it requires some time for the mind to recover from the astonishment excited by the boldness of the suggestion. Indeed, it is with difficulty I can believe he has really made such an appeal; and the rather as the expression in your letter is that you have “casually heard it,” without stating the degree of reliance which you have in the source of information. I think his understanding is above an expedient so momentary and so finally overwhelming. Were Dearborne and myself dead, it might find credit with some. But the world at large, even then, would weigh for themselves the dilemma, whether it was more probable that, in the situation I then was, clothed with the confidence and power of my country, I should descend to so unmeaning an act of treason, or that he in the wreck now threatening him, should wildly lay hold of any plank. They would weigh his motives and views against those of Dearborne and myself, the tenor of his life against that of ours, his Spanish mysteries against my open cherishment of the Western interests; and, living as we are, and ready to purge ourselves by any ordeal, they must now weigh, in addition, our testimony against his. All this makes me believe he will never seek this refuge. I have ever and carefully restrained myself from the expression of any opinion respecting General Wilkinson, except in the case of Burr’s conspiracy, wherein, after he had got over his first agitations, we believed his decision firm, and his conduct zealous for the defeat of the conspiracy, and although injudicious, yet meriting, from sound intentions, the support of the nation. As to the rest of his life, I have left it to his friends and his enemies, to whom it furnishes matter enough for disputation. I classed myself with neither, and least of all in this time of his distresses, should I be disposed to add to their pressure. I hope, therefore, he has not been so imprudent as to write our names in the pannel of his witnesses.
Accept the assurances of my constant affections.