Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO PHILIP MAZZEI - The Works, vol. 11 (Correspondence and Papers 1808-1816)
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TO PHILIP MAZZEI - 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 PHILIP MAZZEI
Monticello, Dec. 29, 1813
The last letter I have received from you, my dear & antient friend, was of the 15th of Feb. 1811. That letter I answered two days after it’s receipt, to wit, July 9. 1811. Since which I have not heard from you. Such an interval excites anxieties to learn that you continue in health. My health remains good, a diminution of strength being the principal indication of advancing years.
Since our last letters we have been forced by England into the war which has been so long raging. Her Orders of council, which excluded us from the ocean, but on license and tribute to her, and took from us near 1000. vessels in a time of what she called peace, her impressment of between 6. and 7000 of our seamen, the proclamation of her Prince regent that they never would repeal the Orders of council as to us, until France should have repealed her illegal decrees as to all the world, and the declaration of her minister to ours that no admissible precaution against the impressment of our seamen by her officers, other than their discretion could be devised, obliged us at length to declare war. About the time of our declaration, she was forced by the distresses of her manufactures and commerce, to issue a Palinodial Proclamation repealing her orders. This was unknown to us at the time of our Declaration. But the war, being commenced, is now continued for the 2d cause the impressment of our seamen. Our 1st campaign of 1812 was unsuccessful through the treachery of the General who came first into contact with the enemy and betrayed to them his army, fort and the country around it. This was the parent of all the subsequent misfortunes of the campaign, altho’ immediately produced by the cowardice, carelessness or incompetence of other commanders; all new and untried men, all our officers of high grade in the revolutionary war, during 30. years of peace, having either died or become superannuated. Scott died lately, and Starke the only surviving one I recollect, is past service. On the part of the enemy, all their successes after the first which their money achieved, were obtained by the immense body of savages they engaged, and who under British direction, carried on the war in their usual way, massacring prisoners in cold blood & after capitulation, & tomahawking & scalping women and children on our frontiers.
In our 2d campaign, altho’ we have not done all to which our force was adequate, we have done much. We have taken possession of all Upper Canada, except the single post of Kingston, at its lower extremity. On the Ocean where our force consists only of a few frigates & smaller vessels, in 6. or 7. engagements of vessel to vessel of equal force, or very nearly so, we have captured their vessel in every instance but one. Three of their frigates have been taken by us, & one only of ours by them. In a remarkable action on Lake Erie between about 8. or 10. vessels of a side, large and small from ships down to gunboats, the greater number of guns and men being on their side, we took their whole squadron, not a vessel or a man escaping. On this state of things our 3d campaign will open. The President’s message at the meeting of the present session of Congress will give you a more detailed account of our proceedings. Knowing your affection for this country, & your anxieties for it’s welfare, I have thought this summary view of our war and it’s events would be acceptable. In the meantime the war has turned most of our commercial capital to manufactures. The rapidity of their growth is unexampled. We have already probably a million of spindles engaged in spinning cotton & wool, which will clothe sufficiently our 8. millions of people, & they are multiplying daily. We are getting the spinning machines into all our farm houses. I have near 100. spindles in operation for clothing our own family. The Merino sheep are spreading over the continent and thrive well. We make as good broad cloth now in our large manufacturies as the best English; and come peace when it may we shall return to them only for the finest & most exquisite manufactures. Indeed I consider the most fatal consequence of this war to England to be the transfer it has occasioned of her art in manufacturing into other countries. From this and her impending bankruptcy, future history will have to trace her decline and fall as a great power. Exertions beyond her strength, and expences beyond her means, as in the case of private individuals, have given her a short-lived blaze, which must sink her the sooner to her original level.
Now as to the remains of your affairs here. I have the happiness to inform you that I have at length been able to make sale of your house, and lot in Richmond for 6342 Dollars 21 cents, clear of expenses of sale, bearing an interest of 6. per cent from the 14th of July last. The close blockade of our ports by the enemy, a recent embargo by ourselves, and the consequent suspension of our commerce and intercourse with all nations would have rendered the remittance of the price impracticable, had I supposed it your wish. But the higher interest it bears with us, and a belief that your views are not entirely withdrawn from this country would have alone prevented my displacing it until your special orders. In the meantime the same obstructions to our commerce render it a convenience to retain it for a while in my own hands. It shall be placed on landed security so as to be entirely safe, and if you desire it, the interest shall be remitted to you annually and regularly, being of 380 dollars a year. The principal sum being so considerable, a proportionable time, must probably be allowed, say of one and two years, when it’s remittance is called for. Since the execution of the deed to the purchaser, in which Edmund Randolph joined me, he has died, having long been in a state which rendered it rather desirable for himself and his friends. Our friend T. Lomax had paid this debt to nature a year or two before. I recollect no other death interesting to you which has happened since the date of my last letter. Derieux and his wife are living. They move often from place to place to seek relief from their distresses. I believe they have 10. or 12. children. He is now bar-keeper to a tavern in Richmond, and she keeping a little school in Petersburg. He solicited me to mention him to you and that any crumbs from your property here would help him to subsist.
Let me hear from you as soon as you can, being anxious to know that you are well; and tendering to your family any services I can ever render them, with the assurances of my attachment and respect, accept for yourself those of my constant and affectionate friendship.
TO THOMAS LEIPER
Monticello, January 1, 1814
—I had hoped, when I retired from the business of the world, that I should have been permitted to pass the evening of life in tranquillity, undisturbed by the peltings and passions of which the public papers are the vehicles. I see, however, that I have been dragged into the newspapers by the infidelity of one with whom I was formerly intimate, but who has abandoned the American principles out of which that intimacy grew, and become the bigoted partisan of England, and malcontent of his own government. In a letter which he wrote to me, he earnestly besought me to avail our country of the good understanding which existed between the executive and myself, by recommending an offer of such terms to our enemy as might produce a peace, towards which he was confident that enemy was disposed. In my answer, I stated the aggressions, the insults and injuries, which England had been heaping on us for years, our long forbearance in the hope she might be led by time and reflection to a sounder view of her own interests, and of their connection with justice to us, the repeated propositions for accommodation made by us and rejected by her, and at length her Prince Regent’s solemn proclamation to the world that he would never repeal the orders in council as to us, until France should have revoked her illegal decrees as to all the world, and her minister’s declaration to ours, that no admissable precaution against the impressment of our seamen, could be proposed: that the unavoidable declaration of war which followed these was accompanied by advances for peace, on terms which no American could dispense with, made through various channels, and unnoticed and unanswered through any; but that if he could suggest any other conditions which we ought to accept, and which had not been repeatedly offered and rejected, I was ready to be the channel of their conveyance to the government; and, to show him that neither that attachment to Bonaparte nor French influence, which they allege eternally without believing it themselves, affected my mind, I threw in the two little sentences of the printed extract enclosed in your friendly favor of the 9th ultimo, and exactly these two little sentences, from a letter of two or three pages, he has thought proper to publish, naked, alone, and with my name, although other parts of the letter would have shown that I wished such limits only to the successes of Bonaparte, as should not prevent his completely closing Europe against British manufactures and commerce; and thereby reducing her to just terms of peace with us.
Thus am I situated. I receive letters from all quarters, some from known friends, some from those who write like friends, on various subjects. What am I to do? Am I to button myself up in Jesuitical reserve, rudely declining any answer, or answering in terms so unmeaning as only to prove my distrust? Must I withdraw myself from all interchange of sentiment with the world? I cannot do this. It is at war with my habits and temper. I cannot act as if all men were unfaithful because some are so; nor believe that all will betray me, because some do. I had rather be the victim of occasional infidelities, than relinquish my general confidence in the honesty of man.
So far as to the breach of confidence which has brought me into the newspapers, with a view to embroil me with my friends, by a supposed separation in opinion and principle from them. But it is impossible that there can be any difference of opinion among us on the two propositions contained in these two little sentences, when explained, as they were explained in the context from which they were insulated. That Bonaparte is an unprincipled tyrant, who is deluging the continent of Europe with blood, there is not a human being, not even the wife of his bosom, who does not see: nor can there, I think, be a doubt as to the line we ought to wish drawn between his successes and those of Alexander. Surely none of us wish to see Bonaparte conquer Russia, and lay thus at his feet the whole continent of Europe. This done, England would be but a breakfast; and, although I am free from the visionary fears which the votaries of England have affected to entertain, because I believe he cannot effect the conquest of Europe; yet put all Europe into his hands, and he might spare such a force to be sent in British ships, as I would as leave not have to encounter, when I see how much trouble a handful of British soldiers in Canada has given us. No. It cannot be to our interest that all Europe should be reduced to a single monarchy. The true line of interest for us, is, that Bonaparte should be able to effect the complete exclusion of England from the whole continent of Europe, in order, as the same letter said, “by this peaceable engine of constraint, to make her renounce her views of dominion over the ocean, of permitting no other nation to navigate it but with her license, and on tribute to her, and her aggressions on the persons of our citizens who may choose to exercise their right of passing over that element.” And this would be effected by Bonaparte’s succeeding so far as to close the Baltic against her. This success I wished him the last year, this I wish him this year; but were he again advanced to Moscow, I should again wish him such disasters as would prevent his reaching Petersburg. And were the consequences even to be the longer continuance of our war, I would rather meet them than see the whole force of Europe wielded by a single hand.
I have gone into this explanation, my friend, because I know you will not carry my letter to the newspapers, and because I am willing to trust to your discretion the explaining me to our honest fellow laborers, and the bringing them to pause and reflect, if any of them have not sufficiently reflected on the extent of the success we ought to wish to Bonaparte, with a view to our own interests only; and even were we not men, to whom nothing human should be indifferent. But is our particular interest to make us insensible to all sentiments of morality? Is it then become criminal, the moral wish that the torrents of blood this man is shedding in Europe, the sufferings of so many human beings, good as ourselves, on whose necks he is trampling, the burnings of ancient cities, devastations of great countries, the destruction of law and order, and demoralization of the world, should be arrested, even if it should place our peace a little further distant? No. You and I cannot differ in wishing that Russia, and Sweden, and Denmark, and Germany, and Spain, and Portugal, and Italy, and even England, may retain their independence. And if we differ in our opinions about Towers and his four beasts and ten kingdoms, we differ as friends, indulging mutual errors, and doing justice to mutual sincerity and honesty. In this spirit of sincere confidence and affection, I pray God to bless you here and hereafter.