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TO HORATIO GATES SPAFFORD - 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 HORATIO GATES SPAFFORD
Monticello Jan. 10. 16
—Of the last 5 months 4 have been passed at my distant possession, to which no letters are carried to me, because the crosspost is too circuitous and unsafe to be trusted. On my return I find an immense accummulation of them calling for answers, & among these your favor of the 25th ult. In this you request me to examine the MS. tract it covered, to suggest amendments or alterations, give my remarks & opinion of the propriety of the sentiments, point out improvements, and say whether it should be published now. From this undertaking, my good sir, I must pray you to excuse me. In the first place I really have not the time to spare. My other occupations are incessant and indispensable. Within doors and without, there is something ever pressing, insomuch that I have not a moment to read the papers of the day, and if to read anything else it must be in hours stolen from those of sleep. In the next place I have made it a point not to meddle with the writings of others. It is unpleasant to one’s self, and generally injurious to the composition reviewed. The train in which a man commits his own thoughts to paper has in it generally a certain method and order. If this be altered, interrupted, chequered by the ideas of another, the composition becomes a medley of different views on the same subject, incoherent & deformed. So few are my spare moments that I have not been able even to read it through: because the MS. is in a handwriting extremely difficult to me; and I shall read it with more pleasure, and more understanding in print. I concur with you in it’s design; and as far as I have penetrated, I find the matter good and am sure it will be useful. I hope therefore to see it in your next magazine to be followed by many others having the same object.
[You judge truly that I am not afraid of the priests. They have tried upon me all their various batteries, of pious whining, hypocritical canting, lying & slandering, without being able to give me one moment of pain. I have contemplated their order from the Magi of the East to the Saints of the West, and I have found no difference of character, but of more or less caution, in proportion to their information or ignorance of those on whom their interested duperies were to be plaid off. Their sway in New England is indeed formidable. No mind beyond mediocrity dares there to develope itself. If it does, they excite against it the public opinion which they command, & by little, but incessant and teasing persecutions, drive it from among them. Their present emigrations to the Western country are real flights from persecution, religious & political, but the abandonment of the country by those who wish to enjoy freedom of opinion leaves the despotism over the residue more intense, more oppressive. They are now looking to the flesh pots of the South and aiming at foothold there by their missionary teachers. They have lately come forward boldly with their plan to establish “a qualified religious instructor over every thousand souls in the US.” And they seem to consider none as qualified but their own sect. Thus, in Virginia, they say there are but 60, qualified, and that 914 are still wanting of the full quota. All besides the 60, are “mere nominal ministers unacquainted with theology.” Now the 60. they allude to are exactly in the string of counties at the Western foot of the Blue ridge, settled originally by Irish presbyterians, and composing precisely the tory district of the state. There indeed is found in full vigor the hypocrisy, the despotism, and anti-civism of the New England qualified religious instructors. The country below the mountains, inhabited by Episcopalians, Methodists & Baptists (under mere nominal ministers unacquainted with theology) are pronounced “destitute of the means of grace, and as sitting in darkness and under the shadow of death.” They are quite in despair too at the insufficient means of New England to fill this fearful void, “with Evangelical light, with catechetical instructions, weekly lectures, & family visiting.” That Yale cannot furnish above 80. graduates annually, and Harvard perhaps not more. That there must therefore be an immediate, universal, vigorous & systematic effort made to evangelize the nation. To see that there is a bible for every family, a school for every district, and a qualified (i. e. Presbyterian) “pastor for every thousand souls; that newspapers, tracts, magazines must be employed; the press be made to groan, & every pulpit in the land to sound it’s trumpet long and loud. A more homogeneous” (I.E. New England) “character must be produced thro’ the nation.” That section then of our union having lost it’s political influence by disloyalty to it’s country is now to recover it under the mask of religion. It is to send among us their Gardiners, their Osgoods, their Parishes & Pearsons, as apostles to teach us their orthodoxy. This is the outline of the plan as published by Messrs. Beecher, Pearson & Co. It has uttered however one truth. “That the nation must be awaked to save itself by it’s own exertions, or we are undone.” And I trust that this publication will do not a little to awaken it; and that in aid of it newspapers, tracts and magazines must sound the trumpet. Yours I hope will make itself heard, and the louder as yours is the nearest house in the course of conflagration.]1
I have not sent your tract to the President as you requested, fearing that if any further delay be added to that already incurred, it will be too late for your purpose of inserting it in the January magazine.
From contest of every kind I withdraw myself entirely. I have served my hour, and a long one it has been. Tranquility is the object of my remaining years, and I leave to more vigorous bodies & minds the service which has rightfully, & in succession devolved on them. Accept the assurances of my great respect and esteem.
[1 ]Jefferson omitted the paragraph which he bracketed as above, but he sent a transcript of it to Thomas Ritchie, editor of the Richmond Enquirer, with the following letter:
Monticello, January 21, 1816
—In answering the letter of a northern correspondent lately, I indulged in a tirade against a pamphlet recently published in this quarter. On revising my letter, however, I thought it unsafe to commit myself so far to a stranger. I struck out the passage therefore, yet I think the pamphlet of such a character as not to be unknown, or unnoticed by the people of the United States. It is the most bold and impudent stride New England has ever made in arrogating an ascendency over the rest of the Union. The first form of the pamphlet was an address from the Reverend Lyman Beecher, chairman of the Connecticut Society for the education of pious young men for the ministry. Its matter was then adopted and published in a sermon by Reverend Mr. Pearson of Andover in Massachusetts, where they have a theological college; and where the address ‘with circumstantial variations to adapt it to more general use’ is reprinted on a sheet and a half of paper, in so cheap a form as to be distributed, I imagine, gratis, for it has a final note indicating six thousand copies of the first edition printed. So far as it respects Virginia, the extract of my letter gives the outline. I therefore send it to you to publish or burn, abridge or alter, as you think best. You understand the public palate better than I do. Only give it such a title as may lead to no suspicion from whom you receive it. I am the more induced to offer it to you because it is possible mine may be the only copy in the State, and because, too, it may be à propos for the petition for the establishment of a theological society now before the legislature, and to which they have shown the unusual respect of hearing an advocate for it at their bar. From what quarter this theological society comes forward I know not; perhaps from our own tramontaine clergy, of New England religion and politics; perhaps it is the entering wedge from its theological sister in Andover, for the body of ‘qualified religious instructors’ proposed by their pious brethren of the East ‘to evangelize and catechize,’ to edify our daughters by weekly lectures, and our wives by ‘family visits’ from these pious young monks from Harvard and Yale. However, do with this what you please, and be assured of my friendship and respect.