Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO SAMUEL H. SMITH - The Works, vol. 12 (Correspondence and Papers 1816-1826)
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TO SAMUEL H. SMITH - Thomas Jefferson, The Works, vol. 12 (Correspondence and Papers 1816-1826) 
The Works of Thomas Jefferson, Federal Edition (New York and London, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904-5). Vol. 12.
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TO SAMUEL H. SMITH
Monticello Aug. 2. 23
—I agree with you in all the definitions of your favor of July 22. of the qualificns necessary for the chair of the US. and I add another. He ought to be disposed rigorously to maintain the line of power marked by the constitution between the two co-ordinate governments, each sovereign & independent in it’s department, the states as to everything relating to themselves and their state, the General government as to everything relating to things or persons out of a particular state. The one may be strictly called the Domestic branch of government which is sectional but sovereign, the other the foreign branch of government co-ordinate with the other domestic & equally sovereign on it’s own side of the line. The federalists, baffled in their schemes to monarchise us, have given up their name, which the Hartford Convention had made odious, and have taken shelter among us and under our name. But they have not only changed the point of attack. On every question of the usurpation of State powers by the Foreign or Genl govmt, the same men rally together, force the line of demarcation and consolidate the government. The judges are at their head as heretofore, and are their entering wedge. The true old republicans stand to the line, and will I hope die on it if necessary. Let our next president be aware of this new party principle and firm in maintaining the constitutional line of demarcation. But agreeing in your principles, I am not sufficiently acquainted with the numerous candidates to apply them personally. With one I have had a long acquaintance, but little intimate because little in political unison. With another a short but more favorable acquaintance because always in unison. With others merely a personal recognition. Thus unqualified to judge, I am equally indisposed in my state of retirement, at my age and last stage of debility. I ought not to quit the port in which I am quietly moored to commit myself again to the stormy ocean of political or party contest, to kindle new enmities, and lose old friends. No, my dear sir, tranquility is the summum bonum of old age, and there is a time when it is a duty to leave the government of the world to the existing generation, and to repose one’s self under their protecting hand. That time is come with me, and I welcome it. A recent illness from which I am just recovered obliges me to borrow the pen of a granddaughter to say these things to you, to assure you of my continued esteem and respect, and to request you to recall me to the friendly recollections of Mrs. Smith.1
[1 ]Of this letter, Jefferson later wrote to Smith:
Monto Dec. 19. 23
Do not for the world, my dear Sir, suffer my letter of Aug. 2. to get before the public, nor to go out of your own hands or to be copied. I am always averse to the publication of my letters because I wish to be at rest, retired & unnoticed. But most especially this letter. I never meant to meddle in a Presidential election, and in a letter to a person in N. Y. written after the date of the one to you I declared that I would take no part in the ensuing one and permitted him to publish the letter. A thousand improprieties, indelicacies & considns of friendship strongly felt by myself, forbid it. I am glad you did not name to me those to whom you had thought to give a copy, because not knowing who they are my unwillingness cannot be felt by any as proceeding from a want of personal confidence, but truly from the motives above stated. I hope the choice will fall on some real republican, who will continue the admn on the express principles of the constn unadulterated by constructions reducing it to a blank to be filled with what every one pleases and what never was intended. With this I shall be contented. Accept for yourself & Mrs. Smith the assurances of my affectionate esteem & respect.