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TO JAMES MONROE - 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 JAMES MONROE
Monticello Dec. 15. 24
—I have examined my letter of Jan. 13. 1803. as well as the indistinct copy given by the copying press permits. In some parts it is illegible. The publication of the whole of the 1st paragraph would merit very serious considn as respects myself. Written when party passions and contests were at their greatest height, and expressing freely to you, with whom I had no reserve, my opinion of the views of the other party, which were all but treasonable, they would kindle embers long seeming to be extinguished. And altho’ at that time the views stated were known to be true, and not doubted at this moment, yet promulgated now, they would seem very harsh, and renew personal enmities and hatreds which time seems to have quieted. Yet I am perfectly willing that such parts as would be useful to you, without committing me to new persecutions should be made publick. With this view I have revised the paragraph, suppressed passages which would be offensive, modified here and there an expression, and now inclose you the form in which I should consent to it’s publcn. Your letter by Mr. Ticknor & Mr. Webster has been duly recd. With the former I had had acquaintance and correspondence of long standing; and I am much gratified by the acquaintance made with the latter.1 He is likely to become of great weight in our govmt.
TO WILLIAM SHORT
Monticello, January 8, 1825
—I returned the first volume of Hall by a mail of a week ago, and by this, shall return the second. We have kept them long, but every member of the family wished to read his book, in which case, you know, it had a long gauntlet to run. It is impossible to read thoroughly such writings as those of Harper and Otis, who take a page to say what requires but a sentence, or rather, who give you whole pages of what is nothing to the purpose. A cursory race over the ground is as much as they can claim. It is easy for them, at this day, to endeavor to whitewash their party, when the greater part are dead of those who witnessed what passed, others old and become indifferent to the subject, and others indisposed to take the trouble of answering them. As to Otis, his attempt is to prove that the sun does not shine at mid-day; that that is not a fact which every one saw. He merits no notice. It is well known that Harper had little scruple about facts where detection was not obvious. By placing in false lights whatever admits it, and passing over in silence what does not, a plausible aspect may be presented of anything. He takes great pains to prove, for instance, that Hamilton was no monarchist, by exaggerating his own intimacy with him, and the impossibility, if he was so, that he should not, at some time, have betrayed it to him. This may pass with uninformed readers, but not with those who have had it from Hamilton’s own mouth. I am one of those, and but one of many. At my own table, in presence of Mr. Adams, Knox, Randolph, and myself, in a dispute between Mr. Adams and himself, he avowed his preference of monarchy over every other government, and his opinion that the English was the most perfect model of government ever devised by the wit of man, Mr. Adams agreeing “if its corruptions were done away.” While Hamilton insisted that “with these corruptions it was perfect, and without them it would be an impracticable government.” Can any one read Mr. Adams’ defence of the American constitutions without seeing that he was a monarchist? And J. Q. Adams, the son, was more explicit than the father, in his answer to Paine’s rights of man. So much for leaders. Their followers were divided. Some went the same lengths, others, and I believe the greater part, only wished a stronger Executive. When I arrived at New York in 1790, to take a part in the administration, being fresh from the French revolution, while in its first and pure stage, and consequently somewhat whetted up in my own republican principles, I found a state of things, in the general society of the place, which I could not have supposed possible. Being a stranger there, I was feasted from table to table, at large set dinners, the parties generally from twenty to thirty. The revolution I had left, and that we had just gone through in the recent change of our own government, being the common topics of conversation, I was astonished to find the general prevalence of monarchical sentiments, insomuch that in maintaining those of republicanism, I had always the whole company on my hands, never scarcely finding among them a single co-advocate in that argument, unless some old member of Congress happened to be present. The furthest that any one would go, in support of the republican features of our new government, would be to say, “the present constitution is well as a beginning, and may be allowed a fair trial; but it is, in fact, only a stepping stone to something better.” Among their writers, Denny, the editor of the Portfolio, who was a kind of oracle with them, and styled the Addison of America, openly avowed his preference of monarchy over all other forms of government, prided himself on the avowal, and maintained it by argument freely and without reserve, in his publications. I do not, myself, know that the Essex junto of Boston were monarchists, but I have always heard it so said, and never doubted.
These, my dear Sir, are but detached items from a great mass of proofs then fully before the public. They are unknown to you, because you were absent in Europe, and they are now disavowed by the party. But, had it not been for the firm and determined stand then made by a counter-party, no man can say what our government would have been at this day. Monarchy, to be sure, is now defeated, and they wish it should be forgotten that it was ever advocated. They see that it is desperate, and treat its imputation to them as a calumny; and I verily believe that none of them have it now in direct aim. Yet the spirit is not done away. The same party takes now what they deem the next best ground, the consolidation of the government; the giving to the federal member of the government, by unlimited constructions of the constitution, a control over all the functions of the States, and the concentration of all power ultimately at Washington.
The true history of that conflict of parties will never be in possession of the public, until, by the death of the actors in it, the hoards of their letters shall be broken up and given to the world. I should not fear to appeal to those of Harper himself, if he has kept copies of them, for abundant proof that he was himself a monarchist. I shall not live to see these unrevealed proofs, nor probably you; for time will be requisite. But time will, in the end, produce the truth. And, after all, it is but a truth which exists in every country, where not suppressed by the rod of despotism. Men, according to their constitutions, and the circumstances in which they are placed, differ honestly in opinion. Some are whigs, liberals, democrats, call them what you please. Others are tories, serviles, aristocrats, &c. The latter fear the people, and wish to transfer all power to the higher classes of society; the former consider the people as the safest depository of power in the last resort; they cherish them therefore, and wish to leave in them all the powers to the exercise of which they are competent. This is the division of sentiment now existing in the United States. It is the common division of whig and tory, or according to our denominations of republican and federal; and is the most salutary of all divisions, and ought, therefore, to be fostered, instead of being amalgamated. For, take away this, and some more dangerous principle of division will take its place. But there is really no amalgamation. The parties exist now as heretofore. The one, indeed, has thrown off its old name, and has not yet assumed a new one, although obviously consolidationists. And among those in the offices of every denomination I believe it to be a bare minority.
I have gone into these facts to show how onesided a view of this case Harper has presented. I do not recall these recollections with pleasure, but rather wish to forget them, nor did I ever permit them to affect social intercourse. And now, least of all, am disposed to do so. Peace and good will with all mankind is my sincere wish. I willingly leave to the present generation to conduct their affairs as they please. And in my general affection to the whole human family, and my particular devotion to my friends, be assured of the high and special estimation in which yourself is cordially held.
[1 ]In the Private Correspondence of Daniel Webster (i., 364) is “a memorandum” by Webster descriptive of this visit, with a picture of Jefferson’s daily life and personal appearance. Following this are “anecdotes from Mr. Jefferson’s conversation,” which are here appended: Patrick Henry was originally a bar-keeper. He was married very young, and going into some business, on his own account, was a bankrupt before the year was out. When I was about the age of fifteen, I left the school here, to go to the college at Williamsburgh. I stopped a few days at a friend’s in the county of Louisa. There I first saw and became acquainted with Patrick Henry. Having spent the Christmas holidays there, I proceeded to Williamsburgh. Some question arose about my admission, as my preparatory studies had not been pursued at the school connected with that institution. This delayed my admission about a fortnight, at which time Henry appeared in Williamsburgh, and applied for a license to practise law, having commenced the study of it at or subsequently to the time of my meeting him in Louisa. There were four examiners, Wythe, Pendleton, Peyton Randolph, and John Randolph; Wythe and Pendleton at once rejected his application. The two Randolphs, by his importunity, were prevailed upon to sign the license; and having obtained their signatures, he applied again to Pendleton, and after much entreaty and many promises of future study, succeeded in obtaining his. He then turned out for a practising lawyer. The first case which brought him into notice, was a contested election, in which he appeared as counsel before a committee of the House of Burgesses. His second was the Parsons cause, already well known. These and similar efforts soon obtained for him so much reputation, that he was elected a member of the legislature. He was as well suited to the times as any man ever was, and it is not now easy to say what we should have done without Patrick Henry. He was far before all in maintaining the spirit of the Revolution. His influence was most extensive with the members from the upper counties, and his boldness and their votes overawed and controlled the more cool or the more timid aristocratic gentlemen of the lower part of the State. His eloquence was peculiar, if indeed it should be called eloquence; for it was impressive and sublime, beyond what can be imagined. Although it was difficult when he had spoken to tell what he had said, yet, while he was speaking, it always seemed directly to the point. When he had spoken in opposition to my opinion, had produced a great effect, and I myself been highly delighted and moved, I have asked myself when he ceased: ‘What the d—l has he said?’ I could never answer the inquiry. His person was of full size, and his manner and voice free and manly. His utterance neither very fast nor very slow. His speeches generally short, from a quarter to a half an hour. His pronunciation was vulgar and vicious, but it was forgotten while he was speaking. He was a man of very little knowledge of any sort; he read nothing, and had no books. Returning one November from Albemarle court, be borrowed of me Hume’s Essays, in two volumes, saying he should have leisure in the winter for reading. In the spring he returned them, and declared he had not been able to go further than twenty or thirty pages in the first volume. He wrote almost nothing—he could not write. The resolutions of ’75, which have been ascribed to him, have by many been supposed to have been written by Mr. Johnson, who acted as his second on that occasion; but if they were written by Henry himself, they are not such as to prove any power of composition. Neither in politics nor in his profession was he a man of business; he was a man for debate only. His biographer says that he read Plutarch every year. I doubt whether he ever read a volume of it in his life. His temper was excellent, and he generally observed decorum in debate. On one or two occasions I have seen him angry, and his anger was terrible; those who witnessed it, were not disposed to rouse it again. In his opinions he was yielding and practicable and not disposed to differ from his friends. In private conversation, he was agreeable and facetious, and, while in genteel society, appeared to understand all the decencies and proprieties of it; but, in his heart, he preferred low society, and sought it as often as possible. He would hunt in the pine woods of Fluvannah, with overseers, and people of that description, living in a camp for a fortnight at a time without a change of raiment. I have often been astonished at his command of proper language; how he attained the knowledge of it, I never could find out, as he read so little and conversed little with educated men. After all, it must be allowed that he was our leader in the measures of the Revolution, in Virginia. In that respect more was due to him than any other person. If we had not had him we should probably have got on pretty well, as you did, by a number of men of nearly equal talents, but he left us all far behind. His biographer sent the sheets of his work to me as they were printed, and at the end asked my opinion. I told him it would be a question hereafter, whether his work should be placed on the shelf of history or of panegyric. It is a poor book written in bad taste, and gives so imperfect an idea of Patrick Henry, that it seems intended to show off the writer more than the subject of the work. Throughout the whole Revolution, Virginia and the four New England States acted together; indeed, they made the Revolution. Their five votes were always to be counted on; but they had to pick up the remaining two for a majority, when and where they could. About the time of the Boston Port Bill, the patriotic feeling in Virginia had become languid and worn out, from some cause or other. It was thought by some of us to be absolutely necessary to excite the people; but we hardly knew the right means. At length it occurred to us to make grave faces and propose a fast. Some of us, who were the younger members of the assembly, resolved upon the measure. We thought Oliver Cromwell would be a good guide in such a case. So we looked into Rushworth, and drew up our resolutions after the most pious and praiseworthy examples. It would hardly have been in character for us to present them ourselves. We applied therefore to Mr. Nicholas, a grave and religious man; he proposed them in a set and solemn speech; some of us gravely seconded him, and the resolutions were passed unanimously. If any debate had occurred, or if they had been postponed for consideration, there was no chance that they would have been passed. The next morning Lord Bottetourt, the governor, summoned the assembly to his presence, and said to them: ‘I have heard of your proceedings of yesterday, and augur ill of their effects. His Majesty’s interest requires that you be dissolved, and you are dissolved.’ Another election taking place soon afterwards, such was the spirit of the times, that every member of the assembly, without an individual exception, was re-elected. Our fast produced very considerable effect. We all agreed to go home and see that preachers were provided in our counties, and notice given to our people. I came home to my own county, provided a preacher, and notified the people, who came together in great multitudes, wondering what it meant. Lord Bottetourt was an honorable man. His government had authorized him to make certain assurances to the people here, which he made accordingly. He wrote to the minister that he had made these assurances, and that, unless he should be enabled to fulfil them, he must retire from his situation. This letter he sent unsealed to Peyton Randolph for his inspection. Lord Bottetourt’s great respectability, his character for integrity, and his general popularity, would have enabled him to embarrass the measures of the patriots exceedingly. His death was, therefore, a fortunate event for the cause of the Revolution. He was the first governor in chief that had ever come over to Virginia. Before his time, we had received only deputies, the governor residing in England, with a salary of five thousand pounds, and paying his deputy one thousand pounds. When Congress met, Patrick Henry and Richard Henry Lee opened the subject with great ability and eloquence. So much so, that Paca and Chase, delegates from Maryland, said to each other as they returned from the House: ‘We shall not be wanted here; those gentlemen from Virginia will be able to do everything without us.’ But neither Henry nor Lee were men of business, and having made strong and eloquent general speeches, they had done all they could. It was thought advisable that two papers should be drawn up, one, an address to the people of England, and the other, an address, I think, to the king. Committees were raised for these purposes, and Henry was at the head of the first, and Lee of the second. When the address to the people of England was reported, Congress heard it with utter amazement. It was miserably written and good for nothing. At length Governor Livingston, of New Jersey, ventured to break silence. After complimenting the author, he said he thought some other ideas might be usefully added to his draft of the address. Some such paper had been for a considerable time contemplated, and he believed a friend of his had tried his hand in the composition of one He thought if the subject were again committed, some improvement in the present draft might be made. It was accordingly recommitted, and the address which had been alluded to by Governor Livingston, and which was written by John Jay, was reported by the committee, and adopted as it now appears. It is, in my opinion, one of the very best state papers which the Revolution produced. Richard Henry Lee moved the Declaration of Independence, in pursuance of the resolutions of the assembly of Virginia, and only because he was the oldest member of the Virginia delegation. The Declaration of Independence was written in a house on the north side of Chestnut street, Philadelphia, between third and fourth, not a corner house. Heiskell’s tavern, which has been pointed out as the house, is not the true one. For depth of purpose, zeal, and sagacity, no man in Congress exceeded, if any equalled Sam. Adams; and none did more than he to originate and sustain revolutionary measures in Congress. But he could not speak; he had a hesitating, grunting manner. John Adams was our Colossus on the floor. He was not graceful, nor elegant, nor remarkably fluent; but he came out, occasionally, with a power of thought and expression that moved us from our seats. I feel much alarmed at the prospect of seeing General Jackson President. He is one of the most unfit men I know of for such a place. He has had very little respect for laws or constitutions, and is, in fact, an able military chief. His passions are terrible. When I was President of the Senate he was a Senator; and he could never speak on account of the rashness of his feelings. I have seen him attempt it repeatedly, and as often choke with rage. His passions are no doubt cooler now; he has been much tried since I knew him, but he is a dangerous man. When I was in France, the Marquis de Chasteleux carried me over to Buffon’s residence in the country, and introduced me to him. It was Buffon’s practice to remain in his study till dinner time, and receive no visitors under any pretence; but his house was open and his grounds, and a servant showed them very civilly, and invited all strangers and friends to remain to dine. We saw Buffon in the garden, but carefully avoided him; but we dined with him, and he proved himself then, as he always did, a man of extraordinary powers in conversation. He did not declaim; he was singularly agreeable. I was introduced to him as Mr. Jefferson, who, in some notes on Virginia, had combated some of his opinions. Instead of entering into an argument, he took down his last work, presented it to me, and said, ‘When Mr. Jefferson shall have read this, he will be perfectly satisfied that I am right.’ Being about to embark from Philadelphia for France, I observed an uncommonly large panther skin at the door of a hatter’s shop. I bought it for half a Jo (sixteen dollars) on the spot, determining to carry it to France to convince Monsieur Buffon of his mistake in relation to this animal; which he had confounded with the cougar. He acknowledged his mistake, and said he would correct it in his next volume. I attempted also to convince him of his error in relation to the common deer and the moose of America; he having confounded our deer with the red deer of Europe, and our moose with the reindeer. I told him that our deer had horns two feet long; he replied with warmth, that if I could produce a single specimen, with horns one foot long, he would give up the question. Upon this I wrote to Virginia for the horns of one of our deer, and obtained a very good specimen, four feet long. I told him also that the reindeer could walk under the belly of our moose; but he entirely scouted the idea. Whereupon I wrote to General Sullivan of New Hampshire. I desired him to send me the bones, skin, and antlers of our moose, supposing they could easily be procured by him. Six months afterwards my agent in England advised me that General Sullivan had drawn on him for forty guineas. I had forgotten my request, and wondered why such a draft had been made, but I paid it at once. A little later came a letter from General Sullivan, setting forth the manner in which he had complied with my request. He had been obliged to raise a company of nearly twenty men, had made an excursion towards the White Hills, camping out many nights, and had at last, after many difficulties, caught my moose, boiled his bones in the desert, stuffed his skin, and remitted him to me. This accounted for my debt and convinced Mr. Buffon. He promised in his next volume to set these things right also, but he died directly afterwards. Madame Houdetot’s society was one of the most agreeable in Paris when I was there. She inherited the materials of which it was composed from Madame de Terrier and Madame Geoffrin. St. Lambert was always there, and it was generally believed that every evening on his return home, he wrote down the substance of the conversations he had held there with D’Alembert, Diderot, and the other distinguished persons who frequented her house. From these conversations he made his books. I knew the Baron de Grignon very well; he was quite ugly, and one of his legs was shorter than the other; but he was the most agreeable person in French society, and his opinion was always considered decisive in matters relating to the theatre and painting. His persiflage was the keenest and most provoking I ever knew. Madame Necker was a very sincere and excellent woman, but she was not very pleasant in conversation, for she was subject to what in Virginia we call the ‘Budge,’ that is, she was very nervous and fidgety. She could rarely remain long in the same place, or converse long on the same subject. I have known her get up from table five or six times in the course of the dinner, and walk up and down her saloon to compose herself. Marmontel was a very amusing man. He dined with me every Thursday for a long time, and I think told some of the most agreeable stories I ever heard in my life. After his death, I found almost all of them in his memoirs, and I dare say he told them so well because he had written them before in his book. I wish Mr. Pickering would make a radical lexicon. It would do more than anything else in the present state of the matter, to promote the study of Greek among us. Jones’s Greek lexicon is very poor. I have been much disappointed in it. The best I have ever used is the Greek and French one by Planche.