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Thomas Jefferson, The Works of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 11 (Correspondence and Papers 1808-1816) [1905]

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Thomas Jefferson, The Works of Thomas Jefferson, Federal Edition (New York and London, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904-5). Vol. 11. http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/807

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About this Title:

Volume 11 of the “Federal Edition” of Jefferson’s works in 12 volumes edited by Paul Leicester Ford in 1904-05. This volume contains the correspondence and papers from 1808-1816.

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The text is in the public domain.

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This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.

Table of Contents:

Edition: current; Page: [none]

FEDERAL EDITION

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The Connoisseur’s Federal Edition of the Writings of Thomas Jefferson is limited to four hundred signed and numbered sets, of which this is

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Edition: current; Page: [none]
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Edition: current; Page: [none]
The Works of Thomas Jefferson
in Twelve Volumes
Federal Edition
Edition: current; Page: [i]
The Works of Thomas Jefferson
Collected and Edited by Paul Leicester Ford
Volume XI
G. P. Putnam’s Sons
New York and London The Knickerbocker Press
1905
Edition: current; Page: [ii]

The Knickerbocker Press, New York

Edition: current; Page: [iii]

CONTENTS OF VOLUME XI

  • 1808
  • To the Secretary at War, January 8th . . . page 3
  • Deprecates Dearborn’s resignation.
  • To Charles Thomson, January 11th . . . . 6
  • Translation of the Septuagint—Advice as to size—Principal effect of old age—Laboring in Augean stable—Course of British Minister.
  • To Rev. Samuel Miller, January 23d . . . 7
  • National government interdicted from meddling with religious institutions—Refuses to recommend a fast day—Mistaken action of Jefferson’s predecessors.
  • Special Message on Neutrals, February 2d . . 9
  • To James Monroe, February 18th . . . . 9
  • Scientific instruments—Contest between Madison and Monroe—Estrangement of Clinton—Longings for retirement.
  • To the Secretary of State, March 11th . . . 12
  • War preferable to a continuance of the embargo after a certain time—Suggested course of proceedings as regards France and England.
  • Special Message on Commercial Decrees, March 17th . . . . . . . . . 18
  • Special Message on British Negotiation, March 22d . . . . . . . . 20
  • Message on Public Defence, March . . . . 23
  • To the Secretary of the Treasury, March 31st . 24
  • Criticism of proposed supplementary embargo law.Edition: current; Page: [iv]
  • To Cornelia Jefferson Randolph, April 3d . . 27
  • Importance of punctuation.
  • To the Attorney General of the United States, April 24th . . . . . . . . 29
  • Embargo and the Orders in Council.
  • To the United States Minister to France, May 2d . 30
  • Correspondence—A paroxysm of insanity in Europe—Embodying the militia.
  • To General Benjamin Smith, May 20th . . . 31
  • Approval of embargo law—How long advantageously continued.
  • To the Secretary of State, May 24th . . . 32
  • Various negotiations with Spain
  • To Doctor Thomas Leib, June 23d . . . . 33
  • Glad of approval of fellow citizens—Agreement with larger part of Federalists—Discontinuance of embargo.
  • To General James Wilkinson, June 24th . . . 35
  • Wilkinson and the Burr conspiracy.
  • To Thomas Mann Randolph, June 28th . . . 36
  • British newspaper fabrication—New York newspapers—Sinking of De Witt Clinton—Burr’s flight in disguise.
  • To Meriwether Lewis, July 17th . . . . 37
  • Misfortune to Mandane chief—Astor’s Western affair—Foreign affairs do not clear up—Presidential question clearing.
  • To John Langdon, August 2d . . . . . 39
  • Pleasure in approval of embargo—Possibility of Britain becoming honest—One war enough for the lifetime of one man.
  • To the Secretary at War, August 9th . . . 40
  • Infractions of embargo in New England—Consequent removals—Boston Tories threaten insurrection.
  • To the Secretary of the Treasury, August 11th . 41
  • Embarrassment of embargo law—A sudden and rash growth of fraud—Possibility of calling out militia—Vessels allowed foreign ministers.
  • To the Secretary at War, August 12th . . . 42
  • Indian affairs—Seizure of the Floridas.Edition: current; Page: [v]
  • To the Secretary of State, August 12th . . 44
  • Departure of foreign subjects consequent on the embargo—Seizure of the Floridas.
  • To the Governor of Massachusetts, August 12th . 45
  • Certificates for the importation of flour—An open door for fraud—Necessity of strictly enforcing law.
  • To the Emperor of Russia, August 29th . . . 47
  • Desire for good understanding—Hope that Russia will insist on neutral rights.
  • To the Secretary of State, September 6th . . 49
  • Outline of proceedings as regards Great Britain—Authorship of pamphlet.
  • To the Secretary of State, September 13th . . 50
  • The Floridas—Turreau’s letters.
  • To Robert R. Livingston, October 15th . . . 51
  • Principles of Napoleon—French action concerning American vessels.
  • To Doctor James Brown, October 27th . . . 52
  • Jefferson never suspected him of wishing to divide the Union—Burr in London and asserting that he is in the employment of Great Britain—Impossibility of Bonaparte carrying on a war across an ocean of three thousand miles.
  • To the Governor of Louisiana, October 29th . 55
  • Feeling of the United States as regards Spanish possessions in America.
  • Eighth Annual Message, November 8th . . . 56
  • To Abraham Bishop, November 13th . . . 72
  • Cloth of United States manufacture.
  • To Lieutenant Governor Levi Lincoln, November 13th . . . . . . . . . 73
  • Smuggling in Nantucket—Governor Sullivan’s flour permits bought and sold—Congressional campaign—Embargo, war, or submission, the three alternatives.
  • To William A. Burwell, November 22d . . . 75
  • History of the selling of Jefferson’s tobacco.
  • To Thomas Jefferson Randolph, November 24th . 78
  • Family matters—Conduct in life—Jefferson’s own youth—Importance of good humor—Disputants should be avoided like angry bulls.Edition: current; Page: [vi]
  • To Charles Thomson, December 25th . . . 83
  • Translation of the Septuagint.
  • 1809
  • To Doctor William Eustis, January 14th . . 84
  • Address of the republican citizens of Massachusetts—The cup of forbearance exhausted—The embargo only a temporary measure.
  • Circular Letter from the Secretary of War to the Governors, January 17th . . . . 87
  • Pressure of the embargo—An end to be put to insubordination—Employment of militia to enforce law.
  • To Thomas Leiper, January 21st . . . . 89
  • Towers’s book—Political matters—Proceedings of Congress—New England Federalists and the embargo.
  • To Abraham Venable, January 23d . . . . 91
  • Thanks for his endorsement of Jefferson’s note—Steps taken to pay liability.
  • To James Monroe, January 28th . . . . 93
  • Special mission to France and England not entertained—Course of Congress—Bonaparte’s policy as regards Spanish colonies—Jefferson’s desire for peace till national debt is paid.
  • To Thomas Mann Randolph, February 7th . . 96
  • Revolution in Congressional opinion concerning embargo—Embargo repealed in a panic.
  • To Benjamin Stoddert, February 18th . . . 97
  • Pressure of public business—Unfortunate exuberant commerce of the United States—Hope that this great agricultural country will not become a mere headquarters for commerce—Proposition to denationalize all ships carrying foreign articles.
  • To Henri Gregoire, February 25th . . . . 99
  • “Literature of Negroes”—Capability of the black man.
  • To Thomas Mann Randolph, February 28th . . 100
  • Accumulation of public business—Deprecates public recognition of his retirement from office.
  • Circular Letter, March . . . . . . 102
  • Refusal to concern himself in appointments.Edition: current; Page: [vii]
  • To William Short, March 8th . . . . . 102
  • Senate negatived appointment of Short—Like negative of J. Q. Adams—Objection to diplomatic missions—Embargo has worked hard—Non-intercourse substituted.
  • To the Inhabitants of Albemarle County, in Virginia, April 3d . . . . . . . 104
  • To James Madison, April 19th . . . . . 106
  • Possible changes in policy of British ministry—England systematically aiming to obtain dominion of sea—Question of the Floridas and Cuba.
  • To Wilson Cary Nicholas, May 25th . . . 107
  • Relations with England and France—The Floridas and Cuba—Agreement with Madison.
  • To Wilson Cary Nicholas, June 13th . . . 108
  • Prosecutions in Connecticut for libel—Jefferson’s action regarding libels on government—Policy of government as regards sedition law—Presidential frank.
  • To James Madison, June 16th . . . . . 112
  • Serious intelligence from England—Anxiety over Madison’s endorsement of Jefferson’s note.
  • To James Madison, July 12th . . . . . 114
  • Draft of letter to the Emperor of Russia—Bonaparte’s success—Invitation.
  • To John W. Campbell, September 3d . . . 115
  • Edition of Jefferson’s writings—Notes on Virginia—Summary View—Parliamentary Manual—Official papers.
  • To Don Valentine de Foronda, October 4th . . 117
  • Model constitution—Relations with Spanish Minister—Miranda’s expedition.
  • To Joel Barlow, October 8th . . . . . 120
  • Oration—Gregoire’s Littérature de Nègres—Notes on Virginia—Capacity of negro—Marshall’s Washington—Daily life—Invitation.
  • To Albert Gallatin, October 11th . . . . 124
  • Cabinet dissensions—National debt—Gallatin’s position.
  • To James Madison, November 30th . . . . 126
  • Conversation with Monroe—Monroe’s attitude.Edition: current; Page: [viii]
  • 1810
  • To John Wayles Eppes, January 17th . . . 129
  • Francis Eppes—Long speeches in Congress—Possible checking of.
  • To Joel Barlow, January 24th . . . . . 131
  • Plows—Dr. Mason—Hamilton’s politics—Barlow’s book—Cabinet dissensions.
  • To J. Garland Jefferson, January 25th . . . 133
  • Nepotism—Personal feeling.
  • To Cæsar A. Rodney, February 10th . . . 134
  • Hurricane now blasting the world—George III.—The people are reasonable.
  • To Doctor Walter Jones, March 5th . . . 137
  • Cabinet dissensions—Origin of Cabinet—Washington’s Cabinet—America a paradise compared to Europe.
  • To James Madison, May 25th . . . . . 139
  • Appointments—Tyler—Importance of democratizing Supreme Court—Batture case.
  • To Henry Dearborn, July 16th . . . . 142
  • Congratulations on Massachusetts and New Hampshire elections—Embargo—Influence of Story—Policy of Great Britain.
  • To John B. Colvin, September 20th . . . . 146
  • Duty of officials in regard to laws—Revolution—Burr conspiracy—Wilkinson.
  • To James Madison, October 15th . . . . 150
  • Commercial decrees—Death of Cushing—Judiciary—Lincoln—Granger—George Jefferson.
  • To William Duane, November 13th . . . . 154
  • Books—Future of England—Alexander of Russia—Bonaparte.
  • To Judge John Tyler, November 25th . . . 158
  • Wythe’s lectures—Jefferson’s legal knowledge.
  • 1811
  • To John Wayles Eppes, January 5th . . . 159
  • Boundaries of Louisiana—Seizure of the Floridas—Francis Eppes.Edition: current; Page: [ix]
  • To Thomas Law, January 15th . . . . . 162
  • Wagner’s libel—Jefferson’s attitude towards Great Britain—Condition of Great Britain.
  • To Doctor Benjamin Rush, January 16th . . 165
  • Condolence—Daily life—Personal and party relations with John Adams—Election of 1801—Mrs. Adams.
  • To the Marquis de Lafayette, January 20th . . 174
  • Land at New Orleans—Letters—European world.
  • To John Lynch, January 21st . . . . . 178
  • Colonization of negroes—Sierra Leone.
  • To A. C. V. C. Destutt de Tracy, January 26th . 181
  • Montesquieu—Tracy’s reply to—Plural vs. single executive—French directory—Presidency—Relation of local governments to liberty.
  • To William Duane, March 28th . . . . 189
  • Duane’s financial difficulties—Attacks on Gallatin and Leiper—Want of capital in Virginia—Aid for Duane—Situation of U. S.—Republican solidarity—Tracy’s book.
  • To Dupont de Nemours, April 15th . . . . 196
  • Taxation—Revenue—National debt—Land taxes and excises—Spanish America.
  • To Joel Barlow, April 16th . . . . . 205
  • Barlow’s appointment to France—Correspondence.
  • To James Monroe, May 5th . . . . . 206
  • Political discord—Newspapers—Crop outlook.
  • To Cornelia Jefferson Randolph, June 3d . . 208
  • Miss Edgeworth’s tales—Silk-worms.
  • To James Madison, July 3d . . . . . 208
  • Smith’s address—Newspaper reply.
  • To Archibald Stuart, August 8th . . . . 210
  • Negotiations with Great Britain.
  • To Benjamin Rush, August 17th . . . . 211
  • Annual visit to Poplar Forest—Old men—Jefferson’s health—Reading.
  • To Clement Caine, September 16th . . . . 214
  • Slavery—System of Europe towards America—Great Britain’s policy.Edition: current; Page: [x]
  • 1812
  • To James Monroe, January 11th . . . . 217
  • Right of deposit—Wilkinson’s statement—Jefferson’s opinion of Wilkinson.
  • To John Adams, January 21st . . . . . 218
  • Specimen of homespun—Manufactures—Old-time relations—No longer reads newspapers—Health.
  • To the Governor of Virginia, January 22d . . 222
  • Council of Virginia—Practice in revolution—Executive action.
  • To James Madison, February 19th . . . . 226
  • Congressional defect in war—Too many lawyers.
  • To William Wirt, April 12th . . . . . 226
  • Batture case—Private suit—Reminiscence of Patrick Henry.
  • To James Madison, April 17th . . . . . 232
  • Effect of embargo on farmers—Commerce between belligerents.
  • To John Adams, April 20th . . . . . 236
  • Gift of book—Richmond and Wabash prophets—Macpherson—Henry’s plottings.
  • To James Maury, April 25th . . . . . 239
  • Coming war with Great Britain—Wrongs of U. S.—Policy of Great Britain—Personal feeling towards Great Britain—Local news.
  • To John Jacob Astor, May 24th . . . . 244
  • Fur factory—Indian trade.
  • To James Madison, May 25th . . . . . 246
  • Appointments—Crops and prices.
  • To James Madison, May 30th . . . . . 247
  • Triangular war—Great Britain.
  • To James Madison, June 6th . . . . . 249
  • Enlistment of troops—Albemarle County not delinquent—Barlow’s correspondence.
  • To John Adams, June 11th . . . . . 250
  • Indian traditions—Lafitau—Adair—De Bry—Indian priesthood—Outassetè—Progress of Creeks—Conquest of Canada.Edition: current; Page: [xi]
  • To Elbridge Gerry, June 11th . . . . . 255
  • Early relations—Federalists—Chesapeake proclamation—Strength of national government—New England separation—Children—Election.
  • To General Thaddeus Kosciusko, June 28th . . 258
  • War with Great Britain—Burning of cities—Privateers—Manufactures—Remittances—Canada.
  • To the President of the United States, June 29th . 262
  • Canada—Coast trade—Pilot boats—Virginia militia.
  • To William Duane, August 4th . . . . 264
  • Military manuals—Canada—Downfall of Great Britain.
  • To William Duane, October 1st . . . . 267
  • Hand of age upon Jefferson—Hull’s treason—Secretary of War.
  • To James Madison, November 6th . . . . 270
  • Col. Gibson—United generals—Hull—Van Rensselaer.
  • 1813
  • To James Ronaldson, January 12th . . . . 271
  • Cork trees—Olives—Sainfoin—Upland rice—Cotton—Wool—Marine hospitals—European wars.
  • To John Melish, January 13th . . . . . 274
  • Map and Travels—Manufactures—Party principles—Federalists—Republicans—Washington’s Farewell Address—Jefferson’s Inaugural Address.
  • To William P. Gardner, February 19th . . . 280
  • Declaration of Independence.
  • To James Madison, February 21st . . . . 281
  • Resignation of Robert Smith—Feelings of W. C. Nicholas—Appointment of Robert Carter Nicholas—Incapacity of generals.
  • To John Armstrong, February 21st . . . . 284
  • Incapacity of generals—Seniority—Robert Carter Nicholas.
  • To James Madison, May 21st . . . . . 286
  • Traitorous designs of Massachusetts—Poor crops—Coast defence—Chesapeake Bay.Edition: current; Page: [xii]
  • To Richard Rush, May 31st . . . . . 291
  • Benjamin Rush—Jefferson’s letters.
  • To John Adams, June 15th . . . . . 293
  • Lindsay’s Memoirs—Religion—Priestley—Progress of human race—Essex junto—Marshall’s libels.
  • To John Wayles Eppes, June 24th . . . . 297
  • Borrowing and taxation—Unlawfulness of permanent loans—Paper money—National currency—Banks.
  • To John Wilson, August 17th . . . . . 307
  • Reform of language—Phonetic improvements.
  • To John Adams, August 22d . . . . . 323
  • Religious agreement of thinking men—Corruption of Christianity—Quakers—Priestley—Priesthood—Jefferson’s religion—Petition to King—Arthur Lee.
  • To Josiah Meigs, September 18th . . . . 334
  • British outrages.
  • To James Martin, September 20th . . . . 335
  • Address to Quincy—Position of Massachusetts.
  • To Doctor George Logan, October 3d . . . 338
  • Logan’s peace negotiations—British conduct—Impressment—Canada.
  • To John Adams, October 28th . . . . . 341
  • Improvement of race—Natural selection vs. artificial—Heredity—Natural aristoi—Massachusetts and Connecticut—Virginia families—Jefferson’s proposed legislation—Progress of human race.
  • To Baron von Humboldt, December 6th . . . 350
  • Humboldt’s books—Spanish possessions in America—America separated from Europe—Indian improvement—Present war—Arrowsmith’s and Pike’s piracies—Lewis and Clarke.
  • To Thomas Law, November 6th . . . . . 355
  • Treasury notes.
  • To the Marquis de Lafayette, November 30th . 356
  • Shepherd dogs—American defeats—Naval victories—Emancipation of Spanish America—Correa—War news.
  • To Madam de Tessé, December 8th . . . . 360
  • Memoirs of the Margrave of Baireuth—Royalty —Memoirs of Mrs. Clarke—Prince Regent—Supplement to Buffon—Gardens—Canada—Short.Edition: current; Page: [xiii]
  • To Philip Mazzei, December 29th . . . . 364
  • Commercial decrees—First campaign—Second campaign—Manufacture—Sale of house—E. Randolph—Derieux.
  • 1814
  • To Thomas Leiper, January 1st . . . . 368
  • Publication of letter—Feeling toward England—Correspondence—Bonaparte.
  • To Doctor Walter Jones, January 2d . . . 373
  • Putrid state of press—Safety of people as governors—Character and opinions of Washington—Hamilton.
  • To Joseph C. Cabell, January 31st . . . . 379
  • Can States set qualifications of Congressmen?—Link between National and State powers.
  • To James Madison, February 16th . . . . 382
  • New loans—Bank notes—New taxes.
  • To Gideon Granger, March 9th . . . . 383
  • Memory—Granger not a Burrite—Prosecutions in Connecticut—Advice.
  • To James Madison, March 10th . . . . . 390
  • Granger—Crops.
  • To John Adams, July 5th . . . . . 393
  • Rives—Aging—Bonaparte—Massachusetts and Great Britain—Plato’s Republic—Plato’s fogginess—Christianity—Schools.
  • To William Wirt, August 14th . . . . . 400
  • Patrick Henry’s attack on loan-office scheme—“Parson’s cause”—Resolutions of 1765—Draftsmen of Virginia documents—Henry’s speech—Phillips’s case—Project for dictator—Marshall and Burke.
  • To John Thompson Mason, August 18th . . . 410
  • Mrs. Mason’s weaving—Virginia manufactures.
  • To Edward Coles, August 25th . . . . . 416
  • Negro slavery—Early effort of Jefferson—Extinction only a question of time.
  • To John Minor, August 30th . . . . . 420
  • System of studies.Edition: current; Page: [xiv]
  • To John Wayles Eppes, September 9th . . . 422
  • Transactions at Washington—Fear a necessary element in government—Albemarle County.
  • To Samuel H. Smith, September 21st . . . 427
  • Offer of library to government—Description.
  • To James Monroe, September 24th . . . . 430
  • Progress of the war—Offer of library.
  • To James Madison, October 15th . . . . 432
  • Change in the character of the war—Ways and means—Financial suggestions.
  • To James Monroe, October 16th . . . . 436
  • “Interminable” war—Congressional proposition.
  • To Joseph Milligan, October 17th . . . . 439
  • Binding of books—Tracy’s book.
  • To Alexander Dallas, December 7th . . . 440
  • Congratulations—Local assessor—Minor.
  • 1815
  • To James Monroe, January 1st . . . . . 442
  • Newspaper lies—Capture of Washington—English atrocity—Governmental difficulties as to men and money—Militia—Unextinguishable debt—Privateers—Monroe’s acceptance of war department—Jefferson’s governorship.
  • To Joseph C. Cabell, January 5th . . . . 446
  • Bank mania—Tracy’s book—Review of Montesquieu—Petition of Albemarle Academy—Possibility of establishing best university—Outline of plan—River improvement.
  • To William H. Crawford, February 11th . . 450
  • Downfall of Bonaparte—Temper of Europe—British attack—Impressment—Outline of war—Army and finances—Historical Register—Niles’s Register—Mr. Ticknor—News of peace—Battle of New Orleans—Future relations with Great Britain.
  • To the Marquis de Lafayette, February 14th . 454
  • Fall of Bonaparte—France—Early days of French revolution—Outline of war—Burning of Washington—Vandalism of Britain—Hartford Convention—Lafayette’s and Rochambeau’s journals of Virginian campaign, 1781—Condolences for De Tessés—Recollections of Paris—Mr. Ticknor—Peace.Edition: current; Page: [xv]
  • To James Madison, March 23d . . . . . 464
  • Pamphlet on the war—Peace—Battle of New Orleans—European treaties—Library.
  • To Alexander J. Dallas, April 18th . . . 468
  • Sale of library—Methods of payment.
  • To David Barrow, May 1st . . . . . 470
  • Slavery—Slow progress towards abolition.
  • To W. H. Torrance, June 11th . . . . . 471
  • Constitution and contracts—Laws suspending executions—English suspension—How far judges can decide constitutionality of laws—Cases in point.
  • To Thomas Leiper, June 12th . . . . . 475
  • British government—Bonaparte—Federal misrepresentation—Word “federal” a synonym of “lie”—Points of disagreement with Congress.
  • To Philip Mazzei, August 9th . . . . . 480
  • Mazzei’s property—Negotiations with Great Britain—Paper money—Bonaparte—Health.
  • To John Adams, August 10th . . . . . 484
  • Correspondence — Camus — Bollandists — History of American Revolution—Botta—Marshall—Speeches on Independence—Bonaparte.
  • To Spencer Roane, October 12th . . . . 488
  • Federal vs. State courts—General clauses.
  • To Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse, October 13th . . 490
  • Medical intolerance—Orations of Holmes and Austin—Federalist priests—Emigration from Eastern States—Religion—Invitation to Monticello.
  • 1816
  • To Col. Charles Yancey, January 6th . . . 493
  • Internal improvements—Bank mania—Bank paper—Schools in Virginia.
  • To Charles Thomson, January 9th . . . . 498
  • Translation of Bible—Jefferson’s religion—Health.
  • To Benjamin Austin, January 9th . . . . 500
  • Lawyers—Monarchists—Fate of Europe—Dependence on England for manufactures—Change from views in Notes on Virginia.Edition: current; Page: [xvi]
  • To Horatio Gates Spafford, January 10th . . 506
  • Occupations—Not afraid of priests—New England clergy.
  • To Dabney Carr, January 19th . . . . . 511
  • Peter Carr—Origin of Committees of Correspondence.
  • To James Monroe, February 4th . . . . 514
  • Spanish America—Boundaries of Louisiana—La Harpe’s History.
  • To Leroy and Bayard, April 7th . . . . 518
  • Debt to Van Staphorst—Jefferson’s financial position.
  • To P. S. Dupont de Nemours, April 24th . . . 519
  • Constitution for South America—Principles of U. S. government—Moral principles in governments.
  • To Dr. George Logan, May 19th . . . . 525
  • Publication of private letters.
  • To John Taylor, May 28th . . . . . 527
  • Taylor’s Enquiry into the principles of our government—Adams’s book—Definition of Republic—U. S. government.
  • To Francis W. Gilmer, June 7th . . . . 533
  • Natural rights—Tracy’s book—Indian governments—Correa.
  • To William H. Crawford, June 20th . . . 536
  • Drawbacks—Shall U. S. be commercial?—Metal vs. paper money.
Edition: current; Page: [xvii]

ITINERARY AND CHRONOLOGY OF THOMAS JEFFERSON 1808–1816

At Washington.
1808.—Jan. 3. Spain issues decree concerning neutral commerce.
10. Sends reply to assembly of North Carolina.
20. Sends message on Wilkinson.
23. Refuses to recommend Fast-Day.
30. Sends message on Choctaws.
Sends message on Detroit and Mackinac.
Feb. 2. Sends message on Neutrals.
4. Sends supplementary message on Wilkinson.
9. Sends message on Algiers.
15. Sends supplementary message on Algiers.
19. Sends message on Cumberland Road.
25. Sends message on Militia.
29. Sends reply to New York Society of St. Tammany.
Mar. 7. Sends Batture message.
17. Sends message on Commercial Decrees.
18. Sends message on West Point.
22. Sends special message on British Negotiations.
Sends message on Public Defence.
30. Drafts supplementary bill for Embargo.
Apr. 19. Issues proclamation on Embargo.
1808.—May 6. Sends circular letter to State governors.
Leaves Washington.
12. Arrives at Monticello.
25. Sends reply to Democrats of Philadelphia.
Asks Dearborn to remain in office.
June Leaves Monticello.
11. Arrives at Washington.
18. Sends reply to government of New Orleans.
July Leaves Washington.
24. Arrives at Monticello.
Aug. 2. Sends reply to Legislature of New Hampshire.
4. Sends reply to Legislature of South Carolina.
29. Writes Emperor of Russia.
Appoints William Short Minister to Russia.
Oct. Leaves Monticello.
Arrives at Washington.
17. Sends reply to Baptist Association.
18. Sends reply to Baptist Association.
Nov. 8. Sends Eighth Annual Message.
9. Has interview with Erskine.
21. Sends reply to Baptist Association.
Sends reply to Connecticut republicans.
Dec. 2. Sends reply to Pittsburg republicans.
30. Sends message on Alabama Tribe.
1809.—Jan. 6. Sends message on Defence.
17. Drafts circular letter on Embargo.
Forced to borrow money.
Feb. 3. Sends reply to Legislature of Georgia.
6. Virginia Assembly passes resolutions of thanks.
16. Sends reply to Assembly of Virginia.
24. Sends reply to Legislature of New York.
28. Refuses public reception by citizens of Albemarle County.
Mar. 1. Signs repeal of Embargo.
4. Sends reply to citizens of Washington.
Retires from Presidency.
Issues circular letter on Public Appointments.
17. Arrives at Monticello.
1809.—Apr. 3. Sends reply to citizens of Albemarle County.
12. Sends reply to Legislature of New York.
July Visits Poplar Forest (Bedford plantation) for a fortnight.
Oct. 20. At Richmond.
30. At Monticello.
Nov. 30. Has interview with Monroe.
1810.—May 25. Writes Madison concerning Supreme Court.
Oct. 15. Writes Madison concerning vacancy in Supreme Court.
Asks Federal appointment for relative.
Dec. Visits Poplar Forest.
Returns to Monticello.
1811.—Jan. Urges seizure of the Floridas.
Becomes a great-grandfather.
Drafts scheme for a system of Agricultural Societies.
Mar. 28. Endeavors to assist Duane.
Aug. 14–23. At Poplar Forest.
25. At Monticello.
Dec. 5. At Poplar Forest.
1812.—Jan. 21. Renews friendship with John Adams.
Prints Batture pamphlet.
Apr. 12. Sends Wirt his recollections of Patrick Henry.
May 10–19. At Poplar Forest.
23. At Monticello.
June 18. War declared.
Sept. 2–12. At Poplar Forest.
16. At Monticello.
Nov. 11. Writes observations on common law in U. S.
Nov. 15-Dec. 14. At Poplar Forest.
Dec. 17. At Monticello.
Writes sketch of Meriwether Lewis.
1813.—Apr. 30-May 10. At Poplar Forest.
May 15. At Monticello.
July Sells Mazzei’s property in Richmond and borrows purchase money.
Aug. 28-Sept. 11. At Poplar Forest.
Sept. 14. At Monticello
Nov. 25-Dec. 8. At Poplar Forest.
Dec. 13. At Monticello.
1814.—May 28-June 25. At Poplar Forest.
June 26. At Monticello.
Sept. 21. Offers library to Congress.
Oct. Senate debates purchase of library.
Nov. 3–11. At Poplar Forest.
21. At Monticello.
Resigns Presidency of American Philosophical Society.
1815.—Jan. Congress passes bill to purchase library.
Outlines University of Virginia.
May 19-June 1. At Poplar Forest.
June 4. At Monticello.
Aug. 29-Sept. 29. At Poplar Forest.
Oct. 3. At Monticello
Nov. 2–12. At Poplar Forest.
Dec. 16. At Monticello.
1816.—Apr. 17–30. At Poplar Forest.
May 3. At Monticello.
June 29. At Poplar Forest.
Edition: current; Page: [1]

CORRESPONDENCE AND OFFICIAL PAPERS
1808–1816

Edition: current; Page: [2] Edition: current; Page: [3]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
January 8, 1808
Washington
Henry Dearborn
Dearborn, Henry

TO THE SECRETARY AT WAR1
(HENRY DEARBORN.)

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Your letter of Dec. 29 brings to my mind a subject which never has presented itself but Edition: current; Page: [4] with great pain, that of your withdrawing from the administration, before I withdraw myself. It would have been to me the greatest of consolations to have gone thro my term with the same coadjutors, and to have shared with them the merit, or demerit, of whatever good or evil we may have done. The integrity, attention, skill, & economy with which you have conducted your department, have given me the most compleat and unqualified satisfaction, and this testimony I bear to it with all the sincerity of truth and friendship; and should a war come on, there is no person in the U.S. to whose management and care I could commit it with equal confidence. That you as well as myself, & all our brethren, have maligners, who from ill-temper, or disappointment, seek opportunities of venting their angry passions against us, is well known, & too well understood by our constituents to be regarded. No man who can succeed you will have fewer, nor will any one enjoy a more extensive confidence thro the nation. Finding that I could not retain you to the end of my term, I had wished to protract your stay, till I could with propriety devolve on another the naming of your successor. But this probably could not be done till Edition: current; Page: [5] about the time of our separation in July. Your continuance however, till after the end of the session, will relieve me from the necessity of any nomination during the session, & will leave me only a chasm of 2 or 3 months over which I must hobble as well as I can. My greatest difficulty will arise from the carrying on the system of defensive works we propose to erect. That these should have been fairly under way, and in a course of execution, under your direction, would have peculiarly relieved me; because we concur so exactly in the scale on which they are to be executed. Unacquainted with the details myself, I fear that when you are gone, aided only by your chief clerk, I shall be assailed with schemes of improvement and alterations which I shall be embarrassed to pronounce on, or withstand, and incur augmentations of expense, which I shall not know how to control. I speak of the interval between the close of this session, when you propose to retire, & the commencement of our usual recess in July. Because during that recess, we are in the habit of leaving things to the chief clerks; and, by the end of it, my successor may be pretty well known, and prevailed on to name yours. However, I am so much relieved by your ekeing out your continuance to the end of the session, that I feel myself bound to consult your inclinations then, & to take on myself the difficulties of the short period then ensuing. In public or private, and in all situations, I shall retain for you the most cordial esteem, and satisfactory recollections of the harmony & friendship with which we have run our race together; and I pray you now Edition: current; Page: [6] to accept sincere assurances of it, & of my great respect & attachment.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Jan. 11, 08
Washington
Charles Thomson
Thomson, Charles

TO CHARLES THOMSON1

My dear and antient Friend,

—I see by the newspapers your translation of the Septuagint is now to be printed, and I write this to pray to be admitted as a subscriber. I wish it may not be too late for you to reconsider the size in which it is to be published. Folios and quartos are now laid aside because of their inconvenience. Everything is now printed in 8vo, 12mo or petit format. The English booksellers print their first editions indeed in 4to, because they can assess a larger price on account of the novelty; but the bulk of readers generally wait for the 2d edition, which is for the most part in 8vo. This is what I have long practised myself. Johnson, of Philadelphia, set the example of printing handsome edition of the Bible in 4v., 8vo. I wish yours were in the same form. I have learnt from time to time with great satisfaction that you retain your health, spirits and activity of mind and body. Mr. Dickinson too is nearly in the same way; he exchanges a letter with me now and then. The principal effect of age of which I am sensible is an indisposition to be goaded by business from morning to night, from laboring in an Augean stable, which cleared out at night presents an equal task the next morning. I want to have some time to turn to subjects more congenial to my Edition: current; Page: [7] mind. Mr. Rose still stays on board his ship at Hampton, we know not why. If he is seeking time we may indulge time. Time prepares us for defence; time may produce peace in Europe that removes the ground of difference with England until another European war, and that may find our revenues liberated by the discharge of our national debt, our wealth and numbers increased, our friendship and our enmity more important to every nation. God bless you and give you years and health to your own wishes. Remember me respectfully to Mrs. Thomson and accept yourself my affectionate salutation.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Jan. 23, 08
Washington
Samuel Miller
Miller, Samuel

TO REV. SAMUEL MILLER

j. mss.
Sir,

—I have duly received your favor of the 18th and am thankful to you for having written it, because it is more agreeable to prevent than to refuse what I do not think myself authorized to comply with. I consider the government of the US. as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises. This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment, or free exercise, of religion, but from that also which reserves to the states the powers not delegated to the U. S. Certainly no power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the general government. It must then rest with the states, as far as it can be in any human authority. But it is only proposed that I Edition: current; Page: [8] should recommend, not prescribe a day of fasting & prayer. That is, that I should indirectly assume to the U. S. an authority over religious exercises which the Constitution has directly precluded them from. It must be meant too that this recommendation is to carry some authority, and to be sanctioned by some penalty on those who disregard it; not indeed of fine and imprisonment, but of some degree of proscription perhaps in public opinion. And does the change in the nature of the penalty make the recommendation the less a law of conduct for those to whom it is directed? I do not believe it is for the interest of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct it’s exercises, it’s discipline, or it’s doctrines; nor of the religious societies that the general government should be invested with the power of effecting any uniformity of time or matter among them. Fasting & prayer are religious exercises. The enjoining them an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the times for these exercises, & the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and this right can never be safer than in their own hands, where the constitution has deposited it.

I am aware that the practice of my predecessors may be quoted. But I have ever believed that the example of state executives led to the assumption of that authority by the general government, without due examination, which would have discovered that what might be a right in a state government, was a violation of that right when assumed by another. Be this as it may, every one must act according to the Edition: current; Page: [9] dictates of his own reason, & mine tells me that civil powers alone have been given to the President of the US. and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents.

I again express my satisfaction that you have been so good as to give me an opportunity of explaining myself in a private letter, in which I could give my reasons more in detail than might have been done in a public answer: and I pray you to accept the assurances of my high esteem & respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
February 2, 1808

SPECIAL MESSAGE ON NEUTRALS

To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:—

Having received an official communication of certain orders of the British government against the maritime rights of neutrals, bearing date the 11th of November, 1807, I transmit it to Congress, as a further proof of the increasing dangers to our navigation and commerce which led to the provident measures of the present session, laying an embargo on our own vessels.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Feb. 18, ’08
Washington
James Monroe
Monroe, James

TO JAMES MONROE

j. mss.
My dear Sir,

—You informed me that the instruments you had been so kind as to bring for me from England, would arrive at Richmond with your baggage, and you wished to know what was to be done with them there. I will ask the favor of you to Edition: current; Page: [10] deliver them to Mr. Jefferson, who will forward them to Monticello in the way I shall advise him. And I must entreat you to send me either a note of their amount, or the bills, that I may be enabled to reimburse you. There can be no pecuniary matter between us, against which this can be any set-off. But if, contrary to my recollection or knoledge, there were anything, I pray that that may be left to be settled by itself. If I could have known the amount beforehand, I should have remitted it, and asked the advance only under the idea that it should be the same as ready money to you on your arrival. I must again, therefore, beseech you to let me know its amount.

I see with infinite grief a contest arising between yourself and another, who have been very dear to each other, and equally so to me. I sincerely pray that these dispositions may not be affected between you; with me I confidently trust they will not. For independently of the dictates of public duty, which prescribe neutrality to me, my sincere friendship for you both will ensure it’s sacred observance. I suffer no one to converse with me on the subject. I already perceive my old friend Clinton, estranging himself from me. No doubt lies are carried to him, as they will be to the other two candidates, under forms which however false, he can scarcely question. Yet I have been equally careful as to him also, never to say a word on this subject. The object of the contest is a fair & honorable one, equally open to you all; and I have no doubt the personal conduct of all will be so chaste, as to offer no ground of dissatisfaction Edition: current; Page: [11] with each other. But your friends will not be as delicate. I know too well from experience the progress of political controversy, and the exacerbation of spirit into which it degenerates, not to fear for the continuance of your mutual esteem. One piquing thing said draws on another, that a third, and always with increasing acrimony, until all restraint is thrown off, and it becomes difficult for yourselves to keep clear of the toils in which your friends will endeavor to interlace you, and to avoid the participation in their passions which they will endeavor to produce. A candid recollection of what you know of each other will be the true corrective. With respect to myself, I hope they will spare me. My longings for retirement are so strong, that I with difficulty encounter the daily drudgeries of my duty. But my wish for retirement itself is not stronger than that of carrying into it the affections of all my friends. I have ever viewed Mr. Madison and yourself as two principal pillars of my happiness. Were either to be withdrawn, I should consider it as among the greatest calamities which could assail my future peace of mind. I have great confidence that the candor & high understanding of both will guard me against this misfortune, the bare possibility of which has so far weighed on my mind, that I could not be easy without unburthening it.

Accept my respectful salutations for yourself and Mrs. Monroe, & be assured of my constant & sincere friendship.1

Edition: current; Page: [12]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Mar. 11, 08
James Madison
Madison, James

TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE
(JAMES MADISON.)

j. mss.

I suppose we must dispatch another packet by the 1st of Apr. at farthest. I take it to be an universal opinion that war will become preferable to a continuance of the embargo after a certain time. Should Edition: current; Page: [13] we not then avail ourselves of the intervening period to procure a retraction of the obnoxious decrees peaceably, if possible? An opening is given us by both parties, sufficient to form a basis for such a proposition.

Edition: current; Page: [14]

I wish you to consider, therefore, the following course of proceeding, to wit:

To instruct our ministers at Paris & London, by the next packet, to propose immediately to both Edition: current; Page: [15] these powers a declaration on both sides that these decrees & orders shall no longer be extended to vessels of the United States, in which case we shall remain faithfully neutral; but, without assuming Edition: current; Page: [16] the air of menace, to let them both perceive that if they do not withdraw these orders & decrees, there will arrive a time when our interests will render war preferable to a continuance of the embargo; that Edition: current; Page: [17] when that time arrives, if one has withdrawn & the other not, we must declare war against that other; if neither shall have withdrawn, we must take our choice of enemies between them. This it will Edition: current; Page: [18] certainly be our duty to have ascertained by the time Congress shall meet in the fall or beginning of winter; so that taking off the embargo, they may decide whether war must be declared, & against whom. Affectionate salutations.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
March 17, 1808

SPECIAL MESSAGE ON COMMERCIAL DECREES

To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:—

I have heretofore communicated to Congress the decrees of the government of France of November Edition: current; Page: [19] 21st, 1806, and of Spain, February 19th, 1807, with the orders of the British government, of January and November, 1807.

I now transmit a decree of the Emperor of France, of December 17th, 1807, and a similar decree of the 3d January last, by his Catholic Majesty. Although the decree of France has not been received by official communication, yet the different channels of promulgation through which the public are possessed Edition: current; Page: [20] of it, with the formal testimony furnished by the government of Spain, in their decree, leave us without a doubt that such a one has been issued. These decrees and orders, taken together, want little of amounting to a declaration that every neutral vessel found on the high seas, whatsoever be her cargo, and whatsoever foreign port be that of her departure or destination, shall be deemed lawful prize; and they prove, more and more, the expediency of retaining our vessels, our seamen, and property, within our own harbors, until the dangers to which they are exposed can be removed or lessened.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
March 22, 1808

SPECIAL MESSAGE ON BRITISH NEGOTIATION

To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:—

At the opening of the present session I informed the legislature that the measures which had been taken with the government of Great Britain for the settlement of our neutral and national rights, and of the conditions of commercial intercourse with that nation, had resulted in articles of a treaty which could not be acceded to on our part; that instructions had consequently been sent to our ministers there to resume the negotiations, and to endeavor to obtain certain alterations; and that this was interrupted by the transaction which took place between the frigates Leopard and Chesapeake. To call on that government for reparation of this wrong produced, as Congress have already been informed, the Edition: current; Page: [21] mission of a special minister to this country, and the occasion is now arrived when the public interest permits and requires that the whole of these proceedings should be made known to you.

I therefore now communicate the instructions given to our minister resident at London, and his communications to that government on the subject of the Chesapeake, with the correspondence which has taken place here between the Secretary of State and Mr. Rose, the special minister charged with the adjustment of that difference; the instructions to our ministers for the formation of a treaty; their correspondence with the British commissioners and with their own government on that subject; the treaty itself, and written declaration of the British commissioners accompanying it, and the instructions given by us for resuming the negotiations, with the proceedings and correspondence subsequent thereto. To these I have added a letter lately addressed to the Secretary of State from one of our late ministers, which, though not strictly written in an official character, I think it my duty to communicate, in order that his views of the proposed treaty and its several articles may be fairly presented and understood.

Although I have heretofore and from time to time made such communications to Congress as to keep them possessed of a general and just view of the proceedings and dispositions of the government of France toward this country, yet, in our present critical situation, when we find no conduct on our part, however impartial and friendly, has been Edition: current; Page: [22] sufficient to insure from either belligerent a just respect for our rights, I am desirous that nothing shall be omitted on my part which may add to your information on this subject, or contribute to the correctness of the views which should be formed. The papers which for these reasons I now lay before you embrace all the communications, official or verbal, from the French government, respecting the general relations between the two countries which have been transmitted through our minister there, or through any other accredited channel, since the last session of Congress, to which time all information of the same kind had from time to time been given them. Some of these papers have already been submitted to Congress; but it is thought better to offer them again, in order that the chain of communications, of which they make a part, may be presented unbroken.

When, on the 26th of February, I communicated to both houses the letter of General Armstrong to M. Champagny, I desired it might not be published, because of the tendency of that practice to restrain injuriously the freedom of our foreign correspondence. But perceiving that this caution, proceeding purely from a regard for the public good, has furnished occasion for disseminating unfounded suspicions and insinuations, I am induced to believe that the good which will now result from its publication, by confirming the confidence and union of our fellow citizens, will more than countervail the ordinary objection to such publications. It is my wish therefore, that it may be now published.

Edition: current; Page: [23]
Madison
Madison
Mar. ? 1808
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas

MESSAGE ON PUBLIC DEFENCE1

In proceeding to carry into exn the act &c. it is found that the sites most advantageous for the defense of our harbors and rivers, and sometimes the only sites competent to that defense are in some cases the property of minors incapable of giving a valid consent to their alienation, in others belong to persons who on no terms will alienate, and in others the proprietors demand such exaggerated compensn as, however liberally the public ought to compensate in such cases, would exceed all bounds of justice or liberality. From this cause the defense of our seaboard, so necessary to be pressed during the present season will in various parts be defeated, unless the national legislature can apply a constitutional remedy. The power of repelg invasions, and making laws necessary for carrying that power into execution seems to include that of occupyg those sites Edition: current; Page: [24] which are necessary to repel an enemy; observing only the amendment to the constitution which provides that private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation. I submit therefore to the consideration of Congress, where the necessary sites cannot be obtained by the joint & valid consent of parties, whether provision should be made by a process of ad quod damnum, or any other more eligible means for authorizing the sites which are necessary for the public defence to be appropriated to that purpose.

I am aware that as the consent of the legislature of the state to the purchase of the site may not, in some instances have been previously obtained, exclusive legislation cannot be exercised therein by Congress until that consent is given. But in the meantime it will be held under the same laws which protect the property of individuals in that state and other property of the U. S. and the legislatures at their next meetings will have opportunities of doing what will be so evidently called for by the interest of their own state.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Mar. 31, 08
Albert Gallatin
Gallatin, Albert

TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY
(ALBERT GALLATIN.)

j. mss.

If, on considering the doubts I shall suggest, you shall still think your draught of a supplementary embargo law sufficient, in its present form, I shall be satisfied it is so, for I have but one hour in the morning in which I am capable of thinking, and that Edition: current; Page: [25] is too much crowded with business to give me time to think.1

1. Is not the first paragraph against the Constitution, which says no preference shall be given to the Edition: current; Page: [26] ports of one State over those of another? You might put down those ports as ports of entry, if that could be made to do.

2. Could not your 2d paragraph be made to answer by making it say that no clearance shall be Edition: current; Page: [27] furnished to any vessel laden with provisions or lumber, to go from one port to another of the U S, without special permission, &c.? In that case we might lay down rules for the necessary removal of provisions and lumber, inland, which should give no trouble to the citizens, but refuse licenses for all coasting transportation of those articles but on such applications from a Governor as may ensure us against any exportation but for the consumption of his State. Portsmouth, Boston, Charleston, & Savannah, are the only ports which cannot be supplied inland. I should like to prohibit collections, also, made evidently for clandestine importation.

3. I would rather strike out the words “in conformity with treaty” in order to avoid any express recognition at this day of that article of the British treaty. It has been so flagrantly abused to excite the Indians to war against us, that I should have no hesitation in declaring it null, as soon as we see means of supplying the Indians ourselves.

I should have no objections to extend the exception to the Indian furs purchased by our traders & sent into Canada. Affectionate salutns.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
April 3, ’08
Washington
Cornelia Jefferson Randolph
Randolph, Cornelia Jefferson

TO CORNELIA JEFFERSON RANDOLPH1

My Dear Cornelia,

—I have owed you a letter two months, but have had nothing to write about, till last night I found in a newspaper the four lines Edition: current; Page: [28] which I now inclose to you: and as you are learning to write, they would be a good lesson to convince you of the importance of minding your stops in writing. I allow you a day to find out yourself how to read these lines, so far as to make them true. If you cannot do it in that time, you may call in assistance. At the same time, I will give you four other lines, which I learnt when I was but a little older than you, and I still remember.

  • “I ’ve seen the sea all in a blaze of fire
  • I ’ve seen a house as high as the moon and higher
  • I ’ve seen the sun at twelve o’clock at night
  • I ’ve seen the man who saw this wondrous sight.”

All this is true whatever you may think of it at first reading. I mentioned in my letter of last week to Ellen, that I was under an attack of periodical headache. This is the 10th day. It has been very moderate, and yesterday did not last more than three hours. Tell your mamma that I fear I shall not get away as soon as I expected. Congress has spent the last five days without employing a single hour in the business necessary to be finished. Kiss her for me, and all the sisterhood. To Jefferson I give my hand, to your papa my affectionate salutations. You have always my love.

Th. Jefferson.

P.S.—April 5. I have kept my letter open till to-day, and am able to say now, that my headache for the last two days has been scarcely sensible.1

Edition: current; Page: [29]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
April 24, 1808
CÆser Rodney
Rodney, CÆser

TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE U. S.1
(CÆSER RODNEY.)

Th. Jefferson returns the endorsed to Mr. Rodney with thanks for the communication. It is very evident that our embargo, added to the exclusions from the continent will be most easily felt in England and Ireland. Liverpool is remonstrating & endeavoring to get the other ports into motion. Yet the bill confirming the orders of Council is ordered to a 3d reading, which shews it will pass. Congress has just passed an additional embargo law, on which if we act as boldly as I am disposed to do, we can make it effectual. I think the material parts of the enclosed should be published. It will show our people Edition: current; Page: [30] that while the embargo gives no double rations it is starving our enemies. This six months session has drawn me down to a state of almost total incapacity for business. Congress will certainly rise tomorrow night, and I shall leave this for Monticello on the 5th of May to be here again on the 8th of June.

I salute you with constant affection & respect

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
May 2, 08
Washington
John Armstrong
Armstrong, John

TO THE U. S. MINISTER TO FRANCE
(JOHN ARMSTRONG.)

j. mss.
Dear General,

—A safe conveyance offering by a special messenger to Paris, I avail myself of it to bring up my arrears to my foreign correspondents. I give them the protection of your cover, but to save the trouble of your attention to their distribution, I give them an inner cover to Mr. Warden, whose attentions heretofore have encouraged me to ask this favor of him. But should he not be with you, I must pray you to open my packages to him, & have them distributed, as it is of importance that some of them should be delivered without delay. I shall say nothing to you on the subject of our foreign relations, because you will get what is official on that subject from Mr. Madison.

During the present paroxysm of the insanity of Europe, we have thought it wisest to break off all intercourse with her. We shall, in the course of this year, have all our seaports, of any note, put into a state of defence against naval attack. Against great land armies we cannot attempt it but by equal Edition: current; Page: [31] armies. For these we must depend on a classified militia, which will give us the service of the class from 20 to 26, in the nature of conscripts, composing a body of about 250,000, to be specially trained. This measure, attempted at a former session, was pressed at the last, and might, I think, have been carried by a small majority. But considering that great innovations should not be forced on a slender majority, and seeing that the general opinion is sensibly rallying to it, it was thought better to let it lie over to the next session, when, I trust, it will be passed. Another measure has now twice failed, which I have warmly urged, the immediate settlement by donation of lands, of such a body of militia in the territories of Orleans & Mississippi, as will be adequate to the defence of New Orleans. We are raising some regulars in addition to our present force, for garrisoning our seaports, & forming a nucleus for the militia to gather to. There will be no question who is to be my successor. Of this be assured, whatever may be said by newspapers and private correspondences. Local considerations have been silenced by those dictated by the continued difficulties of the times. One word of friendly request: be more frequent & full in your communications with us. I salute you with great friendship and respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
May 20, 08
Monticello
General Benjamin Smith
Smith, General Benjamin

TO GENERAL BENJAMIN SMITH

j. mss.
Sir,

—I return you my thanks for the communication by your letter of Apr 19, of the resolutions of Edition: current; Page: [32] the Grand jury of Brunswick, approving of the embargo. Could the alternative of war or the embargo have been presented to the whole nation, as it occurred to their representatives, there could have been but the one opinion that it was better to take the chance of one year by the embargo, within which the orders & decrees producing it may be repealed, or peace take place in Europe, which may secure peace to us. How long the continuance of the embargo may be preferable to war, is a question we shall have to meet, if the decrees & orders & war continues. I am sorry that in some places, chiefly on our northern frontier, a disposition even to oppose the law by force has been manifested. In no country on earth is this so impracticable as in one where every man feels a vital interest in maintaining the authority of the laws, and instantly engages in it as in his own personal cause. Accordingly, we have experienced this spontaneous aid of our good citizens in the neighborhoods where there has been occasion, as I am persuaded we ever shall on such occasions. Through the body of our country generally our citizens appear heartily to approve & support the embargo. I am also to thank you for the communication of the Wilmington proceedings, and I add my salutations & assurances of great respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
May 24, 08
Monticello
James Madison
Madison, James

TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE
(JAMES MADISON.)

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—What has been already said on the subject of Casa Calvo, Yrujo, Miranda, Edition: current; Page: [33] is sufficient, and that these should be seriously brought up again argues extreme weakness in Cavallos, or a plan to keep things unsettled with us. But I think it would not be amiss to take him down from his high airs as to the right of the sovereign to hinder the upper inhabitants from the use of the Mobile, by observing, 1, that we claim to be the sovereign, although we give time for discussion. But 2, that the upper inhabitants of a navigable water have always a right of innocent passage along it. I think Cavallos will not probably be the minister when the letter arrives at Madrid, and that an eye to that circumstance may perhaps have some proper influence on the style of the letter, in which, if meant for himself, his hyperbolic airs might merit less respect. I think too that the truth as to Pike’s mission might be so simply stated as to need no argument to show that (even during the suspension of our claims to the eastern border of the Rio Norte) his getting on it was mere error, which ought to have called for the setting him right, instead of forcing him through the interior country.

Sullivan’s letter. His view of things for some time past has been entirely distempered.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
June 23, 08
Washington
Doctor Thomas Leib
Leib, Doctor Thomas

TO DOCTOR THOMAS LEIB

j. mss.
Sir,

—I have duly received your favor covering a copy of the talk to the Tammany society, for which I thank you, and particularly for the favorable Edition: current; Page: [34] sentiments expressed towards myself. Certainly, nothing will so much sweeten the tranquillity and comfort of retirement, as the knoledge that I carry with me the good will & approbation of my republican fellow citizens, and especially of the individuals in unison with whom I have so long acted. With respect to the federalists, I believe we think alike; for when speaking of them, we never mean to include a worthy portion of our fellow citizens, who consider themselves as in duty bound to support the constituted authorities of every branch, and to reserve their opposition to the period of election. These having acquired the appellation of federalists, while a federal administration was in place, have not cared about throwing off their name, but adhering to their principle, are the supporters of the present order of things. The other branch of the federalists, those who are so in principle as well as in name, disapprove of the republican principles & features of our Constitution, and would, I believe, welcome any public calamity (war with England excepted) which might lessen the confidence of our country in those principles & forms. I have generally considered them rather as subjects for a mad-house. But they are now playing a game of the most mischievous tendency, without perhaps being themselves aware of it. They are endeavoring to convince England that we suffer more by the embargo than they do, & that if they will but hold out awhile, we must abandon it. It is true, the time will come when we must abandon it. But if this is before the repeal of the orders of council, we Edition: current; Page: [35] must abandon it only for a state of war. The day is not distant, when that will be preferable to a longer continuance of the embargo. But we can never remove that, & let our vessels go out & be taken under these orders, without making reprisal. Yet this is the very state of things which these federal monarchists are endeavoring to bring about; and in this it is but too possible they may succeed. But the fact is, that if we have war with England, it will be solely produced by their manœuvres. I think that in two or three months we shall know what will be the issue.

I salute you with esteem & respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
June 24. 08
General James Wilkinson
Wilkinson, General James

TO GENERAL JAMES WILKINSON

j. mss.

Thomas Jefferson presents his compliments to Genl Wilkinson, and in answer to his letters of yesterday observes that during the course of the Burr conspiracy, the voluminous communications he received were generally read but once & then committed to the Attorney General, and were never returned to him. It is not in his power, therefore, to say that General Wilkinson did or did not denounce eminent persons to him, & still less who they were. It was unavoidable that he should from time to time mention persons known or supposed to be accomplices of Burr, and it is recollected that some of these suspicions were corrected afterwards on better information. Whether the undefined term denunciation goes to cases of this kind or not Th J does Edition: current; Page: [36] not know, nor could he now name from recollection the persons suspected at different times. He salutes General Wilkinson respectfully.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
June 28th, 08
Washington
Thomas Mann Randolph
Randolph, Thomas Mann

TO THOMAS MANN RANDOLPH

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I enclose you a mercantile advertiser for the sake of the extraordinary fabrication in it’s Postscript by an arrival from Cork with London dates to the 9th of May. The arrival of the Osage in England (which had been detained in France by Armstrong himself) furnishes the occasion of amusing that nation with the forgeries of fact which I have included in an inked line on the margin, within which line every word is false. Yet this lie will run through all the papers. Few readers will think of asking themselves how this London (or Cork) printer should know all the particulars he states, & for which he quotes no authority. The fact is that there never has been a proposition or intimation to us from France to join them in the war, unless Champagny’s letter be so considered: nor has there ever been the slightest disrespect to Armstrong, as far as we have a right to conclude from his silence and from that of Turreau. So from England we have in like manner had no such intimation except in Holland & Auckland’s note subjoined to the treaty. We have nothing from Armstrong or Pinckney. Indeed we can have nothing interesting from France while the Emperor is absent. I continue to send you the Edition: current; Page: [37] Public Advertiser & citizen of N. Y. while their fire is kept up on the presidential election. The papers of the other states are almost entirely silent on the subject. It seems understood that De Witt Clinton sinks with his tool Cheetham. We have proof on the oath of a credible man that he set Burr on board the last British packet in the evening of her departure. He was disguised in a sailor’s habit, as were two other gentlemen unknown to the person, but one of whom Burr called Ogden at taking leave. He was met at N. York by Mrs. Alston, whose child babbled out in his play with another that “Grandpapa was come.”

I charged Bacon very strictly to keep the water of the canal always running over the waste, as Shoemaker has made the want of water the ground of insisting on a suspension of rent, and will probably continue to do it. Present my tender love to Martha & the family and be assured yourself of my affectionate attachment & respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
July 17, 08
Washington
Meriwether Lewis
Lewis, Meriwether

TO MERIWETHER LEWIS

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Since I parted with you in Albemarle in Sep. last, I have never had a line from you, nor I believe has the Secretary at War with whom you have much connection through the Indian department. The misfortune which attended the effort to send the Mandane chief home, became known to us before you had reached St. Louis. We took no step on the occasion, counting on receiving your advice Edition: current; Page: [38] so soon as you should be in place, and knowing that your knoledge of the whole subject & presence on the spot would enable you to judge better than we could what ought to be done. The constant persuasion that something from you must be on it’s way to us, has as constantly prevented our writing to you on the subject. The present letter, however, is written to put an end at length to this mutual silence, and to ask from you a communication of what you think best to be done to get the chief & his family back. We consider the good faith, and the reputation of the nation, as pledged to accomplish this. We would wish indeed not to be obliged to undertake any considerable military expedition in the present uncertain state of our foreign concerns & especially not till the new body of troops shall be raised. But if it can be effected in any other way & at any reasonable expense, we are disposed to meet it.

A powerful company is at length forming for taking up the Indian commerce on a large scale. They will employ a capital the first year of 300,000 D. and raise it afterwards to a million. The English Mackinac company will probably withdraw from the competition. It will be under the direction of a most excellent man, a Mr. Astor, merch’t of New York, long engaged in the business, & perfectly master of it. He has some hope of seeing you at St. Louis, in which case I recommend him to your particular attention. Nothing but the exclusive possession of the Indian commerce can secure us their peace.

Our foreign affairs do not seem to clear up at all. Should they continue as at present, the moment will Edition: current; Page: [39] come when it will be a question for the Legislature whether war will not be preferable to a longer continuance of the embargo.

The Presidential question is clearing up daily, and the opposition subsiding. It is very possible that the suffrage of the nation may be undivided. But with this question it is my duty not to intermeddle. I have not lately heard of your friends in Albemarle. They were well when I left that in June, and not hearing otherwise affords presumptions they are well. But I presume you hear that from themselves. We have no tidings yet of the forwardness of your printer. I hope the first part will not be delayed much longer. Wishing you every blessing of life & health, I salute you with constant affection & respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Aug. 2, 08
Monticello
John Langdon
Langdon, John

TO JOHN LANGDON
(Private.)

j. mss.
My dear Sir,

—The inclosed are formal, and for the public; but in sending them to you, I cannot omit the occasion of indulging my friendship in a more familiar way, & of recalling myself to your recollection. How much have I wished to have had you still with us through the years of my emploiment at Washington. I have seen with great pleasure the moderation & circumspection with which you have been kind enough to act under my letter of May 6, and I have been highly gratified with the late general expressions of public sentiment in favor of a measure which alone could have saved us from Edition: current; Page: [40] immediate war, & give time to call home 80 millions of property, 20, or 30,000 seamen, & 2,000 vessels. These are now nearly at home, & furnish a great capital, much of which will go into manufactures and seamen to man a fleet of privateers, whenever our citizens shall prefer war to a longer continuance of the embargo. Perhaps however the whale of the ocean may be tired of the solitude it has made on that element, and return to honest principles; and his brother robber on the land may see that, as to us, the grapes are sour. I think one war enough for the life of one man: and you and I have gone through one which at least may lessen our impatience to embark in another. Still, if it becomes necessary we must meet it like men, old men indeed, but yet good for something. But whether in peace or war, may you have as many years of life as you desire, with health & prosperity to make them happy years. I salute you with constant affection & great esteem & respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
August 9, 08
Monticello
Henry Dearborn
Dearborn, Henry

TO THE SECRETARY AT WAR
(HENRY DEARBORN.)

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Yours of July 27th is received. It confirms the accounts we receive from others that the infractions of the embargo in Maine & Massachusetts are open. I have removed Pope, of New Bedford, for worse than negligence. The collector of Sullivan is on the totter. The tories of Boston openly threaten insurrection if their importation of flour is stopped. The next post will stop it. I fear Edition: current; Page: [41] your Governor is not up to the tone of these parricides, and I hope, on the first symptom of an open opposition to the laws by force, you will fly to the scene and aid in suppressing any commotion.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
August 11, 08
Monticello
Albert Gallatin
Gallatin, Albert

TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY
(ALBERT GALLATIN.)

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Your letters of July 29th and Aug. 5th, came to hand yesterday, and I now return you those of Waynne, Wolsey, Quincy, Otis, Lincoln, & Dearborne. This embargo law is certainly the most embarrassing one we have ever had to execute. I did not expect a crop of so sudden & rank growth of fraud & open opposition by force could have grown up in the U. S. I am satisfied with you that if orders & decrees are not repealed, and a continuance of the embargo is preferred to war (which sentiment is universal here), Congress must legalize all means which may be necessary to obtain it’s end. Mr. Smith, in enclosing to me General Dearborne’s & Lincoln’s letters, informs me that immediately on receiving them he gave the necessary orders to the Chesapeake, the Wasp, & Argus. Still I shall pass this letter and those it encloses, through his hands for information. I am clearly of opinion this law ought to be enforced at any expense, which may not exceed our appropriation. I approve of the instructions to General Lincoln, for selling the revenue cutter there & buying another, and also of what you propose at New London & Portsmouth, and Edition: current; Page: [42] generally I wish you to do as to the revenue cutters what you shall think best, without delaying it to hear from me. You possess the details so much better than I do, and are so much nearer the principal scenes, that my approbation can be but matter of form. As to ordering out militia, you know the difficulty without another proclamation. I advise Mr. Madison to inform General Turreau that the vessels we allow to the foreign ministers are only in the character of transports, & that they cannot be allowed but where the number of persons bears the proportion to the vessel which is usual with transports. You will see by my last that on learning the situation of affairs in Spain, it had occurred to me that it might produce a favorable occasion of doing ourselves justice in the south. We must certainly so dispose of our southern recruits & armed vessels as to be ready for the occasion. A letter of June 5 from Mr. Pinckney says nothing more than that in a few days he was to have a full conference on our affairs with Mr. Canning. That will doubtless produce us immediately an interesting letter from him. I salute you affectionately.

P. S. I this day direct a commission for General Steele, vice General Shee, dec’d.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Aug. 12, 08
Monticello

TO THE SECRETARY AT WAR

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Yours of July 27 has been received. I now enclose you the letters of Hawkins, Harrison, Wells, Hull, & Claiborne, received from the war Edition: current; Page: [43] office, and as I conjecture, not yet seen by you. Indian appearances, both in the northwest & south, are well. Beyond the Mississippi they are not so favorable. I fear Governor Lewis has been too prompt in committing us with the Osages so far as to oblige us to go on. But it is astonishing we get not one word from him. I enclose you letters of Mr. Griff & Maclure, which will explain themselves. A letter of June 5 from Mr. Pinckney informs us he was to have a free conference with Canning in a few days. Should England make up with us, while Bonaparte continues at war with Spain, a moment may occur when we may without danger of commitment with either France or England seize to our own limits of Louisiana as of right, & the residue of the Floridas as reprisal for spoliations. It is our duty to have an eye to this in rendezvousing & stationing our new recruits & our armed vessels, so as to be ready, if Congress authorizes it, to strike in a moment. I wish you to consider this matter in the orders to the southern recruits, as I have also recommended to the Secretary of the Navy, as to the armed vessels in the South. Indeed, I would ask your opinion as to the positions we had better take with a view to this with our armed vessels as well as troops. The force in the neighborhood of Baton Rouge is enough for that. Mobile, Pensacola & St. Augustine are those we should be preparing for. The enforcing the embargo would furnish a pretext for taking the nearest healthy position to St. Mary’s, and on the waters of Tombigbee. I salute you with affection & respect.

Edition: current; Page: [44]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Aug 12, 08
Monticello
James Madison
Madison, James

TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE
(JAMES MADISON.)

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Yours of the 10th came to hand yesterday, & I return you Foronda’s, Tuft’s, Soderstrom’s, & Turreau’s letters. I think it is become necessary to let Turreau understand explicitly that the vessels we permit foreign ministers to send away are merely transports, for the conveyance of such of their subjects as were here at the time of the embargo; that the numbers must be proportioned to the vessels, as is usual with transports; and that all who meant to go away must be presumed to have gone before now,—at any rate, that none will be accommodated after the present vessel. We never can allow one belligerent to buy & fit out vessels here, to be manned with his own people, & probably act against the other. You did not return my answer to Sullivan. But fortunately I have received another letter, which will enable me to give the matter an easier turn, & let it down more softly. Should the conference announced in Mr. Pinckney’s letter of June 5, settle friendship between England & us, & Bonaparte continue at war with Spain, a moment may occur favorable, without compromitting us with either France or England, for seizing our own from the Rio Bravo to Perdido, as of right, & the residue of Florida, as a reprisal for spoliations. I have thought it proper to suggest this possibility to Genl Dearborne & Mr. Smith, & to recommend an eye to it in their rendezvousing & stationing the new southern recruits & gun-boats, so that we may strike Edition: current; Page: [45] in a moment when Congress says so. I have appointed Genl Steele successor to Shee. Mr. & Mrs. Barlow, & Mrs. Blagden, will be here about the 25th. May we hope to see Mrs. Madison & yourself then, or when? I shall go to Bedford about the 10th of September. I salute you with constant affection & respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Aug 12, 08
Monticello
James Sullivan
Sullivan, James

TO THE GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS
(JAMES SULLIVAN.)

j. mss.
Sir,

—Your letter of July 21 has been received some days; that of July 23 not till yesterday. Some accident had probably detained it on the road considerably beyond its regular passage. In the former you mention that you had thought it advisable to continue issuing certificates for the importation of flour, until you could hear further from me; and in the latter, that you will be called from the Capital in the fall months, after which it is your desire that the power of issuing certificates may be given to some other, if it is to be continued.

In mine of July 16th I had stated that, during the two months preceding that, your certificates, received at the Treasury, amounted, if I rightly recollect, to about 60,000 barrels of flour, & a proportionable quantity of corn. If this whole quantity had been bonâ fide landed & retained in Massachusetts, I deemed it certain there could not be a real want for a considerable time, &, therefore, desired the issues of certificates might be discontinued. If, on the other hand, a part has been carried to foreign markets, Edition: current; Page: [46] it proves the necessity of restricting reasonably this avenue to abuse. This is my sole object, and not that a real want of a single individual should be one day unsupplied. In this I am certain we shall have the concurrence of all the good citizens of Massachusetts, who are too patriotic and too just to desire, by calling for what is superfluous, to open a door for the frauds of unprincipled individuals who, trampling on the laws, and forcing a commerce shut to all others, are enriching themselves on the sacrifices of their honester fellow citizens;—sacrifices to which these are generally & willingly submitting, as equally necessary whether to avoid or prepare for war.

Still further, however, to secure the State against all danger of want, I will request you to continue issuing certificates, in the moderate way proposed in your letter, until your departure from the Capital, as before stated, when I will consider it as discontinued, or make another appointment if necessary. There is less risk of inconvenience in this, as, by a letter from the Secretary of the Treasury, of May 20th, the collectors were advised not to detain any vessel, the articles of whose lading were so proportioned as to give no cause of suspicion that they were destined for a foreign market. This mode of supply alone seems to have been sufficient for the other importing States, if we may judge from the little use they have made of the permission to issue certificates.

Should these reasonable precautions be followed, as is surmised in your letter of July 21, by an artificial Edition: current; Page: [47] scarcity, with a view to promote turbulence of any sort or on any pretext, I trust for an ample security against this danger to the character of my fellow citizens of Massachusetts, which has, I think, been emphatically marked by obedience to law, & a love of order. And I have no doubt that whilst we do our duty, they will support us in it. The laws enacted by the general government, will have made it our duty to have the embargo strictly observed, for the general good; & we are sworn to execute the laws. If clamor ensue, it will be from the few only, who will clamor whatever we do. I shall be happy to receive the estimate promised by your Excellency, as it may assist to guide us in the cautions we may find necessary. And here I will beg leave to recall your attention to a mere error of arithmetic in your letter of July 23. The quantity of flour requisite on the date there given, would be between thirteen & fourteen thousand barrels per month. I beg you to accept my salutations, & assurances of high respect & consideration.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Aug. 29, 1808
United States

TO THE EMPEROR OF RUSSIA

j. mss.
Great and good Friend and Emperor,

—Desirous of promoting useful intercourse & good understanding between your majesty’s subjects & the citizens of the U S, and especially to cultivate the friendship of Y. M., I have appointed William Short, one of our distinguished citizens, to be in quality of Minister Plenipo. of the U S, the bearer to you of Edition: current; Page: [48] assurances of their sincere friendship, and of their desire to maintain with Y. M. & your subjects the strictest relations of amity & commerce: He will explain to Y. M. the peculiar position of these States, separated by a wide ocean from the powers of Europe, with interests and pursuits distinct from theirs, and consequently without the motives or the aptitudes for taking part in the associations or oppositions which a different system of interests produces among them; he is charged to assure Y. M. more particularly of our purpose to observe a faithful neutrality towards the contending powers, in the war to which your majesty is a party, rendering to all the services & courtesies of friendship, and praying for the re-establishment of peace & right among them; and we entertain an entire confidence that this just & faithful conduct on the part of the U S will strengthen the friendly dispositions you have manifested towards them, and be a fresh motive with so just & magnanimous a sovereign to enforce, by the high influence of your example, the respect due to the character & the rights of a peaceable nation. I beseech you, great and good friend & emperor, to give entire credence to whatever he shall say to you on the part of these States, & most all of when he shall assure you of their cordial esteem & respect for Y. M’s. person & character, praying God always to have you in his safe & holy keeping.1

Edition: current; Page: [49]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Sept. 6, 08
Monticello
James Madison
Madison, James

TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE
(JAMES MADISON.)

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I return you Pinckney’s letter, the complexion of which I like. If they repeal their orders, we must repeal our embargo. If they make satisfaction for the Chesapeake, we must revoke our proclamation, and generalize its operation by a law. If they keep up impressments, we must adhere to non-intercourse, manufactures & a navigation act. I enclose for your perusal a letter of Mr. Short’s. I inform him that any one of the persons he names would be approved, the government never recognizing a difference between the two parties of republicans in Pennsylvania.

I do not think the anonymous rhapsody is Cheatham’s. Tho’ mere declamation, it is of too high an order for him. I think it quite in Gouv. Morris’s dictatorial manner. It’s matter is miserable sophistry.

I salute you with constant affection.

Edition: current; Page: [50]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Sept. 13, 08
Monticello
James Madison
Madison, James

TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE
(JAMES MADISON.)

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I send you a letter of Short’s for perusal, & one of Edgar Patterson, asking what is already I presume provided for, and one of General Armstrong, which I do not well understand, because I do not recollect the particular letter which came by Haley. I presume the counsel he refers to is to take possession of the Floridas. This letter of June 15 is written after the cession by Carlos to Bonaparte of all his dominions, when he supposed England would at once pounce on the Floridas as a prey, or Bonaparte occupy it as a neighbor. His next will be written after the people of Spain will have annihilated the cession, England become the protector of Florida, and Bonaparte without title or means to plant himself there as our neighbor.

Ought I to answer such a petition as that of Rowley? The people have a right to petition, but not to use that right to cover calumniating insinuations.

Turreau writes like Armstrong so much in the buskin, that he cannot give a naked fact in an intelligible form. I do not know what it is he asks for. If a transport or transports to convey sailors, there has been no refusal; and if any delay of answer, I presume it can be explained. If he wishes to buy vessels here, man them with French seamen, and send them elsewhere, the breach of neutrality would be in permitting, not in refusing it. But have we permitted this to England? His remedy is easy in Edition: current; Page: [51] every case. Repeal the decrees. I presume our Fredericksburg rider need not come after his next trip. I salute you affectionately.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Oct. 15, 08
Washington
Robert R. Livingston
Livingston, Robert R.

TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON

j. mss.
Sir,

—Your letter of Sept 22 waited here for my return, and it is not till now that I have been able to acknowledge it. The explanation of his principles given you by the French Emperor, in conversation, is correct as far as it goes. He does not wish us to go to war with England, knowing we have no ships to carry on that war. To submit to pay to England the tribute on our commerce which she demands by her orders of council, would be to aid her in the war against him, & would give him just ground to declare war with us. He concludes, therefore, as every rational man must, that the embargo, the only remaining alternative, was a wise measure. These are acknowledged principles, and should circumstances arise which may offer advantage to our country in making them public, we shall avail ourselves of them. But as it is not usual nor agreeable to governments to bring their conversation before the public, I think it would be well to consider this on your part as confidential, leaving to the government to retain or make it public, as the general good may require. Had the Emperor gone further, and said that he condemned our vessels going voluntarily into his ports in breach of his municipal laws, we might Edition: current; Page: [52] have admitted it rigorously legal, tho’ not friendly. But his condemnation of vessels taken on the high seas, by his privateers, & carried involuntarily into his ports, is justifiable by no law, is piracy, and this is the wrong we complain of against him.

Supposing that you may be still at Clermont, from whence your letter is dated, I avail myself of this circumstance to request your presenting my friendly respects to Chancellor Livingston. I salute you with esteem & respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Oct. 27, 08
Washington
Doctor James Brown
Brown, Doctor James

TO DOCTOR JAMES BROWN

Dear Sir,

—You will wonder that your letter of June 3 should not be acknoledged till this date. I never received it till Sep 12, and coming soon after to this place, the accumulation of business I found here has prevented my taking it up till now. That you ever participated in any plan for a division of the Union, I never for one moment believed. I knew your Americanism too well. But as the enterprise against Mexico was of a very different character, I had supposed what I heard on that subject to be possible. You disavow it; that is enough for me, and I forever dismiss the idea. I wish it were possible to extend my belief of innocence to a very different description of men in N O; but I think there is sufficient evidence of there being there a set of foreign adventurers, & native mal-contents, who would concur in any enterprise to separate that country from this. I did wish to see these people Edition: current; Page: [53] get what they deserved; and under the maxim of the law itself, that inter arma silent leges, that in an encampment expecting daily attack from a powerful enemy, self-preservation is paramount to all law, I expected that instead of invoking the forms of the law to cover traitors, all good citizens would have concurred in securing them. Should we have ever gained our Revolution, if we had bound our hands by manacles of the law, not only in the beginning, but in any part of the revolutionary conflict? There are extreme cases where the laws become inadequate even to their own preservation, and where, the universal resource is a dictator, or martial law. Was N O. in that situation? Altho’ we knew here that the force destined against it was suppressed on the Ohio, yet we supposed this unknown at N O at the time that Burr’s accomplices were calling in the aid of the law to enable them to perpetrate its suppression, and that it was reasonable according to the state of information there, to act on the expectation of a daily attack. Of this you are the best judge.

Burr is in London, and is giving out to his friends that that government offers him 2. millions of dollars the moment he can raise an ensign of rebellion as big as a handkerchief. Some of his partisans will believe this, because they wish it. But those who know him best will not believe it the more because he says it. For myself, even in his most flattering periods of the conspiracy, I never entertained one moment’s fear. My long & intimate knowledge of my countrymen, satisfied & satisfies Edition: current; Page: [54] me, that let there ever be occasion to display the banners of the law, & the world will see how few & pitiful are those who shall array themselves in opposition. I as little fear foreign invasion. I have indeed thought it a duty to be prepared to meet even the most powerful, that of a Bonaparte, for instance, by the only means competent, that of a classification of the militia, & placing the junior classes at the public disposal; but the lesson he receives in Spain extirpates all apprehensions from my mind. If, in a peninsula, the neck of which is adjacent to him and at his command, where he can march any army without the possibility of interception or obstruction from any foreign power, he finds it necessary to begin with an army of 300.000 men, to subdue a nation of 5 millions, brutalized by ignorance, and enervated by long peace, and should find constant reinforcements of thousands after thousands, necessary to effect at last a conquest as doubtful as deprecated, what numbers would be necessary against 8 millions of free Americans, spread over such an extent of country as would wear him down by mere marching, by want of food, autumnal diseases, &c.? How would they be brought, and how reinforced across an ocean of 3000 miles, in possession of a bitter enemy, whose peace, like the repose of a dog, is never more than momentary? And for what? For nothing but hard blows. If the Orleanese Creoles would but contemplate these truths, they would cling to the American Union, soul & body, as their first affection, and we should be as safe there as we are everywhere else. I have Edition: current; Page: [55] no doubt of their attachment to us in preference of the English.

I salute you with sincere friendship & respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Oct. 29, 08
Washington
William Charles
Charles, William
Cole Claiborne
Claiborne, Cole

TO THE GOVERNOR OF LOUISIANA
(WILLIAM CHARLES COLE CLAIBORNE.)

j. mss.
Sir,

—I send the enclosed letter under the benefit of your cover, & open, because I wish you to know it’s contents. I thought the person to whom it is addressed a very good man when here,—he is certainly a very learned and able one. I thought him peculiarly qualified to be useful with you. But in the present state of my information, I can say no more than I have to him. When you shall have read the letter, be so good as to stick a wafer in it, & not let it be delivered till it is dry, that he may not know that any one but himself sees it. The Spanish paper you enclosed me is an atrocious one. I see it has been republished in Havanna. The truth is that the patriots of Spain have no warmer friends than the administration of the U S, but it is our duty to say nothing & to do nothing for or against either. If they succeed, we shall be well satisfied to see Cuba & Mexico remain in their present dependence; but very unwilling to see them in that of either France or England, politically or commercially. We consider their interests & ours as the same, and that the object of both must be to exclude all European influence from this hemisphere. Edition: current; Page: [56] We wish to avoid the necessity of going to war, till our revenue shall be entirely liberated from debt. Then it will suffice for war, without creating new debt or taxes. These are sentiments which I would wish you to express to any proper characters of either of these two countries, and particularly that we have nothing more at heart than their friendship. I salute you with great esteem & respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
November 8, 1808

EIGHTH ANNUAL MESSAGE1

To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:—

It would have been a source, fellow citizens, of much gratification, if our last communications from Edition: current; Page: [57] Europe had enabled me to inform you that the belligerent nations, whose disregard of neutral rights has been so destructive to our commerce, had become awakened to the duty and true policy of Edition: current; Page: [58] revoking their unrighteous edicts. That no means might be omitted to produce this salutary effect, I lost no time in availing myself of the act authorizing a suspension, in whole or in part, of the several Edition: current; Page: [59] embargo laws. Our ministers at London and Paris were instructed to explain to the respective governments there, our disposition to exercise the authority in such manner as would withdraw the Edition: current; Page: [60] pretext on which the aggressions were originally founded, and open a way for a renewal of that commercial intercourse which it was alleged on all sides had been reluctantly obstructed. As each of Edition: current; Page: [61] those governments had pledged its readiness to concur in renouncing a measure which reached its adversary through the incontestable rights of neutrals only, and as the measure had been assumed by Edition: current; Page: [62] each as a retaliation for an asserted acquiescence in the aggressions of the other, it was reasonably expected that the occasion would have been seized by both for evincing the sincerity of their profession, Edition: current; Page: [63] and for restoring to the commerce of the United States its legitimate freedom. The instructions to our ministers with respect to the different belligerents were necessarily modified with reference to their different circumstances, and to the condition annexed by law to the executive power of suspension, requiring a degree of security to our commerce which would not result from a repeal of the decrees of France. Instead of a pledge, therefore, of a suspension of the embargo as to her in case of such a repeal, it was presumed that a sufficient inducement might be found in other considerations, and particularly in the change produced by a compliance with our just demands by one belligerent, and a refusal by the other, in the relations between the other and the United States. To Great Britain, whose power on the ocean is so ascendant, it was deemed not inconsistent with that condition to state explicitly, that on her rescinding her orders in relation to the United States their trade would be opened with her, and remain shut to her enemy, in case of his failure to rescind his decrees also. From France no answer has been received, nor any indication that the requisite change in her decrees is contemplated. The favorable reception of the proposition to Great Britain was the less to be doubted, as her orders of council had not only been referred for their vindication to an acquiesence on the part of the United States no longer to be pretended, but as the arrangement proposed, while it resisted the illegal decrees of France, involved, moreover, substantially, the precise advantages professedly aimed Edition: current; Page: [64] at by the British orders. The arrangement has nevertheless been rejected.

This candid and liberal experiment having thus failed, and no other event having occurred on which a suspension of the embargo by the executive was authorized, it necessarily remains in the extent originally given to it. We have the satisfaction, however, to reflect, that in return for the privations by the measure, and which our fellow citizens in general have borne with patriotism, it has had the important effects of saving our mariners and our vast mercantile property, as well as of affording time for prosecuting the defensive and provisional measures called for by the occasion. It has demonstrated to foreign nations the moderation and firmness which govern our councils, and to our citizens the necessity of uniting in support of the laws and the rights of their country, and has thus long frustrated those usurpations and spoliations which, if resisted, involve war; if submitted to, sacrificed a vital principle of our national independence.

Under a continuance of the belligerent measures which, in defiance of laws which consecrate the rights of neutrals, overspread the ocean with danger, it will rest with the wisdom of Congress to decide on the course best adapted to such a state of things; and bringing with them, as they do, from every part of the Union, the sentiments of our constituents, my confidence is strengthened, that in forming this decision they will, with an unerring regard to the essential rights and interests of the nation, weigh Edition: current; Page: [65] and compare the painful alternatives out of which a choice is to be made. Nor should I do justice to the virtues which on other occasions have marked the character of our fellow citizens, if I did not cherish an equal confidence that the alternative chosen, whatever it may be, will be maintained with all the fortitude and patriotism which the crisis ought to inspire.

The documents containing the correspondences on the subject of the foreign edicts against our commerce, with the instructions given to our ministers at London and Paris, are now laid before you.

The communications made to Congress at their last session explained the posture in which the close of the discussion relating to the attack by a British ship of war on the frigate Chesapeake left a subject on which the nation had manifested so honorable a sensibility. Every view of what had passed authorized a belief that immediate steps would be taken by the British government for redressing a wrong, which, the more it was investigated, appeared the more clearly to require what had not been provided for in the special mission. It is found that no steps have been taken for the purpose. On the contrary, it will be seen, in the documents laid before you, that the inadmissible preliminary which obstructed the adjustment is still adhered to; and, moreover, that it is now brought into connection with the distinct and irrelative case of the orders in council. The instructions which had been given to our ministers at London with a view to facilitate, if necessary, the reparation claimed by the Edition: current; Page: [66] United States, are included in the documents communicated.

Our relations with the other powers of Europe have undergone no material changes since your last session. The important negotiations with Spain, which had been alternately suspended and resumed, necessarily experience a pause under the extraordinary and interesting crisis which distinguished her internal situation.

With the Barbary powers we continue in harmony, with the exception of an unjustifiable proceeding of the dey of Algiers toward our consul to that regency. Its character and circumstances are now laid before you, and will enable you to decide how far it may, either now or hereafter, call for any measures not within the limits of the executive authority.

With our Indian neighbors the public peace has been steadily maintained. Some instances of individual wrong have, as at other times, taken place, but in nowise implicating the will of the nation. Beyond the Mississippi, the Iowas, the Sacs, and the Alabamas, have delivered up for trial and punishment individuals from among themselves accused of murdering citizens of the United States. On this side of the Mississippi, the Creeks are exerting themselves to arrest offenders of the same kind; and the Choctaws have manifested their readiness and desire for amicable and just arrangements respecting depredations committed by disorderly persons of their tribe. And, generally, from a conviction that we consider them as part of ourselves, and cherish with sincerity their rights and interests, the attachment Edition: current; Page: [67] of the Indian tribes is gaining strength daily—is extending from the nearer to the more remote, and will amply requite us for the justice and friendship practised towards them. Husbandry and household manufacture are advancing among them, more rapidly with the southern than the northern tribes, from circumstances of soil and climate; and one of the two great divisions of the Cherokee nation have now under consideration to solicit the citizenship of the United States, and to be identified with us in laws and government, in such progressive manner as we shall think best.

In consequence of the appropriations of the last session of Congress for the security of our seaport towns and harbors, such works of defence have been erected as seemed to be called for by the situation of the several places, their relative importance, and the scale of expense indicated by the amount of the appropriation. These works will chiefly be finished in the course of the present season, except at New York and New Orleans, where most was to be done; and although a great proportion of the last appropriation has been expended on the former place, yet some further views will be submitted by Congress for rendering its security entirely adequate against naval enterprise. A view of what has been done at the several places, and of what is proposed to be done, shall be communicated as soon as the several reports are received.

Of the gun-boats authorized by the act of December last, it has been thought necessary to build only one hundred and three in the present year. These, Edition: current; Page: [68] with those before possessed, are sufficient for the harbors and waters exposed, and the residue will require little time for their construction when it is deemed necessary.

Under the act of the last session for raising an additional military force, so many officers were immediately appointed as were necessary for carrying on the business of recruiting, and in proportion as it advanced, others have been added. We have reason to believe their success has been satisfactory, although such returns have not yet been received as enable me to present to you a statement of the numbers engaged.

I have not thought it necessary in the course of the last season to call for any general detachments of militia or volunteers under the law passed for that purpose. For the ensuing season, however, they will require to be in readiness should their services be wanted. Some small and special detachments have been necessary to maintain the laws of embargo on that portion of our northern frontier which offered peculiar facilities for evasion, but these were replaced as soon as it could be done by bodies of new recruits. By the aid of these, and of the armed vessels called into actual service in other quarters, the spirit of disobedience and abuse which manifested itself early, and with sensible effect while we were unprepared to meet it, has been considerably repressed.

Considering the extraordinary character of the times in which we live, our attention should unremittingly be fixed on the safety of our country. For a people who are free, and who mean to remain Edition: current; Page: [69] so, a well-organized and armed militia is their best security. It is, therefore, incumbent on us, at every meeting, to revise the condition of the militia, and to ask ourselves if it is prepared to repel a powerful enemy at every point of our territories exposed to invasion. Some of the States have paid a laudable attention to this object; but every degree of neglect is to be found among others. Congress alone have power to produce a uniform state of preparation in this great organ of defence; the interests which they so deeply feel in their own and their country’s security will present this as among the most important objects of their deliberation.

Under the acts of March 11th and April 23d, respecting arms, the difficulty of procuring them from abroad, during the present situation and dispositions of Europe, induced us to direct our whole efforts to the means of internal supply. The public factories have, therefore, been enlarged, additional machineries erected, and in proportion as artificers can be found or formed, their effect, already more than doubled, may be increased so as to keep pace with the yearly increase of the militia. The annual sums appropriated by the latter act, have been directed to the encouragement of private factories of arms, and contracts have been entered into with individual undertakers to nearly the amount of the first year’s appropriation.

The suspension of our foreign commerce, produced by the injustice of the belligerent powers, and the consequent losses and sacrifices of our citizens, are subjects of just concern. The situation into Edition: current; Page: [70] which we have thus been forced, has impelled us to apply a portion of our industry and capital to internal manufactures and improvements. The extent of this conversion is daily increasing, and little doubt remains that the establishments formed and forming will—under the auspices of cheaper materials and subsistence, the freedom of labor from taxation with us, and of protecting duties and prohibitions—become permanent. The commerce with the Indians, too, within our own boundaries, is likely to receive abundant aliment from the same internal source, and will secure to them peace and the progress of civilization, undisturbed by practices hostile to both.

The accounts of the receipts and expenditures during the year ending on the 30th day of September last, being not yet made up, a correct statement will hereafter be transmitted from the Treasury. In the meantime, it is ascertained that the receipts have amounted to near eighteen millions of dollars, which, with the eight millions and a half in the treasury at the beginning of the year, have enabled us, after meeting the current demands and interest incurred, to pay two millions three hundred thousand dollars of the principal of our funded debt, and left us in the treasury, on that day, near fourteen millions of dollars. Of these, five millions three hundred and fifty thousand dollars will be necessary to pay what will be due on the first day of January next, which will complete the reimbursement of the eight per cent. stock. These payments, with those made in the six years and a half preceding, will have extinguished Edition: current; Page: [71] thirty-three millions five hundred and eighty thousand dollars of the principal of the funded debt, being the whole which could be paid or purchased within the limits of the law and our contracts; and the amount of principal thus discharged will have liberated the revenue from about two millions of dollars of interest, and added that sum annually to the disposable surplus. The probable accumulation of the surpluses of revenue beyond what can be applied to the payment of the public debt, whenever the freedom and safety of our commerce shall be restored, merits the consideration of Congress. Shall it lie unproductive in the public vaults? Shall the revenue be reduced? Or shall it rather be appropriated to the improvements of roads, canals, rivers, education, and other great foundations of prosperity and union, under the powers which Congress may already possess, or such amendment of the constitution as may be approved by the States? While uncertain of the course of things, the time may be advantageously employed in obtaining the powers necessary for a system of improvement, should that be thought best.

Availing myself of this the last occasion which will occur of addressing the two houses of the legislature at their meeting, I cannot omit the expression of my sincere gratitude for the repeated proofs of confidence manifested to me by themselves and their predecessors since my call to the administration, and the many indulgences experienced at their hands. The same grateful acknowledgments are due to my fellow citizens generally, whose support has been my Edition: current; Page: [72] great encouragement under all embarrassments. In the transaction of their business I cannot have escaped error. It is incident to our imperfect nature. But I may say with truth, my errors have been of the understanding, not of intention; and that the advancement of their rights and interests has been the constant motive for every measure. On these considerations I solicit their indulgence. Looking forward with anxiety to their future destinies, I trust that, in their steady character unshaken by difficulties, in their love of liberty, obedience to law, and support of the public authorities, I see a sure guaranty of the permanence of our republic; and retiring from the charge of their affairs, I carry with me the consolation of a firm persuasion that Heaven has in store for our beloved country long ages to come of prosperity and happiness.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Nov. 13, 08
Washington
Abraham Bishop
Bishop, Abraham

TO ABRAHAM BISHOP

j. mss.
Sir,

—Not knowing whether Colo. Humphreys would be at present at or in the neighborhood of New Haven, or in Boston, I take the liberty of addressing a request to yourself. Homespun is become the spirit of the times: I think it an useful one, & therefore that it is a duty to encourage it by example. The best fine cloth made in the U. S. is, I am told, at the manufacture of Colo. Humphreys in your neighborhood. Could I get the favor of you to procure me there as much of his best as would make me a coat. I should prefer a deep blue, but, if not to be had, then Edition: current; Page: [73] a black. Some person coming on in the stage can perhaps be found who would do me the favor of taking charge of it. The amount shall be remitted to you the moment you shall be so kind as to notify it to me, or paid to any member of the legislature here whom yourself or Colonel Humphreys’ agent shall indicate. Having so little acquaintance in or near New Haven, I hope you will pardon the liberty I take in proposing this trouble to you towards which the general motive will perhaps avail something. I salute you with esteem & respect.1

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
13, 08
Washington
Lieutenant Governor Levi Lincoln
Lincoln, Lieutenant Governor Levi

TO LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR LEVI LINCOLN

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I enclose you a petition from Nantucket, & refer it for your decision. Our opinion Edition: current; Page: [74] here is, that that place has been so deeply concerned in smuggling, that if it wants, it is because it has illegally sent away what it ought to have retained for its own consumption. Be so good as to bear in mind that I have asked the favor of you to see that your State encounters no real want, while, at the same time, where applications are made merely to cover fraud, no facilities towards that be furnished. I presume there can be no want in Massachusetts as yet, as I am informed that Governor Sullivan’s permits are openly bought & sold here & in Alexandria & at other markets. The congressional campaign is just opening: three alternatives alone are to be chosen from. 1. Embargo. 2. War. 3. Submission and tribute. &, wonderful to tell, the last will not want advocates. The real question, however, will lie between the two first, on which there is considerable division. As yet the first seems most to prevail; but opinions are by no means yet settled down. Perhaps the advocates of the 2d may, to a formal declaration of war, prefer general letters of mark & reprisal, because, on a repeal of their edicts by the belligerent, a revocation of the letters of mark restores peace without the delay, difficulties, & ceremonies of a treaty. On this occasion, I think it is fair to leave to those who are to act on them, the decisions they prefer, being to be myself but Edition: current; Page: [75] a spectator. I should not feel justified in directing measures which those who are to execute them would disapprove. Our situation is truly difficult. We have been pressed by the belligerents to the very wall, & all further retreat impracticable.

I salute you with sincere friendship.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Nov. 22, 08
Washington
William A. Burwell
Burwell, William A.

TO WILLIAM A. BURWELL

j. mss.
My Dear Sir,

—Your friendly intimations to me as to matters respecting myself, never need an apology. I know them always to proceed from the kindest motives, & am thankful for them. I have had too many proofs of the interest you take in what concerns me to have a doubt of this. But the story from Richmond is one of those unfounded falsehoods which assail me regularly in whatever direction I move. Mr. Jefferson had instructions in December or January last to sell my tobo. then delivered him whenever he could get 7 Dollars. You know the slight expectation entertained in the summer that Gr. Britain would revoke her decrees & you now know the ground of that expectation. But from the moment of the return of the St. Michael, which was about the beginning of October, it was known publicly that this vessel brought the most unfavorable accounts. Notwithstanding this, from pretended London letters & lies of the Federalists themselves, a new hope was excited among the speculators, who had given 6. 7. & 8. D. for tobo. at Edition: current; Page: [76] Richmond some weeks before mine was sold. At length the price originally limited for mine was offered to Mr. Jefferson, who thereupon sold, receiving one-half in cash, the other payable in 60 days. Since the transaction, the bitter spirits of the place have tacked to it a story that Mr. Coles had written & his letter was shewn saying the embargo would be taken off. In the first place I never heard of any letter written by Mr. Coles till I saw it mentioned in a N. Y. paper, after my tobo. was sold & the first payment remitted me. In the next place, Mr. Coles letter did not say one word about the embargo; it only stated to his brother that he had heard Mr. Madison say the night before that wheat was at 14/sterling in England & therefore, expecting that that would in some way affect prices here, he strongly dissuaded him from selling his wheat. He accordingly declined selling & went home. This letter discouraging the sale of wheat, was by that perversion so habitual with these people, made to be an encouragement to the sale of my tobo. Mr. Coles has fully stated this in the Richmond papers, and I pray you to speak with him on the subject, as he knows that his letter was totally unknown to me, & in fact had no more connection with the sale of my tobo. nor could, when candidly stated, have no more effect on it’s price, than on the price of Louisiana. Your suggestion of relinquishing the contract has not I think been well weighed. The consequence would inevitably be that instead of giving me credit for a liberal act, the Federalists would consider it as a plea of guilty, and give to the story a new form of Edition: current; Page: [77] tenfold malignity & difficulty to refute. “Conscious of having cheated the purchasers, he has slunk out of a transaction which he knew could not be supported, & claims merit for his meanness as if it were a liberality.” As sure as we live this turn, or a worse one, if they could find a worse would be given it. And the inference of guilt would be rendered more plausible. No, my dear friend, it has been a fair & honorable transaction, and my reputation is pledged to maintain it as such: and long experience has convinced me that this is not to be done by shuffling the question from one ground to another, but by taking & holding to the original ground of truth. Were I to buy off every Federal lie by a sacrifice of 2 or 3 thousand D. a very few such purchases would make me as bankrupt in reputation as in fortune. To buy off one lie is to give a premium for the invention of others. From the moment I was proposed for my present office, the volumes of calumny & falsehood issued to the public, rendered impracticable every idea of going into the work of finding & proving. I determined therefore to go straight forward in what was right, and to rest my character with my countrymen not on depositions & affidavits, but on what they should themselves witness, the course of my life. I have had no reason to be dissatisfied with the confidence reposed in the public, on the contrary great encouragement to persevere in it to the end. The Federalists, very evidently, instead of lying me down, have lied themselves down and so near the end of my career, it would not be wise in me to give them a new credit by paying a respect to a new Edition: current; Page: [78] falsehood which I had never done to former ones. Many of these would have required only a simple denial, but I saw that even that would have led to the infallible inference, that whatever I had not denied was to be presumed true. I have therefore never done even this, but to such of my friends as happen to converse on these subjects, and I have never believed that my character could hang upon every two-penny lie of our common enemies. The story in question is now an old one, of about a month, yet it had made so little impression on me that I had never thought of it in our conversations, or I should have mentioned it to you. And I cannot help believing that on reconsideration you will think that the course I propose is consonant with a system from which it would not be advisable to depart at this late day. Still the interest you have felt on the subject is an additional proof of your friendship, and meets my sincere acknolegements, to which permit me to add the assurances of my affectionate attachment & respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
November 24, 1808
Washington
Thomas Jefferson Randolph
Randolph, Thomas Jefferson

TO THOMAS JEFFERSON RANDOLPH1

j. mss.
My Dear Jefferson,

—I have just received the enclosed letter under cover from Mr. Bankhead which I presume is from Anne, and will inform you she is well. Mr. Bankhead has consented to go & pursue his studies at Monticello, and live with us till his pursuits or circumstances may require a separate Edition: current; Page: [79] establishment. Your situation, thrown at such a distance from us, & alone, cannot but give us all great anxieties for you. As much has been secured for you, by your particular position and the acquaintance to which you have been recommended, as could be done towards shielding you from the dangers which surround you. But thrown on a wide world, among entire strangers, without a friend or guardian to advise, so young too and with so little experience of mankind, your dangers are great, & still your safety must rest on yourself. A determination never to do what is wrong, prudence and good humor, will go far towards securing to you the estimation of the world. When I recollect that at 14 years of age, the whole care & direction of myself was thrown on myself entirely, without a relation or friend qualified to advise or guide me, and recollect the various sorts of bad company with which I associated from time to time, I am astonished I did not turn off with some of them, & become as worthless to society as they were. I had the good fortune to become acquainted very early with some characters of very high standing, and to feel the incessant wish that I could ever become what they were. Under temptations & difficulties, I would ask myself what would Dr. Small, Mr. Wythe, Peyton Randolph do in this situation? What course in it will insure me their approbation? I am certain that this mode of deciding on my conduct, tended more to its correctness than any reasoning powers I possessed. Knowing the even & dignified line they pursued, I could never doubt for a moment which of two courses would be Edition: current; Page: [80] in character for them. Whereas, seeking the same object through a process of moral reasoning, & with the jaundiced eye of youth, I should often have erred. From the circumstances of my position, I was often thrown into the society of horse racers, card players, fox hunters, scientific & professional men, and of dignified men; and many a time have I asked myself, in the enthusiastic moment of the death of a fox, the victory of a favorite horse, the issue of a question eloquently argued at the bar, or in the great council of the nation, well, which of these kinds of reputation should I prefer? That of a horse jockey? a fox hunter? an orator? or the honest advocate of my country’s rights? Be assured, my dear Jefferson, that these little returns into ourselves, this self-catechising habit, is not trifling nor useless, but leads to the prudent selection & steady pursuit of what is right.

I have mentioned good humor as one of the preservatives of our peace & tranquillity. It is among the most effectual, and its effect is so well imitated and aided, artificially, by politeness, that this also becomes an acquisition of first rate value. In truth, politeness is artificial good humor, it covers the natural want of it, & ends by rendering habitual a substitute nearly equivalent to the real virtue. It is the practice of sacrificing to those whom we meet in society, all the little conveniences & preferences which will gratify them, & deprive us of nothing worth a moment’s consideration; it is the giving a pleasing & flattering turn to our expressions, which will conciliate others, and make them pleased with us Edition: current; Page: [81] as well as themselves. How cheap a price for the good will of another! When this is in return for a rude thing said by another, it brings him to his senses, it mortifies & corrects him in the most salutary way, and places him at the feet of your good nature, in the eyes of the company. But in stating prudential rules for our government in society, I must not omit the important one of never entering into dispute or argument with another. I never saw an instance of one of two disputants convincing the other by argument. I have seen many, on their getting warm, becoming rude, & shooting one another. Conviction is the effect of our own dispassionate reasoning, either in solitude, or weighing within ourselves, dispassionately, what we hear from others, standing uncommitted in argument ourselves. It was one of the rules which, above all others, made Doctor Franklin the most amiable of men in society, “never to contradict anybody.” If he was urged to announce an opinion, he did it rather by asking questions, as if for information, or by suggesting doubts. When I hear another express an opinion which is not mine, I say to myself, he has a right to his opinion, as I to mine; why should I question it? His error does me no injury, and shall I become a Don Quixote, to bring all men by force of argument to one opinion? If a fact be misstated, it is probable he is gratified by a belief of it, & I have no right to deprive him of the gratification. If he wants information, he will ask it, & then I will give it in measured terms; but if he still believes his own story, & shows a desire to dispute the fact with me, I hear Edition: current; Page: [82] him & say nothing. It is his affair, not mine, if he prefers error. There are two classes of disputants most frequently to be met with among us. The first is of young students, just entered the threshold of science, with a first view of its outlines, not yet filled up with the details & modifications which a further progress would bring to their knoledge. The other consists of the ill-tempered & rude men in society, who have taken up a passion for politics. (Good humor & politeness never introduce into mixed society, a question on which they foresee there will be a difference of opinion.) From both of those classes of disputants, my dear Jefferson, keep aloof, as you would from the infected subjects of yellow fever or pestilence. Consider yourself, when with them, as among the patients of Bedlam, needing medical more than moral counsel. Be a listener only, keep within yourself, and endeavor to establish with yourself the habit of silence, especially on politics. In the fevered state of our country, no good can ever result from any attempt to set one of these fiery zealots to rights, either in fact or principle. They are determined as to the facts they will believe, and the opinions on which they will act. Get by them, therefore, as you would by an angry bull; it is not for a man of sense to dispute the road with such an animal. You will be more exposed than others to have these animals shaking their horns at you, because of the relation in which you stand with me. Full of political venom, and willing to see me & to hate me as a chief in the antagonist party, your presence will be to them what the vomit grass is to Edition: current; Page: [83] the sick dog, a nostrum for producing ejaculation. Look upon them exactly with that eye, and pity them as objects to whom you can administer only occasional ease. My character is not within their power. It is in the hands of my fellow citizens at large, and will be consigned to honor or infamy by the verdict of the republican mass of our country, according to what themselves will have seen, not what their enemies and mine shall have said. Never, therefore, consider these puppies in politics as requiring any notice from you, & always show that you are not afraid to leave my character to the umpirage of public opinion. Look steadily to the pursuits which have carried you to Philadelphia, be very select in the society you attach yourself to, avoid taverns, drinkers, smokers, idlers, & dissipated persons generally; for it is with such that broils & contentions arise; and you will find your path more easy and tranquil. The limits of my paper warn me that it is time for me to close with my affectionate adieu.

P. S. Present me affectionately to Mr. Ogilvie, &, in doing the same to Mr. Peale, tell him I am writing with his polygraph, & shall send him mine the first moment I have leisure enough to pack it.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Dec. 25, 08
Washington
Charles Thomson
Thomson, Charles

TO CHARLES THOMSON

j. mss.

I thank you, my dear & antient friend, for the two volumes of your translation, which you have been so kind as to send me. I have dipped into it at the few Edition: current; Page: [84] moments of leisure which my vocations permit, and I perceive that I shall use it with great satisfaction on my return home. I propose there, among my first emploiments, to give to the Septuagint an attentive perusal, and shall feel the aid you have now given me. I am full of plans of emploiment when I get there,—they chiefly respect the active functions of the body. To the mind I shall administer amusement chiefly. An only daughter and numerous family of grandchildren, will furnish me great resources of happiness. I learn with sincere pleasure that you have health & activity enough to have performed the journey to & from Lancaster without inconvenience. It has added another proof that you are not wearied with well-doing. Altho I have enjoyed as uniform health through life as reason could desire, I have no expectation that, even if spared to your age, I shall at that period be able to take such a journey. I am already sensible of decay in the power of walking, and find my memory not so faithful as it used to be. This may be partly owing to the incessant current of new matter flowing constantly through it; but I ascribe to years their share in it also. That you may be continued among us to the period of your own wishes, & that it may be filled with continued health & happiness, is the sincere prayer of your affectionate friend.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
January 14, 1809
Washington
Doctor William Eustis
Eustis, Doctor William

TO DOCTOR WILLIAM EUSTIS

j. mss.
Sir,

—I have the pleasure to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of December the 24th, and of Edition: current; Page: [85] the resolutions of the republican citizens of Boston, of the 19th of that month. These are worthy of the ancient character of the sons of Massachusetts, and of the spirit of concord with her sister States, which, and which alone, carried us successfully through the revolutionary war, and finally placed us under that national government, which constitutes the safety of every part, by uniting for its protection the powers of the whole. The moment for exerting these united powers, to repel the injuries of the belligerents of Europe, seems likely to be pressed upon us. They have interdicted our commerce with nearly the whole world. They have declared it shall be carried on with such places, in such articles, and in such measure only, as they shall dictate; thus prostrating all the principles of right which have hitherto protected it. After exhausting the cup of forbearance and conciliation to its dregs, we found it necessary, on behalf of that commerce, to take time to call it home into a state of safety, to put the towns and harbors which carry it on into a condition of defence, and to make further preparation for enforcing the redress of its wrongs, and restoring it to its rightful freedom. This required a certain measure of time, which, although not admitting specific limitation, must, from its avowed objects, have been obvious to all; and the progress actually made towards the accomplishment of these objects, proves it now to be near its term. While thus endeavoring to secure, and preparing to vindicate that commerce, the absurd opinion has been propagated, that this temporary and necessary arrangement was to be a Edition: current; Page: [86] permanent system, and was intended for its destruction. The sentiments expressed in the paper you were so kind as to enclose to me, show that those who have concurred in them have judged with more candor the intentions of their government, and are sufficiently aware of the tendency of the excitements and misrepresentations which have been practised on this occasion. And such, I am persuaded, will be the disposition of the citizens of Massachusetts at large, whenever truth can reach them. Associated with her sister States in a common government, the fundamental principle of which is, that the will of the majority is to prevail, sensible that, in the present difficulty, that will has been governed by no local interests or jealousies, that, to save permanent rights, temporary sacrifices were necessary, that these have fallen as impartially on all, as in a situation so peculiar they could be made to do, she will see in the existing measures a legitimate and honest exercise of the will and wisdom of the whole. And her citizens, faithful to themselves and their associates, will not, to avoid a transient pressure, yield to the seductions of enemies to their independence, foreign or domestic, and take a course equally subversive of their well-being, as of that of their brethren.

The approbation expressed by the republican citizens of the town of Boston, of the course pursued by the national government, is truly consoling to its members; and, encouraged by the declaration of the continuance of their confidence, and by the assurance of their support, they will continue to pursue the line of their high duties according to the best of Edition: current; Page: [87] their understandings, and with undeviating regard to the good of the whole. Permit me to avail myself of this occasion of tendering you personally the assurances of my great esteem and respect.1

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
January 17, 1809

CIRCULAR LETTER FROM THE SECRETARY OF WAR TO THE GOVERNORS2

Sir,

—The pressure of the embargo, though sensibly felt by every description of our fellow citizens, has yet been cheerfully borne by most of them, under the conviction that it was a temporary evil, and a necessary one to save us from greater and more Edition: current; Page: [88] permanent evils,—the loss of property and surrender of rights. But it would have been more cheerfully borne, but for the knowledge that, while honest men were religiously observing it, the unprincipled along our sea-coast and frontiers were fraudulently evading it; and that in some parts they had even dared to break through it openly, by an armed force too powerful to be opposed by the collector and his assistants. To put an end to this scandalous insubordination to the laws, the Legislature has authorized the President to empower proper persons to employ militia, for preventing or suppressing armed or riotous assemblages of persons resisting the custom-house officers in the exercise of their duties, or opposing or violating the embargo laws. He sincerely hopes that, during the short time which these restrictions are expected to continue, no other instances will take place of a crime of so deep a die. But it is made his duty to take the measures necessary to meet it. He therefore requests you, as commanding officer of the militia of your State, to appoint some officer of the militia, of known respect for the laws, in or near to each port of entry within your State, with orders, when applied to by the collector of the district, to assemble immediately a sufficient force of his militia, and to employ them efficaciously to maintain the authority of the laws respecting the embargo, and that you notify to each collector the officer to whom, by your appointment, he is so to apply for aid when necessary. He has referred this appointment to your Excellency, because your knowledge of characters, Edition: current; Page: [89] or means of obtaining it, will enable you to select one who can be most confided in to exercise so serious a power, with all the discretion, the forbearance, the kindness even, which the enforcement of the law will possibly admit,—ever to bear in mind that the life of a citizen is never to be endangered, but as the last melancholy effort for the maintenance of order and obedience to the laws.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
January 21, 1809
Washington
Thomas Leiper
Leiper, Thomas

TO THOMAS LEIPER

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Your letter of the 15th was duly received, and before that, Towers’ book, which you had been so kind as to send me, had come to hand, for which I pray you to receive my thanks. You judge rightly that here I have no time to read. A cursory view of the book shows me that the author is a man of much learning in his line. I have heard of some other late writer, (the name I forget,) who has undertaken to prove contrary events from the same sources; and particularly that England is not to be put down; and that this is the favorite author in that country. As to myself, my religious reading has long been confined to the moral branch of religion, which is the same in all religions; while in that branch which consists of dogmas, all differ, all have a different set. The former instructs us how to live well and worthily in society; the latter are made to interest our minds in the support of the teachers who inculcate them. Hence, for one sermon on a moral subject, you hear ten on the dogmas of Edition: current; Page: [90] the sect. However, religion is not the subject for you and me; neither of us know the religious opinions of the other; that is a matter between our Maker and ourselves. We understand each other better in politics, to which therefore I will proceed. The House of Representatives passed last night a bill for the meeting of Congress on the 22d of May. This substantially decides the course they mean to pursue; that is, to let the embargo continue till then, when it will cease, and letters of marque and reprisal be issued against such nations as shall not then have repealed their obnoxious edicts. The great majority seem to have made up their minds on this, while there is considerable diversity of opinion on the details of preparation; to wit: naval force, volunteers, army, non-intercourse, &c. I write freely to you, because I know that in stating facts, you will not quote names. You know that every syllable uttered in my name becomes a text for the federalists to torment the public mind on by their paraphrases and perversions. I have lately inculcated the encouragement of manufactures to the extent of our own consumption at least, in all articles of which we raise the raw material. On this the federal papers and meetings have sounded the alarm of Chinese policy, destruction of commerce, &c.; that is to say, the iron which we make must not be wrought here into ploughs, axes, hoes, &c., in order that the ship-owner may have the profit of carrying it to Europe, and bringing it back in a manufactured form, as if after manufacturing our own raw materials for our own use, there would not Edition: current; Page: [91] be a surplus produce sufficient to employ a due proportion of navigation in carrying it to market and exchanging it for those articles of which we have not the raw material. Yet this absurd hue and cry has contributed much to federalize New England, their doctrine goes to the sacrificing agriculture and manufactures to commerce; to the calling all our people from the interior country to the sea-shore to turn merchants, and to convert this great agricultural country into a city of Amsterdam. But I trust the good sense of our country will see that its greatest prosperity depends on a due balance between agriculture, manufactures and commerce, and not in this protuberant navigation which has kept us in hot water from the commencement of our government, and is now engaging us in war. That this may be avoided, if it can be done without a surrender of rights, is my sincere prayer. Accept the assurances of my constant esteem and respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
January 23, 09
Washington
Abraham Venable
Venable, Abraham

TO ABRAHAM VENABLE

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—In a letter to my friend & relation, Mr. Jefferson, I explained to him the unexpected difficulties into which I was likely to fall on my winding up my affairs here, with a request to endeavor to procure me the aid of the bank at Richmond. You have been so kind as to interpose and to procure for me the sum needed on private loan, which is infinitely more eligible for myself. It is the more so inasmuch Edition: current; Page: [92] as your friendly undertaking to be my indorser, contrary to a necessary rule you had established will, by remaining unknown, not expose you to other solicitations of the like kind. I return you, my dear sir, my sincere thanks for this friendly relief, and shall ever retain a lively sense of it; & the greater as I should never have thought myself entitled to ask such a favor of you. In addition to the resources for repaiment mentioned in the letter to Mr. Jefferson, I have directed my agents in Bedford & Albermarle to offer in each place a tract of land for sale, worth each from 4 to 5 thousand D. A crop of tobo. which will be in his hands the next month, will make a first impression on the amount, and with another a twelve month hence will discharge 5,000 D. of the sum, for the balance I must depend on the sale of some of those lands, of which one tract alone is certain, an offer having been made to me for that. Lands are of difficult sale. For this reason I have asked the indulgence of a twelve month certain. The note sent me is for 6 months, but I presume will be renewable; otherwise I should be forced at its expiration to have recourse to the bank. Repeating again my extreme obligation to you, I salute you with great esteem & respect.1

Edition: current; Page: [93]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
January 28, 1809
Washington
James Monroe
Monroe, James

TO JAMES MONROE

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Your favor of the 18th was received in due time, and the answer has been delayed as well by a pressure of business, as by the expectation of your absence from Richmond.

Edition: current; Page: [94]

The idea of sending a special mission to France or England is not entertained at all here. After so little attention to us from the former, and so insulting an answer from Canning, such a mark of respect as an extraordinary mission, would be a degradation against which all minds revolt here. The idea was hazarded in the House of Representatives a few days ago, by a member, and an approbation expressed by another, but rejected indignantly by Edition: current; Page: [95] every other person who spoke, and very generally in conversation by all others; and I am satisfied such a proposition would get no vote in the Senate. The course the Legislature means to pursue, may be inferred from the act now passed for a meeting in May, and a proposition before them for repealing the embargo in June, and then resuming and maintaining by force our right of navigation. There will be considerable opposition to this last proposition, not only from the federalists, old and new, who oppose everything, but from sound members of the majority. Yet it is believed it will obtain a good majority, and that it is the only proposition which can be devised that could obtain a majority of any kind. Final propositions will, therefore, be soon despatched to both the belligerents through the resident ministers, so that their answers will be received before the meeting in May, and will decide what is to be done. This last trial for peace is not thought desperate. If, as is expected, Bonaparte should be successful in Spain, however every virtuous and liberal sentiment revolts at it, it may induce both powers to be more accommodating with us. England will see here the only asylum for her commerce and manufactures, worth more to her than her orders of council. And Bonaparte, having Spain at his feet, will look immediately to the Spanish colonies, and think our neutrality cheaply purchased by a repeal of the illegal parts of his decrees, with perhaps the Floridas thrown into the bargain. Should a change in the aspect of affairs in Europe produce this disposition in both powers, our peace and prosperity may be Edition: current; Page: [96] revived and long continue. Otherwise, we must again take the tented field, as we did in 1776 under more inauspicious circumstances.

There never has been a situation of the world before, in which such endeavors as we have made would not have secured our peace. It is probable there never will be such another. If we go to war now, I fear we may renounce forever the hope of seeing an end of our national debt. If we can keep at peace eight years longer, our income, liberated from debt, will be adequate to any war, without new taxes or loans, and our position and increasing strength put us hors d’insulte from any nation. I am now so near the moment of retiring, that I take no part in affairs beyond the expression of an opinion. I think it fair that my successor should now originate those measures of which he will be charged with the execution and responsibility, and that it is my duty to clothe them with the forms of authority. Five weeks more will relieve me from a drudgery to which I am no longer equal, and restore me to a scene of tranquillity, amidst my family and friends, more congenial to my age and natural inclinations. In that situation, it will always be a pleasure to me to see you, and to repeat to you the assurances of my constant friendship and respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
February 7, 1809
Washington
Thomas Mann Randolph
Randolph, Thomas Mann

TO THOMAS MANN RANDOLPH

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I thought Congress had taken their ground firmly for continuing their embargo till June, Edition: current; Page: [97] and then war. But a sudden and unacountable revolution of opinion took place the last week, chiefly among the New England and New York members, and in a kind of panic they voted the 4th of March for removing the embargo, and by such a majority as gave all reason to believe they would not agree either to war or non-intercourse. This, too, was after we had become satisfied that the Essex Junto had found their expectation desperate, of inducing the people there to either separation or forcible opposition. The majority of Congress, however, has now rallied to the removing the embargo on the 4th of March, non-intercourse with France and Great Britain, trade everywhere else, and continuing war preparations. The further details are not yet settled, but I believe it is perfectly certain that the embargo will be taken off the 4th of March. Present my warmest affections to my dearest Martha, and the young ones, and accept the assurances of them to yourself.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
February 18, 1809
Washington
Benjamin Stoddert
Stoddert, Benjamin

TO BENJAMIN STODDERT

j. mss.
Sir,

—Your favor of January 25th had been duly received, and I was waiting in the hope I might find a moment of less pressure in which I might answer it somewhat in detail, when that of the 14th inst. came to hand. Finding that, instead of any relaxation of business, it crowds more on me as I approach my departure, I can only indulge myself in a very brief reply. As to the rights of the United States as a neutral power, our opinions are very different, mine Edition: current; Page: [98] being that when two nations go to war, it does not abridge the rights of neutral nations but in the two articles of blockade and contraband of war. But on this subject we have both probably read and thought so much as to have made up our minds, and it is not likely that either can make a convert of the other. With respect to the interests of the United States in this exuberant commerce which is now bringing war on us, we concur perfectly. It brings us into collision with other powers in every sea, and will force us into every war of the European powers. The converting this great agricultural country into a city of Amsterdam,—a mere head-quarters for carrying on the commerce of all nations with one another, is too absurd. Yet this is the real object of the drawback system,—it enriches a few individuals, but lessens the stock of native productions, by withdrawing from them all the hands thus employed; it is essentially interesting to us to have shipping and seamen enough to carry our surplus produce to market; but beyond that, I do not think we are bound to give it encouragement by drawbacks or other premiums. I wish you may be right in supposing that the trading States would now be willing to give up the drawbacks, and to denationalize all ships taking foreign articles on board for any other destination than the United States, on being secured by discriminating duties, or otherwise in the exclusive carryage of the produce of the United States. I should doubt it. Were such a proposition to come from them, I presume it would meet with little difficulty. Otherwise, I suppose it must wait Edition: current; Page: [99] till peace, when the right of drawback will be less valued than the exclusive carryage of our own produce.

No apology was necessary for the letters you were so kind as to write me on this subject. I have always received with thankfulness the ideas of judicious persons on subjects interesting to the public. In the present case, I thought I should better fulfil your objects by communicating your letters to my successor, to whose views I have thought it my duty to give the lead, ever since his designation, as to all matters which he would have to execute. Nothing will probably be done on this subject in the few days between this and my retirement; and in that situation I shall certainly divorce myself from all part in political affairs. To get rid of them is the principal object of my retirement, and the first thing necessary to the happiness which, you justly observe, it is in vain to look for in any other situation. I pray you to accept my salutations, and assurances of respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
February 25, 1809
Washington
Henri Gregoire
Gregoire, Henri

TO HENRI GREGOIRE

j. mss.
Sir,

—I have received the favor of your letter of August 17th, and with it the volume you were so kind as to send me on the Literature of Negroes. Be assured that no person living wishes more sincerely than I do, to see a complete refutation of the doubts I have myself entertained and expressed on the grade of understanding allotted to them by nature, and to find that in this respect they are on a Edition: current; Page: [100] par with ourselves. My doubts were the result of personal observation on the limited sphere of my own State, where the opportunities for the development of their genius were not favorable, and those of exercising it still less so. I expressed them therefore with great hesitation; but whatever be their degree of talent it is no measure of their rights. Because Sir Isaac Newton was superior to others in understanding, he was not therefore lord of the person or property of others. On this subject they are gaining daily in the opinions of nations, and hopeful advances are making towards their re-establishment on an equal footing with the other colors of the human family. I pray you therefore to accept my thanks for the many instances you have enabled me to observe of respectable intelligence in that race of men, which cannot fail to have effect in hastening the day of their relief; and to be assured of the sentiments of high and just esteem and consideration which I tender to yourself with all sincerity.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
February 28, 1809
Washington
Thomas Mann Randolph
Randolph, Thomas Mann

TO THOMAS MANN RANDOLPH

j. mss.
My Dear Sir,

—By yesterday’s mail I learn that it would be the desire of many of the good citizens of our country to meet me on the road on my return home, as a manifestation of their good will. But it is quite impossible for me to ascertain the day on which I shall leave this. The accumulated business at the close of a session will prevent my making any Edition: current; Page: [101] preparation for my departure till after the 4th of March. After that, the arrangement of papers and business to be delivered over to my successor, the winding up of my own affairs, and clearing out from this place, will employ me for several days, (I cannot conjecture even how many,) so as to render the commencement, and consequently the termination of my journey, altogether uncertain. But it is a sufficient happiness to me to know that my fellow-citizens of the country generally entertain for me the kind sentiments which have prompted this proposition, without giving to so many the trouble of leaving their homes to meet a single individual. I shall have opportunities of taking them individually by the hand at our court-house and other public places, and of exchanging assurances of mutual esteem. Certainly it is the greatest consolation to me to know, that in returning to the bosom of my native country, I shall be again in the midst of their kind affections: and I can say with truth that my return to them will make me happier than I have been since I left them. Nothing will be wanting on my part to merit the continuance of their good will. The House of Representatives passed yesterday, by a vote of 81 to 40, the bill from the Senate repealing the embargo the 4th of March, except against Great Britain and France and their dependencies, establishing a nonintercourse with them, and having struck out the clause for letters of marque and reprisal, which it is thought the Senate will still endeavor to reinstate. I send you a paper containing the last Spanish news. Yours affectionately.

Edition: current; Page: [102]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
March, 1809

CIRCULAR LETTER

j. mss.

The friendship which has long subsisted between the President of the United States and myself gave me reason to expect, on my retirement from office, that I might often receive applications to interpose with him on behalf of persons desiring appointments. Such an abuse of his dispositions towards me would necessarily lead to the loss of them, and to the transforming me from the character of a friend to that of an unreasonable & troublesome solicitor. It therefore became necessary for me to lay down as a law for my future conduct never to interpose in any case, either with him or the heads of departments (from whom it must go to him) in any application whatever for office. To this rule I must scrupulously adhere, for were I to depart from it in a single instance I could no longer plead it with truth to my friends in excuse for my not complying with their requests. I hope therefore that the declining it in the present, as in every other case, will be ascribed to its true cause, the obligation of this general law, & not to any disinclination existing in this particular case; & still less to an unwillingness to be useful to my friends on all occasions not forbidden by a special impropriety.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
March 8, 1809
Washington
William Short
Short, William

TO WILLIAM SHORT

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—It is with much concern I inform you that the Senate has negatived your appointment. Edition: current; Page: [103] We thought it best to keep back the nomination to the close of the session, that the mission might remain secret as long as possible, which you know was our purpose from the beginning. It was then sent in with an explanation of its object and motives. We took for granted, if any hesitation should arise, that the Senate would take time, and that our friends in that body would make inquiries of us, and give us the opportunity of explaining and removing objections. But to our great surprise, and with an unexampled precipitancy, they rejected it at once. This reception of the last of my official communications to them, could not be unfelt, nor were the causes of it spoken out by them. Under this uncertainty, Mr. Madison, on his entering into office, proposed another person, (John Q. Adams.) He also was negatived, and they adjourned sine die. Our subsequent information was that, on your nomination, your long absence from this country, and their idea that you do not intend to return to it, had very sensible weight; but that all other motives were superseded by an unwillingness to extend our diplomatic connections, and a desire even to recall the foreign ministers we already have. All were sensible of the great virtues, the high character, the powerful influence, and valuable friendship of the emperor. But riveted to the system of unentanglement with Europe, they declined the proposition. On this subject you will receive the official explanations from Mr. Smith, the Secretary of State. I pray you to place me rectus in curiâ in this business with the emperor, and to assure him that I carry into Edition: current; Page: [104] my retirement the highest veneration for his virtues, and fondly cherish the belief that his dispositions and power are destined by heaven to better, in some degree at least, the condition of oppressed man.

I have nothing new to inform you as to your private friends or acquaintances. Our embargo has worked hard. It has in fact federalized three of the New England States. Connecticut you know was so before. We have substituted for it a non-intercourse with France and England and their dependencies, and a trade to all other places. It is probable the belligerents will take our vessels under their edicts, in which case we shall probably declare war against them.

I write this in the midst of packing and preparing for my departure, of visits of leave, and interruptions of every kind. I must therefore conclude with my affectionate adieu to you, and assurances of my constant attachment and respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
April 3, 1809

TO THE INHABITANTS OF ALBEMARLE COUNTY, IN VIRGINIA

Returning to the scenes of my birth and early life, to the society of those with whom I was raised, and who have been ever dear to me, I receive, fellow citizens and neighbors, with inexpressible pleasure, the cordial welcome you are so good as to give me. Long absent on duties which the history of a wonderful era made incumbent on those called to them, the Edition: current; Page: [105] pomp, the turmoil, the bustle and splendor of office, have drawn but deeper sighs for the tranquil and irresponsible occupations of private life, for the enjoyment of an affectionate intercourse with you, my neighbors and friends, and the endearments of family love, which nature has given us all, as the sweetener of every hour. For these I gladly lay down the distressing burthen of power, and seek, with my fellow citizens, repose and safety under the watchful cares, the labors, and perplexities of younger and abler minds. The anxieties you express to administer to my happiness, do, of themselves, confer that happiness; and the measure will be complete, if my endeavors to fulfil my duties in the several public stations to which I have been called, have obtained for me the approbation of my country. The part which I have acted on the theatre of public life, has been before them; and to their sentence I submit it; but the testimony of my native country, of the individuals who have known me in private life, to my conduct in its various duties and relations, is the more grateful, as proceeding from eye witnesses and observers, from triers of the vicinage. Of you, then, my neighbors, I may ask, in the face of the world, “whose ox have I taken, or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed, or of whose hand have I received a bribe to blind mine eyes therewith?” On your verdict I rest with conscious security. Your wishes for my happiness are received with just sensibility, and I offer sincere prayers for your own welfare and prosperity.

Edition: current; Page: [106]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
April 19, 1809
Monticello
James Madison
Madison, James

TO JAMES MADISON

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I have to acknowledge your favor of the 9th, and to thank you for the political information it contained. Reading the newspapers but little and that little but as the romance of the day, a word of truth now and then comes like the drop of water on the tongue of Dives. If the British ministry are changing their policy towards us, it is because their nation, or rather the city of London, which is the nation to them, is shaken as usual, by the late reverses in Spain. I have for some time been persuaded that the government of England was systematically decided to claim a dominion of the sea, and to levy contributions on all nations, by their licenses to navigate, in order to maintain that dominion to which their own resources are inadequate. The mobs of their cities are unprincipled enough to support this policy in prosperous times, but change with the tide of fortune, and the ministers, to keep their places, change with them. I wish Mr. Oakley may not embarrass you with his conditions of revoking the orders of council. Enough of the non-importation law should be reserved, 1st, to pinch them into a relinquishment of impressments, and 2d, to support those manufacturing establishments which their orders, and our interests, forced us to make.

I suppose the conquest of Spain will soon force a delicate question on you as to the Floridas and Cuba, which will offer themselves to you. Napoleon will certainly give his consent without difficulty to our Edition: current; Page: [107] receiving the Floridas, and with some difficulty possibly Cuba. And though he will disregard the obligation whenever he thinks he can break it with success, yet it has a great effect on the opinion of our people and the world to have the moral right on our side, of his agreement as well as that of the people of those countries.

Mr. Hackley’s affair is really unfortunate. He has been driven into this arrangement by his distresses, which are great. He is a perfectly honest man, as is well known here where he was born, but unaccustomed to political subjects, he has not seen it in that view. But a respect for the innocence of his views cannot authorize the sanction of government to such an example.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
May 25, 09
Monticello
Wilson Cary Nicholas
Nicholas, Wilson Cary

TO WILSON CARY NICHOLAS

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I am sorry to hear of your attack of rheumatism both on your own account & that of the public, & I think you will have to go on as soon as you are able. I believe that immediately on the pacification with England, a vessel was dispatched to France for the ultimatum of that government, as I presume. Turreau was earnest in giving assurances that Napoleon would revoke his decrees, considering Great Britain as having retraced her steps. But as a contrary answer is possible, I suppose Congress will await the return of the vessel. If she brings a determination to continue taking our vessels on the high Edition: current; Page: [108] seas, the question of war on our part cannot but be brought on, because on his part it is all the war he can wage, and we may as well receive the offers of the Floridas & Cuba, which will probably be made to us by their inhabitants. Should the Republican party think we might as well make war on our part also, they will for once probably have the concurrence of the federalists. This question is too important to admit of your absence, and the importance of giving good support to the new admn. is an additional reason for your going. As to the merits of the result of our measures against England, Mr. Madison is justly entitled to his full share of all the measures of my administration. Our principles were the same, and we never differed sensibly in the application of them. I am glad therefore that my enemies, & hope that my friends will do him justice as to this & all our other measures. We shall be happy to see you here on your passage, being affectionately & respectfully yours.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
June 13, 1809
Monticello
Wilson Cary Nicholas
Nicholas, Wilson Cary

TO WILSON CARY NICHOLAS

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I did not know till Mr. Patterson called on us, a few days ago, that you had passed on to Washington. I had recently observed in the debates of Congress, a matter introduced, on which I wished to give explanations more fully in conversation, which I will now do by abridgement in writing. Mr. Randolph has proposed an inquiry into certain prosecutions at common law in Connecticut, for Edition: current; Page: [109] libels on the government, and not only himself but others have stated them with such affected caution, and such hints at the same time, as to leave on every mind the impression that they had been instituted either by my direction, or with my acquiescence, at least. This has not been denied by my friends, because probably the fact is unknown to them. I shall state it for their satisfaction, and leave it to be disposed of as they think best.

I had observed in a newspaper, (some years ago, I do not recollect the time exactly,) some dark hints of a prosecution in Connecticut, but so obscurely hinted that I paid little attention to it. Some considerable time after, it was again mentioned, so that I understood that some prosecution was going on in the federal court there, for calumnies uttered from the pulpit against me by a clergyman. I immediately wrote to Mr. Granger, who, I think, was in Connecticut at the time, stating that I had laid it down as a law to myself, to take no notice of the thousand calumnies issued against me, but to trust my character to my own conduct, and the good sense and candor of my fellow citizens; that I had found no reason to be dissatisfied with that course, and I was unwilling it should be broke through by others as to any matter concerning me; and I therefore requested him to desire the district attorney to dismiss the prosecution. Some time after this, I heard of subpœnas being served on General Lee, David M. Randolph, and others, as witnesses to attend the trial. I then for the first time conjectured the subject of the libel. I immediately wrote to Mr. Granger, Edition: current; Page: [110] to require an immediate dismission of the prosecution. The answer of Mr. Huntington, the district attorney, was, that these subpœnas had been issued by the defendant without his knowledge, that it had been his intention to dismiss all the prosecutions at the first meeting of the court, and to accompany it with an avowal of his opinion, that they could not be maintained, because the federal court had no jurisdiction over libels. This was accordingly done. I did not till then know that there were other prosecutions of the same nature, nor do I now know what were their subjects. But all went off together; and I afterwards saw in the hands of Mr. Granger, a letter written by the clergyman, disavowing any personal ill will towards me, and solemnly declaring he had never uttered the words charged. I think Mr. Granger either showed me, or said there were affidavits of at least half a dozen respectable men, who were present at the sermon and swore no such expressions were uttered, and as many equally respectable who swore the contrary. But the clergyman expressed his gratification at the dismission of the prosecution. I write all this from memory, and after too long an interval of time to be certain of the exactness of all the details; but I am sure there is no variation material, and Mr. Granger, correcting small lapses of memory, can confirm everything substantial. Certain it is, that the prosecution had been instituted, and had made considerable progress, without my knowledge, that they were disapproved by me as soon as known, and directed to be discontinued. The attorney did it on the same Edition: current; Page: [111] ground on which I had acted myself in the cases of Duane, Callendar, and others; to wit, that the sedition law was unconstitutional and null, and that my obligation to execute what was law, involved that of not suffering rights secured by valid laws, to be prostrated by what was no law. I always understood that these prosecutions had been invited, if not instituted, by Judge Edwards, and the marshal being republican, had summoned a grand jury partly or wholly republican; but that Mr. Huntington declared from the beginning against the jurisdiction of the court, and had determined to enter nolle prosequis before he received my directions.

I trouble you with another subject. The law making my letters post free, goes to those to me only, not those from me. The bill had got to its passage before this was observed (and first I believe by Mr. Dana), and the House under too much pressure of business near the close of the session to bring in another bill. As the privilege of freedom was given to the letters from as well as to both my predecessors, I suppose no reason exists for making a distinction. And in so extensive a correspondence as I am subject to, and still considerably on public matters, it would be a sensible convenience to myself, as well as those who have occasion to receive letters from me. It happens too, as I was told at the time, (for I have never looked into it myself,) that it was done by two distinct acts on both the former occasions. Mr. Eppes, I think, mentioned this to me. I know from the Post Master General, that Mr. Adams franks all his letters. I state this matter to you as being my Edition: current; Page: [112] representative, which must apologize for the trouble of it. We have been seasonable since you left us. Yesterday evening and this morning we have had refreshing showers, which will close and confirm the business of planting. Affectionately yours.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
June 16, 09
Monticello
James Madison
Madison, James

TO JAMES MADISON

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I inclose you three letters from detained seamen which came to hand by the last post. Your favor of the 12th was received at the same time. The intelligence by the Pacific gives me great anxiety. When I consider the tenor of the new order of council & the official exposition of it by the Lords of trade to the London American merchants (in the inclosed paper) and compare it with the engagement of Erskine under instructions given two months before, I am at a loss from which we have most to fear, the folly or the faithlessness of the Cannings & Castlereaghs of the British ministry. Is it possible that to get themselves out of a former hobble they should have involved themselves in another so much more difficult? And yet if they mean to adhere to the new order, their instructions to Erskine to enter into engagements in direct opposition to it, would be such a wanton abandonment of all pretensions to common honesty as one would suppose no men could deliberately intend. Et cui bono? Merely to catch a partial supply by a temporary relaxation of our measures? It seems impossible to believe either alternative, & yet the one Edition: current; Page: [113] or the other must be true? I presume it will produce some caution & hesitation in the proceedings of Congress. My joy on our supposed settlement is extremely damped by the occurrence of a trick so strange whatever solution may be given of it, and I fear a return of our difficulties, & it will be with increased force if they do recur. I sincerely wish a happy issue from them, for your own sake as well as for that of us all.

I am very happy in being enabled to relieve you from the disagreeable situation into which my improvidence had drawn your kind friendship. I felt severely the impropriety of dragging your name into the bank, as I had often been mortified with my own being there. But a too late attention to the state of my affairs at Washington had rendered it unavoidable. Mr. Barnes is now enabled to discharge my note at the bank, as well as a balance due to himself, and the separate account between you & myself may await your own entire convenience without in the least incommoding me, and I pray you to be assured of the sensibility with which I have experienced your kind accommodation to my difficulties.

For the last three days we have had fine & plentiful showers of rain, & were willing they should cease as appearances promised last night, but it commenced raining in the night & now continues with the wind at northeast. This may become dangerous to the wheat which at best can only be a middling crop. That of tobacco cannot become great if the observation of the planters is correct that there never was a great crop of tobacco which was not patched Edition: current; Page: [114] before the last of May. This year not a plant was in the ground till June: but the rains have been so favorable since that the whole crop is now standing & growing. I salute you with sincere affection & respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
July 12, 1809
Monticello
James Madison
Madison, James

TO JAMES MADISON

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Your two letters of the 4th and 7th were received by the last mail. I now enclose you the rough draught of the letter to the Emperor of Russia. I think there must be an exact fac simile of it in the office, from which Mr. Short’s must have been copied; because, that the one now enclosed has never been out of my hands, appears by there being no fold in the paper till now, and it is evidently a polygraphical copy. I send, for your perusal, letters of W. Short, and of Warden; because, though private, they contain some things and views perhaps not in the public letters. Bonaparte’s successes have been what we expected, although Warden appears to have supposed the contrary possible. It is fortunate for Bonaparte, that he has not caught his brother Emperor; that he has left an ostensible head to the government, who may sell it to him to secure a mess of pottage for himself. Had the government devolved on the people, as it did in Spain, they would resist his conquest as those of Spain do. I expect, within a week or ten days, to visit Bedford. My absence will be of about a fortnight. I know too well the pressure of business which will be on you Edition: current; Page: [115] at Montpelier, to count with certainty on the pleasure of seeing Mrs. Madison and yourself here; yet my wishes do not permit me to omit the expression of them. In any event, I shall certainly intrude a flying visit on you during your stay in Orange. With my respectful devoirs to Mrs. Madison, I salute you with constant friendship and respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
September 3, 1809
Monticello
John W. Campbell
Campbell, John W.

TO JOHN W. CAMPBELL

j. mss.
Sir,

—Your letter of July 29th came to hand some time since, but I have not sooner been able to acknowledge it. In answer to your proposition for publishing a complete edition of my different writings, I must observe that no writings of mine, other than those merely official, have been published, except the Notes on Virginia and a small pamphlet under the title of a Summary View of the rights of British America. The Notes on Virginia, I have always intended to revise and enlarge, and have, from time to time, laid by materials for that purpose. It will be long yet before other occupations will permit me to digest them, and observations and inquiries are still to be made, which will be more correct in proportion to the length of time they are continued. It is not unlikely that this may be through my life. I could not, therefore, at present, offer anything new for that work.

The Summary View was not written for publication. It was a draught I had prepared for a petition to the king, which I meant to propose in my place as a Edition: current; Page: [116] member of the convention of 1774. Being stopped on the road by sickness, I sent it on to the Speaker, who laid it on the table for the perusal of the members. It was thought too strong for the times, and to become the act of the convention, but was printed by subscription of the members, with a short preface written by one of them. If it had any merit, it was that of first taking our true ground, and that which was afterwards assumed and maintained.

I do not mention the Parliamentary Manual, published for the use of the Senate of the United States, because it was a mere compilation, into which nothing entered of my own but the arrangement, and a few observations necessary to explain that and some of the cases.

I do not know whether your view extends to official papers of mine which have been published. Many of these would be like old newspapers, materials for future historians, but no longer interesting to the readers of the day. They would consist of reports, correspondences, messages, answers to addresses; a few of my reports while Secretary of State, might perhaps be read by some as essays on abstract subjects. Such as the report on measures, weights and coins, on the mint, on the fisheries, on commerce, on the use of distilled sea-water, &c. The correspondences with the British and French ministers, Hammond and Genet, were published by Congress. The messages to Congress, which might have been interesting at the moment, would scarcely be read a second time, and answers to addresses are hardly read a first time.

Edition: current; Page: [117]

So that on a review of these various materials, I see nothing encouraging a printer to a re-publication of them. They would probably be bought by those only who are in the habit of preserving State papers, and who are not many.

I say nothing of numerous draughts of reports, resolutions, declarations, &c., drawn as a Member of Congress or of the Legislature of Virginia, such as the Declaration of Independence, Report on the Money Mint of the United States, the act of religious freedom, &c., &c.; these having become the acts of public bodies, there can be no personal claim to them, and they would no more find readers now, than the journals and statute books in which they are deposited.

I have presented this general view of the subjects which might have been within the scope of your contemplation, that they might be correctly estimated before any final decision. They belong mostly to a class of papers not calculated for popular reading, and not likely to offer profit, or even indemnification to the re-publisher. Submitting it to your consideration, I tender you my salutations and respects.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
October 4, 1809
Monticello
Don Valentine de Foronda
Foronda, Don Valentine de

TO DON VALENTINE DE FORONDA

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Your favor of August the 26th came to hand in the succeeding month, and I have now to thank you for the pamphlet it contained. I have read it with pleasure, and find the constitution Edition: current; Page: [118] proposed would probably be as free as is consistent with hereditary institutions. It has one feature which I like much; that which provides that when the three co-ordinate branches differ in their construction of the constitution, the opinion of two branches shall overrule the third. Our constitution has not sufficiently solved this difficulty.

Among the multitude of characters with which public office leads us to official intercourse, we cannot fail to observe many, whose personal worth marks them as objects of particular esteem, whom we would wish to select for our society in private life. I avail myself gladly of the present occasion of assuring you that I was peculiarly impressed with your merit and talents, and that I have ever entertained for them a particular respect. To those whose views are single and direct, it is a great comfort to have to do business with frank and honorable minds. And here give me leave to make an avowal, for which, in my present retirement, there can be no motive but a regard for truth. Your predecessor, soured on a question of etiquette against the administration of this country, wished to impute wrong to them in all their actions, even where he did not believe it himself. In this spirit, he wished it to be believed that we were in unjustifiable co-operation in Miranda’s expedition. I solemnly, and on my personal truth and honor, declare to you, that this was entirely without foundation, and that there was neither co-operation, nor connivance on our part. He informed us he was about to attempt the liberation of his native country from bondage, and intimated a Edition: current; Page: [119] hope of our aid, or connivance at least. He was at once informed, that although we had great cause of complaint against Spain, and even of war, yet whenever we should think proper to act as her enemy, it should be openly and above board, and that our hostility should never be exercised by such petty means. We had no suspicion that he expected to engage men here, but merely to purchase military stores. Against this there was no law, nor consequently any authority for us to interpose obstacles. On the other hand, we deemed it improper to betray his voluntary communication to the agents of Spain. Although his measures were many days in preparation at New York, we never had the least intimation or suspicion of his engaging men in his enterprise, until he was gone; and I presume the secrecy of his proceeding kept them equally unknown to the Marquis Yrujo at Philadelphia, and the Spanish consul at New York, since neither of them gave us any information of the enlistment of men, until it was too late for any measures taken at Washington to prevent their departure. The officer in the Customs, who participated in this transaction with Miranda, we immediately removed, and should have had him and others fully punished, had it not been for the protection given them by private citizens at New York, in opposition to the government, who, by their impudent falsehoods and calumnies, were able to overbear the minds of the jurors. Be assured, Sir, that no motive could induce me, at this time, to make this declaration so gratuitously, were it not founded in sacred truth; and I will add further, that Edition: current; Page: [120] I never did, or countenanced, in public life, a single act inconsistent with the strictest good faith; having never believed there was one code of morality for a public, and another for a private man.

I receive, with great pleasure, the testimonies of personal esteem which breathes through your letter; and I pray you to accept those equally sincere with which I now salute you.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
October 8, 1809
Monticello
Joel Barlow
Barlow, Joel

TO JOEL BARLOW

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—It is long since I ought to have acknowledged the receipt of your most excellent oration on the 4th of July. I was doubting what you could say, equal to your own reputation on so hackneyed a subject; but you have really risen out of it with lustre, and pointed to others a field of great expansion. A day or two after I received your letter to Bishop Gregoire, a copy of his diatribe to you came to hand from France. I had not before heard of it. He must have been eagle-eyed in quest of offence, to have discovered ground for it among the rubbish massed together in the print he animadverts on. You have done right in giving him a sugary answer. But he did not deserve it. For, notwithstanding a compliment to you now and then, he constantly returns to the identification of your sentiments with the extravagances of the Revolutionary zealots. I believe him a very good man, with imagination enough to declaim eloquently, but Edition: current; Page: [121] without judgment to decide. He wrote to me also on the doubts I had expressed five or six and twenty years ago, in the Notes of Virginia, as to the grade of understanding of the negroes, and he sent me his book on the literature of the negroes. His credulity has made him gather up every story he could find of men of color, (without distinguishing whether black, or of what degree of mixture,) however slight the mention, or light the authority on which they are quoted. The whole do not amount, in point of evidence, to what we know ourselves of Banneker. We know he had spherical trigonometry enough to make almanacs, but not without the suspicion of aid from Ellicot, who was his neighbor and friend, and never missed an opportunity of puffing him. I have a long letter from Banneker, which shows him to have had a mind of very common stature indeed. As to Bishop Gregoire, I wrote him, as you have done, a very soft answer. It was impossible for doubt to have been more tenderly or hesitatingly expressed than that was in the Notes of Virginia, and nothing was or is farther from my intentions, than to enlist myself as the champion of a fixed opinion, where I have only expressed a doubt. St. Domingo will, in time, throw light on the question.

I intended, ere this, to have sent you the papers I had promised you. But I have taken up Marshall’s fifth volume, and mean to read it carefully, to correct what is wrong in it, and commit to writing such facts and annotations as the reading of that work will bring into my recollection, and which has not yet been put on paper; in this I shall be much Edition: current; Page: [122] aided by my memorandums and letters, and will send you both the old and the new.1 But I go on very slowly. In truth, during the pleasant season, I am always out of doors, employed, not passing more time at my writing table than will despatch my Edition: current; Page: [123] current business. But when the weather becomes cold, I shall go out but little. I hope, therefore, to get through this volume during the ensuing winter; but should you want the papers sooner, they shall be sent at a moment’s warning. The ride from Edition: current; Page: [124] Washington to Monticello in the stage, or in a gig, is so easy that I had hoped you would have taken a flight here during the season of good roads. Whenever Mrs. Barlow is well enough to join you in such a visit, it must be taken more at ease. It will give us real pleasure whenever it may take place. I pray you to present me to her respectfully, and I salute you affectionately.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
October 11, 1809
Monticello
Albert Gallatin
Gallatin, Albert

TO ALBERT GALLATIN

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I do not know whether the request of Monsieur Moussier, explained in the enclosed letter, is grantable or not. But my partialities in favor of whatever may promote either the useful or liberal arts, induce me to place it under your consideration, to do in it whatever is right, neither more nor less. I would then ask you to favor me with three lines, in such form as I may forward him by way of answer.

I have reflected much and painfully on the change of dispositions which has taken place among the members of the cabinet, since the new arrangement, as you stated to me in the moment of our separation. It would be, indeed, a great public calamity were it to fix you in the purpose which you seemed to think possible. I consider the fortunes of our republic as depending, in an eminent degree, on the extinguishment of the public debt before we engage in any war: because, that done, we shall have revenue enough to improve our country in peace and Edition: current; Page: [125] defend it in war, without recurring either to new taxes or loans. But if the debt should once more be swelled to a formidable size, its entire discharge will be despaired of, and we shall be committed to the English career of debt, corruption and rottenness, closing with revolution. The discharge of the debt, therefore, is vital to the destinies of our government, and it hangs on Mr. Madison and yourself alone. We shall never see another President and Secretary of the Treasury making all other objects subordinate to this. Were either of you to be lost to the public, that great hope is lost. I had always cherished the idea that you would fix on that object the measure of your fame, and of the gratitude which our country will owe you. Nor can I yield up this prospect to the secondary considerations which assail your tranquility. For sure I am, they never can produce any other serious effect. Your value is too justly estimated by our fellow citizens at large, as well as their functionaries, to admit any remissness in their support of you. My opinion always was, that none of us ever occupied stronger ground in the esteem of Congress than yourself, and I am satisfied there is no one who does not feel your aid to be still as important for the future as it has been for the past. You have nothing, therefore, to apprehend in the dispositions of Congress, and still less of the President, who, above all men, is the most interested and affectionately disposed to support you. I hope, then, you will abandon entirely the idea you expressed to me, and that you will consider the eight years to come Edition: current; Page: [126] as essential to your political career. I should certainly consider any earlier day of your retirement, as the most inauspicious day our new government has ever seen. In addition to the common interest in this question, I feel particularly for myself the considerations of gratitude which I personally owe you for your valuable aid during my administration of public affairs, a just sense of the large portion of the public approbation which was earned by your labors and belongs to you, and the sincere friendship and attachment which grew out of our joint exertions to promote the common good; and of which I pray you now to accept the most cordial and respectful assurances.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
November 30, 1809
Monticello
James Madison
Madison, James

TO JAMES MADISON

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I received last night yours of the 27th, and rode this morning to Col. Monroe’s. I found him preparing to set out to-morrow morning for London, from whence he will not return till Christmas. I had an hour or two’s frank conversation with him. The catastrophe of poor Lewis served to lead us to the point intended. I reminded him that in the letter I wrote to him while in Europe, proposing the Government of Orleans, I also suggested that of Louisiana, if fears for health should be opposed to the other. I said something on the importance of the post, its advantages, &c.—expressed my regret at the curtain which seemed to be drawn between him and his best friends, and my Edition: current; Page: [127] wish to see his talents and integrity engaged in the service of his country again, and that his going into any post would be a signal of reconciliation, on which the body of republicans, who lamented his absence from the public service, would again rally to him. These are the general heads of what I said to him in the course of our conversation. The sum of his answers was, that to accept of that office was incompatible with the respect he owed himself; that he never would act in any office where he should be subordinate to any body but the President himself, or which did not place his responsibility substantially with the President and the nation; that at your accession to the chair, he would have accepted a place in the cabinet, and would have exerted his endeavors most faithfully in support of your fame and measures; that he is not unready to serve the public, and especially in the case of any difficult crisis in our affairs; that he is satisfied that such is the deadly hatred of both France and England, and such their self reproach and dread at the spectacle of such a government as ours, that they will spare nothing to destroy it; that nothing but a firm union among the whole body of republicans can save it, and therefore that no schism should be indulged on any ground; that in his present situation, he is sincere in his anxieties for the success of the administration, and in his support of it as far as the limited sphere of his action or influence extends; that his influence to this end had been used with those with whom the world had ascribed to him an interest he did not possess, until, whatever it was, it Edition: current; Page: [128] was lost, (he particularly named J. Randolph, who, he said, had plans of his own, on which he took no advice;) and that he was now pursuing what he believed his properest occupation, devoting his whole time and faculties to the liberation of his pecuniary embarrassments, which, three years of close attention, he hoped, would effect. In order to know more exactly what were the kinds of employ he would accept, I adverted to the information of the papers, which came yesterday, that Gen. Hampton was dead, but observed that the military life in our present state, offered nothing which could operate on the principle of patriotism; he said he would sooner be shot than take a command under Wilkinson. In this sketch, I have given truly the substance of his ideas, but not always his own words. On the whole, I conclude he would accept a place in the cabinet, or a military command dependent on the Executive alone, and I rather suppose a diplomatic mission, because it would fall within the scope of his views, and not because he said so, for no allusion was made to anything of that kind in our conversation. Everything from him breathed the purest patriotism, involving, however, a close attention to his own honor and grade. He expressed himself with the utmost devotion to the interests of our own country, and I am satisfied he will pursue them with honor and zeal in any character in which he shall be willing to act.

I have thus gone far beyond the single view of your letter, that you may, under any circumstances, form a just estimate of what he would be disposed to Edition: current; Page: [129] do. God bless you, and carry you safely through all your difficulties.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
January 17, 1810
Monticello
John Wayles Eppes
Eppes, John Wayles

TO JOHN WAYLES EPPES

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Yours of the 10th came safely to hand, and I now enclose you a letter from Francis; he continues in excellent health, and employs his time well. He has written to his mamma and grandmamma. I observe that the H. of R. are sensible of the ill effects of the long speeches in their house on their proceedings. But they have a worse effect in the disgust they excite among the people, and the disposition they are producing to transfer their confidence from the legislature to the executive branch, which would soon sap our constitution. These speeches, therefore, are less and less read, and if continued will cease to be read at all. The models for that oratory which is to produce the greatest effect by securing the attention of hearers and readers, are to be found in Livy, Tacitus, Sallust, and most assuredly not in Cicero. I doubt if there is a man in the world who can now read one of his orations through but as a piece of task-work. I observe the house is endeavoring to remedy the eternal protraction of debate by setting up all night, or by the use of the Previous Question. Both will subject them to the most serious inconvenience. The latter may be turned upon themselves by a trick of their adversaries. I have thought that such a rule as the following would be more effectual and less inconvenient.

Edition: current; Page: [130]

“Resolved that at [viii.] o’clock in the evening (whenever the house shall be in session at that hour) it shall be the duty of the Speaker to declare that hour arrived, whereupon all debate shall cease. If there be then before the house a main question for the reading or passing of a bill, resolution or order, such main question shall immediately be put by the Speaker, and decided by yeas and nays.

“If the question before the house be secondary, as for amendment, commitment, postponement, adjournment of the debate or question, laying on the table, reading papers, or a previous question, such secondary, [or any other which may delay the main question,] shall stand ipso facto discharged, and the main question shall then be before the house, and shall be immediately put and decided by yeas and nays. But a motion for adjournment of the house, may once and once only, take place of the main question, and if decided in the negative, the main question shall then be put as before. Should any question of order arise, it shall be decided by the Speaker instanter, and without debate or appeal; and questions of privilege arising, shall be postponed till the main question be decided. Messages from the President or Senate may be received but not acted on till after the decision of the main question. But this rule shall be suspended during the [three] last days of the session of Congress.”

No doubt this, on investigation, will be found to need amendment; but I think the principle of it better adapted to meet the evil than any other which Edition: current; Page: [131] has occurred to me. You can consider and decide upon it, however, and make what use of it you please, only keeping the source of it to yourself. Ever affectionately yours.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
January 24, 1810
Monticello
Joel Barlow
Barlow, Joel

TO JOEL BARLOW

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Yours of the 15th is received, and I am disconsolate on learning my mistake as to your having a dynamometer. My object being to bring a plough to be made here to the same standard of comparison by which Guillaume’s has been proved, nothing less would be satisfactory than an instrument made by the same standard. I must import one, therefore, but how, in the present state of nonintercourse, is the difficulty. I do not know Dr. Mason personally, but by character well. He is the most red-hot federalist, famous, or rather infamous for the lying and slandering which he vomited from the pulpit in the political harangues with which he polluted the place. I was honored with much of it. He is a man who can prove everything if you will take his word for proof. Such evidence of Hamilton’s being a republican he may bring; but Mr. Adams, Edmund Randolph, and myself, could repeat an explicit declaration of Hamilton’s against which Dr. Mason’s proofs would weigh nothing.

I am sorry to learn that your rural occupations impede so much the progress of your much to be desired work. You owe to republicanism, and indeed to the future hopes of man, a faithful record Edition: current; Page: [132] of the march of this government, which may encourage the oppressed to go and do so likewise. Your talents, your principles, and your means of access to public and private sources of information, with the leisure which is at your command, point you out as the person who is to do this act of justice to those who believe in the improvability of the condition of man, and who have acted on that behalf, in opposition to those who consider man as a beast of burthen made to be rode by him who has genius enough to get a bridle into his mouth. The dissensions between two members of the Cabinet are to be lamented. But why should these force Mr. Gallatin to withdraw? They cannot be greater than between Hamilton and myself, and yet we served together four years in that way. We had indeed no personal dissensions. Each of us, perhaps, thought well of the other as a man, but as politicians it was impossible for two men to be of more opposite principles. The method of separate consultation, practised sometimes in the Cabinet, prevents disagreeable collisions.

You ask my opinion of Maine. I think him a most excellent man. Sober, industrious, intelligent and conscientious. But, in the difficulty of changing a nursery establishment, I suspect you will find an insurmountable obstacle to his removal. Present me respectfully to Mrs. Barlow, and be assured of my constant and affectionate esteem.

P. S. The day before yesterday the mercury was at 5½° with us, a very uncommon degree of cold here. It gave us the first ice for the ice house.

Edition: current; Page: [133]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
January 25, 1810
Monticello
J. Garland Jefferson
Jefferson, J. Garland

TO J. GARLAND JEFFERSON

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Your favor of December 12th was long coming to hand. I am much concerned to learn that any disagreeable impression was made on your mind, by the circumstances which are the subject of your letter. Permit me first to explain the principles which I had laid down for my own observance. In a government like ours, it is the duty of the Chief Magistrate, in order to enable himself to do all the good which his station requires, to endeavor, by all honorable means, to unite in himself the confidence of the whole people. This alone, in any case where the energy of the nation is required, can produce a union of the powers of the whole, and point them in a single direction, as if all constituted but one body and one mind, and this alone can render a weaker nation unconquerable by a stronger one. Towards acquiring the confidence of the people, the very first measure is to satisfy them of his disinterestedness, and that he is directing their affairs with a single eye to their good, and not to build up fortunes for himself and family, and especially, that the officers appointed to transact their business, are appointed because they are the fittest men, not because they are his relations. So prone are they to suspicion, that where a President appoints a relation of his own, however worthy, they will believe that favor and not merit was the motive. I therefore laid it down as a law of conduct for myself, never to give an appointment to a relation. Had I felt any hesitation in adopting this rule, examples were not wanting to Edition: current; Page: [134] admonish me what to do and what to avoid. Still, the expression of your willingness to act in any office for which you were qualified, could not be imputed to you as blame. It would not readily occur that a person qualified for office ought to be rejected merely because he was related to the President, and the then more recent examples favored the other opinion. In this light I considered the case as presenting itself to your mind, and that the application might be perfectly justifiable on your part, while, for reasons occurring to none perhaps, but the person in my situation, the public interest might render it unadvisable. Of this, however, be assured that I consider the proposition as innocent on your part, and that it never lessened my esteem for you, or the interest I felt in your welfare.

My stay in Amelia was too short, (only twenty-four hours,) to expect the pleasure of seeing you there. It would be a happiness to me any where, but especially here, from whence I am rarely absent. I am leading a life of considerable activity as a farmer, reading little and writing less. Something pursued with ardor is necessary to guard us from the tedium-vitœ, and the active pursuits lessen most our sense of the infirmities of age. That to the health of youth you may add an old age of vigor, is the sincere prayer of Yours, affectionately.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
February 10, 1810
Monticello
CÆsar A. Rodney
Rodney, CÆsar A.

TO CÆSAR A. RODNEY

j. mss.
My Dear Sir,

—I have to thank you for your favor of the 31st ultimo, which is just now received. Edition: current; Page: [135] It has been peculiarly unfortunate for us, personally, that the portion in the history of mankind, at which we were called to take a share in the direction of their affairs, was such an one as history has never before presented. At any other period, the evenhanded justice we have observed towards all nations, the efforts we have made to merit their esteem by every act which candor or liberality could exercise, would have preserved our peace, and secured the unqualified confidence of all other nations in our faith and probity. But the hurricane which is now blasting the world, physical and moral, has prostrated all the mounds of reason as well as right. All those calculations which, at any other period, would have been deemed honorable, of the existence of a moral sense in man, individually or associated, of the connection which the laws of nature have established between his duties and his interests, of a regard for honest fame and the esteem of our fellow men, have been a matter of reproach on us, as evidences of imbecility. As if it could be a folly for an honest man to suppose that others could be honest also, when it is their interest to be so. And when is this state of things to end? The death of Bonaparte would, to be sure, remove the first and chiefest apostle of the desolation of men and morals, and might withdraw the scourge of the land. But what is to restore order and safety on the ocean? The death of George III? Not at all. He is only stupid; and his ministers, however weak and profligate in morals, are ephemeral. But his nation is permanent, and it is that which is the tyrant of the Edition: current; Page: [136] ocean. The principle that force is right, is become the principle of the nation itself. They would not permit an honest minister, were accident to bring such an one into power, to relax their system of lawless piracy. These were the difficulties when I was with you. I know they are not lessened, and I pity you.

It is a blessing, however, that our people are reasonable; that they are kept so well informed of the state of things as to judge for themselves, to see the true sources of their difficulties, and to maintain their confidence undiminished in the wisdom and integrity of their functionaries. Macte virtute therefore. Continue to go straight forward, pursuing always that which is right, as the only clue which can lead us out of the labyrinth. Let nothing be spared of either reason or passion, to preserve the public confidence entire, as the only rock of our safety. In times of peace the people look most to their representatives; but in war, to the executive solely. It is visible that their confidence is even now veering in that direction; that they are looking to the executive to give the proper direction to their affairs, with a confidence as auspicious as it is well founded.

I avail myself of this, the first occasion of writing to you, to express all the depth of my affection for you; the sense I entertain of your faithful co-operation in my late labors, and the debt I owe for the valuable aid I received from you. Though separated from my fellow laborers in place and pursuit, my affections are with you all, and I offer daily prayers that ye love one another, as I love you. God bless you.

Edition: current; Page: [137]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
March 5, 1810
Monticello
Doctor Walter Jones
Jones, Doctor Walter

TO DOCTOR WALTER JONES

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I received duly your favor of the 19th ultimo, and I salute you with all ancient and recent recollections of friendship. I have learned, with real sorrow, that circumstances have arisen among our executive counsellors, which have rendered foes those who once were friends. To themselves it will be a source of infinite pain and vexation, and therefore chiefly I lament it, for I have a sincere esteem for both parties. To the President it will be really inconvenient; but to the nation I do not know that it can do serious injury, unless we were to believe the newspapers, which pretend that Mr. Gallatin will go out. That indeed would be a day of mourning for the United States; but I hope that the position of both gentlemen may be made so easy as to give no cause for either to withdraw. The ordinary business of every day is done by consultation between the President and the Head of the department alone to which it belongs. For measures of importance or difficulty, a consultation is held with the Heads of departments, either assembled, or by taking their opinions separately in conversation or in writing. The latter is most strictly in the spirit of the constitution. Because the President, on weighing the advice of all, is left free to make up an opinion for himself. In this way they are not brought together, and it is not necessarily known to any what opinion the others have given. This was General Washington’s practice for the first two or three years of his administration, Edition: current; Page: [138] till the affairs of France and England threatened to embroil us, and rendered consideration and discussion desirable. In these discussions, Hamilton and myself were daily pitted in the cabinet like two cocks. We were then but four in number, and, according to the majority, which of course was three to one, the President decided. The pain was for Hamilton and myself, but the public experienced no inconvenience. I practised this last method, because the harmony was so cordial among us all, that we never failed, by a contribution of mutual views on the subject, to form an opinion acceptable to the whole. I think there never was one instance to the contrary, in any case of consequence. Yet this does, in fact, transform the executive into a directory, and I hold the other method to be more constitutional. It is better calculated too to prevent collision and irritation, and to cure it, or at least suppress its effects when it has already taken place. It is the obvious and sufficient remedy in the present case, and will doubtless be resorted to.

Our difficulties are indeed great, if we consider ourselves alone. But when viewed in comparison to those of Europe, they are the joys of Paradise. In the eternal revolution of ages, the destinies have placed our portion of existence amidst such scenes of tumult and outrage, as no other period, within our knowledge, had presented. Every government but one on the continent of Europe, demolished, a conqueror roaming over the earth with havoc and destruction, a pirate spreading misery and ruin over the face of the ocean. Indeed, my friend, ours is a Edition: current; Page: [139] bed of roses. And the system of government which shall keep us afloat amidst the wreck of the world, will be immortalized in history. We have, to be sure, our petty squabbles and heart burnings, and we have something of the blue devils at times, as to these raw heads and bloody bones who are eating up other nations. But happily for us, the Mammoth cannot swim, nor the Leviathan move on dry land; and if we will keep out of their way, they cannot get at us. If, indeed, we choose to place ourselves within the scope of their tether, a gripe of the paw, or flounce of the tail, may be our fortune. Our business certainly was to be still. But a part of our nation chose to declare against this, in such a way as to control the wisdom of the government. I yielded with others, to avoid a greater evil. But from that moment, I have seen no system which could keep us entirely aloof from these agents of destruction. If there be any, I am certain that you, my friends, now charged with the care of us all, will see and pursue it. I give myself, therefore, no trouble with thinking or puzzling about it. Being confident in my watchmen I sleep soundly. God bless you all, and send you a safe deliverance.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
May 25 10
Monticello
James Madison
Madison, James

TO JAMES MADISON

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I inclose you the extract of a letter from Govr Tyler which will explain itself, and I do it on the same principle on which I have sometimes done the same thing before, that whenever you are called on to select, you may have under consideration Edition: current; Page: [140] all those who may properly be thought of & the grounds of their pretensions. From what I can learn Griffin cannot stand it long, and really the state has suffered long enough by having such a cypher in so important an office, and infinitely the more from the want of any counterpoint to the rancorous hatred which Marshal bears to the government of his country, & from the cunning & sophistry within which he is able to enshroud himself. It will be difficult to find a character of firmness enough to preserve his independence on the same bench with Marshall. Tyler, I am certain, would do it. He is an able & well read lawyer, about 59 years of age: He was popular as a judge, & is remarkably so as a governor, for his incorruptible integrity, which no circumstances have ever been able to turn from it’s course. Indeed I think there is scarcely a person in the state so solidly popular, or who would be so much approved for that place. A milk & water character in that office would be seen as a calamity. Tyler having been the former state judge of that court too, and removed to make way for so wretched a fool as Griffin has a kind of right of reclamation, with the advantage of repeated elections by the legislature, as admiralty judge, circuit judge, & Governor. But of all these things you will judge fairly between him & his competitors. You have seen in the papers that Livingston has served a writ on me, stating damages at 100,000. D. The ground is not yet explained, but it is understood to be the batture. I have engaged Wirt, Hay, & Wickham as counsel. I shall soon look into my Edition: current; Page: [141] papers to make a state of the case to enable them to plead: and as much of our proceedings was never committed to writing, and my memory cannot be trusted, it is probable I shall have to appeal to that of my associates in the proceedings. I believe that what I did was in harmony with the opinion of all the members of the administration, verbally expressed altho’ not in writing. I have been delighted to see the effect of Monroe’s late visit to Washington on his mind. There appears to be the most perfect reconciliation & cordiality established towards yourself. I think him now inclined to rejoin us with zeal. The only embarrassment will be from his late friends. But I think he has firmness of mind enough to act independently as to them. The next session of our legislature will shew.

We are suffering under a most severe drought of now 3. weeks continuance. Late sown wheat is yellow but the oats suffer especially. In speaking of Livingston’s suit, I omitted to observe that it is a little doubted that his knolege of Marshall’s character has induced him to bring this action. His twistifications in the case of Marbury, in that of Burr, & the late Yazoo case shew how dexterously he can reconcile law to his personal biasses: and nobody seems to doubt that he is ready prepared to decide that Livingston’s right to the batture is unquestionable, and that I am bound to pay for it with my private fortune. Ever affectionately yours.1

Edition: current; Page: [142]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
July 16. 10
Monticello
Henry Dearborn
Dearborn, Henry

TO HENRY DEARBORN1

Dear General & Friend,

—Your favor of May 31. was duly received, and I join in congratulations with you on the resurrection of republican principles in Massachusetts & N. Hampshire, and the hope that the professors of these principles will not again easily be driven off their ground. The federalists, during their short lived ascendancy, have nevertheless, by Edition: current; Page: [143] forcing us from the embargo, inflicted a wound on our interests which can never be cured, & on our affections which will require time to cicatrise. I ascribe all this to one pseudo-republican, Story. He came on (in place of Crownenshield I believe) and staid only a few days, long enough however to get complete hold of Bacon, who giving in to his representations, became panick struck, & communicated his panick to his colleagues & they to a majority of the sound members of Congress. They Edition: current; Page: [144] believed in the alternative of repeal or civil war, and produced the fatal measure of repeal. This is the immediate parent of all our present evils, and has reduced us to a low standing in the eyes of the world. I should think that even the federalists themselves must now be made, by their feelings, sensible of their error. The wealth which the embargo brought home safely, has now been thrown back into the laps of our enemies; and our navigation completely crushed, and by the unwise & unpatriotic conduct of those engaged in it, should the orders prove genuine which are said to have been given against our fisheries, they too are gone; and if not true as yet, they will be true on the first breeze of success which England shall feel: for it has now been some years that I am perfectly satisfied her intentions have been to claim the ocean as her conquest, & prohibit any vessel from navigating it but on such a tribute as may enable her to keep up such a standing navy as will maintain her dominion over it. She has hauled in, or let herself out, been bold or hesitating according to occurrences, but has in no situation done anything which might amount to an acknowledged relinquishment of her intentions. I have ever been anxious to avoid a war with England, unless forced by a situation more losing than war itself, but I did believe we could coerce her to justice by peaceable means, and the embargo, evaded as it was, proved it would have coerced her, had it been honestly executed. The proof she exhibited on that occasion, that she can exercise Edition: current; Page: [145] such an influence in this country as to controul the will of it’s government & three fourths of it’s people, and oblige the three fourths to submit to one fourth, is to me the most mortifying circumstance which has occurred since the establishment of our government. The only prospect I see of lessening that influence is in her own conduct, & not from any thing in our power. Radically hostile to our navigation and commerce, and fearing its rivalry, she will compleatly crush it, and force us to resort to agriculture, not aware that we shall resort to manufactures also, & render her conquest over our navigation & commerce useless at least, if not injurious to herself in the end, and perhaps salutary to us, as removing out of our way the chief causes & provocations to war.—But these are views which concern the present and future generations, among neither of which I count myself.

You may live to see the change in our pursuits, & chiefly in those of your own state, which England will effect. I am not certain that the change on Massachusetts, by driving her to agriculture, manufactures & emigration will lessen her happiness.—But, once more, to be done with politics—How does Mrs. Dearborne do?—How do you both like your situation?—Do you amuse yourself with a garden, a farm, or what?—That your pursuits, whatever they be, may make you both easy, healthy & happy is the prayer of your sincere friend.

Edition: current; Page: [146]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
September 20, 1810
Monticello
John B. Colvin
Colvin, John B.

TO JOHN B. COLVIN

j. mss.
Sir,

—Your favor of the 14th has been duly received, and I have to thank you for the many obliging things respecting myself which are said in it. If I have left in the breasts of my fellow citizens a sentiment of satisfaction with my conduct in the transaction of their business, it will soften the pillow of my repose through the residue of life.

The question you propose, whether circumstances do not sometimes occur, which make it a duty in officers of high trust, to assume authorities beyond the law, is easy of solution in principle, but sometimes embarrassing in practice. A strict observance of the written laws is doubtless one of the high duties of a good citizen, but it is not the highest. The laws of necessity, of self-preservation, of saving our country when in danger, are of higher obligation. To lose our country by a scrupulous adherence to written law, would be to lose the law itself, with life, liberty, property and all those who are enjoying them with us; thus absurdly sacrificing the end to the means. When, in the battle of Germantown, General Washington’s army was annoyed from Chew’s house, he did not hesitate to plant his cannon against it, although the property of a citizen. When he besieged Yorktown, he leveled the suburbs, feeling that the laws of property must be postponed to the safety of the nation. While the army was before York, the Governor of Virginia took horses, carriages, provisions and even men by force, to enable that army to stay together till it Edition: current; Page: [147] could master the public enemy; and he was justified. A ship at sea in distress for provisions, meets another having abundance, yet refusing a supply; the law of self-preservation authorizes the distressed to take a supply by force. In all these cases, the unwritten laws of necessity, of self-preservation, and of the public safety, control the written laws of meum and tuum. Further to exemplify the principle, I will state an hypothetical case. Suppose it had been made known to the Executive of the Union in the autumn of 1805, that we might have the Floridas for a reasonable sum, that that sum had not indeed been so appropriated by law, but that Congress were to meet within three weeks, and might appropriate it on the first or second day of their session. Ought he, for so great an advantage to his country, to have risked himself by transcending the law and making the purchase? The public advantage offered, in this supposed case, was indeed immense; but a reverence for law, and the probability that the advantage might still be legally accomplished by a delay of only three weeks, were powerful reasons against hazarding the act. But suppose it foreseen that a John Randolph would find means to protract the proceeding on it by Congress, until the ensuing spring, by which time new circumstances would change the mind of the other party. Ought the Executive, in that case, and with that foreknowledge, to have secured the good to his country, and to have trusted to their justice for the transgression of the law? I think he ought, and that the act would have been approved. Edition: current; Page: [148] After the affair of the Chesapeake, we thought war a very possible result. Our magazines were illy provided with some necessary articles, nor had any appropriations been made for their purchase. We ventured, however, to provide them, and to place our country in safety; and stating the case to Congress, they sanctioned the act.

To proceed to the conspiracy of Burr, and particularly to General Wilkinson’s situation in New Orleans. In judging this case, we are bound to consider the state of the information, correct and incorrect, which he then possessed. He expected Burr and his band from above, a British fleet from below, and he knew there was a formidable conspiracy within the city. Under these circumstances, was he justifiable, 1st, in seizing notorious conspirators? On this there can be but two opinions; one, of the guilty and their accomplices; the other, that of all honest men. 2d. In sending them to the seat of government, when the written law gave them a right to trial in the territory? The danger of their rescue, of their continuing their machinations, the tardiness and weakness of the law, apathy of the judges, active patronage of the whole tribe of lawyers, unknown disposition of the juries, an hourly expectation of the enemy, salvation of the city, and of the Union itself, which would have been convulsed to its centre, had that conspiracy succeeded; all these constituted a law of necessity and self-preservation, and rendered the salus populi supreme over the written law. The officer who is called to act on this superior ground, does indeed Edition: current; Page: [149] risk himself on the justice of the controlling powers of the constitution, and his station makes it his duty to incur that risk. But those controlling powers, and his fellow citizens generally, are bound to judge according to the circumstances under which he acted. They are not to transfer the information of this place or moment to the time and place of his action; but to put themselves into his situation. We knew here that there never was danger of a British fleet from below, and that Burr’s band was crushed before it reached the Mississippi. But General Wilkinson’s information was very different, and he could act on no other.

From these examples and principles you may see what I think on the question proposed. They do not go to the case of persons charged with petty duties, where consequences are trifling, and time allowed for a legal course, nor to authorize them to take such cases out of the written law. In these, the example of overleaping the law is of greater evil than a strict adherence to its imperfect provisions. It is incumbent on those only who accept of great charges, to risk themselves on great occasions, when the safety of the nation, or some of its very high interests are at stake. An officer is bound to obey orders; yet he would be a bad one who should do it in cases for which they were not intended, and which involved the most important consequences. The line of discrimination between cases may be difficult; but the good officer is bound to draw it at his own peril, and throw himself on the justice of his country and the rectitude of his motives.

Edition: current; Page: [150]

I have indulged freer views on this question, on your assurances that they are for your own eye only, and that they will not get into the hands of newswriters. I met their scurrilities without concern, while in pursuit of the great interests with which I was charged. But in my present retirement, no duty forbids my wish for quiet.

Accept the assurances of my esteem and respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Oct. 15. 10
Monticello
James Madison
Madison, James

TO JAMES MADISON

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Tho’ late, I congratulate you on the revocation of the French decrees, & Congress still more, for without something new from the belligerents, I know not what ground they could have taken for their next move. Britain will revoke her orders of council, but continue their effect by new paper blockades, doing in detail what the orders did in the lump. The exclusive right to the sea by conquest is the principle she has acted on in petto, tho’ she dares not yet avow it. This was to depend on the events of the war. I rejoice however that one power has got out of our way, & left us a clear field with the other.

Another circumstance of congratulation is the death of Cushing. The nation ten years ago declared it’s will for a change in the principles of the administration of their affairs. They then changed the two branches depending on their will, and have steadily maintained the reformation in those branches. Edition: current; Page: [151] The third, not depending on them, has so long bid defiance to their will, erecting themselves into a political body, to correct what they deem the errors of the nation. The death of Cushing gives an opportunity of closing the reformation by a successor of unquestionable republican principles. Our friend Lincoln has of course presented himself to your recollection. I know you think lightly of him as a lawyer; and I do not consider him as a correct common lawyer, yet as much so as any one which ever came, or ever can come from one of the Eastern states. Their system of Jurisprudence made up from the Jewish law, a little dash of common law, & a great mass of original notions of their own, is a thing sui generis, and one educated in that system can never so far eradicate early impressions as to imbibe thoroughly the principles of another system. It is so in the case of other systems of which Ld. Mansfield is a splendid example. Lincoln’s firm republicanism, and known integrity, will give compleat confidence to the public in the long desired reformation of their judiciary. Were he out of the way, I should think Granger prominent for the place. His abilities are great, I have entire confidence in his integrity, tho’ I am sensible that J. R. has been able to lessen the confidence of many in him. But that I believe he would soon reconcile to him, if placed in a situation to shew himself to the public, as he is, and not as an enemy has represented him. As the choice must be of a New Englander, to exercise his functions for New England men, I confess I know of none but these two characters. Morton is really a Edition: current; Page: [152] republican, but inferior to both the others in every point of view. Blake calls himself republican, but never was one at heart. His treachery to us under the embargo should put him by forever. Story & Bacon are exactly the men who deserted us on that measure & carried off the majority. The former unquestionably a tory, & both are too young. I say nothing of professing federalists. Granger & Morton have both been interested in Yazooism. The former however has long been clear of it. I have said thus much because I know you must wish to learn the sentiments of others, to hear all, and then do what on the whole you perceive to be best.1

Edition: current; Page: [153]

Does Mr. Lee go back to Bordeaux? If he does, I have not a wish to the contrary. If he does not, permit me to place my friend & kinsman G. J.1 on the list of candidates. No appointment can fall on an honester man and his talents tho’ not of the first Edition: current; Page: [154] order, are fully adequate to the station. His judgment is very sound, & his prudence consummate. Ever affectionately yours.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
November 13, 1810
Monticello
William Duane
Duane, William

TO WILLIAM DUANE

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Your third packet is received before the second had been returned. It is now enclosed, Edition: current; Page: [155] and the other shall go by the next post. I find, as before, nothing to correct but those errors of the copyist which you would have corrected yourself before committed to the press. If it were practicable to send me the original sheets with the translated, perhaps my equal familiarity with both Edition: current; Page: [156] languages might enable me sometimes to be of some advantage; but I presume that might be difficult, and of little use, scarcely perhaps of any. I thank you for the copy of Williams. I have barely dipped into it a little. Enough, however, to see he is far short of the luminous work you are printing. Indeed I think that the most valuable work of the present age. I received from Williams, some years ago, his book on the claims of authors. I found him to be a man of sound and true principles, but not knowing how to go at them, and not able to trace or develop them for others. I believe with you that the crisis of England is come. What will be its issue it is vain to prophesy; so many thousand contingencies may turn up to affect its direction. Were I to hazard a guess, it would be that they will become a military despotism. Their recollections of the portion of liberty they have enjoyed will render force necessary to retain them under pure monarchy. Their pressure upon us has been so severe and so unprincipled, that we cannot deprecate their fate, though we might wish to see their naval power kept up to the level of that of the other principal powers separately taken. But may it not take a very different turn? Her paper credit annihilated, the precious metals must become her circulating medium. The taxes which can be levied on her people in these will be trifling in comparison with what they could pay in paper money; her navy then will be unpaid, unclothed, unfed. Will such a body of men suffer themselves to be dismissed and to starve? Will they not mutiny, revolt, embody themselves under a Edition: current; Page: [157] popular Admiral, take possession of Western and Bermuda islands, and act on the Algerine system? If they should not be able to act on this broad scale, they will become individual pirates; and the modern Carthage will end as the old one has done. I am sorry for her people, who are individually as respectable as those of other nations—it is her government which is so corrupt, and which has destroyed the nation—it was certainly the most corrupt and unprincipled government on earth. I should be glad to see their farmers and mechanics come here, but I hope their nobles, priests, and merchants will be kept at home to be moralized by the discipline of the new government. The young stripling whom you describe is, probably, as George Nicholas used to say, “in the plenitude of puppyism.” Such coxcombs do not serve even as straws to show which way the wind blows. Alexander is unquestionably a man of an excellent heart, and of very respectable strength of mind; and he is the only sovereign who cordially loves us. Bonaparte hates our government because it is a living libel on his. The English hate us because they think our prosperity filched from theirs. Of Alexander’s sense of the merits of our form of government, of its wholesome operation on the condition of the people, and of the interest he takes in the success of our experiment, we possess the most unquestionable proofs; and to him we shall be indebted if the rights of neutrals, to be settled whenever peace is made, shall be extended beyond the present belligerents; that is to say, European neutrals, as George and Edition: current; Page: [158] Napoleon, of mutual consent and common hatred against us, would concur in excluding us. I thought it a salutary measure to engage the powerful patronage of Alexander at conferences for peace, at a time when Bonaparte was courting him; and although circumstances have lessened its weight, yet it is prudent for us to cherish his good dispositions, as those alone which will be exerted in our favor when that occasion shall occur. He, like ourselves, sees and feels the atrociousness of both the belligerents. I salute you with great esteem and respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Nov. 25, 10
Monticello
Judge John Tyler
Tyler, Judge John

TO JUDGE JOHN TYLER

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Your favor of the 12th gave me the first information that the lectures of my late master and friend1 exist in MS. Knowing how little sensible he was of the eminence of his own mind, I had apprehended, if he had ever committed to writing more than their skeleton, that possibly he might have destroyed them, as I expect he has done a very great number of instructive arguments delivered at the bar, and often written at full length. I do not however conceive myself entitled to claim them under the bequest of his library. I presume they go, with his other papers to his executor. But this must be immaterial, as no one could have a wish to withhold them from the public, if in such a form as would render them useful to them, & honorable to himself. This I am sure they must be if tolerably entire. Edition: current; Page: [159] His mind was too accurate, his reasoning powers too strong, to have committed anything to paper materially incorrect. It is unfortunate that there should be lacunae in them. But you are mistaken, my dear sir, in supposing I could supply them. It is now 37 years since I left the bar, and have ceased to think on subjects of law; & the constant occupation of my mind by other concerns has obliterated from it all but the strongest traces of the science. Others, I am sure, can be found equal to it, and none more so than Judge Roane. It is not my time or trouble which I wish to spare on this occasion. They are due, in any extent, to the memory of one who was my second father, my incompetence is the real obstacle: and in any other circumstance connected with the publication, in which I can be useful to his fame, and the public instruction, I shall be most ready to do my duty. How this may be, I must leave to be pointed out by you, than whom no one better knew the powers & purity of his mind, or feels warmer zeal to render them useful after his death. Accept the assurances of my constant friendship & respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Jan. 5, 11
Monticello
John Wayles Eppes
Eppes, John Wayles

TO JOHN WAYLES EPPES

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Your two letters of Dec. 14 reached this place just after I had left it, for Bedford. This has occasioned the delay of the answer. I now inclose you the paper you requested on the boundaries of Louisiana. It is a bad Polygraph copy; however Edition: current; Page: [160] it is legible. There is nothing secret in the paper and therefore may be freely used as you please, except that I would not have it printed but with the advice of the President—with his sanction, if it be thought material to satisfy the public opinion on the solidity of a right, the assertion of which may lead to war, it may be printed. But the paper I send you wants a very material appendix. This was a chronological table of all the facts relating to the discovery & history of Louisiana which I compiled from all the authors I possess or could obtain, who have written on Louisiana, with a reference to the authority for every fact. This is not now among my papers, and I have no conception what has become of it, unless it remains in the office of state. I sent both papers to that office, from which copies were taken and sent to our ministers at Paris & Madrid & perhaps given in by them to those governments. Copies were also retained for the use of the office, and perhaps only the original of the principal paper may have been returned to me. I write by this post to Mr. Graham to examine & if he has not the original of the chronological table, to lend me his copy, from which I will send you one. With respect to the boundaries they are as well ascertained as those of any unsettled country whatever, as well as the boundaries of several of these states, about which disputes still exist & as the boundaries of many of the unsettled Northern countries of Europe. I wish you would authorise the President to take possession of East Florida immediately. The seizing West Florida will be a signal to England to take Pensacola & St. Edition: current; Page: [161] Augustine; and be assured it will be done as soon as the order can return after they hear of our taking Baton rouge, and we shall never get it from them but by a war, which may be prevented by anticipation—there never was a case where the adage was more true, “in for a penny, in for a pound;” and no more offence will be taken by France & Spain at our seizure of both than of one. The English will take East Florida, pretendedly for Spain. We should take it with a declaration 1. That it is a reprisal for indemnities Spain has acknoleged due to us. 2. To keep it from falling into hands in which it would essentially endanger our safety. 3. That in our hands it will still be held as a subject of negociation. The leading Republican members should come to an understanding, close the doors, and determine not to separate till the vote is carried and all the secrecy you can enjoin should be aimed at until the measure is executed. The militia of Georgia will do it in a fortnight.

I proposed to Francis, as you desired, his staying here. He asked me if I had written to you to ask permission for his stay. I told him I had & that you left it to himself. He said at once he would stay. I have put him into his Latin grammar, rather to learn him to exercise his memory in getting by heart, than from an expectation that he may otherwise profit by it as yet. I observe he gets very readily & perfectly. I inclose you a letter from him. Accept assurances of my constant affection.

Edition: current; Page: [162]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
January 15, 1811
Monticello
Thomas Law
Law, Thomas

TO THOMAS LAW

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—An absence from home of some length has prevented my sooner acknowledging the receipt of your letter, covering the printed pamphlet, which the same absence has as yet prevented me from taking up, but which I know I shall read with great pleasure. Your favor of December the 22d, is also received.

Mr. Wagner’s malignity, like that of the rest of his tribe of brother printers, who deal out calumnies for federal readers, gives me no pain. When a printer cooks up a falsehood, it is as easy to put it into the mouth of a Mr. Fox, as of a smaller man, and safer into that of a dead than a living one. Your sincere attachment to this country, as well as to your native one, was never doubted by me; and in that persuasion, I felt myself free to express to you my genuine sentiments with respect to England. No man was more sensible than myself of the just value of the friendship of that country. There are between us so many of those circumstances which naturally produce and cement kind dispositions, that if they could have forgiven our resistance to their usurpations, our connections might have been durable, and have insured duration to both our governments. I wished, therefore, a cordial friendship with them, and I spared no occasion of manifesting this in our correspondence and intercourse with them; not disguising, however, my desire of friendship with their enemy also. During the administration of Mr. Addington, I thought I Edition: current; Page: [163] discovered some friendly symptoms on the part of that government; at least, we received some marks of respect from the administration, and some of regret at the wrongs we were suffering from their country. So, also, during the short interval of Mr. Fox’s power. But every other administration since our Revolution has been equally wanton in their injuries and insults, and have manifested equal hatred and aversion. Instead, too, of cultivating the government itself, whose principles are those of the great mass of the nation, they have adopted the miserable policy of teazing and embarrassing it, by allying themselves with a faction here, not a tenth of the people, noisy and unprincipled, and which never can come into power while republicanism is the spirit of the nation, and that must continue to be so, until such a condensation of population shall have taken place as will require centuries. Whereas, the good will of the government itself would give them, and immediately, every benefit which reason or justice would permit it to give. With respect to myself, I saw great reason to believe their ministers were weak enough to credit the newspaper trash about a supposed personal enmity in myself towards England. This wretched party imputation was beneath the notice of wise men. England never did me a personal injury, other than in open war; and for numerous individuals there, I have great esteem and friendship. And I must have had a mind far below the duties of my station, to have felt either national partialities or antipathies in conducting the affairs confided to me. My affections Edition: current; Page: [164] were first for my own country, and then, generally, for all mankind; and nothing but minds placing themselves above the passions, in the functionaries of this country, could have preserved us from the war to which their provocations have been constantly urging us. The war interests in England include a numerous and wealthy part of their population; and their influence is deemed worth courting by ministers wishing to keep their places. Continually endangered by a powerful opposition, they find it convenient to humor the popular passions at the expense of the public good. The shipping interest, commercial interest, and their janizaries of the navy, all fattening on war, will not be neglected by ministers of ordinary minds. Their tenure of office is so infirm that they dare not follow the dictates of wisdom, justice, and the well-calculated interests of their country. This vice in the English constitution, renders a dependence on that government very unsafe. The feelings of their King, too, fundamentally adverse to us, have added another motive for unfriendliness in his ministers. This obstacle to friendship, however, seems likely to be soon removed; and I verily believe the successor will come in with fairer and wiser dispositions towards us; perhaps on that event their conduct may be changed. But what England is to become on the crush of her internal structure, now seeming to be begun, I cannot foresee. Her monied interest, created by her paper system, and now constituting a baseless mass of wealth equal to that of the owners of the soil, must disappear with that system, and the Edition: current; Page: [165] medium for paying great taxes thus failing, her navy must be without support. That it shall be supported by permitting her to claim dominion of the ocean, and to levy tribute on every flag traversing that, as lately attempted and not yet relinquished, every nation must contest, even ad internecionem. And yet, that retiring from this enormity, she should continue able to take a fair share in the necessary equilibrium of power on that element, would be the desire of every nation.

I feel happy in withdrawing my mind from these anxieties, and resigning myself, for the remnant of life, to the care and guardianship of others. Good wishes are all an old man has to offer to his country or friends. Mine attend yourself, with sincere assurances of esteem and respect, which, however, I should be better pleased to tender you in person, should your rambles ever lead you into the vicinage of Monticello.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
January 16, 1811
Monticello
Doctor Benjamin Rush
Rush, Doctor Benjamin

TO DOCTOR BENJAMIN RUSH

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I had been considering for some days, whether it was not time by a letter, to bring myself to your recollection, when I received your welcome favor of the 2d instant. I had before heard of the heart-rending calamity you mention, and had sincerely sympathized with your afflictions. But I had not made it the subject of a letter, because I knew that condolences were but renewals of grief. Yet I thought, and still think, this is one of the cases Edition: current; Page: [166] wherein we should “not sorrow, even as others who have no hope.” I have myself known so many cases of recovery from confirmed insanity, as to reckon it ever among the recoverable diseases. One of them was that of a near relative and namesake of mine, who, after many years of madness of the first degree, became entirely sane, and amused himself to a good old age in keeping school; was an excellent teacher and much valued citizen.

You ask if I have read Hartley? I have not. My present course of life admits less reading than I wish. From breakfast, or noon at latest, to dinner, I am mostly on horseback, attending to my farm or other concerns, which I find healthful to my body, mind and affairs; and the few hours I can pass in my cabinet, are devoured by correspondences; not those of my intimate friends, with whom I delight to interchange sentiments, but with others, who, writing to me on concerns of their own in which I have had an agency, or from motives of mere respect and approbation, are entitled to be answered with respect and a return of good will. My hope is that this obstacle to the delights of retirement, will wear away with the oblivion which follows that, and that I may at length be indulged in those studious pursuits, from which nothing but revolutionary duties would ever have called me.

I shall receive your proposed publication and read it with the pleasure which everything gives me from your pen. Although much of a sceptic in the practice of medicine, I read with pleasure its ingenious theories.

Edition: current; Page: [167]

I receive with sensibility your observations on the discontinuance of friendly correspondence between Mr. Adams and myself, and the concern you take in its restoration. This discontinuance has not proceeded from me, nor from the want of sincere desire and of effort on my part, to renew our intercourse. You know the perfect coincidence of principle and of action, in the early part of the Revolution, which produced a high degree of mutual respect and esteem between Mr. Adams and myself. Certainly no man was ever truer than he was, in that day, to those principles of rational republicanism which, after the necessity of throwing off our monarchy, dictated all our efforts in the establishment of a new government. And although he swerved, afterwards, towards the principles of the English constitution, our friendship did not abate on that account. While he was Vice President, and I Secretary of State, I received a letter from President Washington, then at Mount Vernon, desiring me to call together the Heads of departments, and to invite Mr. Adams to join us (which, by-the-bye, was the only instance of that being done) in order to determine on some measure which required despatch; and he desired me to act on it, as decided, without again recurring to him. I invited them to dine with me, and after dinner, sitting at our wine, having settled our question, other conversation came on, in which a collision of opinion arose between Mr. Adams and Colonel Hamilton, on the merits of the British constitution, Mr. Adams giving it as his opinion, that, if some of its defects and abuses were corrected, Edition: current; Page: [168] it would be the most perfect constitution of government ever devised by man. Hamilton, on the contrary, asserted, that with its existing vices, it was the most perfect model of government that could be formed; and that the correction of its vices would render it an impracticable government. And this you may be assured was the real line of difference between the political principles of these two gentlemen. Another incident took place on the same occasion, which will further delineate Mr. Hamilton’s political principles. The room being hung around with a collection of the portraits of remarkable men, among them were those of Bacon, Newton and Locke, Hamilton asked me who they were. I told him they were my trinity of the three greatest men the world had ever produced, naming them. He paused for some time: “the greatest man,” said he, “that ever lived, was Julius Cæsar.” Mr. Adams was honest as a politician, as well as a man; Hamilton honest as a man, but, as a politician, believing in the necessity of either force or corruption to govern men.

You remember the machinery which the federalists played off, about that time, to beat down the friends to the real principles of our constitution, to silence by terror every expression in their favor, to bring us into war with France and alliance with England, and finally to homologize our constitution with that of England. Mr. Adams, you know, was overwhelmed with feverish addresses, dictated by the fear, and often by the pen, of the bloody buoy, and was seduced by them into some open indications of his new principles of government, and in fact, was so Edition: current; Page: [169] elated as to mix with his kindness a little superciliousness towards me. Even Mrs. Adams, with all her good sense and prudence, was sensibly flushed. And you recollect the short suspension of our intercourse, and the circumstance which gave rise to it, which you were so good as to bring to an early explanation, and have set to rights, to the cordial satisfaction of us all. The nation at length passed condemnation on the political principles of the federalists, by refusing to continue Mr. Adams in the Presidency. On the day on which we learned in Philadelphia the vote of the city of New York, which it was well known would decide the vote of the State, and that, again, the vote of the Union, I called on Mr. Adams on some official business. He was very sensibly affected, and accosted me with these words: “Well, I understand that you are to beat me in this contest, and I will only say that I will be as faithful a subject as any you will have.” “Mr. Adams,” said I, “this is no personal contest between you and me. Two systems of principles on the subject of government divide our fellow citizens into two parties. With one of these you concur, and I with the other. As we have been longer on the public stage than most of those now living, our names happen to be more generally known. One of these parties, therefore, has put your name at its head, the other mine. Were we both to die to-day, to-morrow two other names would be in the place of ours, without any change in the motion of the machinery. Its motion is from its principle, not from you or myself.” “I believe you are right,” said he, “that we are but Edition: current; Page: [170] passive instruments, and should not suffer this matter to affect our personal dispositions.” But he did not long retain this just view of the subject. I have always believed that the thousand calumnies which the federalists, in bitterness of heart, and mortification at their ejection, daily invented against me, were carried to him by their busy intriguers, and made some impression. When the election between Burr and myself was kept in suspense by the federalists, and they were mediating to place the President of the Senate at the head of the government, I called on Mr. Adams with a view to have this desperate measure prevented by his negative. He grew warm in an instant, and said with a vehemence he had not used towards me before, “Sir, the event of the election is within your own power. You have only to say you will do justice to the public creditors, maintain the navy, and not disturb those holding offices, and the government will instantly be put into your hands. We know it is the wish of the people it should be so.” “Mr. Adams,” said I, “I know not what part of my conduct, in either public or private life, can have authorized a doubt of my fidelity to the public engagements. I say, however, I will not come into the government by capitulation. I will not enter on it, but in perfect freedom to follow the dictates of my own judgment.” I had before given the same answer to the same intimation from Gouverneur Morris. “Then,” said he, “things must take their course.” I turned the conversation to something else, and soon took my leave. It was the first time in our lives we had ever parted with Edition: current; Page: [171] anything like dissatisfaction. And then followed those scenes of midnight appointment, which have been condemned by all men. The last day of his political power, the last hours, and even beyond the midnight, were employed in filling all offices, and especially permanent ones, with the bitterest federalists, and providing for me the alternative, either to execute the government by my enemies, whose study it would be to thwart and defeat all my measures, or to incur the odium of such numerous removals from office, as might bear me down. A little time and reflection effaced in my mind this temporary dissatisfaction with Mr. Adams, and restored me to that just estimate of his virtues and passions, which a long acquaintance had enabled me to fix. And my first wish became that of making his retirement easy by any means in my power; for it was understood he was not rich. I suggested to some republican members of the delegation from his State, the giving him, either directly or indirectly, an office, the most lucrative in that State, and then offered to be resigned, if they thought he would not deem it affrontive. They were of opinion he would take great offence at the offer; and moreover, that the body of republicans would consider such a step in the outset as arguing very ill of the course I meant to pursue. I dropped the idea, therefore, but did not cease to wish for some opportunity of renewing our friendly understanding.

Two or three years after, having had the misfortune to lose a daughter, between whom and Mrs. Adams there had been a considerable attachment, she made Edition: current; Page: [172] it the occasion of writing me a letter, in which, with the tenderest expressions of concern at this event, she carefully avoided a single one of friendship towards myself, and even concluded it with the wishes “of her who once took pleasure in subscribing herself your friend, Abigail Adams.” Unpromising as was the complexion of this letter, I determined to make an effort towards removing the cloud from between us. This brought on a correspondence which I now enclose for your perusal, after which be so good as to return it to me, as I have never communicated it to any mortal breathing, before. I send it to you, to convince you I have not been wanting either in the desire, or the endeavor to remove this misunderstanding. Indeed, I thought it highly disgraceful to us both, as indicating minds not sufficiently elevated to prevent a public competition from affecting our personal friendship. I soon found from the correspondence that conciliation was desperate, and yielding to an intimation in her last letter, I ceased from further explanation. I have the same good opinion of Mr. Adams which I ever had. I know him to be an honest man, an able one with his pen, and he was a powerful advocate on the floor of Congress. He has been alienated from me, by belief in the lying suggestions contrived for electioneering purposes, that I perhaps mixed in the activity and intrigues of the occasion. My most intimate friends can testify that I was perfectly passive. They would sometimes, indeed, tell me what was going on; but no man ever heard me take part in such conversations; and none ever Edition: current; Page: [173] misrepresented Mr. Adams in my presence, without my asserting his just character. With very confidential persons I have doubtless disapproved of the principles and practices of his administration. This was unavoidable. But never with those with whom it could do him any injury. Decency would have required this conduct from me, if disposition had not; and I am satisfied Mr. Adams’ conduct was equally honorable towards me. But I think it part of his character to suspect foul play in those of whom he is jealous, and not easily to relinquish his suspicions.

I have gone, my dear friend, into these details, that you might know everything which had passed between us, might be fully possessed of the state of facts and dispositions, and judge for yourself whether they admit a revival of that friendly intercourse for which you are so kindly solicitous. I shall certainly not be wanting in anything on my part which may second your efforts, which will be the easier with me, inasmuch as I do not entertain a sentiment of Mr. Adams, the expression of which could give him reasonable offence. And I submit the whole to yourself, with the assurance, that whatever be the issue, my friendship and respect for yourself will remain unaltered and unalterable.1

Edition: current; Page: [174]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Jan. 20, 11
Monticello
Marquis de Lafayette
Lafayette, Marquis de

TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE

j. mss.

I have to acknolege, my dear friend, the receipt of many of your letters within the last twelvemonth, and altho’ I have not answered them specifically to yourself, yet I have not been inattentive or inactive as to their contents. On leaving the government two years ago, I knew I could not serve you so effectually as by committing the whole care of your Orleans affairs to the President. The weight of his agency merged all other interferences & no one could Edition: current; Page: [175] have more zeal. The arrival of your letters therefore to me, was used as occasions for refreshing his memory on your situation, and always produced answers which shewed he had it ever in view, till at length he informed me he had been able to have the grants brought forward for his signature which they had received & were forwarded by a confidential person. Your letters after this I considered as effectively answered by the fact of the grants being expedited, & by that time in your hands. Your last of Sep. 20. recd Nov. 29. accordingly informed me of Mr. Parish’s arrival on the continent with them. Edition: current; Page: [176] Notwithstanding the discouragements from Hope & Co. I have such reliance on the genius & resources of our friend Parker in these matters as not to despair of means being found of making this property a present relief as well as future provision. I should consider money lent on it’s hypothecation as on the solidest bottom of any loan existing. Of which of the dominant powers of Europe is the good faith as trustworthy? In what spot of Europe is the money of a lender more secure than in this peaceable, industrious, & thriving country? Had Mr. Goldsmidt’s Omnium been all bottomed on the grounds around N. Orleans, he would not have needed the resource of the pistol. On the subject of your location adjacent to the city of N. O. I am not able to say any thing now, in fact I have considered your affairs as so securely placed in the hands of M. Duplantier there, and of the President here, that my interferences were better suspended as it might have disturbed & could not aid their operations. I did not omit however on a late visit to Govr. Claiborne to me at this place to strengthen as far as in my power, his good dispositions to give any aid his situation would afford to Mr. Duplantier. I trust then that for my failure to write for some time past other motives will be perceived than inattention to your happiness and prosperity. Old men do not easily contract new friendships, but neither do they forget old ones. Yours & mine commenced in times too awful, has continued thro’ times too trying & changeful to be forgotten at the moment when our chief solace is in our recollections. You will be more Edition: current; Page: [177] sensible of this as you advance more towards my years. My situation too, so far in the interior country, prevents my knowing of the opportunities of writing. You remember your camps at the Raccoonford & Mechunck, & that I am still farther inland. For some time past there has been no opportunities but by public vessels; and the first we hear of them is generally that they sailed on such a day from such a port. One sailed lately from Hampton, which I learned only by the newspapers, after she was gone, and I am now writing without knowing when, or whence the letter can be forwarded. To these unfavorable circumstances for correspondence must be added the total change of the habits of my life. I am now on horseback among my farms from an early breakfast to a late dinner, with little regard to weather. I find it gives health to body, mind & affairs. I go to my writing table with great reluctance & only for those calls which cannot be put off to tomorrow. I am always happy to hear of the welfare of your family, & especially of your own. I hope you enjoy habitually good health & spirits. In the present state of the European world your comforts must all flow from what is immediately around you. There can be none in casting your eye over scenes of murder, rapine, devastation, pyracy, demoralization of national societies & degradation of the instruments of all this evil. If there be a god, & he is just his day will come. He will never abandon the whole race of man to be eaten up by the leviathans and mammoths of a day. I enjoy good health & am happy in contemplating Edition: current; Page: [178] the peace, prosperity, liberty & safety of my country, & especially the wide ocean, the barrier of all these. My daughter is in good health & continues to multiply the objects of our affection.

Mar. 27. Since the date of this letter, I am promoted to the honors of a great grandfather. God bless you & send you many & happy days. Yours ever and affectionately.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
January 21, 1811
Monticello
John Lynch
Lynch, John

TO JOHN LYNCH

j. mss.
Sir,

—You have asked my opinion on the proposition of Mrs. Mifflin, to take measures for procuring, on the coast of Africa, an establishment to which the people of color of these States might, from time to time, be colonized, under the auspices of different governments. Having long ago made up my mind on this subject, I have no hesitation in saying that I have ever thought it the most desirable measure which could be adopted, for gradually drawing off this part of our population, most advantageously for themselves as well as for us. Going from a country possessing all the useful arts, they might be the means of transplanting them among the inhabitants of Africa, and would thus carry back to the country of their origin, the seeds of civilization which might render their sojournment and sufferings here a blessing in the end to that country.

I received, in the first year of my coming into the administration of the General Government, a letter from the Governor of Virginia, (Colonel Monroe,) Edition: current; Page: [179] consulting me, at the request of the Legislature of the State, on the means of procuring some such asylum, to which these people might be occasionally sent. I proposed to him the establishment of Sierra Leone, to which a private company in England had already colonized a number of negroes, and particularly the fugitives from these States during the Revolutionary War; and at the same time suggested, if this could not be obtained, some of the Portuguese possessions in South America, as next most desirable. The subsequent Legislature approving these ideas, I wrote, the ensuing year, 1802, to Mr. King, our Minister in London, to endeavor to negotiate with the Sierra Leone company a reception of such of these people as might be colonized thither. He opened a correspondence with Mr. Wedderburne and Mr. Thornton, secretaries of the company, on the subject, and in 1803 I received through Mr. King the result, which was that the colony was going on, but in a languishing condition; that the funds of the company were likely to fail, as they received no returns of profit to keep them up; that they were therefore in treaty with their government to take the establishment off their hands; but that in no event should they be willing to receive more of these people from the United States, as it was exactly that portion of their settlers which had gone from hence, which, by their idleness and turbulence, had kept the settlement in constant danger of dissolution, which could not have been prevented but for the aid of the Maroon negroes from the West Indies, who were more industrious and orderly than the others, Edition: current; Page: [180] and supported the authority of the government and its laws. I think I learned afterwards that the British Government had taken the colony into its own hands, and I believe it still exists. The effort which I made with Portugal, to obtain an establishment for them within their claims in South America, proved also abortive.

You inquire further, whether I would use my endeavors to procure for such an establishment security against violence from other powers, and particularly from France? Certainly, I shall be willing to do anything I can to give it effect and safety. But I am but a private individual, and could only use endeavors with private individuals; whereas, the National Government can address themselves at once to those of Europe to obtain the desired security, and will unquestionably be ready to exert its influence with those nations for an object so benevolent in itself, and so important to a great portion of its constituents. Indeed, nothing is more to be wished than that the United States would themselves undertake to make such an establishment on the coast of Africa. Exclusive of motives of humanity, the commercial advantages to be derived from it might repay all its expenses. But for this, the national mind is not yet prepared. It may perhaps be doubted whether many of these people would voluntarily consent to such an exchange of situation, and very certain that few of those advanced to a certain age in habits of slavery, would be capable of self-government. This should not, however, discourage the experiment, nor the early trial of it; and the proposition should be Edition: current; Page: [181] made with all the prudent cautions and attentions requisite to reconcile it to the interests, the safety and the prejudices of all parties.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
January 26, 1811
Monticello
A. C. V. C. Destutt de Tracy
Tracy, A. C. V. C. Destutt de

TO A. C. V. C. DESTUTT DE TRACY

j. mss.
Sir,

—The length of time your favor of June the 12th, 1809, was on its way to me, and my absence from home the greater part of the autumn, delayed very much the pleasure which awaited me of reading the packet which accompanied it. I cannot express to you the satisfaction which I received from its perusal. I had, with the world, deemed Montesquieu’s work of much merit; but saw in it, with every thinking man, so much of paradox, of false principle and misapplied fact, as to render its value equivocal on the whole. Williams and others had nibbled only at its errors. A radical correction of them, therefore, was a great desideratum. This want is now supplied, and with a depth of thought, precision of idea, of language and of logic, which will force conviction into every mind. I declare to you, Sir, in the spirit of truth and sincerity, that I consider it the most precious gift the present age has received. But what would it have been, had the author, or would the author, take up the whole scheme of Montesquieu’s work, and following the correct analysis he has here developed, fill up all its parts according to his sound views of them? Montesquieu’s celebrity would be but a small portion of that which would immortalize the author. And Edition: current; Page: [182] with whom? With the rational and high-minded spirits of the present and all future ages. With those whose approbation is both incitement and reward to virtue and ambition. Is then the hope desperate? To what object can the occupation of his future life be devoted so usefully to the world, so splendidly to himself? But I must leave to others who have higher claims on his attention, to press these considerations.

My situation, far in the interior of the country, was not favorable to the object of getting this work translated and printed. Philadelphia is the least distant of the great towns of our States, where there exists any enterprise in this way; and it was not till the spring following the receipt of your letter, that I obtained an arrangement for its execution. The translation is just now completed. The sheets came to me by post, from time to time, for revisal; but not being accompanied by the original, I could not judge of verbal accuracies. I think, however, it is substantially correct, without being an adequate representation of the excellences of the original; as indeed no translation can be. I found it impossible to give it the appearance of an original composition in our language. I therefore think it best to divert inquiries after the author towards a quarter where he will not be found; and with this view, propose to prefix the prefatory epistle, now enclosed. As soon as a copy of the work can be had, I will send it to you by duplicate. The secret of the author will be faithfully preserved during his and my joint lives; and those into whose hands my papers will fall at Edition: current; Page: [183] my death, will be equally worthy of confidence. When the death of the author, or his living consent shall permit the world to know their benefactor, both his and my papers will furnish the evidence. In the meantime, the many important truths the work so solidly establishes, will, I hope, make it the political rudiment of the young, and manual of our older citizens.

One of its doctrines, indeed, the preference of a plural over a singular executive, will probably not be assented to here. When our present government was first established, we had many doubts on this question, and many leanings towards a supreme executive council. It happened that at that time the experiment of such an one was commenced in France, while the single executive was under trial here. We watched the motions and effects of these two rival plans, with an interest and anxiety proportioned to the importance of a choice between them. The experiment in France failed after a short course, and not from any circumstance peculiar to the times or nation, but from those internal jealousies and dissensions in the Directory, which will ever arise among men equal in power, without a principal to decide and control their differences. We had tried a similar experiment in 1784, by establishing a committee of the States, composed of a member from every State, then thirteen, to exercise the executive functions during the recess of Congress. They fell immediately into schisms and dissensions, which became at length so inveterate as to render all co-operation among them impracticable; they dissolved Edition: current; Page: [184] themselves, abandoning the helm of government, and it continued without a head, until Congress met the ensuing winter. This was then imputed to the temper of two or three individuals; but the wise ascribed it to the nature of man. The failure of the French Directory, and from the same cause, seems to have authorized a belief that the form of a plurality, however promising in theory, is impracticable with men constituted with the ordinary passions. While the tranquil and steady tenor of our single executive, during a course of twenty-two years of the most tempestuous times the history of the world has ever presented, gives a rational hope that this important problem is at length solved. Aided by the counsels of a cabinet of heads of departments, originally four, but now five, with whom the President consults, either singly or altogether, he has the benefit of their wisdom and information, brings their views to one centre, and produces an unity of action and direction in all the branches of the government. The excellence of this construction of the executive power has already manifested itself here under very opposite circumstances. During the administration of our first President, his cabinet of four members was equally divided by as marked an opposition of principle as monarchism and republicanism could bring into conflict. Had that cabinet been a directory, like positive and negative quantities in algebra, the opposing wills would have balanced each other and produced a state of absolute inaction. But the President heard with calmness the opinions and reasons of each, decided the course to be pursued, and Edition: current; Page: [185] kept the government steadily in it, unaffected by the agitation. The public knew well the dissensions of the cabinet, but never had an uneasy thought on their account, because they knew also they had provided a regulating power which would keep the machine in steady movement. I speak with an intimate knowledge of these scenes, quorum pars fui; as I may of others of a character entirely opposite. The third administration, which was of eight years, presented an example of harmony in a cabinet of six persons, to which perhaps history has furnished no parallel. There never arose, during the whole time, an instance of an unpleasant thought or word between the members. We sometimes met under differences of opinion, but scarcely ever failed, by conversing and reasoning, so to modify each other’s ideas, as to produce an unanimous result. Yet, able and amicable as these members were, I am not certain this would have been the case, had each possessed equal and independent powers. Ill-defined limits of their respective departments, jealousies, trifling at first, but nourished and strengthened by repetition of occasions, intrigues without doors of designing persons to build an importance to themselves on the divisions of others, might, from small beginnings, have produced persevering oppositions. But the power of decision in the President left no object for internal dissension, and external intrigue was stifled in embryo by the knowledge which incendiaries possessed, that no division they could foment would change the course of the executive power. I am not conscious that my participations Edition: current; Page: [186] in executive authority have produced any bias in favor of the single executive; because the parts I have acted have been in the subordinate, as well as superior stations, and because, if I know myself, what I have felt, and what I have wished, I know that I have never been so well pleased, as when I could shift power from my own, on the shoulders of others; nor have I ever been able to conceive how any rational being could propose happiness to himself from the exercise of power over others.

I am still, however, sensible of the solidity of your principle, that, to insure the safety of the public liberty, its depository should be subject to be changed with the greatest ease possible, and without suspending or disturbing for a moment the movements of the machine of government. You apprehend that a single executive, with eminence of talent, and destitution of principle, equal to the object, might, by usurpation, render his powers hereditary. Yet I think history furnishes as many examples of a single usurper arising out of a government by a plurality, as of temporary trusts of power in a single hand rendered permanent by usurpation. I do not believe, therefore, that this danger is lessened in the hands of a plural executive. Perhaps it is greatly increased, by the state of inefficiency to which they are liable from feuds and divisions among themselves. The conservative body you propose might be so constituted, as, while it would be an admirable sedative in a variety of smaller cases, might also be a valuable sentinel and check on the liberticide views of an ambitious individual. I am friendly to this Edition: current; Page: [187] idea. But the true barriers of our liberty in this country are our State governments; and the wisest conservative power ever contrived by man, is that of which our Revolution and present government found us possessed. Seventeen distinct States, amalgamated into one as to their foreign concerns, but single and independent as to their internal administration, regularly organized with legislature and governor resting on the choice of the people, and enlightened by a free press, can never be so fascinated by the arts of one man, as to submit voluntarily to his usurpation. Nor can they be constrained to it by any force he can possess. While that may paralyze the single State in which it happens to be encamped, sixteen others, spread over a country of two thousand miles diameter, rise up on every side, ready organized for deliberation by a constitutional legislature, and for action by their governor, constitutionally the commander of the militia of the State, that is to say, of every man in it able to bear arms; and that militia, too, regularly formed into regiments and battalions, into infantry, cavalry and artillery, trained under officers general and subordinate, legally appointed, always in readiness, and to whom they are already in habits of obedience. The republican government of France was lost without a struggle, because the party of “un et indivisible” had prevailed; no provincial organizations existed to which the people might rally under authority of the laws, the seats of the directory were virtually vacant, and a small force sufficed to turn the legislature out of their chamber, and to salute its leader chief of the Edition: current; Page: [188] nation. But with us, sixteen out of seventeen States rising in mass, under regular organization, and legal commanders, united in object and action by their Congress, or, if that be in duresse, by a special convention, present such obstacles to an usurper as forever to stifle ambition in the first conception of that object.

Dangers of another kind might more reasonably be apprehended from this perfect and distinct organization, civil and military, of the States; to wit, that certain States from local and occasional discontents, might attempt to secede from the Union. This is certainly possible; and would be befriended by this regular organization. But it is not probable that local discontents can spread to such an extent, as to be able to face the sound parts of so extensive an Union; and if ever they should reach the majority, they would then become the regular government, acquire the ascendency in Congress, and be able to redress their own grievances by laws peaceably and constitutionally passed. And even the States in which local discontents might engender a commencement of fermentation, would be paralyzed and self-checked by that very division into parties into which we have fallen, into which all States must fall wherein men are at liberty to think, speak, and act freely, according to the diversities of their individual conformations, and which are, perhaps, essential to preserve the purity of the government, by the censorship which these parties habitually exercise over each other.

You will read, I am sure, with indulgence, the Edition: current; Page: [189] explanations of the grounds on which I have ventured to form an opinion differing from yours. They prove my respect for your judgment, and diffidence in my own, which have forbidden me to retain, without examination, an opinion questioned by you. Permit me now to render my portion of the general debt of gratitude, by acknowledgements in advance for the singular benefaction which is the subject of this letter, to tender my wishes for the continuance of a life so usefully employed, and to add the assurances of my perfect esteem and respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
March 28, 1811
Monticello
William Duane
Duane, William

TO WILLIAM DUANE

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I learn with sincere concern, from yours of the 15th received by our last mail, the difficulties into which you are brought by the retirement of particular friends from the accommodations they had been in the habit of yielding you. That one of those you name should have separated from the censor of John Randolph, is consonant with the change of disposition which took place in him at Washington. That the other, far above that bias, should have done so, was not expected. I have ever looked to Mr. Lieper as one of the truest republicans of our country, whose mind, unaffected by personal incidents, pursues its course with a steadiness of which we have rare examples. Looking about for a motive, I have supposed it was to be found in the late arraignments of Mr. Gallatin in Edition: current; Page: [190] your papers. However he might differ from you on that subject, as I do myself, the indulgences in difference of opinion which we all owe to one another, and every one needs for himself, would, I thought, in a mind like his, have prevented such a manifestation of it. I believe Mr. Gallatin to be of a pure integrity, and as zealously devoted to the liberties and interests of our country as its most affectionate native citizen. Of this his courage in Congress in the days of terror, gave proofs which nothing can obliterate from the recollection of those who were witnesses of it. These are probably the opinions of Mr. Lieper, as I believe they are of every man intimately acquainted with Mr. Gallatin. An intercourse, almost daily, of eight years with him, has given me opportunities of knowing his character more thoroughly than perhaps any other man living; and I have ascribed the erroneous estimate you have formed of it to the want of that intimate knowledge of him which I possessed. Every one, certainly, must form his judgment on the evidence accessible to himself; and I have no more doubt of the integrity of your convictions than I have of my own. They are drawn from different materials and different sources of information, more or less perfect, according to our opportunities. The zeal, the disinterestedness, and the abilities with which you have supported the great principles of our revolution, the persecutions you have suffered, and the firmness and independence with which you have suffered them, constitute too strong a claim on the good wishes of every friend of elective government, to be effaced by Edition: current; Page: [191] a solitary case of difference in opinion. Thus I think, and thus I believed my much-esteemed friend Lieper would have thought; and I am the more concerned he does not, as it is so much more in his power to be useful to you than in mine. His residence, and his standing at the great seat of the monied institutions, command a credit with them, which no inhabitant of the country, and of agricultural pursuits only, can have. The two or three banks in our uncommercial State are too distant to have any relations with the farmers of Albemarle. We are persuaded you have not overrated the dispositions of this State to support yourself and your paper. They have felt its services too often to be indifferent in the hour of trial. They are well aware that the days of danger are not yet over. And I am sensible that if there were any means of bringing into concert the good will of the friends of the Aurora scattered over this State, they would not deceive your expectations. One month sooner might have found such an opportunity in the assemblage of our legislature in Richmond. But that is now dispersed not to meet again under a twelvemonth. We, here, are but one of a hundred counties, and on consultation with friends of the neighborhood, it is their opinion that if we can find an endorser resident in Richmond, (for that is indispensable,) ten or twelve persons of this county would readily engage, as you suggest, for their $100 each, and some of them for more. It is believed that the republicans in that city can and will do a great deal more; and perhaps their central position may enable them to communicate Edition: current; Page: [192] with other counties. We have written to a distinguished friend to the cause of liberty there to take the lead in the business, as far as concerns that place; and for our own, we are taking measures for obtaining the aid of the bank of the same place. In all this I am nearly a cypher. Forty years of almost constant absence from the State have made me a stranger in it, have left me a solitary tree, from around which the axe of time has felled all the companions of its youth and growth. I have, however, engaged some active and zealous friends to do what I could not. Their personal acquaintance and influence with those now in active life can give effect to their efforts. But our support can be but partial, and far short, both in time and measure, of your difficulties. They will be little more than evidences of our friendship. The truth is that farmers, as we all are, have no command of money. Our necessaries are all supplied, either from our farms, or a neighboring store. Our produce, at the end of the year, is delivered to the merchant, and thus the business of the year is done by barter, without the intervention of scarcely a dollar; and thus also we live with a plenty of everything except money. To raise that negociations and time are requisite. I sincerely wish that greater and prompter effects could have flowed from our good will. On my part, no endeavors or sacrifices shall be withheld. But we are bound down by the laws of our situation.

I do not know whether I am able at present to form a just idea of the situation of our country. If I am, it is such as, during the bellum omnium in Edition: current; Page: [193] omnia of Europe, will require the union of all its friends to resist its enemies within and without. If we schismatize on either men or measures, if we do not act in phalanx, as when we rescued it from the satellites of monarchism, I will not say our party, the term is false and degrading, but our nation will be undone. For the republicans are the nation. Their opponents are but a faction, weak in numbers, but powerful and profuse in the command of money, and backed by a nation, powerful also and profuse in the use of the same means; and the more profuse, in both cases, as the money they thus employ is not their own but their creditors, to be paid off by a bankruptcy, which whether it pays a dollar or a shilling in the pound is of little concern with them. The last hope of human liberty in this world rests on us. We ought, for so dear a state to sacrifice every attachment and every enmity. Leave the President free to choose his own coadjutors, to pursue his own measures, and support him and them, even if we think we are wiser than they, honester than they are, or possessing more enlarged information of the state of things. If we move in mass, be it ever so circuitously, we shall attain our object; but if we break into squads, every one pursuing the path he thinks most direct, we become an easy conquest to those who can now barely hold us in check. I repeat again, that we ought not to schismatize on either men or measures. Principles alone can justify that. If we find our government in all its branches rushing headlong, like our predecessors, into the arms of monarchy, if we find them violating our Edition: current; Page: [194] dearest rights, the trial by jury, the freedom of the press, the freedom of opinion, civil or religious, or opening on our peace of mind or personal safety the sluices of terrorism, if we see them raising standing armies, when the absence of all other danger points to these as the sole objects on which they are to be employed, then indeed let us withdraw and call the nation to its tents. But while our functionaries are wise, and honest, and vigilant, let us move compactly under their guidance, and we have nothing to fear. Things may here and there go a little wrong. It is not in their power to prevent it. But all will be right in the end, though not perhaps by the shortest means.

You know, my dear Sir, that this union of republicans has been the constant theme of my exhortations, that I have ever refused to know any subdivisions among them, to take part in any personal differences; and therefore you will not give to the present observations any other than general application. I may sometimes differ in opinion from some of my friends, from those whose views are as pure and sound as my own. I censure none, but do homage to every one’s right of opinion. If I have indulged my pen, therefore, a little further than the occasion called for, you will ascribe it to a sermonizing habit, to the anxieties of age, perhaps to its garrulity, or to any other motive rather than the want of the esteem and confidence of which I pray you to accept sincere assurances.

P. S. Absorbed in a subject more nearly interesting, I had forgotten our book on the heresies of Edition: current; Page: [195] Montesquieu. I sincerely hope the removal of all embarrassment will enable you to go on with it, or so to dispose of it as that our country may have the benefit of the corrections it will administer to public opinion.1

Edition: current; Page: [196]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
April 15, 1811
Monticello
Dupont de Nemours
Nemours, Dupont de

TO DUPONT DE NEMOURS

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letters of January 20 and September 14, 1810, and, with the latter, your observations on the subject of taxes. They bear the stamps of logic and Edition: current; Page: [197] eloquence which mark everything coming from you, and place the doctrines of the Economists in their strongest points of view. My present retirement and unmeddling disposition make of this une question Edition: current; Page: [198] viseuse pour moi. But after reading the observations with great pleasure, I forwarded them to the President and Mr. Gallatin, in whose hands they may be useful. Yet I do not believe the change of our system of taxation will be forced on us so early Edition: current; Page: [199] as you expect, if war be avoided. It is true we are going greatly into manufactures; but the mass of them are household manufactures of the coarse articles worn by the laborers and farmers of the family. These I verily believe we shall succeed in Edition: current; Page: [200] making to the whole extent of our necessities. But the attempts at fine goods will probably be abortive. They are undertaken by company establishments, and chiefly in the towns; will have little success and short continuance in a country where the charms of Edition: current; Page: [201] agriculture attract every being who can engage in it. Our revenue will be less than it would be were we to continue to import instead of manufacturing our coarse goods. But the increase of population and production will keep pace with that of manufactures, Edition: current; Page: [202] and maintain the quantum of exports at the present level at least; and the imports need be equivalent to them, and consequently the revenue on them be undiminished. I keep up my hopes that if war be avoided, Mr. Madison will be able to complete the payment of the national debt within his term, after which one-third of the present revenue would support the government. Your information that a commencement of excise had been again made, is entirely unfounded. I hope the death blow to that most vexatious and unproductive of all taxes was given at the commencement of my administration, and believe its revival would give the death blow to any administration whatever. In most of the middle and southern States some land tax is now paid into Edition: current; Page: [203] the State treasury, and for this purpose the lands have been classed and valued, and the tax assessed according to that valuation. In these an excise is most odious. In the eastern States land taxes are odious, excises less unpopular. We are all the more reconciled to the tax on importations, because it falls exclusively on the rich, and with the equal partition of intestate’s estates, constitute the best agrarian law. In fact, the poor man in this country who uses nothing but what is made within his own farm or family, or within the United States, pays not a farthing of tax to the general government, but on his salt; and should we go into that manufacture as we ought to do, we will pay not one cent. Our Edition: current; Page: [204] revenues once liberated by the discharge of the public debt, and its surplus applied to canals, roads, schools, &c., and the farmer will see his government supported, his children educated, and the face of his country made a paradise by the contributions of the rich alone, without his being called on to spare a cent from his earnings. The path we are now pursuing leads directly to this end, which we cannot fail to attain unless our administration should fall into unwise hands.

Another great field of political experiment is opening in our neighborhood, in Spanish America. I fear the degrading ignorance into which their priests and kings have sunk them, has disqualified them from the maintenance or even knowledge of their rights, and that much blood may be shed for little improvement in their condition. Should their new rulers honestly lay their shoulders to remove the great obstacles of ignorance, and press the remedies of education and information, they will still be in jeopardy until another generation comes into place, and what may happen in the interval cannot be predicted, nor shall you or I live to see it. In these cases I console myself with the reflection that those who will come after us will be as wise as we are, and as able to take care of themselves as we have been. I hope you continue to preserve your health, and that you may long continue to do so in happiness, is the prayer of yours affectionately.

Edition: current; Page: [205]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
April 16, 1811
Monticello
Joel Barlow
Barlow, Joel

TO JOEL BARLOW

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I felicitate you sincerely on your destination to Paris, because I believe it will contribute both to your happiness and the public good. Yet it is not unmixed with regret. What is to become of our past revolutionary history? Of the antidotes of truth to the misrepresentations of Marshall? This example proves the wisdom of the maxim, never to put off to to-morrow what can be done to-day. But, putting aside vain regrets, I shall be happy to hear from you in your new situation. I cannot offer you in exchange the minutiæ of the Cabinet, the workings in Congress, or under-workings of those around them. General views are all which we at a distance can have, but general views are sometimes better taken at a distance than nearer. The working of the whole machine is sometimes better seen elsewhere than at its centre. In return you can give me the true state of things in Europe, what is its real public mind at present, its disposition towards the existing authority, its secret purposes and future prospects, seasoned with the literary news. I do not propose this as an equal barter, because it is really asking you to give a dollar for a shilling. I must leave the difference to be made up from other motives. I have been long waiting for a safe opportunity to write to some friends and correspondents in France. I troubled Mr. Warden with some letters, and he kindly offered to take all I could get ready before his departure. But his departure seems not yet definitely settled, and should he not go with you, Edition: current; Page: [206] what is in your hands will be less liable to violation than in his. I therefore take the liberty of asking your care of the letters now enclosed, and their delivery through confidential hands. Most of them are of a complexion not proper for the eye of the police, and might do injury to those to whom they are addressed. Wishing to yourself and Mrs. Barlow a happy voyage, and that the execution of the duties of your mission may be attended with all agreeable circumstances, I salute you with assurance of my perfect esteem and respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
May 5, 1811
Monticello
James Monroe
Monroe, James

TO JAMES MONROE

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Your favor on your departure from Richmond, came to hand in due time. Although I may not have been among the first, I am certainly with the sincerest, who congratulate you on your entrance into the national councils. Your value there has never been unduly estimated by those whom personal feelings did not misguide. The late misunderstandings at Washington have been a subject of real concern to me. I know that the dissolutions of personal friendship are among the most painful occurrences in human life. I have sincere esteem for all who have been affected by them, having passed with them eight years of great harmony and affection. These incidents are rendered more distressing in our country than elsewhere, because our printers ravin on the agonies of their victims, as wolves do Edition: current; Page: [207] on the blood of the lamb. But the printers and the public are very different personages. The former may lead the latter a little out of their track, while the deviation is insensible; but the moment they usurp their direction and that of their government, they will be reduced to their true places. The two last Congresses have been the theme of the most licentious reprobation for printers thirsting after war, some against France and some against England. But the people wish for peace with both. They feel no incumbency on them to become the reformers of the other hemisphere, and to inculcate, with fire and sword, a return to moral order. When, indeed, peace shall become more losing than war, they may owe to their interests what these Quixotes are clamoring for on false estimates of honor. The public are unmoved by these clamors, as the re-election of their legislators shows, and they are firm to their executive on the subject of the more recent clamors.

We are suffering here, both in the gathered and the growing crop. The lowness of the river, and great quantity of produce brought to Milton this year, render it almost impossible to get our crops to market. This is the case of mine as well yours, and the Hessian fly appears alarmingly in our growing crops. Everything is in distress for the want of rain.

Present me respectfully to Mrs. Monroe, and accept yourself assurances of my constant and affectionate esteem.

Edition: current; Page: [208]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
June 3, ’11
Monticello
Cornelia Jefferson Randolph
Randolph, Cornelia Jefferson

TO CORNELIA JEFFERSON RANDOLPH1

My Dear Cornelia,

—I have lately received a copy of Miss Edgeworth’s Moral Tales, which seeming better suited to your years than to mine, I inclose you the first volume. The other two shall follow as soon as your mamma has read them. They are to make a part of your library. I have not looked into them, preferring to receive their character from you, after you shall have read them. Your family of silkworms is reduced to a single individual. That is now spinning his broach. To encourage Virginia and Mary to take care of it, I tell them that as soon as they can get wedding gowns from this spinner, they shall be married. I propose the same to you: that, in order to hasten its work, you may hasten home; for we all wish much to see you, and to express in person, rather than by letter, the assurance of our affectionate love.

P. S. The girls desire me to add a postscript, to inform you that Mrs. Higginbotham has just given them new dolls.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
July 3d, 1811
Monticello
James Madison
Madison, James

TO JAMES MADISON

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I have seen with very great concern the late address of Mr. Smith to the public. He has been very ill-advised, both personally and publicly. As far as I can judge from what I hear, the impression made is entirely unfavorable to him. Every Edition: current; Page: [209] man’s own understanding readily answers all the facts and insinuations, one only excepted, and for that they look for explanations without any doubt that they will be satisfactory. What is Irving’s case? I have answered the inquiries of several on this head, telling them at the same time what was really the truth, that the failure of my memory enabled me to give them rather conjectures than recollections. For in truth, I have but indistinct recollections of the case. I know that what was done was on a joint consultation between us, and I have no fear that what we did will not have been correct and cautious. What I retain of the case, on being reminded of some particulars, will reinstate the whole firmly in my remembrance, and enable me to state them to inquirers with correctness, which is the more important from the part I bore in them. I must therefore ask the favor of you to give me a short outline of the facts, which may correct as well as supply my own recollections. But who is to give an explanation to the public? not yourself, certainly. The Chief Magistrate cannot enter the arena of the newspapers. At least the occasion should be of a much higher order. I imagine there is some pen at Washington competent to it. Perhaps the best form would be that of some one personating the friend of Irving, some one apparently from the North. Nothing labored is requisite. A short and simple statement of the case will, I am sure, satisfy the public. We are in the midst of a so-so harvest, probably one-third short of the last. We had a very fine rain on Saturday last. Ever affectionately yours.

Edition: current; Page: [210]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Aug. 8, 11
Monticello
Archibald Stuart
Stuart, Archibald

TO ARCHIBALD STUART1

Dear Sir,

—I ask the favor of you to purchase for me as much fresh timothy seed as the inclosed bill will pay for, pack & forward, and that you will have the goodness to direct it to be lodged at Mr. Leitch’s store in Charlottesville by the waggoner who brings it. You see how bold your indulgencies make me in intruding on your kindness.

I do not know that the government means to make known what has passed between them & Foster before the meeting of Congress but in the meantime individuals, who are in the way, think they have a right to fish it out and in this way the sum of it has become known. Great Britain has certainly come forward and declared to our government by an official paper that the conduct of France towards her during this war has obliged her to take possession of the ocean, and to determine that no commerce shall be carried on with the nations connected with France, that however she is disposed to relax in this determination so far as to permit the commerce which may be carried on thro the British ports. I have, for 3 or 4 years been confident, that knowing her own resources were not adequate to the maintenance of her present navy, she meant with it to claim the conquest of the ocean, and to permit no nation to navigate it, but on paiment of a tribute for the maintenance of the fleet necessary to secure that Edition: current; Page: [211] dominion. A thousand circumstances brought together left me without a doubt that that policy directed all her conduct, altho’ not avowed. This is the first time she has thrown off the mask. The answer & conduct of the government have been what they ought to have been, & Congress is called a little earlier, to be ready to act on the receipt of the reply, for which time has been given. God bless you. From yours affectionately.1

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
August 17, 1811
Poplar Forest
Benjamin Rush
Rush, Benjamin

TO BENJAMIN RUSH

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I write to you from a place ninety miles from Monticello, near the new London of this State, which I visit three or four times a year, and stay from a fortnight to a month at a time. I have fixed myself comfortably, keep some books here, Edition: current; Page: [212] bring others occasionally, am in the solitude of a hermit, and quite at leisure to attend to my absent friends. I note this to show that I am not in a situation to examine the dates of our letters, whether I have overgone the annual period of asking how you do? I know that within that time I have received one or more letters from you, accompanied by a volume of your introductory lectures, for which accept my thanks. I have read them with pleasure and edification, for I acknowledge facts in medicine as far as they go, distrusting only their extension by theory. Having to conduct my grandson through his course of mathematics, I have resumed that study with great avidity. It was ever my favorite one. We have no theories there, no uncertainties remain on the mind; all is demonstration and satisfaction. I have forgotten much, and recover it with more difficulty than when in the vigor of my mind I originally acquired it. It is wonderful to me that old men should not be sensible that their minds keep pace with their bodies in the progress of decay. Our old revolutionary friend Clinton, for example, who was a hero, but never a man of mind, is wonderfully jealous on this head. He tells eternally the stories of his younger days to prove his memory, as if memory and reason were the same faculty. Nothing betrays imbecility so much as the being insensible of it. Had not a conviction of the danger to which an unlimited occupation of the executive chair would expose the republican constitution of our government, made it conscientiously a duty to retire when I did, the fear of becoming a dotard and of being Edition: current; Page: [213] insensible of it, would of itself have resisted all solicitations to remain. I have had a long attack of rheumatism, without fever and without pain while I keep myself still. A total prostration of the muscles of the back, hips and thighs, deprived me of the power of walking, and leaves it still in a very impaired state. A pain when I walk, seems to have fixed itself in the hip, and to threaten permanence. I take moderate rides, without much fatigue; but my journey to this place, in a hard-going gig, gave me great sufferings which I expect will be renewed on my return as soon as I am able. The loss of the power of taking exercise would be a sore affliction to me. It has been the delight of my retirement to be in constant bodily activity, looking after my affairs. It was never damped as the pleasures of reading are, by the question of cui bono? for what object? I hope your health of body continues firm. Your works show that of your mind. The habits of exercise which your calling has given to both, will tend long to preserve them. The sedentary character of my public occupations sapped a constitution naturally sound and vigorous, and draws it to an earlier close. But it will still last quite as long as I wish it. There is a fulness of time when men should go, and not occupy too long the ground to which others have a right to advance. We must continue while here to exchange occasionally our mutual good wishes. I find friendship to be like wine, raw when new, ripened with age, the true old man’s milk and restorative cordial. God bless you and preserve you through a long and healthy old age.

Edition: current; Page: [214]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
September 16, 1811
Monticello
Clement Caine
Caine, Clement

TO CLEMENT CAINE

j. mss.
Sir,

—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 Edition: current; Page: [215] 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 Edition: current; Page: [216] 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.

Edition: current; Page: [217]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
January 11, 1812
Monticello
James Monroe
Monroe, James

TO JAMES MONROE

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—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 Edition: current; Page: [218] 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.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
January 21, 1812
Monticello
John Adams
Adams, John

TO JOHN ADAMS1

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I thank you before hand (for they are not yet arrived) for the specimens of homespun you Edition: current; Page: [219] have been so kind as to forward me by post. I doubt not their excellence, knowing how far you are advanced in these things in your quarter. Here we do little in the fine way, but in coarse and middling goods a great deal. Every family in the country is a manufactory within itself, and is very generally able to make within itself all the stouter and middling stuffs for its own clothing and household use. We consider a sheep for every person in the family as sufficient to clothe it, in addition to the cotton, hemp and flax which we raise ourselves. For fine stuff we shall depend on your northern manufactories. Of these, that is to say, of company establishments, we have none. We use little machinery. The spinning jenny, and loom with the flying shuttle, can be managed in a family; but nothing more complicated. The economy and thriftiness resulting from our household manufactures are such that they will never again be laid aside; and nothing more salutary for us has ever happened than the British obstructions to our demands for their manufactures. Restore free intercourse when they will, their commerce with us will have totally changed its form, and the articles we shall in future want from them will not exceed their own consumption of our produce.

A letter from you calls up recollections very dear to my mind. It carries me back to the times when, Edition: current; Page: [220] beset with difficulties and dangers, we were fellow-laborers in the same cause, struggling for what is most valuable to man, his right of self-government. Laboring always at the same oar, with some wave ever ahead, threatening to overwhelm us, and yet passing harmless under our bark, we knew not how we rode through the storm with heart and hand, and made a happy port. Still we did not expect to be without rubs and difficulties; and we have had them. First, the detention of the western posts, then the coalition of Pilnitz, outlawing our commerce with France, and the British enforcement of the outlawry. In your day, French depredations; in mine, English, and the Berlin and Milan decrees; now the English orders of council, and the piracies they authorize. When these shall be over, it will be the impressment of our seamen or somethnig else; and so we have gone on, and so we shall go on puzzled and prospering beyond example in the history of man. And I do believe we shall continue to grow, to multiply and prosper until we exhibit an association, powerful, wise and happy beyond what has yet been seen by men. As for France and England, with all their preëminence in science, the one is a den of robbers, and the other of pirates. And if science produces no better fruits than tyranny, murder, rapine and destitution of national morality, I would rather wish our country to be ignorant, honest and estimable, as our neighboring savages are. But whither is senile garrulity leading me? Into politics, of which I have taken final leave. I think little of them and say less. I have given up newspapers in Edition: current; Page: [221] exchange for Tacitus and Thucydides, for Newton and Euclid, and I find myself much the happier. Sometimes, indeed, I look back to former occurrences, in remembrance of our old friends and fellowlaborers, who have fallen before us. Of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, I see now living not more than half a dozen on your side of the Potomac, and on this side, myself alone. You and I have been wonderfully spared, and myself with remarkable health, and a considerable activity of body and mind. I am on horseback three or four hours of every day; visit three or four times a year a possession I have ninety miles distant, performing the winter journey on horseback. I walk little, however, a single mile being too much for me, and I live in the midst of my grandchildren, one of whom has lately promoted me to be a great grandfather. I have heard with pleasure that you also retain good health, and a greater power of exercise in walking than I do. But I would rather have heard this from yourself, and that, writing a letter like mine, full of egotisms, and of details of your health, your habits, occupations and enjoyments, I should have the pleasure of knowing that in the race of life, you do not keep, in its physical decline, the same distance ahead of me which you have done in political honors and achievements. No circumstances have lessened the interest I feel in these particulars respecting yourself; none have suspended for one moment my sincere esteem for you, and I now salute you with unchanged affection and respect.

Edition: current; Page: [222]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
January 22, 1812
Monticello
James Barbour
Barbour, James

TO THE GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA
(JAMES BARBOUR.)

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Your favor of the 14th has been duly received, and I sincerely congratulate you, or rather my country, on the just testimony of confidence which it has lately manifested to you. In your hands I know that its affairs will be ably and honestly administered.

In answer to your inquiry whether, in the early times of our government, where the council was divided, the practice was for the Governor to give the deciding vote? I must observe that, correctly speaking, the Governor not being a counsellor, his vote could make no part of an advice of council. That would be to place an advice on their journals which they did not give, and could not give because of their equal division. But he did what was equivalent in effect. While I was in the administration, no doubt was ever suggested that where the council, divided in opinion, could give no advice, the Governor was free and bound to act on his own opinion and his own responsibility. Had this been a change of the practice of my predecessor, Mr. Henry, the first governor, it would have produced some discussion, which it never did. Hence, I conclude it was the opinion and practice from the first institution of the government. During Arnold’s and Cornwallis’ invasion, the council dispersed to their several homes, to take care of their families. Before their separation, I obtained from them a capitulary of standing advices for my government in such cases as ordinarily Edition: current; Page: [223] occur: such as the appointment of militia officers, justices, inspectors, &c., on the recommendations of the courts; but in the numerous and extraordinary occurrences of an invasion, which could not be foreseen, I had to act on my own judgment and my own responsibility. The vote of general approbation, at the session of the succeeding winter, manifested the opinion of the Legislature, that my proceedings had been correct. General Nelson, my successor, staid mostly, I think, with the army; and I do not believe his council followed the camp, although my memory does not enable me to affirm the fact. Some petitions against him for impressment of property without authority of law, brought his proceedings before the next Legislature; the questions necessarily involved were whether necessity, without express law, could justify the impressment, and if it could, whether he could order it without the advice of council. The approbation of the Legislature amounted to a decision of both questions. I remember this case the more especially, because I was then a member of the Legislature, and was one of those who supported the Governor’s proceedings, and I think there was no division of the House on the question. I believe the doubt was first suggested in Governor Harrison’s time, by some member of the council, on an equal division. Harrison, in his dry way, observed that instead of one governor and eight counsellors, there would then be eight governors and one counsellor, and continued, as I understood, the practice of his predecessors. Indeed, it is difficult to suppose it could be the intention of those Edition: current; Page: [224] who framed the constitution, that when the council should be divided the government should stand still; and the more difficult as to a constitution formed during a war, and for the purpose of carrying on that war, that so high an officer as their Governor should be created and salaried, merely to act as the clerk and authenticator of the votes of the council. No doubt it was intended that the advice of the council should control the governor. But the action of the controlling power being withdrawn, his would be left free to proceed on its own responsibility. Where from division, absence, sickness or other obstacle, no advice could be given, they could not mean that their Governor, the person of their peculiar choice and confidence, should stand by, an inactive spectator, and let their government tumble to pieces for want of a will to direct it. In executive cases, where promptitude and decision are all important, an adherence to the letter of a law against its probable intentions, (for every law must intend that itself shall be executed,) would be fraught with incalculable danger. Judges may await further legislative explanations, but a delay of executive action might produce irretrievable ruin. The State is invaded, militia to be called out, an army marched, arms and provisions to be issued from the public magazines, the Legislature to be convened, and the council is divided. Can it be believed to have been the intention of the framers of the constitution, that the constitution itself and their constituents with it should be destroyed for want of a will to direct the resources they had provided for its preservation? Edition: current; Page: [225] Before such possible consequences all verbal scruples must vanish; construction must be made secundum arbitrium boni viri, and the constitution be rendered a practicable thing. That exposition of it must be vicious, which would leave the nation under the most dangerous emergencies without a directing will. The cautious maxims of the bench, to seek the will of the legislator, and his words only, are proper and safer for judicial government. They act ever on an individual case only, the evil of which is partial, and gives time for correction. But an instant of delay in executive proceedings may be fatal to the whole nation. They must not, therefore, be laced up in the rules of the judiciary department. They must seek the intention of the legislator in all the circumstances which may indicate it in the history of the day, in the public discussions, in the general opinion and understanding, in reason and in practice. The three great departments having distinct functions to perform, must have distinct rules adapted to them. Each must act under its own rules, those of no one having any obligation on either of the others. When the opinion first began that a governor could not act when his council could not or would not advise, I am uninformed. Probably not till after the war; for, had it prevailed then, no militia could have been opposed to Cornwallis, nor necessaries furnished to the opposing army of Lafayette. These, Sir, are my recollections and thoughts on the subject of your inquiry, to which I will only add the assurances of my great esteem and respect.

Edition: current; Page: [226]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Feb. 19. 12
Monticello
James Madison
Madison, James

TO JAMES MADISON

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Yours of the 12th has been duly received. I have much doubted whether, in case of a war, Congress would find it practicable to do their part of the business. That a body containing 100 lawyers in it, should direct the measures of a war, is, I fear, impossible; and that thus that member of our Constitution, which is its bulwark, will prove to be an impracticable one from it’s cacoethes loquendi. It may be doubted how far it has the power, but I am sure it has not the resolution to reduce the right of talking to practicable limits.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Apr. 12. 12
Monticello
William Wirt
Wirt, William

TO WILLIAM WIRT

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Mr. Livingston’s suit having gone off on the plea to the jurisdiction, it’s foundation remains of course unexplained to the public. I have therefore concluded to make it public thro’ the ordinary channel of the press. An earlier expectation of the pamphlets and the desire to send one has delayed, from post to post, my sooner acknowledging your kind aid in this case, and praying your acceptance of the remuneration I now inclose, for the trouble I gave you in reading so much stuff on the subject, and your exertions in the defence. The debt of gratitude however is of a different nature, & is sincerely felt. Considering the infinite trouble Edition: current; Page: [227] which the question of right to the Batture, & the immense volume of evidence to be taken, at New Orleans, would have given to my counsel and myself, I am well satisfied to be relieved from it, altho’ I had a strong desire that the public should have been satisfied by a trial on the merits, & the abler discussion of them by my counsel.

A love of peace and tranquility, strengthened by age and a lassitude of business, renders it extremely disquieting to me to be harrassed by vexatious lawsuits by persons who have no earthly claim on me, in cases where I have been merely acting for others. In Nov. last I was served with a subpœna in chancery at the suit of the executors of Mrs. Randolph (mother to Mr. E. R.) in which Mr. Norborne Nicholas, & perhaps a dozen others, are also named defendants. The object of this I cannot devine: I never had any matter of business with Mrs. Randolph, nor ever saw a farthing of hers. I once indeed transacted a single affair of hers as a friend, at her earnest sollicitation, to relieve her from pressing distress, and under a regular power of attorney. How this can have subjected me to pass the remainder of my life in a court of chancery is as incomprehensible, as it is discouraging to the indulgence of our feelings in the services asked from us by our friends. I have taken measures to get a copy of the bill; and if a substantive defence is required from me, I shall ask the favor of your attention to it, as I have done in the same case of Mr. Hay.

The enclosed paper written for you a year or two ago, has laid by me with a view still to add something Edition: current; Page: [228] to it, but on reflection, I send it as it is.1 The additional matter contemplated respected Mr. Henry’s ravenous avarice, the only passion paramount Edition: current; Page: [229] to his love of popularity. The facts I have heard on that subject are not within my own knolege, & ought not to be hazarded but on better testimony than I possess. And if they are true, you have been Edition: current; Page: [230] in a much better situation than I was to have information of them. I salute you with great & affectionate esteem and respect.

P. S. Altho the pamphlets have been some weeks Edition: current; Page: [231] at Fredsbg and expected by every stage, I am still disappointed in receiving them. I detain my letter therefore no longer, but will inclose one on it’s arrival.

Edition: current; Page: [232]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
April 17, 1812
Monticello
James Madison
Madison, James

TO JAMES MADISON

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—The enclosed papers will explain themselves. Their coming to me is the only thing not sufficiently explained.

Edition: current; Page: [233]

Your favor of the 3d came duly to hand. Although something of the kind had been apprehended, the embargo found the farmers and planters only getting their produce to market, and selling as fast Edition: current; Page: [234] as they could get it there. I think it caught them in this part of the State with one-third of their flour or wheat and three-quarters of their tobacco undisposed of. If we may suppose the rest of the middle Edition: current; Page: [235] country in the same situation, and that the upper and lower country may be judged by that as a mean, these will perhaps be the proportions of produce remaining in the hands of the producers. Supposing the objects of the government were merely to keep our vessels and men out of harm’s way, and that there is no idea that the want of our flour will starve Great Britain, the sale of the remaining produce will be rather desirable, and what would be desired even in war, and even to our enemies. For I am favorable to the opinion which has been urged by others, sometimes acted on, and now partly so by France and Great Britain, that commerce, under certain restrictions and licenses, may be indulged between enemies mutually advantageous to the individuals, and not to their injury as belligerents. The capitulation of Amelia Island, if confirmed, might favor this object, and at any rate get off our produce now on hand. I think a people would go through a war with much less impatience if they could dispose of their produce, and that unless a vent can be provided for them, they will soon become querulous and clamor for peace. They appear at present to receive embargo with perfect acquiescence and without a murmur, seeing the necessity of taking care of our vessels and seamen. Yet they would be glad to dispose of their produce in any way not endangering them, as by letting it go from a neutral place in British vessels. In this way we lose the carriage only; but better that than both carriage and cargo. The rising of the price of flour, since the first panic is passed away, indicates some prospects in the Edition: current; Page: [236] merchants of disposing of it. Our wheat had greatly suffered by the winter, but is as remarkably recovered by the favorable weather of the spring. Ever affectionately yours.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
April 20, 1812
Monticello
John Adams
Adams, John

TO JOHN ADAMS

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I have it now in my power to send you a piece of homespun in return for that I received from you. Not of the fine texture, or delicate character of yours, or, to drop our metaphor, not filled as that was with that display of imagination which constitutes excellence in Belles Lettres, but a mere sober, dry and formal piece of logic. Ornari res ipsa negat. Yet you may have enough left of your old taste for law reading, to cast an eye over some of the questions it discusses. At any rate, accept it as the offering of esteem and friendship.

You wish to know something of the Richmond and Wabash prophets. Of Nimrod Hews I never heard before. Christopher Macpherson I have known for twenty years. He is a man of color, brought up as a book-keeper by a merchant, his master, and afterwards enfranchized. He had understanding enough to post up his ledger from his journal, but not enough to bear up against hypochondriac affections, and the gloomy forebodings they inspire. He became crazy, foggy, his head always in the clouds, and rhapsodizing what neither himself nor any one else could understand. I think he told me he had visited you personally while you were in the administration, and Edition: current; Page: [237] wrote you letters, which you have probably forgotten in the mass of the correspondences of that crazy class, of whose complaints, and terrors, and mysticisms, the several Presidents have been the regular depositories. Macpherson was too honest to be molested by anybody, and too inoffensive to be a subject for the mad-house; although, I believe, we are told in the old book, that “every man that is mad, and maketh himself a prophet, thou shouldst put him in prison and in the stocks.”

The Wabash prophet is a very different character, more rogue than fool, if to be a rogue is not the greatest of all follies. He arose to notice while I was in the administration, and became, of course, a proper subject of inquiry for me. The inquiry was made with diligence. His declared object was the reformation of his red brethren, and their return to their pristine manner of living. He pretended to be in constant communication with the Great Spirit; that he was instructed by him to make known to the Indians that they were created by him distinct from the whites, of different natures, for different purposes and placed under different circumstances, adapted to their nature and destinies; that they must return from all the ways of the whites to the habits and opinions of their forefathers; they must not eat the flesh of hogs, of bullocks, of sheep, &c., the deer and buffalo having been created for their food; they must not make bread of wheat but of Indian corn; they must not wear linen nor woollen, but dress like their fathers in the skins and furs of animals; they must not drink ardent spirits, and Edition: current; Page: [238] I do not remember whether he extended his inhibitions to the gun and gunpowder, in favor of the bow and arrow. I concluded from all this, that he was a visionary; enveloped in the clouds of their antiquities, and vainly endeavoring to lead back his brethren to the fancied beatitudes of their golden age. I thought there was little danger of his making many proselytes from the habits and comfort they had learned from the whites, to the hardships and privations of savagism, and no great harm if he did. We let him go on, therefore, unmolested. But his followers increased till the English thought him worth corruption and found him corruptible. I suppose his views were then changed; but his proceedings in consequence of them were after I left the administration, and are, therefore, unknown to me; nor have I ever been informed what were the particular acts on his part, which produced an actual commencement of hostilities on ours. I have no doubt, however, that his subsequent proceedings are but a chapter apart, like that of Henry and Lord Liverpool, in the book of the kings of England.

Of this mission of Henry, your son had got wind in the time of the embargo, and communicated it to me. But he had learned nothing of the particular agent, although, of his workings, the information he had obtained appears now to have been correct. He stated a particular which Henry has not distinctly brought forward, which was that the Eastern States were not to be required to make a formal act of separation from the Union, and to take a part in the war against it; a measure deemed much too strong Edition: current; Page: [239] for their people; but to declare themselves in a state of neutrality, in consideration of which they were to have peace and free commerce, the lure most likely to insure popular acquiescence. Having no indications of Henry as the intermediate in this negotiation of the Essex junto, suspicions fell on Pickering, and his nephew Williams, in London. If he was wronged in this, the ground of the suspicion is to be found in his known practices and avowed opinions, as that of his accomplices in the sameness of sentiment and of language with Henry, and subsequently by the fluttering of the wounded pigeons.

This letter, with what it encloses, has given you enough, I presume, of law and the prophets. I will only add to it, therefore, the homage of my respects to Mrs. Adams, and to yourself the assurances of affectionate esteem and respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
April 25, 1812
Monticello
James Maury
Maury, James

TO JAMES MAURY

j. mss.
My dear and ancient Friend and Classmate,

—Often has my heart smote me for delaying acknowledgments to you, receiving, as I do, such frequent proofs of your kind recollection in the transmission of papers to me. But instead of acting on the good old maxim of not putting off to to-morrow what we can do to-day, we are too apt to reverse it, and not to do to-day what we can put off to to-morrow. But this duty can be no longer put off. To-day we are at peace; to-morrow, war. The curtain of separation is drawing between us, and probably will not Edition: current; Page: [240] be withdrawn till one, if not both of us, will be at rest with our fathers. Let me now, then, while I may, renew to you the declarations of my warm attachment, which in no period of life has ever been weakened, and seems to become stronger as the remaining objects of our youthful affections are fewer.

Our two countries are to be at war, but not you and I. And why should our two countries be at war, when by peace we can be so much more useful to one another? Surely the world will acquit our government from having sought it. Never before has there been an instance of a nation’s bearing so much as we have borne. Two items alone in our catalogue of wrongs will forever acquit us of being the aggressors: the impressment of our seamen, and the excluding us from the ocean. The first foundations of the social compact would be broken up, were we definitively to refuse to its members the protection of their persons and property, while in their lawful pursuits. I think the war will not be short, because the object of England, long obvious, is to claim the ocean as her domain, and to exact transit duties from every vessel traversing it. This is the sum of her orders of council, which were only a step in this bold experiment, never meant to be retracted if it could be permanently maintained. And this object must continue her in war with all the world. To this I see no termination, until her exaggerated efforts, so much beyond her natural strength and resources, shall have exhausted her to bankruptcy. The approach of this crisis is, I think, visible in the departure of her precious metals, and Edition: current; Page: [241] depreciation of her paper medium. We, who have gone through that operation, know its symptoms, its course, and consequences. In England they will be more serious than elsewhere, because half the wealth of her people is now in that medium, the private revenue of her money-holders, or rather of her paper-holders, being, I believe, greater than that of her land-holders. Such a proportion of property, imaginary and baseless as it is, cannot be reduced to vapor but with great explosion. She will rise out of its ruins, however, because her lands, her houses, her arts will remain, and the greater part of her men. And these will give her again that place among nations which is proportioned to her natural means, and which we all wish her to hold. We believe that the just standing of all nations is the health and security of all. We consider the overwhelming power of England on the ocean, and of France on the land, as destructive of the prosperity and happiness of the world, and wish both to be reduced only to the necessity of observing moral duties. We believe no more in Bonaparte’s fighting merely for the liberty of the seas, than in Great Britain’s fighting for the liberties of mankind. The object of both is the same, to draw to themselves the power, the wealth and the resources of other nations. We resist the enterprises of England first, because they first come vitally home to us. And our feelings repel the logic of bearing the lash of George the III. for fear of that of Bonaparte at some future day. When the wrongs of France shall reach us with equal effect, we shall resist them also. But one at a time is enough; and Edition: current; Page: [242] having offered a choice to the champions, England first takes up the gauntlet.

The English newspapers suppose me the personal enemy of their nation. I am not so. I am an enemy to its injuries, as I am to those of France. If I could permit myself to have national partialities, and if the conduct of England would have permitted them to be directed towards her, they would have been so. I thought that in the administration of Mr. Addington, I discovered some dispositions toward justice, and even friendship and respect for us, and began to pave the way for cherishing these dispositions, and improving them into ties of mutual good will. But we had then a federal minister there, whose dispositions to believe himself, and to inspire others with a belief in our sincerity, his subsequent conduct has brought into doubt; and poor Merry, the English minister here, had learned nothing of diplomacy but its suspicions, without head enough to distinguish when they were misplaced. Mr. Addington and Mr. Fox passed away too soon to avail the two countries of their dispositions. Had I been personally hostile to England, and biased in favor of either the character or views of her great antagonist, the affair of the Chesapeake put war into my hand. I had only to open it and let havoc loose. But if ever I was gratified with the possession of power, and of the confidence of those who had entrusted me with it, it was on that occasion when I was enabled to use both for the prevention of war, towards which the torrent of passion here was directed almost irresistibly, and when not another person Edition: current; Page: [243] in the United States, less supported by authority and favor, could have resisted it. And now that a definitive adherence to her impressments and orders of council renders war no longer avoidable, my earnest prayer is that our government may enter into no compact of common cause with the other belligerent, but keep us free to make a separate peace, whenever England will separately give us peace and future security. But Lord Liverpool is our witness that this can never be but by her removal from our neighborhood.

I have thus, for a moment, taken a range into the field of politics, to possess you with the view we take of things here. But in the scenes which are to ensue, I am to be but a spectator. I have withdrawn myself from all political intermeddlings, to indulge the evening of my life with what have been the passions of every portion of it, books, science, my farms, my family and friends. To these every hour of the day is now devoted. I retain a good activity of mind, not quite as much of body, but uninterrupted health. Still the hand of age is upon me. All my old friends are nearly gone. Of those in my neighborhood, Mr. Divers and Mr. Lindsay alone remain. If you could make it a partie quarrée, it would be a comfort indeed. We would beguile our lingering hours with talking over our youthful exploits, our hunts on Peter’s mountain, with a long train of et cetera, in addition, and feel, by recollection at least, a momentary flash of youth. Reviewing the course of a long and sufficiently successful life, I find in no portion of it happier moments than Edition: current; Page: [244] those were. I think the old hulk in which you are, is near her wreck, and that like a prudent rat, you should escape in time. However, here, there, and everywhere, in peace or in war, you will have my sincere affections and prayers for your life, health and happiness.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
May 24, 1812
Monticello
John Jacob Astor
Astor, John Jacob

TO JOHN JACOB ASTOR

j. mss.
Sir,

—Your letter of March 14th lingered much on the road, and a long journey before I could answer it, has delayed its acknowledgment till now. I am sorry your enterprise for establishing a factory on the Columbia river, and a commerce through the line of that river and the Missouri, should meet with the difficulties stated in your letter. I remember well having invited your proposition on that subject, and encouraged it with the assurance of every facility and protection which the government could properly afford. I considered as a great public acquisition the commencement of a settlement on that point of the Western coast of America, and looked forward with gratification to the time when its descendants should have spread themselves through the whole length of that coast, covering it with free and independent Americans, unconnected with us but by the ties of blood and interest, and employing like us the rights of self-government. I hope the obstacles you state are not insurmountable; that they will not endanger, or even delay the accomplishment of so great a public purpose. In the present state of Edition: current; Page: [245] affairs between Great Britain and us, the government is justly jealous of contraventions of those commercial restrictions which have been deemed necessary to exclude the use of British manufactures in these States, and to promote the establishment of similar ones among ourselves. The interests too of the revenue require particular watchfulness. But in the non-importation of British manufactures, and the revenue raised on foreign goods, the legislature could only have in view the consumption of our own citizens, and the revenue to be levied on that. We certainly did not mean to interfere with the consumption of nations foreign to us, as the Indians of the Columbia and Missouri are, or to assume a right of levying an impost on that consumption; and if the words of the laws take in their supplies in either view, it was probably unintentional, and because their case not being under the contemplation of the legislature, has been inadvertently embraced by it. The question with them would be not what manufactures these nations should use, or what taxes they should pay us on them, but whether we should give a transit for them through our country. We have a right to say we will not let the British exercise that transit. But it is our interest as well as a neighborly duty to allow it when exercised by our own citizens only. To guard against any surreptitious introduction of British influence among those nations, we may justifiably require that no Englishman be permitted to go with the trading parties, and necessary precautions should also be taken to prevent this covering the contravention of our own laws and Edition: current; Page: [246] views. But these once securely guarded, our interest would permit the transit free of duty. And I do presume that if the subject were fully presented to the legislature, they would provide that the laws intended to guard our own concerns only, should not assume the regulation of those of foreign and independent nations; still less that they should stand in the way of so interesting an object as that of planting the germ of an American population on the shores of the Pacific. From meddling however with these subjects it is my duty as well as my inclination to abstain. They are in hands perfectly qualified to direct them, and who knowing better the present state of things, are better able to decide what is right; and whatever they decide on a full view of the case, I shall implicitly confide has been rightly decided. Accept my best wishes for your success, and the assurances of my great esteem and respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
May 25, [1812]
Monticello
James Madison
Madison, James

TO JAMES MADISON

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—The difference between a communication & solicitation is too obvious to need suggestion. While the latter adds to embarrassments, the former only enlarges the field of choice. The inclosed letters are merely communications. Of Stewart I know nothing. Price who recommends him is I believe a good man, not otherwise known to me than as a partner of B. Morgan of N. O. and as having several times communicated to me useful information, while Edition: current; Page: [247] I was in the government. Timothy Matlack I have known well since the first Congress to which he was an assistant secretary. He has been always a good whig & being an active one has been abused by his opponents, but I have ever thought him an honest man. I think he must be known to yourself.

Flour, depressed under the first panic of the embargo has been rising by degrees to 8 1/2 D. This enables the upper country to get theirs to a good market. Tobacco (except of favorite qualities) is nothing. It’s culture is very much abandoned. In this county what little ground had been destined for it is mostly put into corn. Crops of wheat are become very promising, altho’ deluged with rain, of which 10. inches fell in 10. days and closed with a very destructive hail. I am just returned from Bedford. I believe every county South of James river, from Buckingham to the Blue ridge (the limits of my information) furnished its quota of volunteers. Your declaration of war is expected with perfect calmness, and if those in the North mean systematically to govern the majority it is as good a time for trying them as we can expect. Affectionately adieu.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
May 30, 1812
Monticello
James Madison
Madison, James

TO JAMES MADISON

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Another communication is enclosed, and the letter of the applicant is the only information I have of his qualifications. I barely remember such a person as the secretary of Mr. Adams, and messenger to the Senate while I was of that body. Edition: current; Page: [248] It enlarges the sphere of choice by adding to it a strong federalist. The triangular war must be the idea of the Anglomen and malcontents, in other words, the federalists and quids. Yet it would reconcile neither. It would only change the topic of abuse with the former, and not cure the mental disease of the latter. It would prevent our eastern capitalists and seamen from employment in privateering, take away the only chance of conciliating them, and keep them at home, idle, to swell the discontents; it would completely disarm us of the most powerful weapon we can employ against Great Britain, by shutting every port to our prizes, and yet would not add a single vessel to their number; it would shut every market to our agricultural productions, and engender impatience and discontent with that class which, in fact, composes the nation; it would insulate us in general negotiations for peace, making all the parties our opposers, and very indifferent about peace with us, if they have it with the rest of the world, and would exhibit a solecism worthy of Don Quixotte only, that of a choice to fight two enemies at a time, rather than to take them by succession. And the only motive for all this is a sublimated impartiality, at which the world will laugh, and our own people will turn upon us in mass as soon as it is explained to them, as it will be by the very persons who are now laying that snare. These are the hasty views of one who rarely thinks on these subjects. Your own will be better, and I pray to them every success, and to yourself every felicity.

Edition: current; Page: [249]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
June 6, 1812
Monticello
James Madison
Madison, James

TO JAMES MADISON

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I have taken the liberty of drawing the attention of the Secretary at War to a small depot of military stores at New London, and leave the letter open for your perusal. Be so good as to seal it before delivery. I really thought that General Dearborne had removed them to Lynchburg, undoubtedly a safer and more convenient deposit.

Our county is the only one I have heard of which has required a draught; this proceeded from a mistake of the colonel, who thought he could not receive individual offers, but that the whole quota, 241, must present themselves at once. Every one, however, manifests the utmost alacrity; of the 241 there having been but ten absentees at the first muster called. A further proof is that Captain Carr’s company of volunteer cavalry being specifically called for by the Governor, though consisting of but 28 when called on, has got up to 50 by new engagements since their call was known. The only inquiry they make is whether they are to go to Canada or Florida? Not a man, as far as I have learned, entertains any of those doubts which puzzle the lawyers of Congress and astonish common sense, whether it is lawful for them to pursue a retreating enemy across the boundary line of the Union?

I hope Barlow’s correspondence has satisfied all our Quixottes who thought we should undertake nothing less than to fight all Europe at once. I enclose you a letter from Dr. Bruff, a mighty good and very ingenious man. His method of manufacturing Edition: current; Page: [250] bullets and shot, has the merit of increasing their specific gravity greatly, (being made by composition,) and rendering them as much heavier and better than the common leaden bullet, as that is than an iron one. It is a pity he should not have the benefit of furnishing the public when it would be equally to their benefit also. God bless you.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
June 11, 1812
Monticello
John Adams
Adams, John

TO JOHN ADAMS

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—By our post preceding that which brought your letter of May 21st, I had received one from Mr. Malcolm on the same subject with yours, and by the return of the post had stated to the President my recollections of him. But both your letters were probably too late; as the appointment had been already made, if we may credit the newspapers.

You ask if there is any book that pretends to give any account of the traditions of the Indians, or how one can acquire an idea of them? Some scanty accounts of their traditions, but fuller of their customs and characters, are given us by most of the early travellers among them; these you know were mostly French. Lafitau, among them, and Adair an Englishman, have written on this subject; the former two volumes, the latter one, all in 4to. But unluckily Lafitau had in his head a preconceived theory on the mythology, manners, institutions and government of the ancient nations of Europe, Asia and Africa, and seems to have entered on those of Edition: current; Page: [251] America only to fit them into the same frame, and to draw from them a confirmation of his general theory. He keeps up a perpetual parallel, in all those articles, between the Indians of America and the ancients of the other quarters of the globe. He selects, therefore, all the facts and adopts all the falsehoods which favor his theory, and very gravely retails such absurdities as zeal for a theory could alone swallow. He was a man of much classical and scriptural reading, and has rendered his book not unentertaining. He resided five years among the Northern Indians, as a Missionary, but collects his matter much more from the writings of others, than from his own observation.

Adair too had his kink. He believed all the Indians of America to be descended from the Jews; the same laws, usages, rites and ceremonies, the same sacrifices, priests, prophets, fasts and festivals, almost the same religion, and that they all spoke Hebrew. For, although he writes particularly of the Southern Indians only, the Catawbas, Creeks, Cherokees, Chickasaws and Chocktaws, with whom alone he was personally acquainted, yet he generalizes whatever he found among them, and brings himself to believe that the hundred languages of America, differing fundamentally every one from every other, as much as Greek from Gothic, yet have all one common prototype. He was a trader, a man of learning, a self-taught Hebraist, a strong religionist, and of as sound a mind as Don Quixotte in whatever did not touch his religious chivalry. His book contains a great deal of real instruction on its subject, Edition: current; Page: [252] only requiring the reader to be constantly on his guard against the wonderful obliquities of his theory.

The scope of your inquiry would scarcely, I suppose, take in the three folio volumes of Latin of De Bry. In these, facts and fable are mingled together, without regard to any favorite system. They are less suspicious, therefore, in their complexion, more original and authentic, than those of Lafitau and Adair. This is a work of great curiosity, extremely rare, so as never to be bought in Europe, but on the breaking up and selling some ancient library. On one of these occasions a bookseller procured me a copy, which, unless you have one, is probably the only one in America.

You ask further, if the Indians have any order of priesthood among them, like the Druids, Bards or Minstrels of the Celtic nations? Adair alone, determined to see what he wished to see in every object, metamorphoses their Conjurers into an order of priests, and describes their sorceries as if they were the great religious ceremonies of the nation. Lafitau called them by their proper names, Jongleurs, Devins, Sortileges; De Bry præstigiatores; Adair himself sometimes Magi, Archimagi, cunning men, Seers, rain makers; and the modern Indian interpreters call them conjurers and witches. They are persons pretending to have communications with the devil and other evil spirits, to foretell future events, bring down rain, find stolen goods, raise the dead, destroy some and heal others by enchantment, lay spells, &c. And Adair, without departing from his parallel of the Jews and Indians, might have found their counterpart Edition: current; Page: [253] much more aptly, among the soothsayers, sorcerers and wizards of the Jews, their Gannes and Gambres, their Simon Magus, Witch of Endor, and the young damsel whose sorceries disturbed Paul so much; instead of placing them in a line with their high-priest, their chief priests, and their magnificent hierarchy generally. In the solemn ceremonies of the Indians, the persons who direct or officiate, are their chiefs, elders and warriors, in civil ceremonies or in those of war; it is the head of the cabin in their private or particular feasts or ceremonies; and sometimes the matrons, as in their corn feasts. And even here, Adair might have kept up his parallel, with ennobling his conjurers. For the ancient patriarchs, the Noahs, the Abrahams, Isaacs and Jacobs, and even after the consecration of Aaron, the Samuels and Elijahs, and we may say further, every one for himself offered sacrifices on the altars. The true line of distinction seems to be, that solemn ceremonies, whether public or private, addressed to the Great Spirit, are conducted by the worthies of the nation, men or matrons, while conjurers are resorted to only for the invocation of evil spirits. The present state of the several Indian tribes, without any public order of priests, is proof sufficient that they never had such an order. Their steady habits permit no innovations, not even those which the progress of science offers to increase the comforts, enlarge the understanding, and improve the morality of mankind. Indeed, so little idea have they of a regular order of priests, that they mistake ours for their conjurers, and call them by that name.

Edition: current; Page: [254]

So much in answer to your inquiries concerning Indians, a people with whom, in the early part of my life, I was very familiar, and acquired impressions of attachment and commiseration for them which have never been obliterated. Before the revolution, they were in the habit of coming often and in great numbers to the seat of government, where I was very much with them. I knew much the great Outassetè, the warrior and orator of the Cherokees; he was always the guest of my father, on his journeys to and from Williamsburg. I was in his camp when he made his great farewell oration to his people the evening before his departure for England. The moon was in full splendor, and to her he seemed to address himself in his prayers for his own safety on the voyage, and that of his people during his absence; his sounding voice, distinct articulation, animated action, and the solemn silence of his people at their several fires, filled me with awe and veneration, although I did not understand a word he uttered. That nation, consisting now of about 2,000 warriors, and the Creeks of about 3,000 are far advanced in civilization. They have good cabins, enclosed fields, large herds of cattle and hogs, spin and weave their own clothes of cotton, have smiths and other of the most necessary tradesmen, write and read, are on the increase in numbers, and a branch of Cherokees is now instituting a regular representative government. Some other tribes are advancing in the same line. On those who have made any progress, English seductions will have no effect. But the backward will yield, and be thrown further back. Those will Edition: current; Page: [255] relapse into barbarism and misery, lose numbers by war and want, and we shall be obliged to drive them with the beasts of the forest into the stony mountains. They will be conquered, however, in Canada. The possession of that country secures our women and children forever from the tomahawk and scalping knife, by removing those who excite them; and for this possession orders, I presume, are issued by this time; taking for granted that the doors of Congress will re-open with a declaration of war. That this may end in indemnity for the past, security for the future, and complete emancipation from Anglomany, Gallomany, and all the manias of demoralized Europe, and that you may live in health and happiness to see all this, is the sincere prayer of yours affectionately.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
June 11, 1812
Monticello
Elbridge Gerry
Gerry, Elbridge

TO ELBRIDGE GERRY

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—It has given me great pleasure to receive a letter from you. It seems as if, our ancient friends dying off, the whole mass of the affections of the heart survives undiminished to the few who remain. I think our acquaintance commenced in 1764, both then just of age. We happened to take lodgings in the same house in New York. Our next meeting was in the Congress of 1775, and at various times afterwards in the exercise of that and other public functions, until your mission to Europe. Since we have ceased to meet, we have still thought and acted together, “et idem velle, atque idem nolle, Edition: current; Page: [256] ea demum amicitia est.” Of this harmony of principle, the papers you enclosed me are proof sufficient. I do not condole with you on your release from your government. The vote of your opponents is the most honorable mark by which the soundness of your conduct could be stamped. I claim the same honorable testimonial. There was but a single act of my whole administration of which that party approved. That was the proclamation on the attack of the Chesapeake. And when I found that they approved of it, I confess I began strongly to apprehend I had done wrong, and to exclaim with the Psalmist, “Lord, what have I done that the wicked should praise me!”

What, then, does this English faction with you mean? Their newspapers say rebellion, and that they will not remain united with us unless we will permit them to govern the majority. If this be their purpose, their anti-republican spirit, it ought to be met at once. But a government like ours should be slow in believing this, should put forth its whole might when necessary to suppress it, and promptly return to the paths of reconciliation. The extent of our country secures it, I hope, from the vindictive passions of the petty incorporations of Greece. I rather suspect that the principal office of the other seventeen States will be to moderate and restrain the local excitement of our friends with you, when they (with the aid of their brethren of the other States, if they need it) shall have brought the rebellious to their feet. They count on British aid. But what can that avail them by land? They would Edition: current; Page: [257] separate from their friends, who alone furnish employment for their navigation, to unite with their only rival for that employment. When interdicted the harbors of their quondam brethren, they will go, I suppose, to ask a share in the carrying trade of their rivals, and a dispensation with their navigation act. They think they will be happier in an association under the rulers of Ireland, the East and West Indies, than in an independent government, where they are obliged to put up with their proportional share only in the direction of its affairs. But I trust that such perverseness will not be that of the honest and well-meaning mass of the federalists of Massachusetts; and that when the questions of separation and rebellion shall be nakedly proposed to them, the Gores and the Pickerings will find their levees crowded with silk stocking gentry, but no yeomanry; an army of officers without soldiers. I hope, then, all will still end well; the Anglomen will consent to make peace with their bread and butter, and you and I shall sink to rest, without having been actors or spectators in another civil war.

How many children have you? You beat me, I expect, in that count, but I you in that of our grand-children. We have not timed these things well together, or we might have begun a re-alliance between Massachusetts and the Old Dominion, faithful companions in the war of Independence, peculiarly tallied in interests, by each wanting exactly what the other has to spare; and estranged to each other in latter times, only by the practices of a third nation, the common enemy of both. Let us live only to see Edition: current; Page: [258] this re-union, and I will say with old Simeon, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.” In that peace may you long remain, my friend, and depart only in the fulness of years, all passed in health and prosperity. God bless you.

P. S. June 13. I did not condole with you on the reprobation of your opponents, because it proved your orthodoxy. Yesterday’s post brought me the resolution of the republicans of Congress, to propose you as Vice President. On this I sincerely congratulate you. It is a stamp of double proof. It is a notification to the factionaries that their nay is the yea of truth, and its best test. We shall be almost within striking distance of each other. Who knows but you may fill up some short recess of Congress with a visit to Monticello, where a numerous family will hail you with a hearty country welcome.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
June 28, 1812
Monticello
General Thaddeus Kosciusko
Kosciusko, General Thaddeus

TO GENERAL THADDEUS KOSCIUSKO

j. mss.

Nous voila donc, mon cher ami, en guerre avec l’Angleterre. This was declared on the 18th instant, thirty years after the signature of our peace in 1782. Within these thirty years what a vast course of growth and prosperity we have had! It is not ten years since Great Britain began a series of insults and injuries which would have been met with war in the threshold by any European power. This course has been unremittingly followed up by Edition: current; Page: [259] increasing wrongs, with glimmerings indeed of peaceable redress, just sufficient to keep us quiet, till she has had the impudence at length to extinguish even these glimmerings by open avowal. This would not have been borne so long, but that France has kept pace with England in iniquity of principle, although not in the power of inflicting wrongs on us. The difficulty of selecting a foe between them has spared us many years of war, and enabled us to enter into it with less debt, more strength and preparation. Our present enemy will have the sea to herself, while we shall be equally predominant at land, and shall strip her of all her possessions on this continent. She may burn New York, indeed, by her ships and congreve rockets, in which case we must burn the city of London by hired incendiaries, of which her starving manufacturers will furnish abundance. A people in such desperation as to demand of their government aut parcem, aut furcam, either bread or the gallows, will not reject the same alternative when offered by a foreign hand. Hunger will make them brave every risk for bread. The partisans of England here have endeavored much to goad us into the folly of choosing the ocean instead of the land, for the theatre of war. That would be to meet their strength with our own weakness, instead of their weakness with our strength. I hope we shall confine ourselves to the conquest of their possessions, and defence of our harbors, leaving the war on the ocean to our privateers. These will immediately swarm in every sea, and do more injury to British commerce than the regular fleets of all Europe would Edition: current; Page: [260] do. The government of France may discontinue their license trade. Our privateers will furnish them much more abundantly with colonial produce, and whatever the license trade has given them. Some have apprehended we should be overwhelmed by the new improvements of war, which have not yet reached us. But the British possess them very imperfectly, and what are these improvements? Chiefly in the management of artillery, of which our country admits little use. We have nothing to fear from their armies, and shall put nothing in prize to their fleets. Upon the whole, I have known no war entered into under more favorable auspices.

Our manufacturers are now very nearly on a footing with those of England. She has not a single improvement which we do not possess, and many of them better adapted by ourselves to our ordinary use. We have reduced the large and expensive machinery for most things to the compass of a private family, and every family of any size is now getting machines on a small scale for their household purposes. Quoting myself as an example, and I am much behind many others in this business, my household manufactures are just getting into operation on the scale of a carding machine costing $60 only, which may be worked by a girl of twelve years old, a spinning machine, which may be made for $10, carrying 6 spindles for wool, to be worked by a girl also, another which can be made for $25, carrying 12 spindles for cotton, and a loom, with a flying shuttle, weaving its twenty yards a day. I need 2,000 yards of linen, cotton and woollen yearly, to Edition: current; Page: [261] clothe my family, which this machinery, costing $150 only, and worked by two women and two girls, will more than furnish. For fine goods there are numerous establishments at work in the large cities, and many more daily growing up; and of merinos we have some thousands, and these multiplying fast. We consider a sheep for every person as sufficient for their woollen clothing, and this State and all to the north have fully that, and those to the south and west will soon be up to it. In other articles we are equally advanced, so that nothing is more certain than that, come peace when it will, we shall never again go to England for a shilling where we have gone for a dollar’s worth. Instead of applying to her manufacturers there, they must starve or come here to be employed. I give you these details of peaceable operations, because they are within my present sphere. Those of war are in better hands, who know how to keep their own secrets. Because, too, although a soldier yourself, I am sure you contemplate the peaceable employment of man in the improvement of his condition, with more pleasure than his murders, rapine and devastations.

Mr. Barnes, some time ago, forwarded you a bill of exchange for 5,500 francs, of which the enclosed is a duplicate. Apprehending that a war with England would subject the remittances to you to more casualties, I proposed to Mr. Morson, of Bordeaux, to become the intermediate for making remittances to you, which he readily acceded to on liberal ideas arising from his personal esteem for you, and his desire to be useful to you. If you approve of this Edition: current; Page: [262] medium I am in hopes it will shield you from the effect of the accidents to which the increased dangers of the seas may give birth. It would give me great pleasure to hear from you oftener. I feel great interest in your health and happiness. I know your feelings on the present state of the world, and hope they will be cheered by the successful course of our war, and the addition of Canada to our confederacy. The infamous intrigues of Great Britain to destroy our government (of which Henry’s is but one sample), and with the Indians to tomahawk our women and children, prove that the cession of Canada, their fulcrum for these Machiavelian levers, must be a sine qua non at a treaty of peace. God bless you, and give you to see all these things, and many and long years of health and happiness.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
June 29, 1812
Monticello
James Madison
Madison, James

TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I duly received your favor of the 22d covering the declaration of war. It is entirely popular here, the only opinion being that it should have been issued the moment the season admitted the militia to enter Canada. To continue the war popular, two things are necessary mainly. 1. To stop Indian barbarities. The conquest of Canada will do this. 2. To furnish markets for our produce, say indeed for our flour, for tobacco is already given up, and seemingly without reluctance. The great profits of the wheat crop have allured every one to it; and never was such a crop on the ground as that Edition: current; Page: [263] which we generally begin to cut this day. It would be mortifying to the farmer to see such an one rot in his barn. It would soon sicken him to war. Nor can this be a matter of wonder or of blame on him. Ours is the only country on earth where war is an instantaneous and total suspension of all the objects of his industry and support. For carrying our produce to foreign markets our own ships, neutral ships, and even enemy ships under neutral flag, which I would wink at, will probably suffice. But the coasting trade is of double importance, because both seller and buyer are disappointed, and both are our own citizens. You will remember that in this trade our greatest distress in the last war was produced by our own pilot boats taken by the British and kept as tenders to their larger vessels. These being the swiftest vessels on the ocean, they took them and selected the swiftest from the whole mass. Filled with men they scoured everything along shore, and completely cut up that coasting business which might otherwise have been carried on within the range of vessels of force and draught. Why should not we then line our coast with vessels of pilot-boat construction, filled with men, armed with cannonades, and only so much larger as to assure the mastery of the pilot boat? The British cannot counter-work us by building similar ones, because, the fact is, however unaccountable, that our builders alone understand that construction. It is on our own pilot boats the British will depend, which our larger vessels may thus retake. These, however, are the ideas of a landsman only. Mr. Hamilton’s judgment will test their soundness.

Edition: current; Page: [264]

Our militia are much afraid of being called to Norfolk at this season. They all declare a preference of a march to Canada. I trust however that Governor Barbour will attend to circumstances, and so apportion the service among the counties, that those acclimated by birth or residence may perform the summer tour, and the winter service be allotted to the upper counties.

I trouble you with a letter for General Kosciusko. It covers a bill of exchange from Mr. Barnes for him, and is therefore of great importance to him. Hoping you will have the goodness so far to befriend the General as to give it your safest conveyance, I commit it to you, with the assurance of my sincere affections.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
August 4, 1812
Monticello
William Duane
Duane, William

TO WILLIAM DUANE

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Your favor of the 17th ult. came duly to hand, and I have to thank you for the military manuals you were so kind as to send me. This is the sort of book most needed in our country, where even the elements of tactics are unknown. The young have never seen service, and the old are past it, and of those among them who are not superannuated themselves, their science is become so. I see, as you do, the difficulties and defects we have to encounter in war, and should expect disasters if we had an enemy on land capable of inflicting them. But the weakness of our enemy there will make our first errors innocent, and the seeds of genius which Edition: current; Page: [265] nature sows with even hand through every age and country, and which need only soil and season to germinate, will develop themselves among our military men. Some of them will become prominent, and seconded by the native energy of our citizens, will soon, I hope, to our force add the benefits of skill. The acquisition of Canada this year, as far as the neighborhood of Quebec, will be a mere matter of marching, and will give us experience for the attack of Halifax the next, and the final expulsion of England from the American continent. Halifax once taken, every cock-boat of hers must return to England for repairs. Their fleet will annihilate our public force on the water, but our privateers will eat out the vitals of their commerce. Perhaps they will burn New York or Boston. If they do, we must burn the city of London, not by expensive fleets or congreve rockets, but by employing an hundred or two Jack-the-painters, whom nakedness, famine, desperation and hardened vice, will abundantly furnish from among themselves. We have a rumor now afloat that the orders of council are repealed. The thing is impossible after Castlereagh’s late declaration in Parliament, and the re-construction of a Percival ministry.

I consider this last circumstance fortunate for us. The repeal of the orders of council would only add recruits to our minority, and enable them the more to embarrass our march to thorough redress of our past wrongs, and permanent security for the future. This we shall attain if no internal obstacles are raised up. The exclusion of their commerce from Edition: current; Page: [266] the United States, and the closing of the Baltic against it, which the present campaign in Europe will effect, will accomplish the catastrophe already so far advanced on them. I think your anticipations of the effects of this are entirely probable, their arts, their science, and what they have left of virtue, will come over to us, and although their vices will come also, these, I think, will soon be diluted and evaporated in a country of plain honesty. Experience will soon teach the new-comers how much more plentiful and pleasant is the subsistence gained by wholesome labor and fair dealing, than a precarious and hazardous dependence on the enterprises of vice and violence. Still I agree with you that these immigrations will give strength to English partialities, to eradicate which is one of the most consoling expectations from the war. But probably the old hive will be broken up by a revolution, and a regeneration of its principles render intercourse with it no longer contaminating. A republic there like ours, and a reduction of their naval power within the limits of their annual facilities of payment, might render their existence even interesting to us. It is the construction of their government, and its principles and means of corruption, which makes its continuance inconsistent with the safety of other nations. A change in its form might make it an honest one, and justify a confidence in its faith and friendship. That regeneration however will take a longer time than I have to live. I shall leave it to be enjoyed among you, and make my exit with a bow to it, as the most flagitious of governments I Edition: current; Page: [267] leave among men. I sincerely wish you may live to see the prodigy of its renovation, enjoying in the meantime health and prosperity.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
October 1, 1812
Monticello
William Duane
Duane, William

TO WILLIAM DUANE

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Your favor of September the 20th, has been duly received, and I cannot but be gratified by the assurance it expresses, that my aid in the councils of our government would increase the public confidence in them; because it admits an inference that they have approved of the course pursued, when I heretofore bore a part in those councils. I profess, too, so much of the Roman principle, as to deem it honorable for the general of yesterday to act as a corporal to-day, if his services can be useful to his country; holding that to be false pride, which postpones the public good to any private or personal considerations. But I am past service. The hand of age is upon me. The decay of bodily faculties apprizes me that those of the mind cannot be unimpaired, had I not still better proofs. Every year counts by increased debility, and departing faculties keep the score. The last year it was the sight, this it is the hearing, the next something else will be going, until all is gone. Of all this I was sensible before I left Washington, and probably my fellow laborers saw it before I did. The decay of memory was obvious; it is now become distressing. But the mind too, is weakened. When I was young, mathematics was the passion of my life. The same Edition: current; Page: [268] passion has returned upon me, but with unequal powers. Processes which I then read off with the facility of common discourse, now cost me labor, and time, and slow investigation. When I offered this, therefore, as one of the reasons deciding my retirement from office, it was offered in sincerity and a consciousness of its truth. And I think it a great blessing that I retain understanding enough to be sensible how much of it I have lost, and to avoid exposing myself as a spectacle for the pity of my friends; that I have surmounted the difficult point of knowing when to retire. As a compensation for faculties departed, nature gives me good health, and a perfect resignation to the laws of decay which she has prescribed to all the forms and combinations of matter.

The detestable treason of Hull has, indeed, excited a deep anxiety in all breasts. The depression was in the first moment gloomy and portentous. But it has been succeeded by a revived animation, and a determination to meet the occurrence with increased efforts; and I have so much confidence in the vigorous minds and bodies of our countrymen, as to be fearless as to the final issue. The treachery of Hull, like that of Arnold, cannot be matter of blame on our government. His character, as an officer of skill and bravery, was established on the trials of the last war, and no previous act of his life had led to doubt his fidelity. Whether the Head of the war department is equal to his charge, I am not qualified to decide. I knew him only as a pleasant, gentlemanly man in society; and the indecision of Edition: current; Page: [269] his character rather added to the amenity of his conversation. But when translated from the colloquial circle to the great stage of national concerns, and the direction of the extensive operations of war, whether he has been able to seize at one glance the long line of defenceless border presented by our enemy, the masses of strength which we hold on different points of it, the facility this gave us of attacking him, on the same day, on all his points, from the extremity of the lakes to the neighborhood of Quebec, and the perfect indifference with which this last place, impregnable as it is, might be left in the hands of the enemy to fall of itself; whether, I say, he could see and prepare vigorously for all this, or merely wrapped himself in the cloak of cold defence, I am uninformed. I clearly think with you on the competence of Monroe to embrace great views of action. The decision of his character, his enterprise, firmness, industry, and unceasing vigilance, would, I believe, secure, as I am sure they would merit, the public confidence, and give us all the success which our means can accomplish. If our operations have suffered or languished from any want of energy in the present head which directs them, I have so much confidence in the wisdom and conscientious integrity of Mr. Madison, as to be satisfied, that however torturing to his feelings, he will fulfil his duty to the public and to his own reputation, by making the necessary change. Perhaps he may be preparing it while we are talking about it; for of all these things I am uninformed. I fear that Hull’s surrender has been more than the mere loss of a year to us. Edition: current; Page: [270] Besides bringing on us the whole mass of savage nations, whom fear and not affection has kept in quiet, there is danger that in giving time to an enemy who can send reinforcements of regulars faster than we can raise them, they may strengthen Canada and Halifax beyond the assailment of our lax and divided powers. Perhaps, however, the patriotic efforts from Kentucky and Ohio, by recalling the British force to its upper posts, may yet give time to Dearborne to strike a blow below. Effectual possession of the river from Montreal to the Chaudiere, which is practicable, would give us the upper country at our leisure, and close forever the scenes of the tomahawk and scalping knife.

But these things are for others to plan and achieve. The only succor from the old must lie in their prayers. These I offer up with sincere devotion; and in my concern for the great public, I do not overlook my friends, but supplicate for them, as I do for yourself, a long course of freedom, happiness and prosperity.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Nov. 6, ’12
Monticello
James Madison
Madison, James

TO JAMES MADISON

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I inclose you a letter from Colo: Gibson Secretary under Governor Harrison. I suppose he has addressed it to me on the footing of a very old acquaintance. He is a very honest man, very old in public service & much esteemed by all who know him. All this I believe however is known to yourself & possibly he may be personally known to you.

Edition: current; Page: [271]

The seeing whether our untried Generals will stand proof is a very dear operation. Two of them have cost us a great many men. We can tell by his plumage whether a cock is dunghill or game. But with us cowardice & courage wear the same plume. Hull will of course be shot for cowardice & treachery. And will not Van Renslaer be broke for cowardice and incapacity? To advance such a body of men across a river without securing boats to bring them off in case of disaster, has cost us 700 men: and to have taken no part himself in such an action & against such a general would be nothing but cowardice. These are the reflections of a solitary reader of his own letter. Dearborne & Harrison have both courage & understanding, & having no longer a Brock to encounter, I hope we shall hear something good from them. If we could but get Canada to Trois rivieres in our hands we should have a set off against spoliations to be treated of, & in the mean time separate the Indians from them and set the friendly to attack the hostile part with our aid. Ever affectionately yours.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Jan. 12, 1813
Monticello
James Ronaldson
Ronaldson, James

TO JAMES RONALDSON

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Your favor of November 2d arrived a little before I set out on a journey on which I was absent between five and six weeks. I have still therefore to return you my thanks for the seeds accompanying it, which shall be duly taken care of, and a communication made to others of such as shall Edition: current; Page: [272] prove valuable. I have been long endeavoring to procure the Cork tree from Europe, but without success. A plant which I brought with me from Paris died after languishing some time, and of several parcels of acorns received from a correspondent at Marseilles, not one has ever vegetated. I shall continue my endeavors, although disheartened by the nonchalance of our southern fellow citizens, with whom alone they can thrive. It is now twenty-five years since I sent them two shipments (about 500 plants) of the Olive tree of Aix, the finest Olives in the world. If any of them still exist, it is merely as a curiosity in their gardens, not a single orchard of them has been planted. I sent them also the celebrated species of Sainfoin,1 from Malta, which yields good crops without a drop of rain through the season. It was lost. The upland rice which I procured fresh from Africa and sent them, has been preserved and spread in the upper parts of Georgia, and I believe in Kentucky. But we must acknowledge their services in furnishing us an abundance of cotton, a substitute for silk, flax and hemp. The ease with which it is spun will occasion it to supplant the two last, and its cleanliness the first. Household manufacture is taking deep root with us. I have a carding machine, two spinning machines, and looms with the flying shuttle in full operation for clothing my own family; and I verily believe that by the next winter this State will not need a yard of imported coarse or middling clothing. I think we have already a sheep for every inhabitant, which will suffice for Edition: current; Page: [273] clothing, and one-third more, which a single year will add, will furnish blanketing. With respect to marine hospitals, which are one of the subjects of your letter, I presume you know that such establishments have been made by the general government in the several States, that a portion of seaman’s wages is drawn for their support, and the government furnishes what is deficient. Mr. Gallatin is attentive to them, and they will grow with our growth. You doubt whether we ought to permit the exportation of grain to our enemies; but Great Britain, with her own agricultural support, and those she can command by her access into every sea, cannot be starved by withholding our supplies. And if she is to be fed at all events, why may we not have the benefit of it as well as others? I would not, indeed, feed her armies landed on our territory, because the difficulty of inland subsistence is what will prevent their ever penetrating far into the country, and will confine them to the sea coast. But this would be my only exception. And as to feeding her armies in the peninsular, she is fighting our battles there, as Bonaparte is on the Baltic. He is shutting out her manufactures from that sea, and so far assisting us in her reduction to extremity. But if she does not keep him out of the peninsular, if he gets full command of that, instead of the greatest and surest of all our markets, as that has uniformly been, we shall be excluded from it, or so much shackled by his tyranny and ignorant caprices, that it will become for us what France now is. Besides, if we could, by starving the English armies, oblige them to withdraw Edition: current; Page: [274] from the peninsular, it would be to send them here; and I think we had better feed them there for pay, than feed and fight them here for nothing. A truth, too, not to be lost sight of is, that no country can pay war taxes if you suppress all their resources. To keep the war popular, we must keep open the markets. As long as good prices can be had, the people will support the war cheerfully. If you should have an opportunity of conveying to Mr. Heriot my thanks for his book, you will oblige me by doing it. Accept the assurance of my great esteem and respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
January 13, 1813
Monticello
John Melish
Melish, John

TO JOHN MELISH

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I received duly your favor of December the 15th, and with it the copies of your map and travels, for which be pleased to accept my thanks. The book I have read with extreme satisfaction and information. As to the western States, particularly, it has greatly edified me; for of the actual condition of that interesting portion of our country, I had not an adequate idea. I feel myself now as familiar with it as with the condition of the maritime States. I had no conception that manufactures had made such progress there, and particularly of the number of carding and spinning machines dispersed through the whole country. We are but beginning here to have them in our private families. Small spinning jennies of from half a dozen to twenty spindles, will soon, however, make their way into the humblest Edition: current; Page: [275] cottages, as well as the richest houses; and nothing is more certain, than that the coarse and middling clothing for our families, will forever hereafter continue to be made within ourselves. I have hitherto myself depended entirely on foreign manufactures; but I have now thirty-five spindles agoing, a hand carding machine, and looms with the flying shuttle, for the supply of my own farms, which will never be relinquished in my time. The continuance of the war will fix the habit generally, and out of the evils of impressment and of the orders of council, a great blessing for us will grow. I have not formerly been an advocate for great manufactories. I doubted whether our labor, employed in agriculture, and aided by the spontaneous energies of the earth, would not procure us more than we could make ourselves of other necessaries. But other considerations entering into the question, have settled my doubts.

The candor with which you have viewed the manners and condition of our citizens, is so unlike the narrow prejudices of the French and English travellers preceding you, who, considering each the manners and habits of their own people as the only orthodox, have viewed everything differing from that test as boorish and barbarous, that your work will be read here extensively, and operate great good.

Amidst this mass of approbation which is given to every other part of the work, there is a single sentiment which I cannot help wishing to bring to what I think the correct one; and, on a point so interesting, I value your opinion too highly not to ambition Edition: current; Page: [276] its concurrence with my own. Stating in volume one, page sixty-three, the principle of difference between the two great political parties here, you conclude it to be, “whether the controlling power shall be vested in this or that set of men.” That each party endeavors to get into the administration of the government, and exclude the other from power, is true, and may be stated as a motive of action: but this is only secondary; the primary motive being a real and radical difference of political principle. I sincerely wish our differences were but personally who should govern, and that the principles of our constitution were those of both parties. Unfortunately, it is otherwise; and the question of preference between monarchy and republicanism, which has so long divided mankind elsewhere, threatens a permanent division here.

Among that section of our citizens called federalists, there are three shades of opinion. Distinguishing between the leaders and people who compose it, the leaders consider the English constitution as a model of perfection, some, with a correction of its vices, others, with all its corruptions and abuses. This last was Alexander Hamilton’s opinion, which others, as well as myself, have often heard him declare, and that a correction of what are called its vices, would render the English an impracticable government. This government they wished to have established here, and only accepted and held fast, at first, to the present constitution, as a stepping-stone to the final establishment of their favorite model. This party has therefore always clung to England as Edition: current; Page: [277] their prototype, and great auxiliary in promoting and effecting this change. A weighty minority, however, of these leaders, considering the voluntary conversion of our government into a monarchy as too distant, if not desperate, wish to break off from our Union its eastern fragment, as being, in truth, the hot-bed of American monarchism, with a view to a commencement of their favorite government, from whence the other States may gangrene by degrees, and the whole be thus brought finally to the desired point. For Massachusetts, the prime mover in this enterprise, is the last State in the Union to mean a final separation, as being of all the most dependent on the others. Not raising bread for the sustenance of her own inhabitants, not having a stick of timber for the construction of vessels, her principal occupation, nor an article to export in them, where would she be, excluded from the ports of the other States, and thrown into dependence on England, her direct and natural, but now insidious rival? At the head of this minority is what is called the Essex Junto of Massachusetts. But the majority of these leaders do not aim at separation. In this, they adhere to the known principle of General Hamilton, never, under any views, to break the Union. Anglomany, monarchy, and separation, then, are the principles of the Essex federalists. Anglomany and monarchy, those of the Hamiltonians, and Anglomany alone, that of the portion among the people who call themselves federalists. These last are as good republicans as the brethren whom they oppose, and differ from them only in their devotion to England and Edition: current; Page: [278] hatred of France which they have imbibed from their leaders. The moment that these leaders should avowedly propose a separation of the Union, or the establishment of regal government, their popular adherents would quit them to a man, and join the republican standard; and the partisans of this change, even in Massachusetts, would thus find themselves an army of officers without a soldier.

The party called republican is steadily for the support of the present constitution. They obtained at its commencement, all the amendments to it they desired. These reconciled them to it perfectly, and if they have any ulterior view, it is only, perhaps, to popularize it further, by shortening the Senatorial term, and devising a process for the responsibility of judges, more practical than that of impeachment. They esteem the people of England and France equally, and equally detest the governing powers of both.

This I verily believe, after an intimacy of forty years with the public councils and characters, is a true statement of the grounds on which they are at present divided, and that it is not merely an ambition for power. An honest man can feel no pleasure in the exercise of power over his fellow citizens. And considering as the only offices of power those conferred by the people directly, that is to say, the executive and legislative functions of the General and State governments, the common refusal of these and multiplied resignations, are proofs sufficient that power is not alluring to pure minds, and is not, with them, the primary principle of contest. This is my Edition: current; Page: [279] belief of it; it is that on which I have acted; and had it been a mere contest who should be permitted to administer the government according to its genuine republican principles, there has never been a moment of my life in which I should have relinquished for it the enjoyments of my family, my farm, my friends and books.

You expected to discover the difference of our party principles in General Washington’s valedictory, and my inaugural address. Not at all. General Washington did not harbor one principle of federalism. He was neither an Angloman, a monarchist, nor a separatist. He sincerely wished the people to have as much self-government as they were competent to exercise themselves. The only point on which he and I ever differed in opinion, was, that I had more confidence than he had in the natural integrity and discretion of the people, and in the safety and extent to which they might trust themselves with a control over their government. He has asseverated to me a thousand times his determination that the existing government should have a fair trial, and that in support of it he would spend the last drop of his blood. He did this the more repeatedly, because he knew General Hamilton’s political bias, and my apprehensions from it. It is a mere calumny, therefore, in the monarchists, to associate General Washington with their principles. But that may have happened in this case which has been often seen in ordinary cases, that, by oft repeating an untruth, men come to believe it themselves. It is a mere artifice in this party to bolster themselves up on the Edition: current; Page: [280] revered name of that first of our worthies. If I have dwelt longer on this subject than was necessary, it proves the estimation in which I hold your ultimate opinions, and my desire of placing the subject truly before them. In so doing, I am certain I risk no use of the communication which may draw me into contention before the public. Tranquillity is the summum bonum of a Septagenaire.

To return to the merits of your work: I consider it as so lively a picture of the real state of our country, that if I can possibly obtain opportunities of conveyance, I propose to send a copy to a friend in France, and another to one in Italy, who, I know, will translate and circulate it as an antidote to the misrepresentations of former travellers. But whatever effect my profession of political faith may have on your general opinion, a part of my object will be obtained, if it satisfies you as to the principles of my own action, and of the high respect and consideration with which I tender you my salutations.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Feb. 19, 13
Monticello
William P. Gardner
Gardner, William P.

TO WILLIAM P. GARDNER

j. mss.
Sir,

—Your favor of the 13th has been duly received, together with the papers it covered, and particularly Mr. Barralet’s sketch of the ornaments proposed to accompany the publication of the Declaration of Independance contemplated by Mr. Murray and yourself. I am too little versed in the art of Design to be able to offer any suggestions to the Edition: current; Page: [281] artist. As far as I am a judge, the composition appears to be judicious and well imagined. Were I to hazard a suggestion it should be that Mr. Hancock, as President of Congress should occupy the middle and principal place. No man better merited, than Mr. John Adams to hold a most conspicuous place in the design. He was the pillar of it’s support on the floor of Congress, it’s ablest advocate and defender against the multifarious assaults it encountered. For many excellent persons opposed it on doubts whether we were provided sufficiently with the means of supporting it, whether the minds of our constituents were yet prepared to receive it &c. who, after it was decided, united zealously in the measures it called for.

I must ask permission to become a subscriber for a copy when published, which if rolled on a wooden roller & sent by mail, will come safely. Accept the assurances of my respect & best wishes.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Feb. 21, 13
Monticello
James Madison
Madison, James

TO JAMES MADISON

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—On the occasion of your separation from Mr. Robert Smith, I recollect your mentioning in one of your letters to me that among the circumstances which afflicted you, was the impression it might make on his connections in this quarter, for whom you entertained so much friendship & esteem. It was soon discernible that on one of them whom I had the most frequent opportunities of seeing, no Edition: current; Page: [282] other impression was made than that which every man of understanding felt: of which I think I informed you at the time: and there has never been one moment of remission on his part in his zealous attachment to yourself, and your administration. Of Mr. Nicholas’s feelings I have not had as good occasions of judging for myself. I see him seldom, at his own house only, and in the midst of his family, before whom, of course, neither he nor I should think of introducing the subject. Indulgence to the feelings of their families would necessarily, in their presence, impose reserve on both of these gentlemen. I have lately however thro’ a channel which can leave no doubt on the subject, ascertained that on Mr. Nicholas also no impression unfavorable to you was made by that transaction, and that his friendship for you has never felt a moment’s abatement. Indeed we might have been sure of this from his integrity, his good sense and his sound judgment of men and things. Very serious and urgent letters too written by him to both General Smith and Giles on the course pursued by them are proofs of the undeviating character of his own. Knowing your value of him, and that which we both set on the attachment to republican government of a family so estimable, so able, and so strong in its connections, I have believed it would be pleasing to you to be assured of these facts. I am led to the communication too, by another motive, the opportunity which I think I see of cementing these dispositions by a measure which will at the same time be useful to the public. He has a son, Robert Carter Nicholas, whom Edition: current; Page: [283] I cannot praise more than by saying he is exactly the father over again. The same strong observation, sound judgment, prudence and honesty of purpose impressed by more education and reading. He has been brought up to the bar; but on the insults to his country, he felt the animation they were calculated to inspire more especially in young & ardent minds, and he obtained a captaincy in one of the regiments lately authorized. There can be few such men in our army, and it is highly interesting to us all, that these few should be approached, on all fair occasions, as much as possible towards the higher grades of the army. He is one of those who, in relation, as well as in action, will gratify our national feelings. There being more regiments now to be raised I have supposed he might be advanced a grade, say to a majority, in one of these. I wish his age and experience had been such as to justify more. Such a measure, while promoting the good of the service, would have a cordial effect on the mind of the father; and the more so in proportion as it is unsollicited and unexpected. It would remove all scruples & anxieties on both sides, by manifesting to him the state of your mind, & strengthening your conviction of his dispositions towards you. I will take the liberty of suggesting this transfer to Genl. Armstrong also, whose particular acquaintance will raise more favorable presumptions as to the son, and facilitate the measure should it meet with your own approbation.

Another General it seems has given proof of his military qualifications by the loss of another thousand Edition: current; Page: [284] of men; for there cannot be a surprise but thro’ the fault of the Commanders, and especially by an enemy who has given us heretofore so many of these lessons. Perhaps we ought to expect such trials after deperdition of all military science consequent on so long a peace: and I am happy to observe the public mind not discouraged, and that it does not associate it’s government with these unfortunate agents. These experiments will at least have the good effect of bringing forward those whom nature has qualified for military trust; and whenever we have good commanders, we shall have good souldiers, and good successes. God bless you, and give you that success which wisdom & integrity ought to ensure to you.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Feb. 21, 13
Monticello
John Armstrong
Armstrong, John

TO JOHN ARMSTRONG

j. mss.
Dear General,

—Another General, it seems, has lost us another thousand men by suffering them to be surprised; and this too by an enemy who by so many similar lessons had taught us that surprise is his habitual resource. Our only hope is that these misfortunes will at length elicit by trial the characters qualified by nature from those unqualified, to be entrusted with the destinies of their fellow citizens. The unfortunate obstinacy of the Senate in preferring the greatest blockhead, to the greatest military genius, if one day longer in commission, renders it doubly important to sift well the candidates for command in new corps, & to marshal them Edition: current; Page: [285] at first, towards the head, in proportion to their qualifications. These reflections have induced me to bring to your notice a young gentleman of my neighborhood, now a captain in one of the regiments lately established in his own region. I know, you will not be permitted to advance him, altho there is not, I believe a service on earth where seniority is permitted to give a right to advance beyond the grade of captain. We are doomed however to sacrifice the lives of our citizens by thousands to this blind principle, for fear the peculiar interest & responsibility of our Executive should not be sufficient to guard his selection of officers against favoritism. Be it so: we must submit. But when you have new corps to raise you are free to prefer merit; and our mechanical law of promotion, when once men have been set in their places, makes it most interesting indeed to place them originally according to their capacities. It is not for me even to ask whether in the raw regiments now to be raised, it would not be advisable to draw from the former the few officers who may already have discovered military talent, and to bring them forward in the new corps to those higher grades, to which, in the old, the blocks in their way do not permit you to advance them? Whether the short trial you have had of them does not furnish better ground of selection than the common-place recommendations of new men? I confine myself therefore to the individual before alluded to. You intimately knew his father, Wilson C. Nicholas, your colleague in Senate, and our faithful fellow-laborer in the days of trial. You knew his good Edition: current; Page: [286] sense, his sound judgment, his rectitude, and his zeal for republican government. The son, Robert Carter Nicholas, the captain whom I before mentioned, is not behind the father in these good qualifications, with the advantage of a higher degree of education. When improved by experience he will be one of those who will faithfully and understandingly render account of the talent which shall be delivered to him. Would it not therefore be advisable to advance such a subject, while it is in your power, a grade in one of the new regiments? I suggest this from no motive of personal favor to him. He does not even know the judgment I have formed of him; & still less that I have thought of placing him under your view. I am urged to it by the desire of contributing what I can to your information, & to guide your selection of military agents. If I knew others personally, of like merit, I should draw your notice to them also, because, without information, talent & fatuity must stand alike before you under the mark of the same uniform. I write on this subject to the President also; and resign myself with contentedness to the perfect conviction that whatever you do will be right, and in the same spirit I assure you of my constant friendship & respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
May 21, 1813
Monticello
James Madison
Madison, James

TO JAMES MADISON

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—The enclosed letter from Whit was unquestionably intended for you. The subject, the Edition: current; Page: [287] address, both of title and place, prove it, and the mistake of the name only shows the writer to be a very uninquisitive statesman. Dr. Waterhouse’s letter, too, was intended for your eye, and although the immediate object fails by previous appointment, yet he seems to entertain further wishes. I enclose, too, the newspapers he refers to, as some of their matter may have escaped your notice, and the traitorous designs fostered in Massachusetts, and explained in them, call for attention.

We have never seen so unpromising a crop of wheat as that now growing. The winter killed an unusual proportion of it, and the fly is destroying the remainder. We may estimate the latter loss at one-third at present, and fast increasing from the effect of the extraordinary drought. With such a prospect before us, the blockade is acting severely on our past labors. It caught nearly the whole wheat of the middle and upper country in the hands of the farmers and millers, whose interior situation had prevented their getting it to an earlier market. From this neighborhood very little had been sold. When we cast our eyes on the map, and see the extent of country from New York to North Carolina inclusive, whose product is raised on the waters of the Chesapeake, (for Albemarle sound is, by the canal of Norfolk, become a water of the Chesapeake,) and consider its productiveness, in comparison with the rest of the Atlantic States, probably a full half, and that all this can be shut up by two or three ships of the line lying at the mouth of the bay, we see that an injury so vast to ourselves and so cheap to our Edition: current; Page: [288] enemy, must forever be resorted to by them, and constantly maintained. To defend all the shores of those waters in detail is impossible. But is there not a single point where they may be all defended by means to which the magnitude of the object gives a title? I mean at the mouth of the Chesapeake. Not by ships of the line, or frigates; for I know that with our present enemy we cannot contend in that way. But would not a sufficient number of gunboats of small draught, stationed in Lynhaven river, render it unsafe for ships of war either to ascend the Chesapeake or to lie at its mouth? I am not unaware of the effect of the ridicule cast on this instrument of defence by those who wished for engines of offence. But resort is had to ridicule only when reason is against us. I know, too, the prejudices of the gentlemen of the navy, and that these are very natural. No one has been more gratified than myself by the brilliant achievements of our little navy. They have deeply wounded the pride of our enemy, and been balm to ours, humiliated on the land where our real strength was felt to lie. But divesting ourselves of the enthusiasm these brave actions have justly excited, it is impossible not to see that all these vessels must be taken and added to the already overwhelming force of our enemy; that even while we keep them, they contribute nothing to our defence, and that so far as we are to be defended by anything on the water, it must be by such vessels as can assail under advantageous circumstances, and under adverse ones withdraw from the reach of the enemy. This, in shoally waters, is the humble, the ridiculed, Edition: current; Page: [289] but the formidable gun-boats. I acknowledge that in the case which produces these reflections, the station of Lynhaven river would not be safe against land attacks on the boats, and that a retreat for them is necessary in this event. With a view to this there was a survey made by Colonel Tatham, which was lodged either in the war or navy office, showing the depth and length of a canal which would give them a retreat from Lynhaven river into the eastern branch of Elizabeth river. I think the distance is not over six or eight miles, perhaps not so much, through a country entirely flat, and little above the level of the sea. A cut of ten yards wide and four yards deep, requiring the removal of forty cubic yards of earth for every yard in length of the canal, at twenty cents the cubic yard, would cost about $15,000 a mile. But even doubling this to cover all errors of estimate, although in a country offering the cheapest kind of labor, it would be nothing compared with the extent and productions of the country it is to protect. It would, for so great a country, bear no proportion to what has been expended, and justly expended by the Union, to defend the single spot of New York.

While such a channel of retreat secures effectually the safety of the gun-boats, it insures also their aid for the defence of Norfolk, if attacked from the sea. And the Norfolk canal gives them a further passage into Albemarle sound, if necessary for their safety, or in aid of the flotilla of that sound, or to receive the aid of that flotilla either at Norfolk or in Lynhaven river. For such a flotilla there also will doubtless Edition: current; Page: [290] be thought necessary, that being the only outlet now, as during the last war, for the waters of the Chesapeake. Colonel Monroe, I think, is personally intimate with the face of all that country, and no one, I am certain, is more able or more disposed than the present Secretary of the Navy, to place himself above the navy prejudices, and do justice to the aptitude of these humble and economical vessels to the shallow waters of the South. On the bold Northern shores they would be of less account, and the larger vessels will of course be more employed there. Were they stationed with us, they would rather attract danger than ward it off. The only service they can render us would be to come in a body when the occasion offers, of overwhelming a weaker force of the enemy, occupying our bay, to oblige them to keep their force in a body, leaving the mass of our coast open.

Although it is probable there may not be an idea here which has not been maturely weighed by yourself, and with a much broader view of the whole field, yet I have frankly hazarded them, because possibly some of the facts or ideas may have escaped in the multiplicity of the objects engaging your notice, and because in every event they will cost you but the trouble of reading. The importance of keeping open a water which covers wholly or considerably five of the most productive States, containing three-fifths of the population of the Atlantic portion of our Union, and of preserving their resources for the support of the war, as far as the state of war and the means of the confederacy will admit; Edition: current; Page: [291] and especially if it can be done for less than is contributed by the Union for more than one single city, will justify our anxieties to have it effected. And should my views of the subject be even wrong, I am sure they will find their apology with you in the purity of the motives of personal and public regard which induce a suggestion of them. In all cases I am satisfied you are doing what is for the best, as far as the means put into your hands will enable you, and this thought quiets me under every occurrence, and under every occurrence I am sincerely, affectionately and respectfully yours.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
May 31, 13
Monticello
Richard Rush
Rush, Richard

TO RICHARD RUSH

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—No one has taken a more sincere part than myself in the affliction which has lately befallen your family, by the loss of your inestimable and ever to be lamented father. His virtues rendered him dear to all who knew him, and his benevolence led him to do all men every good in his power. Much he was able to do, and much therefore will be missed. My acquaintance with him began in 1776. It soon became intimate, and from that time a warm friendship has been maintained by a correspondence of unreserved confidence. In the course of this, each has deposited in the bosom of the other, communications which were never intended to go further. In the sacred fidelity of each to the other these were known to be safe: and above all things that they would be Edition: current; Page: [292] kept from the public eye. There may have been other letters of this character written by me to him: but two alone occur to me at present, about which I have any anxiety. These were of Apr. 21. 1803. & Jan. 16. 1811. The first of these was on the subject of religion, a subject on which I have ever been most scrupulously reserved. I have considered it as a matter between every man and his maker, in which no other, & far less the public had a right to intermeddle. To your father alone I committed some views on this subject in the first of the letters above mentioned, led to it by previous conversations, and a promise on my part to digest & communicate them in writing. The letter of Jan. 16. 1811 respected a mutual friend, between whom & myself a suspension of correspondence had taken place. This was restored by his kind intervention, the correspondence resumed, and a friendship revived, which had been much valued on both sides. Another letter of Dec. 5. 11. explains this occurrence. I very much wish that these letters should remain unseen and unknown. And, if it would be too much to ask their return, I would earnestly entreat of you so to dispose of them as that they might never be seen, if possible, but by yourself, with whom I know their contents would be safe. I have too many enemies disposed to make a lacerating use of them, not to feel anxieties inspired by a love of tranquility, now become the summum bonum of life. In your occasional visits to Philadelphia, perhaps you can lay your hand on them, which might be preferable to the drawing a marked attention to them by letter. I submit all this to Edition: current; Page: [293] your honorable & candid mind, and praying you to tender to your much esteemed mother my sincere condolances & respects, accept for yourself the assurance of my great esteem & consideration.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
June 15, 1813
Monticello
John Adams
Adams, John

TO JOHN ADAMS

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I wrote you a letter on the 27th of May, which probably would reach you about the 3d instant, and on the 9th I received yours of the 29th of May. Of Lindsay’s Memoirs I had never before heard, and scarcely indeed of himself. It could not, therefore, but be unexpected, that two letters of mine should have anything to do with his life. The name of his editor was new to me, and certainly presents itself for the first time under unfavorable circumstances. Religion, I suppose, is the scope of his book; and that a writer on that subject should usher himself to the world in the very act of the grossest abuse of confidence, by publishing private letters which passed between two friends, with no views to their ever being made public, is an instance of inconsistency as well as of infidelity, of which I would rather be the victim than the author.

By your kind quotation of the dates of my two letters, I have been enabled to turn to them. They had completely vanished from my memory. The last is on the subject of religion, and by its publication will gratify the priesthood with new occasion of repeating their comminations against me. They Edition: current; Page: [294] wish it to be believed that he can have no religion who advocates its freedom. This was not the doctrine of Priestley; and I honored him for the example of liberality he set to his order. The first letter is political. It recalls to our recollection the gloomy transactions of the times, the doctrines they witnessed, and the sensibilities they excited. It was a confidential communication of reflections on these from one friend to another, deposited in his bosom, and never meant to trouble the public mind. Whether the character of the times is justly portrayed or not, posterity will decide. But on one feature of them they can never decide, the sensations excited in free yet firm minds by the terrorism of the day. None can conceive who did not witness them, and they were felt by one party only. This letter exhibits their side of the medal. The federalists, no doubt, have presented the other in their private correspondences as well as open action. If these correspondences should ever be laid open to the public eye, they will probably be found not models of comity towards their adversaries. The readers of my letter should be cautioned not to confine its view to this country alone. England and its alarmists were equally under consideration. Still less must they consider it as looking personally towards you. You happen, indeed, to be quoted, because you happened to express more pithily than had been done by themselves, one of the mottos of the party. This was in your answer to the address of the young men of Philadelphia. [See Selection of Patriotic Addresses, page 198.] One of the questions, you know, on Edition: current; Page: [295] which our parties took different sides, was on the improvability of the human mind in science, in ethics, in government, &c. Those who advocated reformation of institutions, pari passu with the progress of science, maintained that no definite limits could be assigned to that progress. The enemies of reform, on the other hand, denied improvement, and advocated steady adherence to the principles, practices and institutions of our fathers, which they represented as the consummation of wisdom, and acme of excellence, beyond which the human mind could never advance. Although in the passage of your answer alluded to, you expressly disclaim the wish to influence the freedom of inquiry, you predict that that will produce nothing more worthy of transmission to posterity than the principles, institutions and systems of education received from their ancestors. I do not consider this as your deliberate opinion. You possess, yourself, too much science, not to see how much is still ahead of you, unexplained and unexplored. Your own consciousness must place you as far before our ancestors as in the rear of our posterity. I consider it as an expression lent to the prejudices of your friends; and although I happened to cite it from you, the whole letter shows I had them only in view. In truth, my dear Sir, we were far from considering you as the author of all the measures we blamed. They were placed under the protection of your name, but we were satisfied they wanted much of your approbation. We ascribed them to their real authors, the Pickerings, the Wolcotts, the Tracys, the Sedgwicks, et id genus omne, Edition: current; Page: [296] with whom we supposed you in a state of duresse. I well remember a conversation with you in the morning of the day on which you nominated to the Senate a substitute for Pickering, in which you expressed a just impatience under “the legacy of secretaries which General Washington had left you,” and whom you seemed, therefore, to consider as under public protection. Many other incidents showed how differently you would have acted with less impassioned advisers; and subsequent events have proved that your minds were not together. You would do me great injustice, therefore, by taking to yourself what was intended for men who were then your secret, as they are now your open enemies. Should you write on the subject, as you propose, I am sure we shall see you place yourself farther from them than from us.

As to myself, I shall take no part in any discussions. I leave others to judge of what I have done, and to give me exactly that place which they shall think I have occupied. Marshall has written libels on one side; others, I suppose, will be written on the other side; and the world will sift both and separate the truth as well as they can. I should see with reluctance the passions of that day rekindled in this, while so many of the actors are living, and all are too near the scene not to participate in sympathies with them. About facts you and I cannot differ; because truth is our mutual guide. And if any opinions you may express should be different from mine, I shall receive them with the liberality and indulgence which I ask for my own, and still Edition: current; Page: [297] cherish with warmth the sentiments of affectionate respect, of which I can with so much truth tender you the assurance.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
June 24, 1813
Monticello
John Wayles Eppes
Eppes, John Wayles

TO JOHN WAYLES EPPES

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—This letter will be on politics only. For although I do not often permit myself to think on that subject, it sometimes obtrudes itself, and suggests ideas which I am tempted to pursue. Some of these relating to the business of finance, I will hazard to you, as being at the head of that committee, but intended for yourself individually, or such as you trust, but certainly not for a mixed committee.

It is a wise rule and should be fundamental in a government disposed to cherish its credit, and at the same time to restrain the use of it within the limits of its faculties, “never to borrow a dollar without laying a tax in the same instant for paying the interest annually, and the principal within a given term; and to consider that tax as pledged to the creditors on the public faith.” On such a pledge as this, sacredly observed, a government may always command, on a reasonable interest, all the lendable money of their citizens, while the necessity of an equivalent tax is a salutary warning to them and their constituents against oppressions, bankruptcy, and its inevitable consequence, revolution. But the term of redemption must be moderate, and at any rate within the limits of their rightful powers. But what limits, it will be asked, does this prescribe to Edition: current; Page: [298] their powers? What is to hinder them from creating a perpetual debt? The laws of nature, I answer. The earth belongs to the living, not to the dead. The will and the power of man expire with his life, by nature’s law. Some societies give it an artificial continuance, for the encouragement of industry; some refuse it, as our aboriginal neighbors, whom we call barbarians. The generations of men may be considered as bodies or corporations. Each generation has the usufruct of the earth during the period of its continuance. When it ceases to exist, the usufruct passes on to the succeeding generation, free and unincumbered, and so on, successively, from one generation to another forever. We may consider each generation as a distinct nation, with a right, by the will of its majority, to bind themselves, but none to bind the succeeding generation, more than the inhabitants of another country. Or the case may be likened to the ordinary one of a tenant for life, who may hypothecate the land for his debts, during the continuance of his usufruct; but at his death, the reversioner (who is also for life only) receives it exonerated from all burthen. The period of a generation, or the term of its life, is determined by the laws of mortality, which, varying a little only in different climates, offer a general average, to be found by observation. I turn, for instance, to Buffon’s tables, of twenty-three thousand nine hundred and ninety-four deaths, and the ages at which they happened, and I find that of the numbers of all ages living at one moment, half will be dead in twenty-four years and eight months. But (leaving out minors, who Edition: current; Page: [299] have not the power of self-government) of the adults (of twenty-one years of age) living at one moment, a majority of whom act for the society, one half will be dead in eighteen years and eight months. At nineteen years then from the date of a contract, the majority of the contractors are dead, and their contract with them. Let this general theory be applied to a particular case. Suppose the annual births of the State of New York to be twenty-three thousand nine hundred and ninety-four, the whole number of its inhabitants, according to Buffon, will be six hundred and seventeen thousand seven hundred and three, of all ages. Of these there would constantly be two hundred and sixty-nine thousand two hundred and eighty-six minors, and three hundred and forty-eight thousand four hundred and seventeen adults, of which last, one hundred and seventy-four thousand two hundred and nine will be a majority. Suppose that majority, on the first day of the year 1794, had borrowed a sum of money equal to the fee-simple value of the State, and to have consumed it in eating, drinking and making merry in their day; or, if you please, in quarrelling and fighting with their unoffending neighbors. Within eighteen years and eight months, one half of the adult citizens were dead. Till then, being the majority, they might rightfully levy the interest of their debt annually on themselves and their fellow-revellers, or fellow-champions. But at that period, say at this moment, a new majority have come into place, in their own right, and not under the rights, the conditions, or laws of their predecessors. Are they bound to Edition: current; Page: [300] acknowledge the debt, to consider the preceding generation as having had a right to eat up the whole soil of their country, in the course of a life, to alienate it from them, (for it would be an alienation to the creditors,) and would they think themselves either legally or morally bound to give up their country and emigrate to another for subsistence? Every one will say no; that the soil is the gift of God to the living, as much as it had been to the deceased generation; and that the laws of nature impose no obligation on them to pay this debt. And although, like some other natural rights, this has not yet entered into any declaration of rights, it is no less a law, and ought to be acted on by honest governments. It is, at the same time, a salutary curb on the spirit of war and indebtment, which, since the modern theory of the perpetuation of debt, has drenched the earth with blood, and crushed its inhabitants under burthens ever accumulating. Had this principle been declared in the British bill of rights, England would have been placed under the happy disability of waging eternal war, and of contracting her thousand millions of public debt. In seeking, then, for an ultimate term for the redemption of our debts, let us rally to this principle, and provide for their payment within the term of nineteen years at the farthest. Our government has not, as yet, begun to act on the rule of loans and taxation going hand in hand. Had any loan taken place in my time, I should have strongly urged a redeeming tax. For the loan which has been made since the last session of Congress, we should now set the example of Edition: current; Page: [301] appropriating some particular tax, sufficient to pay the interest annually, and the principal within a fixed term, less than nineteen years. And I hope yourself and your committee will render the immortal service of introducing this practice. Not that it is expected that Congress should formally declare such a principle. They wisely enough avoid deciding on abstract questions. But they may be induced to keep themselves within its limits.

I am sorry to see our loans begin at so exorbitant an interest. And yet, even at that you will soon be at the bottom of the loan-bag. We are an agricultural nation. Such an one employs its sparings in the purchase or improvement of land or stocks. The lendable money among them is chiefly that of orphans and wards in the hands of executors and guardians, and that which the farmer lays by till he has enough for the purchase in view. In such a nation there is one and one only resource for loans, sufficient to carry them through the expense of a war; and that will always be sufficient, and in the power of an honest government, punctual in the preservation of its faith. The fund I mean, is the mass of circulating coin. Every one knows, that although not literally, it is nearly true, that every paper dollar emitted banishes a silver one from the circulation. A nation, therefore, making its purchases and payments with bills fitted for circulation, thrusts an equal sum of coin out of circulation. This is equivalent to borrowing that sum, and yet the vendor receiving payment in a medium as effectual as coin for his purchases or payments, has no Edition: current; Page: [302] claim to interest. And so the nation may continue to issue its bills as far as its wants require, and the limits of the circulation will admit. Those limits are understood to extend with us at present, to two hundred millions of dollars, a greater sum than would be necessary for any war. But this, the only resource which the government could command with certainty, the States have unfortunately fooled away, nay corruptly alienated to swindlers and shavers, under the cover of private banks. Say, too, as an additional evil, that the disposal funds of individuals, to this great amount, have thus been withdrawn from improvement and useful enterprise, and employed in the useless, usurious and demoralizing practices of bank directors and their accomplices. In the war of 1755, our State availed itself of this fund by issuing a paper money, bottomed on a specific tax for its redemption, and, to insure its credit, bearing an interest of five per cent. Within a very short time, not a bill of this emission was to be found in circulation. It was locked up in the chests of executors, guardians, widows, farmers, &c. We then issued bills bottomed on a redeeming tax, but bearing no interest. These were readily received, and never depreciated a single farthing. In the revolutionary war, the old Congress and the States issued bills without interest, and without tax. They occupied the channels of circulation very freely, till those channels were overflowed by an excess beyond all the calls of circulation. But although we have so improvidently suffered the field of circulating medium to be filched from us by private individuals, Edition: current; Page: [303] yet I think we may recover it in part, and even in the whole, if the States will co-operate with us. If treasury bills are emitted on a tax appropriated for their redemption in fifteen years, and (to insure preference in the first moments of competition) bearing an interest of six per cent. there is no one who would not take them in preference to the bank paper now afloat, on a principle of patriotism as well as interest; and they would be withdrawn from circulation into private hoards to a considerable amount. Their credit once established, others might be emitted, bottomed also on a tax, but not bearing interest; and if ever their credit faltered, open public loans, on which these bills alone should be received as specie. These, operating as a sinking fund, would reduce the quantity in circulation, so as to maintain that in an equilibrium with specie. It is not easy to estimate the obstacles which, in the beginning, we should encounter in ousting the banks from their possession of the circulation; but a steady and judicious alternation of emissions and loans, would reduce them in time. But while this is going on, another measure should be pressed, to recover ultimately our right to the circulation. The States should be applied to, to transfer the right of issuing circulating paper to Congress exclusively, in perpetuum, if possible, but during the war at least, with a saving of charter rights. I believe that every State west and South of Connecticut river, except Delaware, would immediately do it; and the others would follow in time. Congress would, of course, begin by obliging unchartered banks to wind up their affairs Edition: current; Page: [304] within a short time, and the others as their charters expired, forbidding the subsequent circulation of their paper. This they would supply with their own, bottomed, every emission, on an adequate tax, and bearing or not bearing interest, as the state of the public pulse should indicate. Even in the non-complying States, these bills would make their way, and supplant the unfunded paper of their banks, by their solidity, by the universality of their currency, and by their receivability for customs and taxes. It would be in their power, too, to curtail those banks to the amount of their actual specie, by gathering up their paper, and running it constantly on them. The national paper might thus take place even in the non-complying States. In this way, I am not without a hope, that this great, this sole resource for loans in an agricultural country, might yet be recovered for the use of the nation during war; and, if obtained in perpetuum, it would always be sufficient to carry us through any war; provided, that in the interval between war and war, all the outstanding paper should be called in, coin be permitted to flow in again, and to hold the field of circulation until another war should require its yielding place again to the national medium.

But it will be asked, are we to have no banks? Are merchants and others to be deprived of the resource of short accommodations, found so convenient? I answer, let us have banks; but let them be such as are alone to be found in any country on earth, except Great Britain. There is not a bank of discount on the continent of Europe, (at least Edition: current; Page: [305] there was not one when I was there,) which offers anything but cash in exchange for discounted bills. No one has a natural right to the trade of a money lender, but he who has the money to lend. Let those then among us, who have a monied capital, and who prefer employing it in loans rather than otherwise, set up banks, and give cash or national bills for the notes they discount. Perhaps, to encourage them, a larger interest than is legal in the other cases might be allowed them, on the condition of their lending for short periods only. It is from Great Britain we copy the idea of giving paper in exchange for discounted bills; and while we have derived from that country some good principles of government and legislation, we unfortunately run into the most servile imitation of all her practices, ruinous as they prove to her, and with the gulph yawning before us into which these very practices are precipitating her. The unlimited emission of bank paper has banished all her specie, and is now, by a depreciation acknowledged by her own statesmen, carrying her rapidly to bankruptcy, as it did France, as it did us, and will do us again, and every country permitting paper to be circulated, other than that by public authority, rigorously limited to the just measure for circulation. Private fortunes, in the present state of our circulation, are at the mercy of those self-created money lenders, and are prostrated by the floods of nominal money with which their avarice deluges us. He who lent his money to the public or to an individual, before the institution of the United States Bank, twenty years ago, when Edition: current; Page: [306] wheat was well sold at a dollar the bushel, and receives now his nominal sum when it sells at two dollars, is cheated of half his fortune; and by whom? By the banks, which, since that, have thrown into circulation ten dollars of their nominal money where was one at that time.

Reflect, if you please, on these ideas, and use them or not as they appear to merit. They comfort me in the belief, that they point out a resource ample enough, without overwhelming war taxes, for the expense of the war, and possibly still recoverable; and that they hold up to all future time a resource within ourselves, ever at the command of government, and competent to any wars into which we may be forced. Nor is it a slight object to equalize taxes through peace and war.1 Ever affectionately yours.

Edition: current; Page: [307]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
August 17, 1813
Monticello
John Wilson
Wilson, John

TO JOHN WILSON

j. mss.
Sir,

—Your letter of the 3d has been duly received. That of Mr. Eppes had before come to hand, covering your MS. on the reformation of the orthography Edition: current; Page: [308] of the plural of nouns ending in y and ey, and on orthoepy. A change has been long desired in English orthography, such as might render it an easy and true index of the pronunciation of words. The Edition: current; Page: [309] want of conformity between the combinations of letters, and the sounds they should represent, increases to foreigners the difficulty of acquiring the language, occasions great loss of time to children in learning Edition: current; Page: [310] to read, and renders correct spelling rare but in those who read much. In England a variety of plans and propositions have been made for the reformation of their orthography. Passing over these, two of our Edition: current; Page: [311] countrymen, Dr. Franklin and Dr. Thornton, have also engaged in the enterprise; the former proposing an addition of two or three new characters only, the latter a reformation of the whole alphabet nearly. Edition: current; Page: [312] But these attempts in England, as well as here, have been without effect. About the middle of the last century an attempt was made to banish the letter d from the words bridge, judge, hedge, knowledge, &c., Edition: current; Page: [313] others of that termination, and to write them as we write age, cage, sacrilege, privilege; but with little success. The attempt was also made, which you mention in your second part, to drop the letter u in Edition: current; Page: [314] words of Latin derivation ending in our, and to write honor, candor, rigor, &c., instead of honour, candour, rigour. But the u having been picked up in the passage of these words from the Latin, through the Edition: current; Page: [315] French, to us, is still preserved by those who consider it as a memorial of our title to the words. Other partial attempts have been made by individual writers, but with as little success. Pluralizing Edition: current; Page: [316] nouns in y, and ey, by adding s only, as you propose, would certainly simplify the spelling, and be analogous to the general idiom of the language. It would be a step gained in the progress of general Edition: current; Page: [317] reformation, if it could prevail. But my opinion being requested I must give it candidly, that judging of the future by the past, I expect no better fortune to this than similar preceding propositions have Edition: current; Page: [318] experienced. It is very difficult to persuade the great body of mankind to give up what they have once learned, and are now masters of, for something to be learnt anew. Time alone insensibly wears down old Edition: current; Page: [319] habits, and produces small changes at long intervals, and to this process we must all accommodate ourselves, and be content to follow those who will not follow us. Our Anglo-Saxon ancestors had twenty ways Edition: current; Page: [320] of spelling the word “many.” Ten centuries have dropped all of them and substituted that which we now use. I now return your MS. without being able, with the gentlemen whose letters are cited, to Edition: current; Page: [321] encourage hope as to its effect. I am bound, however, to acknowledge that this is a subject to which I have not paid much attention; and that my doubts therefore should weigh nothing against their more favorable expectations. That these may be fulfilled, Edition: current; Page: [322] and mine prove unfounded, I sincerely wish, because I am a friend to the reformation generally of whatever can be made better, and because it could not fail of gratifying you to be instrumental in this work. Accept the assurance of my respect.

Edition: current; Page: [323]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
August 22, 1813
Monticello
John Adams
Adams, John

TO JOHN ADAMS

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Since my letter of June the 27th, I am in your debt for many; all of which I have read Edition: current; Page: [324] with infinite delight. They open a wide field for reflection, and offer subjects enough to occupy the mind and the pen indefinitely. I must follow the good example you have set, and when I have not Edition: current; Page: [325] time to take up every subject, take up a single one. Your approbation of my outline to Dr. Priestley is a great gratification to me; and I very much suspect that if thinking men would have the courage Edition: current; Page: [326] to think for themselves, and to speak what they think, it would be found they do not differ in religious opinions as much as is supposed. I remember to have heard Dr. Priestley say, that if all England Edition: current; Page: [327] would candidly examine themselves, and confess, they would find that Unitarianism was really the religion of all; and I observe a bill is now depending in parliament for the relief of Anti-Trinitarians. Edition: current; Page: [328] It is too late in the day for men of sincerity to pretend they believe in the Platonic mysticisms that three are one, and one is three; and yet that the one is not three, and the three are not one; to Edition: current; Page: [329] divide mankind by a single letter into ομο[Editor: illegible Greek word]σιανς and ὁμοι[Editor: illegible Greek word]σιανς. But this constitutes the craft, the power and the profit of the priests. Sweep away their gossamer fabrics of factitious religion, and they Edition: current; Page: [330] would catch no more flies. We should all then, like the Quakers, live without an order of priests, moralize for ourselves, follow the oracle of conscience, and say nothing about what no man can understand, nor Edition: current; Page: [331] therefore believe; for I suppose belief to be the assent of the mind to an intelligible proposition.

It is with great pleasure I can inform you, that Priestley finished the comparative view of the Edition: current; Page: [332] doctrines of the philosophers of antiquity, and of Jesus, before his death; and that it was printed soon after. And, with still greater pleasure, that I can have a copy of his work forwarded from Philadelphia, by a correspondent there, and presented for your acceptance, by the same mail which carries you this, or very soon after. The branch of the work which the title announces, is executed with learning and candor, as was everything Priestley wrote, but perhaps a little hastily; for he felt himself pressed by the hand of death. The Abbé Batteux had, in fact laid the foundation of this part in his Causes Premieres, with which he has given us the originals of Ocellus and Timæus, who first committed the doctrines of Pythagoras to writing, and Enfield, to whom the Doctor refers, had done it more copiously. But he has omitted the important branch, which, in your letter of August the 9th, you say you have never seen executed, a comparison of the morality of the Old Testament with that of the New. And yet, no two things were ever more unlike. I ought not to have asked him to give it. He dared not. He would have been eaten alive by his intolerant Edition: current; Page: [333] brethren, the Cannibal priests. And yet, this was really the most interesting branch of the work.

Very soon after my letter to Doctor Priestley, the subject being still in my mind I had leisure during an abstraction from business for a day or two, while on the road, to think a little more on it, and to sketch more fully than I had done to him, a syllabus of the matter which I thought should enter into the work. I wrote it to Doctor Rush, and there ended all my labor on the subject; himself and Doctor Priestley being the only two depositories of my secret. The fate of my letter to Priestley, after his death, was a warning to me on that of Doctor Rush; and at my request, his family were so kind as to quiet me by returning my original letter and syllabus. By this, you will be sensible how much interest I take in keeping myself clear of religious disputes before the public, and especially of seeing my syllabus disembowelled by the Aruspices of the modern Paganism. Yet I enclose it to you with entire confidence, free to be perused by yourself and Mrs. Adams, but by no one else, and to be returned to me.

You are right in supposing, in one of yours, that I had not read much of Priestley’s Predestination, his no-soul system, or his controversy with Horsley. But I have read his Corruptions of Christianity, and Early Opinions of Jesus, over and over again; and I rest on them, and on Middleton’s writings, especially his letters from Rome, and to Waterland, as the basis of my own faith. These writings have never been answered, nor can be answered by quoting Edition: current; Page: [334] historical proofs, as they have done. For these facts, therefore, I cling to their learning, so much superior to my own.

I now fly off in a tangent to another subject. Marshall, in the first volume of his history, chapter 3, p. 180, ascribes the petition to the King, of 1774, (1 Journ. Cong. 67) to the pen of Richard Henry Lee. I think myself certain it was not written by him, as well from what I recollect to have heard, as from the internal evidence of style. His was loose, vague, frothy, rhetorical. He was a poorer writer than his brother Arthur; and Arthur’s standing may be seen in his Monitor’s letters, to insure the sale of which, they took the precaution of tacking to them a new edition of the Farmer’s letters, like Mezentius, who “mortua jungebat corpora vivis.” You were of the committee, and can tell me who wrote this petition and who wrote the address to the inhabitants of the colonies, ib. 45. Of the papers of July 1775, I recollect well that Mr. Dickinson drew the petition to the King, ib. 149; I think Robert R. Livingston drew the address to the inhabitants of Great Britain, ib. 152. Am I right in this? And who drew the address to the people of Ireland, ib. 180? On these questions I ask of your memory to help mine. Ever and affectionately yours.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Sep. 18. 13
Monticello
Josiah Meigs
Meigs, Josiah

TO JOSIAH MEIGS

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I thank you for the information contained in your letter of Aug. 25. I confess that when Edition: current; Page: [335] I heard of the atrocities committed by the English troops at Hampton, I did not believe them, but subsequent evidence has placed them beyond doubt. To this has been added information from another quarter which proves the violation of women to be their habitual practice in war. Mr. Hamilton, a son of Alexander Hamilton, of course, a federalist and Angloman, and who was with the British army in Spain declares it is their constant practice, and that at the taking Badajoz, he was himself eye-witness to it in the streets, & that the officers did not attempt to restrain it. The information contained in your letter proves it is not merely a recent practice. This is a trait of barbarism, in addition to their encouragement of the savage cruelties, & their brutal treatment of prisoners of war, which I had not attached to their character.

I am happy to hear that yourself & family enjoy good health & tender you the assurance of my great esteem & respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
September 20, 1813
Monticello
James Martin
Martin, James

TO JAMES MARTIN

j. mss.
Sir,

—Your letter of August 20th, enabled me to turn to mine of February 23d, 1798, and your former one of February 22d,1801, and to recall to my memory the oration at Jamaica, which was the subject of them. I see with pleasure a continuance of the same sound principles in the address to Mr. Quincy. Your quotation from the former paper alludes, as I presume, to the term of office to our Senate; a term, Edition: current; Page: [336] like that of the judges, too long for my approbation. I am for responsibilities at short periods, seeing neither reason nor safety in making public functionaries independent of the nation for life, or even for long terms of years. On this principle I prefer the Presidential term of four years, to that of seven years, which I myself had at first suggested, annexing to it, however, ineligibility forever after; and I wish it were now annexed to the 2d quadrennial election of President.

The conduct of Massachusetts, which is the subject of your address to Mr. Quincy, is serious, as embarassing the operations of the war, and jeopardizing its issue; and still more so, as an example of contumacy against the Constitution. One method of proving their purpose, would be to call a convention of their State, and to require them to declare themselves members of the Union, and obedient to its determinations, or not members, and let them go. Put this question solemnly to their people, and their answer cannot be doubtful. One half of them are republicans, and would cling to the Union from principle. Of the other half, the dispassionate part would consider, 1st. That they do not raise bread sufficient for their own subsistence, and must look to Europe for the deficiency, if excluded from our ports, which vital interests would force us to do. 2d. That they are navigating people without a stick of timber for the hull of a ship, nor a pound of anything to export in it, which would be admitted at any market. 3d. That they are also a manufacturing people, and left by the exclusive system of Edition: current; Page: [337] Europe without a market but ours. 4th. That as the rivals of England in manufactures, in commerce, in navigation, and fisheries, they would meet her competition in every point. 5th. That England would feel no scruples in making the abandonment and ruin of such a rival the price of a treaty with the producing States; whose interest too it would be to nourish a navigation beyond the Atlantic, rather than a hostile one at our own door. And 6th. That in case of war with the Union, which occurrences between coterminous nations frequently produce, it would be a contest of one against fifteen. The remaining portion of the Federal moiety of the State would, I believe, brave all these obstacles, because they are monarchists in principle, bearing deadly hatred to their republican fellow-citizens, impatient under the ascendency of republican principles, devoted in their attachment to England, and preferring to be placed under her despotism, if they cannot hold the helm of government here. I see, in their separation, no evil but the example, and I believe that the effect of that would be corrected by an early and humiliating return to the Union, after losing much of the population of their country, insufficient in its own resources to feed her numerous inhabitants, and inferior in all its allurements to the more inviting soils, climates, and governments of the other States. Whether a dispassionate discussion before the public, of the advantages and disadvantages of separation to both parties, would be the best medicine for this dialytic fever, or to consider it as sacrilege ever to touch the question, may be doubted. I am, Edition: current; Page: [338] myself, generally disposed to indulge, and to follow reason; and believe that in no case would it be safer than in the present. Their refractory course, however, will not be unpunished by the indignation of their co-States, their loss of influence with them, the censures of history, and the stain on the character of their State. With my thanks for the paper enclosed, accept the assurance of my esteem and respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
October 3, 1813
Monticello
Doctor George Logan
Logan, Doctor George

TO DOCTOR GEORGE LOGAN

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I have duly received your favor of September 18th, and I perceive in it the same spirit of peace which I know you have ever breathed, and to preserve which you have made many personal sacrifices. That your efforts did much towards preventing declared war with France, I am satisfied. Of those with England, I am not equally informed. I have ever cherished the same spirit with all nations, from a consciousness that peace, prosperity, liberty, and morals, have an intimate connection. During the eight years of my administration, there was not a year that England did not give us such cause as would have provoked a war from any European government. But I always hoped that time and friendly remonstrances would bring her to a sounder view of her own interests, and convince her that these would be promoted by a return to justice and friendship towards us. Continued impressments of our seamen by her naval commanders, whose Edition: current; Page: [339] interest it was to mistake them for theirs, her innovations on the law of nations to cover real piracies, could illy be borne; and perhaps would not have been borne, had not contraventions of the same law by France, fewer in number but equally illegal, rendered it difficult to single the object of war. England, at length, singled herself, and took up the gauntlet, when the unlawful decrees of France being revoked as to us, she, by the proclamation of her Prince Regent, protested to the world that she would never revoke hers until those of France should be removed as to all nations. Her minister, too, about the same time, in an official conversation with our Chargé, rejected our substitute for her practice of impressment; proposed no other; and declared explicitly that no admissible one for this abuse could be proposed. Negotiation being thus cut short, no alternative remained but war, or the abandonment of the persons and property of our citizens on the ocean. The last one, I presume, no American would have preferred. War was therefore declared, and justly declared; but accompanied with immediate offers of peace on simply doing us justice. These offers were made through Russel, through Admiral Warren, through the government of Canada, and the mediation proposed by her best friend Alexander, and the greatest enemy of Bonaparte, was accepted without hesitation. An entire confidence in the abilities and integrity of those now administering the government, has kept me from the inclination, as well as the occasion, of intermeddling in the public affairs, even as a private citizen may Edition: current; Page: [340] justifiably do. Yet if you can suggest any conditions which we ought to accept, and which have not been repeatedly offered and rejected, I would not hesitate to become the channel of their communication to the administration. The revocation of the orders of council, and discontinuance of impressment, appear to me indispensable. And I think a thousand ships taken unjustifiably in time of peace, and thousands of our citizens impressed, warrant expectations of indemnification; such a Western frontier, perhaps, given to Canada, as may put it out of their power hereafter to employ the tomahawk and scalpingknife of the Indians on our women and children; or, what would be nearly equivalent, the exclusive right to the lakes. The modification, however, of this indemnification must be effected by the events of the war. No man on earth has stronger detestation than myself of the unprincipled tyrant who is deluging the continent of Europe with blood. No one was more gratified by his disasters of the last campaign; nor wished, more sincerely, success to the efforts of the virtuous Alexander. But the desire of seeing England forced to just terms of peace with us, makes me equally solicitous for her entire exclusion from intercourse with the rest of the world, until by this peaceable engine of constraint, she can be made to 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. Should the continental armistice issue in closing Edition: current; Page: [341] Europe against her, she may become willing to accede to just terms with us; which I should certainly be disposed to meet, whatever consequences it might produce on our intercourse with the continental nations. My principle is to do whatever is right, and leave consequences to Him who has the disposal of them. I repeat, therefore, that if you can suggest what may lead to a just peace, I will willingly communicate it to the proper functionaries. In the meantime, its object will be best promoted by a vigorous and unanimous prosecution of the war.

I am happy in this occasion of renewing the interchange of sentiments between us, which has formerly been a source of much satisfaction to me; and with the homage of my affectionate attachment and respect to Mrs. Logan, I pray you to accept the assurance of my continued friendship and esteem for yourself.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
October 28, 1813
Monticello
John Adams
Adams, John

TO JOHN ADAMS

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—According to the reservation between us, of taking up one of the subjects of our correspondence at a time, I turn to your letters of August the 16th and September the 2d.

The passage you quote from Theognis, I think has an ethical rather than a political object. The whole piece is a moral exhortation, παραινεσις, and this passage particularly seems to be a reproof to man, who while with his domestic animals he is curious to improve the race, by employing always the finest Edition: current; Page: [342] male, pays no attention to the improvement of his own race, but intermarries with the vicious, the ugly, or the old, for considerations of wealth or ambition. It is in conformity with the principle adopted afterwards by the Pythagoreans, and expressed by Ocellus in another form; περι δε τῆς ἐϰ τῶν αλληλων ανθρωπων γενεσεως &c.—ουχ ηδονης ενεϰα η μιξις: which, as literally as intelligibility will admit, may be thus translated: “concerning the interprocreation of men, how, and of whom it shall be, in a perfect manner, and according to the laws of modesty and sanctity, conjointly, this is what I think right. First to lay it down that we do not commix for the sake of pleasure, but of the procreation of children. For the powers, the organs and desires for coition have not been given by God to man for the sake of pleasure, but for the procreation of the race. For as it were incongruous, for a mortal born to partake of divine life, the immortality of the race being taken away, God fulfilled the purpose by making the generations uninterrupted and continuous. This, therefore, we are especially to lay down as a principle, that coition is not for the sake of pleasure.” But nature, not trusting to this moral and abstract motive, seems to have provided more securely for the perpetuation of the species, by making it the effect of the oestrum implanted in the constitution of both sexes. And not only has the commerce of love been indulged on this unhallowed impulse, but made subservient also to wealth and ambition by marriage, without regard to the beauty, the healthiness, the understanding, or virtue of the subject from which we are to breed. The Edition: current; Page: [343] selecting the best male for a Harem of well chosen females also, which Theognis seems to recommend from the example of our sheep and asses, would doubtless improve the human, as it does the brute animal, and produce a race of veritable αριστοι. For experience proves, that the moral and physical qualities of man, whether good or evil, are transmissible in a certain degree from father to son. But I suspect that the equal rights of men will rise up against this privileged Solomon and his Harem, and oblige us to continue acquiescence under the “Αμαυρωσις γενεος αστων” which Theognis complains of, and to content ourselves with the accidental aristoi produced by the fortuitous concourse of breeders. For I agree with you that there is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds of this are virtue and talents. Formerly, bodily powers gave place among the aristoi. But since the invention of gunpowder has armed the weak as well as the strong with missile death, bodily strength, like beauty, good humor, politeness and other accomplishments, has become but an auxiliary ground for distinction. There is also an artificial aristocracy, founded on wealth and birth, without either virtue or talents; for with these it would belong to the first class. The natural aristocracy I consider as the most precious gift of nature, for the instruction, the trusts, and government of society. And indeed, it would have been inconsistent in creation to have formed man for the social state, and not to have provided virtue and wisdom enough to manage the concerns of the society. May we not even say, that that form of Edition: current; Page: [344] government is the best, which provides the most effectually for a pure selection of these natural aristoi into the offices of government? The artificial aristocracy is a mischievous ingredient in government, and provision should be made to prevent its ascendency. On the question, what is the best provision, you and I differ; but we differ as rational friends, using the free exercise of our own reason, and mutually indulging its errors. You think it best to put the pseudo-aristoi into a separate chamber of legislation, where they may be hindered from doing mischief by their co-ordinate branches, and where, also, they may be a protection to wealth against the Agrarian and plundering enterprises of the majority of the people. I think that to give them power in order to prevent them from doing mischief, is arming them for it, and increasing instead of remedying the evil. For if the co-ordinate branches can arrest their action, so may they that of the co-ordinates. Mischief may be done negatively as well as positively. Of this, a cabal in the Senate of the United States has furnished many proofs. Nor do I believe them necessary to protect the wealthy; because enough of these will find their way into every branch of the legislation, to protect themselves. From fifteen to twenty legislatures of our own, in action for thirty years past, have proved that no fears of an equalization of property are to be apprehended from them. I think the best remedy is exactly that provided by all our constitutions, to leave to the citizens the free election and separation of the aristoi from the pseudo-aristoi, of the wheat from the chaff. In general they Edition: current; Page: [345] will elect the really good and wise. In some instances, wealth may corrupt, and birth blind them; but not in sufficient degree to endanger the society.

It is probable that our difference of opinion may, in some measure, be produced by a difference of character in those among whom we live. From what I have seen of Massachusetts and Connecticut myself, and still more from what I have heard, and the character given of the former by yourself, who know them so much better, there seems to be in those two States a traditionary reverence for certain families, which has rendered the offices of the government nearly hereditary in those families. I presume that from an early period of your history, members of those families happening to possess virtue and talents, have honestly exercised them for the good of the people, and by their services have endeared their names to them. In coupling Connecticut with you, I mean it politically only, not morally. For having made the Bible the common law of their land, they seemed to have modeled their morality on the story of Jacob and Laban. But although this hereditary succession to office with you, may, in some degree, be founded in real family merit, yet in a much higher degree, it has proceeded from your strict alliance of Church and State. These families are canonised in the eyes of the people on common principles, “you tickle me, and I will tickle you.” In Virginia we have nothing of this. Our clergy, before the revolution, having been secured against rivalship by fixed salaries, did not give themselves the trouble of acquiring influence over the people. Of wealth, there Edition: current; Page: [346] were great accumulations in particular families, handed down from generation to generation, under the English law of entails. But the only object of ambition for the wealthy was a seat in the King’s Council. All their court then was paid to the crown and its creatures; and they Philipised in all collisions between the King and the people. Hence they were unpopular; and that unpopularity continues attached to their names. A Randolph, a Carter, or a Burwell must have great personal superiority over a common competitor to be elected by the people even at this day. At the first session of our legislature after the Declaration of Independence, we passed a law abolishing entails. And this was followed by one abolishing the privilege of primogeniture, and dividing the lands of intestates equally among all their children, or other representatives. These laws, drawn by myself, laid the ax to the foot of pseudo-aristocracy. And had another which I prepared been adopted by the legislature, our work would have been complete. It was a bill for the more general diffusion of learning. This proposed to divide every county into wards of five or six miles square, like your townships; to establish in each ward a free school for reading, writing and common arithmetic; to provide for the annual selection of the best subjects from these schools, who might receive, at the public expense, a higher degree of education at a district school; and from these district schools to select a certain number of the most promising subjects, to be completed at an University, where all the useful sciences should be taught. Worth and Edition: current; Page: [347] genius would thus have been sought out from every condition of life, and completely prepared by education for defeating the competition of wealth and birth for public trusts. My proposition had, for a further object, to impart to these wards those portions of self-government for which they are best qualified, by confiding to them the care of their poor, their roads, police, elections, the nomination of jurors, administration of justice in small cases, elementary exercises of militia; in short, to have made them little republics, with a warden at the head of each, for all those concerns which, being under their eye, they would better manage than the larger republics of the county or State. A general call of ward meetings by their wardens on the same day through the State, would at any time produce the genuine sense of the people on any required point, and would enable the State to act in mass, as your people have so often done, and with so much effect by their town meetings. The law for religious freedom, which made a part of this system, having put down the aristocracy of the clergy, and restored to the citizen the freedom of the mind, and those of entails and descents nurturing an equality of condition among them, this on education would have raised the mass of the people to the high ground of moral respectability necessary to their own safety, and to orderly government; and would have completed the great object of qualifying them to select the veritable aristoi, for the trusts of government, to the exclusion of the pseudalists; and the same Theognis who has furnished the epigraphs of your two Edition: current; Page: [348] letters, assures us that “Ουδεμιαν πω, Κυρν,’ αγαθοι πολιν ωλεσαν ανδρες.” Although this law has not yet been acted on but in a small and inefficient degree, it is still considered as before the legislature, with other bills of the revised code, not yet taken up, and I have great hope that some patriotic spirit will, at a favorable moment, call it up, and make it the key-stone of the arch of our government.

With respect to aristocracy, we should further consider, that before the establishment of the American States, nothing was known to history but the man of the old world, crowded within limits either small or overcharged, and steeped in the vices which that situation generates. A government adapted to such men would be one thing; but a very different one, that for the man of these States. Here every one may have land to labor for himself, if he chooses; or, preferring the exercise of any other industry, may exact for it such compensation as not only to afford a comfortable subsistence, but wherewith to provide for a cessation from labor in old age. Every one, by his property, or by his satisfactory situation, is interested in the support of law and order. And such men may safely and advantageously reserve to themselves a wholesome control over their public affairs, and a degree of freedom, which, in the hands of the canaille of the cities of Europe, would be instantly perverted to the demolition and destruction of everything public and private. The history of the last twenty-five years of France, and of the last forty years in America, nay of its last two hundred years, proves the truth of both parts of this observation.

Edition: current; Page: [349]

But even in Europe a change has sensibly taken place in the mind of man. Science had liberated the ideas of those who read and reflect, and the American example had kindled feelings of right in the people. An insurrection has consequently begun, of science, talents, and courage, against rank and birth, which have fallen into contempt. It has failed in its first effort, because the mobs of the cities, the instrument used for its accomplishment, debased by ignorance, poverty and vice, could not be restrained to rational action. But the world will recover from the panic of this first catastrophe. Science is progressive, and talents and enterprise on the alert. Resort may be had to the people of the country, a more governable power from their principles and subordination; and rank, and birth, and tinsel-aristocracy will finally shrink into insignificance, even there. This, however, we have no right to meddle with. It suffices for us, if the moral and physical condition of our own citizens qualifies them to select the able and good for the direction of their government, with a recurrence of elections at such short periods as will enable them to displace an unfaithful servant, before the mischief he meditates may be irremediable.

I have thus stated my opinion on a point on which we differ, not with a view to controversy, for we are both too old to change opinions which are the result of a long life of inquiry and reflection; but on the suggestions of a former letter of yours, that we ought not to die before we have explained ourselves to each other. We acted in perfect harmony, Edition: current; Page: [350] through a long and perilous contest for our liberty and independence. A constitution has been acquired, which, though neither of us thinks perfect, yet both consider as competent to render our fellow citizens the happiest and the securest on whom the sun has ever shone. If we do not think exactly alike as to its imperfections, it matters little to our country, which, after devoting to it long lives of disinterested labor, we have delivered over to our successors in life, who will be able to take care of it and of themselves.

Of the pamphlet on aristocracy which has been sent to you, or who may be its author, I have heard nothing but through your letter. If the person you suspect, it may be known from the quaint, mystical, and hyperbolical ideas, involved in affected, newfangled and pedantic terms which stamp his writings. Whatever it be, I hope your quiet is not to be affected at this day by the rudeness or intemperance of scribblers; but that you may continue in tranquillity to live and to rejoice in the prosperity of our country, until it shall be your own wish to take your seat among the aristoi who have gone before you. Ever and affectionately yours.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
December 6, 1813
Baron von Humboldt
Humboldt, von Baron

TO BARON VON HUMBOLDT

j. mss.
My Dear Friend and Baron,

—I have to acknowledge your two letters of December 20 and 26, 1811, by Mr. Correa, and am first to thank you for Edition: current; Page: [351] making me acquainted with that most excellent character. He was so kind as to visit me at Monticello, and I found him one of the most learned and amiable of men. It was a subject of deep regret to separate from so much worth in the moment of its becoming known to us.

The livraison of your astronomical observations, and the 6th and 7th on the subject of New Spain, with the corresponding atlasses, are duly received, as had been the preceding cahiers. For these treasures of a learning so interesting to us, accept my sincere thanks. I think it most fortunate that your travels in those countries were so timed as to make them known to the world in the moment they were about to become actors on its stage. That they will throw off their European dependence I have no doubt; but in what kind of government their revolution will end I am not so certain. History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance, of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes. The vicinity of New Spain to the United States, and their consequent intercourse, may furnish schools for the higher, and example for the lower classes of their citizens. And Mexico, where we learn from you that men of science are not wanting, may revolutionize itself under better auspices than the Southern provinces. These last, I fear, must end in military despotisms. The different casts of their inhabitants, their mutual hatreds and jealousies, their profound ignorance and bigotry, will be Edition: current; Page: [352] played off by cunning leaders, and each be made the instrument of enslaving others. But of all this you can best judge, for in truth we have little knowledge of them to be depended on, but through you. But in whatever governments they end they will be American governments, no longer to be involved in the never-ceasing broils of Europe. The European nations constitute a separate division of the globe; their localities make them part of a distinct system; they have a set of interests of their own in which it is our business never to engage ourselves. America has a hemisphere to itself. It must have its separate system of interests, which must not be subordinated to those of Europe. The insulated state in which nature has placed the American continent, should so far avail it that no spark of war kindled in the other quarters of the globe should be wafted across the wide oceans which separate us from them. And it will be so. In fifty years more the United States alone will contain fifty millions of inhabitants, and fifty years are soon gone over. The peace of 1763 is within that period. I was then twenty years old, and of course remember well all the transactions of the war preceding it. And you will live to see the epoch now equally ahead of us; and the numbers which will then be spread over the other parts of the American hemisphere, catching long before that the principles of our portion of it, and concurring with us in the maintenance of the same system. You see how readily we run into ages beyond the grave; and even those of us to whom that grave is already opening its quiet bosom. I am anticipating events of Edition: current; Page: [353] which you will be the bearer to me in the Elysian fields fifty years hence.

You know, my friend, the benevolent plan we were pursuing here for the happiness of the aboriginal inhabitants in our vicinities. We spared nothing to keep them at peace with one another. To teach them agriculture and the rudiments of the most necessary arts, and to encourage industry by establishing among them separate property. In this way they would have been enabled to subsist and multiply on a moderate scale of landed possession. They would have mixed their blood with ours, and been amalgamated and identified with us within no distant period of time. On the commencement of our present war, we pressed on them the observance of peace and neutrality, but the interested and unprincipled policy of England has defeated all our labors for the salvation of these unfortunate people. They have seduced the greater part of the tribes within our neighborhood, to take up the hatchet against us, and the cruel massacres they have committed on the women and children of our frontiers taken by surprise, will oblige us now to pursue them to extermination, or drive them to new seats beyond our reach. Already we have driven their patrons and seducers into Montreal, and the opening season will force them to their last refuge, the walls of Quebec. We have cut off all possibility of intercourse and of mutual aid, and may pursue at our leisure whatever plan we find necessary to secure ourselves against the future effects of their savage and ruthless warfare. The confirmed brutalization, if not the Edition: current; Page: [354] extermination of this race in our America, is therefore to form an additional chapter in the English history of the same colored man in Asia, and of the brethren of their own color in Ireland, and wherever else Anglo-mercantile cupidity can find a two-penny interest in deluging the earth with human blood. But let us turn from the loathsome contemplation of the degrading effects of commercial avarice.

That their Arrowsmith should have stolen your Map of Mexico, was in the piratical spirit of his country. But I should be sincerely sorry if our Pike has made an ungenerous use of your candid communications here; and the more so as he died in the arms of victory gained over the enemies of his country. Whatever he did was on a principle of enlarging knowledge, and not for filthy shillings and pence of which he made none from that work. If what he has borrowed has any effect it will be to excite an appeal in his readers from his defective information to the copious volumes of it with which you have enriched the world. I am sorry he omitted even to acknowledge the source of his information. It has been an oversight, and not at all in the spirit of his generous nature. Let me solicit your forgiveness then of a deceased hero, of an honest and zealous patriot, who lived and died for his country.

You will find it inconceivable that Lewis’s journey to the Pacific should not yet have appeared; nor is it in my power to tell you the reason. The measures taken by his surviving companion, Clarke, for the publication, have not answered our wishes in point of despatch. I think, however, from what I have Edition: current; Page: [355] heard, that the mere journal will be out within a few weeks in two volumes 8vo. These I will take care to send you with the tobacco seed you desired, if it be possible for them to escape the thousand ships of our enemies spread over the ocean. The botanical and zoological discoveries of Lewis will probably experience greater delay, and become known to the world through other channels before that volume will be ready. The Atlas, I believe, waits on the leisure of the engraver.

Although I do not know whether you are now at Paris or ranging the regions of Asia to acquire more knowledge for the use of men, I cannot deny myself the gratification of an endeavor to recall myself to your recollection, and of assuring you of my constant attachment, and of renewing to you the just tribute of my affectionate esteem and high respect and consideration.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Nov. 6, 13
Monticello
Thomas Law
Law, Thomas

TO THOMAS LAW

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Your favor of Oct. 1. came duly to hand, and in it the Memorial which I now return. I like well your idea of issuing treasury notes bearing interest, because I am persuaded they would soon be withdrawn from circulation and locked up in vaults & private hoards. It would put it in the power of every man to lend his 100. or 1000 d. tho’ not able to go forward on the great scale, and be the most advantageous way of obtaining a loan. The other idea of creating a National bank, I do not concur in, Edition: current; Page: [356] because it seems now decided that Congress has not that power, (altho’ I sincerely wish they had it exclusively) and because I think there is already a vast redundancy, rather than a scarcity of paper medium. The rapid rise in the nominal price of land and labor (while war & blockade should produce a fall) proves the progressive state of the depreciation of our medium. Ever with great esteem and respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Nov. 30, 13
Marquis de Lafayette
Lafayette, Marquis de

TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE

j. mss.
My Dear Friend,

—The last letters I received from you are of Apr. 22. May 20 July 4. of the preceding year. They gave me information of your health, always welcome to the feelings of antient and constant friendship. I hope this continues & will continue until you tire of that and life together. The Shepard dogs mentioned in yours of May 20. arrived safely, have been carefully multiplied, and are spreading in this and the neighboring states where the increase of our sheep is greatly attended to. Of these we have already enough to clothe all our inhabitants, and the Merino race is wonderfully extended, & improved in size. Our manufactures of fine cloths are equal to the best English, and those of cotton by their abundance and superior quality will compleatly exclude the English from the market. Our progress in manufactures is far beyond the calculations of the most sanguine. Every private house is getting spinning machines. I have four, in Edition: current; Page: [357] operation in my own family for our own use and carding machines are growing up in every neighborhood, insomuch that were peace restored tomorrow we should not return to the importation from England of either coarse or midling fabrics of any material, nor even of the finer woolen cloths. Putting honor & right out of the question therefore, this revolution in our domestic economy was well worth a war.

You have heard how inauspiciously our war began by land. The treachery of Hull, who furnished with an army which might have taken Upper Canada with little resistance, sold it to an enemy of one fourth his strength was the cause of all our subsequent misfortunes. A second army was by surprise submitted to massacre by the Indians, under the eye and countenance of British officers, to whom they had surrendered on capitulation. Other losses followed these from cowardice, from foolhardiness and from sheer imbecillity in the commanders. In every instance the men, militia as well as regulars displayed an intrepidity, which shewed it only wanted capable direction. These misfortunes however, instead of disheartening, only sunk deeper into our hearts the necessity of exertion, as in old times was the effect of the retreat across the Delaware, this has happily been crowned with success. Everything above the Eastern end of L. Ontario is already in our possession and I might venture to say to the walls of Quebec because on the 10th inst. Genl. Wilkinson was entering the Lake St. Francis on his passage down to Montreal where he would land within 3. or 4. days, and Edition: current; Page: [358] not meet a resistance which gives us any apprehensions. Between that place and Quebec there is neither post nor armed man. Kingston was wisely left to fall of itself, the St. Laurence to the walls of Quebec being ours whenever the season will open it to us. This last place will never be worth the blood it would cost. Cut off from subsistence by the loss of the upper country, it must be evacuated by it’s inhabitants. Our quarters for this winter will probably be in Montreal.

Of the glories of our little navy you will of course have heard. Those on the ocean are no otherwise of value than as they have proved the British can be beaten there by an equal force. They correct the idea of their invincibility, and by this moral effect destroy one half their physical force on that element. But Perry’s victory on L. Erie had the most important effects, and is truly the parent of all the subsequent successes. Nor do I know that the naval history of the world furnishes an example of a more splendid action.

I join you sincerely, my friend in wishes for the emancipation of South America. That they will be liberated from foreign subjection I have little doubt. But the result of my enquiries does not authorize me to hope they are capable of maintaining a free government. Their people are immersed in the darkest ignorance, and brutalised by bigotry & superstition. Their priests make of them what they please, and tho’ they may have some capable leaders, yet nothing but intelligence in the people themselves can keep these faithful to their charge. Their efforts I fear Edition: current; Page: [359] therefore will end in establishing military despotisms in the several provinces. Among these there can be no confederacy. A republic of kings is impossible. But their future wars and quarrels among themselves will oblige them to bring the people into action, & into the exertion of their understandings. Light will at length beam in on their minds and the standing example we shall hold up, serving as an excitement as well as a model for their direction may in the long run qualify them for self government. This is the most I am able to hope for them. For I lay it down as one of the impossibilities of nature that ignorance should maintain itself free against cunning, where any government has been once admitted.

I thank you for making Mr. Correa known to me. I found him deserving every thing which his and my friends had said of him, and only lamented that our possession of him was to be so short lived. I will certainly send you another copy of the book you desire if it can possibly escape the perils of the sea. I say nothing about your affairs here because being in the best hands I can say nothing important. I am happy you have been able to turn the just retribution of our country to some account in easing your mind from some of it’s concerns. On our part it was a just attention to sacrifices you had made to make us what we are. I only lament it was not what it should have been. I write to Mde de Tessé, M. de Tracy, &c. and conclude with the assurance of my affectionate and unalterable friendship and respect.

Edition: current; Page: [360]

P.S. Monticello Dec. 14. I have kept my letter open that I might state with certainty the issue of the expedition against Montreal. Our just expectations have been disappointed by another failure of a general commanding a large portion of the army ashore, and refusing to meet the main body according to orders at the entrance of L. St. Francis. The expedition was of necessity abandoned at that point at which it was known to have arrived at the date of my letter: and the commencement of severe weather forced the army into winter quarters near that place. In the President’s message at the meeting of Congress you will see a succinct & correct history of the transactions of the year.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
December 8, 1813
Madam de TessÉ
TessÉ, Madam de

TO MADAM DE TESSÉ

j. mss.

While at war, my dear Madam and friend, with the leviathan of the ocean, there is little hope of a letter escaping his thousand ships; yet I cannot permit myself longer to withhold the acknowledgment of your letter of June 28 of the last year, with which came the memoirs of the Margrave of Bareuth. I am much indebted to you for this singular morsel of history which has given us a certain view of kings, queens and princes, disrobed of their formalities. It is a peep into the state of the Egyptian god Apis. It would not be easy to find grosser manners, coarser vices, or more meanness in the poorest huts of our peasantry. The princess shows herself the legitimate sister of Frederic, cynical, selfish, and without a Edition: current; Page: [361] heart. Notwithstanding your wars with England, I presume you get the publications of that country. The memoirs of Mrs. Clarke and of her darling prince, and the book, emphatically so called, because it is the Biblia Sacra Deorum et Dearum sub-cœlestium, the Prince Regent, his Princess and the minor deities of his sphere, form a worthy sequel to the memoirs of Bareuth; instead of the vulgarity and penury of the court of Berlin, giving us the vulgarity and profusion of that of London, and the gross stupidity and profligacy of the latter, in lieu of the genius and misanthropism of the former. The whole might be published as a supplement to M. de Buffon, under the title of the “Natural History of Kings and Princes,” or as a separate work and called “Medicine for Monarchists.” The Intercepted Letters, a later English publication of great wit and humor, has put them to their proper use by holding them up as butts for the ridicule and contempt of mankind. Yet by such worthless beings is a great nation to be governed and even made to deify their old king because he is only a fool and a maniac, and to forgive and forget his having lost to them a great and flourishing empire, added nine hundred millions sterling to their debt, for which the fee simple of the whole island would not sell, if offered farm by farm at public auction, and increased their annual taxes from eight to seventy millions sterling, more than the whole rent-roll of the island. What must be the dreary prospect from the son when such a father is deplored as a national loss. But let us drop these odious beings and pass to those of an higher order, Edition: current; Page: [362] the plants of the field. I am afraid I have given you a great deal more trouble than I intended by my inquiries for the Maronnier or Castanea Saliva, of which I wished to possess my own country, without knowing how rare its culture was even in yours. The two plants which your researches have placed in your own garden, it will be all but impossible to remove hither. The war renders their safe passage across the Atlantic extremely precarious, and, if landed anywhere but in the Chesapeake, the risk of the additional voyage along the coast to Virginia, is still greater. Under these circumstances it is better they should retain their present station, and compensate to you the trouble they have cost you.

I learn with great pleasure the success of your new gardens at Auenay. No occupation can be more delightful or useful. They will have the merit of inducing you to forget those of Chaville. With the botanical riches which you mention to have been derived to England from New Holland, we are as yet unacquainted. Lewis’s journey across our continent to the Pacific has added a number of new plants to our former stock. Some of them are curious, some ornamental, some useful, and some may by culture be made acceptable to our tables. I have growing, which I destine for you, a very handsome little shrub of the size of a currant bush. Its beauty consists in a great produce of berries of the size of currants, and literally as white as snow, which remain on the bush through the winter, after its leaves have fallen, and make it an object as singular as it is beautiful. We call it the snow-berry bush, no Edition: current; Page: [363] botanical name being yet given to it, but I do not know why we might not call it Chionicoccos, or Kallicoccos. All Lewis’s plants are growing in the garden of Mr. McMahon, a gardener of Philadelphia, to whom I consigned them, and from whom I shall have great pleasure, when peace is restored, in ordering for you any of these or of our other indigenous plants. The port of Philadelphia has great intercourse with Bordeaux and Nantes, and some little perhaps with Havre. I was mortified not long since by receiving a letter from a merchant in Bordeaux, apologizing for having suffered a box of plants addressed by me to you, to get accidentally covered in his warehouse by other objects, and to remain three years undiscovered, when every thing in it was found to be rotten. I have learned occasionally that others rotted in the warehouses of the English pirates. We are now settling that account with them. We have taken their Upper Canada and shall add the Lower to it when the season will admit; and hope to remove them fully and finally from our continent. And what they will feel more, for they value their colonies only for the bales of cloth they take from them, we have established manufactures, not only sufficient to supersede our demand from them, but to rivalize them in foreign markets. But for the course of our war I will refer you to M. de La Fayette, to whom I state it more particularly.

Our friend Mr. Short is well. He makes Philadelphia his winter quarters, and New York or the country, those of the summer. In his fortune he is perfectly independent and at ease, and does not Edition: current; Page: [364] trouble himself with the party politics of our country. Will you permit me to place here for M. de Tessé the testimony of my high esteem and respect, and accept for yourself an assurance of the warm recollections I retain of your many civilities and courtesies to me, and the homage of my constant and affectionate attachment and respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Dec. 29, 1813
Monticello
Philip Mazzei
Mazzei, Philip

TO PHILIP MAZZEI

j. mss.

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 Edition: current; Page: [365] 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 Edition: current; Page: [366] 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 Edition: current; Page: [367] 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 Edition: current; Page: [368] 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.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
January 1, 1814
Monticello
Thomas Leiper
Leiper, Thomas

TO THOMAS LEIPER

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—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 Edition: current; Page: [369] 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 Edition: current; Page: [370] 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, Edition: current; Page: [371] 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 Edition: current; Page: [372] 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.

Edition: current; Page: [373]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
January 2, 1814
Monticello
Doctor Walter Jones
Jones, Doctor Walter

TO DOCTOR WALTER JONES

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Your favor of November the 25th reached this place December the 21st, having been near a month on the way. How this could happen I know not, as we have two mails a week both from Fredericksburg and Richmond. It found me just returned from a long journey and absence, during which so much business had accumulated, commanding the first attentions, that another week has been added to the delay.

I deplore, with you, the putrid state into which our newspapers have passed, and the malignity, the vulgarity, and mendacious spirit of those who write for them; and I enclose you a recent sample, the production of a New England judge, as a proof of the abyss of degradation into which we are fallen. These ordures are rapidly depraving the public taste, and lessening its relish for sound food. As vehicles of information, and a curb on our functionaries, they have rendered themselves useless, by forfeiting all title to belief. That this has, in a great degree, been produced by the violence and malignity of party spirit, I agree with you; and I have read with great pleasure the paper you enclosed me on that subject, which I now return. It is at the same time a perfect model of the style of discussion which candor and decency should observe, of the tone which renders difference of opinion even amiable, and a succinct, correct, and dispassionate history of the origin and progress of party among us. It might be incorporated as it stands, and without changing a word, into Edition: current; Page: [374] the history of the present epoch, and would give to posterity a fairer view of the times than they will probably derive from other sources. In reading it with great satisfaction, there was but a single passage where I wished a little more development of a very sound and catholic idea; a single intercalation to rest it solidly on true bottom. It is near the end of the first page, where you make a statement of genuine republican maxims; saying, “that the people ought to possess as much political power as can possibly exist with the order and security of society.” Instead of this, I would say, “that the people, being the only safe depository of power should exercise in person every function which their qualifications enable them to exercise, consistently with the order and security of society; that we now find them equal to the election of those who shall be invested with their executive and legislative powers, and to act themselves in the judiciary, as judges in questions of fact; that the range of their powers ought to be enlarged,” &c. This gives both the reason and exemplification of the maxim you express, “that they ought to possess as much political power,” &c. I see nothing to correct either in your facts or principles.

You say that in taking General Washington on your shoulders, to bear him harmless through the federal coalition, you encounter a perilous topic. I do not think so. You have given the genuine history of the course of his mind through the trying scenes in which it was engaged, and of the seductions by which it was deceived, but not depraved. I Edition: current; Page: [375] think I knew General Washington intimately and thoroughly; and were I called on to delineate his character, it should be in terms like these.

His mind was great and powerful, without being of the very first order; his penetration strong, though not so acute as that of a Newton, Bacon, or Locke; and as far as he saw, no judgment was ever sounder. It was slow in operation, being little aided by invention or imagination, but sure in conclusion. Hence the common remark of his officers, of the advantage he derived from councils of war, where hearing all suggestions, he selected whatever was best; and certainly no General ever planned his battles more judiciously. But if deranged during the course of the action, if any member of his plan was dislocated by sudden circumstances, he was slow in re-adjustment. The consequence was, that he often failed in the field, and rarely against an enemy in station, as at Boston and York. He was incapable of fear, meeting personal dangers with the calmest unconcern. Perhaps the strongest feature in his character was prudence, never acting until every circumstance, every consideration, was maturely weighed; refraining if he saw a doubt, but, when once decided, going through with his purpose, whatever obstacles opposed. His integrity was most pure, his justice the most inflexible I have ever known, no motives of interest or consanguinity, of friendship or hatred, being able to bias his decision. He was, indeed, in every sense of the words, a wise, a good, and a great man. His temper was naturally high toned; but reflection and resolution had Edition: current; Page: [376] obtained a firm and habitual ascendency over it. If ever, however, it broke its bonds, he was most tremendous in his wrath. In his expenses he was honorable, but exact; liberal in contributions to whatever promised utility; but frowning and unyielding on all visionary projects and all unworthy calls on his charity. His heart was not warm in its affections; but he exactly calculated every man’s value, and gave him a solid esteem proportioned to it. His person, you know, was fine, his stature exactly what one would wish, his deportment easy, erect and noble; the best horseman of his age, and the most graceful figure that could be seen on horseback. Although in the circle of his friends, where he might be unreserved with safety, he took a free share in conversation, his colloquial talents were not above mediocrity, possessing neither copiousness of ideas, nor fluency of words. In public, when called on for a sudden opinion, he was unready, short and embarrassed. Yet he wrote readily, rather diffusely, in an easy and correct style. This he had acquired by conversation with the world, for his education was merely reading, writing and common arithmetic, to which he added surveying at a later day. His time was employed in action chiefly, reading little, and that only in agriculture and English history. His correspondence became necessarily extensive, and, with journalizing his agricultural proceedings, occupied most of his leisure hours within doors. On the whole, his character was, in its mass, perfect, in nothing bad, in few points indifferent; and it may truly be said, that never did nature and fortune Edition: current; Page: [377] combine more perfectly to make a man great, and to place him in the same constellation with whatever worthies have merited from man an everlasting remembrance. For his was the singular destiny and merit, of leading the armies of his country successfully through an arduous war, for the establishment of its independence; of conducting its councils through the birth of a government, new in its forms and principles, until it had settled down into a quiet and orderly train; and of scrupulously obeying the laws through the whole of his career, civil and military, of which the history of the world furnishes no other example.

How, then, can it be perilous for you to take such a man on your shoulders? I am satisfied the great body of republicans think of him as I do. We were, indeed, dissatisfied with him on his ratification of the British treaty. But this was short lived. We knew his honesty, the wiles with which he was encompassed, and that age had already begun to relax the firmness of his purposes; and I am convinced he is more deeply seated in the love and gratitude of the republicans, than in the Pharisaical homage of the federal monarchists. For he was no monarchist from preference of his judgment. The soundness of that gave him correct views of the rights of man, and his severe justice devoted him to them. He has often declared to me that he considered our new constitution as an experiment on the practicability of republican government, and with what dose of liberty man could be trusted for his own good; that he was determined the experiment should have a fair Edition: current; Page: [378] trial, and would lose the last drop of his blood in support of it. And these declarations he repeated to me the oftener and more pointedly, because he knew my suspicions of Colonel Hamilton’s views, and probably had heard from him the same declarations which I had, to wit, “that the British constitution, with its unequal representation, corruption and other existing abuses, was the most perfect government which had ever been established on earth, and that a reformation of those abuses would make it an impracticable government.” I do believe that General Washington had not a firm confidence in the durability of our government. He was naturally distrustful of men, and inclined to gloomy apprehensions; and I was ever persuaded that a belief that we must at length end in something like a British constitution, had some weight in his adoption of the ceremonies of levees, birth-days, pompous meetings with Congress, and other forms of the same character, calculated to prepare us gradually for a change which he believed possible, and to let it come on with as little shock as might be to the public mind.

These are my opinions of General Washington, which I would vouch at the judgment seat of God, having been formed on an acquaintance of thirty years. I served with him in the Virginia legislature from 1769 to the Revolutionary war, and again, a short time in Congress, until he left us to take command of the army. During the war and after it we corresponded occasionally, and in the four years of my continuance in the office of Secretary of State, our intercourse was daily, confidential and cordial. Edition: current; Page: [379] After I retired from that office, great and malignant pains were taken by our federal monarchists, and not entirely without effect, to make him view me as a theorist, holding French principles of government, which would lead infallibly to licentiousness and anarchy. And to this he listened the more easily, from my known disapprobation of the British treaty. I never saw him afterwards, or these malignant insinuations should have been dissipated before his just judgment, as mists before the sun. I felt on his death, with my countrymen that “verily a great man hath fallen this day in Israel.”

More time and recollection would enable me to add many other traits of his character; but why add them to you who knew him well? And I cannot justify to myself a longer detention of your paper.

Vale, proprieque tuum, me esse tibi persuadeas.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
January 31, 1814
Monticello
Joseph C. Cabell
Cabell, Joseph C.

TO JOSEPH C. CABELL

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Your favor of the 23d is received. Say had come to hand safely. But I regretted having asked the return of him; for I did not find in him one new idea upon the subject I had been contemplating; nothing more than a succinct, judicious digest of the tedious pages of Smith.

You ask my opinion on the question, whether the States can add any qualifications to those which the constitution has prescribed for their members of Congress? It is a question I had never before reflected Edition: current; Page: [380] on; yet had taken up an off-hand opinion, agreeing with your first, that they could not; that to add new qualifications to those of the constitution, would be as much an alteration as to detract from them. And so I think the House of Representatives of Congress decided in some case; I believe that of a member from Baltimore. But your letter having induced me to look into the constitution, and to consider the question a little, I am again in your predicament, of doubting the correctness of my first opinion. Had the constitution been silent, nobody can doubt but that the right to prescribe all the qualifications and disqualifications of those they would send to represent them, would have belonged to the State. So also the constitution might have prescribed the whole, and excluded all others. It seems to have preferred the middle way. It has exercised the power in part, by declaring some disqualifications, to wit, those of not being twenty-five years of age, of not having been a citizen seven years, and of not being an inhabitant of the State at the time of election. But it does not declare, itself, that the member shall not be a lunatic, a pauper, a convict of treason, of murder, of felony, or other infamous crime, or a non-resident of his district; nor does it prohibit to the State the power of declaring these, or any other disqualifications which its particular circumstances may call for; and these may be different in different States. Of course, then, by the tenth amendment, the power is reserved to the State. If, wherever the constitution assumes a single power out of many which belong to the same Edition: current; Page: [381] subject, we should consider it as assuming the whole, it would vest the General Government with a mass of powers never contemplated. On the contrary, the assumption of particular powers seems an exclusion of all not assumed. This reasoning appears to me to be sound; but, on so recent a change of view, caution requires us not to be too confident, and that we admit this to be one of the doubtful questions on which honest men may differ with the purest motives; and the more readily, as we find we have differed from ourselves on it.

I have always thought where the line of demarcation between the powers of the General and the State governments was doubtfully or indistinctly drawn, it would be prudent and praiseworthy in both parties, never to approach it but under the most urgent necessity. Is the necessity now urgent, to declare that no non-resident of his district shall be eligible as a member of Congress? It seems to me that, in practice, the partialities of the people are a sufficient security against such an election; and that if, in any instance, they should ever choose a non-resident, it must be one of such eminent merit and qualifications, as would make it a good, rather than an evil; and that, in any event, the examples will be so rare, as never to amount to a serious evil. If the case then be neither clear nor urgent, would it not be better to let it lie undisturbed? Perhaps its decision may never be called for. But if it be indispensable to establish this disqualification now, would it not look better to declare such others, at the same time, as may be proper? I frankly confide to yourself Edition: current; Page: [382] these opinions, or rather no-opinions, of mine; but would not wish to have them go any farther. I want to be quiet; and although some circumstances now and then, excite me to notice them, I feel safe, and happier in leaving events to those whose turn it is to take care of them; and, in general, to let it be understood, that I meddle little or not at all with public affairs. There are two subjects, indeed, which I shall claim a right to further as long as I breathe, the public education, and the sub-division of counties into wards. I consider the continuance of republican government as absolutely hanging on these two hooks. Of the first, you will, I am sure, be an advocate, as having already reflected on it, and of the last, when you shall have reflected. Ever affectionately yours.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Feb. 16, 14
Monticello
James Madison
Madison, James

TO JAMES MADISON

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—A letter from Colo. Earle of S. C. induces me to apprehend that the government is called on to reimburse expences to which I am persuaded it is no wise liable either in justice or liberality. I inclose you a copy of my answer to him, as it may induce further enquiry, & particularly of Genl. Dearborn. The Tennessee Senators of that day can also give some information.

We have not yet seen the scheme of the new loan, but the continual creation of new banks cannot fail to facilitate it; for already there is so much of their trash afloat that the great holders of it shew vast Edition: current; Page: [383] anxiety to get rid of it. They perceive that now, as in the revolutionary war, we are engaged in the old game of Robin’s alive. They are ravenous after lands, and stick at no price. In the neighborhood of Richmond, the seat of that sort of sensibility, they offer twice as much now as they would give a year ago. 200 Millions in actual circulation and 200 millions more likely to be legitimated by the legislative sessions of this winter, will give us about 40 times the wholesome circulation for 8. millions of people. When the new emissions get out, our legislatures will see, what they otherwise cannot believe, that it is possible to have too much money. It will insure your loan for this year; but what will you do for the next? For I think it impossible but that the whole system must blow up before the year is out; and thus a tax of 3. or 400 millions will be levied on our citizens who had found it a work of so much time and labour to pay off a debt of 80. millions which had redeemed them from bondage. The new taxes are paid here with great cheerfulness. Those on stills and carriages will be wonderfully productive. A general return to the cultivation of tobo. is taking place, because it will keep. This proves that the public mind is made up to a continuance of the war. Ever affectionately yours.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
March 9, 1814
Monticello
Gideon Granger
Granger, Gideon

TO GIDEON GRANGER

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Your letter of February 22d came to hand on the 4th instant. Nothing is so painful to Edition: current; Page: [384] me as appeals to my memory on the subject of past transactions. From 1775 to 1809, my life was an unremitting course of public transactions, so numerous, so multifarious, and so diversified by places and persons, that, like the figures of a magic lanthern, their succession was with a rapidity that scarcely gave time for fixed impressions. Add to this the decay of memory consequent on advancing years, and it will not be deemed wonderful that I should be a stranger as it were even to my own transactions. Of some indeed I retain recollections of the particular, as well as general circumstances; of others a strong impression of the general fact, with an oblivion of particulars; but of a great mass, not a trace either of general or particular remains in my mind. I have duly pondered the facts stated in your letter, and for the refreshment of my memory have gone over the letters which passed between us while I was in the administration of the government, have examined my private notes, and such other papers as could assist me in the recovery of the facts, and shall now state them seriatim from your letter, and give the best account of them I am able to derive from the joint sources of memory and papers.

“I have been denounced as a Burrite; but you know that in 1800 I sent Erving from Boston to inform Virginia of the danger resulting from his intrigues.” I well remember Mr. Erving’s visit to this State about that time; and his suggestions of the designs meditated in the quarter you mention; but as my duties on the occasion were to be merely passive, he of course, as I presume, addressed his Edition: current; Page: [385] communications more particularly to those who were free to use them. I do not recollect his mentioning you; but I find that in your letter to me of April 26, 1804, you state your agency on that occasion, so that I have no reason to doubt the fact.

“That in 1803–4, on my advice, you procured Erastus Granger to inform De Witt Clinton of the plan to elevate Burr in New York.” Here I do not recollect the particulars; but I have a general recollection that Colonel Burr’s conduct had already, at that date rendered his designs suspicious; that being for that reason laid aside by his constituents as Vice President, and aiming to become the Governor of New York, it was thought advisable that the persons of influence in that State should be put on their guard; and Mr. Clinton being eminent, no one was more likely to receive intimations from us, nor any one more likely to be confided in for their communication than yourself. I have no doubt therefore of the fact, and the less because in your letter to me of October 9, 1806, you remind me of it.

About the same period, that is, in the winter of 1803–4, another train of facts took place which, although not specifically stated in your letter, I think it but justice to yourself that I should state. I mean the intrigues which were in agitation, and at the bottom of which we believed Colonel Burr to be; to form a coalition of the five eastern States, with New York and New Jersey, under the new appellation of the seven eastern States; either to overawe the Union by the combination of their power and their will, or by threats of separating themselves Edition: current; Page: [386] from it. Your intimacy with some of those in the secret gave you opportunities of searching into their proceedings, of which you made me daily and confidential reports. This intimacy to which I had such useful recourse, at the time, rendered you an object of suspicion with many as being yourself a partisan of Colonel Burr, and engaged in the very combination which you were faithfully employed in defeating. I never failed to justify you to all those who brought their suspicions to me, and to assure them of my knowledge of your fidelity. Many were the individuals, then members of the legislature, who received these assurances from me, and whose apprehensions were thereby quieted. This first project of Colonel Burr having vanished in smoke, he directed to the western country those views which are the subject of your next article.

“That in 1806, I communicated by the first mail after I had got knowledge of the fact, the supposed plans of Burr in his western expedition; upon which communication your council was first called together to take measures in relation to that subject.” Not exactly on that single communication; on the 15th and 18th of September, I had received letters from Colonel George Morgan, and from a Mr. Nicholson of New York, suggesting in a general way the maneuvres of Colonel Burr. Similar information came to the Secretary of State from a Mr. Williams of New York. The indications, however, were so vague that I only desired their increased attention to the subject, and further communications of what they should discover. Your letter of October 16, conveying the Edition: current; Page: [387] communications of General Eaton to yourself and to Mr. Ely gave a specific view of the objects of this new conspiracy, and corroborating our previous information, I called the Cabinet together, on the 22d of October, when specific measures were adopted for meeting the dangers threatened in the various points in which they might occur. I say your letter of October 16 gave this information, because its date, with the circumstance of its being no longer on my files, induces me to infer it was that particular letter, which having being transferred to the bundle of the documents of that conspiracy, delivered to the Attorney General, is no longer in my possession.

Your mission of Mr. Pease on the route to New Orleans, at the time of that conspiracy, with powers to see that the mails were expedited, and to dismiss at once every agent of the Post Office whose fidelity could be justly doubted, and to substitute others on the spot was a necessary measure, taken with my approbation; and he executed the trusts to my satisfaction. I do not know however that my subsequent appointment of him to the office of Surveyor General was influenced, as you suppose, by those services. My motives in that appointment were my personal knowledge of his mathematical qualifications and satisfactory informations of the other parts of his character.

With respect to the dismission of the prosecutions for sedition in Connecticut, it is well known to have been a tenet of the republican portion of our fellow citizens, that the sedition law was contrary to the constitution and therefore void. On this ground Edition: current; Page: [388] I considered it as a nullity wherever I met it in the course of my duties; and on this ground I directed nolle prosequis in all the prosecutions which had been instituted under it, and as far as the public sentiment can be inferred from the occurrences of the day, we may say that this opinion had the sanction of the nation. The prosecutions, therefore, which were afterwards instituted in Connecticut, of which two were against printers, two against preachers, and one against a judge, were too inconsistent with this principle to be permitted to go on. We were bound to administer to others the same measure of law, not which they had meted to us, but we to ourselves, and to extend to all equally the protection of the same constitutional principles. These prosecutions, too, were chiefly for charges against myself, and I had from the beginning laid it down as a rule to notice nothing of the kind. I believed that the long course of services in which I had acted on the public stage, and under the eye of my fellow citizens, furnished better evidence to them of my character and principles, than the angry invectives of adverse partisans in whose eyes the very acts most approved by the majority were subjects of the greatest demerit and censure. These prosecutions against them, therefore, were to be dismissed as a matter of duty. But I wished it to be done with all possible respect to the worthy citizens who had advised them, and in such way as to spare their feelings which had been justly irritated by the intemperance of their adversaries. As you were of that State and intimate with these characters, the business was Edition: current; Page: [389] confided to you, and you executed it to my perfect satisfaction.

These I think are all the particular facts on which you have asked my testimony, and I add with pleasure, and under a sense of duty, the declaration that the increase of rapidity in the movement of the mails which had been vainly attempted before, were readily undertaken by you on your entrance into office, and zealously and effectually carried into execution, and that the affairs of the office were conducted by you with ability and diligence, so long as I had opportunities of observing them.

With respect to the first article mentioned in your letter, in which I am neither concerned nor consulted, I will yet, as a friend, volunteer my advice. I never knew anything of it, nor would ever listen to such gossiping trash. Be assured, my dear Sir, that the dragging such a subject before the public will excite universal reprobation, and they will drown in their indignation all the solid justifications which they would otherwise have received and weighed with candor. Consult your own experience, reflect on the similar cases which have happened within your own knowledge, and see if ever there was a single one in which such a mode of recrimination procured favor to him who used it. You may give pain where perhaps you wish it, but be assured it will re-act on yourself with double though delayed effect, and that it will be one of those incidents of your life on which you will never reflect with satisfaction. Be advised, then; erase it even from your memory, and stand erect before the world on the Edition: current; Page: [390] high ground of your own merits, without stooping to what is unworthy either of your or their notice. Remember that we often repent of what we have said, but never, never of that which we have not. You may have time enough hereafter to mend your hold, if ever it can be mended by such matter as that. Take time then, and do not commit your happiness and public estimation by too much precipitancy. I am entirely uninformed of the state of things which you say exists, and which will oblige you to make a solemn appeal to the nation, in vindication of your character. But whatever that be, I feel it a duty to bear testimony to the truth, and I have suggested with frankness other considerations occurring to myself, because I wish you well, and I add sincere assurances of my great respect and esteem.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Mar. 10. 14
Monticello
James Madison
Madison, James

TO JAMES MADISON

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Your favor of Feb. 7. was duly received. That which it gave me reason to expect from Mr. G.1 did not come till the 4th inst. He mentioned in it that a state of things existed which probably would oblige him to make a solemn appeal to the public, and he asked my testimony to certain specific facts which he stated. These related solely to charges against him as a Burrite, and to his agency in dismissing the prosecutions in Connecticut under the Sedition Law. The facts alleged as Edition: current; Page: [391] disproving his Burrism were 1. That he thro’ Mr. Erving in 1800. put Virginia on her guard against the designs of Burr. 2. That in 1803. 4. at my request he communicated to De Witt Clinton Burr’s aspiring to the government of New York. 3. That in 1806. he gave us the first effectual notice of Burr’s Western projects, by which we were enabled to take specific measures to meet them. 4. His mission of Mr. Pease on the route to N. Orleans to expedite the mails and remove suspected agents of the Post office. These appeals to my very defective memory are very painful. I have looked over my papers, and answered his enquiries as exactly as I could, under a sense not only of the general duty of bearing testimony to truth, but of justice to him personally for his conduct towards me was ever friendly and faithful, and I on several occasions used his services to the advantage of the public.

He said nothing on the subject of Tayloe’s post office, but I remember the substance, altho’ not the minutiæ of that case. He informed me that Mr. Tayloe held a post office near Mount Airy, and exercised it by his steward as a deputy to himself residing at Washington, merely for the purpose of carrying on his plantation correspondence free of postage. I advised his immediate appointment of another, as well on the ground of the abusive use of the office, as to suppress the example of non-residents holding local offices, which would otherwise lead immediately to the most pernicious practises of sinecure.

Of the Baptist preacher and Mr. Tayloe’s underbidding him I recollect nothing. I remember that Edition: current; Page: [392] Mr. Granger, soon after he came into office, informed me of a device, practised by the federalists in the Eastern states to favor the circulation of their papers and defeat that of the republicans, which was when ever a republican rider was employed, to underbid to a price below what the business could be done for, submitting to that loss for one year, and the next to demand the full price, the republican being thus removed from the competition, by the disposal of his horses &c. I desired him whenever a bidder should offer below the real worth, & there should be reason to suspect this fraud, to reject him, and I would take on myself the responsibility. If I was consulted on the competition of Tayloe and the baptist preacher, and gave an opinion on it, it must have been stated as a case of this class. As to the compromise alledged of giving up the one case for the other, no such idea was ever presented to me, nor would Mr. G. have ventured to present it, and I am certain that not a word ever passed between Doctr Jones & myself on the subject. The true remedy for putting those appointments into a wholesome state would be a law vesting them in the President, but without the intervention of the Senate. That intervention would make the matter worse. Every Senator would expect to dispose of all the post offices in his vicinage, or perhaps in his state. At present the President has some controul over those appointments by his authority over the Postmaster himself. And I should think it well to require him to lay all his appointments previously before the President for his approbation or rejection. An Edition: current; Page: [393] expression in Mr. G’s letter gave me ground to advise him to confine his vindication to it’s important points whatever they might be, and not to let his passions lead him into matter which would degrade himself alone in the public opinion, and I have urged it in such terms as I trust will have effect.

Our agriculture presents little interesting. Wheat looks badly, much having been killed by the late severe weather. Corn is scarce, but it’s price kept down to 3. D. by the substitute of wheat as food both for laborers and horses, costing only 3/6 to 4/. They begin to distill the old flour, getting 10. galls of whiskey from the barrel, which produced 5. to 6. D. the barrel & consequently more than we can get at Richmond for the new. Tobacco is high, from it’s scarcity, there having been not more than ⅓ of an ordinary crop planted the last year. This year there will probably be ⅔. Ever affectionately yours.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
July 5, 1814
Monticello
John Adams
Adams, John

TO JOHN ADAMS

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Since mine of January the 24th, yours of March the 14th has been received. It was not acknowledged in the short one of May the 18th, by Mr. Rives, the only object of that having been to enable one of our most promising young men to have the advantage of making his bow to you. I learned with great regret the serious illness mentioned in your letter; and I hope Mr. Rives will be able to tell me you are entirely restored. But our machines Edition: current; Page: [394] have now been running seventy or eighty years, and we must expect that, worn as they are, here a pivot, there a wheel, now a pinion, next a spring, will be giving way; and however we may tinker them up for a while, all will at length surcease motion. Our watches, with works of brass and steel, wear out within that period. Shall you and I last to see the course the seven-fold wonders of the times will take? The Attila of the age dethroned, the ruthless destroyer of ten millions of the human race, whose thirst for blood appeared unquenchable, the great oppressor of the rights and liberties of the world, shut up within the circle of a little island of the Mediterranean, and dwindled to the condition of an humble and degraded pensioner on the bounty of those he had most injured. How miserably, how meanly, has he closed his inflated career! What a sample of the bathos will his history present! He should have perished on the swords of his enemies, under the walls of Paris.

    • “Leon piagato a morte
    • Sente mancar la vita,
    • Guarda la sua ferita,
    • Ne s’avilisce ancor.
    • Cosi fra l’ire estrema
    • Rugge, minaccia, e freme,
    • Che fa tremar morendo
    • Tal volta il cacciator.”
  • —Metast. Adriano.

But Bonaparte was a lion in the field only. In civil life, a cold-blooded, calculating, unprincipled usurper, without a virtue: no statesman, knowing nothing of commerce, political economy, or civil government, and supplying ignorance by bold presumption. I had supposed him a great man until Edition: current; Page: [395] his entrance into the Assembly des cinq cens, eighteen Brumaire (an. 8.). From that date, however, I set him down as a great scoundrel only. To the wonders of his rise and fall, we may add that of a Czar of Muscovy, dictating, in Paris, laws and limits to all the successors of the Cæsars, and holding even the balance in which the fortunes of this new world are suspended. I own, that while I rejoice, for the good of mankind, in the deliverance of Europe from the havoc which would never have ceased while Bonaparte should have lived in power, I see with anxiety the tyrant of the ocean remaining in vigor, and even participating in the merit of crushing his brother tyrant. While the world is thus turned up side down, on which of its sides are we? All the strong reasons, indeed, place us on the side of peace; the interests of the continent, their friendly dispositions, and even the interests of England. Her passions alone are opposed to it. Peace would seem now to be an easy work, the causes of the war being removed. Her orders of council will no doubt be taken care of by the allied powers, and, war ceasing, her impressment of our seamen ceases of course. But I fear there is foundation for the design intimated in the public papers, of demanding a cession of our right in the fisheries. What will Massachusetts say to this? I mean her majority, which must be considered as speaking through the organs it has appointed itself, as the index of its will. She chose to sacrifice the liberties of our seafaring citizens, in which we were all interested, and with them her obligations to the co-States, rather than war with Edition: current; Page: [396] England. Will she now sacrifice the fisheries to the same partialities? This question is interesting to her alone; for to the middle, the southern and western States, they are of no direct concern; of no more than the culture of tobacco, rice and cotton, to Massachusetts. I am really at a loss to conjecture what our refractory sister will say on this occasion. I know what, as a citizen of the Union, I would say to her. “Take this question ad referendum. It concerns you alone. If you would rather give up the fisheries than war with England, we give them up. If you had rather fight for them, we will defend your interests to the last drop of our blood, choosing rather to set a good example than follow a bad one.” And I hope she will determine to fight for them. With this, however, you and I shall have nothing to do; ours being truly the case wherein “non tali auxilio, nec defensoribus istis tempus eget.” Quitting this subject, therefore, I will turn over a new leaf.

I am just returned from one of my long absences, having been at my other home for five weeks past. Having more leisure there than here for reading, I amused myself with reading seriously Plato’s Republic. I am wrong, however, in calling it amusement, for it was the heaviest task-work I ever went through. I had occasionally before taken up some of his other works, but scarcely ever had patience to go through a whole dialogue. While wading through the whimsies, the puerilities, and unintelligible jargon of this work, I laid it down often to ask myself how it could have been, that the world should have so long consented to give reputation to such nonsense as this? Edition: current; Page: [397] How the soi-disant Christian world, indeed, should have done it, is a piece of historical curiosity. But how could the Roman good sense do it? And particularly, how could Cicero bestow such eulogies on Plato! Although Cicero did not wield the dense logic of Demosthenes, yet he was able, learned, laborious, practised in the business of the world, and honest. He could not be the dupe of mere style, of which he was himself the first master in the world. With the moderns, I think, it is rather a matter of fashion and authority. Education is chiefly in the hands of persons who, from their profession, have an interest in the reputation and the dreams of Plato. They give the tone while at school, and few in their after years have occasion to revise their college opinions. But fashion and authority apart, and bringing Plato to the test of reason, take from him his sophisms, futilities and incomprehensibilities, and what remains? In truth, he is one of the race of genuine sophists, who has escaped the oblivion of his brethren, first, by the elegance of his diction, but chiefly, by the adoption and incorporation of his whimsies into the body of artificial Christianity. His foggy mind is forever presenting the semblances of objects which, half seen through a mist, can be defined neither in form nor dimensions. Yet this, which should have consigned him to early oblivion, really procured him immortality of fame and reverence. The Christian priesthood, finding the doctrines of Christ levelled to every understanding, and too plain to need explanation, saw in the mysticism of Plato, materials with which they might build up Edition: current; Page: [398] an artificial system, which might, from its indistinctness, admit everlasting controversy, give employment for their order, and introduce it to profit, power and pre-eminence. The doctrines which flowed from the lips of Jesus himself are within the comprehension of a child; but thousands of volumes have not yet explained the Platonisms engrafted on them; and for this obvious reason, that nonsense can never be explained. Their purposes, however, are answered. Plato is canonized; and it is now deemed as impious to question his merits as those of an Apostle of Jesus. He is peculiarly appealed to as an advocate of the immortality of the soul; and yet I will venture to say, that were there no better arguments than his in proof of it, not a man in the world would believe it. It is fortunate for us, that Platonic republicanism has not obtained the same favor as Platonic Christianity; or we should now have been all living, men, women and children, pell mell together, like beasts of the field or forest. Yet “Plato is a great philosopher,” said La Fontaine. But, says Fontenelle, “Do you find his ideas very clear?” “Oh no! he is of an obscurity impenetrable.” “Do you not find him full of contradictions?” “Certainly,” replied La Fontaine, “he is but a sophist.” Yet immediately after he exclaims again, “Oh, Plato was a great philosopher.” Socrates had reason, indeed, to complain of the misrepresentations of Plato; for in truth, his dialogues are libels on Socrates.

But why am I dosing you with these antediluvian topics? Because I am glad to have some one to Edition: current; Page: [399] whom they are familiar, and who will not receive them as if dropped from the moon. Our post-revolutionary youth are born under happier stars than you and I were. They acquire all learning in their mother’s womb, and bring it into the world ready made. The information of books is no longer necessary; and all knowledge which is not innate, is in contempt, or neglect at least. Every folly must run its round; and so, I suppose, must that of self-learning and self-sufficiency; of rejecting the knowledge acquired in past ages, and starting on the new ground of intuition. When sobered by experience, I hope our successors will turn their attention to the advantages of education. I mean of education on the broad scale, and not that of the petty academies, as they call themselves, which are starting up in every neighborhood, and where one or two men, possessing Latin and sometimes Greek, a knowledge of the globes, and the first six books of Euclid, imagine and communicate this as the sum of science. They commit their pupils to the theatre of the world, with just taste enough of learning to be alienated from industrious pursuits, and not enough to do service in the ranks of science. We have some exceptions, indeed. I presented one to you lately, and we have some others. But the terms I use are general truths. I hope the necessity will, at length, be seen of establishing institutions here, as in Europe, where every branch of science, useful at this day, may be taught in its highest degree. Have you ever turned your thoughts to the plan of such an institution? I mean to a specification of the particular sciences of Edition: current; Page: [400] real use in human affairs, and how they might be so grouped as to require so many professors only as might bring them within the views of a just but enlightened economy? I should be happy in a communication of your ideas on this problem, either loose or digested. But to avoid my being run away with by another subject, and adding to the length and ennui of the present letter, I will here present to Mrs. Adams and yourself, the assurance of my constant and sincere friendship and respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
August 14, 1814
Monticello
William Wirt
Wirt, William

TO WILLIAM WIRT

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I have been laying under contribution my memory, my private papers, the printed records, gazettes and pamphlets in my possession, to answer the inquiries of your letter of July 27, and I will give you the result as correctly as I can. I kept no copy of the paper I sent you on a former occasion on the same subject, nor do I retain an exact recollection of its contents. But if in that I stated the question on the loan office to have been in 1762, I did it with too slight attention to the date, although not to the fact. I have examined the journals of the House of Burgesses, of 1760–1–2, in my possession, and find no trace of the proceeding in them. By those of 1764, I find that the famous address to the king, and memorials to the Houses of Lords and Commons, on the proposal of the Stamp Act, were of that date; and I know that Mr. Henry was not a member of the legislature when they were passed. Edition: current; Page: [401] I know also, because I was present, that Robinson (who died in May, 1766,) was in the chair on the question of the loan office. Mr. Henry, then, must have come in between these two epochs, and consequently in 1765. Of this year I have no journals to refresh my memory. The first session was in May, and his first remarkable exhibition there was on the motion for the establishment of an office for lending money on mortgages of real property. I find in Royle’s Virginia Gazette, of the 17th of that month this proposition for the loan office brought forward, its advantages detailed, and the plan explained; and it seems to have been done by a borrowing member, from the feeling with which the motives are expressed; and to have been preparatory to the intended motion. This was probably made immediately after that date, and certainly before the 30th, which was the date of Mr. Henry’s famous resolutions. I had been intimate with Mr. Henry since the winter of 1759–60, and felt an interest in what concerned him, and I can never forget a particular exclamation of his in the debate in which he electrified his hearers. It had been urged that from certain unhappy circumstances of the colony, men of substantial property had contracted debts, which, if exacted suddenly, must ruin them and their families, but, with a little indulgence of time, might be paid with ease. “What, Sir!” exclaimed Mr. Henry, in animadverting on this, “is it proposed then to reclaim the spendthrift from his dissipation and extravagance, by filling his pockets with money.” These expressions are indelibly impressed on my Edition: current; Page: [402] memory. He laid open with so much energy the spirit of favoritism on which the proposition was founded, and the abuses to which it would lead, that it was crushed in its birth. Abortive motions are not always entered on the journals, or rather, they are rarely entered. It is the modern introduction of yeas and nays which has given the means of placing a rejected motion on the journals; and it is likely that the speaker, who, as treasurer, was to be the loan officer, and had the direction of the journals, would choose to omit an entry of the motion in this case. This accounts sufficiently for the absence of any trace of the motion in the journals. There was no suspicion then, (as far, at least, as I know,) that Robinson had used the public money in private loans to his friends, and that the secret object of this scheme was to transfer those debtors to the public, and thus clear his accounts. I have diligently examined the names of the members on the journals of 1764, to see if any were still living to whose memory we might recur on this subject, but I find not a single one now remaining in life.

Of the parson’s cause I remember nothing remarkable. I was at school with Mr. Maury during the years 1758 and 1759, and often heard them inveigh against the iniquity of the act of 1758, called the two-penny act. In 1763, when that cause was decided in Hanover, I was a law-student in Williamsburg, and remember only that it was a subject of much conversation, and of great paper-controversy, in which Camm and Colonel Bland were the principal champions.

Edition: current; Page: [403]

The disputed election in which Mr. Henry made himself remarkable, must have been that of Dandridge and Littlepage, in 1764, of which, however, I recollect no particulars, although I was still a student in Williamsburg, and paid attention to what was passing in the legislature.

I proceed now to the resolution of 1765. The copies you enclose me, and that inserted by Judge Marshall in his history, and copied verbatim by Burke, are really embarrassing by their differences. 1. That the four resolutions taken from the records of the House, is the genuine copy of what they passed, as amended by themselves, cannot be doubted. 2. That the copy which Mr. Henry left sealed up, is a true copy of these four resolutions, as reported by the committee, there is no reason to doubt. 3. That Judge Marshall’s version of three of these resolutions, (for he has omitted one altogether,) is from an unauthentic source is sufficiently proved by their great variation from the record in diction, although equivalent in sentiment. But what are we to say of Mr. Henry’s fifth, and Mr. Marshall’s two last, which we may call the sixth and seventh resolutions? The fifth has clearly nothing to justify the debate and proceedings which one of them produced. But the sixth is of that character, and perfectly tallies with the idea impressed on my mind, of that which was expunged. Judge Marshall tells us that two were disagreed to by the House, which may be true. I do not indeed recollect it, but I have no recollection to the contrary. My hypothesis, then, is this, that the two disagreed to were the fifth and seventh. The Edition: current; Page: [404] fifth, because merely tautologous of the third and fourth, and the seventh, because leading to individual persecution, for which no mind was then prepared. And that the sixth was the one passed by the House, by a majority of a single vote, and expunged from the journals the next day. I was standing at the door of communication between the house and lobby during the debates and vote, and well remember, that after the numbers on the division were told, and declared from the chair, Peyton Randolph (then Attorney General) came out at the door where I was standing, and exclaimed, “By God, I would have given one hundred guineas for a single vote.” For one vote would have divided the house, and Robinson was in the chair, who he knew would have negatived the resolution. Mr. Henry left town that evening, or the next morning; and Colonel Peter Randolph, then a member of the Council, came to the House of Burgesses about 10 o’clock of the forenoon, and sat at the clerk’s table till the House-bell rang, thumbing over the volumes of Journals to find a precedent of expunging a vote of the House, which he said had taken place while he was a member or clerk of the House, I do not recollect which. I stood by him at the end of the table a considerable part of the time, looking on as he turned over the leaves, but I do not recollect whether he found the erasure. In the meantime, some of the timid members, who had voted for the strongest resolution, had become alarmed, and as soon as the House met, a motion was made, and carried, to expunge it from the journals. And here I will observe, that Burke’s Edition: current; Page: [405] statement with his opponents, is entirely erroneous. I suppose the original journal was among those destroyed by the British, or its obliterated face might be appealed to. It is a pity this investigation was not made a few years sooner, when some of the members of the day were still living. I think inquiry should be made of Judge Marshall for the source from which he derived his copy of the resolutions. This might throw light on the sixth and seventh, which I verily believe, and especially the sixth, to be genuine in substance. On the whole, I suppose the four resolutions which are on the record, were passed and retained by the House; that the sixth is that which was passed by a single vote and expunged, and the fifth and seventh, the two which Judge Marshall says were disagreed to. That Mr. Henry’s copy, then, should not have stated all this, is the remaining difficulty. This copy he probably sealed up long after the transaction, for it was long afterwards that these resolutions, instead of the address and memorials of the preceding year, were looked back to as the commencement of legislative opposition. His own judgment may, at a later date, have approved of the rejection of the sixth and seventh, although not of the fifth, and he may have left and sealed up a copy, in his own handwriting, as approved by his ultimate judgment. This, to be sure, is conjecture, and may rightfully be rejected by any one to whom a more plausible solution may occur; and there I must leave it. The address of 1764 was drawn by Peyton Randolph. Who drew the memorial to the Lords I do not recollect, but Edition: current; Page: [406] Mr. Wythe, drew that to the Commons. It was done with so much freedom, that, as he has told me himself, his colleagues of the committee shrank from it as bearing the aspect of treason, and smoothed its features to its present form. He was, indeed, one of the very few, (for I can barely speak of them in the plural number,) of either character, who, from the commencement of the contest, hung our connection with Great Britain on its true hook, that of a common king. His unassuming character, however, made him appear as a follower, while his sound judgment kept him in a line with the freest spirit. By these resolutions, Mr. Henry took the lead out of the hands of those who had heretofore guided the proceedings of the House, that is to say, of Pendleton, Wythe, Bland, Randolph, Nicholas. These were honest and able men, had begun the opposition on the same grounds, but with a moderation more adapted to their age and experience. Subsequent events favored the bolder spirits of Henry, the Lees, Pages, Mason, &c., with whom I went in all points. Sensible, however, of the importance of unanimity among our constituents, although we often wished to have gone faster, we slackened our pace, that our less ardent colleagues might keep up with us; and they, on their part, differing nothing from us in principle, quickened their gait somewhat beyond that which their prudence might of itself have advised, and thus consolidated the phalanx which breasted the power of Britain. By this harmony of the bold with the cautious, we advanced with our constituents in undivided mass, and with fewer examples of Edition: current; Page: [407] separation than, perhaps, existed in any other part of the Union.

I do not remember the topics of Mr. Henry’s argument, but those of his opposers were that the same sentiments had been expressed in the address and memorials of the preceding session, to which an answer was expected and not yet received. I well remember the cry of treason, the pause of Mr. Henry at the name of George the III., and the presence of mind with which he closed his sentence, and baffled the charge vociferated. I do not think he took the position in the middle of the floor which you mention. On the contrary, I think I recollect him standing in the very place which he continued afterwards habitually to occupy in the house.

The censure of Mr. E. Randolph on Mr. Henry in the case of Philips, was without foundation. I remember the case, and took my part in it. Philips was a mere robber, who availing himself of the troubles of the times, collected a banditti, retired to the Dismal Swamps, and from thence sallied forth, plundering and maltreating the neighboring inhabitants, and covering himself, without authority, under the name of a British subject. Mr. Henry, then Governor, communicated the case to me. We both thought the best proceeding would be by bill of attainder, unless he delivered himself up for trial within a given time. Philips was afterwards taken; and Mr. Randolph being Attorney General, and apprehending he would plead that he was a British subject, taken in arms, in support of his lawful sovereign, and as a prisoner of war entitled to the Edition: current; Page: [408] protection of the law of nations, he thought the safest proceeding would be to indict him at common law as a felon and robber. Against this I believe Philips urged the same plea: he was overruled and found guilty.

I recollect nothing of a doubt on the re-eligibility of Mr. Henry to the government when his term expired in 1779, nor can I conceive on what ground such a doubt could have been entertained, unless perhaps that his first election in June, 1776, having been before we were nationally declared independent, some might suppose it should not be reckoned as one of the three constitutional elections.

Of the projects for appointing a Dictator there are said to have been two. I know nothing of either but by hearsay. The first was in Williamsburg in December, 1776. The Assembly had the month before appointed Mr. Wythe, Mr. Pendleton, George Mason, Thomas L. Lee, and myself, to revise the whole body of laws, and adapt them to our new form of government. I left the House early in December to prepare to join the Committee at Fredericksburg, the place of our first meeting. What passed, therefore, in the House in December, I know not, and have not the journals of that session to look into. The second proposition was in June, 1781, at the Staunton session of the legislature. No trace of this last motion is entered on the journals of that date, which I have examined. This is a further proof that the silence of the journals is no evidence against the fact of an abortive motion. Among the names of the members found on the journal of the Staunton Edition: current; Page: [409] session, are John Taylor of Caroline, General Andrew Moore, and General Edward Stevens of Culpeper, now living. It would be well to ask information from each of them, that their errors of memory, or of feeling, may be corrected by collation.

You ask if I would have any objection to be quoted as to the fact of rescinding the last of Mr. Henry’s resolutions. None at all as to that fact, or its having been passed by a majority of one vote only; the scene being as present to my mind as that in which I am now writing. But I do not affirm, although I believe it was the sixth resolution.

It is truly unfortunate that those engaged in public affairs so rarely make notes of transactions passing within their knowledge. Hence history becomes fable instead of fact. The great outlines may be true, but the incidents and coloring are according to the faith or fancy of the writer. Had Judge Marshall taken half your pains in sifting and scrutinizing facts, he would not have given to the world, as true history, a false copy of a record under his eye. Burke again has copied him, and being a second writer on the spot, doubles the credit of the copy. When writers are so indifferent as to the correctness of facts, the verification of which lies at their elbow, by what measure shall we estimate their relation of things distant, or of those given to us through the obliquities of their own vision? Our records, it is true, in the case under contemplation, were destroyed by the malice and Vandalism of the British military, perhaps of their government, under whose orders they committed so much useless mischief. Edition: current; Page: [410] But printed copies remained, as your examination has proved. Those which were apocryphal, then, ought not to have been hazarded without examination. Should you be able to ascertain the genuineness of the sixth and seventh resolutions, I would ask a line of information, to rectify or to confirm my own impressions respecting them. Ever affectionately yours.1

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Aug. 18. 14
Monticello
John Thompson Mason
Mason, John Thompson

TO JOHN THOMPSON MASON

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Your letter of May 5. was handed me by Dr. Wallace on the 25th of June, & I have added Edition: current; Page: [411] to the delay of answering it by waiting the arrival of the specimens of Mrs. Mason’s skill in manufactures which your letter mentd. These (after various accidents of delay immaterial to explain) arrived yesterday, and excite the admiration of us all. They prove Mrs. Mason is really a more dangerous adversary to our British foes, than all our Generals. These attack the hostile armies only, she the source of their subsistence. What these do counts nothing because they take one day & lose another: what she does counts double, because what she takes from the enemy is added to us: I hope too she will have more followers than our Generals, but few rivals I fear. These specimens exceed any thing I saw during the revolutionary war; altho’ our ladies of that day turned their whole efforts to these objects, & with Edition: current; Page: [412] great praise & success. The endeavors which Dr. Wallace informed you we were making in the same line, are very humble indeed. We have not as yet got beyond the cloathing of our laborers. We hope indeed soon to begin finer fabrics, and for higher uses. But these will probably be confined to cotton & wool. Our Spinning jennies working from 24. to 40. spindles Edition: current; Page: [413] each, produce an impatience of the single thread of the flaxwheel. 2. oz. of cotton for each spindle is a moderate day’s work; and these, the simplest of machines, are made by our country joiners & kept in order by our overseers. Very different from the clockwork of Arkwright’s machines whose tooth & pinion work requires a clockmaker to make & keep Edition: current; Page: [414] in repair. I have lately also seen the improvement of the loom by Janes, the most beautiful machine I have ever seen; wherein the hand which pulls the batten moves the shuttle, the treadles, the temples, the web and cloth beams, all at the same time; so that a person with one hand, & without feet, or using only one hand, may weave as well as with all their members. I am endeavoring to procure this Edition: current; Page: [415] improvement also. These cares are certainly more pleasant than those of the state; and were happiness the only legitimate object the public councils would be deserted. That corvee once performed however the independent happiness of domestic life may rightfully be sought & enjoyed. Mrs. Randolph joins me in thanks and friendly respects to Mrs. Mason, and I add assurances of constant esteem & affection to yourself.

Edition: current; Page: [416]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
August 25th, ’14
Monticello
Edward Coles
Coles, Edward

TO EDWARD COLES1

Dear Sir,

—Your favour of July 31, was duly received, and was read with peculiar pleasure. The sentiments breathed through the whole do honor to both the head and heart of the writer. Mine on the subject of slavery of negroes have long since been in possession of the public, and time has only served to give them stronger root. The love of justice and the love of country plead equally the cause of these people, and it is a moral reproach to us that they should have pleaded it so long in vain, and should have produced not a single effort, nay I fear not much serious willingness to relieve them & ourselves from our present condition of moral & political reprobation. From those of the former generation who were in the fulness of age when I came into public life, which was while our controversy with England was on paper only, I soon saw that nothing was to be hoped. Nursed and educated in the daily habit of seeing the degraded condition, both bodily and mental, of those unfortunate beings, not reflecting that that degradation was very much the work of themselves & their fathers, few minds have yet doubted but that they were as legitimate subjects of property as their horses and cattle. The quiet and monotonous course of colonial life has been disturbed by no alarm, and little reflection on the value of liberty. And when alarm was taken at an enterprize on their own, it was not easy to carry them to the whole length of the principles which they invoked Edition: current; Page: [417] for themselves. In the first or second session of the Legislature after I became a member, I drew to this subject the attention of Col. Bland, one of the oldest, ablest, & most respected members, and he undertook to move for certain moderate extensions of the protection of the laws to these people. I seconded his motion, and, as a younger member, was more spared in the debate; but he was denounced as an enemy of his country, & was treated with the grossest indecorum. From an early stage of our revolution other & more distant duties were assigned to me, so that from that time till my return from Europe in 1789, and I may say till I returned to reside at home in 1809, I had little opportunity of knowing the progress of public sentiment here on this subject. I had always hoped that the younger generation receiving their early impressions after the flame of liberty had been kindled in every breast, & had become as it were the vital spirit of every American, that the generous temperament of youth, analogous to the motion of their blood, and above the suggestions of avarice, would have sympathized with oppression wherever found, and proved their love of liberty beyond their own share of it. But my intercourse with them, since my return has not been sufficient to ascertain that they had made towards this point the progress I had hoped. Your solitary but welcome voice is the first which has brought this sound to my ear; and I have considered the general silence which prevails on this subject as indicating an apathy unfavorable to every hope. Yet the hour of emancipation is advancing, in the march of time. It will Edition: current; Page: [418] come; and whether brought on by the generous energy of our own minds; or by the bloody process of St. Domingo, excited and conducted by the power of our present enemy, if once stationed permanently within our Country, and offering asylum & arms to the oppressed, is a leaf of our history not yet turned over. As to the method by which this difficult work is to be effected, if permitted to be done by ourselves, I have seen no proposition so expedient on the whole, as that of emancipation of those born after a given day, and of their education and expatriation after a given age. This would give time for a gradual extinction of that species of labour & substitution of another, and lessen the severity of the shock which an operation so fundamental cannot fail to produce. For men probably of any color, but of this color we know, brought from their infancy without necessity for thought or forecast, are by their habits rendered as incapable as children of taking care of themselves, and are extinguished promptly wherever industry is necessary for raising young. In the mean time they are pests in society by their idleness, and the depredations to which this leads them. Their amalgamation with the other color produces a degradation to which no lover of his country, no lover of excellence in the human character can innocently consent. I am sensible of the partialities with which you have looked towards me as the person who should undertake this salutary but arduous work. But this, my dear sir, is like bidding old Priam to buckle the armour of Hector “trementibus æquo humeris et inutile ferruncingi.” No, I have overlived the Edition: current; Page: [419] generation with which mutual labors & perils begat mutual confidence and influence. This enterprise is for the young; for those who can follow it up, and bear it through to its consummation. It shall have all my prayers, & these are the only weapons of an old man. But in the mean time are you right in abandoning this property, and your country with it? I think not. My opinion has ever been that, until more can be done for them, we should endeavor, with those whom fortune has thrown on our hands, to feed and clothe them well, protect them from all ill usage, require such reasonable labor only as is performed voluntarily by freemen, & be led by no repugnancies to abdicate them, and our duties to them. The laws do not permit us to turn them loose, if that were for their good: and to commute them for other property is to commit them to those whose usage of them we cannot control. I hope then, my dear sir, you will reconcile yourself to your country and its unfortunate condition; that you will not lessen its stock of sound disposition by withdrawing your portion from the mass. That, on the contrary you will come forward in the public councils, become the missionary of this doctrine truly christian; insinuate & inculcate it softly but steadily, through the medium of writing and conversation; associate others in your labors, and when the phalanx is formed, bring on and press the proposition perseveringly until its accomplishment. It is an encouraging observation that no good measure was ever proposed, which, if duly pursued, failed to prevail in the end. We have proof of this in the Edition: current; Page: [420] history of the endeavors in the English parliament to suppress that very trade which brought this evil on us. And you will be supported by the religious precept, “be not weary in well-doing.” That your success may be as speedy & complete, as it will be of honorable & immortal consolation to yourself, I shall as fervently and sincerely pray as I assure you of my great friendship and respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Aug. 30. 14
Monticello
John Minor
Minor, John

TO JOHN MINOR

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I have at length found the paper of which you requested a copy. It was written near 50. years ago for the use of a young friend whose course of reading was confided to me; and it formed a basis for the studies of others subsequently placed under my direction, but curtailed for each in proportion to his previous acquirements and future views. I shall give it to you without change, except as to the books recommended to be read; later publications enabling me in some of the departments of science to substitute better, for the less perfect publications which we then possessed. In this the modern student has great advantage. I proceed to the copy.1

So for the paper; which I send you, not for it’s merit, for it betrays sufficiently it’s juvenile date; Edition: current; Page: [421] but because you have asked it. Your own experience in the more modern practice of the law will enable you to give it more conformity with the present course, and I know you will receive it kindly with all it’s imperfections as an evidence of my great respect for your wishes, and of the sentiments of esteem and friendship of which I tender you sincere assurances.

Edition: current; Page: [422]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Sep /9. 14
Monticello
John Wayles Eppes
Eppes, John Wayles

TO JOHN WAYLES EPPES

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I am sorry to learn by Francis’s letter that you are not yet recovered from your rheumatism, and much wonder you do not go and pass a Edition: current; Page: [423] summer at the warm springs. From the examples I have seen I should entertain no doubt of a radical cure. The transactions at Washington and Alexandria are indeed beyond expectation. The circumjacent country is mostly disaffected, but I should have thought the motions of the enemy long enough Edition: current; Page: [424] known, and their object probable enough to have called the well affected counties of Virginia & Maryland into place. Nobody who knows the President can doubt but that he has honestly done everything Edition: current; Page: [425] he could to the best of his judgment. And there is no sounder judgment than his. I cannot account for what has happened but by giving credit to the rumors which circulate against Armstrong, who is presumptuous, obstinate & injudicious. I should hope the law would lay hold of Sims &c. if it could lay hold of anything after the experiment on Burr. But Congress itself can punish Alexandria, by repealing the law which made it a town, by discontinuing it as a port of entry or clearance, and perhaps by suppressing it’s banks. But I expect all will go off with impunity. If our government ever fails, it will be from this weakness. No government can be maintained Edition: current; Page: [426] without the principle of fear as well as of duty. Good men will obey the last, but bad ones the former only. Our county is a desert. None are to be met in the roads but grayheads. About 800 men are gone from it, & chiefly volunteers. But I fear they cannot be armed. I think the truth must now be obvious that our people are too happy at home to enter into regular service, and that we cannot be defended but by making every citizen a souldier, as the Greeks & Romans who had no standing armies, & that in doing this all must be marshalled, classed by their ages, & every service ascribed to it’s competent class. Ever affectionately yours.

Edition: current; Page: [427]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
September 21, 1814
Monticello
Samuel H. Smith
Smith, Samuel H.

TO SAMUEL H. SMITH

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I learn from the newspapers that the Vandalism of our enemy has triumphed at Washington over science as well as the arts, by the destruction of the public library with the noble edifice in which it was deposited. Of this transaction, as of that of Copenhagen, the world will entertain but one sentiment. They will see a nation suddenly withdrawn from a great war, full armed and full handed, taking advantage of another whom they had recently forced into it, unarmed, and unprepared, to indulge themselves in acts of barbarism which do not belong to a civilized age. When Van Ghent destroyed their shipping at Chatham, and De Ruyter rode triumphantly up the Thames, he might in like manner, by the acknowledgment of their own historians, have forced all their ships up to London bridge, and there have burnt them, the tower, and city, had these examples been then set. London, when thus menaced, was near a thousand years old, Washington is but in its teens.

I presume it will be among the early objects of Congress to re-commence their collection. This will be difficult while the war continues, and intercourse with Europe is attended with so much risk. You know my collection, its condition and extent. I have been fifty years making it, and have spared no pains, opportunity or expense, to make it what it is. While residing in Paris, I devoted every afternoon I was disengaged, for a summer or two, in examining all the principal bookstores, turning over every book Edition: current; Page: [428] with my own hand, and putting by everything which related to America, and indeed whatever was rare and valuable in every science. Besides this, I had standing orders during the whole time I was in Europe, on its principal book-marts, particularly Amsterdam, Frankfort, Madrid and London, for such works relating to America as could not be found in Paris. So that in that department particularly, such a collection was made as probably can never again be effected, because it is hardly probable that the same opportunities, the same time, industry, perseverance and expense, with some knowledge of the bibliography of the subject, would again happen to be in concurrence. During the same period, and after my return to America, I was led to procure, also, whatever related to the duties of those in the high concerns of the nation. So that the collection, which I suppose is of between nine and ten thousand volumes, while it includes what is chiefly valuable in science and literature generally, extends more particularly to whatever belongs to the American statesman. In the diplomatic and parliamentary branches, it is particularly full. It is long since I have been sensible it ought not to continue private property, and had provided that at my death, Congress should have the refusal of it at their own price. But the loss they have now incurred, makes the present the proper moment for their accommodation, without regard to the small remnant of time and the barren use of my enjoying it. I ask of your friendship, therefore, to make for me the tender of it to the library committee of Congress, not knowing Edition: current; Page: [429] myself of whom the committee consists. I enclose you the catalogue, which will enable them to judge of its contents. Nearly the whole are well bound, abundance of them elegantly, and of the choicest editions existing. They may be valued by persons named by themselves, and the payment made convenient to the public. It may be, for instance, in such annual instalments as the law of Congress has left at their disposal, or in stock of any of their late loans, or of any loan they may institute at this session, so as to spare the present calls of our country, and await its days of peace and prosperity. They may enter, nevertheless, into immediate use of it, as eighteen or twenty wagons would place it in Washington in a single trip of a fortnight. I should be willing indeed, to retain a few of the books, to amuse the time I have yet to pass, which might be valued with the rest, but not included in the sum of valuation until they should be restored at my death, which I would carefully provide for, so that the whole library as it stands in the catalogue at this moment should be theirs without any garbling. Those I should like to retain would be chiefly classical and mathematical. Some few in other branches, and particularly one of the five encyclopedias in the catalogue. But this, if not acceptable, would not be urged. I must add, that I have not revised the library since I came home to live, so that it is probable some of the books may be missing, except in the chapters of Law and Divinity, which have been revised and stand exactly as in the catalogue. The return of the catalogue will of course be needed, whether the tender be accepted Edition: current; Page: [430] or not. I do not know that it contains any branch of science which Congress would wish to exclude from their collection; there is, in fact, no subject to which a member of Congress may not have occasion to refer. But such a wish would not correspond with my views of preventing its dismemberment. My desire is either to place it in their hands entire, or to preserve it so here. I am engaged in making an alphabetical index of the author’s names, to be annexed to the catalogue, which I will forward to you as soon as completed. Any agreement you shall be so good as to take the trouble of entering into with the committee, I hereby confirm. Accept the assurance of my great esteem and respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Sep. 24, 14
Monticello
James Monroe
Monroe, James

TO JAMES MONROE

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—The events which have lately taken place at Washington, & which truly disgrace our enemies much more than us, have occupied you too much to admit intrusions by private & useless letters. You seem indeed to have had your hands full with the duties of the field and the double duties of the Cabinet. The success of McDonough has been happily timed to dispel the gloom of your present meeting, and to open the present session of Congress with hope and good humor. To add however to our embarrassments, it happens to be the moment when the general bankruptcy comes upon us, which has been so long and so certainly impending. The banks declare they will not pay their bills which is sufficiently understood to mean that they cannot. Altho’ Edition: current; Page: [431] this truth has been long expected, yet their own declaration was wanting to fix the moment of insolvency. Their paper is now offered doubtingly, received by some merely from the total absence of all other medium of payment, and absolutely rejected by others; and in no case will a half-disme of cash be given in change. The annihilation of these institutions has come on us suddenly therefore, which I had thought should be suppressed, but gradatim only, in order to prevent, as much as possible, the crush of private fortunes. This catastrophe happening just as our legislature was about to meet, a member of it requested my thoughts on the occasion. These I have expressed in the inclosed letter, and as it forms a sequel to those I had lent you before, I send it for your perusal. Altho’ I am not willing they should be handed about promiscuously to friend and foe, yet if the communication of them to particular and confidential characters can do any good, I should leave that to your discretion, and only ask their return as soon as that shall have been done. Having learnt by the public papers the loss of the library of Congress, I have sent my catalogue to S. H. Smith with an offer of the whole collection, as it stands, to the library committee, to be valued by persons named by themselves, delivered immediately and paid for in such stock, or otherwise, & at such epoch as they may chuse after the days of peace & prosperity shall have returned. You know the general condition of the books, & can give them information should they ask any. I salute you always with sincere affection & respect.

Edition: current; Page: [432]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
October 15, 1814
Monticello
James Madison
Madison, James

TO JAMES MADISON

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I thank you for the information of your letter of the 10th. It gives, at length, a fixed character to our prospects. The war, undertaken, on both sides, to settle the questions of impressment, and the orders of council, now that these are done away by events, is declared by Great Britain to have changed its object, and to have become a war of conquest, to be waged until she conquers from us our fisheries, the province of Maine, the lakes, States and territories north of the Ohio, and the navigation of the Mississippi; in other words, till she reduces us to unconditional submission. On our part, then, we ought to propose, as a counterchange of object, the establishment of the meridian of the mouth of the Sorel northwardly, as the western boundary of all her possessions. Two measures will enable us to effect it, and without these, we cannot even defend ourselves. 1. To organize the militia into classes, assigning to each class the duties for which it is fitted, (which, had it been done when proposed, years ago, would have prevented all our misfortunes,) abolishing by a declaratory law the doubts which abstract scruples in some, and cowardice and treachery in others, have conjured up about passing imaginary lines, and limiting, at the same time, their services to the contiguous provinces of the enemy. The 2d is the ways and means. You have seen my ideas on this subject, and I shall add nothing but a rectification of what either I have ill expressed, or you have misapprehended. If I have used any expression Edition: current; Page: [433] restraining the emissions of treasury notes to a sufficient medium, as your letter seems to imply, I have done it inadvertently, and under the impression then possessing me, that the war would be very short. A sufficient medium would not, on the principles of any writer, exceed thirty millions of dollars, and on those of some not ten millions. Our experience has proved it may be run up to two or three hundred millions, without more than doubling what would be the prices of things under a sufficient medium, or say a metallic one, which would always keep itself at the sufficient point; and, if they rise to this term, and the descent from it be gradual, it would not produce sensible revolutions in private fortunes. I shall be able to explain my views more definitely by the use of numbers. Suppose we require, to carry on the war, an annual loan of twenty millions, then I propose that, in the first year, you shall lay a tax of two millions, and emit twenty millions of treasury notes, of a size proper for circulation, and bearing no interest, to the redemption of which the proceeds of that tax shall be inviolably pledged and applied, by recalling annually their amount of the identical bills funded on them. The second year lay another tax of two millions, and emit twenty millions more. The third year the same, and so on, until you have reached the maximum of taxes which ought to be imposed. Let me suppose this maximum to be one dollar a head, or ten millions of dollars, merely as an exemplification more familiar than would be the algebraical symbols x or y. You would reach this in five years. The sixth year, then, still emit twenty Edition: current; Page: [434] millions of treasury notes, and continue all the taxes two years longer. The seventh year twenty millions more, and continue the whole taxes another two years; and so on. Observe, that although you emit twenty millions of dollars a year, you call in ten millions, and, consequently, add but ten millions annually to the circulation. It would be in thirty years, then, primâ facie, that you would reach the present circulation of three hundred millions, or the ultimate term to which we might adventure. But observe, also, that in that time we shall have become thirty millions of people to whom three hundred millions of dollars would be no more than one hundred millions to us now; which sum would probably not have raised prices more than fifty per cent. on what may be deemed the standard, or metallic prices. This increased population and consumption, while it would be increasing the proceeds of the redemption tax, and lessening the balance annually thrown into circulation, would also absorb, without saturation, more of the surplus medium, and enable us to push the same process to a much higher term, to one which we might safely call indefinite, because extending so far beyond the limits, either in time or expense, of any supposable war. All we should have to do would be, when the war should be ended, to leave the gradual extinction of these notes to the operation of the taxes pledged for their redemption; not to suffer a dollar of paper to be emitted either by public or private authority, but let the metallic medium flow back into the channels of circulation, and occupy them until another war should oblige us Edition: current; Page: [435] to recur, for its support, to the same resource, and the same process, on the circulating medium.

The citizens of a country like ours will never have unemployed capital. Too many enterprises are open, offering high profits, to permit them to lend their capitals on a regular and moderate interest. They are too enterprising and sanguine themselves not to believe they can do better with it. I never did believe you could have gone beyond a first or a second loan, not from a want of confidence in the public faith, which is perfectly sound, but from a want of disposable funds in individuals. The circulating fund is the only one we can ever command with certainty. It is sufficient for all our wants; and the impossibility of even defending the country without its aid as a borrowing fund, renders it indispensable that the nation should take and keep it in their own hands, as their exclusive resource.

I have trespassed on your time so far, for explanation only. I will do it no further than by adding the assurances of my affectionate and respectful attachment.

Years. Emissions. Taxes & Redemptions. Bal. in circulation at end of year.
1815 20 millions 2 millions 18 millions.
1816 20 millions 4 millions 34 millions.
1817 20 millions 6 millions 48 millions.
1818 20 millions 8 millions 60 millions.
1819 20 millions 10 millions 70 millions.
1820 20 millions 10 millions 80 millions.
1821 20 millions 10 millions 90 millions.
140
Edition: current; Page: [436]

Suppose the war to terminate here, to wit, at the end of seven years, the reduction will proceed as follows:

Years. Taxes & Redemptions. Bal. in cir. at end of year.
1822 10 millions 80 millions
1823 10 millions 70 millions
1824 10 millions 60 millions
1825 10 millions 50 millions
1826 10 millions 40 millions
1827 10 millions 30 millions
1828 10 millions 20 millions
1829 10 millions 10 millions
1830 10 millions 0 millions
140

This is a tabular statement of the amount of emissions, taxes, redemptions, and balances left in circulation every year, on the plan above sketched.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
October 16, 1814
Monticello
James Monroe
Monroe, James

TO JAMES MONROE

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Your letter of the 10th has been duly received. The objects of our contest being thus entirely changed by England, we must prepare for interminable war. To this end we should put our house in order, by providing men and money to indefinite extent. The former may be done by classing our militia, and assigning each class to the description of duties for which it is fit. It is nonsense to talk of regulars. They are not to be had among a people so easy and happy at home as ours. We Edition: current; Page: [437] might as well rely on calling down an army of angels from heaven. I trust it is now seen that the refusal to class the militia, when proposed years ago, is the real source of all our misfortunes in this war. The other great and indispensable object is to enter on such a system of finance, as can be permanently pursued to any length of time whatever. Let us be allured by no projects of banks, public or private, or ephemeral expedients, which, enabling us to gasp and flounder a little longer, only increase, by protracting the agonies of death.

Perceiving, in a letter from the President, that either I had ill expressed my ideas on a particular part of this subject, in the letters I sent you, or he had misapprehended them, I wrote him yesterday an explanation; and as you have thought the other letters worth a perusal, and a communication to the Secretary of the Treasury, I enclose you a copy of this, lest I should be misunderstood by others also. Only be so good as to return me the whole when done with, as I have no other copies.

Since writing the letter now enclosed, I have seen the Report of the committee of finance, proposing taxes to the amount of twenty millions. This is a dashing proposition. But, if Congress pass it, I shall consider it sufficient evidence that their constituents generally can pay the tax. No man has greater confidence than I have, in the spirit of the people, to a rational extent. Whatever they can, they will. But, without either market or medium, I know not how it is to be done. All markets abroad, and all at home, are shut to us; so that we have been Edition: current; Page: [438] feeding our horses on wheat. Before the day of collection, bank-notes will be but as oak leaves; and of specie, there is not within all the United States, one-half of the proposed amount of the taxes. I had thought myself as bold as was safe in contemplating, as possible, an annual taxation of ten millions, as a fund for emissions of treasury notes; and, when further emissions should be necessary, that it would be better to enlarge the time, than the tax for redemption. Our position, with respect to our enemy, and our markets, distinguishes us from all other nations; inasmuch as a state of war, with us, annihilates in an instant all our surplus produce, that on which we depended for many comforts of life. This renders peculiarly expedient the throwing a part of the burdens of war on times of peace and commerce. Still, however, my hope is that others see resources, which, in my abstraction from the world, are unseen by me; that there will be both market and medium to meet these taxes, and that there are circumstances which render it wiser to levy twenty millions at once on the people, than to obtain the same sum on a tenth of the tax.

I enclose you a letter of Colonel James Lewis, now of Tennessee, who wishes to be appointed Indian agent, and I do it lest he should have relied solely on this channel of communication. You know him better than I do, as he was long your agent. I have always believed him an honest man, and very good-humored and accommodating. Of his other qualifications for the office, you are the best judge. Believe me to be ever affectionately yours.

Edition: current; Page: [439]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Oct. 17. 14
Monticello
Joseph Milligan
Milligan, Joseph

TO JOSEPH MILLIGAN

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Your letters of Sep. 24. & Oct. 12. have been duly received. The packet of books will probably come on by the next stage. By the present one I send to the care of Mr. Gray of Fredericksburg a packet of 6. vols, which though made up of 4. different works, I wish to have bound as one work in 6. vols, to be labelled on the back “The Book of Kings.” The 1st & 2d vols. will be composed of the Memoirs of Bareuth, the binding to remain as it is, only changing the label. The Memoirs of Made. La Motte will make the 3d & 4th vols, pared down to the size of the first & bound uniform with them. Mrs. Clarke’s will be the 5th vol. pared & bound as before, and “the Book” will make the 6th which to be uniform in size with the rest, must perhaps be left with it’s present rough edges. Pray do it immediately and return it by the stage that they may be replaced on the shelves should Congress take my library, the proposition for which is before them. I mentioned to you the work on political economy by Tracy which had been translated by Genl. Duane, but could not be printed by him. I then wrote & offered it to Mr. Ritchie, from whom I had not received an answer when you were here, and I consulted you as to the allowance which ought to be made by Ritchie to Duane. Ritchie declines printing it, and I now inclose you a copy of my letter to him, which I will pray you to consider as now addressed to yourself, but to be returned to me, as I have no other copy. I shall be very glad if you will Edition: current; Page: [440] undertake the printing it, and I think it the best work ever written on the subject, and that you might count on a great sale of it to the members of Congress. Answer me as soon as you can if you please, because I have not yet answered Duane’s letter. The moment you say you will undertake it & specify the allowance for translating, I will have the MSS. brought on. I will correct the translation here and forward it to you sheet by sheet. When Congress return my Catalogue I will send that also to you to be printed. Accept assurances of my esteem & respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Dec. 7. 14
Monticello
Alexander Dallas
Dallas, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER DALLAS

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I tender my sincere congratulations on the occasion of your counsel and services being engaged for the public, and trust they will feel their benefit. The department to which you are called is the most arduous now in our government, and is that on which every other depends for it’s motion. Were our commerce open, no degree of contribution would be felt, but shut up as it is, the call on the people for taxes is truly a call for bricks without straw, in this state especially where we are feeding our horses with wheat as the cheapest forage; 50 cents being it’s price thro’ the middle country.

On the adoption of the land tax of the last year, an office of Assessor was established in every district, with power to determine what every land owner should pay, by his own judgment & without appeal. Edition: current; Page: [441] This important power could not fail to interest us highly, in the choice of the person vested with it. On a consultation with most of the principal persons in our quarter, there was but one opinion as to the fittest man in our district. All agreed that in the hands of a Mr. Peter Minor they would be safe, his ability, his judgment & independence being a sufficient security. I took the liberty therefore of writing to the President and to Mr. Campbell recommending this appointment. We were told soon after that it had been given to a Mr. Armstead of a neighboring county. This was given out by himself and Mr. Garland (formerly a member of Congress) whose protege Armstead is. The Assumption of the land tax by the state prevented further interest in the case. We now learn he had not the appointment and is now going on for it. If there be a better man than Minor we wish his appointment, but as to Mr. Armstead all agree he is the weakest & laziest man that could be found. Some believe him honest, others very openly deny it. Of his character however I have nothing personally, stating what I do from the information of others. Colo. Monroe, I think, knows Minor personally, & the President knows his family, it’s standing & character. He is nephew to Genl. Minor of Fredericksburg. The Collector being of this county (Albemarle) the principle of distribution might be supposed to require the Assessor from a different one. This principle may weigh between candidates of equal merit: but it cannot make the worse the better man, nor remedy the evils of an incorrect agent. The importance of this appointment Edition: current; Page: [442] towards a just apportionment of the public burthens & one which will probably be permanent, will I hope excuse my expressing to the government my own sense of it, and that of the most respectable persons of our quarter, with an assurance nevertheless, of our entire confidence that whatever appointment the government shall make will be founded in the best motives: and I avail myself of this occasion of assuring you of my great esteem & respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
January 1, 1815
Monticello
James Monroe
Monroe, James

TO JAMES MONROE

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Your letters of November the 30th and December the 21st have been received with great pleasure. A truth now and then projecting into the ocean of newspaper lies, serves like head-lands to correct our course. Indeed, my scepticism as to everything I see in a newspaper, makes me indifferent whether I ever see one. The embarrassments at Washington, in August last, I expected would be great in any state of things; but they proved greater than expected. I never doubted that the plans of the President were wise and sufficient. Their failure we all impute, 1, to the insubordinate temper of Armstrong; and 2, to the indecision of Winder. However, it ends well. It mortifies ourselves, and so may check, perhaps, the silly boasting spirit of our newspapers, and it enlists the feelings of the world on our side; and the advantage of public opinion is like that of the weather-gauge in a naval action. In Europe, the transient possession of our Capital can Edition: current; Page: [443] be no disgrace. Nearly every Capital there was in possession of its enemy; some often and long. But diabolical as they paint that enemy, he burnt neither public edifices nor private dwellings. It was reserved for England to show that Bonaparte, in atrocity, was an infant to their ministers and their generals. They are taking his place in the eyes of Europe, and have turned into our channel all its good will. This will be worth the million of dollars the repairs of their conflagration will cost us. I hope that to preserve this weather-gauge of public opinion, and to counteract the slanders and falsehoods disseminated by the English papers, the government will make it a standing instruction to their ministers at foreign courts, to keep Europe truly informed of occurrences here, by publishing in their papers the naked truth always, whether favorable or unfavorable. For they will believe the good, if we candidly tell them the bad also.

But you have two more serious causes of uneasiness; the want of men and money. For the former, nothing more wise or efficient could have been imagined than what you proposed. It would have filled our ranks with regulars, and that, too, by throwing a just share of the burthen on the purses of those whose persons are exempt either by age or office; and it would have rendered our militia, like those of the Greeks and Romans, a nation of warriors. But the go-by seems to have been given to your proposition, and longer sufferance is necessary to force us to what is best. We seem equally incorrigible to our financial course. Although a century of British Edition: current; Page: [444] experience has proved to what a wonderful extent the funding on specific redeeming taxes enables a nation to anticipate in war the resources of peace, and although the other nations of Europe have tried and trodden every path of force or folly in fruitless quest of the same object, yet we still expect to find in juggling tricks and banking dreams, that money can be made out of nothing, and in sufficient quantity to meet the expenses of a heavy war by sea and land. It is said, indeed, that money cannot be borrowed from our merchants as from those of England. But it can be borrowed from our people. They will give you all the necessaries of war they produce, if, instead of the bankrupt trash they now are obliged to receive for want of any other, you will give them a paper promise funded on a specific pledge, and of a size for common circulation. But you say the merchants will not take this paper. What the people take the merchants must take or sell nothing. All these doubts and fears prove only the extent of the dominion which the banking institutions have obtained over the minds of our citizens, and especially of those inhabiting cities or other banking places; and this dominion must be broken, or it will break us. But here, as in the other case, we must make up our minds to suffer yet longer before we can get right. The misfortune is, that in the meantime we shall plunge ourselves in unextinguishable debt, and entail on our posterity an inheritance of eternal taxes, which will bring our government and people into the condition of those of England, a nation of pikes and gudgeons, the latter bred merely as food Edition: current; Page: [445] for the former. But, however these difficulties of men and money may be disposed of, it is fortunate that neither of them will affect our war by sea. Privateers will find their own men and money. Let nothing be spared to encourage them. They are the dagger which strikes at the heart of the enemy, their commerce. Frigates and seventy-fours are a sacrifice we must make, heavy as it is, to the prejudices of a part of our citizens. They have, indeed, rendered a great moral service, which has delighted me as much as any one in the United States. But they have had no physical effect sensible to the enemy; and now, while we must fortify them in our harbors, and keep armies to defend them, our privateers are bearding and blockading the enemy in their own seaports. Encourage them to burn all their prizes, and let the public pay for them. They will cheat us enormously. No matter; they will make the merchants of England feel, and squeal, and cry out for peace.

I much regretted your acceptance of the war department. Not that I know a person who I think would better conduct it. But, conduct it ever so wisely, it will be a sacrifice of yourself. Were an angel from Heaven to undertake that office, all our miscarriages would be ascribed to him. Raw troops, no troops, insubordinate militia, want of arms, want of money, want of provisions, all will be charged to want of management in you. I speak from experience, when I was Governor of Virginia. Without a regular in the State, and scarcely a musket to put into the hands of the militia, invaded by two armies, Edition: current; Page: [446] Arnold’s from the sea-board and Cornwallis’ from the southward, when we were driven from Richmond and Charlottesville, and every member of my council fled from their homes, it was not the total destitution of means, but the mismanagement of them, which, in the querulous voice of the public, caused all our misfortunes. It ended, indeed, in the capture of the whole hostile force, but not till means were brought us by General Washington’s army, and the French fleet and army. And although the legislature, who were personally intimate with both the means and measures, acquitted me with justice and thanks, yet General Lee has put all those imputations among the romances of his historical novel, for the amusement of credulous and uninquisitive readers. Not that I have seen the least disposition to censure you. On the contrary, your conduct on the attack of Washington has met the praises of every one, and your plan for regulars and militia, their approbation. But no campaign is as yet opened. No generals have yet an interest in shifting their own incompetence on you, no army agents their rogueries. I sincerely pray you may never meet censure where you will deserve most praise, and that your own happiness and prosperity may be the result of your patriotic services.

Ever and affectionately yours.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Jan. 5. 15
Monticello
Joseph C. Cabell
Cabell, Joseph C.

TO JOSEPH C. CABELL

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Your favor of Dec. 27 with the letter inclosed, has been received. Knowing well that the Edition: current; Page: [447] bank-mania still possesses the great body of our countrymen, it was not expected that any radical cure of that could be at once effected. We must go further wrong, probably to a ne plus ultra before we shall be forced into what is right. Something will be obtained however, if we can excite, in those who think, doubt first, reflexion next, and conviction at last. The constitution too presents difficulties here with which the general government is not embarrassed. If your Auditor’s notes are made payable to bearer, and of sizes suitable for circulation, they will find their way into circulation, as well as into the hoards of the thrifty. Especially in important payments for land &c which are to lie on hand some time waiting for employment. A bank-note is now received only as a “Robin’s alive.”

On Mr. Ritchie’s declining the publication of Tracy’s work, I proposed it to a Mr. Milligan of Georgetown who undertakes it. I had therefore written to Genl. Duane to forward it to him; so that it will not be in my possession until it is published. Have you seen the Review of Montesquieu by an anonymous author? The ablest work of the age. It was translated and published by Duane about 3. years ago. In giving the most correct analysis of the principles of political association which has yet been offered, he states, in the branch of political economy particularly, altho’ much is brief, some of the soundest and most profound views we have ever had on those subjects. I have lately received a letter from Say. He has in contemplation to remove to this country, and to this neighborhood particularly; Edition: current; Page: [448] and asks from me answers to some enquiries he makes. Could the petition which the Albemarle academy addressed to our legislature have succeeded at the late session a little aid additional to the objects of that would have enabled us to have here immediately the best seminary of the US. I do not know to whom P. Carr (President of the board of trustees) committed the petition and papers; but I have seen no trace of their having been offered. Thinking it possible you may not have seen them, I send for your perusal the copies I retained for my own use. They consist 1. of a letter to him, sketching at the request of the trustees, a plan for the institution. 2. One to Judge Cooper in answer to some observations he had favored me with, on the plan. 3. A copy of the petition of the trustees. 4. A copy of the act we wished from the legislature. They are long. But, as we always counted on you as the main pillar of their support, and we shall probably return to the charge at the next session, the trouble of reading them will come upon you, and as well now as then. The lottery allowed by the former act, the proceeds of our two glebes, and our dividend of the literary fund, with the reorganization of the institution are what was asked in that petition. In addition to this if we could obtain a loan for 4. or 5. years only, of 7. or 8000 D. I think I have it now in my power to obtain three of the ablest characters in the world to fill the higher professorships of what in the plan is called the IId or General grade of education, three such characters as are not in a single university of Europe and for those Edition: current; Page: [449] of languages & Mathematics, a part of the same grade, able professors doubtless could also be readily obtained. With these characters, I should not be afraid to say that the circle of the sciences composing that 2d or General grade, would be more profoundly taught here than in any institution in the US. and might I go farther.

The 1st or Elementary grade of education is not developed in this plan; an authority only being asked to it’s Visitors for putting into motion a former proposition for that object. For an explanation of this therefore, I am obliged to add to these papers a letter I wrote some time since to Mr. Adams, in which I had occasion to give some account of what had been proposed here for culling from every condition of our people the natural aristocracy of talents & virtue, and of preparing it by education, at the public expence, for the care of the public concerns. This letter will present to you some measures still requisite to compleat & secure our republican edifice, and which remain in charge for our younger statesmen. On yourself, Mr. Rives, Mr. Gilmer, when they shall enter the public councils, I rest my hopes for this great accomplishment, and doubtless you will have other able coadjutors not known to me.

Colo. Randolph having gone to Richmond before the rising of the legislature, you will have had an opportunity of explaining to him personally the part of your letter respecting his petition for opening the Milton falls, which his departure prevented my communicating to him. I had not heard him speak of it, and had been glad, as to myself, by the act Edition: current; Page: [450] recently passed, to have saved our own rights in the defensive war with the Rivanna company, and should not have advised the renewing and carrying the war into the enemy’s country.

Be so good as to return all the inclosed papers after perusal and to accept assurances of my great esteem & respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
February 11, 1815
Monticello
William H. Crawford
Crawford, William H.

TO WILLIAM H. CRAWFORD
(MINISTER TO FRANCE.)

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I have to thank you for your letter of June 16th. It presents those special views of the state of things in Europe, for which we look in vain into newspapers. They tell us only of the downfall of Bonaparte, but nothing of the temper, the views, the secret workings of the high agents in these transactions. Although we neither expected, nor wished any act of friendship from Bonaparte, and always detested him as a tyrant, yet he gave employment to much of the force of the nation who was our common enemy. So far, his downfall was illy timed for us; it gave to England an opportunity to turn full-handed on us, when we were unprepared. No matter, we can beat her on our own soil, leaving the laws of the ocean to be settled by the maritime powers of Europe, who are equally oppressed and insulted by the usurpations of England on that element. Our particular and separate grievance is only the impressment of our citizens. We must sacrifice the last dollar and drop of blood to rid us of that Edition: current; Page: [451] badge of slavery; and it must rest with England alone to say whether it is worth eternal war, for eternal it must be if she holds to the wrong. She will probably find that the six thousand citizens she took from us by impressment have already cost her ten thousand guineas a man, and will cost her, in addition, the half of that annually, during the continuance of the war, besides the captures on the ocean, and the loss of our commerce. She might certainly find cheaper means of manning her fleet, or, if to be manned at this expense, her fleet will break her down. The first year of our warfare by land was disastrous. Detroit, Queenstown, Frenchtown, and Beaver Dam, witness that. But the second was generally successful, and the third entirely so, both by sea and land. For I set down the coup de main at Washington as more disgraceful to England than to us. The victories of the last year at Chippewa, Niagara, Fort Erie, Plattsburg, and New Orleans, the capture of their two fleets on Lakes Erie and Champlain, and repeated triumphs of our frigates over hers, whenever engaging with equal force, show that we have officers now becoming prominent, and capable of making them feel the superiority of our means, in a war on our own soil. Our means are abundant both as to men and money, wanting only skilful arrangement; and experience alone brings skill. As to men, nothing wiser can be devised than what the Secretary at War (Monroe) proposed in his Report at the commencement of Congress. It would have kept our regular army always of necessity full, and by classing our militia according Edition: current; Page: [452] to ages, would have put them into a form ready for whatever service, distant or at home, should require them. Congress have not adopted it, but their next experiment will lead to it. Our financial system is, at least, arranged. The fatal possession of the whole circulating medium by our banks, the excess of those institutions, and their present discredit, cause all our difficulties. Treasury notes of small as well as high denomination, bottomed on a tax which would redeem them in ten years, would place at our disposal the whole circulating medium of the United States; a fund of credit sufficient to carry us through any probable length of war. A small issue of such paper is now commencing. It will immediately supersede the bank paper; nobody receiving that now but for the purposes of the day, and never in payments which are to lie by for any time. In fact, all the banks having declared they will not give cash in exchange for their own notes, these circulate merely because there is no other medium of exchange. As soon as the treasury notes get into circulation, the others will cease to hold any competition with them. I trust that another year will confirm this experiment, and restore this fund to the public, who ought never more to permit its being filched from them by private speculators and disorganizers of the circulation.

Do they send you from Washington the Historical Register of the United States? It is published there annually, and gives a succinct and judicious history of the events of the war, not too long to be inserted in the European newspapers, and would keep the Edition: current; Page: [453] European public truly informed, by correcting the lying statements of the British papers. It gives, too, all the public documents of any value. Niles’ Weekly Register is also an excellent repository of facts and documents, and has the advantage of coming out weekly, whereas the other is yearly.

This will be handed you by Mr. Ticknor, a young gentleman of Boston, of high education and great promise. After going through his studies here, he goes to Europe to finish them, and to see what is to be seen there. He brought me high recommendations from Mr. Adams and others, and from a stay of some days with me, I was persuaded he merited them, as he will whatever attentions you will be so good as to show him. I pray you to accept the assurance of my great esteem and respect.

P. S. February 26th. On the day of the date of this letter the news of peace reached Washington, and this place two days after. I am glad of it, although no provision being made against the impressment of our seamen, it is in fact but an armistice, to be terminated by the first act of impressment committed on an American citizen. It may be thought that useless blood was spilt at New Orleans, after the treaty of peace had been actually signed and ratified. I think it had many valuable uses. It proved the fidelity of the Orleanese to the United States. It proved that New Orleans can be defended both by land and water; that the western country will fly to its relief (of which ourselves had doubted before); that our militia are heroes when they have Edition: current; Page: [454] heroes to lead them on; and that, when unembarrassed by field evolutions, which they do not understand, their skill in the fire-arm, and deadly aim, give them great advantages over regulars. What nonsense for the manakin Prince Regent to talk of their conquest of the country east of the Penobscot river! Then, as in the revolutionary war, their conquests were never more than of the spot on which their army stood, never extended beyond the range of their cannon shot. If England is now wise or just enough to settle peaceably the question of impressment, the late treaty may become one of peace, and of long peace. We owe to their past follies and wrongs the incalculable advantage of being made independent of them for every material manufacture. These have taken such root, in our private families especially, that nothing now can ever extirpate them.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
February 14, 1815
Monticello
Marquis de Lafayette
Lafayette, Marquis de

TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE

j. mss.
My Dear Friend,

—Your letter of August the 14th has been received and read again, and again, with extraordinary pleasure. It is the first glimpse which has been furnished me of the interior workings of the late unexpected but fortunate revolution of your country. The newspapers told us only that the great beast was fallen; but what part in this the patriots acted, and what the egotists, whether the former slept while the latter were awake to their own interests only, the hireling scribblers of the English Edition: current; Page: [455] press said little and knew less. I see now the mortifying alternative under which the patriot there is placed, of being either silent, or disgraced by an association in opposition with the remains of Bonapartism. A full measure of liberty is not now perhaps to be expected by your nation, nor am I confident they are prepared to preserve it. More than a generation will be requisite, under the administration of reasonable laws favoring the progress of knowledge in the general mass of the people, and their habituation to an independent security of person and property, before they will be capable of estimating the value of freedom, and the necessity of a sacred adherence to the principles on which it rests for preservation. Instead of that liberty which takes root and growth in the progress of reason, if recovered by mere force or accident, it becomes, with an unprepared people, a tyranny still, of the many, the few, or the one. Possibly you may remember, at the date of the jue de paume, how earnestly I urged yourself and the patriots of my acquaintance, to enter then into a compact with the king, securing freedom of religion, freedom of the press, trial by jury, habeas corpus, and a national legislature, all of which it was known he would then yield, to go home, and let these work on the amelioration of the condition of the people, until they should have rendered them capable of more, when occasions would not fail to arise for communicating to them more. This was as much as I then thought them able to bear, soberly and usefully for themselves. You thought otherwise, and that the dose might Edition: current; Page: [456] still be larger. And I found you were right; for subsequent events proved they were equal to the constitution of 1791. Unfortunately, some of the most honest and enlightened of our patriotic friends, (but closet politicians merely, unpractised in the knowledge of man,) thought more could still be obtained and borne. They did not weigh the hazards of a transition from one form of government to another, the value of what they had already rescued from those hazards, and might hold in security if they pleased, nor the imprudence of giving up the certainty of such a degree of liberty, under a limited monarchy, for the uncertainty of a little more under the form of a republic. You differed from them. You were for stopping there, and for securing the constitution which the National Assembly had obtained. Here, too, you were right; and from this fatal error of the republicans, from their separation from yourself and the constitutionalists, in their councils, flowed all the subsequent sufferings and crimes of the French nation. The hazards of a second change fell upon them by the way. The foreigner gained time to anarchise by gold the government he could not overthrow by arms, to crush in their own councils the genuine republicans, by the fraternal embraces of exaggerated and hired pretenders, and to turn the machine of Jacobinism from the change to the destruction of order; and, in the end, the limited monarchy they had secured was exchanged for the unprincipled and bloody tyranny of Robespierre, and the equally unprincipled and maniac tyranny of Bonaparte. You are now rid of Edition: current; Page: [457] him, and I sincerely wish you may continue so. But this may depend on the wisdom and moderation of the restored dynasty. It is for them now to read a lesson in the fatal errors of the republicans; to be contented with a certain portion of power, secured by formal compact with the nation, rather than, grasping at more, hazard all upon uncertainty, and risk meeting the fate of their predecessor, or a renewal of their own exile. We are just informed, too, of an example which merits, if true, their most profound contemplation. The gazettes say that Ferdinand of Spain is dethroned, and his father re-established on the basis of their new constitution. This order of magistrates must, therefore, see, that although the attempts at reformation have not succeeded in their whole length, and some secession from the ultimate point has taken place, yet that men have by no means fallen back to their former passiveness, but on the contrary, that a sense of their rights, and a restlessness to obtain them, remain deeply impressed on every mind, and, if not quieted by reasonable relaxations of power, will break out like a volcano on the first occasion, and overwhelm everything again in its way. I always thought the present king an honest and moderate man; and having no issue, he is under a motive the less for yielding to personal considerations. I cannot, therefore, but hope, that the patriots in and out of your legislature, acting in phalanx, but temperately and wisely, pressing unremittingly the principles omitted in the late capitulation of the king, and watching the occasions which the course of events will create, may Edition: current; Page: [458] get those principles engrafted into it, and sanctioned by the solemnity of a national act.

With us the affairs of war have taken the most favorable turn which was to be expected. Our thirty years of peace had taken off, or superannuated, all our revolutionary officers of experience and grade; and our first draught in the lottery of untried characters had been most unfortunate. The delivery of the fort and army of Detroit by the traitor Hull; the disgrace at Queenstown, under Van Rensellaer; the massacre at Frenchtown under Winchester; and surrender of Boerstler in an open field to one-third of his own numbers, were the inauspicious beginnings of the first year of our warfare. The second witnessed but the single miscarriage occasioned by the disagreement of Wilkinson and Hampton, mentioned in my letter to you of November the 30th, 1813, while it gave us the capture of York by Dearborne and Pike; the capture of Fort George by Dearborne also; the capture of Proctor’s army on the Thames by Harrison, Shelby and Johnson, and that of the whole British fleet on Lake Erie by Perry. The third year has been a continued series of victories, to-wit: of Brown and Scott at Chippewa, of the same at Niagara; of Gaines over Drummond at Fort Erie; that of Brown over Drummond at the same place; the capture of another fleet on Lake Champlain by M’Donough; the entire defeat of their army under Prevost, on the same day, by M’Comb, and recently their defeats at New Orleans by Jackson, Coffee and Carroll, with the loss of four thousand men out of nine thousand and six hundred, Edition: current; Page: [459] with their two generals, Packingham and Gibbs killed, and a third, Keane, wounded, mortally, as is said.

This series of successes has been tarnished only by the conflagration at Washington, a coup de main differing from that at Richmond, which you remember, in the revolutionary war, in the circumstance only, that we had, in that case, but forty-eight hours’ notice that an enemy had arrived within our capes; whereas, at Washington, there was abundant previous notice. The force designated by the President was double of what was necessary; but failed, as is the general opinion, through the insubordination of Armstrong, who would never believe the attack intended until it was actually made, and the sluggishness of Winder before the occasion, and his indecision during it. Still, in the end, the transaction has helped rather than hurt us, by arousing the general indignation of our country, and by marking to the world of Europe the Vandalism and brutal character of the English government. It has merely served to immortalize their infamy. And add further, that through the whole period of the war, we have beaten them single-handed at sea, and so thoroughly established our superiority over them with equal force, that they retire from that kind of contest, and never suffer their frigates to cruize singly. The Endymion would never have engaged the frigate President, but knowing herself backed by three frigates and a razee, who, though somewhat slower sailers, would get up before she could be taken. The disclosure to the world of the fatal secret that they can be beaten at Edition: current; Page: [460] sea with an equal force, the evidence furnished by the military operations of the last year that experience is rearing us officers who, when our means shall be fully under way, will plant our standard on the walls of Quebec and Halifax, their recent and signal disaster at New Orleans, and the evaporation of their hopes from the Hartford convention, will probably raise a clamor in the British nation, which will force their ministry into peace. I say force them, because, willingly, they would never be at peace. The British ministers find in a state of war rather than of peace, by riding the various contractors, and receiving douceurs on the vast expenditures of the war supplies, that they recruit their broken fortunes, or make new ones, and therefore will not make peace as long as by any delusions they can keep the temper of the nation up to the war point. They found some hopes on the state of our finances. It is true that the excess of our banking institutions, and their present discredit, have shut us out from the best source of credit we could ever command with certainty. But the foundations of credit still remain to us, and need but skill which experience will soon produce, to marshal them into an order which may carry us through any length of war. But they have hoped more in their Hartford convention. Their fears of republican France being now done away, they are directed to republican America, and they are playing the same game for disorganization here, which they played in your country. The Marats, the Dantons and Robespierres of Massachusetts are in the same pay, under the same orders, and making Edition: current; Page: [461] the same efforts to anarchise us, that their prototypes in France did there.

I do not say that all who met at Hartford were under the same motives of money, nor were those of France. Some of them are Outs, and wish to be Inns; some the mere dupes of the agitators, or of their own party passions, while the Maratists alone are in the real secret; but they have very different materials to work on. The yeomanry of the United States are not the canaille of Paris. We might safely give them leave to go through the United States recruiting their ranks, and I am satisfied they could not raise one single regiment (gambling merchants and silk-stocking clerks excepted) who would support them in any effort to separate from the Union. The cement of this Union is in the heart-blood of every American. I do not believe there is on earth a government established on so immovable a basis. Let them, in any State, even in Massachusetts itself, raise the standard of separation, and its citizens will rise in mass, and do justice themselves on their own incendiaries. If they could have induced the government to some effort of suppression, or even to enter into discussion with them, it would have given them some importance, have brought them into some notice. But they have not been able to make themselves even a subject of conversation, either of public or private societies. A silent contempt has been the sole notice they excite; consoled, indeed, some of them, by the palpable favors of Philip. Have then no fears for us, my friend. The grounds of these exist only in English newspapers, endited or endowed Edition: current; Page: [462] by the Castlereaghs or the Cannings, or some other such models of pure and uncorrupted virtue. Their military heroes, by land and sea, may sink our oyster boats, rob our hen roosts, burn our negro huts, and run off. But a campaign or two more will relieve them from further trouble or expense in defending their American possessions.

You once gave me a copy of the journal of your campaign in Virginia, in 1781, which I must have lent to some one of the undertakers to write the history of the revolutionary war, and forgot to reclaim. I conclude this, because it is no longer among my papers, which I have very diligently searched for it, but in vain. An author of real ability is now writing that part of the history of Virginia. He does it in my neighborhood, and I lay open to him all my papers. But I possess none, nor has he any, which can enable him to do justice to your faithful and able services in that campaign. If you could be so good as to send me another copy, by the very first vessel bound to any port in the United States, it might be here in time; for although he expects to begin to print within a month or two, yet you know the delays of these undertakings. At any rate it might be got in as a supplement. The old Count Rochambeau gave me also his memoire of the operations at York, which is gone in the same way, and I have no means of applying to his family for it. Perhaps you could render them as well as us, the service of procuring another copy.

I learn, with real sorrow, the deaths of Monsieur and Madame de Tessé. They made an interesting Edition: current; Page: [463] part in the idle reveries in which I have sometimes indulged myself, of seeing all my friends of Paris once more, for a month or two; a thing impossible, which, however, I never permitted myself to despair of. The regrets, however, of seventy-three at the loss of friends, may be the less, as the time is shorter within which we are to meet again, according to the creed of our education.

This letter will be handed you by Mr. Ticknor, a young gentleman of Boston, of great erudition, indefatigable industry, and preparation for a life of distinction in his own country. He passed a few days with me here, brought high recommendations from Mr. Adams and others, and appeared in every respect to merit them. He is well worthy of those attentions which you so kindly bestow on our countrymen, and for those he may receive I shall join him in acknowledging personal obligations.

I salute you with assurances of my constant and affectionate friendship and respect.

P. S. February 26th. My letter had not yet been sealed, when I received news of our peace. I am glad of it, and especially that we closed our war with the eclat of the action at New Orleans. But I consider it as an armistice only, because no security is provided against the impressment of our seamen. While this is unsettled we are in hostility of mind with England, although actual deeds of arms may be suspended by a truce. If she thinks the exercise of this outrage is worth eternal war, eternal war it must be, or extermination of the one or the other Edition: current; Page: [464] party. The first act of impressment she commits on an American, will be answered by reprisal, or by a declaration of war here; and the interval must be merely a state of preparation for it. In this we have much to do, in further fortifying our seaport towns, providing military stores, classing and disciplining our militia, arranging our financial system, and above all, pushing our domestic manufactures, which have taken such root as never again can be shaken. Once more, God bless you.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
March 23, 1815
Monticello
James Madison
Madison, James

TO JAMES MADISON

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I duly received your favor of the 12th, and with it the pamphlet on the causes and conduct of the war, which I now return. I have read it with great pleasure, but with irresistible desire that it should be published. The reasons in favor of this are strong, and those against it are so easily gotten over, that there appears to me no balance between them. 1. We need it in Europe. They have totally mistaken our character. Accustomed to rise at a feather themselves, and to be always fighting, they will see in our conduct, fairly stated, that acquiescence under wrong, to a certain degree, is wisdom, and not pusillanimity; and that peace and happiness are preferable to that false honor which, by eternal wars, keeps their people in eternal labor, want, and wretchedness. 2. It is necessary for the people of England, who have been deceived as to the causes and conduct of the war, and do not entertain a doubt, Edition: current; Page: [465] that it was entirely wanton and wicked on our part, and under the order of Bonaparte. By rectifying their ideas, it will tend to that conciliation which is absolutely necessary to the peace and prosperity of both nations. 3. It is necessary for our own people, who, although they have known the details as they went along, yet have been so plied with false facts and false views by the federalists, that some impression has been left that all has not been right. It may be said that it will be thought unfriendly. But truths necessary for our own character, must not be suppressed out of tenderness to its calumniators. Although written, generally, with great moderation, there may be some things in the pamphlet which may perhaps irritate. The characterizing every act, for example, by its appropriate epithet, is not necessary to show its deformity to an intelligent reader. The naked narrative will present it truly to his mind, and the more strongly, from its moderation, as he will perceive that no exaggeration is aimed at. Rubbing down these roughnesses, and they are neither many nor prominent, and preserving the original date, might, I think, remove all the offensiveness, and give more effect to the publication. Indeed, I think that a soothing postcript, addressed to the interests, the prospects, and the sober reason of both nations, would make it acceptable to both. The trifling expense of reprinting it ought not to be considered a moment. Mr. Gallatin could have it translated into French, and suffer it to get abroad in Europe without either avowal or disavowal. But it would be useful to print some copies of an appendix, Edition: current; Page: [466] containing all the documents referred to, to be preserved in libraries, and to facilitate to the present and future writers of history, the acquisition of the materials which test the truth it contains.

I sincerely congratulate you on the peace, and, more especially on the eclat with which the war was closed. The affair of New Orleans was fraught with useful lessons to ourselves, our enemies, and our friends, and will powerfully influence our future relations with the nations of Europe. It will show them we mean to take no part in their wars, and count no odds when engaged in our own. I presume that, having spared to the pride of England her formal acknowledgment of the atrocity of impressment in an article of the treaty, she will concur in a convention for relinquishing it. Without this, she must understand that the present is but a truce, determinable on the first act of impressment of an American citizen, committed by any officer of hers. Would it not be better that this convention should be a separate act, unconnected with any treaty of commerce, and made an indispensable preliminary to all other treaty? If blended with a treaty of commerce she will make it the price of injurious concessions. Indeed, we are infinitely better without such treaties with any nation. We cannot too distinctly detach ourselves from the European system, which is essentially belligerent, nor too sedulously cultivate an American system, essentially pacific. But if we go into commercial treaties at all, they should be with all, at the same time, with whom we have important commercial relations. France, Spain, Portugal, Edition: current; Page: [467] Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Russia, all should proceed pari passu. Our ministers marching in phalanx on the same line, and intercommunicating freely, each will be supported by the weight of the whole mass, and the facility with which the other nations will agree to equal terms of intercourse, will discountenance the selfish higglings of England, or justify our rejection of them. Perhaps, with all of them, it would be best to have but the single article gentis amicissimæ, leaving everything else to the usages and courtesies of civilized nations. But all these things will occur to yourself, with their counter-consideration.

Mr. Smith wrote to me on the transportation of the library, and, particularly, that it is submitted to your direction. He mentioned, also, that Dougherty would be engaged to superintend it. No one will more carefully and faithfully execute all those duties which would belong to a wagon master. But it requires a character acquainted with books, to receive the library. I am now employing as many hours of every day as my strength will permit, in arranging the books, and putting every one in its place on the shelves, corresponding with its order on the catalogue, and shall have them numbered correspondently. This operation will employ me a considerable time yet. Then I should wish a competent agent to attend, and, with the catalogue in his hand, see that every book is on the shelves, and have their lids nailed on, one by one, as he proceeds. This would take such a person about two days; after which, Dougherty’s business would be the mere Edition: current; Page: [468] mechanical removal, at convenience. I enclose you a letter from Mr. Milligan, offering his service, which would not cost more than eight or ten days’ reasonable compensation. This is necessary for my safety and your satisfaction, as a just caution for the public. You know that there are persons, both in and out of the public councils, who will seize every occasion of imputation on either of us, the more difficult to be repelled in this case, in which a negative could not be proved. If you approve of it, therefore, as soon as I am through the review, I will give notice to Mr. Milligan, or any other person you will name, to come on immediately. Indeed it would be well worth while to add to his duty, that of covering the books with a little paper, (the good bindings, at least,) and filling the vacancies of the presses with paper parings, to be brought from Washington. This would add little more to the time, as he could carry on both operations at once.

Accept the assurance of my constant and affectionate friendship and respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Apr. 18. 1815
Monticello
Alexander J. Dallas
Dallas, Alexander J.

TO ALEXANDER J. DALLAS
(SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.)

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Your favor of Feb. 21. was received in due time. I thought it a duty to spare you the trouble of reading an useless answer, and have therefore delayed acknoleging it until now. Not having revised the library for many years, I expected that books would be missing without being able to conjecture Edition: current; Page: [469] how many, and that in that case a deduction should be made for the deficient volumes. I have gone through a rigorous review of them, and find indeed some missing, which were in the Catalogue, on which the estimate and price has been made; but that considerably more both in number and value had been omitted by oversight in copying that catalogue from the original one which was done two years ago. I have not thought it right to withdraw these from the library, so that the whole delivered exceeds on the principles of the estimate, the sum appropriated, and of course there is no ground for any deduction. The books being now all ready for delivery, and their removal actually commenced, I may with propriety now receive the payment. Entirely unacquainted as I am with the forms established at the treasury, for the security of the public I must only say what I wish, and so far as it may be inconsistent with the necessary forms, you will have the goodness to correct me and inform me what is necessary. If my convenience can be so far consulted, I would request payments to be made

Dollars
To William Short of Philadelphia of 10,500 In bills of such of the specified denominations & places of paiment as they shall chuse
To John Barnes of Georgetown of 4,870
To myself 8,580 To be inclosed to me by mail.
23,950

In 82. notes of 100. D. each and 19. of 20. D. each, payable in Richmond, for which last sum I inclose my receipt, and I forward to Mr. Short and Mr. Edition: current; Page: [470] Barnes orders on the Treasurer for the sums to be paid them for which they will give acquittals. Should these papers be deficient in form, I will, at a moment’s warning send on any others in whatever form shall be necessary. Should it be requisite that the whole should be payable at one and the same place, then Washington would be the most convenient for the whole. As I wait only the completion of the delivery of all the books to set out on a journey of considerable absence and urgency, it would be a great favor to me if the sum which I ask to be remitted to myself, could be sent by as early a mail as the convenience of the Treasury will admit. I pray you to accept my friendly and respectful salutations.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
May 1, 1815
Monticello
David Barrow
Barrow, David

TO DAVID BARROW

j. mss.
Sir,

—I have duly received your favor of March 20th, and am truly thankful for the favorable sentiments expressed in it towards myself. If, in the course of my life, it has been in any degree useful to the cause of humanity, the fact itself bears its full reward. The particular subject of the pamphlet you enclosed me was one of early and tender consideration with me, and had I continued in the councils of my own State, it should never have been out of sight. The only practicable plan I could ever devise is stated under the 14th quaere of the Notes on Virginia, and it is still the one most sound in my judgment. Unhappily it is a case for which both parties require long and difficult preparation. The mind of Edition: current; Page: [471] the master is to be apprized by reflection, and strengthened by the energies of conscience, against the obstacles of self interest to an acquiescence in the rights of others; that of the slave is to be prepared by instruction and habit for self government, and for the honest pursuits of industry and social duty. Both of these courses of preparation require time, and the former must precede the latter. Some progress is sensibly made in it; yet not so much as I had hoped and expected. But it will yield in time to temperate and steady pursuit, to the enlargement of the human mind, and its advancement in science. We are not in a world ungoverned by the laws and the power of a superior agent. Our efforts are in his hand, and directed by it; and he will give them their effect in his own time. Where the disease is most deeply seated, there it will be slowest in eradication. In the northern States it was merely superficial, and easily corrected. In the southern it is incorporated with the whole system, and requires time, patience, and perseverance in the curative process. That it may finally be effected, and its progress hastened, will be the last and fondest prayer of him who now salutes you with respect and consideration.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
June 11, 1815
Monticello
W. H. Torrance
Torrance, W. H.

TO W. H. TORRANCE

j. mss.
Sir,

—I received a few days ago your favor of May 5th, stating a question on a law of the State of Georgia which suspends judgments for a limited time, and asking my opinion whether it may be valid under the Edition: current; Page: [472] inhibition of our constitution to pass laws impairing the obligations of contracts. It is more than forty years since I have quitted the practice of the law, and been engaged in vocations which furnished little occasion of preserving a familiarity with that science. I am far, therefore, from being qualified to decide on the problems it presents, and certainly not disposed to obtrude in a case where gentlemen have been consulted of the first qualifications, and of actual and daily familiarity with the subject, especially too in a question on the law of another State. We have in this State a law resembling in some degree that you quote, suspending executions until a year after the treaty of peace; but no question under it has been raised before the courts. It is also, I believe, expected that when this shall expire, in consideration of the absolute impossibility of procuring coin to satisfy judgments, a law will be passed, similar to that passed in England, on suspending the cash payments of their bank, that provided that on refusal by a party to receive notes of the Bank of England in any case either of past or future contracts, the judgment should be suspended during the continuance of that act, bearing, however, legal interest. They seemed to consider that it was not this law which changed the conditions of the contract, but the circumstances which had arisen, and had rendered its literal execution impossible; by the disappearance of the metallic medium stipulated by the contract, that the parties not concurring in a reasonable and just accommodation, it became the duty of the legislature to arbitrate between them; and Edition: current; Page: [473] that less restrained than the Duke of Venice by the letter of decree, they were free to adjudge to Shylock a reasonable equivalent. And I believe that in our States this umpirage of the legislatures has been generally interposed in cases where a literal execution of contract has, by a change of circumstances, become impossible, or, if enforced, would produce a disproportion between the subject of the contract and its price, which the parties did not contemplate at the time of the contract.

The second question, whether the judges are invested with exclusive authority to decide on the constitutionality of a law, has been heretofore a subject of consideration with me in the exercise of official duties. Certainly there is not a word in the constitution which has given that power to them more than to the executive or legislative branches. Questions of property, of character and of crime being ascribed to the judges, through a definite course of legal proceeding, laws involving such questions belong, of course, to them; and as they decide on them ultimately and without appeal, they of course decide for themselves. The constitutional validity of the law or laws again prescribing executive action, and to be administered by that branch ultimately and without appeal, the executive must decide for themselves also, whether, under the constitution, they are valid or not. So also as to laws governing the proceedings of the legislature, that body must judge for itself the constitutionality of the law, and equally without appeal or control from its co-ordinate branches. And, in general, that branch which is to Edition: current; Page: [474] act ultimately, and without appeal, on any law, is the rightful expositor of the validity of the law, uncontrolled by the opinions of the other co-ordinate authorities. It may be said that contradictory decisions may arise in such case, and produce inconvenience. This is possible, and is a necessary failing in all human proceedings. Yet the prudence of the public functionaries, and authority of public opinion, will generally produce accommodation. Such an instance of difference occurred between the judges of England (in the time of Lord Holt) and the House of Commons, but the prudence of those bodies prevented inconvenience from it. So in the cases of Duane and of William Smith of South Carolina, whose characters of citizenship stood precisely on the same ground, the judges in a question of meum and tuum which came before them, decided that Duane was not a citizen; and in a question of membership, the House of Representatives, under the same words of the same provision, adjudged William Smith to be a citizen. Yet no inconvenience has ensued from these contradictory decisions. This is what I believe myself to be sound. But there is another opinion entertained by some men of such judgment and information as to lessen my confidence in my own. That is, that the legislature alone is the exclusive expounder of the sense of the constitution, in every part of it whatever. And they allege in its support, that this branch has authority to impeach and punish a member of either of the others acting contrary to its declaration of the sense of the constitution. It may indeed be answered, that an act may still be valid Edition: current; Page: [475] although the party is punished for it, right or wrong. However, this opinion which ascribes exclusive exposition to the legislature, merits respect for its safety, there being in the body of the nation a control over them, which, if expressed by rejection on the subsequent exercise of their elective franchise, enlists public opinion against their exposition, and encourages a judge or executive on a future occasion to adhere to their former opinion. Between these two doctrines, every one has a right to choose, and I know of no third meriting any respect.

I have thus, Sir, frankly, without the honor of your acquaintance, confided to you my opinion; trusting assuredly that no use will be made of it which shall commit me to the contentions of the newspapers. From that field of disquietude my age asks exemption, and permission to enjoy the privileged tranquility of a private and unmeddling citizen. In this confidence accept the assurances of my respect and consideration.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
June 12, 1815
Monticello
Thomas Leiper
Leiper, Thomas

TO THOMAS LEIPER

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—A journey soon after the receipt of your favor of April the 17th, and an absence from home of some continuance, have prevented my earlier acknowledgment of it. In that came safely my letter of January the 2d, 1814. In our principles of government we differ not at all; nor in the general object and tenor of political measures. We concur Edition: current; Page: [476] in considering the government of England as totally without morality, insolent beyond bearing, inflated with vanity and ambition, aiming at the exclusive dominion of the sea, lost in corruption, of deep-rooted hatred towards us, hostile to liberty wherever it endeavors to show its head, and the eternal disturber of the peace of the world. In our estimate of Bonaparte, I suspect we differ. I view him as a political engine only, and a very wicked one; you, I believe, as both political and religious, and obeying, as an instrument, an unseen hand. I still deprecate his becoming sole lord of the continent of Europe, which he would have been, had he reached in triumph the gates of St. Petersburg. The establishment in our day of another Roman empire, spreading vassalage and depravity over the face of the globe, is not, I hope, within the purposes of Heaven. Nor does the return of Bonaparte give me pleasure unmixed; I see in his expulsion of the Bourbons, a valuable lesson to the world, as showing that its ancient dynasties may be changed for their misrule. Should the allied powers presume to dictate a ruler and government to France, and follow the example he had set of parcelling and usurping to themselves their neighbor nations, I hope he will give them another lesson in vindication of the rights of independence and self-government, which himself had heretofore so much abused, and that in this contest he will wear down the maritime power of England to limitable and safe dimensions. So far, good. It cannot be denied, on the other hand, that his successful perversion of the force (committed to him for Edition: current; Page: [477] vindicating the rights and liberties of his country) to usurp its government, and to enchain it under an hereditary despotism, is of baneful effect in encouraging future usurpations, and deterring those under oppression from rising to redress themselves. His restless spirit leaves no hope of peace to the world; and his hatred of us is only a little less than that he bears to England, and England to us. Our form of government is odious to him, as a standing contrast between republican and despotic rule; and as much from that hatred, as from ignorance in political economy, he had excluded intercourse between us and his people, by prohibiting the only articles they wanted from us, that is, cotton and tobacco. Whether the war we have had with England, and the achievements of that war, and the hope that we may become his instruments and partisans against that enemy, may induce him, in future, to tolerate our commercial intercourse with his people, is still to be seen. For my part, I wish that all nations may recover and retain their independence; that those which are overgrown may not advance beyond safe measures of power, that a salutary balance may be ever maintained among nations, and that our peace, commerce, and friendship, may be sought and cultivated by all. It is our business to manufacture for ourselves whatever we can, to keep our markets open for what we can spare or want; and the less we have to do with the amities or enmities of Europe, the better. Not in our day, but at no distant one, we may shake a rod over the heads of all, which may make the stoutest of them tremble. But I hope our wisdom will Edition: current; Page: [478] grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power, the greater it will be.

The federal misrepresentation of my sentiments, which occasioned my former letter to you, was gross enough; but that and all others are exceeded by the impudence and falsehood of the printed extract you sent me from Ralph’s paper. That a continuance of the embargo for two months longer would have prevented our war; that the non-importation law which succeeded it was a wise and powerful measure, I have constantly maintained. My friendship for Mr. Madison, my confidence in his wisdom and virtue, and my approbation of all his measures, and especially of his taking up at length the gauntlet against England, is known to all with whom I have ever conversed or corresponded on these measures. The word federal, or its synonym lie, may therefore be written under every word of Mr. Ralph’s paragraph. I have ransacked my memory to recollect any incident which might have given countenance to any particle of it, but I find none. For if you will except the bringing into power and importance those who were enemies to himself as well as to the principles of republican government, I do not recollect a single measure of the President which I have not approved. Of those under him, and of some very near him, there have been many acts of which we have all disapproved, and he more than we. We have at times dissented from the measures, and lamented the dilatoriness of Congress. I recollect an instance the first winter of the war, when, from sloth of proceedings, an embargo was permitted to run Edition: current; Page: [479] through the winter, while the enemy could not cruise, nor consequently restrain the exportation of our whole produce, and was taken off in the spring, as soon as they could resume their stations. But this procrastination is unavoidable. How can expedition be expected from a body which we have saddled with an hundred lawyers, whose trade is talking? But lies, to sow division among us, is so stale an artifice of the federal prints, and are so well understood, that they need neither contradiction nor explanation. As to myself, my confidence in the wisdom and integrity of the administration is so entire, that I scarcely notice what is passing, and have almost ceased to read newspapers. Mine remain in our post office a week or ten days, sometimes, unasked for. I find more amusement in studies to which I was always more attached, and from which I was dragged by the events of the times in which I have happened to live.

I rejoice exceedingly that our war with England was single-handed. In that of the Revolution, we had France, Spain, and Holland on our side, and the credit of its success was given to them. On the late occasion, unprepared and unexpecting war, we were compelled to declare it, and to receive the attack of England, just issuing from a general war, fully armed, and freed from all other enemies, and have not only made her sick of it, but glad to prevent, by peace, the capture of her adjacent possessions, which one or two campaigns more would infallibly have made ours. She has found that we can do her more injury than any other enemy on earth, and henceforward will better estimate the value of our peace. But Edition: current; Page: [480] whether her government has power, in opposition to the aristocracy of her navy, to restrain their piracies within the limits of national rights, may well be doubted. I pray, therefore, for peace, as best for all the world, best for us, and best for me, who have already lived to see three wars, and now pant for nothing more than to be permitted to depart in peace. That you also, who have longer to live, may continue to enjoy this blessing with health and prosperity, through as long a life as you desire, is the prayer of yours affectionately.

P. S. June the 14th.—Before I had sent my letter to the post office, I received the new treaty of the allied powers, declaring that the French nation shall not have Bonaparte, and shall have Louis XVIII. for their ruler. They are all then as great rascals as Bonaparte himself. While he was in the wrong, I wished him exactly as much success as would answer our purposes, and no more. Now that they are wrong and he in the right, he shall have all my prayers for success, and that he may dethrone every man of them.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Aug. 9 15
Monticello
Phillip Mazzei
Mazzei, Phillip

TO PHILLIP MAZZEI

j. mss.
My dear Friend,

—Your letter of Sep. 24. came inclosed to me in one of Octob. 20. from Mr. Warden, which did not get to my hands until the 15th of the last month. How the present answer will get to you I do not yet know but I shall confide it to the Edition: current; Page: [481] Secretary of State, to be forwarded with his despatches either to Paris or Leghorn.

My letter of Dc. 29. 13. stated to you the circumstances, both here and abroad, which rendered a remittance of the price of your lots impracticable. The money might have been invested in the government loans, but the principal would then have been payable only at the end of a long term of years. It might have been vested in the stock of some of our banks; but besides their daily fluctuations in value the banks had indulged themselves in such extravagant emissions of their paper notes that it was obvious they must be on the verge of bankruptcy; and accordingly, within a very few months every bank in the US. stopt the payment of cash for their own notes, have never since resumed it, and everyone is satisfied they never can pay them. So that with all the indulgencies of time which has been given them their insolvency is notorious. There remained then only the resource of placing it on interest in private hands. This the circumstances of the country rendered impracticable but in the usual way of repaiments by annual instalments. We were then under the blockade of the enemy, and an embargo of our own, the sale of produce was as absolutely null, as you remember it in the revolutionary war, and the prospect of peace thought to be distant. Under these difficulties therefore I really thought it safest for you to retain the price in my own hands, stating at the same time in my letter of Dec. 19. 13. that the sum being considerable, it’s repayment would require a delay of one or two years from the time you Edition: current; Page: [482] should give notice that you preferred placing it there rather than here. The distressing injury which every individual sustained during the war by the entire loss of the produce of their farms for want of a market, the expences of the war, and great advance of price on all foreign articles, have left us in so exhausted a state, that immediate paiments are known to be impossible. I am sorry therefore, my dear friend, that the remittances must of necessity be delayed so much beyond your wish; and that you must make up your account to receive one moiety only the next year, and the other the year after, according to the former advice. This you may count on; and if bills on London will be negociable with you, that mode will be without difficulty. Through Paris it would not be so easy. We are ignorant with which of these powers you now have either peace or war.

Our commissioners in London are endeavouring by a convention with England to put an end to their impressment of our seamen. If they succeed it is probable we may continue in peace. All things here are going on quietly, except that we are in a great crisis as to our circulating medium. A parcel of mushroom banks have set up in every state, have filled the country with their notes, and have thereby banished all our specie. A twelvemonth ago they all declared they could not pay cash for their own notes, and notwithstanding this act of bankruptcy, this trash has of necessity been passing among us, because we have no other medium of exchange, and is still taken and passed from hand to hand, as you Edition: current; Page: [483] remember the old continental money to have been in the revolutionary war; every one getting rid of it as quickly as he can, by laying it out in property of any sort at double, treble and manifold higher prices. It was this which procured the extravagant price for your lots, and in this paper the payment was made. A general crush is daily expected when this trash will be lost in the hands of the holders. This will take place the moment some specie returns among us, or so soon as the government will issue bills of circulation. The little they have issued is greatly sought after, and a premium given for them which is rising fast.

In Europe you are all at war again. No man more severely condemned Bonaparte than myself during his former career, for his unprincipled enterprises on the liberty of his own country, and the independence of others. But the allies having now taken up his pursuits, and he arrayed himself on the legitimate side, I also am changed as to him. He is now fighting for the independance of nations, of which his whole life hitherto had been a continued violation, and he has now my prayers as sincerely for success as he had before for his overthrow. He has promised a free government to his own country, and to respect the rights of others; and altho’ his former conduct does not inspire entire faith in his promises; yet we had better take the chance of his word for doing right, than the certainty of the wrong which his adversaries avow.

My health continues firm; and I am sorry to learn that yours is not good. But your prudence and temperance may yet give you many years, and Edition: current; Page: [484] that they may be years of health and happiness is the sincere prayer of yours ever affectionately.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
August 10, 1815
Monticello
John Adams
Adams, John

TO JOHN ADAMS

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—The simultaneous movements in our correspondence have been remarkable on several occasions. It would seem as if the state of the air, or state of the times, or some other unknown cause, produced a sympathetic effect on our mutual recollections. I had sat down to answer your letters of June the 19th, 20th and 22d, with pen, ink and paper before me, when I received from our mail that of July the 30th. You ask information on the subject of Camus. All I recollect of him is, that he was one of the deputies sent to arrest Dumourier at the head of his army, who were, however, themselves arrested by Dumourier, and long detained as prisoners. I presume, therefore, he was a Jacobin. You will find his character in the most excellent revolutionary history of Toulongeon. I believe, also, he may be the same person who has given us a translation of Aristotle’s Natural History, from the Greek into French. Of his report to the National Institute on the subject of the Bollandists, your letter gives me the first information. I had supposed them defunct with the society of Jesuits, of which they were; and that their works, although above ground, were, from their bulk and insignificance, as effectually entombed on their shelves, as if in the graves of their authors. Fifty-two volumes in folio, of the acta Edition: current; Page: [485] sanctorum, in dog-Latin, would be a formidable enterprise to the most laborious German. I expect, with you, they are the most enormous mass of lies, frauds, hypocrisy and imposture, that was ever heaped together on this globe. By what chemical process M. Camus supposed that an extract of truth could be obtained from such a farrago of falsehood, I must leave to the chemists and moralists of the age to divine.

On the subject of the history of the American Revolution, you ask who shall write it? Who can write it? And who will ever be able to write it? Nobody; except merely its external facts; all its councils, designs and discussions having been conducted by Congress with closed doors, and no members, as far as I know, having even made notes of them. These, which are the life and soul of history, must forever be unknown. Botta, as you observe, has put his own speculations and reasonings into the mouths of persons whom he names, but who, you and I know, never made such speeches. In this he has followed the example of the ancients, who made their great men deliver long speeches, all of them in the same style, and in that of the author himself. The work is nevertheless a good one, more judicious, more chaste, more classical, and more true than the party diatribe of Marshall. Its greatest fault is in having taken too much from him. I possessed the work, and often recurred to considerable portions of it, although I never read it through. But a very judicious and well-informed neighbor of mine went through it with great attention, and spoke very Edition: current; Page: [486] highly of it. I have said that no member of the old Congress, as far as I knew, made notes of the discussion. I did not know of the speeches you mention of Dickinson and Witherspoon. But on the questions of Independence, and on the two articles of Confederation respecting taxes and votings, I took minutes of the heads of the arguments. On the first, I threw all into one mass, without ascribing to the speakers their respective arguments; pretty much in the manner of Hume’s summary digests of the reasonings in parliament for and against a measure. On the last, I stated the heads of the arguments used by each speaker. But the whole of my notes on the question of Independence does not occupy more than five pages, such as of this letter; and on the other questions, two such sheets. They have never been communicated to any one. Do you know that there exists in manuscript the ablest work of this kind ever yet executed, of the debates of the constitutional convention of Philadelphia in 1788? The whole of everything said and done there was taken down by Mr. Madison, with a labor and exactness beyond comprehension.

I presume that our correspondence has been observed at the post offices, and thus has attracted notice. Would you believe, that a printer has had the effrontery to propose to me the letting him publish it? These people think they have a right to everything, however secret or sacred. I had not before heard of the Boston pamphlet with Priestley’s letters and mine.

At length Bonaparte has got on the right side of Edition: current; Page: [487] a question. From the time of his entering the legislative hall to his retreat to Elba, no man has execrated him more than myself. I will not except even the members of the Essex Junto; although for very different reasons; I, because he was warring against the liberty of his own country, and independence of others; they, because he was the enemy of England, the Pope, and the Inquisition. But at length, and as far as we can judge, he seems to have become the choice of his nation. At least, he is defending the cause of his nation, and that of all mankind, the rights of every people to independence and self-government. He and the allies have now changed sides. They are parcelling out among themselves Poland, Belgium, Saxony, Italy, dictating a ruler and government to France, and looking askance at our republic, the splendid libel on their governments, and he is fighting for the principles of national independence, of which his whole life hitherto has been a continued violation. He has promised a free government to his own country, and to respect the rights of others; and although his former conduct inspires little confidence in his promises, yet we had better take the chance of his word for doing right, than the certainty of the wrong which his adversaries are doing and avowing. If they succeed, ours is only the boon of the Cyclops to Ulysses, of being the last devoured.

Present me affectionately and respectfully to Mrs. Adams, and Heaven give you both as much more of life as you wish, and bless it with health and happiness.

Edition: current; Page: [488]

P. S. August the 11th.—I had finished my letter yesterday, and this morning receive the news of Bonaparte’s second abdication. Very well. For him personally, I have no feeling but reprobation. The representatives of the nation have deposed him. They have taken the allies at their word, that they had no object in the war but his removal. The nation is now free to give itself a good government, either with or without a Bourbon; and France unsubdued, will still be a bridle on the enterprises of the combined powers, and a bulwark to others.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
October 12, 1815
Monticello
Spencer Roane
Roane, Spencer

TO SPENCER ROANE

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I received in a letter from Colonel Monroe the enclosed paper communicated, as he said, with your permission, and even with a wish to know my sentiments on the important question it discusses. It is now more than forty years since I have ceased to be habitually conversant with legal questions; and my pursuits through that period have seldom required or permitted a renewal of my former familiarity with them. My ideas at present, therefore, on such questions, have no claim to respect but such as might be yielded to the common auditors of a law argument.

I well knew that in certain federal cases the laws of the United States had given to a foreign party, whether plaintiff or defendant, a right to carry his cause into the federal court; but I did not know that where he had himself elected the State judicature, Edition: current; Page: [489] he could, after an unfavorable decision there, remove his case to the federal court, and thus take the benefit of two chances where others have but one; nor that the right of entertaining the question in this case had been exercised or claimed by the federal judiciary after it had been postponed on the party’s first election. His failure, too, to place on the record the particular ground which might give jurisdiction to the federal court, appears to me an additional objection of great weight. The question is of the first importance. The removal of it seems to be out of the analogies which guide the two governments on their separate tracts, and claims the solemn attention of both judicatures, and of the nation itself. I should fear to make up a final opinion on it, until I could see as able a development of the grounds of the federal claim as that which I have now read against it. I confess myself unable to foresee what those grounds would be. The paper enclosed must call them forth, and silence them too, unless they are beyond my ken. I am glad, therefore, that the claim is arrested, and made the subject of special and mature deliberation. I hope our courts will never countenance the sweeping pretensions which have been set up under the words “general defence and public welfare.” These words only express the motives which induced the Convention to give to the ordinary legislature certain specified powers which they enumerate, and which they thought might be trusted to the ordinary legislature, and not to give them the unspecified also; or why any specification? They could not be so awkward in language as to mean, as Edition: current; Page: [490] we say, “all and some.” And should this construction prevail, all limits to the federal government are done away. This opinion, formed on the first rise of the question, I have never seen reason to change, whether in or out of power; but, on the contrary, find it strengthened and confirmed by five and twenty years of additional reflection and experience: and any countenance given to it by any regular organ of the government, I should consider more ominous than anything which has yet occurred.

I am sensible how much these slight observations, on a question which you have so profoundly considered, need apology. They must find this in my zeal for the administration of our government according to its true spirit, federal as well as republican, and in my respect for any wish which you might be supposed to entertain for opinions of so little value. I salute you with sincere and high respect and esteem.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Oct. 13. 15
Monticello
Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse
Waterhouse, Dr. Benjamin

TO DR. BENJAMIN WATERHOUSE

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I was highly gratified with the receipt of your letter of Sep. 1. by Genl. and Mrs. Dearborne; and by the evidence it furnished me of your bearing up with firmness and perseverance against the persecutions of your enemies, religious, political and professional. These last I suppose have not yet forgiven you the introduction of vaccination and annihilation of the great variolous field of profit to them; and none of them pardon the proof you have established that the condition of man may be Edition: current; Page: [491] meliorated, if not infinitely, as enthusiasm alone pretends, yet indefinitely, as bigots alone can doubt. In lieu of these enmities you have the blessings of all the friends of human happiness, for this great peril from which they are rescued.

I have read with pleasure the orations of Mr. Holmes & Mr. Austin. From the former we always expect what is good; and the latter has by this specimen taught us to expect the same in future from him. Both have set the valuable example of quitting the beaten ground of the revolutionary war, and making the present state of things the subject of annual animadversion and instruction. A copious one it will be and highly useful if properly improved. Cobbet’s address would of itself have mortified and humbled the Cossac priests; but brother Jonathan has pointed his arrow to the hearts of the worst of them. These reverend leaders of the Hartford nation it seems then are now falling together about religion, of which they have not one real principle in their hearts. Like bawds, religion becomes to them a refuge from the despair of their loathsome vices. They seek in it only an oblivion of the disgrace with which they have loaded themselves, in their political ravings, and of their mortification at the ridiculous issue of their Hartford convention. No event, more than this, has shewn the placid character of our constitution. Under any other their treasons would have been punished by the halter. We let them live as laughing stocks for the world, and punish them by the torment of eternal contempt. The emigrations you mention from the Eastern states are what Edition: current; Page: [492] I have long counted on. The religious & political tyranny of those in power with you, cannot fail to drive the oppressed to milder associations of men, where freedom of mind is allowed in fact as well as in pretence. The subject of their present clawings and caterwaulings is not without it’s interest to rational men. The priests have so disfigured the simple religion of Jesus that no one who reads the sophistications they have engrafted on it, from the jargon of Plato, of Aristotle & other mystics, would conceive these could have been fathered on the sublime preacher of the sermon on the mount. Yet, knowing the importance of names they have assumed that of Christians, while they are mere Platonists, or any thing rather than disciples of Jesus. One of these parties beginning now to strip off these meretricious trappings their followers may take courage to make thorough work, and restore to us the figure in it’s original simplicity and beauty. The effects of this squabble therefore, whether religious or political, cannot fail to be good in some way.

The visit to Monticello, of which you hold up an idea, would be a favor indeed of the first order. I know however the obstacles of age & distance and should therefore set due value on it’s vicarious execution, should business or curiosity lead a son of yours to visit this Sodom and Gomorrah of parsons Osgood, Parish & Gardiner. Accept my wishes for your health and happiness, and the assurance of my great esteem & respect.

Edition: current; Page: [493]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
January 6, 1816
Monticello
Colonel Charles Yancey
Yancey, Colonel Charles

TO COLONEL CHARLES YANCEY

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I am favored with yours of December 24th, and perceive you have many matters before you of great moment. I have no fear but that the legislature will do on all of them what is wise and just. On the particular subject of our river, in the navigation of which our county has so great an interest, I think the power of permitting dams to be erected across it, ought to be taken from the courts, so far as the stream has water enough for navigation. The value of our property is sensibly lessened by the dam which the court of Fluvana authorized not long since to be erected, but a little above its mouth. This power over the value and convenience of our lands is of much too high a character to be placed at the will of a county court, and that of a county, too, which has not a common interest in the preservation of the navigation for those above them. As to the existing dams, if any conditions are proposed more than those to which they were subjected on their original erection, I think they would be allowed the alternative of opening a sluice for the passage of navigation, so as to put the river into as good a condition for navigation as it was before the erection of their dam, or as it would be if their dam were away. Those interested in the navigation might then use the sluices or make locks as should be thought best. Nature and reason, as well as all our constitutions, condemn retrospective conditions as mere acts of power, against right.

I recommend to your patronage our Central College. Edition: current; Page: [494] I look to it as a germ from which a great tree may spread itself.

There is before the assembly a petition of a Captain Miller which I have at heart, because I have great esteem for the petitioner as an honest and useful man. He is about to settle in our county, and to establish a brewery, in which art I think him as skilful a man as has ever come to America. I wish to see this beverage become common instead of the whiskey which kills one-third of our citizens and ruins their families. He is staying with me until he can fix himself, and I should be thankful for information from time to time of the progress of his petition.

Like a dropsical man calling out for water, water, our deluded citizens are clamoring for more banks, more banks. The American mind is now in that state of fever which the world has so often seen in the history of other nations. We are under the bank bubble, as England was under the South Sea bubble, France under the Mississippi bubble, and as every nation is liable to be, under whatever bubble, design, or delusion may puff up in moments when off their guard. We are now taught to believe that legerdemain tricks upon paper can produce as solid wealth as hard labor in the earth. It is vain for common sense to urge that nothing can produce nothing; that it is an idle dream to believe in a philosopher’s stone which is to turn everything into gold, and to redeem man from the original sentence of his Maker, “in the sweat of his brow shall he eat his bread.” Not Quixot enough, however, to attempt to reason Edition: current; Page: [495] Bedlam to rights, my anxieties are turned to the most practicable means of withdrawing us from the ruin into which we have run. Two hundred millions of paper in the hands of the people, (and less cannot be from the employment of a banking capital known to exceed one hundred millions,) is a fearful tax to fall at haphazard on their heads. The debt which purchased our independence was but of eighty millions, of which twenty years of taxation had in 1809 paid but the one half. And what have we purchased with this tax of two hundred millions which we are to pay by wholesale but usury, swindling, and new forms of demoralization. Revolutionary history has warned us of the probable moment when this baseless trash is to receive its fiat. Whenever so much of the precious metals shall have returned into the circulation as that everyone can get some in exchange for his produce, paper, as in the revolutionary war, it will experience at once an universal rejection. When public opinion changes, it is with the rapidity of thought. Confidence is already on the totter, and every one now handles this paper as if playing at Robin’s alive. That in the present state of the circulation the bank should resume payments in specie, would require their vaults to be like the widow’s cruse. The thing to be aimed at is, that the excesses of their emissions should be withdrawn as gradually, but as speedily, too, as is practicable, without so much alarm as to bring on the crisis dreaded. Some banks are said to be calling in their paper. But ought we to let this depend on their discretion? Is it not the duty of the legislature to Edition: current; Page: [496] avert from their constituents such a catastrophe as the extinguishment of two hundred millions of paper in their hands? The difficulty is indeed great: and the greater, because the patient revolts against all medicine. I am far from presuming to say that any plan can be relied on with certainty, because the bubble may burst from one moment to another; but if it fails, we shall be but where we should have been without any effort to save ourselves. Different persons, doubtless, will devise different schemes of relief. One would be to suppress instantly the currency of all paper not issued under the authority of our State or of the General Government; to interdict after a few months the circulation of all bills of five dollars and under: after a few months more, all of ten dollars and under; after other terms, those of twenty, fifty, and so on to one hundred dollars, which last, if any must be left in circulation, should be the lowest denomination. These might be a convenience in mercantile transactions and transmissions, and would be excluded by their size from ordinary circulation. But the disease may be too pressing to await such a remedy. With the legislature I cheerfully leave it to apply this medicine, or no medicine at all. I am sure their intentions are faithful; and embarked in the same bottom, I am willing to swim or sink with my fellow citizens. If the latter is their choice, I will go down with them without a murmur. But my exhortation would rather be “not to give up the ship.”

I am a great friend to the improvements of roads, canals, and schools. But I wish I could see some Edition: current; Page: [497] provision for the former as solid as that of the latter,—something better than fog. The literary fund is a solid provision, unless lost in the impending bankruptcy. If the legislature would add to that a perpetual tax of a cent a head on the population of the State, it would set agoing at once, and forever maintain, a system of primary or ward schools, and an university where might be taught, in its highest degree, every branch of science useful in our time and country; and it would rescue us from the tax of toryism, fanaticism, and indifferentism to their own State, which we now send our youth to bring from those of New England. If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. The functionaries of every government have propensities to command at will the liberty and property of their constituents. There is no safe deposit for these but with the people themselves; nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free, and every man able to read, all is safe. The frankness of this communication will, I am sure, suggest to you a discreet use of it. I wish to avoid all collisions of opinion with all mankind. Show it to Mr. Maury, with expressions of my great esteem. It pretends to convey no more than the opinions of one of your thousand constituents, and to claim no more attention than every other of that thousand.

I will ask you once more to take care of Miller and our College, and to accept assurance of my esteem and respect.

Edition: current; Page: [498]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
January 9, 1816
Monticello
Charles Thomson
Thomson, Charles

TO CHARLES THOMSON

j. mss.
My Dear and Ancient Friend,

—An acquaintance of fifty-two years, for I think ours dates from 1764, calls for an interchange of notice now and then, that we remain in existence, the monuments of another age, and examples of a friendship unaffected by the jarring elements by which we have been surrounded, of revolutions of government, of party and of opinion. I am reminded of this duty by the receipt, through our friend Dr. Patterson, of your synopsis of the four Evangelists. I had procured it as soon as I saw it advertised, and had become familiar with its use; but this copy is the more valued as it comes from your hand. This work bears the stamp of that accuracy which marks everything from you, and will be useful to those who, not taking things on trust, recur for themselves to the fountain of pure morals. I, too, have made a wee-little book from the same materials, which I call the Philosophy of Jesus; it is a paradigma of his doctrines, made by cutting the texts out of the book, and arranging them on the pages of a blank book, in a certain order of time or subject. A more beautiful or precious morsel of ethics I have never seen; it is a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus, very different from the Platonists, who call me infidel and themselves Christians and preachers of the gospel, while they draw all their characteristic dogmas from what its author never said nor saw. They have compounded from the heathen Edition: current; Page: [499] mysteries a system beyond the comprehension of man, of which the great reformer of the vicious ethics and deism of the Jews, were he to return on earth, would not recognize one feature. If I had time I would add to my little book the Greek, Latin and French texts, in columns side by side. And I wish I could subjoin a translation of Gosindi’s Syntagma of the doctrines of Epicurus, which, notwithstanding the calumnies of the Stoics and caricatures of Cicero, is the most rational system remaining of the philosophy of the ancients, as frugal of vicious indulgence, and fruitful of virtue as the hyperbolical extravagances of his rival sects.

I retain good health, am rather feeble to walk much, but ride with ease, passing two or three hours a day on horseback, and every three or four months taking in a carriage a journey of ninety miles to a distant possession, where I pass a good deal of my time. My eyes need the aid of glasses by night, and with small print in the day also; my hearing is not quite so sensible as it used to be; no tooth shaking yet, but shivering and shrinking in body from the cold we now experience, my thermometer having been as low as 12° this morning. My greatest oppression is a correspondence afflictingly laborious, the extent of which I have been long endeavoring to curtail. This keeps me at the drudgery of the writing-table all the prime hours of the day, leaving for the gratification of my appetite for reading, only what I can steal from the hours of sleep. Could I reduce this epistolary corvée within the limits of my friends and affairs, and give the time redeemed from Edition: current; Page: [500] it to reading and reflection, to history, ethics, mathematics, my life would be as happy as the infirmities of age would admit, and I should look on its consummation with the composure of one “qui summum nec me tuit diem nec optat.

So much as to myself, and I have given you this string of egotisms in the hope of drawing a similar one from yourself. I have heard from others that you retain your health, a good degree of activity, and all the vivacity and cheerfulness of your mind, but I wish to learn it more minutely from yourself. How has time affected your health and spirits? What are your amusements, literary and social? Tell me everything about yourself, because all will be interesting to me who retains for you ever the same constant and affectionate friendship and respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
January 9, 1816
Monticello
Benjamin Austin
Austin, Benjamin

TO BENJAMIN AUSTIN

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Your favor of December 21st has been received, and I am first to thank you for the pamphlet it covered. The same description of persons which is the subject of that is so much multiplied here too, as to be almost a grievance, and by their numbers in the public councils, have wrested from the public hand the direction of the pruning knife. But with us as a body, they are republican, and mostly moderate in their views; so far, therefore, less objects of jealousy than with you. Your opinions on the events which have taken place in France, are entirely just, so far as these events are Edition: current; Page: [501] yet developed. But they have not reached their ultimate termination. There is still an awful void between the present and what is to be the last chapter of that history; and I fear it is to be filled with abominations as frightful as those which have already disgraced it. That nation is too high-minded, has too much innate force, intelligence and elasticity, to remain under its present compression. Samson will arise in his strength, as of old, and as of old will burst asunder the withes and the cords, and the webs of the Philistines. But what are to be the scenes of havoc and horror, and how widely they may spread between brethren of the same house, our ignorance of the interior feuds and antipathies of the country places beyond our ken. It will end, neverthless, in a representative government, in a government in which the will of the people will be an effective ingredient. This important element has taken root in the European mind, and will have its growth; their despots, sensible of this, are already offering this modification of their governments, as if of their own accord. Instead of the parricide treason of Bonaparte, in perverting the means confided to him as a republican magistrate, to the subversion of that republic and erection of a military despotism for himself and his family, had he used it honestly for the establishment and support of a free government in his own country, France would now have been in freedom and rest; and her example operating in a contrary direction, every nation in Europe would have had a government over which the will of the people would have had some control. His atrocious Edition: current; Page: [502] egotism has checked the salutary progress of principle, and deluged it with rivers of blood which are not yet run out. To the vast sum of devastation and of human misery, of which he has been the guilty cause, much is still to be added. But the object is fixed in the eye of nations, and they will press on to its accomplishment and to the general amelioration of the condition of man. What a germ have we planted, and how faithfully should we cherish the parent tree at home!

You tell me I am quoted by those who wish to continue our dependence on England for manufactures. There was a time when I might have been so quoted with more candor, but within the thirty years which have since elapsed, how are circumstances changed! We were then in peace. Our independent place among nations was acknowledged. A commerce which offered the raw material in exchange for the same material after receiving the last touch of industry, was worthy of welcome to all nations. It was expected that those especially to whom manufacturing industry was important, would cherish the friendship of such customers by every favor, by every inducement, and particularly cultivate their peace by every act of justice and friendship. Under this prospect the question seemed legitimate, whether, with such an immensity of unimproved land, courting the hand of husbandry, the industry of agriculture, or that of manufactures, would add most to the national wealth? And the doubt was entertained on this consideration chiefly, that to the labor of the husbandman a vast addition Edition: current; Page: [503] is made by the spontaneous energies of the earth on which it is employed: for one grain of wheat committed to the earth, she renders twenty, thirty, and even fifty fold, whereas to the labor of the manufacturer nothing is added. Pounds of flax, in his hands, yield, on the contrary, but pennyweights of lace. This exchange, too, laborious as it might seem, what a field did it promise for the occupations of the ocean; what a nursery for that class of citizens who were to exercise and maintain our equal rights on that element? This was the state of things in 1785, when the Notes on Virginia were first printed; when, the ocean being open to all nations, and their common right in it acknowledged and exercised under regulations sanctioned by the assent and usage of all, it was thought that the doubt might claim some consideration. But who in 1785 could foresee the rapid depravity which was to render the close of that century the disgrace of the history of man? Who could have imagined that the two most distinguished in the rank of nations, for science and civilization, would have suddenly descended from that honorable eminence, and setting at defiance all those moral laws established by the Author of nature between nation and nation, as between man and man, would cover earth and sea with robberies and piracies, merely because strong enough to do it with temporal impunity; and that under this disbandment of nations from social order, we should have been despoiled of a thousand ships, and have thousands of our citizens reduced to Algerine slavery. Yet all this has taken place. Edition: current; Page: [504] One of these nations interdicted to our vessels all harbors of the globe without having first proceeded to some one of hers, there paid a tribute proportioned to the cargo, and obtained her license to proceed to the port of destination. The other declared them to be lawful prize if they had touched at the port or been visited by a ship of the enemy nation. Thus were we completely excluded from the ocean. Compare this state of things with that of ’85, and say whether an opinion founded in the circumstances of that day can be fairly applied to those of the present. We have experienced what we did not then believe, that there exists both profligacy and power enough to exclude us from the field of interchange with other nations: that to be independent for the comforts of life we must fabricate them ourselves. We must now place the manufacturer by the side of the agriculturist. The former question is suppressed, or rather assumes a new form. Shall we make our own comforts, or go without them, at the will of a foreign nation? He, therefore, who is now against domestic manufacture, must be for reducing us either to dependence on that foreign nation, or to be clothed in skins, and to live like wild beasts in dens and caverns. I am not one of these; experience has taught me that manufactures are now as necessary to our independence as to our comfort; and if those who quote me as of a different opinion, will keep pace with me in purchasing nothing foreign where an equivalent of domestic fabric can be obtained, without regard to difference of price, it will not be our fault if we do not soon Edition: current; Page: [505] have a supply at home equal to our demand, and wrest that weapon of distress from the hand which has wielded it. If it shall be proposed to go beyond our own supply, the question of ’85 will then recur, will our surplus labor be then most beneficially employed in the culture of the earth, or in the fabrications of art? We have time yet for consideration, before that question will press upon us; and the maxim to be applied will depend on the circumstances which shall then exist; for in so complicated a science as political economy, no one axiom can be laid down as wise and expedient for all times and circumstances, and for their contraries. Inattention to this is what has called for this explanation, which reflection would have rendered unnecessary with the candid, while nothing will do it with those who use the former opinion only as a stalking horse, to cover their disloyal propensities to keep us in eternal vassalage to a foreign and unfriendly people.

I salute you with assurances of great respect and esteem.1

Edition: current; Page: [506]
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Jan. 10. 16
Monticello
Horatio Gates Spafford
Spafford, Horatio Gates

TO HORATIO GATES SPAFFORD

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—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, Edition: current; Page: [507] 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 Edition: current; Page: [508] 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 Edition: current; Page: [509] 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 Edition: current; Page: [510] 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 Edition: current; Page: [511] 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.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
January 19, 1816
Monticello
Dabney Carr
Carr, Dabney

TO DABNEY CARR

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—At the date of your letter of December the 1st, I was in Bedford, and since my return, so many letters, accumulated during my absence, have been pressing for answers, that this is the first moment I have been able to attend to the subject of yours. While Mr. Girardin was in this neighborhood writing his continuation of Burke’s history, I had suggested to him a proper notice of the establishment of the committee of correspondence here in 1773, and of Mr. Carr, your father, who introduced it. He has doubtless done this, and his work is now in the press. My books, journals of the times, &c., being all gone, I have nothing now but an impaired memory to resort to for the more particular statement you wish. But I give it with the more confidence, as I find that I remember old things better than new. The transaction took place in the session of Assembly of March 1773. Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, Frank Lee, your father and myself, met Edition: current; Page: [512] by agreement, one evening, about the close of the session, at the Raleigh Tavern, to consult on the measures which the circumstances of the times seemed to call for. We agreed, in result, that concert in the operations of the several colonies was indispensable; and that to produce this, some channel of correspondence between them must be opened; that therefore, we would propose to our House the appointment of a committee of correspondence, which should be authorized and instructed to write to the Speakers of the House of Representatives of the several Colonies, recommending the appointment of similar committees on their part, who, by a communication of sentiment on the transactions threatening us all, might promote a harmony of action salutary to all. This was the substance, not pretending to remember the words. We proposed the resolution, and your father was agreed on to make the motion. He did it the next day, March the 12th, with great ability, reconciling all to it, not only by the reasonings, but the temper and moderation with which it was developed. It was adopted by a very general vote. Peyton Randolph, some of us who proposed it, and who else I do not remember, were appointed of the committee. We immediately despatched letters by expresses to the Speakers of all the other Assemblies. I remember that Mr. Carr and myself, returning home together, and conversing on the subject by the way, concurred in the conclusion that that measure must inevitably beget the meeting of a Congress of Deputies from all the colonies, for the purpose of uniting all in the Edition: current; Page: [513] same principles and measures for the maintenance of our rights. My memory cannot deceive me, when I affirm that we did it in consequence of no such proposition from any other colony. No doubt the resolution itself and the journals of the day will show that ours was original, and not merely responsive to one from any other quarter. Yet, I am certain I remember also, that a similar proposition, and nearly cotemporary, was made by Massachusetts, and that our northern messenger passed theirs on the road. This, too, may be settled by recurrence to the records of Massachusetts. The proposition was generally acceded to by the other colonies, and the first effect, as expected, was the meeting of a Congress at New York the ensuing year. The committee of correspondence appointed by Massachusetts, as quoted by you from Marshall, under the date of 1770, must have been for a special purpose, and functus officio before the date of 1773, or Massachusetts herself would not then have proposed another. Records should be examined to settle this accurately. I well remember the pleasure expressed in the countenance and conversation of the members generally, on this debut of Mr. Carr, and the hopes they conceived as well from the talents as the patriotism it manifested. But he died within two months after, and in him we lost a powerful fellow-laborer. His character was of a high order. A spotless integrity, sound judgment, handsome imagination, enriched by education and reading, quick and clear in his conceptions, of correct and ready elocution, impressing every hearer with the Edition: current; Page: [514] sincerity of the heart from which it flowed. His firmness was inflexible in whatever he thought was right; but when no moral principle stood in the way, never had man more of the milk of human kindness, of indulgence, of softness, of pleasantry of conversation and conduct. The number of his friends, and the warmth of their affection were proofs of his worth, and of their estimate of it. To give to those now living, an idea of the affliction produced by his death in the minds of all who knew him, I liken it to that lately felt by themselves on the death of his eldest son, Peter Carr, so like him in all his endowments and moral qualities, and whose recollection can never recur without a deep-drawn sigh from the bosom of any one who knew him. You mention that I showed you an inscription I had proposed for the tomb stone of your father. Did I leave it in your hands to be copied? I ask the question, not that I have any such recollection, but that I find it no longer in the place of its deposit, and think I never took it out but on that occasion. Ever and affectionately yours.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
February 4, 1816
Monticello
James Monroe
Monroe, James

TO JAMES MONROE

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—Your letter concerning that of General Scott is received, and his is now returned. I am very thankful for these communications. From forty years’ experience of the wretched guess-work of the newspapers of what is not done in open daylight, and of their falsehood even as to that, I rarely Edition: current; Page: [515] think them worth reading, and almost never worth notice. A ray, therefore, now and then, from the fountain of light, is like sight restored to the blind. It tells me where I am; and that to a mariner who has long been without sight of land or sun, is a rallying of reckoning which places him at ease. The ground you have taken with Spain is sound in every part. It is the true ground, especially, as to the South Americans. When subjects are able to maintain themselves in the field, they are then an independent power as to all neutral nations, are entitled to their commerce, and to protection within their limits. Every kindness which can be shown the South Americans, every friendly office and aid within the limits of the law of nations, I would extend to them, without fearing Spain or her Swiss auxiliaries. For this is but an assertion of our own independence. But to join in their war, as General Scott proposes, and to which even some members of Congress seem to squint, is what we ought not to do as yet. On the question of our interest in their independence, were that alone a sufficient motive of action, much may be said on both sides. When they are free, they will drive every article of our produce from every market, by underselling it, and change the condition of our existence, forcing us into other habits and pursuits. We shall, indeed, have in exchange some commerce with them, but in what I know not, for we shall have nothing to offer which they cannot raise cheaper; and their separation from Spain seals our everlasting peace with her. On the other hand, so long as they are dependent, Spain, Edition: current; Page: [516] from her jealousy, is our natural enemy, and always in either open or secret hostility with us. These countries, too, in war, will be a powerful weight in her scale, and, in peace, totally shut to us. Interest then, on the whole, would wish their independence, and justice makes the wish a duty. They have a right to be free, and we a right to aid them, as a strong man has a right to assist a weak one assailed by a robber or murderer. That a war is brewing between us and Spain cannot be doubted. When that disposition is matured on both sides, and open rupture can no longer be deferred, then will be the time for our joining the South Americans, and entering into treaties of alliance with them. There will then be but one opinion, at home or abroad, that we shall be justifiable in choosing to have them with us, rather than against us. In the meantime, they will have organized regular governments, and perhaps have formed themselves into one or more confederacies; more than one I hope, as in single mass they would be a very formidable neighbor. The geography of their country seems to indicate three: 1. What is north of the Isthmus. 2. What is south of it on the Atlantic; and 3. The southern part on the Pacific. In this form, we might be the balancing power. A propos of the dispute with Spain, as to the boundary of Louisiana. On our acquisition of that country, there was found in possession of the family of the late Governor Messier, a most valuable and original MS. history of the settlement of Louisiana by the French, written by Bernard de la Harpe, a principal agent through the whole of it. It Edition: current; Page: [517] commences with the first permanent settlement of 1699, (that by de la Salle in 1684, having been broken up,) and continues to 1723, and shows clearly the continual claim of France to the Province of Texas, as far as the Rio Bravo, and to all the waters running into the Mississippi, and how, by the roguery of St. Denis, an agent of Crozat the merchant, to whom the colony was granted for ten years, the settlements of the Spaniards at Nacadoches, Adais, Assinays, and Natchitoches, were fraudulently invited and connived at. Crozat’s object was commerce, and especially contraband, with the Spaniards, and these posts were settled as convenient smuggling stages on the way to Mexico. The history bears such marks of authenticity as place it beyond question. Governor Claiborne obtained the MS. for us, and thinking it too hazardous to risk its loss by the way, unless a copy were retained, he had a copy taken. The original having arrived safe at Washington, he sent me the copy, which I now have. Is the original still in your office? or was it among the papers burnt by the British? If lost, I will send you my copy; if preserved, it is my wish to deposit the copy for safe keeping with the Philosophical Society at Philadelphia, where it will be safer than on my shelves. I do not mean that any part of this letter shall give to yourself the trouble of an answer; only desire Mr. Graham to see if the original still exists in your office, and to drop me a line saying yea or nay; and I shall know what to do. Indeed the MS. ought to be printed, and I see a note to my copy which shows it has been in contemplation, and that Edition: current; Page: [518] it was computed to be of twenty sheets at sixteen dollars a sheet, for three hundred and twenty copies, which would sell at one dollar apiece, and reimburse the expense.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
Apr. 7, 16
Monticello
Leroy
Leroy
Bayard
Bayard

TO LEROY AND BAYARD

j. mss.
Gentlemen,

—I received by our last mail only, your favor of Mar. 19, reminding me of a very ancient and very just debt to Messrs. Van Staphorsts, and which I ought certainly long ago to have replaced to them, unasked. But, engaged constantly in offices of more expence than compensation, our means are ever absorbed as soon as received by the needy who press, while the indulgent lie over for a moment of greater convenience. Yet ancient and just as is this debt, it presents itself at a moment when I am not prepared to meet it. I am a landholder, and depend on the income of my farms. Three years of war & close blackade of the Chesapeak compleatly sunk the produce of those three years, and the year of peace which has followed has barely met arrearages and taxes. Commerce and free markets being now restored to us, we may count on the future with more certainty. I shall be able to pay off one of my bonds [torn] at the date of a year from this time, and one other each year after until the three are discharged. I hope that this arrangement will be acceptable to Messrs. Van Staphorsts, and that their indulgence will not be withdrawn Edition: current; Page: [519] suddenly and all at once. With the forbearance I ask, I shall replace their money from annual income which I can spare, and be saved the regret of injuriously mutilating my landed property. It will give me great pleasure to learn that the measure of kindness hitherto shewn, will be filled up by so much further forbearance, as will make it in the end, as it was in the beginning, a salutary accommodation. Accept the assurances of my great esteem & respect.1

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
April 24, 1816
Poplar Forest
P. S. Dupont de Nemours
Nemours, P. S. Dupont de

TO P. S. DUPONT DE NEMOURS

j. mss.

I received, my dear friend, your letter covering the constitution for your Equinoctial republics, just as I was setting out for this place. I brought it with me, and have read it with great satisfaction. I suppose it well formed for those for whom it was intended, and the excellence of every government is its adaptation to the state of those to be governed by it. For us it would not do. Distinguishing between the structure of the government and the moral principles on which you prescribe its administration, Edition: current; Page: [520] with the latter we concur cordially, with the former we should not. We of the United States, you know, are constitutionally and conscientiously democrats. We consider society as one of the natural wants with which man has been created; that he has been endowed with faculties and qualities to effect its satisfaction by concurrence of others having the same want; that when, by the exercise of these faculties, he has procured a state of society, it is one of his acquisitions which he has a right to regulate and control, jointly indeed with all those who have concurred in the procurement, whom he cannot exclude from its use or direction more than they him. We think experience has proved it safer, for the mass of individuals composing the society, to reserve to themselves personally the exercise of all rightful powers to which they are competent, and to delegate those to which they are not competent to deputies named, and removable for unfaithful conduct, by themselves immediately. Hence, with us, the people (by which is meant the mass of individuals composing the society) being competent to judge of the facts occurring in ordinary life, they have retained the functions of judges of facts, under the name of jurors; but being unqualified for the management of affairs requiring intelligence above the common level, yet competent judges of human character, they chose, for their management, representatives, some by themselves immediately, others by electors chosen by themselves. Thus our President is chosen by ourselves, directly in practice, for we vote for A as elector only on the condition he will Edition: current; Page: [521] vote for B, our representatives by ourselves immediately, our Senate and judges of law through electors chosen by ourselves. And we believe that this proximate choice and power of removal is the best security which experience has sanctioned for ensuring an honest conduct in the functionaries of society. Your three or four alembications have indeed a seducing appearance. We should conceive primâ facie, that the last extract would be the pure alcohol of the substance, three or four times rectified. But in proportion as they are more and more sublimated, they are also farther and farther removed from the control of the society; and the human character, we believe, requires in general constant and immediate control, to prevent its being biased from right by the seductions of self-love. Your process produces therefore a structure of government from which the fundamental principle of ours is excluded. You first set down as zeros all individuals not having lands, which are the greater number in every society of long standing. Those holding lands are permitted to manage in person the small affairs of their commune or corporation, and to elect a deputy for the canton; in which election, too, every one’s vote is to be an unit, a plurality, or a fraction, in proportion to his landed possessions. The assemblies of cantons, then, elect for the districts; those of districts for circles; and those of circles for the national assemblies. Some of these highest councils, too, are in a considerable degree self-elected, the regency partially, the judiciary entirely, and some are for life. Whenever, therefore, Edition: current; Page: [522] an esprit de corps, or of party, gets possession of them, which experience shows to be inevitable, there are no means of breaking it up, for they will never elect but those of their own spirit. Juries are allowed in criminal cases only. I acknowledge myself strong in affection to our own form, yet both of us act and think from the same motive, we both consider the people as our children, and love them with parental affection. But you love them as infants whom you are afraid to trust without nurses; and I as adults whom I freely leave to self-government. And you are right in the case referred to you; my criticism being built on a state of society not under your contemplation. It is, in fact, like a critic on Homer by the laws of the Drama.

But when we come to the moral principles on which the government is to be administered, we come to what is proper for all conditions of society. I meet you there in all the benevolence and rectitude of your native character; and I love myself always most where I concur most with you. Liberty, truth, probity, honor, are declared to be the four cardinal principles of your society. I believe with you that morality, compassion, generosity, are innate elements of the human constitution; that there exists a right independent of force; that a right to property is founded in our natural wants, in the means with which we are endowed to satisfy these wants, and the right to what we acquire by those means without violating the similar rights of other sensible beings; that no one has a right to obstruct another, exercising his faculties innocently for the relief of sensibilities Edition: current; Page: [523] made a part of his nature; that justice is the fundamental law of society; that the majority, oppressing an individual, is guilty of a crime, abuses its strength, and by acting on the law of the strongest breaks up the foundations of society; that action by the citizens in person, in affairs within their reach and competence, and in all others by representatives, chosen immediately, and removable by themselves, constitutes the essence of a republic; that all governments are more or less republican in proportion as this principle enters more or less into their composition; and that a government by representation is capable of extension over a greater surface of country than one of any other form. These, my friend, are the essentials in which you and I agree; however, in our zeal for their maintenance, we may be perplexed and divaricate, as to the structure of society most likely to secure them.

In the constitution of Spain, as proposed by the late Cortes, there was a principle entirely new to me, and not noticed in yours, that no person, born after that day, should ever acquire the rights of citizenship until he could read and write. It is impossible sufficiently to estimate the wisdom of this provision. Of all those which have been thought of for securing fidelity in the administration of the government, constant ralliance to the principles of the constitution, and progressive amendments with the progressive advances of the human mind, or changes in human affairs, it is the most effectual. Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the Edition: current; Page: [524] dawn of day. Although I do not, with some enthusiasts, believe that the human condition will ever advance to such a state of perfection as that there shall no longer be pain or vice in the world, yet I believe it susceptible of much improvement, and most of all, in matters of government and religion; and that the diffusion of knowledge among the people is to be the instrument by which it is to be effected. The constitution of the Cortes had defects enough; but when I saw in it this amendatory provision, I was satisfied all would come right in time, under its salutary operation. No people have more need of a similar provision than those for whom you have felt so much interest. No mortal wishes them more success than I do. But if what I have heard of the ignorance and bigotry of the mass be true, I doubt their capacity to understand and to support a free government; and fear that their emancipation from the foreign tyranny of Spain, will result in a military despotism at home. Palacios may be great; others may be great; but it is the multitude which possess force: and wisdom must yield to that. For such a condition of society, the constitution you have devised is probably the best imaginable. It is certainly calculated to elicit the best talents; although perhaps not well guarded against the egoism of its functionaries. But that egoism will be light in comparison with the pressure of a military despot, and his army of Janissaries. Like Solon to the Athenians, you have given to your Columbians, not the best possible government, but the best they can bear. By-the-bye, I wish you had called them the Columbian Edition: current; Page: [525] republics, to distinguish them from our American republics. Theirs would be the most honorable name, and they best entitled to it; for Columbus discovered their continent, but never saw ours.

To them liberty and happiness; to you the meed of wisdom and goodness in teaching them how to attain them, with the affectionate respect and friendship of,

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
May 19. 16
Monticello
Dr. George Logan
Logan, Dr. George

TO DR. GEORGE LOGAN

j. mss.

It gives me the greatest pain, dear Sir, to make a serious complaint to you. From the letter which I wrote you on the 3d of Oct. 1813. an extract was published with my name, in the newspapers, conveying a very just, but certainly a very harsh censure on Bonaparte. This produced to me more complaints from my best friends, and called for more explanations than any transaction of my life had ever done. They inferred from this partial extract an approbation of the conduct of England, which yet the same letter had censured with equal rigour. It produced too from the Minister of Bonaparte a complaint, not indeed formal, for I was but a private citizen, but serious, of my volunteering with England in the abuse of his sovereign. It was incumbent on me to explain, by declaring to a member of the government that the extract was partial, and it’s publication unauthorised. Notwithstanding the pain which this act had cost me, considering it on your part but as a mere inadvertence, on the receipt Edition: current; Page: [526] of your letter of Aug. 16. 15. I wrote an answer of Oct. 13. & again on receipt of that of the 27th Ult. I had begun an answer, when the arrival of our mail put into my hands a newspaper containing at full length mine of Oct. 13. It became necessary then to ask myself seriously whether I meant to enter as a political champion in the field of the newspapers? He who does this throws the gauntlet of challenge to every one who will take it up. It behoves him then to weigh maturely every sentiment, every fact, every sentence and syllable he commits to paper, and to be certain that he is ready with reason, and testimony to maintain every tittle before the tribunal of the public. But this is not our purpose when we write to a friend. We are careless, incorrect, in haste, perhaps under some transient excitement, and we hazard things without reflection, because without consequence in the bosom of a friend. Perhaps it may be said that the letter of Oct. 15 contained nothing offensive to others, nothing which could injure myself. It contained reprobation of the murders and desolations committed by the French nation, under their leader Bonaparte. It contained a condemnation of the allied powers for seizing and taking to themselves independent & unoffending countries, because too weak to defend themselves. In this they had done wrong, but was it my business to become the public accuser? And to undertake before the world to renounce their iniquities? And do you not think I had a right to decide this for myself? And to say whether the sentiments I trusted to you were meant for the whole world? I am sure Edition: current; Page: [527] that on reflection you will perceive that I ought to have been consulted.

I might have manifested my dissatisfaction by a silent reserve of all answer. But this would have offered a blank, which might have been filled up with erroneous imputations of sentiment. I prefer candid and open expression. No change of good will to you, none in my estimate of your integrity or understanding, has taken place, except as to your particular opinion on the rights of correspondence: and I pray you especially to assure Mrs. Logan of my constant and affectionate esteem & attachment, the just tribute of a respect for the virtues of her heart & head.1

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
May 28, 1816
Monticello
John Taylor
Taylor, John

TO JOHN TAYLOR

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—On my return from a long journey and considerable absence from home, I found here the Edition: current; Page: [528] copy of your Enquiry into the principles of our government, which you had been so kind as to send me; and for which I pray you to accept my thanks. The difficulties of getting new works in our situation, inland and without a single bookstore, are such as had prevented my obtaining a copy before; and letters which had accumulated during my absence, and were calling for answers, have not yet permitted me to give to the whole a thorough reading; yet certain that you and I could not think differently on the fundamentals of rightful government, I was impatient, and availed myself of the intervals of repose from the writing table, to obtain a cursory idea of the body of the work.

I see in it much matter for profound reflection; much which should confirm our adhesion, in practice, to the good principles of our constitution, and fix our attention on what is yet to be made good. The sixth section on the good moral principles of our government, I found so interesting and replete with sound principles, as to postpone my letter-writing to its thorough perusal and consideration. Besides much other good matter, it settles unanswerably the right of instructing representatives, and their duty to obey. The system of banking we have both equally and ever reprobated. I contemplate it as a blot left in all our constitutions, which, if not covered, will end in their destruction, which is already hit by the gamblers in corruption, and is sweeping away in its progress the fortunes and morals of our citizens. Funding I consider as limited, rightfully, to a redemption of the debt within the lives of a Edition: current; Page: [529] majority of the generation contracting it; every generation coming equally, by the laws of the Creator of the world, to the free possession of the earth he made for their subsistence, unincumbered by their predecessors, who, like them, were but tenants for life. You have successfully and completely pulverized Mr. Adams’ system of orders, and his opening the mantle of republicanism to every government of laws, whether consistent or not with natural right. Indeed, it must be acknowledged, that the term republic is of very vague application in every language. Witness the self-styled republics of Holland, Switzerland, Genoa, Venice, Poland. Were I to assign to this term a precise and definite idea, I would say, purely and simply, it means a government by its citizens in mass, acting directly and personally, according to rules established by the majority; and that every other government is more or less republican, in proportion as it has in its composition more or less of this ingredient of the direct action of the citizens. Such a government is evidently restrained to very narrow limits of space and population. I doubt if it would be practicable beyond the extent of a New England township. The first shade from this pure element, which, like that of pure vital air, cannot sustain life of itself, would be where the powers of the government, being divided, should be exercised each by representatives chosen either prohac vice, or for such short terms as should render secure the duty of expressing the will of their constituents. This I should consider as the nearest approach to a pure republic, which is practicable on a Edition: current; Page: [530] large scale of country or population. And we have examples of it in some of our State constitutions, which, if not poisoned by priest-craft, would prove its excellence over all mixtures with other elements; and, with only equal doses of poison, would still be the best. Other shades of republicanism may be found in other forms of government, where the executive, judiciary and legislative functions, and the different branches of the latter, are chosen by the people more or less directly, for longer terms of years or for life, or made hereditary; or where there are mixtures of authorities, some dependent on, and others independent of the people. The further the departure from direct and constant control by the citizens, the less has the government of the ingredient of republicanism; evidently none where the authorities are hereditary, as in France, Venice, &c., or self-chosen, as in Holland; and little, where for life, in proportion as the life continues in being after the act of election.

The purest republican feature in the government of our own State, is the House of Representatives. The Senate is equally so the first year, less the second, and so on. The Executive still less, because not chosen by the people directly. The Judiciary seriously anti-republican, because for life; and the national arm wielded, as you observe, by military leaders, irresponsible but to themselves. Add to this the vicious constitution of our county courts (to whom the justice, the executive administration, the taxation, police, the military appointments of the county, and nearly all our daily concerns are confided), Edition: current; Page: [531] self-appointed, self-continued, holding their authorities for life, and with an impossibility of breaking in on the perpetual succession of any faction once possessed of the bench. They are in truth, the executive, the judiciary, and the military of their respective counties, and the sum of the counties makes the State. And add, also, that one half of our brethren who fight and pay taxes, are excluded, like Helots, from the rights of representation, as if society were instituted for the soil and not for the men inhabiting it; or one half of these could dispose of the rights and the will of the other half, without their consent.

  • “What constitutes a State?
  • Not high-raised battlements, or labor’d mound,
  • Thick wall, or moated gate;
  • Not cities proud, with spires and turrets crown’d;
  • No: men, high minded men;
  • Men, who their duties know;
  • But know their rights; and knowing, dare maintain.
  • These constitute a State.”

In the General Government, the House of Representatives is mainly republican; the Senate scarcely so at all, as not elected by the people directly, and so long secured even against those who do elect them; the Executive more republican than the Senate, from its shorter term, its election by the people, in practice, (for they vote for A only on an assurance that he will vote for B,) and because, in practice also, a principle of rotation seems to be in a course of establishment; the judiciary independent of the Edition: current; Page: [532] nation, their coercion by impeachment being found nugatory.

If, then, the control of the people over the organs of their government be the measure of its republicanism, and I confess I know no other measure, it must be agreed that our governments have much less of republicanism than ought to have been expected; in other words, that the people have less regular control over their agents, than their rights and their interests require. And this I ascribe, not to any want of republican dispositions in those who formed these constitutions, but to a submission of true principle to European authorities, to speculators on government, whose fears of the people have been inspired by the populace of their own great cities, and were unjustly entertained against the independent, the happy, and therefore orderly citizens of the United States. Much I apprehend that the golden moment is past for reforming these heresies. The functionaries of public power rarely strengthen in their dispositions to abridge it, and an unorganized call for timely amendment is not likely to prevail against an organized opposition to it. We are always told that things are going on well; why change them? “Chi sta bene, non si muove,” said the Italian, “let him who stands well, stand still.” This is true; and I verily believe they would go on well with us under an absolute monarch, while our present character remains, of order, industry and love of peace, and restrained, as he would be, by the proper spirit of the people. But it is while it remains such, we should provide against the consequences of its deterioration. And Edition: current; Page: [533] let us rest in the hope that it will yet be done, and spare ourselves the pain of evils which may never happen.

On this view of the import of the term republic, instead of saying, as has been said, “that it may mean anything or nothing,” we may say with truth and meaning, that governments are more or less republican as they have more or less of the element of popular election and control in their composition; and believing, as I do, that the mass of the citizens is the safest depository of their own rights, and especially, that the evils flowing from the duperies of the people, are less injurious than those from the egoism of their agents, I am a friend to that composition of government which has in it the most of this ingredient. And I sincerely believe, with you, that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.

I salute you with constant friendship and respect.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas
June 7, 1816
Monticello
Francis W. Gilmer
Gilmer, Francis W.

TO FRANCIS W. GILMER

j. mss.
Dear Sir,

—I received a few days ago from Mr. Dupont the enclosed manuscript, with permission to read it, and a request, when read, to forward it to you, in expectation that you would translate it. It is well worthy of publication for the instruction of our citizens, being profound, sound, and short. Our legislators are not sufficiently apprized of the rightful Edition: current; Page: [534] limits of their power; that their true office is to declare and enforce only our natural rights and duties, and to take none of them from us. No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another; and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him; every man is under the natural duty of contributing to the necessities of the society; and this is all the laws should enforce on him; and, no man having a natural right to be the judge between himself and another, it is his natural duty to submit to the umpirage of an impartial third. When the laws have declared and enforced all this, they have fulfilled their functions, and the idea is quite unfounded, that on entering into society we give up any natural right. The trial of every law by one of these texts, would lessen much the labors of our legislators, and lighten equally our municipal codes. There is a work of the first order of merit now in the press at Washington, by Destutt Tracy, on the subject of political economy, which he brings into the compass of three hundred pages, octavo. In a preliminary discourse on the origin of the right of property, he coincides much with the principles of the present manuscript; but is more developed, more demonstrative. He promises a future work on morals, in which I lament to see that he will adopt the principles of Hobbes, or humiliation to human nature; that the sense of justice and injustice is not derived from our natural organization, but founded on convention only. I lament this the more, as he is unquestionably the ablest writer living, on abstract subjects. Assuming the fact, that the earth has been Edition: current; Page: [535] created in time, and consequently the dogma of final causes, we yield, of course to this short syllogism. Man was created for social intercourse; but social intercourse cannot be maintained without a sense of justice; then man must have been created with a sense of justice. There is an error into which most of the speculators on government have fallen, and which the well-known state of society of our Indians ought, before now, to have corrected. In their hypothesis of the origin of government, they suppose it to have commenced in the patriarchal or monarchical form. Our Indians are evidently in that state of nature which has passed the association of a single family; and not yet submitted to the authority of positive laws, or of any acknowledged magistrate. Every man, with them, is perfectly free to follow his own inclinations. But if, in doing this, he violates the rights of another, if the case be slight, he is punished by the disesteem of his society, or, as we say, by public opinion; if serious, he is tomahawked as a dangerous enemy. Their leaders conduct them by the influence of their character only; and they follow, or not, as they please, him of whose character for wisdom or war they have the highest opinion. Hence the origin of the parties among them adhering to different leaders, and governed by their advice, not by their command. The Cherokees, the only tribe I know to be contemplating the establishment of regular laws, magistrates, and government, propose a government of representatives, elected from every town. But of all things, they least think of subjecting themselves to the will of one man. This,