But can they be made unchangeable? Can one generation bind another, and all others, in succession for ever? I think not. The Creator has made the earth for the living, not the dead. Rights and powrers can only belong to persons, not to things, not to mere matter, unendowed with will. The dead are not even things. The particles of matter which composed their bodies, make part now of the bodies of other animals, vegetables, or minerals, of a thousand forms. To what then are attached the rights and powers they held while in the form of men? A generation may bind itself as long as its majority continues in life; when that has disappeared, another majority is in place, holds all the rights and powers their predecessors once held, and may change their laws and institutions to suit themselves. Nothing then is unchangeable but the inherent and unalienable rights of man.
I was glad to find in your book a formal contradiction, at length, of the judiciary usurpation of legislative powers; for such the judges have usurped in their repeated decisions, that Christianity is a part of the common law. The proof of the contrary, which you have adduced, is incontrovertible; to wit, that the common law existed while the Anglo-Saxons were yet Pagans, at a time when they had never yet heard the name of Christ pronounced, or knew that such a character had ever existed. But it may amuse you, to show when, and by what means, they stole this law in upon us. In a case of quare impedit in the Year-book, 34. H. 6. folio 38. (anno 1458,) a question was made, how far the ecclesiastical law was to be respected in a common law court. And Prisot, Chief Justice, gives his opinion in these words. 'A tiel leis qu'ils de seint eglise ont enancien scripture, covient a nous a donner credence; car ceo common ley stir quels touts manners leis sont fondes. Et auxy, Sir, nous sumus obliges de conustre lour ley de saint eglise: et semblablement ils sont obliges de conustre nostre ley. Et, Sir, si poit apperer or a nous que Pevesque ad fait come un ordinary fera en tiel cas, adong nous devons ceo adju-ger bon,ou auterment nemy,' &c. See S. C. Fitzh.Abr. Qu. imp. 89. Bro. Abr. Qu. imp. 12. Finch in his first book, c. 3. is the first afterwards who quotes this case, and mistakes it thus. 'To such laws of the church as have warrant in holy scripture, our law giveth credence.' And cites Prisot; mistranslating 'ancien scripture' into 'holy scripture.' Whereas, Prisot palpably says, 'to such laws as those of holy church have in ancient writing, it is proper for us to give credence;' to wit, to their ancient written laws. This was in 1613, a century and a half after the dictum of Prisot. Wingate, in 1658, erects this false translation into a maxim of the common law, copying the words of Finch, but citing Prisot. Wing. Max. 3. and Sheppard, title, 'Religion,' in 1675, copies the same mistranslation, quoting the Y. B. Finch and Win-gate. Hale expresses it in these words; 'Christianity is parcel of the laws of England.' 1 Ventr. 293, 3 Keb. 607. But he quotes no authority. By these echoings and re-echoings from one to another, it had become so established in 1728, that in the case of the King vs. Woolston, 2 Stra. 834, the court would not suffer it to be debated, whether to write against Christianity was punishable in the temporal court at common law. Wood, therefore, 409, ventures still to vary the phrase and say, that all blasphemy and profaneness are offences by the common law; and cites 2 Stra. Then Blackstone, in 1763, IV. 59, repeats the words of Hale, that 'Christianity is part of the laws of England,' citing Ventris and Strange. And finally, Lord Mansfield, with a little qualification, in Evans's case, in 1767, says, that 'the essential principles of revealed religion are part of the common law.' Thus ingulphing Bible, Testament, and all into the common law, without citing any authority. And thus we find this chain of authorities hanging link by link, one upon another, and all ultimately on one and the same hook, and that a mistranslation of the words 'ancien scripture,' used by Prisot. Finch quotes Prisot; Wingate does the same. Sheppard quotes Prisot, Finch, and Wingate. Hale cites nobody. The court, in Woolston's case, cite Hale. Wood cites Woolston's case. Blackstone quotes Woolston's case and Hale. And Lord Mansfield, like Hale, ventures it on his own authority. Here I might defy the best read lawyer to produce another scrip of authority for this judiciary forgery; and I might go on further to show, how some of the Anglo-Saxon priests interpolated into the text of Alfred's laws, the 20th, 21st, 22nd, and 23rd chapters of Exodus, and the 15th of the Acts of the Apostles, from the 23rd to the 29th verses. But this would lead my pen and your patience too far. What a conspiracy this, between Church and State! Sing Tantarara, rogues all, rogues all, Sing Tantarara, rogues all!
I must still add to this long and rambling letter, my acknowledgments for your good wishes to the University we are now establishing in this State. There are some novelties in it. Of that of a professorship of the principles of government, you express your approbation. They will be founded in the rights of man. That of agriculture, I am sure, you will approve: and that also of Anglo-Saxon. As the histories and laws left us in that type and dialect, must be the text-books of the reading of the learners, they will imbibe with the language their free principles of government. The volumes you have been so kind as to send, shall be placed in the library of the University. Having at this time in England a person sent for the purpose of selecting some Professors, a Mr. Gilmer of my neighborhood, I cannot but recommend him to your patronage, counsel, and guardianship, against imposition, misinformation, and the deceptions of partial and false recommendations, in the selection of characters. He is a gentleman of great worth and correctness, my particular friend, well educated in various branches of science, and worthy of entire confidence.
Your age of eighty-four and mine of eighty-one years, insure us a speedy meeting. We may then commune at leisure, and more fully, on the good and evil, which in the course of our long lives, we have.both witnessed; and in the mean time, I pray you to accept assurances of my high veneration and esteem for your person and character.
LETTER CLXXXII.—TO MARTIN VAN BUREN, June 29, 1824
TO MARTIN VAN BUREN.
Monticello, June 29, 1824.
I have to thank you for Mr. Pickering's elaborate philippic against Mr. Adams, Gerry, Smith, and myself; and I have delayed the acknowledgment until I could read it and make some observations on it.
I could not have believed, that for so many years, and to such a period of advanced age, he could have nourished passions so vehement and viperous. It appears, that for thirty years past, he has been industriously collecting materials for vituperating the characters he had marked for his hatred; some of whom certainly, if enmities towards him had ever existed, had forgotten them all, or buried them in the grave with themselves. As to myself, there never had been any thing personal between us, nothing but the general opposition of party sentiment; and our personal intercourse had been that of urbanity, as himself says. But it seems he has been all this time brooding over an enmity which I had never felt, and that with respect to myself, as well as others, he has been writing far and near, and in every direction, to get hold of original letters, where he could, copies, where he could not, certificates and journals, catching at every gossipping story he could hear of in any quarter, supplying by suspicions what he could find no where else, and then arguing on this motley farrago, as if established on gospel evidence. And while expressing his wonder, 'at the age of eighty-eight, the strong passions of Mr. Adams should not have cooled '; that on the contrary, 'they had acquired the mastery of his soul,' (p. 100 ;) that 'where these were enlisted, no reliance could be placed on his statements,' (p. 104 ;) the facility and little truth with which he could represent facts and occurrences, concerning persons who were the objects of his hatred, (p. 3 ;) that 'he is capable of making the grossest misrepresentations, and, from detached facts, and often from bare suspicions, of drawing unwarrantable inferences,' if suited to his purpose at the instant,' (p. 174;) while making such charges, I say, on Mr. Adams, instead of his 'ecce homo,' (p. 100;) how justly might we say to him, 'Mutato nomine, de te fabula narratur.' For the assiduity and industry he has employed in his benevolent researches after matter of crimination against us, I refer to his pages 13, 14, 34, 36, 46, 71, 79, 90, bis. 92, 93, bis. 101, ter. 104, 116, 118, 141, 143, 146,150,151,153, 168, 171, 172. That Mr. Adams's strictures on him, written and pointed, should have excited some notice on his part, was not perhaps to be wondered at. But the sufficiency of his motive for the large attack on me may be more questionable. He says, (p. 4) 'of Mr. Jefferson I should have said nothing, but for his letter to Mr. Adams, of October the 12th, 1823.' Now the object of that letter was to soothe the feelings of a friend, wounded by a publication which I thought an 'outrage on private confidence.' Not a word or allusion in it respecting Mr. Pickering, nor was it suspected that it would draw forth his pen in justification of this infidelity, which he has, however, undertaken in the course of his pamphlet, but more particularly in its conclusion.
He arraigns me on two grounds, my actions, and my motives. The very actions, however, which he arraigns, have been such as the great majority of my fellow-citizens have approved. The approbation of Mr. Pickering, and of those who thought with him, I had no right to expect. My motives he chooses to ascribe to hypocrisy, to ambition, and a passion for popularity. Of these the world must judge between us. It is no office of his or mine. To that tribunal I have ever submitted my actions and motives, without ransacking the Union for certificates, letters, journals, and gossiping tales, to justify myself and weary them. Nor shall I do this on the present occasion, but leave still to them these antiquated party diatribes, now newly revamped and paraded, as if they had not been already a thousand times repeated, refuted, and adjudged against him, by the nation itself. If no action is to be deemed virtuous for which malice can imagine a sinister motive, then there never was a virtuous action; no, not even in the life of our Savior himself. But he has taught us to judge the tree by its fruit, and to leave motives to him who can alone see into them.
But whilst I leave to its fate the libel of Mr. Pickering, with the thousands of others like it, to which I have given no other answer than a steady course of similar action, there are two facts or fancies of his which I must set to rights. The one respects Mr. Adams, the other myself. He observes, that my letter of October the 12th, 1823, acknowledges the receipt of one from Mr. Adams, of September the 18th, which, having been written a few days after Cunningham's publication, he says was no doubt written to apologize to me for the pointed reproaches he had uttered against me in his confidential letters to Cunningham. And thus having 'no doubt' of his conjecture, he considers it as proven, goes on to suppose the contents of the letter (19, 22), makes it place Mr. Adams at my feet suing for pardon, and continues to rant upon it, as an undoubted fact. Now I do most solemnly declare, that so far from being a letter of apology, as Mr. Pickering so undoubtingly assumes, there was not a word or allusion in it respecting Cunningham's publication.
The other allegation respecting myself, is equally false. In page 34, he quotes Doctor Stuart, as having, twenty years ago, informed him that General Washington, 'when he became a private citizen,' called me to account for expressions in a letter to Mazzei, requiring, in a tone of unusual severity, an explanation of that letter. He adds of himself, 'in what manner the latter humbled himself, and appeased the just resentment of Washington, will never be known, as some time after his death, the correspondence was not to be found, and a diary for an important period of his Presidency was also missing.' The diary being of transactions during his Presidency, the letter to Mazzei not known here until some time after he became a private citizen, and the pretended correspondence of course after that, I know not why this lost diary and supposed correspondence are brought together here, unless for insinuations worthy of the letter itself. The correspondence could not be found, indeed, because it had never existed. I do affirm, that there never passed a word, written or verbal, directly or indirectly, between General Washington and myself on the subject of that letter. He would never have degraded himself so far as to take to himself the imputation in that letter on the 'Samsons in combat.' The whole story is a fabrication, and I defy the framers of it, and all mankind, to produce a scrip of a pen between General Washington and myself on the subject, or any other evidence more worthy of credit than the suspicions, suppositions, and presumptions of the two persons here quoting and quoted for it. With Doctor Stuart I had not much acquaintance. I supposed him to be an honest man, knew him to be a very weak one, and, like Mr. Pickering, very prone to antipathies, boiling with party passions, and, under the dominion of these, readily welcoming fancies for facts. But, come the story from whomsoever it might, it is an unqualified falsehood.
This letter to Mazzei has been a precious theme of crimination for federal malice. It was a long letter of business, in which was inserted a single paragraph only of political information as to the state of our country. In this information there was not one word which would not then have been, or would not now be approved by every republican in the United States, looking back to those times, as you will see by a faithful copy now enclosed of the whole of what that letter said on the subject of the United States, or of its government. This paragraph, extracted and translated, got into a Paris paper at a time when the persons in power there were laboring under very general disfavor, and their friends were eager to catch even at straws to buoy them up. 'To them, therefore, I have always imputed the interpolation of an entire paragraph additional to mine, which makes me charge my own country with ingratitude and injustice to France. There was not a word in my letter respecting France, or any of the proceedings or relations between this country and that. Yet this interpolated paragraph has been the burden of federal calumny, has been constantly quoted by them, made the subject of unceasing and virulent abuse, and is still quoted, as you see, by Mr. Pickering, (page 33,) as if it were genuine, and really written by me. And even Judge Marshall makes history descend from its dignity, and the ermine from its sanctity, to exaggerate, to record, and to sanction this forgery. In the very last note of his book, he says, 'A letter from Mr. Jefferson to Mr. Mazzei, an Italian, was published in Florence, and republished in the Moniteur, with very severe strictures on the conduct of the United States.' And instead of the letter itself, he copies what he says are the remarks of the editor, which are an exaggerated commentary on the fabricated paragraph itself, and silently leaves to his reader to make the ready inference that these were the sentiments of the letter. Proof is the duty of the affirmative side. A negative cannot be possibly proved. But, in defect of impossible proof of what was not in the original letter, I have its press-copy still in my possession. It has been shown to several, and is open to any one who wishes to see it. I have presumed only that the interpolation was done in Paris. But I never saw the letter in either its Italian or French dress, and it may have been done here, with the commentary handed down to posterity by the judge. The genuine paragraph, re-translated through Italian and French into English, as it appeared here in a federal paper, besides the mutilated hue which these translations and re-translations of it produced generally, gave a mistranslation of a single word, which entirely perverted its meaning, and made it a pliant and fertile text of misrepresentation of my political principles. The original, speaking of an Anglican, monarchical, and aristocratical party, which had sprung up since he had left us, states their object to be 'to draw over us the substance, as they had already done the forms of the British government.' Now the 'forms' here meant, were the levees, birth-days, the pompous cavalcade to the State House on the meeting of Congress, the formal speech from the throne, the procession of Congress in a body to re-echo the speech in an answer, &c. &c. But the translator here, by substituting form in the singular number, for forms in the plural, made it mean the frame or organization of our government, or its form of legislative, executive, and judiciary authorities, co-ordinate and independent: to which form it was to be inferred that I was an enemy. In this sense they always quoted it, and in this sense Mr. Pickering still quotes, it (pages 34, 35, 38), and countenances the inference. Now General Washington perfectly understood what I meant by these forms, as they were frequent subjects of conversation between us. When, on my return from Europe, I joined the government in March, 1790, at New York, I was much astonished, indeed, at the mimicry I found established of royal forms and ceremonies, and more alarmed at the unexpected phenomenon, by the monarchical sentiments I heard expressed and openly maintained in every company, and among others by the high members of the government, executive and judiciary (General Washington alone excepted), and by a great part of the legislature, save only some members who had been of the old Congress, and a very few of recent introduction. I took occasion, at various times, of expressing to General Washington my disappointment at these symptoms of a change of principle, and that I thought them encouraged by the forms and ceremonies, which I found prevailing, not at all in character with the simplicity of republican government, and looking as if wishfully to those of European courts. His general explanations to me were, that when he arrived at New York to enter on the executive administration of the new government, he observed to those who were to assist him, that placed as he was in an office entirely new to him, unacquainted with the forms and ceremonies of other governments, still less apprized of those which might be properly established here, and himself perfectly indifferent to all forms, he wished them to consider and prescribe what they should be; and the task was assigned particularly to General Knox, a man of parade, and to Colonel Humphreys, who had resided some time at a foreign court. They, he said, were the author's of the present regulations, and that others were proposed so highly strained, that he absolutely rejected them. Attentive to the difference of opinion prevailing on this subject, when the term of his second election arrived, he called the Heads of departments together, observed to them the situation in which he had been at the commencement of the government, the advice he had taken, and the course he had observed in compliance with it; that a proper occasion had now arrived of revising that course, of correcting in it any particulars not approved in experience; and he desired us to consult together, agree on any changes we should think for the better, and that he should willingly conform to what we should advise. We met at my office. Hamilton and myself agreed at once that there was too much ceremony for the character of our government, and, particularly, that the parade of the installation at New York ought not to be copied on the present occasion, that the President should desire the Chief Justice to attend him at his chambers, that he should administer the oath of office to him in the presence of the higher officers of the government, and that the certificate of the fact should be delivered to the Secretary of State to be recorded. Randolph and Knox differed from us, the latter vehemently: they thought it not advisable to change any of the established forms, and we authorized Randolph to report our opinions to the President. As these opinions were divided, and no positive advice given as to any change, no change was made. Thus the forms, which I had censured in my letter to Mazzei, were perfectly understood by General Washington, and were those which he himself but barely tolerated. He had furnished me a proper occasion for proposing their reformation, and, my opinion not prevailing, he knew I could not have meant any part of the censure for him.
Mr. Pickering quotes too (page 34) the expression in the letter, of 'the men who were Samsons in the field, and Solomons in the council, but who had had their heads shorn by the harlot England' or, as expressed in their re-translation, the men who were Solomons in council, and Samsons in combat, but whose hair had been cut off by the whore England.' Now this expression also was perfectly understood by General Washington. He knew that I meant it for the Cincinnati generally, and that, from what had passed between us at the commencement of that institution, I could not mean to include him. When the first meeting was called for its establishment, I was a member of the Congress then sitting at Annapolis. General Washington wrote to me, asking my opinion on that proposition, and the course, if any, which I thought Congress would observe respecting it. I wrote him frankly my own disapprobation of it; that I found the members of Congress generally in the same sentiment; that I thought they would take no express notice of it, but that in all appointments of trust, honor, or profit, they would silently pass by all candidates of that order, and give an uniform preference to others. On his way to the first meeting in Philadelphia, which I think was in the spring of 1784, he called on me at Annapolis. It was a little after candle-light, and he sat with me till after midnight, conversing, almost exclusively, on that subject. While he was feelingly indulgent to the motives which might induce the officers to promote it, he concurred with me entirely in condemning it; and when I expressed an idea that, if the hereditary quality were suppressed, the institution might perhaps be indulged during the lives of the officers now living, and who had actually served; 'No,' he said, 'not a fibre of it ought, to be left, to be an eye-sore to the public, a ground of dissatisfaction, and a line of separation between them and their country': and he left me with a determination to use all his influence for its entire suppression. On his return from the meeting, he called on me again, and related to me the course the thing had taken. He. said, that, from the beginning, he had used every endeavor to prevail on the officers to renounce the project altogether, urging the many considerations which would render it odious to their fellow-citizens, and disreputable and injurious to themselves; that he had at length prevailed on most of the old officers to reject it, although with great and warm opposition from others, and especially the younger ones, among whom he named Colonel W. S. Smith as particularly intemperate. But that in this state of things, when he thought the question safe, and the meeting drawing to a close, Major L'Enfant arrived from France with a bundle of eagles, for which he had been sent there, with letters from the French officers who had served in. America, praying for admission into the order, and a solemn act of their King permitting them to wear its ensign. This, he said, changed the face of matters at once, produced an entire revolution of sentiment, and turned the torrent so strongly in an opposite direction, that it could be no longer withstood: all he could then obtain, was a suppression of the hereditary quality. He added, that it was the French applications, and respect for the approbation of the King, which saved the establishment in its modified and temporary form. Disapproving thus of the institution as much as I did, and conscious that I knew him to do so, he could never suppose that I meant to include him among the Samsons in the field, whose object was to draw over us the form, as they made the letter say, of the British government, and especially its aristocractic member, an hereditary House of Lords. Add to this, that the letter saying, 'that two out of the three branches of legislature were against us,' was an obvious exception of him; it being well known that the majorities in the two branches of Senate and Representatives were the very instruments which carried, in opposition to the old and real republicans, the measures which were the subjects of condemnation in this letter. General Washington, then, understanding perfectly what and whom I meant to designate, in both phrases, and that they could not have any application or view to himself, could find in neither any cause of offence to himself; and therefore neither needed, nor ever asked any explanation of them from me. Had it even been otherwise, they must know very little of General Washington, who should believe to be within the laws of his character what Doctor Stuart is said to have imputed to him. Be this, however, as it may, the story is infamously false in every article of it. My last parting with General Washington was at the inauguration of Mr. Adams, in March, 1797, and was warmly affectionate; and I never had any reason to believe any change on his part, as there certainly was none on mine. But one session of Congress intervened between that and his death, the year following, in my passage to and from which, as it happened to be not convenient to call on him, I never had another opportunity; and as to the cessation of correspondence observed during that short interval, no particular circumstance occurred for epistolary communication, and both of us were too much oppressed with letter-writing, to trouble either the other, with a letter about nothing.
The truth is, that the federalists, pretending to be the exclusive friends of General Washington, have ever done what they could to sink his character, by hanging theirs on it, and by representing as the enemy of republicans him, who, of all men, is best entitled to the appellation of the father of that republic which they were endeavoring to subvert, and the republicans to maintain. They cannot deny, because the elections proclaimed the truth, that the great body of the nation approved the republican measures. General Washington was himself sincerely a friend to the republican principles of our constitution. His faith, perhaps, in its duration, might not have been as confident as mine; but he repeatedly declared to me, that he was determined it should have a fair chance for success, and that he would lose the last drop of his blood in its support, against any attempt which, might be made to change it from its republican form. He made these declarations the oftener, because he knew my suspicions that Hamilton had other views, and he wished to quiet my jealousies on this subject. For Hamilton frankly avowed, that he considered the British constitution, with all the corruptions of its administration, as the most perfect model of government which had ever been devised by the wit of man; professing, however, at the same time, that the spirit of this country was so fundamentally republican, that it would be visionary to think of introducing monarchy here, and that, therefore, it was the duty of its administrators to conduct it on the principles their constituents had elected.
General Washington, after the retirement of his first cabinet, and the composition of his second, entirely federal, and at the head of which was Mr. Pickering himself, had no opportunity of hearing both sides of any question. His measures, consequently, took more the hue of the party in whose hands he was. These measures were certainly not approved by the republicans; yet were they not imputed, to him, but to the counsellors around him; and his prudence so far restrained their impassioned course and bias, that no act of strong mark, during the remainder of his administration, excited much dissatisfaction. He lived too short a time after, and too much withdrawn from information, to correct the views into which he had been deluded; and the continued assiduities of the party drew him into the vortex of their intemperate career; separated him still farther from his real friends, and excited him to actions and expressions of dissatisfaction, which grieved them, but could not loosen their affections from him. They would not suffer the temporary aberration to weigh against the immeasurable merits of his life; and although they tumbled his seducers from their places, they preserved his memory embalmed in their hearts, with undiminished love and devotion; and there it for ever will remain embalmed, in entire oblivion of every temporary thing which might cloud the glories of his splendid life. It is vain, then, for Mr. Pickering and his friends to endeavor to falsify his character, by representing him as an enemy to republicans and republican principles, and as exclusively the friend of those who were so; and had he lived longer, he would have returned to his ancient and unbiassed opinions, would have replaced his confidence in those whom the people approved and supported, and would have seen that they were only restoring and acting on the principles of his own first administration.
I find, my dear Sir, that I have written you a very long letter or rather a history. The civility of having sent me a copy of Mr. Pickering's diatribe, would scarcely justify its address to you. I do not publish these things, because my rule of life has been never to harass the public with fendings and provings of personal slanders; and least of all would I descend into the arena of slander with such a champion as Mr. Pickering. I have ever trusted to the justice and consideration of my fellow-citizens, and have no reason to repent it, or to change my course. At this time of life, too, tranquillity is the summum bonum. But although I decline all newspaper controversy, yet when falsehoods have been advanced, within the knowledge of no one so much as myself, I have sometimes deposited a contradiction in the hands of a friend, which, if worth preservation, may, when I am no more, nor those whom I might offend, throw light on history, and recall that into the path of truth. And if of no other value, the present communication may amuse you with anecdotes not known to every one.
I had meant to have added some views on the amalgamation of parties, to which your favor of the 8th has some allusion; an amalgamation of name, but not of principle. Tories are tories still, by whatever name they may be called. But my letter is already too unmercifully long, and I close it here with assurances of my great esteem and respectful consideration.
LETTER CLXXXIII.—TO EDWARD EVERETT, October 15, 1824
TO EDWARD EVERETT.
Monticello, October 15, 1824.
I have yet to thank you for your O. B. K. oration, delivered in presence of General la Fayette. It is all excellent, much of it sublimely so, well worthy of its author and his subject, of whom we may truly say, as was said of Germanicus, 'Fruitur fama sui.'
Your letter of September the 10th gave me the first information that mine to Major Cartwright had got into the newspapers; and the first notice, indeed, that he had received it. I was a stranger to his person, but not to his respectable and patriotic character. I received from him a long and interesting letter, and answered it with frankness, going without reserve into several subjects, to which his letter had led, but on which I did not suppose I was writing for the newspapers. The publication of a letter in such a case, without the consent of the writer, is not a fair practice.
The part which you quote, may draw on me the host of judges and divines. They may cavil, but cannot refute it. Those who read Prisot's opinion with a candid view to understand, and not to chicane it, cannot mistake its meaning. The reports in the Year-books were taken very short. The opinions of the judges were written down sententiously, as notes or memoranda, and not with all the developement which they probably used in delivering them. Prisot's opinion, to be fully expressed, should be thus paraphrased. 'To such laws as those of holy church have recorded, and preserved in their ancient books and writings, it is proper for us to give credence; for so is, or so says, the common law, or law of the land, on which all manner of other laws rest for their authority, or are founded; that is to say, the common law, or the law of the land common to us all, and established by the authority of us all, is that from which is derived the authority of all other special and subordinate branches of law, such as the canon law, law merchant, law maritime, law of Gavelkind, Borough English, corporation laws, local customs and usages, to all of which the common law requires its judges to permit authority in the special or local cases belonging to them. The evidence of these laws is preserved in their ancient treatises, books, and writings, in like manner as our own common law itself is known, the text-of its original enactments having been long lost, and its substance only preserved in ancient and traditionary writings. And if it appears, from their ancient books, writings, and records, that the bishop, in this case, according to the rules prescribed by these authorities, has done what an ordinary would have done, in such case, then we should adjudge it good, otherwise not.' To decide this question, they would have to turn to the ancient writings and records of the canon law, in which they would find evidence of the laws of advowsons, quare impedit, the duties of bishops and ordinaries, for which terms Prisot could never have meant to refer them to the Old or New Testament, les saincts scriptures, where surely they would not be found. A license which should permit 'ancien scripture' to be translated 'holy scripture,' annihilates at once all the evidence of language. With such a license, we might reverse the sixth commandment into 'Thou shalt not omit murder.' It would be the more extraordinary in this case, where the mistranslation was to effect the adoption of the whole code of the Jewish and Christian laws into the text of our statutes, to convert religious offences into temporal crimes, to make the breach of every religious precept a subject of indictment, submit the question of idolatry, for example, to the trial of a jury, and to a court, its punishment, to the third and fourth generation of the offender. Do we allow to our judges this lumping legislation?
The term 'common law,' although it has more than one meaning, is perfectly definite, secundum subjectam materiem. Its most probable origin was on the conquest of the Heptarchy by Alfred, and the amalgamation of their several codes of law into one, which became common to them all. The authentic text of these enactments has not been preserved; but their substance has been committed to many ancient books and writings, so faithfully as to have been deemed genuine from generation to generation, and obeyed as such by all. We have some fragments of them collected by Lambard, Wilkins, and others, but abounding with proofs of their spurious authenticity. Magna Charta is the earliest statute, the text of which has come down to us in an authentic form, and thence downward we have them entire. We do not know exactly when the common law and statute law, the lex scripta et non scripta, began to be contra-distinguished, so as to give a second acceptation to the former term; whether before or after Prisot's day, at which time we know that nearly two centuries and a half of statutes were in preservation. In later times, on the introduction of the chancery branch of law, the term common law began to be used in a third sense, as the correlative of chancery law. This, however, having been long after Prisot's time, could not have been the sense in which he used the term. He must have meant the ancient lex, non scripta, because, had he used it as inclusive of the lex scripta, he would have put his finger on the statute which had enjoined on the judges a deference to the laws of holy church. But no such statute existing, he must have referred to the common law in the sense of a lex non scripta. Whenever, then, the term common law is used in either of these senses, and it is never employed in any other, it is readily known in which of them by the context and subject matter under consideration; which, in the present case, leave no room for doubt. I do not remember the occasion which led me to take up this subject, while a practitioner of the law. But I know I went into it with all the research which a very copious law library enabled me to indulge; and I fear not for the accuracy of any of my quotations. The doctrine might be disproved by many other and different topics of reasoning; but having satisfied myself of the origin of the forgery, and found how, like a rolling snow-ball, it had gathered volume, I leave its further pursuit to those who need further proof, and perhaps I have already gone further than the feeble doubt you expressed might require, I salute you with great esteem and respect.
LETTER CLXXXIV.—TO JOSEPH C. CABELL, January 11, 1825
TO JOSEPH C. CABELL.
Monticello, January 11, 1825.
We are dreadfully nonplussed here by the non-arrival of our three Professors. We apprehend that the idea of our opening on the 1st of February prevails so much abroad (although we have always mentioned it doubtfully), as that the students will assemble on that day without awaiting the further notice which was promised. To send them away will be discouraging, and to open an University without Mathematics or Natural Philosophy would bring on us ridicule and disgrace. We therefore publish an advertisement, stating that on the arrival of these Professors, notice will be given of the day of opening the institution.
Governor Barbour writes me hopefully of getting our fifty thousand dollars from Congress. The proposition has been originated in the House of Representatives, referred to the committee of claims, the chairman of which has prepared a very favorable report, and a bill conformable, assuming the repayment of all interest which the State has actually paid. The legislature will certainly owe to us the recovery of this money; for had they not given it in some measure the reverenced character of a donation for the promotion of learning, it would never have been paid. It is to be hoped, therefore, that the displeasure incurred by wringing it from them at the last session, will now give way to a contrary feeling, and even place us on a ground of some merit. Should this sentiment take place, and the arrival of our Professors, and filling our dormitories with students on the 1st of February, encourage them to look more favorably towards us, perhaps it might dispose them to enlarge somewhat their order on the same fund. You observe the Proctor has stated in a letter accompanying our Report, that it will take about twenty-five thousand dollars more than we have to finish the Rotunda. Besides this, an Anatomical theatre (costing about as much as one of our hotels, say about five thousand dollars,) is indispensable to the school of Anatomy. There cannot be a single dissection until a proper theatre is prepared, giving an advantageous view of the operation to those within, and effectually excluding observation from without. Either the additional sums, therefore, of twenty-five thousand and five thousand dollars will be wanting, or we must be permitted to appropriate a part of the fifty thousand to a theatre, leaving the Rotunda unfinished for the present. Yet I should think neither of these objects an equivalent for renewing the displeasure of the legislature. Unless we can carry their hearty patronage with us, the institution can never flourish. I would not, therefore, hint at this additional aid, unless it were agreeable to our friends generally, and tolerably sure of being carried without irritation.
In your letter of December the 31st, you say my 'hand-writing and my letters have great effect there,' i.e. at Richmond. I am sensible, my dear Sir, of the kindness with which this encouragement is held up to me. But my views of their effect are very different. When I retired from the administration of public affairs, I thought I saw some evidence that I retired with a good degree of public favor, and that my conduct in office had been considered, by the one party at least, with approbation, and with acquiescence by the other. But the attempt, in which I have embarked so earnestly, to procure an improvement in the moral condition of my native State, although, perhaps, in other States it may have strengthened good dispositions, it has assuredly weakened them within our own. The attempt ran foul of so many local interests, of so many personal views, and so much ignorance, and I have been considered as so particularly its promoter, that I see evidently a great change of sentiment towards myself. I cannot doubt its having dissatisfied with myself a respectable minority, if not a majority of the House of Delegates. I feel it deeply, and very discouragingly. Yet I shall not give way. I have ever found in my progress through life, that, acting for the public, if we do always what is right, the approbation denied in the beginning will surely follow us in the end. It is from posterity we are to expect remuneration for the sacrifices we are making for their service, of time, quiet, and good will. And I fear not the appeal. The multitude of fine young men whom we shall redeem from ignorance, who will feel that they owe to us the elevation of mind, of character, and station they will be able to attain from the result of our efforts, will insure their remembering us with gratitude. We will not, then, be 'weary in well-doing.' Usque ad aras amicus tuus,
LETTER CLXXXV.—TO THOMAS JEFFERSON SMITH, February 21, 1825
THOMAS JEFFERSON TO THOMAS JEFFERSON SMITH.
This letter will, to you, be as one from the dead. The writer will be in the grave before you can weigh its counsels. Your affectionate and excellent father has requested that I would address to you something which might possibly have a favorable influence on the course of life you have to run, and I too, as a namesake, feel an interest in that course. Few words will be necessary, with good dispositions on your part. Adore God. Reverence and cherish your parents. Love your neighbor as yourself, and your country more than yourself. Be just. Be true. Murmur not at the ways of Providence. So shall the life, into which you have entered, be the portal to one of eternal and ineffable bliss. And if to the dead it is permitted to care for the things of this world, every action of your life will be under my regard. Farewell.
Monticello, February 21, 1825.
The Portrait of a Good Man, by the most sublime of Poets, for your imitation.
Lord, who's the happy man that may to thy blest courts repair; Not stranger-like to visit them, but to inhabit there? 'Tis he, whose every thought and deed by rules of virtue moves; Whose generous tongue disdains to speak the thing his heart disproves. Who never did a slander forge, his neighbor's fame to wound; Nor hearken to a false report, by malice whispered round. Who vice, in all its pomp and power, can treat with just neglect; And piety, though clothed in rags, religiously respect. Who to his plighted vows and trust has ever firmly stood; And though he promise to his loss, he makes his promise good. Whose soul in usury disdains his treasure to employ; Whom no rewards can ever bribe the guiltless to destroy. The man, who, by this steady course, has happiness insured, When earth's foundations shake, shall stand, by Providence secured.
A Decalogue of Canons for observation in practical life.
1. Never put off till to-morrow what you can do to-day.
2. Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
3. Never spend your money before you have it.
4. Never buy what you do not want, because it is cheap; it will be dear to you.
5. Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold.
6. We never repent of having eaten too little.
7. Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
8. How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened.
9. Take things always by their smooth handle.
10. When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry, an hundred.
LETTER CLXXXVI.—TO JAMES MADISON, December 24, 1825
TO JAMES MADISON.
Monticello, December 24, 1825.
I have for sometime considered the question of internal improvement as desperate. The torrent of general opinion sets so strongly in favor of it as to be irresistible. And I suppose that even the opposition in Congress will hereafter be feeble and formal, unless something can be done which may give a gleam of encouragement to our friends, or alarm their opponents in their fancied security. I learn from Richmond, that those who think with us there are in a state of perfect dismay, not knowing what to do, or what to propose. Mr. Gordon, our representative, particularly, has written to me in very desponding terms, not disposed to yield, indeed, but pressing for opinions and advice on the subject. I have no doubt you are pressed in the same way, and I hope you have devised and recommended something to them. If you have, stop here and read no more, but consider all that follows as non avenue. I shall be better satisfied to adopt implicitly any thing which you may have advised, than any thing occurring to myself. For I have long ceased to think on subjects of this kind, and pay little attention to public proceedings. But if you have done nothing in it, then I risk for your consideration what has occurred to me, and is expressed in the enclosed paper. Bailey's propositions, which came to hand since I wrote the paper, and which I suppose to have come from the President himself, show a little hesitation in the purposes of his party; and in that state of mind, a bolt shot critically may decide the contest, by its effect on the less bold. The olive-branch held out to them at this moment may be accepted, and the constitution thus saved at a moderate sacrifice. I say nothing of the paper, which will explain itself. The following heads of consideration, or some of them, may weigh in its favor.
It may intimidate the wavering. It may break the western coalition, by offering the same thing in a different form. It will be viewed with favor in contrast with the Georgia opposition and fear of strengthening that. It will be an example of a temperate mode of opposition in future and similar cases. It will delay the measure a year at least. It will give us the chance of better times and of intervening accidents; and in no way place us in a worse than our present situation. I do not dwell on these topics; your mind will develope them.
The first question is, whether you approve of doing any thing of the kind. If not, send it back to me, and it shall be suppressed; for I would not hazard so important a measure against your opinion, nor even without its support. If you think it may be a canvass on which to put something good, make what alterations you please, and I will forward it to Gordon, under the most sacred injunctions that it shall be so used as that not a shadow of suspicion shall fall on you or myself, that it has come from either of us. But what you do, do as promptly as your convenience will admit, lest it should be anticipated by something worse. Ever and affectionately yours,
The solemn Declaration and Protest of the Commonwealth of Virginia, on the Principles of the Constitution of the United, States of America, and on the Violations of them.
We, the General Assembly of Virginia, on behalf and in the name of the people thereof, do declare as follows.
The States in North America which confederated to establish their independence on the government of Great Britain, of which Virginia was one, became, on that acquisition, free and independent States, and, as such, authorized to constitute governments, each for itself, in such form as it thought best.
They entered into a compact (which is called the Constitution of the United States of America), by which they agreed to unite in a single government as to their relations with each other, and with foreign nations, and as to certain other articles particularly specified. They retained at the same time, each to itself, the other rights of independent government, comprehending mainly their domestic interests.
For the administration of their federal branch, they agreed to appoint, in conjunction, a distinct set of functionaries, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the manner settled in that compact: while to each, severally and of course, remained its original right of appointing, each for itself, a separate set of functionaries, legislative, executive, and judiciary, also, for administering the domestic branch of their respective governments.
These two sets of officers, each independent of the other, constitute thus a whole of government, for each State separately; the powers ascribed to the one, as specifically made federal, exercised over the whole, the residuary powers, retained to the other, exercisable exclusively over its particular State, foreign herein, each to the others, as they were before the original compact.
To this construction of government and distribution of its powers, the Commonwealth of Virginia does religiously and affectionately adhere, opposing, with equal fidelity and firmness, the usurpation of either set of functionaries on the rightful powers of the other.
But the federal branch has assumed in some cases, and claimed in others, a right of enlarging its own powers by constructions, inferences, and indefinite deductions from those directly given, which this Assembly does declare to be usurpations of the powers retained to the independent branches, mere interpolations into the compact, and direct infractions of it.
They claim, for example, and have commenced the exercise of a right to construct roads, open canals, and effect other internal improvements within the territories and jurisdictions exclusively belonging to the several States, which this Assembly does declare has not been given to that branch by the constitutional compact, but remains to each State among its domestic and unalienated powers, exercisable within itself and by its domestic authorities alone.
This Assembly does further disavow, and declare to be most false and unfounded, the doctrine, that the compact, in authorizing its federal branch to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States, has given them thereby a power to do whatever they may think, or pretend, would promote the general welfare, which construction would make that, of itself, a complete government, without limitation of powers; but that the plain sense and obvious meaning were, that they might levy the taxes necessary to provide for the general welfare, by the various acts of power therein specified and delegated to them, and by no others.
Nor is it admitted, as has been said, that the people of these States, by not investing their federal branch with all the means of bettering their condition, have denied to themselves any which may effect that purpose; since, in the distribution of these means, they have given to that branch those which belong to its department, and to the States have reserved separately the residue which belong to them separately: and thus by the organization of the two branches taken together, have completely secured the first object of human association, the full improvement of their condition, and reserved to themselves all the faculties of multiplying their own blessings.
Whilst the General Assembly thus declares the rights retained by the States, rights which they have never yielded, and which this State will never voluntarily yield, they do not mean to raise the banner of disaffection, or of separation from their sister States, co-parties with themselves to this compact. They know and value too highly the blessings of their Union, as to foreign nations and questions arising among themselves, to consider every infraction as to be met by actual resistance. They respect too affectionately the opinions of those possessing the same rights, under the same instrument, to make every difference of construction a ground of immediate rupture. They would, indeed, consider such a rupture as among the greatest calamities which could befall them; but not the greatest. There is yet one greater, submission to a government of unlimited powers. It is only when the hope of avoiding this shall become absolutely desperate, that further forbearance could not be indulged. Should a majority of the co-parties, therefore, contrary to the expectation and hope of this Assembly, prefer, at this time, acquiescence in these assumptions of power by the federal member of the government, we will be patient and suffer much, under the confidence that time, ere it be too late, will prove to them also the bitter consequences in which that usurpation will involve us all. In the mean while, we will breast with them, rather than separate from them, every misfortune, save that only of living under a government of unlimited powers. We owe every other sacrifice to ourselves, to our federal brethren, and to the world at large, to pursue with temper and perseverance the great experiment which shall prove that man is capable of living in society, governing itself by laws self-imposed, and securing to its members the enjoyment of life, liberty, property, and peace; and further to show, that even when the government of its choice shall manifest a tendency to degeneracy, we are not at once to despair but that the will and the watchfulness of its sounder parts will reform its aberrations, recall it to original and legitimate principles, and restrain it within the rightful limits of self-government. And these are the objects of this Declaration and Protest.
Supposing then, that it might be for the good of the whole, as some of its co-States seem to think, that the power of making roads and canals should be added to those directly given to the federal branch, as more likely to be systematically and beneficially directed, than by the independent action of the several States, this Commonwealth, from respect to these opinions, and a desire of conciliation with its co-States, will consent, in concurrence with them, to make this addition, provided it be done regularly by an amendment of the compact, in the way established by that instrument, and provided also, it be sufficiently guarded against abuses, compromises, and corrupt practices, not only of possible, but of probable occurrence.
And as a further pledge of the sincere and cordial attachment of this Commonwealth to the union of the whole, so far as has been consented to by the compact called 'The Constitution of the United States of America,' (construed according to the plain and ordinary meaning of its language, to the common intendment of the time, and of those who framed it;) to give also to all parties and authorities, time for reflection and for consideration, whether, under a temperate view of the possible consequences, and especially of the constant obstructions which an equivocal majority must ever expect to meet, they will still prefer the assumption of this power rather than its acceptance from the free will of their constituents; and to preserve peace in the mean while, we proceed to make it the duty of our citizens, until the legislature shall otherwise and ultimately decide, to acquiesce under those acts of the federal branch of our government which we have declared to be usurpations, and against which, in point of right, we do protest as null and void, and never to be quoted as precedents of right.
We therefore do enact, and be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia, that all citizens of this Commonwealth, and persons and authorities within the same, shall pay full obedience at all times to the acts which may be passed by the Congress of the United States, the object of which shall be the construction of post-roads, making canals of navigation, and maintaining the same, in any part of the United States, in like manner as if the said acts were, totidem verbis, passed by the legislature of this Commonwealth.
LETTER CLXXXVII.—TO WILLIAM B. GILES, December 25, 1825
TO WILLIAM B. GILES.
Monticello, December 25, 1825.
Your favor of the 15th was received four days ago. It found me engaged in what I could not lay aside till this day.
Far advanced in my eighty-third year, worn down with infirmities which have confined me almost entirely to the house for seven or eight months past, it afflicts me much to receive appeals to my memory for transactions so far back as that which is the subject of your letter. My memory is indeed become almost a blank, of which no better proof can probably be given you than by my solemn protestation, that I have not the least recollection of your intervention between Mr. John Q. Adams and myself, in what passed on the subject of the embargo. Not the slightest trace of it remains in my mind. Yet I have no doubt of the exactitude of the statement in your letter. And the less, as I recollect the interview with Mr. Adams, to which the previous communications which had passed between him and yourself were probably and naturally the preliminary. That interview I remember well; not indeed in the very words which passed between us, but in their substance, which was of a character too awful, too deeply engraved in my mind, and influencing too materially the course I had to pursue, ever to be forgotten. Mr. Adams called on me pending the embargo, and while endeavors were making to obtain its repeal. He made some apologies for the call, on the ground of our not being then in the habit of confidential communications, but that that which he had then to make, involved too seriously the interest of our country not to overrule all other considerations with him, and make it his duty to reveal it to myself particularly. I assured him there was no occasion for any apology for his visit; that, on the contrary, his communications would be thankfully received, and would add a confirmation the more to my entire confidence in the rectitude and patriotism of his conduct and principles. He spoke then of the dissatisfaction of the eastern portion of our confederacy with the restraints of the embargo then existing, and their restlessness under it. That there was nothing which might not be attempted, to rid themselves of it. That he had information of the most unquestionable certainty, that certain citizens of the Eastern States (I think he named Massachusetts particularly) were in negotiation with agents of the British government, the object of which was an agreement that the New England States should take no further part in the war then going on; that, without formally declaring their separation from the Union of the States, they should withdraw from all aid and obedience to them, that their navigation and commerce should be free from restraint and interruption by the British; that they should be considered and treated by them as neutrals, and as such might conduct themselves towards both parties; and, at the close of the war, be at liberty to rejoin the confederacy. He assured me that there was imminent danger that the convention would take place; that the temptations were such as might debauch many from their fidelity to the Union; and that, to enable its friends to make head against it, the repeal of the embargo was absolutely necessary. I expressed a just sense of the merit of this information, and of the importance of the disclosure to the safety and even the salvation of our country: and however reluctant I was to abandon the measure (a measure which persevered in a little longer, we had subsequent and satisfactory assurance would have effected its object completely), from that moment, and influenced by that information, I saw the necessity of abandoning it, and instead of effecting our purpose by this peaceful weapon, we must fight it out, or break the Union. I then recommended to my friends to yield to the necessity of a repeal of the embargo, and to endeavor to supply its place by the best substitute, in which they could procure a general concurrence.
I cannot too often repeat, that this statement is not pretended to be in the very words which passed; that it only gives faithfully the impression remaining on my mind. The very words of a conversation are too transient and fugitive to be so long retained in remembrance. But the substance was too important to be forgotten, not only from the revolution of measures it obliged me to adopt, but also from the renewals of it in my memory on the frequent occasions I have had of doing justice to Mr. Adams, by repeating this proof of his fidelity to his country, and of his superiority over all ordinary considerations when the safety of that was brought into question.
With this best exertion of a waning memory which I can command, accept assurances of my constant and affectionate friendship and respect.
LETTER CLXXXVIII.—TO WILLIAM B. GILES, December 26, 1825
TO WILLIAM B. GILES.
Monticello, December 26, 1825.
I wrote you a letter yesterday, of which you will be free to make what use you please. This will contain matters not intended for the public eye. I see, as you do, and with the deepest affliction, the rapid strides with which the federal branch of our government is advancing towards the usurpation of all the rights reserved to the States, and the consolidation in itself of all powers, foreign and domestic; and that too, by constructions which, if legitimate, leave no limits to their power. Take together the decisions of the federal court, the doctrines of the President, and the misconstructions of the constitutional compact acted on by the legislature of the federal branch, and it is but too evident, that the three ruling branches of that department are in combination to strip their colleagues, the State authorities, of the powers reserved by them, and to exercise themselves all functions, foreign and domestic. Under the power to regulate commerce, they assume indefinitely that also over agriculture and manufactures, and call it regulation to take the earnings of one of these branches of industry, and that too the most depressed, and put them into the pockets of the other, the most flourishing of all. Under the authority to establish post-roads, they claim that of cutting down mountains for the construction of roads, of digging canals, and aided by a little sophistry on the words 'general welfare,' a right to do, not only the acts to effect that, which are specifically enumerated and permitted, but whatsoever they shall think or pretend will be for the general welfare. And what is our resource for the preservation of the constitution? Reason and argument? You might as well reason and argue with the marble columns encircling them. The representatives chosen by ourselves? They are joined in the combination, some from incorrect views of government, some from corrupt ones, sufficient, voting together, to outnumber the sound parts; and with majorities only of one, two, or three, bold enough to go forward in defiance. Are we then to stand to our arms, with the hot-headed Georgian? No. That must be the last resource, not to be thought of until much longer and greater sufferings. If every infraction of a compact of so many parties is to be resisted at once, as a dissolution of it, none can ever be formed which would last one year. We must have patience and longer endurance then with our brethren while under delusion; give them time for reflection and experience of consequences; keep ourselves in a situation to profit by the chapter of accidents; and separate from our companions only when the sole alternatives left, are the dissolution of our Union with them, or submission to a government without limitation of powers. Between these two evils, when we must make a choice, there can be no hesitation. But in the mean while, the States should be watchful to note every material usurpation on their rights; to denounce them as they occur in the most peremptory terms; to protest against them as wrongs to which our present submission shall be considered, not as acknowledgments or precedents of right, but as a temporary yielding to the lesser evil, until their accumulation shall overweigh that of separation. I would go still further, and give to the federal member, by a regular amendment of the constitution, a right to make roads and canals of intercommunication between the States, providing sufficiently against corrupt practices in Congress (log-rolling, &c.), by declaring that the federal proportion of each State of the monies so employed, shall be in works within the State, or elsewhere with its consent, and with a due salvo of jurisdiction. This is the course which I think safest and best as yet. You ask my opinion of the propriety of giving publicity to what is stated in your letter, as having passed between Mr. John Q. Adams and yourself. Of this no one can judge but yourself. It is one of those questions which belong to the forum of feeling. This alone can decide on the degree of confidence implied in the disclosure; whether under no circumstances it was to be communicated to others. It does not seem to be of that character, or at all to wear that aspect. They are historical facts, which belong to the present, as well as future times. I doubt whether a single fact, known to the world, will carry as clear conviction to it, of the correctness of our knowledge of the treasonable views of the federal party of that day, as that disclosed by this, the most nefarious and daring attempt to dissever the Union, of which the Hartford Convention was a subsequent chapter: and both of these having failed, consolidation becomes the first chapter of the next book of their history. But this opens with a vast accession of strength from their younger recruits, who, having nothing in them of the feelings or principles of '76, now look to a single and splendid government of an aristocracy, founded on banking institutions, and monied incorporations under the guise and cloak of their favored branches of manufactures, commerce, and navigation, riding and ruling over the plundered ploughman and beggared yeomanry. This will be to them a next best blessing to the monarchy of their first aim, and perhaps the surest stepping-stone to it.
I learn with great satisfaction that your school is thriving well, and that you have at its head a truly classical scholar. He is one of three or four whom I can hear of in the State. We were obliged the last year to receive shameful Latinists into the classical school of the University; such as we will certainly refuse as soon as we can get from better schools a sufficiency of those properly instructed to form a class. We must get rid of this Connecticut Latin, of this barbarous confusion of long and short syllables, which renders doubtful whether we are listening to a reader of Cherokee, Shawnee, Iroquois, or what. Our University has been most fortunate in the five Professors procured from England. A finer selection could not have been made. Besides their being of a grade of science which has left little superior behind, the correctness of their moral character, their accommodating dispositions, and zeal for the prosperity of the institution, leave us nothing more to wish. I verily believe that as high a degree of, education can now be obtained here, as in the country they left. And a finer set of youths I never saw assembled for instruction. They committed some irregularities at first, until they learned the lawful length of their tether; since which it has never been transgressed in the smallest degree. A great proportion of them are severely devoted to study, and I fear not to say, that within twelve or fifteen years from this time, a majority of the rulers of our State will have been educated here. They shall carry hence the correct principles of our day, and you may count assuredly that they will exhibit their country in a degree of sound respectability it has never known, either in our days, or those of our forefathers. I cannot live to see it. My joy must only be that of anticipation. But that you may see it in full fruition, is the probable consequence of the twenty years I am ahead of you in time, and is the sincere prayer of your affectionate and constant friend,
LETTER CLXXXIX.—TO CLAIBORNE W. GOOCH, January 9, 1826
TO CLAIBORNE W. GOOCH.
Monticello, January 9, 1826.
I have duly received your favor of December the 31st, and fear, with you, all the evils which the present lowering aspect of our political horizon so ominously portends. That at some future day, which I hoped to be very distant, the free principles of our government might change, with the change of circumstances, was to be expected. But I certainly did not expect that they would not over-live the generation which established them. And what I still less expected was, that my favorite western country was to be made the instrument of change. I had ever and fondly cherished the interests of that country, relying on it as a barrier against the degeneracy of public opinion from our original and free principles. But the bait of local interests, artfully prepared for their palate, has decoyed them from their kindred attachments, to alliances alien to them. Yet, although I have little hope that the torrent of consolidation can be withstood, I should not be for giving up the ship without efforts to save her. She lived well through the first squall, and may weather the present one. But, Dear Sir, I am not the champion called for by our present dangers; Non tali auxilio, nee defensoribus istis, tempus eget.' A waning body, a waning mind, and waning memory, with habitual ill health, warn me to withdraw and relinquish the arena to younger and abler athletes. I am sensible myself, if others are not, that this is my duty. If my distant friends know it not, those around me can inform them that they should not, in friendship, wish to call me into conflicts, exposing only the decays which nature has inscribed among her unalterable laws, and injuring the common cause by a senile and puny defence.
I will, however, say one word on the subject. The South Carolina resolutions, Van Buren's motion, and above all Bailey's propositions, show that other States are coming forward on the subject, and better for any one to take the lead than Virginia, where opposition is considered as common-place, and a mere matter of form and habit. We shall see what our co-States propose, and before the close of the session we may shape our own course more understandingly.
Accept the assurance of my great esteem and respect.
LETTER CXC.—TO [ANONYMOUS], January 21, 1826
Monticello, January 21, 1826.
Your favor of January the 15th is received, and I am entirely sensible of the kindness of the motives which suggested the caution it recommended. But I believe what I have done is the only thing I could have done with honor or conscience. Mr. Giles requested me to state a fact which he knew himself, and of which he knew me to be possessed. What use he intended to make of it I knew not, nor had I a right to inquire, or to indicate any suspicion that he would make an unfair one. That was his concern, not mine, and his character was sufficient to sustain the responsibility for it. I knew, too, that if an uncandid use should be made of it, there would be found those who would so prove it. Independent of the terms of intimate friendship on which Mr. Giles and myself have ever lived together, the world's respect entitled him to the justice of my testimony to any truth he might call for; and how that testimony should connect me with whatever he may do or write hereafter, and with his whole career, as you apprehend, is not understood by me. With his personal controversies I have nothing to do. I never took any part in them, or in those of any other person. Add to this, that the statement I have given him on the subject of Mr. Adams, is entirely honorable to him in every sentiment and fact it contains. There is not a word in it which I would wish to recall. It is one which Mr. Adams himself might willingly quote, did he need to quote any thing. It was simply, that during the continuance of the embargo, Mr. Adams informed me of a combination (without naming any one concerned in it), which had for its object a severance of the Union, for a time at least. That Mr. Adams and myself not being then in the habit of mutual consultation and confidence, I considered it as the stronger proof of the purity of his patriotism, which was able to lift him above all party passions when the safety of his country was endangered. Nor have I kept this honorable fact to myself. During the late canvass, particularly, I had more than one occasion to quote it to persons who were expressing opinions respecting him, of which this was a direct corrective. I have never entertained for Mr. Adams any but sentiments of esteem and respect; and if we have not thought alike on political subjects, I yet never doubted the honesty of his opinions, of which the letter in question, if published, will be an additional proof. Still, I recognise your friendship in suggesting a review of it, and am glad of this, as of every other occasion, of repeating to you the assurance of my constant attachment and respect.
LETTER CXCI.—TO JAMES MADISON, February 17,1826
TO JAMES MADISON.
Monticello, February 17,1826.
Immediately on seeing the overwhelming vote of the House of Representatives against giving us another dollar, I rode to the University and desired Mr. Brockenbrough to engage in nothing new, to stop every thing on hand which could be done without, and to employ all his force and funds in finishing the circular room for the books, and the Anatomical theatre. These cannot be done without; and for these and all our debts, we have funds enough. But I think it prudent then to clear the decks thoroughly, to see how we shall stand, and what we may accomplish further. In the mean time, there have arrived for us in different ports of the United States, ten boxes of books, from Paris, seven from London, and from Germany I know not how many; in all, perhaps, about twenty-five boxes. Not one of these can be opened until the book-room is completely finished, and all the shelves ready to receive their charge directly from the boxes, as they shall be opened. This cannot be till May. I hear nothing definitive of the three thousand dollars duty of which we are asking the remission from Congress. In the selection of our Law Professor, we must be rigorously attentive to his political principles. You will recollect, that, before the Revolution, Coke Littleton was the universal elementary book of law students, and a sounder whig never wrote, nor of profounder learning in the orthodox doctrines of the British constitution, or in what were called English liberties. You remember also that our lawyers were then all whigs. But when his black-letter text, and uncouth but cunning learning got out of fashion, and the honied Mansfieldism of Blackstone became the students' hornbook, from that moment, that profession (the nursery of our Congress) began to slide into toryism, and nearly all the young brood of lawyers now are of that hue. They suppose themselves, indeed, to be whigs, because they no longer know what whigism or republicanism means. It is in our seminary that that vestal flame is to be kept alive; it is thence it is to spread anew over our own and the sister States. If we are true and vigilant in our trust, within a dozen or twenty years a majority of our own legislature will be from our school, and many disciples will have carried its doctrines home with them to their several States, and will have leavened thus the whole mass. New York has taken strong ground in vindication of the constitution; South Carolina had already done the same. Although I was against our leading, I am equally against omitting to follow in the same line, and backing them firmly; and i hope that yourself or some other will mark out the track to be pursued by us.
You will have seen in the newspapers some proceedings in the legislature, which have cost me much mortification. My own debts had become considerable, but not beyond the effect of some lopping of property, which would have been little felt, when our friend —— gave me the coup de grace. Ever since that I have been paying twelve hundred dollars a year interest on his debt, which, with my own, was absorbing so much of my annual income, as that the maintenance of my family was making deep and rapid inroads on my capital, and had already done it. Still, sales at a fair price would leave me competently provided. Had crops and prices for several years been such as to maintain a steady competition of substantial bidders at market, all would have been safe. But the long succession of years of stunted crops, of reduced prices, the general prostration of the farming business, under levies for the support of manufacturers, &c, with the calamitous fluctuations of value in our paper medium, have kept agriculture in a state of abject depression, which has peopled the western States by silently breaking up those on the Atlantic, and glutted the land-market, while it drew off its bidders. In such a state of things, property has lost its character of being a resource for debts. Highland in Bedford, which, in the days of our plethory, sold readily for from fifty to one hundred dollars the acre (and such sales were many then), would not now sell for more than from ten to twenty dollars, or one quarter or one fifth of its former price. Reflecting on these things, the practice occurred to me, of selling, on fair valuation, and by way of lottery, often resorted to before the Revolution to effect large sales, and still in constant usage in every State for individual as well as corporation purposes. If it is permitted in my case, my lands here alone, with the mills, he, will pay every thing, and leave me Monticello and a farm free. If refused, I must sell every thing here, perhaps considerably in Bedford, move thither with my family, where I have not even a log hut to put my head into, and whether ground for burial, will depend on the depredations which, under the form of sales, shall have been committed on my property. The question then with me was, Utrum horum? But why afflict you with these details? Indeed, I cannot tell, unless pains are lessened by communication with a friend. The friendship which has subsisted between us, now half a century, and the harmony of our political principles and pursuits, have been sources of constant happiness to me through that long period. And if I remove beyond the reach of attentions to the University, or beyond the bourne of life itself, as I soon must, it is a comfort to leave that institution under your care, and an assurance that it will not be wanting. It has also been a great solace to me, to believe that you are engaged in vindicating to posterity the course we have pursued for preserving to them, in all their purity, the blessings of self-government, which we had assisted too in acquiring for them. If ever the earth has beheld a system of administration conducted with a single and steadfast eye to the general interest and happiness of those committed to it, one which, protected by truth, can never know reproach, it is that to which our lives have been devoted. To myself you have been a pillar of support through life. Take care of me when dead, and be assured that I shall leave with you my last affections.
[The following paper it is deemed proper to insert, as well because of the explanation it contains of the reasons which led the author to ask permission of the legislature to sell his property by lottery, as of its otherwise interesting character.]
THOUGHTS ON LOTTERIES.
It is a common idea that games of chance are immoral. But what is chance? Nothing happens in this world without a cause. If we know the cause, we do not call it chance; but if we do not know it, we say it was produced by chance. If we see a loaded die turn its lightest side up, we know the cause, and that it is not an effect of chance; but whatever side an unloaded die turns up, not knowing the cause, we say it is the effect of chance. Yet the morality of a thing cannot depend on our knowledge or ignorance of its cause. Not knowing why a particular side of an unloaded die turns up, cannot make the act of throwing it, or of betting on it, immoral. If we consider games of chance immoral, then every pursuit of human industry is immoral, for there is not a single one that is not subject to chance; not one wherein you do not risk a loss for the chance of some gain. The navigator, for example, risks his ship in the hope (if she is not lost in the voyage) of gaining an advantageous freight. The merchant risks his cargo to gain a better price for it. A landholder builds a house on the risk of indemnifying himself by a rent. The hunter hazards his time and trouble in the hope of killing game. In all these pursuits, you stake some one thing against another which you hope to win. But the greatest of all gamblers is the farmer. He risks the seed he puts into the ground, the rent he pays for the ground itself, the year's labor on it, and the wear and tear of his cattle and gear, to win a crop, which the chances of too much or too little rain, and general uncertainties of weather, insects, waste, &c. often make a total or partial loss. These, then, are games of chance. Yet so far from being immoral, they are indispensable to the existence of man, and every one has a natural right to choose for his pursuit such one of them as he thinks most likely to furnish him subsistence. Almost all these pursuits of chance produce something useful to society. But there are some which produce nothing, and endanger the well-being of the individuals engaged in them, or of others depending on them. Such are games with cards, dice, billiards, &c. And although the pursuit of them is a matter of natural right, yet society, perceiving the irresistible bent of some of its members to pursue them, and the ruin produced by them to the families depending on these individuals, consider it as a case of insanity, quoad hoc, step in to protect the family and the party himself, as in other cases of insanity, infancy, imbecility, &c, and suppress the pursuit altogether, and the natural right of following it. There are some other games of chance, useful on certain occasions, and injurious only when carried beyond their useful bounds. Such are insurances, lotteries, raffles, &tc. These they do not suppress, but take their regulation under their own discretion. The insurance of ships on voyages is a vocation of chance, yet useful, and the right to exercise it therefore is left free. So of houses against fire, doubtful debts, the continuance of a particular life, and similar cases. Money is wanting for an useful undertaking, as a school, &c. for which a direct tax would be disapproved. It is raised therefore by a lottery, wherein the tax is laid on the willing only, that is to say, on those who can risk the price of a ticket without sensible injury, for the possibility of a higher prize. An article of property, insusceptible of division at all, or not without great diminution of its worth, is sometimes of so large value as that no purchaser can be found, while the owner owes debts, has no other means of payment, and his creditors no other chance of obtaining it, but by its sale at a full and fair price. The lottery is here a salutary instrument for disposing of it, where many run small risks for the chance of obtaining a high prize. In this way, the great estate of the late Colonel Byrd (in 1756) was made competent to pay his debts, which, had the whole been brought into the market at once, would have overdone the demand, would have sold at half or quarter the value, and sacrificed the creditors, half or three fourths of whom would have lost their debts. This method of selling was formerly very much resorted to, until it was thought to nourish too much a spirit of hazard. The legislature Were therefore induced, not to suppress it altogether, but to take it under their own special regulation. This they did, for the first time, by their act of 1769, c.17., before which time, every person exercised the right freely; and since which time, it is made unlawful but when approved and authorized by a special act of the legislature.
Since then, this right of sale, by way of lottery, has been exercised only under the discretion of the legislature. Let us examine the purposes for which they have allowed it in practice, not looking beyond the date of our independence.
1. It was for a long time an item of the standing revenue of the State.
1813. c. 1. Sec. 3 An act imposing taxes for the support of government, and c. 2. Sec. 10.
1814. Dec. c. 1. Sec. 3. 1814. Feb. c. 1. Sec. 3. 1818. c. 1. Sec. 1. 1819. c. 1. 1820. c. 1.
This then is a declaration by the nation, that an act was not immoral, of which they were in the habitual use themselves as a part of the regular means of supporting the government: the tax on the vender of tickets was their share of the profits, and if their share was innocent, his could not be criminal.
2. It has been abundantly permitted, to raise money by lottery for the purposes of schools; and in this, as in many other cases, the lottery has been permitted to retain a part of the money (generally from ten to fifteen per cent.) for the use to which the lottery has been applied. So that while the adventurers paid one hundred dollars for tickets, they received back eighty-five or ninety dollars only, in the form of prizes, the remaining ten or fifteen being the tax levied on them, with their own consent. Examples are.
1784. c. 34. Authorizing the city of Williamsburg to raise L2000 for a grammar school.
1789. c. 68. For Randolph Academy, L1000.
1789. c. 73. For Fauquier Academy, L500. c. 74. For the Fredericksburg Academy, L4000.
1790. c. 46. For the Transylvania Seminary, L500. For the Southampton Academy, L300.
1796. c. 82. For the New London Academy.
1803. c. 49. For the Fredericksburg Charity School. c" 50. For finishing the Strasburg Seminary. c. 58. For William and Mary College. c. 62. For the Bannister Academy.c. 79. For the Belfield Academy. c. 82. For the Petersburg Academy.
1804. c. 40. For the Hotsprings Seminary. c. 76. For the Stevensburg Academy. c.100. For William and Mary College.
1805. c. 24. For the Rumford Academy.
1812. c. 10. For the Literary Fund. To sell the privilege for $30,000 annually, for seven years.
1816. c. 80. For Norfolk Academy, $12,000. Norfolk Female Society, $2000. Lancastrian School, $6000.
3. The next object of lotteries has been rivers.
1790. c. 46. For a bridge between Gosport and Portsmouth, L400.
1796. c. 83. For clearing Roanoke River.
1804. c. 62. For clearing Quantico Creek.
1805. c. 42. For a toll-bridge over Cheat River.
1816. c. 49. For the Dismal Swamp, $50,000.
4. For roads.
1790. c. 46. For a road to Warminster, L200. For cutting a road from Rockfish gap to Scott's and Nicholas's landing, L400. 1796. c. 85. To repair certain roads.
1803. c. 60. For improving roads to Snigger's and Ashby's gaps. c. 61. For opening a road to Brock's gap. c. 65. For opening a road from the town of Monroe to Sweet Springs and Lewisburg.
* The acts not being at hand, the sums allowed are not known.
1803. c. 71. For improving the road to Brock's gap.
1805. c. 5. For improving the road to Clarksburg. c. 26. For opening a road from Monongalia Glades to Fishing Creek.
1813. c. 44. For opening a road from Thornton's gap.
5. Lotteries for the benefit of counties.
1796. c. 78. To authorize a lottery in the county of Shenandoah. c. 84. To authorize a lottery in the county of Gloucester.
6. Lotteries for the benefit of towns.
1782. c. 31. Richmond, for a bridge over Shockoe, amount not limited.
1789. c. 75. Alexandria, to pave its streets, L1500.
1790. c. 46. do. do. L5000. 1796. c. 79. Norfolk, one or more lotteries authorized., c. 81. Petersburg, a lottery authorized.
1803. c. 12. Woodstock, a lottery authorized c. 48. Fredericksburg, for improving its main street. c. 73. Harrisonburg, for improving its streets.
7. Lotteries for religious congregations.
1785. c.lll. Completing a church in Winchester. For rebuilding a church in the parish of Elizabeth River.
1791. c. 69. For the benefit of the Episcopal society.
1790. c. 46. For building a church in Warminster, L200. in Halifax, L200. in Alexandria, L500. in Petersburg, L750. in Shepherdstown, L250.
8. Lotteries for private societies.
1790. c. 46. For the Amicable Society in Richmond, L1000.
1791. c. 70. For building a Freemason's hall in Charlotte, L750.
9. Lotteries for the benefit of private individuals. [To raise money for them.]
1796. c. 80. For the sufferers by fire in the town of Lexington.
1781. c. 6. For completing titles under Byrd's lottery.
1790. c. 46. To erect a paper-mill in Staunton, L300. To raise L2000 for Nathaniel Twining.
1791. c. 13. To raise L4000 for William Tatham, to enable him to complete his geographical work. To enable————-to complete a literary work.*
* I found such an act, but not noting it at the time, I have not been able to find it again. But there is such an one.
We have seen, then, that every vocation in life is subject to the influence of chance; that so far from being rendered immoral by the admixture of that ingredient, were they abandoned on that account, man could no longer subsist; that, among them, every one has a natural right to choose that which he thinks most likely to give him comfortable subsistence; but that while the greater number of these pursuits are productive of something which adds to the necessaries and comforts of life, others again, such as cards, dice, &ic, are entirely unproductive, doing good to none, injury to many, yet so easy, and so seducing in practice to men of a certain constitution of mind, that they cannot resist the temptation, be the consequences what they may; that in this case, as in those of insanity, idiocy, infancy, &c, it is the duty of society to take them under its protection, even against their own acts, and to restrain their right of choice of these pursuits, by suppressing them entirely; that there are others, as lotteries particularly, which, although liable to chance also, are useful for many purposes, and are therefore retained and placed under the discretion of the legislature, to be permitted or refused according to the circumstances of every special case, of which they are to judge: that between the years 1782 and 1820, a space of thirty-eight years only, we have observed seventy case's, where the permission of them has been found useful by the legislature, some of which are in progress at this time. These cases relate to the emolument of the whole State, to local benefits of education, of navigation, of roads, of counties, towns, religious assemblies, private societies, and of individuals under particular circumstances which may claim indulgence or favor. The latter is the case now submitted to the legislature, and the question is, whether the individual soliciting their attention, or his situation, may merit that degree of consideration, which will justify the legislature in permitting him to avail himself of the mode of selling by lottery, for the purpose of paying his debts.
That a fair price cannot be obtained by sale in the ordinary way, and in the present depressed state of agricultural industry, is well known. Lands in this State will not now sell for more than a third or fourth of what they would have brought a few years ago, perhaps at the very time of the contraction of the debts for which they are now to be sold. The low price in foreign markets, for a series of years past, of agricultural produce, of wheat generally, of tobacco most commonly, and the accumulation of duties on the articles of consumption not produced within our State, not only disable the farmer or planter from adding to his farm by purchase, but reduce him to sell his own, and remove to the western country, glutting the market he leave's, while he lessens the number of bidders. To be protected against this sacrifice is the object of the present application, and whether the applicant has any particular claim to this protection, is the present question.
Here the answer must be left to others. It is not for me to give it. I may, however, more readily than others, suggest the offices in which I have served. I came of age in 1764, and was soon put into the nomination of justices of the county in which I live, and at the first election following I became one of its representatives in the legislature.
I was thence sent to the old Congress.
Then employed two years, with Mr. Pendleton and Mr. Wythe, on the revisal and reduction to a single code of the whole body of the British statutes, the acts of our Assembly, and certain parts of the common law.
Then elected Governor.
Next to the legislature, and to Congress again.
Sent to Europe as Minister Plenipotentiary.
Appointed Secretary of State to the new government.
Elected Vice President, and
And lastly, a Visitor and Rector of the University.
In these different offices, with scarcely any interval between them, I have been in the public service now sixty-one years; and during the far greater part of the time, in foreign countries or in other States. Every one knows how inevitably a Virginia estate, goes to ruin, when the owner is so far distant as to be unable to pay attention to it himself; and the more especially, when the line of his employment is of a character to abstract and alienate his mind entirely from the knowledge necessary to good, and even to saving management.
If it were thought worth while to specify any particular services rendered, I would refer to the specification of them made by the legislature itself in their Farewell Address, on my retiring from the Presidency, February, 1809. [This will be found in 2 Pleasant's Collection, page 144.] There is one, however, not therein specified, the most important in its consequences, of any transaction in any portion of my life; to wit, the head I personally made against the federal principles and proceedings, during the administration of Mr. Adams. Their usurpations and violations of the constitution at that period, and their majority in both Houses of Congress, were so great, so decided, and so daring, that after combating their aggressions, inch by inch, without being able in the least to check their career, the republican leaders thought it would be best for them to give up their useless efforts there, go home, get into their respective legislatures, embody whatever of resistance they could be formed into, and if ineffectual, to perish there as in the last ditch. All, therefore, retired, leaving Mr. Gallatin alone in the House of Representatives, and myself in the Senate, where I then presided as Vice-President. Remaining at our posts, and bidding defiance to the brow-beatings and insults by which they endeavored to drive us off also, we kept the mass of republicans in phalanx together, until the legislatures could be brought up to the charge; and nothing on earth is more certain, than that if myself particularly, placed by my office of Vice-President at the head of the republicans, had given way and withdrawn from my post, the republicans throughout the Union would have given up in despair, and the cause would have been lost for ever. By holding on, we obtained time for the legislatures to come up with their weight; and those of Virginia and Kentucky particularly, but more especially the former, by their celebrated resolutions, saved the constitution, at its last gasp. No person who was not a witness of the scenes of that gloomy period, can form any idea of the afflicting persecutions and personal indignities we had to brook. They saved our country however. The spirits of the people were so much subdued and reduced to despair by the X. Y. Z. imposture, and other stratagems and machinations, that they would have sunk into apathy and monarchy, as the only form of government which could maintain itself.
If legislative services are worth mentioning, and the stamp of liberality and equality, which was necessary to be impressed on our laws in the first crisis of our birth as a nation, was of any value, they will find that the leading and most important laws of that day were prepared by myself, and carried chiefly by my efforts; supported, indeed, by able and faithful coadjutors from the ranks of the House, very effective as seconds, but who would not have taken the field as leaders.