Memoir, Correspondence, And Miscellanies, From The Papers Of Thomas Jefferson - Volume IV
by Thomas Jefferson
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Washington, May 11, 1805.

Dear Sir,

I see with infinite pain the bloody schism which has taken place among our friends in Pennsylvania and New York, and will probably take place in other States. The main body of both sections mean well, but their good intentions will produce great public evil. The minority, whichever section shall be the minority, will end in coalition with the federalists, and some compromise of principle; because these will not sell their aid for nothing. Republicanism will thus lose, and royalism gain, some portion of that ground which we thought we had rescued to good government. I do not express my sense of our misfortunes from any idea that they are remediable. I know that the passions of men will take their course, that they are not to be controlled but by despotism, and that this melancholy truth is the pretext for despotism. The duty of an upright administration is to pursue its course steadily, to know nothing of these family dissensions, and to cherish the good principles of both parties. The war ad internecionem which we have waged against federalism, has filled our latter times with strife and unhappiness. We have met it, with pain indeed, but with firmness, because we believed it the last convulsive effort of that Hydra, which in earlier times we had conquered in the field. But if any degeneracy of principle should ever render it necessary to give ascendancy to one of the rising sections over the other, I thank my God it will fall to some other to perform that operation. The only cordial I wish to carry into my retirement, is the undivided good will of all those with whom I have acted.

Present me affectionately to Mrs. Logan, and accept my salutations, and assurances of constant friendship and respect.

Th: Jefferson.



Washington, May 21, 1805.

Dear Sir,

An accumulation of business, which I found on my return here from a short visit to Monticello, has prevented till now my acknowledgment of your favor of the 14th ultimo. This delay has given time to see the result of the contest in your State, and I cannot but congratulate you on the advance it manifests, and the certain prospect it offers that another year restores Massachusetts to the general body of the nation. You have indeed received the federal unction of lying and slandering. But who has not? Who will ever again come into eminent office, unanointed with this chrism? It seems to be fixed that falsehood and calumny are to be their ordinary engines of opposition; engines which will not be entirely without effect. The circle of characters equal to the first stations is not too large, and will be lessened by the voluntary retreat of those whose sensibilities are stronger than their confidence in the justice of public opinion. I certainly have known, and still know, characters eminently qualified for the most exalted trusts, who could not bear up against the brutal hackings and hewings of these heroes of Billingsgate. I may say, from intimate knowledge, that we should have lost the services of the greatest character of our country, had he been assailed with the degree of abandoned licentiousness now practised. The torture he felt under rare and slight attacks, proved that under those of which the federal bands have shown themselves capable, he would have thrown up the helm in a burst of indignation. Yet this effect of sensibility must not be yielded to. If we suffer ourselves to be frightened from our post by mere lying, surely the enemy will use that weapon; for what one so cheap to those of whose system of politics morality makes no part? The patriot, like the Christian, must learn that to bear revilings and persecutions is a part of his duty; and in proportion as the trial is severe, firmness under it becomes more requisite and praiseworthy. It requires, indeed, self-command. But that will be fortified in proportion as the calls for its exercise are repeated. In this I am persuaded we shall have the benefit of your good example. To the other falsehoods they have brought forward, should they add, as you expect, insinuations of want of confidence in you from the administration generally, or myself particularly, it will, like their other falsehoods, produce in the public mind a contrary inference.


I tender you my friendly and respectful salutations.

Th: Jefferson.



Washington, June 5, 1805.

Dear Sir,

Your letters, Nos. 1, 2, 3, the last of them dated April the 20th, were received April the 26th. I congratulate you on your retirement to your farm, and still more that it is of a character so worthy of your attention. I much doubt whether the open room on your second story will answer your expectations. There will be a few days in the year in which it will be delightful, but not many. Nothing but trees, or Venetian blinds, can protect it from the sun. The semi-cylindrical roof you propose will have advantages. You know it has been practised on the cloth market at Paris. De Lorme, the inventor, shows many forms of roofs in his book, to which it is applicable. I have used it at home for a dome, being one hundred and twenty degrees of an oblong octagon, and in the capitol we unite two quadrants of a sphere by a semi-cylinder: all framed in De Lorme's manner. How has your planing machine answered? Has it been tried and persevered in by any workman?

France has become so jealous of our conduct as to St. Domingo (which in truth is only the conduct of our merchants), that the offer to become a mediator would only confirm her suspicions. Bonaparte, however, expressed satisfaction at the paragraph in my message to Congress on the subject of that commerce. With respect to the German redemptioners, you know I can do nothing, unless authorized by law. It would be made a question in Congress, whether any of the enumerated objects to which the constitution authorizes the money of the Union to be applied, would cover an expenditure for importing settlers to Orleans. The letter of the revolutionary sergeant was attended to by General Dearborn, who wrote to him informing him how to proceed to obtain his land.

Doctor Eustis's observation to you, that 'certain paragraphs in the National Intelligencer,' respecting my letter to you, 'supposed to be under Mr. Jefferson's direction, had embarrassed Mr. Jefferson's friends in Massachusetts; that they appeared like a half denial of the letter, or as if there was something in it not proper to be owned, or that needed an apology,' is one of those mysterious half confidences difficult to be understood. That tory printers should think it advantageous to identify me with that paper, the Aurora, &c. in order to obtain ground for abusing me, is perhaps fair warfare. But that any one who knows me personally should listen one moment to such an insinuation, is what I did not expect. I neither have, nor ever had, any more connection with those papers than our antipodes have; nor know what is to be in them until I see it in them, except proclamations and other documents sent for publication. The friends in Massachusetts who could be embarrassed by so weak a weapon as this, must be feeble friends indeed. With respect to the letter, I never hesitated to avow and to justify it in conversation. In no other way do I trouble myself to contradict any thing which is said. At that time, however, there were certain anomalies in the motions of some of our friends, which events have at length reduced to regularity.

It seems very difficult to find out what turn things are to take in Europe. I suppose it depends on Austria, which knowing it is to stand in the way of receiving the first hard blows, is cautious of entering into a coalition. As to France and England we can have but one wish, that they may disable one another from injuring others.

Accept my friendly salutations, and assurances of esteem and respect.

Th: Jefferson.

[The following, in the hand-writing of the Author, is inserted in his MS. of this period. Whether it was published, or where, is not stated.]

Richmond, 1780, December 31. At 8 A. M. the Governor receives the first intelligence that twenty-seven sail of ships had entered Chesapeake Bay, and were in the morning of the 29th just below Willoughby's point (the southern cape of James river); their destination unknown.

1781, January 2. At 10 A. M. information received that they had entered James river, their advance being at Warrasqueak bay. Orders were immediately given for calling in the militia, one fourth from some, and one half from other counties. The members of the legislature, which rises this day, are the bearers of the orders to their respective counties. The Governor directs the removal of the records into the country, and the transportation of the military stores from Richmond to Westham (on the river seven miles above); there to be carried across the river.

January 3. At 8 P. M. the enemy are said to be a little below Jamestown; convenient for landing, if Williamsburg is their object.

January 4. At 5 A. M. information is received that they had passed Kennon's and Hood's the evening before, with a strong; easterly wind, which determines their object to be either Petersburg or Richmond. The Governor now calls in the whole militia from the adjacent counties.

At 5 P. M. information, that at 2 P. M. they were landed and drawn up at Westover (on the north side of the river, and twenty-five miles below Richmond); and consequently Richmond their destination. Orders are now given to discontinue wagoning the military stores from Richmond to Westham, and to throw them across the river directly at Richmond.

The Governor having attended to this till an hour and a half in the night, then rode up to the foundery (one mile below Westham), ordered Captains Boush and Irish, and Mr. Hylton, to continue all night wagoning to Westham the arms and stores still at the foundery, to be thrown across the river at Westham, then proceeded to Westham to urge the pressing the transportation there across the river, and thence went to Tuckahoe (eight miles above and on the same side of the river) to see after his family, which he had sent that far in the course of the day. He arrived there at 1 o'clock in the night.

January 5. Early in the morning, he carried his family across the river there, and sending them to Fine Creek (eight miles higher up) went himself to Britton's on the south side of the river, (opposite to Westham). Finding the arms, &c. in a heap near the shore, and exposed to be destroyed by cannon from the north bank, he had them removed under cover of a point of land near by. He proceeded to Manchester (opposite to Richmond). The enemy had arrived at Richmond at 1 P. M. Having found that nearly the whole arms had been got there from Richmond, he set out for Chetwood's to meet with Baron Steuben, who had appointed that place as a rendezvous and head-quarters; but not finding him there, and understanding he would be at Colonel Fleming's (six miles above Britton's), he proceeded thither. The enemy had now a detachment at Westham, and sent a deputation from the city of Richmond to the Governor, at Colonel Fleming's, to propose terms for ransoming the safety of the city, which terms he rejected.

January 6. The Governor returned to Britton's, had measures taken more effectually to secure the books and papers there. The enemy, having burnt some houses and stores, left Richmond after twenty-four hours' stay there, and encamped at Four Mile Creek (eight or ten miles below); and the Governor went to look to his family at Fine Creek.

January 7. He returned to Britton's to see further to the arms there, exposed on the ground to heavy rains which had fallen the night before, and thence proceeded to Manchester and lodged there. The enemy encamped at Westover.

January 8. At half after 7 A. M. he crossed over to Richmond, and resumed his residence there. The enemy are still retained in their encampment at Westover by an easterly wind. Colonel John Nicholas has now three hundred militia at the Forest (six miles off from Westover); General Nelson, two hundred at Charles City Court-House (eight miles below Westover); Gibson, one thousand, and Baron Steuben, eight hundred, on the south side of the river.

January 9. The enemy are still encamped at Westover.

January 10. At 1 P. M. they embark: and the wind having shifted a little to the north of west, and pretty fresh, they fall down the river. Baron Steuben marches for Hood's, where their passage may be checked. He reaches Bland's mills in the evening, within nine miles of Hood's.

January 11. At 8 A. M. the wind due west and strong, they make good their retreat.

During this period, time and place have been minutely cited, in order that those who think there was any remissness in the movements of the Governor, may lay their finger on the point, and say, when and where it was. Hereafter, less detail will suffice.

Soon after this, General Phillips having joined Arnold with a reinforcement of two thousand men, they advanced again up to Petersburg, and about the last of April to Manchester. The Governor had remained constantly in and about Richmond, exerting all his powers for collecting militia, and providing such means for the defence of the State as its exhausted resources admitted. Never assuming a guard, and with only the river between him and the enemy, his lodgings were frequently within four, five, or six miles of them.

M. de la Fayette about this time arrived at Richmond with some continental troops, with which, and the militia collected, he continued to occupy that place, and the north bank of the river, while Phillips and Arnold held Manchester and the south bank. But Lord Cornwallis, about the middle of May, joining them with the main southern army, M. de la Fayette was obliged to retire. The enemy crossed the river, and advanced up into the country about fifty miles, and within thirty miles of Charlottesville, at which place the legislature being to meet in June, the Governor proceeded to his seat at Monticello, two or three miles from it. His office was now near expiring, the country under invasion by a powerful army, no services but military of any avail; unprepared by his line of life and education for the command of armies, he believed it right not to stand in the way of talents better fitted than his own to the circumstances under which the country was placed. He therefore himself proposed to his friends in the legislature, that General Nelson, who commanded the militia of the State, should be appointed Governor, as he was sensible that the union of the civil and military power in the same hands, at this time, would greatly facilitate military measures. This appointment accordingly took place on the 12th of June, 1781.

This was the state of things, when, his office having actually expired, and no successor yet in place, Colonel Tarleton, with his regiment, of horse, was detached by Lord Cornwallis to surprise Mr. Jefferson (whom they thought still in office) and the legislature now sitting in Charlottesville. The Speakers of the two Houses, and some other members of the legislature, were lodging with Mr. Jefferson at Monticello. Tarleton, early in the morning, (June 23, I believe,) when within ten miles of that place, detached a company of horse to secure him and his guests, and proceeded himself rapidly with his main body to Charlottesville, where he hoped to find the legislature unapprized of his movement. Notice of it, however, had been brought both to Monticello and Charlottesville about sunrise. The Speakers, with their colleagues, returned to Charlottesville, and, with the other members of the legislature, had barely time to get out of his way. Mr. Jefferson sent off his family, to secure them from danger, and was himself still at Monticello, making arrangements for his own departure, when Lieutenant Hudson arrived there at half speed, and informed him the enemy were then ascending the hill of Monticello. He departed immediately, and knowing that he would be pursued if he took the high road, he plunged into the woods of the adjoining mountain, where, being at once safe, he proceeded to overtake his family. This is the famous adventure of Carter's Mountain, which has been so often resounded through the slanderous chronicles of Federalism. But they have taken care never to detail the facts, lest these should show that this favorite charge amounted to nothing more, than that he did not remain in his house, and there singly fight a whole troop of horse, or suffer himself to be taken prisoner. Having accompanied his family one day's journey, he returned to Monticello. Tarleton had retired after eighteen hours' stay in Charlottesville. Mr. Jefferson then rejoined his family, and proceeded with them to an estate he had in Bedford, about eighty miles southwest, where, riding in his farm some time after, he was thrown from his horse, and disabled from riding on horseback for a considerable time. But Mr. Turner finds it more convenient to give him this fall in his retreat before Tarleton, which had happened some weeks before, as a proof that he withdrew from a troop of horse with a precipitancy which Don Quixote would not have practised.

The facts here stated most particularly, with date of time and place, are taken from the notes made by the writer hereof, for his own satisfaction, at the time: the others are from memory, but so well recollected, that he is satisfied there is no material fact misstated. Should any person undertake to contradict any particular, on evidence which may at all merit the public respect, the writer will take the trouble (though not at all in the best situation for it) to produce the proofs in support of it. He finds, indeed, that, of the persons whom he recollects to have been present on these occasions, few have survived the intermediate lapse of four and twenty years. Yet he trusts that some, as well as himself, are yet among the living; and he is positively certain, that no man can falsify any material fact here stated. He well remembers, indeed, that there were then, as there are at all times, some who blamed every thing done contrary to their own opinion, although their opinions were formed on a very partial knowledge of facts. The censures, which have been hazarded by such men as Mr. Turner, are nothing but revivals of these half-informed opinions. Mr. George Nicholas, then a very young man, but always a very honest one, was prompted by these persons to bring specific charges against Mr. Jefferson. The heads of these, in writing, were communicated through a mutual friend to Mr. Jefferson, who committed to writing also the heads of justification on each of them. I well remember this paper, and believe the original of it still exists; and though framed when every real fact was fresh in the knowledge of every one, this fabricated flight from Richmond was not among the charges stated in this paper, nor any charge against Mr. Jefferson for not fighting, singly, the troop of horse. Mr. Nicholas candidly relinquished further proceeding. The House of Representatives of Virginia pronounced an honorable sentence of entire approbation of Mr. Jefferson's conduct, and so much the more honorable, as themselves had been witnesses to it. And Mr. George Nicholas took a conspicuous occasion afterwards, of his own free will, and when the matter was entirely at rest, to retract publicly the erroneous opinions he had been led into on that occasion, and to make just reparation by a candid acknowledgment of them.



Washington, March 2, 1806.


I have received the favor of your letter of February the 2nd, and read with thankfulness its obliging expressions respecting myself. I regret that the object of a letter from persons whom I so much esteem, and patronized by so many other respectable names, should be beyond the law which a mature consideration of circumstances has prescribed for my conduct. I deem it the duty of every man to devote a certain portion of his income for charitable purposes; and that it is his further duty to see it so applied as to do the most good of which it is capable. This I believe to be best insured, by keeping within the circle of his own inquiry and information, the subjects of distress to whose relief his contributions shall be applied. If this rule be reasonable in private life, it becomes so necessary in my situation, that to relinquish it would leave me without rule or compass. The applications of this kind from different parts of our own, and from foreign countries, are far beyond any resources within my command. The mission of Serampore, in the East Indies, the object of the present application, is but one of many items. However disposed the mind may feel to unlimited good, our means having limits, we are necessarily circumscribed by them. They are too narrow to relieve even the distresses under our own eye: and to desert these for others which we neither see nor know, is to omit doing a certain good for one which is uncertain. I know, indeed, there have been splendid associations for effecting benevolent purposes in remote regions of the earth. But no experience of their effect has proved that more good would not have been done by the same means employed nearer home. In explaining, however, my own motives of action, I must not be understood as impeaching those of others. Their views are those of an expanded liberality. Mine may be too much restrained by the law of usefulness. But it is a law to me, and with minds like yours, will be felt as a justification. With this apology, I pray you to accept my salutations, and assurances of high esteem and respect.

Th: Jefferson.

LETTER XXVI.—TO MR. DUANE, March 22, 1806


Washington, March 22, 1806.

I thank you, my good Sir, cordially, for your letter of the 12th; which, however, I did not receive till the 20th. It is a proof of sincerity, which I value above all things; as, between those who practise it, falsehood and malice work their efforts in vain. There is an enemy somewhere endeavoring to sow discord among us. Instead of listening first, then doubting, and lastly believing anile tales handed round without an atom of evidence, if my friends will address themselves to me directly, as you have done, they shall be informed with frankness and thankfulness. There is not a truth on earth which I fear or would disguise. But secret slanders cannot be disarmed, because they are secret. Although you desire no answer, I shall give you one to those articles admitting a short answer, reserving those which require more explanation than the compass of a letter admits, to conversation on your arrival here. And as I write this for your personal satisfaction, I rely that my letter will, under no circumstances, be communicated to any mortal, because you well know how every syllable from me is distorted by the ingenuity of political enemies.

In the first place, then, I have had less communication, directly or indirectly, with the republicans of the east, this session, than I ever had before. This has proceeded from accidental circumstances, not from design. And if there be any coolness between those of the south and myself, it has not been from me towards them. Certainly there has been no other reserve, than to avoid taking part in the divisions among our friends. That Mr. R. has openly attacked the administration is sufficiently known. We were not disposed to join in league with Britain, under any belief that she is fighting for the liberties of mankind, and to enter into war with Spain, and consequently France. The House of Representatives were in the same sentiment, when they rejected Mr. R.'s resolutions for raising a body of regular troops for the western service. We are for a peaceable accommodation with all those nations, if it can be effected honorably. This, perhaps, is not the only ground of his alienation; but which side retains its orthodoxy, the vote of eighty-seven to eleven republicans may satisfy you: but you will better satisfy yourself on coming here, where alone the true state of things can be known, and where you will see republicanism as solidly embodied on all essential points, as you ever saw it on any occasion.

That there is only one minister who is not opposed to me, is totally unfounded. There never was a more harmonious, a more cordial administration, nor ever a moment when it has been otherwise. And while differences of opinion have been always rare among us, I can affirm, that as to present matters, there was not a single paragraph in my message to Congress, or those supplementary to it, in which there was not a unanimity of concurrence in the members of the administration. The fact is, that in ordinary affairs every head of a department consults me on those of his department, and where any thing arises too difficult or important to be decided between us, the consultation becomes general.

That there is an ostensible cabinet and a concealed one, a public profession and concealed counteraction, is false.

That I have denounced republicans by the epithet of Jacobins, and declared I would appoint none but those called moderates of both parties, and that I have avowed or entertain any predilection for those called the third party, or Quids, is in every tittle of it false.

That the expedition of Miranda was countenanced by me is an absolute falsehood, let it have gone from whom it might; and I am satisfied it is equally so as to Mr. Madison. To know as much of it as we could was our duty, but not to encourage it.

Our situation is difficult; and whatever we do, is liable to the criticisms of those who wish to represent it awry. If we recommend measures in a public message, it may be said that members are not sent here to obey the mandates of the President, or to register the edicts of a sovereign. If we express opinions in conversation, we have then our Charles Jenkinsons, and back-door counsellors. If we say nothing, 'we have no opinions, no plans, no cabinet.' In truth, it is the fable of the old man, his son, and ass, over again.

These are short facts, which may suffice to inspire you with caution, until you can come here and examine for yourself. No other information can give you a true insight into the state of things; but you will have no difficulty in understanding them when on the spot. In the mean time, accept my friendly salutations and cordial good wishes.

Th: Jefferson.


TO WILSON C. NICHOLAS.—[Confidential.]

Washington, March 24,1806.

Dear Sir,

A last effort at friendly settlement with Spain is proposed to be made at Paris, and under the auspices of France. For this purpose, General Armstrong and Mr. Bowdoin (both now at Paris) have been appointed joint commissioners: but such a cloud of dissatisfaction rests on General Armstrong in the minds of many persons, on account of a late occurrence stated in all the public papers, that we have in contemplation to add a third commissioner, in order to give the necessary measure of public confidence to the commission. Of these two gentlemen, one being of Massachusetts and one of new York, it is thought the third should be a southern man; and the rather, as the interests to be negotiated are almost entirely southern and western. This addition is not yet ultimately decided on; but I am inclined to believe it will be adopted. Under this expectation, and my wish that you may be willing to undertake it, I give you the earliest possible intimation of it, that you may be preparing both your mind and your measures for the mission. The departure would be required to be very prompt; though the absence, I think, will not be long, Bonaparte not being in the practice of procrastination. This particular consideration will, I hope, reconcile the voyage to your affairs and your feelings. The allowance to an extra mission, is salary from the day of leaving home, and expenses to the place of destination, or in lieu of the latter, and to avoid settlements, a competent fixed sum may be given. For the return, a continuance of the salary for three months after fulfilment of the commission. Be so good as to make up your mind as quickly as possible, and to answer me as early as possible. Consider the measure as proposed provisionally only, and not to be communicated to any mortal until we see it proper. Affectionate salutations.

Th: Jefferson.



Washington, April 13, 1806.

Dear Sir,

The situation of your affairs certainly furnishes good cause for your not acceding to my proposition of a special mission to Europe. My only hope had been, that they could have gone on one summer without you. An unjust hostility against General Armstrong will, I am afraid, show itself whenever any treaty made by him shall be offered for ratification. I wished, therefore, to provide against this, by joining a person who would have united the confidence of the whole Senate. General Smith was so prominent in the opposition to Armstrong, that it would be impossible for them to act together. We conclude, therefore, to leave the matter with Armstrong and Bowdoin. Indeed, my dear Sir, I wish sincerely you were back in the Senate; and that you would take the necessary measures to get yourself there. Perhaps, as a preliminary, you should go to our legislature. Giles's absence has been a most serious misfortune. A majority of the Senate means well. But Tracy and Bayard are too dexterous for them, and have very much influenced their proceedings. Tracy has been of nearly every committee during the session, and for the most part the chairman, and of course drawer of the reports. Seven federalists voting always in phalanx, and joined by some discontented republicans, some oblique ones, some capricious, have so often made a majority, as to produce very serious embarrassment to the public operations; and very much do I dread the submitting to them, at the next session, any treaty which can be made with either England or Spain, when I consider that five joining the federalists, can defeat a friendly settlement of our affairs. The House of Representatives is as well disposed as I ever saw one. The defection of so prominent a leader threw them into dismay and confusion for a moment; but they soon rallied to their own principles, and let him go off with five or six followers only. One half of these are from Virginia. His late declaration of perpetual opposition to this administration, drew off a few others, who at first had joined him, supposing his opposition occasional only, and not systematic. The alarm the House has had from this schism, has produced a rallying together, and a harmony, which carelessness and security had begun to endanger. On the whole, this little trial of the firmness of our representatives in their principles, and that of the people also, which is declaring itself in support of their public functionaries, has added much to my confidence in the stability of our government; and to my conviction, that should things go wrong at any time, the people will set them to rights by the peaceable exercise of their elective rights. To explain to you the character of this schism, its objects and combinations, can only be done in conversation; and must be deferred till I see you at Monticello, where I shall probably be about the 10th or 12th of May, to pass the rest of the month there. Congress has agreed to rise on Monday the 21st.

Accept my affectionate salutations.

Th: Jefferson.

LETTER XXIX.—TO MR. HARRIS, April 18, 1806


Washington, April 18, 1806.


It is now some time since I received from you, through the house of Smith and Buchanan, at Baltimore, a bust of the Emperor Alexander, for which I have to return you my thanks. These are the more cordial, because of the value the bust derives from the great estimation in which its original is held by the world, and by none more than by myself. It will constitute one of the most valued ornaments of the retreat I am preparing for myself at my native home. Accept, at the same time, my acknowledgments for the elegant work of Atkinson and Walker on the customs of the Russians. I had laid it down as a law for my conduct while in office, and hitherto scrupulously observed, to accept of no present beyond a book, a pamphlet, or other curiosity of minor value; as well to avoid imputations on my motives of action, as to shut out a practice susceptible of such abuse. But my particular esteem for the character of the Emperor places his image in my mind above the scope of law. I receive it, therefore, and shall cherish it with affection. It nourishes the contemplation of all the good placed in his power, and of his disposition to do it.

A little before Dr. Priestley's death, he informed me that he had received intimations, through a channel he confided in, that the Emperor entertained a wish to know something of our constitution. I have therefore selected the two best works we have on that subject, for which I pray you to ask a place in his library. They are too much in detail to occupy his time; but they will furnish materials for an abstract, to be made by others, on such a scale as may bring the matter within the compass of the time which his higher callings can yield to such an object.

At a very early period of my life, contemplating the history of the aboriginal inhabitants of America, I was led to believe that if there had ever been a relation between them and the men of color in Asia, traces of it would be found in their several languages. I have therefore availed myself of every opportunity which has offered, to obtain vocabularies of such tribes as have been within my reach, corresponding to a list then formed of about two hundred and fifty words. In this I have made such progress, that within a year or two more I think to give to the public what I then shall have acquired. I have lately seen a report of Mr. Volney's to the Celtic Academy, on a work of Mr. Pallas, entitled Vocabulaires Compares des Langues de toute la Terre; with a list of one hundred and thirty words, to which the vocabulary is limited. I find that seventy-three of these words are common to that and to my vocabulary, and therefore will enable us, by a comparison of language, to make the inquiry so long desired, as to the probability of a common origin between the people of color of the two continents. I have to ask the favor of you to procure me a copy of the above work of Pallas, to inform me of the cost, and permit me to pay it here to your use; for I presume you have some mercantile correspondent here, to whom a payment can be made for you. A want of knowledge what the book may cost, as well as of the means of making so small a remittance, obliges me to make this proposition, and to restrain it to the sole condition that I be permitted to reimburse it here.

I enclose you a letter for the Emperor, which be pleased to deliver or have delivered: it has some relation to a subject which the Secretary of State will explain to you.

Accept my salutations, and assurances of esteem and consideration.

Th: Jefferson.



Washington, April 19, 1806.

I owe an acknowledgment to your Imperial Majesty, of the great satisfaction I have received from your letter of August the 20th, 1805, and sincere expressions of the respect and veneration I entertain for your character. It will be among the latest and most soothing comforts of my life, to have seen advanced to the government of so extensive a portion of the earth, and at so early a period of his life, a sovereign, whose ruling passion is the advancement of the happiness and prosperity of his people; and not of his own people only, but who can extend his eye and his good will to a distant and infant nation, unoffending in its course, unambitious in its views.

The events of Europe come to us so late, and so suspiciously, that observations on them would certainly be stale, and possibly wide of their actual state. From their general aspect, however, I collect that your Majesty's interposition in them has been disinterested and generous, and having in view only the general good of the great European family. When you shall proceed to the pacification which is to re-establish peace and commerce, the same dispositions of mind will lead you to think of the general intercourse of nations, and to make that provision for its future maintenance, which, in times past, it has so much needed. The northern nations of Europe, at the head of which your Majesty is distinguished, are habitually peaceable. The United States of America, like them, are attached to peace. We have then with them a common interest in the neutral rights. Every nation, indeed, on the continent of Europe, belligerent as well as neutral, is interested in maintaining these rights, in liberalizing them progressively with the progress of science and refinement of morality, and in relieving them from restrictions which the extension of the arts has long since rendered unreasonable and vexatious.

Two personages in Europe, of which your Majesty is one, have it in their power, at the approaching pacification, to render eminent service to nations in general, by incorporating into the act of pacification, a correct definition of the rights of neutrals on the high seas. Such a definition, declared by all the powers lately or still belligerent, would give to those rights a precision and notoriety, and cover them with an authority, which would protect them in an important degree against future violation; and should any further sanction be necessary, that of an exclusion of the violating nation from commercial intercourse with all the others, would be preferred to war, as more analogous to the offence, more easy and likely to be executed with good faith. The essential articles of these rights, too, are so few and simple as easily to be defined.

Having taken no part in the past or existing troubles of Europe, we have no part to act in its pacification. But as principles may then be settled in which we have a deep interest, it is a great happiness for us that they are placed under the protection of an umpire, who, looking beyond the narrow bounds of an individual nation, will take under the cover of his equity the rights of the absent and unrepresented. It is only by a happy concurrence of good characters and good occasions, that a step can now and then be taken to advance the well being of nations. If the present occasion be good, I am sure your Majesty's character will not be wanting to avail the world of it. By monuments of such good offices may your life become an epoch in the history of the condition of man, and may He who called it into being for the good of the human family, give it length of days and success, and have it always in his holy keeping.

Th: Jefferson.



Washington, May 4, 1806.

Dear Sir,

I wrote you on the 16th of March by a common vessel, and then expected to have had, on the rising of Congress, an opportunity of peculiar confidence to you. Mr. Beckley then supposed he should take a flying trip to London, on private business. But I believe he does not find it convenient. He could have let you into the arcana rerum, which you have interests in knowing. Mr. Pinckney's pursuits having been confined to his peculiar line, he has only that general knowledge of what has passed here, which the public possess. He has a just view of things so far as known to him. Our old friend, Mercer, broke off from us some time ago, at first professing to disdain joining the federalists, yet from the habit of voting together, becoming soon identified with them. Without carrying over with him one single person, he is now in a state of as perfect obscurity as if his name had never been known. Mr. J. Randolph is in the same track, and will end in the same way. His course has excited considerable alarm. Timid men consider it as a proof of the weakness of our government, and that it is to be rent into pieces by demagogues and to end in anarchy. I survey the scene with a different eye, and draw a different augury from it. In a House of Representatives of a great mass of good sense, Mr. Randolph's popular eloquence gave him such advantages as to place him unrivalled as the leader of the House; and, although not conciliatory to those whom he led, principles of duty and patriotism induced many of them to swallow humiliations he subjected them to, and to vote as was right, as long as he kept the path of right himself. The sudden defection of such a man could not but produce a momentary astonishment, and even dismay; but for a moment only. The good sense of the House rallied around its principles, and, without any leader, pursued steadily the business of the session, did it well, and by a strength of vote which has never before been seen. Upon all trying questions, exclusive of the federalists, the minority of republicans voting with him, has been from four to six or eight, against from ninety to one hundred; and although he yet treats the federalists with ineffable contempt, yet having declared eternal opposition to this administration, and consequently associated with them in his votes, he will, like Mercer, end with them. The augury I draw from this is that there is a steady good sense in the legislature, and in the body of the nation, joined with good intentions, which will lead them to discern and to pursue the public good under all circumstances which can arise, and that no ignis faiuus will be able to lead them long astray. In the present case, the public sentiment, as far as declarations of it have yet come in, is, without a single exception, in firm adherence to the administration. One popular paper is endeavoring to maintain equivocal ground; approving the administration in all its proceedings, and Mr. Randolph in all those which have heretofore merited approbation, carefully avoiding to mention his late aberration. The ultimate view of this paper is friendly to you, and the editor, with more judgment than him who assumes to be at the head of your friends, sees that the ground of opposition to the administration is not that on which it would be advantageous to you to be planted. The great body of your friends are among the firmest adherents to the administration, and in their support of you will suffer Mr. Randolph to have no communications with them. My former letter told you the line which both duty and inclination would lead me sacredly to pursue. But it is unfortunate for you, to be embarrassed with such a soi-disant friend. You must not commit yourself to him. These views may assist you to understand such details as Mr. Pinckney will give you. If you are here at any time before the fall, it will be in time for any object you may have, and by that time the public sentiment will be more decisively declared. I wish you were here at present, to take your choice of the two governments of Orleans and Louisiana, in either of which I could now place you; and I verily believe it would be to your advantage to be just that much withdrawn from the focus of the ensuing contest, until its event should be known. The one has a salary of five thousand dollars, the other of two thousand dollars; both with excellent hotels for the Governor. The latter at St. Louis, where there is good society, both French and American, a healthy climate, and the finest field in the United States for acquiring property. The former not unhealthy, if you begin a residence there in the month of November. The Mrs. Trists and their connections are established there. As I think you can within four months inform me what you say to this, I will keep things in their present state till the last day of August, for your answer.

The late change in the ministry I consider as insuring us a just settlement of our differences, and we ask no more. In Mr. Fox, personally, I have more confidence than in any man in England, and it is founded in what, through unquestionable channels, I have had opportunities of knowing of his honesty and his good sense. While he shall be in the administration, my reliance on that government will be solid. We had committed ourselves in a line of proceedings adapted to meet Mr. Pitt's policy and hostility, before we heard of his death, which self-respect did not permit us to abandon afterwards; and the late unparalleled outrage on us at New York excited such sentiments in the public at large, as did not permit us to do less than has been done. It ought not to be viewed by the ministry as looking towards them at all, but merely as the consequences of the measures of their predecessors, which their nation has called on them to correct. I hope, therefore, they will come to just arrangements. No two countries upon earth have so many points of common interest and friendship; and their rulers must be great bunglers indeed, if, with such dispositions, they break them asunder. The only rivalry that can arise, is on the ocean. England may by petty larceny thwartings check us on that element a little, but nothing she can do will retard us there one year's growth. We shall be supported there by other nations, and thrown into their scale to make a part of the great counterpoise to her navy. If, on the other hand, she is just to us, conciliatory, and encourages the sentiment of family feelings and conduct, it cannot fail to befriend the security of both. We have the seamen and materials for fifty ships of the line, and half that number of frigates, and were France to give us the money, and England the dispositions to equip them, they would give to England serious proofs of the stock from which they are sprung, and the school in which they have been taught, and added to the efforts of the immensity of sea-coast lately united under one power, would leave the state of the ocean no longer problematical. Were, on the other hand, England to give the money, and France the dispositions to place us on the sea in all our force, the whole world, out of the continent of Europe, might be our joint monopoly. We wish for neither of these scenes. We ask for peace and justice from all nations, and we will remain uprightly neutral in fact, though leaning in belief to the opinion that an English ascendancy on the ocean is safer for us than that of France. We begin to broach the idea that we consider the whole Gulf Stream as of our waters, in which hostilities and cruising are to be frowned on for the present, and prohibited so soon as either consent or force will permit us. We shall never permit another privateer to cruise within it, and shall forbid our harbors to national cruisers. This is essential for our tranquillity and commerce. Be so good as to have the enclosed letters delivered, to present me to your family, and be assured yourself of my unalterable friendship.

For fear of accidents I shall not make the unnecessary addition of my name.



Washington, May 4,1806.

Dear Sir,

I received your favor covering some papers from General Wilkinson. I have repented but of one appointment there, that of Lucas, whose temper I see overrules every good quality and every qualification he has. Not a single fact has appeared, which occasions me to doubt that I could have made a fitter appointment than General Wilkinson. One qualm of principle I acknowledge I do feel, I mean the union of the civil and military authority. You remember that when I came into office, while we were lodging together at Conrad's, he was pressed on me to be made Governor of the Mississippi territory; and that I refused it on that very principle. When, therefore, the House of Representatives took that ground, I was not insensible to its having some weight. But in the appointment to Louisiana, I did not think myself departing from my own principle, because I consider it not as a civil government, but merely a military station. The legislature had sanctioned that idea by the establishment of the office of Commandant, in which were completely blended the civil and military powers. It seemed, therefore, that the Governor should be in suit with them. I observed too, that the House of Representatives, on the very day they passed the stricture on this union of authorities, passed a bill making the Governor of Michigan, commander of the regular troops which should at any time be within his government. However, on the subject of General Wilkinson nothing is in contemplation at this time. We shall see what turn things take at home and abroad in the course of the summer. Monroe has had a second conversation with Mr. Fox, which gives me hopes that we shall have an amicable arrangement with that government. Accept my friendly salutations, and assurances of great esteem and respect.

Th: Jefferson.



Thomas Jefferson salutes Mr. Digges with friendship and respect, and sends him the newspapers received last night. He is sorry that only the latter part of the particular publication which Mr. Digges wished to see, is in them. He will be happy to see Mr. Digges and his friends on the fourth of July, and to join in congratulations on the return of the day which divorced us from the follies and crimes of Europe, from a dollar in the pound at least of six hundred millions sterling, and from all the ruin of Mr. Pitt's administration. We, too, shall encounter follies; but if great, they will be short, if long, they will be light: and the vigor of our country will get the better of them. Mr. Pitt's follies have been great, long, and inflicted on a body emaciated with age, and exhausted by excesses beyond its power to bear. July 1, 1806.



Washington, July 5, 1806.


Your favor of June the 21st has been duly received. We have not as yet heard from General Skinner on the subject of his office. Three persons are proposed on the most respectable recommendations, and under circumstances of such equality as renders it difficult to decide between them. But it shall be done impartially. I sincerely congratulate you on the triumph of republicanism in Massachusetts. The Hydra of Federalism has now lost all its heads but two. Connecticut I think will soon follow Massachusetts. Delaware will probably remain what it ever has been, a mere county of England, conquered indeed, and held under by force, but always disposed to counter-revolution. I speak of its majority only.

Our information from London continues to give us hopes of an accommodation there on both the points of 'accustomed commerce and impressment.' In this there must probably be some mutual concession, because we cannot expect to obtain every thing and yield nothing. But I hope it will be such an one as may be accepted. The arrival of the Hornet in France is so recently known, that it will yet be some time before we learn our prospects there. Notwithstanding the efforts made here, and made professedly to assassinate that negotiation in embryo, if the good sense of Bonaparte should prevail over his temper, the present state of things in Europe may induce him to require of Spain, that she should do us justice at least. That he should require her to sell us East Florida, we have no right to insist: yet there are not wanting considerations which may induce him to wish a permanent foundation for peace laid between us. In this treaty, whatever it shall be, our old enemies the federalists, and their new friends, will find enough to carp at. This is a thing of course, and I should suspect error where they found no fault. The buzzard feeds on carrion only. Their rallying point is 'war with France and Spain, and alliance with Great Britain': and every thing is wrong with them which checks their new ardor to be fighting for the liberties of mankind; on the sea always excepted. There one nation is to monopolize all the liberties of the others.

I read, with extreme regret, the expressions of an inclination on your part to retire from Congress. I will not say that this time, more than all others, calls for the service of every man; but I will say, there never was a time when the services of those who possess talents, integrity, firmness, and sound judgment, were more wanted in Congress. Some one of that description is particularly wanted to take the lead in the House of Representatives, to consider the business of the nation as his own business, to take it up as if he were singly charged with it, and carry it through. I do not mean that any gentleman, relinquishing his own judgment, should implicitly support all the measures of the administration; but that, where he does not disapprove of them, he should not suffer them to go off in sleep, but bring them to the attention of the House, and give them a fair chance. Where he disapproves, he will of course leave them to be brought forward by those who concur in the sentiment. Shall I explain my idea by an example? The classification of the militia was communicated to General Varnum and yourself merely as a proposition, which, if you approved, it was trusted you would support. I knew, indeed, that General Varnum was opposed to any thing which might break up the present organization of the militia: but when so modified as to avoid this, I thought he might, perhaps, be reconciled to it. As soon as I found it did not coincide with your sentiments, I could not wish you to support it; but using the same freedom of opinion, I procured it to be brought forward elsewhere. It failed there also, and for a time, perhaps, may not prevail: but a militia can never be used for distant service on any other plan; and Bonaparte will conquer the world, if they do not learn his secret of composing armies of young men only, whose enthusiasm and health enable them to surmount all obstacles. When a gentleman, through zeal for the public service, undertakes to do the public business, we know that we shall hear the cant of backstairs counsellors. But we never heard this while the declaimer was himself a backstairs man, as he calls it, but in the confidence and views of the administration, as may more properly and respectfully be said. But if the members are to know nothing but what is important enough to be put into a public message, and indifferent enough to be made known to all the world; if the executive is to keep all other information to himself, and the House to plunge on in the dark, it becomes a government of chance and not of design. The imputation was one of those artifices used to despoil an adversary of his most effectual arms; and men of mind will place themselves above a gabble of this order. The last session of Congress was indeed an uneasy one for a time: but as soon as the members penetrated into the views of those who were taking a new course, they rallied in as solid a phalanx as I have ever seen act together. Indeed I have never seen a House of better dispositions.


Perhaps I am not entitled to speak with so much frankness; but it proceeds from no motive which has not a right to your forgiveness. Opportunities of candid explanation are so seldom afforded me, that I must not lose them when they occur. The information I receive from your quarter agrees with that from the south; that the late schism has made not the smallest impression on the public, and that the seceders are obliged to give to it other grounds than those which we know to be the true ones. All we have to wish is, that, at the ensuing session, every one may take the part openly which he secretly befriends. I recollect nothing new and true, worthy communicating to you. As for what is not true, you will always find abundance in the newspapers. Among other things, are those perpetual alarms as to the Indians, for no one of which has there ever been the slightest ground. They are the suggestions of hostile traders, always wishing to embroil us with the Indians, to perpetuate their own extortionate commerce. I salute you with esteem and respect.

Th: Jefferson.



Washington, July 10, 1806.

Dear Sir,

I believe that when you left America, the invention of the polygraph had not yet reached Boston. It is for copying with one pen while you write with the other, and without the least additional embarrassment or exertion to the writer. I think it the finest invention of the present age, and so much superior to the copying machine, that the latter will never be continued a day by any one who tries the polygraph. It was invented by a Mr. Hawkins of Frankford, near Philadelphia, who is now in England, turning it to good account. Knowing that you are in the habit of writing much, I have flattered myself that I could add acceptably to your daily convenience by presenting you with one of these delightful machines. I have accordingly had one made, and to be certain of its perfection I have used it myself some weeks, and have the satisfaction to find it the best one I have ever tried; and in the course of two years' daily use of them, I have had opportunities of trying several. As a secretary, which copies for us what we write without the power of revealing it, I find it a most precious possession to a man in public-business. I enclose directions for unpacking and using the machine when you receive it; but the machine itself must await a special and sure conveyance under the care of some person going to Paris. It is ready packed, and shall go by the first proper conveyance.

As we heard two or three weeks ago of the safe arrival of the Hornet at L'Orient, we are anxiously waiting to learn from you the first impressions on her mission. If you can succeed in procuring us Florida, and a good western boundary, it will fill the American mind with joy. It will secure to our fellow-citizens one of their most ardent wishes, a long peace with Spain and France. For be assured, the object of war with them and alliance with England, which, at the last session of Congress, drew off from the republican band about half a dozen of its members, is universally reprobated by our native citizens from north to south. I have never seen the nation stand more firm to its principles, or rally so firmly to its constituted authorities, and in reprobation of the opposition to them. With England, I think we shall cut off the resource of impressing our seamen to fight her battles, and establish the inviolability of our flag in its commerce with her enemies.

We shall thus become what we sincerely wish to be, honestly neutral, and truly useful to both belligerents. To the one, by keeping open a market for the consumption of her manufactures, while they are excluded from all the countries under the power of her enemy; to the other, by securing for her a safe carriage of all her productions, metropolitan or colonial, while her own means are restrained by her enemy, and may, therefore, be employed in other useful pursuits. We are certainly more useful friends to France and Spain as neutrals, than as allies. I hope they will be sensible of it, and by a wise removal of all grounds of future misunderstanding to another age, enable you to present us such an arrangement, as will insure to our fellow-citizens long and permanent peace and friendship with them. With respect to our western boundary, your instructions will be your guide. I will only add, as a comment to them, that we are attached to the retaining the Bay of St. Bernard, because it was the first establishment of the unfortunate La Sale, was the cradle of Louisiana, and more incontestibly covered and conveyed to us by France, under that name, than any other spot in the country. This will be secured to us by taking for our western boundary the Guadaloupe, and from its head around the sources of all waters eastward of it, to the highlands embracing the waters running into the Mississippi. However, all these things I presume will be settled before you receive this; and I hope so settled as to give peace and satisfaction to us all.

Our crops of wheat are greater than have ever been known, and are now nearly secured. A caterpillar gave for a while great alarm, but did little injury. Of tobacco, not half a crop has been planted for want of rain; and even this half, with cotton and Indian corn, has yet many chances to run.

This summer will place our harbors in a situation to maintain peace and order within them. The next, or certainly the one following that, will so provide them with gunboats and common batteries, as to be hors d'insulte. Although our prospect is peace, our policy and purpose is to provide for defence by all those means to which our resources are competent.

I salute you with friendship, and assure you of my high respect and consideration.

Th: Jefferson.

LETTER XXXVI.—TO W. A. BURWELL, September 17, 1806


Monticello, September 17, 1806.

Dear Sir,

Yours of August the 7th, from Liberty, never got to my hands till the 9th instant. About the same time, I received the Enquirer in which Decius was so judiciously answered. The writer of that paper observed, that the matter of Decius consisted, first of facts; secondly, of inferences from these facts: that he was not well enough informed to affirm or deny his facts, and he therefore examines his inferences, and in a very masterly manner shows that even were his facts true, the reasonable inferences from them are very different from those drawn by Decius. But his facts are far from truth, and should be corrected. It happened that Mr. Madison and General Dearborn were here when I received your letter. I therefore, with them, took up Decius and read him deliberately; and our memories aided one another in correcting his bold and unauthorized assertions. I shall note the most material of them in the order of the paper.

1. It is grossly false that our ministers, as is said in a note, had proposed to surrender our claims to compensation for Spanish spoliations, or even for French. Their instructions were to make no treaty in which Spanish spoliations were not provided for; and although they were permitted to be silent as to French spoliations carried into Spanish ports, they were not expressly to abandon even them. 2. It is not true that our ministers, in agreeing to establish the Colorado as our western boundary, had been obliged to exceed the authority of their instructions. Although we considered our title good as far as the Rio Bravo, yet in proportion to what they could obtain east of the Mississippi, they were to relinquish to the westward, and successive sacrifices were marked out, of which even the Colorado was not the last. 3. It is not true that the Louisiana treaty was antedated, lest Great Britain should consider our supplying her enemies with money as a breach of neutrality. After the very words of the treaty were finally agreed to, it took some time, perhaps some days, to make out all the copies in the very splendid manner of Bonaparte's treaties. Whether the 30th of April, 1803, the date expressed, was the day of the actual compact, or that on which it was signed, our memories do not enable us to say. If the former, then it is strictly conformable to the day of the compact; if the latter, then it was postdated, instead of being antedated. The motive assigned, too, is as incorrect as the fact. It was so far from being thought, by any party, a breach of neutrality, that the British minister congratulated Mr. King on the acquisition, and declared that the King had learned it with great pleasure: and when Baring, the British banker, asked leave of the minister to purchase the debt and furnish the money to France, the minister declared to him, that so far from throwing obstacles in the way, if there were any difficulty in the payment of the money, it was the interest of Great Britain to aid it. 4. He speaks of a double set of opinions and principles; the one ostensible, to go on the journals and before the public, the other efficient, and the real motives to action. But where are these double opinions and principles? The executive informed the legislature of the wrongs of Spain, and that preparation should be made to repel them, by force, if necessary. But as it might still be possible to negotiate a settlement, they asked such means as might enable them to meet the negotiation, whatever form it might take. The first part of this system was communicated publicly, the second, privately; but both were equally official, equally involved the responsibility of the executive, and were equally to go on the journals. 5. That the purchase of the Floridas was in direct opposition to the views of the executive, as expressed in the President's official communication. It was not in opposition even to the public part of the communication, which did not recommend war, but only to be prepared for it. It perfectly harmonized with the private part, which asked the means of negotiation in such terms as covered the purchase of Florida as evidently as it was proper to speak it out. He speaks of secret communications between the executive and members, of backstairs influence, &tc.. But he never spoke of this while he and Mr. Nicholson enjoyed it almost solely. But when he differed from the executive in a leading measure, and the executive, not submitting to him, expressed their sentiments to others, the very sentiments (to wit, for the purchase of Florida), which he acknowledges they expressed to him, then he roars out upon backstairs influence. 6. The committee, he says, forbore to recommend offensive measures. Is this true? Did not they recommend the raising ———- regiments? Besides, if it was proper for the committee to forbear recommending offensive measures, was it not proper for the executive and legislature to exercise the same forbearance? 7. He says Monroe's letter had a most important bearing on our Spanish relations. Monroe's letter related, almost entirely, to our British relations. Of those with Spain he knew nothing particular since he left that country. Accordingly, in his letter he simply expressed an opinion on our affairs with Spain, of which he knew we had better information than he could possess. His opinion was no more than that of any other sensible man; and his letter was proper to be communicated with the English papers, and with them only. That the executive did not hold it up on account of any bearing on Spanish affairs, is evident from the fact, that it was communicated when the Senate had not yet entered on the Spanish affairs, and had not yet received the papers relating to them from the other House. The moment the Representatives were ready to enter on the British affairs, Monroe's letter, which peculiarly related to them, and was official solely as to them, was communicated to both Houses, the Senate being then about entering on the Spanish affairs.


These, my dear Sir, are the principal facts worth correction. Make any use of them you think best, without letting your source of information be known. Can you send me some cones or seeds of the cucumber-tree? Accept affectionate salutations, and assurances of great esteem and respect.

Th: Jefferson.



Washington, October 12, 1806.

Dear Sir,

You witnessed, in the earlier part of the administration, the malignant and long continued efforts which the federalists exerted in their newspapers, to produce misunderstanding between Mr. Madison and myself. These failed completely. A like attempt was afterwards made, through other channels, to effect a similar purpose between General Dearborn and myself, but with no more success. The machinations of the last session to put you at cross questions with us all, were so obvious as to be seen at the first glance of every eye. In order to destroy one member of the administration, the whole were to be set to loggerheads to destroy one another. I observe in the papers lately, new attempts to revive this stale artifice, and that they squint more directly towards you and myself. I cannot, therefore, be satisfied, till I declare to you explicitly, that my affections and confidence in you are nothing impaired, and that they cannot be impaired by means so unworthy the notice of candid and honorable minds. I make the declaration, that no doubts or jealousies, which often beget the facts they fear, may find a moment's harbor in either of our minds. I have so much reliance on the superior good sense and candor of all those associated with me, as to be satisfied they will not suffer either friend or foe to sow tares among us. Our administration now drawing towards a close, I have a sublime pleasure in believing it will be distinguished as much by having placed itself above all the passions which could disturb its harmony, as by the great operations by which it will have advanced the well-being of the nation.

Accept my affectionate salutations, and assurances of my constant and unalterable respect and attachment.

Th: Jefferson.



Washington, January 13, 1807.

My Dear and Ancient Friend,

I have duly received your favor of the 1st instant, and am ever thankful for communications which may guide me in the duties which I wish to perform as well as I am able. It is but too true, that great discontents exist in the territory of Orleans. Those of the French inhabitants have for their sources, 1. the prohibition of importing slaves. This may be partly removed by Congress permitting them to receive slaves from the other States, which, by dividing that evil, would lessen its danger. 2. The administration of justice in our forms, principles, and language, with all of which they are unacquainted, and are the more abhorrent, because of the enormous expense, greatly exaggerated by the corruption of bankrupt and greedy lawyers, who have gone there from the United States and engrossed the practice. 3. The call on them by the land commissioners to produce the titles of their lands. The object of this is really to record and secure their rights. But as many of them hold on rights so ancient that the title papers are lost, they expect the land is to be taken from them wherever they cannot produce a regular deduction of title in writing. In this they will be undeceived by the final result, which will evince to them a liberal disposition of the government towards them. Among the American inhabitants it is the old division of federalists and republicans. The former, are as hostile there as they are every where, and are the most numerous and wealthy. They have been long endeavoring to batter down the Governor, who has always been a firm republican. There were characters superior to him, whom I wished to appoint, but they refused the office: I know no better man who would accept of it, and it would not be right to turn him out for one not better. But it is the second cause, above mentioned, which is deep seated and permanent. The French members of the legislature, being the majority in both Houses, lately passed an act, declaring that the civil, or French laws, should be the laws of their land, and enumerated about fifty folio volumes, in Latin, as the depositories of these laws. The Governor negatived the act. One of the Houses thereupon passed a vote for self-dissolution of the legislature as a useless body, which failed in the other House by a single vote only. They separated, however, and have disseminated all the discontent they could. I propose to the members of Congress in conversation, the enlisting thirty thousand volunteers, Americans by birth, to be carried at the public expense, and settled immediately on a bounty of one hundred and sixty acres of land each, on the west side of the Mississippi, on the condition of giving two years of military service, if that country should be attacked within seven years. The defence of the country would thus be placed on the spot, and the additional number would entitle the territory to become a State, would make the majority American, and make it an American instead of a French State. This would not sweeten the pill to the French; but in making that acquisition we had some view to our own good as well as theirs, and I believe the greatest good of both will be promoted by whatever will amalgamate us together.

I have tired you, my friend, with a long letter. But your tedium will end in a few lines more. Mine has yet two years to endure. I am tired of an office where I can do no more good than many others, who would be glad to be employed in it. To myself, personally, it brings nothing but unceasing drudgery, and daily loss of friends. Every office becoming vacant, every appointment made, me donne un ingrat, et cent ennemis. My only consolation is in the belief, that my fellow-citizens at large give me credit for good intentions. I will certainly endeavor to merit the continuance of that good will which follows well intended actions, and their approbation will be the dearest reward I can carry into retirement.

God bless you, my excellent friend, and give you yet many healthy and happy years.

Th: Jefferson.



Washington, February 28,1807.

Dear Sir,

Your letter of January the 20th was received in due time. But such has been the constant pressure of business, that it has been out of my power to answer it. Indeed, the subjects of it would be almost beyond the extent of a letter, and as I hope to see you ere long at Monticello, it can then be more effectually done verbally. Let me observe, however, generally, that it is impossible for my friends ever to render me so acceptable a favor, as by communicating to me, without reserve, facts and opinions. I have none of that sort of self-love which winces at it; indeed, both self-love and the desire to do what is best strongly invite unreserved communication. There is one subject which will not admit a delay till I see you. Mr. T. M. Randolph is, I believe, determined to retire from Congress, and it is strongly his wish, and that of all here, that you should take his place. Never did the calls of patriotism more loudly assail you than at this moment. After excepting the federalists, who will be twenty-seven, and the little band of schismatics, who will be three or four (all tongue), the residue of the House of Representatives is as well disposed a body of men as I ever saw collected. But there is no one whose talents and standing, taken together, have weight enough to give him the lead. The consequence is, that there is no one who will undertake to do the public business, and it remains undone. Were you here, the whole would rally round you in an instant, and willingly co-operate in whatever is for the public good. Nor would it require you to undertake drudgery in the House. There are enough, able and willing to do that. A rallying point is all that is wanting. Let me beseech you then to offer yourself. You never will have it so much in your power again to render such eminent service.

Accept my affectionate salutations and high esteem.

Th: Jefferson.



Washington, March 21, 1807.

Dear Sir,

A copy of the treaty with Great Britain came to Mr. Erskine's hands on the last day of the session of Congress, which he immediately communicated to us; and since that, Mr. Purviance has arrived with an original. On the subject of it you will receive a letter from the Secretary of State, of about this date, and one more in detail hereafter. I should not have written, but that I perceive uncommon efforts, and with uncommon wickedness, are making by the federal papers to produce mischief between myself, personally, and our negotiators; and also to irritate the British government, by putting a thousand speeches into my mouth, not one word of which I ever uttered. I have, therefore, thought it safe to guard you, by stating the view which we have given out on the subject of the treaty, in conversation and otherwise; for ours, as you know, is a government which will not tolerate the being kept entirely in the dark, and especially on a subject so interesting as this treaty. We immediately stated in conversation, to the members of the legislature and others, that having, by a letter received in January, perceived that our ministers might sign a treaty not providing satisfactorily against the impressment of our seamen, we had, on the 3rd of February, informed you, that should such an one have been forwarded, it could not be ratified, and recommending, therefore, that you should resume negotiations for inserting an article to that effect; that we should hold the treaty in suspense until we could learn from you the result of our instructions, which probably would not be till summer, and then decide on the question of calling the Senate. We observed, too, that a written declaration of the British commissioners, given in at the time of signature, would of itself, unless withdrawn, prevent the acceptance of any treaty, because its effect was to leave us bound by the treaty, and themselves totally unbound. This is the statement we have given out, and nothing more of the contents of the treaty has been made known. But depend on it, my dear Sir, that it will be considered as a hard treaty when it is known. The British commissioners appear to have screwed every article as far as it would bear, to have taken every thing, and yielded nothing. Take out the eleventh article, and the evil of all the others so much overweighs the good, that we should be glad to expunge the whole. And even the eleventh article admits only that we may enjoy our right to the indirect colonial trade, during the present hostilities. If peace is made this year, and war resumed the next, the benefit of this stipulation is gone, and yet we are bound for ten years, to pass no non-importation or non-intercourse laws, nor take any other measures to restrain the unjust pretensions and practices of the British. But on this you will hear from the Secretary of State. If the treaty cannot be put into an acceptable form, then the next best thing is to back out of the negotiation as well as we can, letting that die away insensibly; but, in the mean time, agreeing informally, that both parties shall act on the principles of the treaty, so as to preserve that friendly understanding which we so sincerely desire, until the one or the other may be disposed to yield the points which divide us. This will leave you to follow your desire of coming home, as soon as you see that the amendment of the treaty is desperate. The power of continuing the negotiations will pass oyer to Mr. Pinckney, who, by procrastinations, can let it die away, and give us time, the most precious of all things to us. The government of New Orleans is still without such a head as I wish. The salary of five thousand dollars is too small; but I am assured the Orleans legislature would make it adequate, would you accept it. It is the second office in the United States in importance, and I am still in hopes you will accept it. It is impossible to let you stay at home while the public has so much need of talents. I am writing under a severe indisposition of periodical headache, without scarcely command enough of my mind to know what I write. As a part of this letter concerns Mr. Pinckney as well as yourself, be so good as to communicate so much of it to him; and with my best respects to him, to Mrs. Monroe, and your daughter, be assured yourself, in all cases, of my constant and affectionate friendship and attachment.

Th: Jefferson.



Washington, March 29, 1807.

My Dear and Antient Friend,

Your letter of August the 29th reached me the 18th of February. It enclosed a duplicate of that written from Brunswick five years before, but which I never received, or had notice of, but by this duplicate. Be assured, my friend, that I was incapable of such negligence towards you, as a failure to answer it would have implied. It would illy have accorded with those sentiments of friendship I entertained for you at Paris, and which neither time nor distance has lessened. I often pass in review the many happy hours I spent with Madame Diodati and yourself on the banks of the Seine, as well as at Paris, and I count them among the most pleasing I enjoyed in France. Those were indeed days of tranquillity and happiness. They had begun to cloud a little before I left you; but I had no apprehension that the tempest, of which I saw the beginning, was to spread over such an extent of space and time. I have often thought of you with anxiety, and wished to know how you weathered the storm, and into what port you had retired. The letters now received give me the first information, and I sincerely felicitate you on your safe and quiet retreat. Were I in Europe, pax et panis would certainly be my motto. Wars and contentions, indeed, fill the pages of history with more matter. But more blest is that nation whose silent course of happiness furnishes nothing for history to say. This is what I ambition for my own country, and what it has fortunately enjoyed now upwards of twenty years, while Europe has been in constant volcanic eruption. I again, my friend, repeat my joy that you have escaped the overwhelming torrent of its lava.

At the end of my present term, of which two years are yet to come, I propose to retire from public life, and to close my days on my patrimony of Monticello, in the bosom of my family. I have hitherto enjoyed uniform health; but the weight of public business begins to be too heavy for me, and I long for the enjoyments of rural life, among my books, my farms, and my family. Having performed my quadragena stipendia, I am entitled to my discharge, and should be sorry, indeed, that others should be sooner sensible than myself when I ought to ask it. I have, therefore, requested my fellow-citizens to think of a successor for me, to whom I shall deliver the public concerns with greater joy than I received them. I have the consolation too of having added nothing to my private fortune, during my public service, and of retiring with hands as clean as they are empty. Pardon me these egoisms, which, if ever excusable, are so when writing to a friend to whom our concerns are not uninteresting. I shall always be glad to hear of your health and happiness, and having been out of the way of hearing of any of our cotemporaries of the corps diplomatique at Paris, any details of their subsequent history, which you will favor me with, will be thankfully received. I pray you to make my friendly respects acceptable to Madame la Comtesse Diodati, to assure M. Tronchin of my continued esteem, and to accept yourself my affectionate salutations, and assurances of constant attachment and respect.

Th: Jefferson.



Washington, April 2, 1807.

Dear Sir,

I wrote you on the 10th of July last; but neither your letter of October the 20th nor that of November the 15th mentioning the receipt of it, I fear it has miscarried. I therefore now enclose a duplicate. As that was to go under cover of the Secretary of State's despatches by any vessel going from our distant ports, I retained the polygraph therein mentioned for a safer conveyance. None such has occurred till now, that the United States' armed brig the Wasp, on her way to the Mediterranean is to touch at Falmouth, with despatches for our ministers at London, and at Brest, with others for yourself and General Armstrong.

You heard in due time from London of the signature of a treaty there between Great Britain and the United States. By a letter we received in January from our ministers at London, we found they were making up their minds to sign a treaty, in which no provision was made against the impressment of our seamen, contenting themselves with a note received in the course of their correspondence, from the British negotiators, assuring them of the discretion with which impressments should be conducted, which could be construed into a covenant only by inferences, against which its omission in the treaty was a strong inference; and in its terms totally unsatisfactory. By a letter of February the 3rd, they were immediately informed that no treaty, not containing a satisfactory article on that head, would be ratified, and desiring them to resume the negotiations on that point. The treaty having come to as actually in the inadmissible shape apprehended, we, of course, hold it up until we know the result of the instructions of February the 3rd. I have but little expectation that the British government will retire from their habitual wrongs in the impressment of our seamen, and am certain, that without that we will never tie up our hands by treaty, from the right of passing a non-importation or non-intercourse act, to make it her interest to become just. This may bring on a war of commercial restrictions. To show, however, the sincerity of our desire for conciliation, I have suspended the non-importation act. This state of things should be understood at Paris, and every effort used on your part to accommodate our differences with Spain, under the auspices of France, with whom it is all-important that we should stand in terms of the strictest cordiality. In fact, we are to depend on her and Russia for the establishment of neutral rights by the treaty of peace, among which should be that of taking no persons by a belligerent out of a neutral ship, unless they be the soldiers of an enemy. Never did a nation act towards another with more perfidy and injustice than Spain has constantly practised against us: and if we have kept our hands off of her till now, it has been purely out of respect to France, and from the value we set on the friendship of France. We expect, therefore, from the friendship of the Emperor, that he will either compel Spain to do us justice, or abandon her to us. We ask but one month to be in possession of the city of Mexico.

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