The Writings of
Thomas Jefferson

editor H.A. Washington
New York :  H.W. Derby, 1861

To Thomas Mann Randolph, Jr.
Bennington, in Vermont, June 5, 1791.

Dear Sir

Mr. Madison and myself are so far on the tour we had projected.  We have visited, in the course of it, the principal scenes of General Burgoyne’s misfortunes, to wit, the grounds at Stillwater, where the action of that name was fought, and particularly the breastworks, which cost so much blood to both parties, the encampments at Saratoga and ground where the British piled their arms, and the field of the battle of Bennington, about nine miles from this place.  We have also visited Forts William, Henry and George, Ticonderoga, Crown Point, etc., which have been scenes of blood from a very early part of our history.  We were more pleased, however, with the botanical objects which continually presented themselves.  Those either unknown or rare in Virginia, were the sugar maple in vast abundance.  The silver fir, white pine, pitch pine, spruce pine, a shrub with decumbent stem which they call juniper, an azalea, very different from the nudiflora, with very large clusters of flowers, more thickly set on the branches, of a deeper red, and high pink-fragrance.  It is the richest shrub I have seen.  The honey-suckle of the gardens growing wild on the banks of Lake George, the paper-birch, an aspen with a velvet leaf, a shrub-willow with downy catkins, a wild gooseberry, the wild cherry with single fruit, (not the bunch cherry,) strawberries in abundance.

From the highlands to the lakes it is a limestone country.  It is in vast quantities on the eastern sides of the lakes, but none on the western sides.  The Sandy Hill Falls and Wing’s Falls, two very remarkable cataracts of the Hudson, of about thirty-five feet or forty feet each, between Fort Edward and Fort George, are of limestone, in horizontal strata.  Those of the Cohoes, on the west side of the Hudson, and of seventy feet height, we thought not of limestone.  We have met with a small red squirrel, of the color of our fox-squirrel, with a black stripe on each side, weighing about six ounces generally, and in such abundance on Lake Champlain particularly, as that twenty odd were killed at the house we lodged in, opposite Crown Point, the morning we arrived there, without going ten yards from the door.  We killed three crossing the lakes, one of them just as he was getting ashore, where it was three miles wide, and where, with the high wind then blowing, he must have made it five or six miles.

I think I asked the favor of you to send for Anthony in the season for inoculation, as well as to do what is necessary in the orchard, as to pursue the object of inoculating all the spontaneous cherry trees in the fields with good fruit.

We have now got over about four hundred miles of our tour, and have still about four hundred and fifty more to go over.  Arriving here on the Saturday evening, and the laws of the State not permitting us to travel on the Sunday, has given me time to write to you from hence.  I expect to be at Philadelphia by the 20th or 21st.  I am, with great and sincere esteem, dear Sir, yours affectionately.

To James Monroe.
Philadelphia, July 10, 1791.

Dear Sir

Your favor of June 17, has been duly received.  I am endeavoring to get for you the lodgings Langdon had.  But the landlord is doubtful whether he will let them at all.  If he will not, I will endeavor to do the best I can.  I can accommodate you myself with a stable and coach-house, without any expense, as I happen to have two on hand ;  and indeed, in my new one, I have had stalls enough prepared for six horses, which are two more than I keep.  Of my success in procuring rooms, I shall bring you news myself, though as yet the time of my visit to Albemarle is unfixed.  Mr. Madison will both go and come with me.  He is at present at New York.  His journey with me to the lakes placed him in better health than I have seen him ;  but the late heats have brought on some bilious dispositions.

The papers which I send Mr. Randolph weekly, and which I presume you see, will have shown you what a dust Paine's pamphlet has kicked up here.  My last to Mr. Randolph will have given an explanation as to myself, which I had not time to give when I sent you the pamphlet.  A writer, under the name of Publicola, in attacking all Paine’s principles, is very desirous of involving me in the same censure with the author.  I certainly merit the same, for I profess the same principles ;  but it is equally certain I never meant to have entered as a volunteer into the cause.  My occupations do not permit it.  Some persons here are insinuating that I am Brutus, that I am Agricola, that I am Philodemus , etc., etc.  I am none of them, being decided not to write a word on the subject, unless any printed imputation should call for a printed disavowal, to which I should put my name.  A Boston paper has declared that Mr. Adams “has no more concern in the publication of the writings of Publicola, than the author of the ‘Rights of Man’ himself.”  If the equivoque here were not intended, the disavowal is not entirely credited, because not from Mr. Adams himself, and because the style and sentiments raise so strong a presumption.  Besides, to produce any effect he must disavow Davila and the Defence of the American Constitutions.  A host of writers have risen in favor of Paine, and prove that in this quarter, at least, the spirit of republicanism is sound.  The contrary spirit of the high officers of government is more understood than I expected.  Colonel Hamilton avowing that he never made a secret of his principles, yet taxes the imprudence of Mr. Adams in having stirred the question, and agrees that “his business is done.”  Jay, covering the same principles under the veil of silence, is rising steadily on the ruins of his friends.  The bank filled and overflowed in the moment it was opened.  Instead of twenty thousand shares, twenty-four thousand were offered, and a great many unpresented, who had not suspected that so much haste was necessary.  Thus it is that we shall be paying thirteen per cent. per annum for eight millions of paper money, instead of having that circulation of gold and silver for nothingExperience has proved to us that a dollar of silver disappears for every dollar of paper emitted ;  and, for the paper emitted from the bank, seven per cent. profits will be received by the subscribers for it as bank paper, (according to the last division of profits by the Philadelphia bank,) and six per cent. on the public paper of which it is the representative.  Nor is there any reason to believe, that either the six millions of paper, or the two millions of specie deposited, will not be suffered to be withdrawn, and the paper thrown into circulation.  The cash deposited by strangers for safe keeping will probably suffice for cash demands.  Very few subscribers have offered from Virginia or North Carolina, which gives uneasiness to H.  It is impossible to say where the appetite for gambling will stop.  The land office, the federal town, certain schemes of manufacture, are all likely to be converted into aliment for that rage ;  but this subject is too copious for a letter, and must be reserved for conversation.  The respite from occupation which my journey procured, has entirely removed my headaches.  Kiss and bless Mrs. Monroe and Eliza, for, dear Sir, yours affectionately.

To Colonel David Humphreys.
Philadelphia, July 13, 1791.


Mr. Barclay having been detained longer than was expected, you will receive this as well as my letter of May the 13th from him.  Since the date of that, I have received your No. 15, March the 31st, No. 16, April the 8th, No. 17, April the 30th, No. 18, May the 3d, and No. 20, May the 21st.

You are not unacquainted with the situation of our captives at Algiers.  Measures were taken, and were long depending, for their redemption.  During the time of their dependence, we thought it would forward our success to take no notice of the captives.  They were maintained by the Spanish consul, from whom applications for reimbursement, through Mr. Carmichael, often came :  no answer of any kind was ever given.  A certainty now that our measures for their redemption will not succeed, renders it unnecessary for us to be so reserved on the subject, and to continue to wear the appearance of neglecting them.  Though the government might have agreed to ransom at the lowest price admitted with any nation (as, for instance, that of the French order of Merci), they will not give anything like the price which has been lately declared to be the lowest by the captors.  It remains, then, for us to see what other means are practicable for their recovery.  In the meantime, it is our desire that the disbursements hitherto made for their subsistence, by the Spanish consul or others, be paid off, and that their future comfortable subsistence be provided for.  As to past disbursements, I must beg the favor of you to write to Mr. Carmichael, that you are authorized to pay them off, pray him to let you know their amount, and to whom payments are due.  With respect to future provision for the captives, I must put it into your hands.  The impossibility of getting letters to or from Mr. Carmichael, renders it improper for us to use that channel.  As to the footing on which they are to be subsisted, the ration and clothing of a soldier would have been a good measure, were it possible to apply it to articles of food and clothing so extremely different as those used at Algiers.  The allowance heretofore made them by the Spanish consul might perhaps furnish a better rule, as we have it from themselves, that they were then comfortably subsisted.  Should you be led to correspond with them at all, it had better be with Captain O’Bryan, who is a sensible man, and whose conduct since he has been there, has been particularly meritorious.  It will be better for you to avoid saying anything which may either increase or lessen their hopes of ransom.  I write to our bankers, to answer your drafts for these purposes, and enclose you a duplicate to be forwarded with your first draft.  The prisoners are fourteen in number ;  their names and qualities as follows :  Richard O’Bryan and Isaac Stephens, captains;  Andrew Montgomery and Alexander Forsyth, mates;  Jacob Tessanier, a French passenger;  William Patterson, Philip Sloan, Peleg Lorin, John Robertson, James Hall, James Cathcart, George Smith, John Gregory, James Hermel, seamen.  They have been twenty-one or twenty-two.

We are in hourly expectation of hearing the event of General Scott’s irruption into the Indian country, at the head of between seven and eight hundred mounted infantry.  Perhaps it may yet be known in time to communicate to you by this opportunity.  Our bank was filled with subscriptions the moment it was opened.  Eight millions of dollars were the whole permitted to be subscribed, of which two millions were deposited in cash, the residue to be public paper.  Every other symptom is equally favorable to our credit.

The President has returned from his southern tour in good health.  You will receive herewith the newspapers up to the present date.  I have the honor to be, with great esteem, dear Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.

To John Adams.
Philadelphia, July 17, 1791.

Dear Sir

I have a dozen times taken up my pen to write to you, and as often laid it down again, suspended between opposing considerations.  I determine, however, to write from a conviction that truth, between candid minds, can never do harm.  The first of Paine’s pamphlets on the rights of man, which came to hand here, belonged to Mr. Beckley.  He lent it to Mr. Madison, who lent it to me;  and while I was reading it, Mr. Beckley called on me for it, and, as I had not finished it, he desired me, as soon as I should have done so, to send it to Mr. Jonathan B. Smith, whose brother meant to reprint it.  I finished reading it, and, as I had no acquaintance with Mr. Jonathan B. Smith, propriety required that I should explain to him why I, a stranger to him, sent him the pamphlet.  I accordingly wrote a note of compliment, informing him that I did it at the desire of Mr. Beckley, and, to take of a little of the dryness of the note, I added that I was glad it was to be reprinted here, and that something was to be publicly said against the political heresies which had sprung up among us, etc.  I thought so little of this note, that I did not even keep a copy of it ;  nor ever heard a tittle more of it, till, the week following, I was thunderstruck with seeing it come out at the head of the pamphlet.  I hoped, however, it would not attract notice.  But I found, on my return from a journey of a month, that a writer came forward, under the signature of Publicola, attacking not only the author and principles of the pamphlet, but myself as its sponsor, by name.  Soon after came hosts of other writers, defending the pamphlet, and attacking you, by name, as the writer of Publicola.  Thus were our names thrown on the public stage as public antagonists.  That you and I differ in our ideas of the best form of government, is well known to us both;  but we have differed as friends should do, respecting the purity of each other’s motives, and confining our difference of opinion to private conversation.  And I can declare with truth, in the presence of the Almighty, that nothing was further from my intention or expectation than to have either my own or your name brought before the public on this occasion.  The friendship and confidence which has so long existed between us, required this explanation from me, and I know you too well to fear any misconstruction of the motives of it.  Some people here, who would wish me to be, or to be thought, guilty of improprieties, have suggested that I was Agricola, that I was Brutus, etc., etc.  I never did in my life, either by myself or by any other, have a sentence of mine inserted in a newspaper without putting my name to it;  and I believe I never shall.

While the Empress is refusing peace under a mediation, unless Oczakow and its territory be ceded to her, she is offering peace on the perfect statu quo to the Porte, if they will conclude it without a mediation.  France has struck a severe blow at our navigation, by a difference of duty on tobacco carried in our and their ships, and by taking from foreign-built ships the capability of naturalization.  She has placed our whale oil on rather a better footing than ever, by consolidating the duties into a single one of six livres.  They amounted before to some sous over that sum.  I am told (I know not how truly), that England has prohibited our spermaceti oil altogether, and will prohibit our wheat till the price there is fifty-two shillings the quarter, which it almost never is.  We expect hourly to hear the true event of General Scott’s expedition.  Reports give favorable hopes of it.  Be so good as to present my respectful compliments to Mrs. Adams, and to accept assurances of the sentiments of sincere esteem and respect with which I am, dear Sir, your friend and servant.

To Gouverneur Morris.
Philadelphia, July 26, 1791.

Dear Sir

Your favors of February the 26th, and March the 16th, have been duly received.  The conferences which you held last with the British minister needed no apology.  At the time of writing my letter desiring that communications with them might cease, it was supposed possible that some might take place before it would be received.  They proved to be such as not to vary the opinion formed, and, indeed, the result of the whole is what was to have been expected from known circumstances.  Yet the essay was perhaps necessary to justify, as well as induce, the measures proper for the protection of our commerce.  The first remittance of a thousand dollars to you, was made without the aid of any facts which could enable the government to judge, what sum might be an indemnification for the interference of the business referred to you, with your private pursuits.  Your letter of February the 26th furnishing grounds for correcting the first judgment, I now enclose you a bill on our bankers in Holland for another sum of a thousand dollars.  In the original remittance, as in this supplement to it, there has been no view but to do what is right between the public and those who serve them.

Though no authentic account is yet received, we learn through private channels that General Scott has returned from a successful expedition against the Indians;  having killed about thirty warriors, taken fifty odd women and children prisoners, and destroyed two or three villages, without the loss of a man, except three, drowned by accident.  A similar expedition was to follow immediately after the first, while preparations are making for measures of more permanent effect;  so that we hope this summer to bring the Indians to accept of a just and general peace, on which nothing will be asked of them but their peace.

The crops of wheat in the United States are rather abundant, and the quality good.  Those of tobacco are not promising as yet.  I have heard nothing of the rice crops.  I am, with very great esteem, dear Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.

To William Short.
Philadelphia, July 28, 1791.

Dear Sir

Since my last I have received letters from you as follows : * * * * * * * *

Mine to you, unacknowledged, were of March the 8th, 12th, 15th, 19th, April the 25th, and May the 10th.  Your two last letters mention the length of time you have been without intelligence, having then received mine of January the 23d only.  You will perceive by the above, that six letters of a later date were on their way to you.  The receipt of these, with the newspapers, journals, laws, and other printed papers accompanying them, will have relieved your anxiety, by answering several articles of your former letters, and opening to you some new and important matters.  I scarcely ever miss the opportunity of a private vessel going from hence or New York to any port of France, without writing to you and sending you the newspapers, etc.  In the winter, occasions are very rare, this port, particularly, being blocked up with ice.  The reason of so long an interval between the last and present letter, has been the journey of a month, which that informed you I was about to take.  This is the first vessel which has offered since my return;  she is bound to Havre, and will carry the newspapers as usual.

The difference of sixty-two livres ten sols the hogshead, established by the National Assembly on tobacco brought in their and our ships, is such an act of hostility against our navigation, as was not to have been expected from the friendship of that nation.  It is as new in its nature as extravagant in its degree ;  since it is unexampled, that any nation has endeavored to wrest from another the carriage of its own produce, except in the case of their colonies.  The British navigation act, so much and so justly complained of, leaves to all nations the carriage of their own commodities free.  This measure, too, is calculated expressly to take our own carriage from us and give the equivalent to other nations :  for it is well known, that the shipping of France is not equal to the carriage of their whole commerce;  but the freight in other branches of navigation being on an equal footing with only forty livres the hogshead, in ours, and this new arrangement giving them sixty-two livres ten sols the hogshead, in addition to their freight, that is to say, one hundred and two livres ten sols, instead of forty livres, their vessels will leave every other branch of business to fill up this.  They will consequently leave a void in those other branches, which will be occupied by English, Dutch, and Swedes, on the spot.  They complain of our tonnage duty ;  but it is because it is not understood.  In the ports of France, we pay fees for anchorage, buoys and beacons, fees to measurers, weighers, and gaugers, and in some countries, for light-houses.  We have thought it better that the public here should pay all these, and reimburse itself by a consolidation of them into one fee, proportioned to the tonnage of the vessel, and therefore called by that name.  They complain that the foreign tonnage is higher than the domestic.  If this complaint had come from the English, it would not have been wonderful, because the foreign tonnage operates really as a tax on their commerce, which, under this name, is found to pay sixteen dollars and fifty cents for every dollar paid by France.  It was not conceived, that the latter would have complained of a measure calculated to operate so unequally on her rival, and I still suppose she would not complain, if the thing were well understood.  The refusing to our vessels the faculty of becoming national bottoms, on sale to their citizens, was never before done by any nation but England.  I cannot help hoping that these were wanderings of a moment, founded in misinformation — which reflection will have corrected before you receive this.

Whenever jealousies are expressed as to any supposed views of ours, on the dominion of the West Indies, you cannot go farther than the truth, in asserting we have none.  If there be one principle more deeply rooted than any other in the mind of every American, it is, that we should have nothing to do with conquest.  As to commerce, indeed, we have strong sensations.  In casting our eyes over the earth, we see no instance of a nation forbidden, as we are, by foreign powers, to deal with neighbors, and obliged, with them, to carry into another hemisphere, the mutual supplies necessary to relieve mutual wants.  This is not merely a question between the foreign power and our neighbor.  We are interested in it equally with the latter, and nothing but moderation, at least with respect to us, can render us indifferent to its continuance.  An exchange of surplusses and wants between neighbor nations, is both a right and a duty under the moral law, and measures against right should be mollified in their exercise, if it be wished to lengthen them to the greatest term possible.  Circumstances sometimes require, that rights the most unquestion able should be advanced with delicacy.  It would seem that the one now spoken of, would need only a mention, to be assented to by any unprejudiced mind :  but with respect to America, Europeans in general, have been too long in the habit of confounding force with right.  The Marquis de La Fayette stands in such a relation between the two countries, that I should think him perfectly capable of seeing what is just as to both.  Perhaps on some occasion of free conversation, you might find an opportunity of impressing these truths on his mind, and that from him, they might be let out at a proper moment as matters meriting consideration and weight, when they shall be engaged in the work of forming a constitution for our neighbors.  In policy, if not in justice, they should be disposed to avoid oppression, which, falling on us, as well as on their colonies, might tempt us to act together.

The element of measure adopted by the National Assembly excludes, ipso facto, every nation on earth from a communion of measure with them;  for they acknowledge themselves, that a due portion for admeasurement of a meridian crossing the forty-fifth degree of latitude, and terminating at both ends in the same level, can be found in no other country on Earth but theirs.  It would follow then, that other nations must trust to their admeasurement, or send persons into their country to make it themselves, not only in the first instance, but whenever afterwards they may wish to verify their measures.  Instead of concurring, then, in a measure which, like the pendulum, may be found in every point of the forty-fifth degree, and through both hemispheres, and consequently in all the countries of the earth lying under that parallel, either northern or southern, they adopt one which can be found but in a single point of the northern parallel, and consequently only in one country, and that country is theirs.

I left with you a statement of the case of Schweighauser and Dobree, with the original vouchers on which it depends.  From these you will have known, that being authorized by Congress to settle this matter, I began by offering to them an arbitration before honest and judicious men of a neutral nation.  They declined this, and had the modesty to propose an arbitration before merchants of their own town.  I gave them warning then, that as the offer on the part of a sovereign nation to submit to a private arbitration was an unusual condescendence, if they did not accept it then, it would not be repeated, and that the United States would judge the case for themselves hereafter.  They continued to decline it, and the case now stands thus.  The territorial judge of France has undertaken to call the United States to his jurisdiction, and has arrested their property, in order to enforce appearance, and possess himself of a matter whereon to found a decree;  but no court can have jurisdiction over a sovereign nation.  This position was agreed to ;  but it was urged, that some act of Mr. Barclay’s had admitted the jurisdiction.  It was denied that there had been any such act by Mr. Barclay, and disavowed, if there was one, as without authority from the United States, the property on which the arrest was made, having been purchased by Dr. Franklin, and remaining in his possession till taken out of it by the arrest.  On this disavowal, it was agreed that there could be no further contest, and I received assurance that the property should be withdrawn from the possession of the court by an evocation of the cause before the King’s Council, on which, without other proceedings, it should be delivered to the United States.  Applications were repeated as often as dignity or even decency would permit;  but it was never done.  Thus the matter rests, and thus it is meant it should rest.  No answer of any kind is to be given to Schweighauser and Dobree.  If they think proper to apply to their sovereign, I presume there will be a communicating either through you or their representative here, and we shall have no difficulty to show the character of the treatment we have experienced.

I will observe for your information that the sustenance of our captives at Algiers is committed to Colonel Humphreys.

You will be so kind as to remember, that your public account from the 1st day of July, 1790, to the last of June, 1791, inclusive, is desired before the meeting of Congress, that I may be able to lay before them the general account of the foreign fund for that year.

General Scott has returned from a successful expedition against the northern Indians, having killed thirty-two warriors, taken fifty-eight women and children prisoners, and destroyed three towns and villages, with a great deal of corn in grain and growth.  A similar expedition was to follow immediately, while preparation is making for measures of more permanent effect;  so that we may reasonably hope the Indians will be induced to accept of peace which is all we desire.

Our funds have risen nearly to par.  The eight millions for the bank was subscribed as fast as it could be written, and that stock is now above par.  Our crops of wheat have been rather abundant, and of excellent quality.  Those of tobacco are not very promising as yet.  The census is not yet completed, but from what we hear, we may expect our whole numbers will be nearer four than three millions.  I enclose a sketch of the numbers as far as we yet know them.

I am, with great and sincere esteem, dear Sir, your sincere friend and servant.

To Thomas Paine.
Philadelphia, July 29, 1791.

Dear Sir

Your favor of Sept. 28th, 1790, did not come to my hands till Feb. 11th, and I have not answered it sooner because it said you would be here in the spring.  That expectation being past, I now acknowledge the receipt.  Indeed I am glad you did not come away till you had written your ‘Rights of Man.’  That has been much read here with avidity and pleasure.  A writer under the signature of Publicola has attacked it.  A host of champions entered the arena immediately in your defence.  The discussion excited the public attention, recalled it to the ‘Defence of the American constitutions’ and the ‘Discourses on Davila,’ which it had kindly passed over without censure in the moment, and very general expressions of their sense have been now drawn forth ;  and I thank God that they appear firm in their republicanism, notwithstanding the contrary hopes and assertions of a sect here, high in name but small in numbers.  These had flattered themselves that the silence of the people under the "Defence" and "Davila" was a symptom of their conversion to the doctrine of king, lords, and commons.  They are checked at least by your pamphlet, and the people confirmed in their good old faith.

Your observations on the subject of a copper coinage has satisfied my mind on that subject, which I confess had wavered before between difficulties.  As a different plan is under consideration of Congress, and will be taken up at their meeting, I think to watch the proper moment, and publish your observations (except the notes which contain facts relative to particular persons, which I presume you would dislike to see published, and which are not necessary to establish the main object), adding your name, because it will attract attention and give weight to the publication .  As this cannot take place under four months, there is time for you to forbid me, if it should be disagreeable to you to have the observations published, which, however, I hope it will not be.

General Scott has just returned from a successful expedition against the Indians, having killed thirty-two warriors, and taken fifty-eight women and children, and burnt several towns.  I hope they will now consent to peace, which is all we ask.  Our funds are near par ;  the crops of wheat remarkably fine ;  and a great degree of general prosperity arising from four years successive of plentiful crops, a great diffusion of domestic manufacture, a return to economy, and a reasonable faith in the new government.  I shall be happy to hear from you, and still more to see you, being with great, and sincere esteem, dear Sir, your friend and servant.

To the President of the United States.
Philadelphia, July 30, 1791.


I have the honor to enclose for your perusal, a letter which I have prepared for Mr. Short.

The ill humor into which the French colonies are getting, and the little dependence on the troops sent thither, may produce a hesitation in the National Assembly as to the conditions they will impose in their constitution.  In a moment of hesitation, small matters may influence their decision.  They may see the impolicy of insisting on particular conditions, which, operating as grievances onus, as well as on their colonists, might produce a concert of action.  I have thought it would not be amiss to trust to Mr. Short the sentiments in the cyphered part of the letter, leaving him to govern himself by circumstances, whether to let them leak out at all or not, and whether so as that it may be known or remain unknown that they come from us.  A perfect knowledge of his judgment and discretion leaves me entirely satisfied, that they will be not used, or so used as events shall render proper.  But if you think that the possibility that harm may be done, overweighs the chance of good, I would expunge them, as, in cases of doubt, it is better to say too little than too much.

I have the honor to be, with the most perfect respect and attachment, Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.

To General Knox.
Philadelphia, August 10, 1791.

Dear Sir

I have now the honor to return you the petition of Mr. Moultrie on behalf of the South Carolina Yazoo company.  Without noticing that some of the highest functions of sovereignty are assumed in the very papers which he annexes as his justification, I am of opinion that government should firmly maintain this ground;  that the Indians have a right to the occupation of their lands, independent of the States within whose chartered lines they happen to be;  that until they cede them by treaty or other transaction equivalent to a treaty, no act of a State can give a right to such lands;  that neither under the present constitution, nor the ancient confederation, had any State or person a right to treat with the Indians, without the consent of the General Government;  that that consent has never been given to any treaty for the cession of the lands in question;  that the government is determined to exert all its energy for the patronage and protection of the rights of the Indians, and the preservation of peace between the United States and them ;  and that if any settlements are made on lands not ceded by them, without the previous consent of the United States, the government will think itself bound, not only to declare to the Indians that such settlements are without the authority or protection of the United States, but to remove them also by the public force.

It is in compliance with your request, my dear Sir, that I submit these ideas to you, to whom it belongs to give place to them, or such others as your better judgment shall prefer, in answer to Mr. Moultrie.

I have the honor to be, with sentiments of the most sincere and respectful esteem, dear Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.

To Colonel John Harvie.
Philadelphia, August 14, 1791.

Dear Sir

Being charged with the preparation of a statement to Congress of all their lands north of the Ohio, it becomes necessary for me to know what quantity of lands was assigned to the Virginia Continental line on the south side of the Ohio, say on the Cumberland, in satisfaction of their claims of bounty lands against the Continent.  If I can by any means come at this quantity, by deducting it from the sum total of bounty lands given to all the lines, which sum total I know, the residue will be exactly what the army is entitled to on the north side of the Ohio.  I am in hopes your office can furnish me with this information, and am to ask the favor of you to have it inquired into.  All I wish is the sum total in toto located by the Virginia Continental line south of the Ohio I suppose your office cannot inform me what was located for the same line north of the Ohio, and therefore I do not ask it.  The fees of office for these researches, be so good as to inform me of, and they shall be remitted you.  As your answer cannot be here before my departure for Virginia, I shall be glad to receive it there.  If your office cannot furnish the information, and you know where it may be obtained, I shall consider it as a singular favor, if you will be so good as to put it for me at once into its right channel.  I am, with great esteem, dear Sir, your sincere friend and humble servant.

To William Carmichael.
Philadelphia, August 24, 1791.


Your letter of January 24, is still the only one received from you within the period so often mentioned.  Mine to you of the present year have been of March 12 and 17, April 11, May 16, and June 23.  I have lately preferred sending my letters for you to Colonel Humphreys, in hopes he might find means of conveying them to you.  The subjects of those of the 12th and 17th of March are still pressed on you, and especially the first, the great object of which cannot be delayed without consequences which both nations should deprecate.

Mr. Jaudenes arrived here some time ago, and has been received as joint commissioner with Mr. Viar.  The concurring interests of Spain and this country certainly require the presence of able and discreet ministers.

The crop of wheat of the present year has surpassed all expectation as to quantity, and is of fine quality.  Other articles of agriculture will differ more by an extraordinary drought.

I enclose you a copy of our census, which, so far as it is written in black ink, is founded on actual returns, what is in red ink being conjectured, but very near the truth.  Making very small allowance for omissions, which we know to have been very great, we may safely say we are above four millions.

Our first expedition against the Indians, under General Scott, has been completely successful;  he having killed thirty odd, taken fifty odd, and burnt their towns.  A second expedition against them has commenced, and we expect daily the result.

The public credit continues firm.  The domestic debt funded at six per cent., is twelve and a half per cent. above par.  A spirit, however, of gambling in our public paper has seized on too many of our citizens, and we fear it will check our commerce, arts, manufactures, and agriculture, unless stopped.

Newspapers for you accompany this, addressed to the care of Colonel Humphreys.—I am, with great esteem, Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.

To Sir John Sinclair.
Philadelphia, August 24, 1791.

Dear Sir

I am to acknowledge the receipt of your two favors of December 25 and May 14, with the pamphlets which accompanied them, and to return you my thanks for them.  The Corn Law, I perceive, has not passed in the form you expected.  My wishes on that subject were nearer yours than you imagined.  We both in fact desired the same thing for different reasons, respecting the interests of our respective countries, and therefore justifiable in both.  You wished the bill so moulded as to encourage strongly your national agriculture.  The clause for warehousing foreign corn tended to lessen the confidence of the farmer in the demand for his corn.  I wished the clause omitted, that our corn might pass directly to the country of the consumer, and save us the loss of an intermediate deposit, which it can illy bear.  That no commercial arrangements between Great Britain and the United States have taken place, as you wish should be done, cannot be imputed to us.  The proposition has surely been often enough made, perhaps too often.  It is a happy circumstance in human affairs, that evils which are not cured in one way will cure themselves in some other.

We are now under the first impression of the news of the King’s flight from Paris, and his re-capture.  It would be unfortunate were it in the power of any one man to defeat the issue of so beautiful a revolution.  I hope and trust it is not, and that, for the good of suffering humanity all over the earth, that revolution will be established and spread through the whole world.

I shall always be happy, my dear Sir, to hear of your health and happiness, being with sentiments of the most cordial esteem and respect, dear Sir, your most obedient humble servant.

To Edward Rutledge, Esq.
Philadelphia, August 25, 1791.

My Dear Sir

I have received your favor of the 7th, by Mr. Harper, and that also by Mr. Butler.  I thank you for both, and shall duly respect both.  I find by the last that, not your letter on the subject of British commerce, but mine in answer to it, has miscarried.  Yours was dated June 20, 1790, was received July 2, and answered July 4.  I send you a copy of the answer, which will read now like an old almanac;  but it will show you I am incapable of neglecting anything which comes from you.  The measures therein spoken of as in contemplation, for the purpose of bringing Great Britain to reason, vanished in a reference of the subject to me to report on our commerce and navigation generally, to the next session of Congress.  I have little hope that the result will be anything more than to turn the left cheek to him who has smitten the right.  We have to encounter not only the prejudices in favor of England, but those against the Eastern States, whose ships, in the opinion of some, will overrun our land.  I have been sorry to see that your State has been over-jealous of the measures proposed on this subject, and which really tend to relieve them from the effects of British broils.  I wish you may be able to convert Mr. Barnwell, because you think him worth converting.  Whether you do or not our opinion of him will make me solicitous for his acquaintance, because I love the good, and respect freedom of opinion.—What do you think of this scrip-pomony ?  Ships are lying idle at the wharfs, buildings are stopped, capitals withdrawn from commerce, manufactures, arts, and agriculture to be employed in gambling, and the tide of public prosperity almost unparalleled in any country is arrested in its course, and suppressed by the rage of getting rich in a day.  No mortal can tell where this will stop;  for the spirit of gaming, when once it has seized a subject, is incurable.  The tailor who has made thousands in one day, though he has lost them the next, can never again be content with the slow and moderate earnings of his needle.  Nothing can exceed the public felicity, if our papers are to be believed, because our papers are under the orders of our scripmen.  I imagine, however, we shall hear that all the cash has quitted the extremities of the nation, and accumulated here.  That produce and property fall to half price there, and the same things rise to double price here.  That the cash accumulated and stagnated here, as soon as the bank paper gets out, will find its vent into foreign countries, and instead of this solid medium, which we might have kept for nothing, we shall have a paper one, for the use of which we are to pay these gamesters fifteen per cent. per annum, as they say.

Would to God yourself, General Pinckney and Major Pinckney, would come forward and aid us with your efforts.  You are all known, respected, wished for;  but you refuse yourselves to everything.  What is to become of us, my dear friend, if the vine and the fig tree withdraw, and leave us to the bramble and thorn ?—You will have heard before this reaches you, of the peril into which the French revolution is brought by the flight of their King.  Such are the fruits of that form of government, which heaps importance on idiots, and of which the Tories of the present day are trying to preach into our favor.  I still hope the French revolution will issue happily.  I feel that the permanence of our own, leans in some degree on that;  and that a failure there would be a powerful argument to prove there must be a failure here.—We have been told that a British minister would be sent out to us this summer.  I suspect this depends on the event of peace or war.  In the latter case, they will probably send one;  but they have no serious view of treating or fulfilling treaties.  Adieu, my dear Sir.  Yours affectionately.

To Messrs. Johnson, Stuart, and Carroll.
(Commissioners of the Federal District)
Philadelphia, August 28, 1791.


Your joint letter of the 2d instant to the President, as also Mr. Carroll’s separate letters of the 5th and 15th, have been duly received.  Major L’Enfant also having arrived here and laid his plan of the Federal City before the President, he was pleased to desire a conference of certain persons, in his presence, on these several subjects.  It is the opinion of the President, in consequence thereof, that an immediate meeting of the Commissioners at Georgetown is requisite;  that certain measures may be decided on, and put into a course of preparation for a commencement of sale on the 17th of October, as advertised.  As Mr. Madison and myself, who were present at the conference, propose to pass through Georgetown on our way to Virginia, the President supposes that our attendance at the meeting of the Commissioners might be of service to them, as we could communicate to them the sentiments developed at the conferences here and approved by the President, under whatever point of view they may have occasion to know them.  The circumstances of time and distance oblige me to take the liberty of proposing the day of meeting, and to say that we will be in Georgetown on the evening of the 7th or morning of the 8th of the next month, in time to attend any meeting of the Commissioners on that day, and in hopes they may be able, in the course of it, to make all the use of us they may think proper, so that we may pursue our journey the next day.  To that meeting, therefore, the answers to the several letters before mentioned are referred.

This letter is addressed to Mr. Carroll only, with a requisition to the Postmaster at Georgetown to send it to him by express, under the hope that it will, by expresses to the other gentlemen, take timely measures for the proposed meeting on the 8th.—I have the honor to be, with sentiments of the highest respect and esteem, Gentlemen, your most obedient, and most humble servant.

To William Short.
Philadelphia, August 29, 1791.

Dear Sir

I am to acknowledge the receipt of your No. 67, June the 6th, No. 68, June the 10th, No. 69, June the 22d, No. 70, June the 26th, No. 71, June the 29th ; the three last by the British packet.  My last to you was of July the 28th, by a vessel bound to Havre.  This goes to the same port, because accompanied by newspapers.  It will be the last I shall write you these two months, as I am to set out for Virginia the next week.  I now enclose you a copy of my letter of March the 12th, to Mr. Carmichael, which you say was not in that of the same date to you.  There was no paper to accompany it but St. Marie’s which you say you received.  I enclose you also a copy of our census, written in black ink, so far as we have actual returns, and supplied by conjecture in red ink, where we have no returns;  but the conjectures are known to be very near the truth.  Making very small allowance for omissions, which we know to have been very great, we are certainly above four millions, probably about four millions one hundred thousand.

There is a vessel now lying at Philadelphia, advertising to receive emigrants to Louisiana, gratis, on account of the Spanish government.  Be so good as to mention this to M. de Montmorin, who will be a judge what we must feel under so impudent a transaction.

You observe, that if Drost does not come, you have not been authorized to engage another coiner.  If he does not come, there will probably be one engaged here.  If he comes, I should think him a safe hand to send the diplomatic dye by, as also all the dyes of our medal, which may be used here for striking off what shall be wanting hereafter.  But I would not have them trusted at sea, but from April to October inclusive.  Should you not send them by Drost, Havre will be the best route.  I have not spoken with the Secretary of the Treasury yet, on the subject of the presses, but believe you may safely consider two presses as sufficient for us, and agree for no more without a further request.

The decree of the National Assembly, relative to tobacco carried in French or American ships, is likely to have such an effect in our ports, as to render it impossible to conjecture what may or may not be done.  It is impossible to let it go on without a vigorous correction.  If that should be administered on our part, it will produce irritation on both sides, and lessen that disposition which we feel cordially to concur in a treaty, which shall melt the two nations as to commercial matters into one, as nearly as possible.  It is extremely desirable, that the National Assembly should themselves correct the decree, by a repeal founded on the expectation of an arrangement.

We have, as yet, no news of the event of our second expedition against the Indians.—I am, with great and sincere esteem, dear Sir, your friend and servant.

To Monsieur Delamotte.
Philadelphia, August 30, 1791.


I am now to acknowledge the receipt of your favors of February the 9th, March the 25th, and April the 24th;  as also of the several packages of wine, carriages, etc., which came safe to hand, and for your care of which be pleased to accept my thanks.

I am sensible of the difficulties to which our consuls are exposed by the application s of sailors, calling themselves Americans.  Though the difference of dialect between the Irish and Scotch, and the Americans, is sensible to the ear of a native, it is not to that of a foreigner, however well he understand s the language;  and between the American and English (unless of particular provinces) there is no difference sensible even to a native.  Among hundreds of application s to me, at Paris, nine-tenths were Irish, whom I readily discovered.  The residue, I think, were English;  and I believe not a single instance of a Scotchman or American.  The sobriety and order of the two last, preserve them from want.  You will find it necessary, therefore, to be extremely on your guard against these applications.  The bill of expenses for Huls is much beyond those aids which I should think myself authorized to have advanced habitually, until the law shall make express provision for that purpose.  I must, therefore, recommend to you, to hazard only small sums in future, until our legislature shall lay down more precise rules for my government.

The difference of duty on tobacco carried to France in French and American bottoms, has excited great uneasiness.  We presume the National Assembly must have been hurried into the measure, without being allowed time to reflect on its consequences.  A moment’s consideration must convince anybody, that no nation upon earth ever submitted to so enormous an assault on the transportation of their own produce.  Retaliation, to be equal, will have the air of extreme severity and hostility.  Such would be an additional tonnage of twelve livres ten sous the ton burthen, on all French ships entering our ports.  Yet this would but exactly balance an additional duty of six livres five sous the hogshead of tobacco, brought in American ships entering in the ports of France.  I hope, either that the National Assembly will repeal the measure, or the proposed treaty be so hastened, as to get this matter out of the way before it shall be necessary for the ensuing legislature to act on it.  Their measure, and our retaliation on it, which is unavoidable, will very illy prepare the minds of both parties for a liberal treaty.  My confidence in the friendly dispositions of the National Assembly, and in the sincerity of what they have expressed on the subject, induce me to impute it to surprise altogether, and to hope it will be repealed before time shall be given to take it up here.

I have the honor to be, with great esteem, Sir, your most obedient humble servant.

To Gouverneur Morris.
Philadelphia, August 30, 1791.

Dear Sir

My letter of July the 26th covered my first of exchange for a thousand dollars, and though that went by so sure an opportunity as to leave little doubt of its receipt, yet, for greater security, I enclose a second.

The tranquillity of our country leaves us nothing to relate, which may interest a mind surrounded by such buoyant scenes as yours.  No matter;  I will still tell you the charming though homespun news, that our crops of wheat have been abundant and of superior quality;  that very great though partial drought has destroyed the crops of hay to the north, and corn to the south;  that the late rains may recover the tobacco to a middling crop, and that the fields of rice are promising.

I informed you in my last, of the success of our first expedition against the Indians.  A second has gone against them, the result of which is not yet known.  Our public credit is good, but the abundance of paper has produced a spirit of gambling in the funds, which has laid up our ships at the wharves, as too slow instruments of profit, and has even disarmed the hand of the tailor of his needle and thimble.  They say the evil will cure itself.  I wish it may;  but I have rarely seen a gamester cured, even by the disasters of his vocation.—Some new indications of the ideas with which the British cabinet are coming into treaty, confirm your opinions, which I know to be right, but the Anglomany of some would not permit them to accede to.  Adieu, my dear Sir.  Your affectionate humble servant.

To John Adams.
Philadelphia, August 30, 1791.

My Dear Sir

I received some time ago your favor of July 29, and was happy to find that you saw in its true point of view the way in which I had been drawn into the scene, which must have been so disagreeable to you.  The importance which you still seem to allow to my note, and the effect you suppose it to have had, though unintentional in me, induces me to show you that it really had no effect.  Paine’s pamphlet, with my note, was published here about the second week in May.  Not a word ever appeared in the public papers here on the subject for more than a month;  and I am certain not a word on the subject would ever have been said, had not a writer, under the name of Publicola, at length undertaken to attack Mr. Paine’s principles, which were the principles of the citizens of the United States.  Instantly a host of writers attacked Publicola in support of those principles.  He had thought proper to misconstrue a figurative expression in my note;  and these writers so far noticed me as to place the expression in its true light.  But this was only an incidental skirmish preliminary to the general engagement, and they would not have thought me worth naming, had not he thought proper to bring me on the scene.  His antagonists, very criminally, in my opinion, presumed you to be Publicola, and on that presumption hazarded a personal attack on you.  No person saw with more uneasiness than I did, this unjustifiable assault;  and the more so, when I saw it continued after the printer had declared you were not the author.  But you will perceive from all this, my dear Sir, that my note contributed nothing to the production of these disagreeable pieces.  As long as Paine’s pamphlet stood on its own feet and on my note, it was unnoticed.  As soon as Publicola attacked Paine, swarms appeared in his defence.  To Publicola, then, and not in the least degree to my note, this whole contest is to be ascribed and all its consequences.

You speak of the execrable paragraph in the Connecticut papers.  This, it is true, appeared before Publicola;  but it had no more relation to Paine’s pamphlet and my note, than to the Alcoran.  I am satisfied the writer of it had never seen either;  for when I passed through Connecticut about the middle of June, not a copy had ever been seen by anybody, either in Hartford or New Haven, nor probably in that whole State;  and that paragraph was so notoriously the reverse of the disinterestedness of character which you are known to possess by everybody who knows your name, that I never heard a person speak of the paragraph, but with an indignation in your behalf which did you entire justice.  This paragraph, then, certainly did not flow from my note, any more than the publications which Publicola produced.  Indeed it was impossible that my note should occasion your name to be brought into question;  for so far from naming you, I had not even in view any writing which I might suppose to be yours, and the opinions I alluded to were principally those I had heard in common conversation from a sect aiming at the subversion of the present government to bring in their favorite form of a king, lords and commons.

Thus I hope, my dear Sir, that you will see me to have been as ignorant in effect as I was in intention.  I was brought before the public without my own consent, and from the first moment of seeing the effect of the real aggression in this business to keep me before the public, I determined that nothing should induce me to put pen to paper in the controversy.  The business is now over, and I hope its effects are over, and that our friendship will never be suffered to be committed, whatever use others may think proper to make of our names.

The event of the King’s flight from Paris and his recapture, will have struck you with its importance.  It appears, I think, that the nation is firm within, and it only remains to see whether there will be any movement from without.  I confess I have not changed my confidence in the favorable issue of that revolution, because it has always rested on my own ocular evidence of the unanimity of the nation, and wisdom of the patriotic party in the National Assembly.  The last advices render it probable that the Emperor will recommence hostilities against the Porte.  It remains to see whether England and Prussia will take a part.  Present me to Mrs. Adams with all the affections I feel for her, and be assured of those devoted to yourself by, my dear Sir, your sincere friend and servant.

To Benjamin Banneker.
Philadelphia, August 30, 1791.

SIR,—I thank you sincerely for your letter of the 19th instant, and for the Almanac it contained.  Nobody wishes more than I do to see such proofs as you exhibit, that nature has given to our black brethren, talents equal to those of the other colors of men, and that the appearance of a want of them is owing merely to the degraded condition of their existence, both in Africa and America.  I can add with truth, that nobody wishes more ardently to see a good system commenced for raising the condition both of their body and mind to what it ought to be, as fast as the imbecility of their present existence, and other circumstances which cannot be neglected, will admit.  I have taken the liberty of sending your Almanac to Monsieur de Condorcet, Secretary of the Academy of Sciences at Paris, and member of the Philanthropic Society, because I considered it as a document to which your color had a right for their justification against the doubts which have been entertained of them.  I am, with great esteem, Sir, your most obedient humble servant.

To Admiral John Paul Jones.
Philadelphia, August 31, 1791.

Dear Sir

I am to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of March 20th, with the several papers it enclosed, which were duly communicated to the President.  No proof was necessary to satisfy us here of your good conduct everywhere.  In answer to your request to obtain and transmit the proper authority of the United States for your retaining the order of St. Anne, conferred on you by the Empress, I can only say that the Executive of our Government are not authorized either to grant or refuse the permission you ask, and consequently cannot take on themselves to do it.  Whether the Legislature would undertake to do it or not, I cannot say.  In general, there is an aversion to meddle with anything of that kind here.  And the event would be so doubtful that the Executive would not commit themselves by making the proposition to the Legislature.

Our new Constitution works well, and gives general satisfaction.  Public credit is high.  We have made a successful expedition against the Indians this summer, and another is gone against them, and we hope will induce them to peace.  A census of our numbers, taken this summer, gives us reason to believe we are about four millions of all ages and sexes.  A state of tranquil prosperity furnishing no particular and interesting events to communicate to you, I have only to add assurances of the constant esteem and attachment of, dear Sir, your most obedient humble servant.

To Monsieur Jean Baptiste Ternant, Minister Plenipotentiary of France.
Philadelphia, September 1, 1791.


I have communicated to the President what passed between us the other day, on the subject of the payments made to France by the United States in the assignats of that country, since they have lost their par with gold and silver;  and after conferences, by his instruction, with the Secretary of the Treasury, I am authorized to assure you, that the Government of the United States have no idea of paying their debt in a depreciated medium, and that in the final liquidation of the payments which shall have been made, due regard will be had to an equitable allowance for the circumstance of depreciation.

I have the honor to be, with sentiments of the most perfect esteem and respect, Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.

To Thomas Newton, Jr.
Georgetown, September 8, 1791.

Dear Sir

I was in the moment of my departure from Philadelphia, for Virginia, when I received your favor, inquiring how far the law of nations is to govern in proceedings respecting foreign consuls.

The law of nations does not of itself extend to consuls at all.  They are not of the diplomatic class of characters, to which alone that law extends of right.  Convention, indeed, may give it to them, and sometimes has done so;  but in that case, the convention can be produced.  In ours with France, it is expressly declared that consuls shall not have the privileges of that law, and we have no convention with any other nation.

Congress have had before them a bill on the subject of consuls, but have not as yet passed it.  Their code then furnishes no law to govern these cases.

Consequently, they are to be decided by the State laws alone.  Some of these, I know, have given certain privileges to consuls;  and I think those of Virginia did at one time.  Of the extent and continuance of those laws, you are a better judge than I am.

Independently of law, consuls are to be considered as distinguished foreigners, dignified by a commission from their sovereign, and specially recommended by him to the respect of the nation with whom they reside.  They are subject to the laws of the land, indeed, precisely as other foreigners are, a convention, where there is one, making a part of the laws of the land :  but if at any time, their conduct should render it necessary to assert the authority of the laws over them, the rigor of those laws should be tempered by our respect for their sovereign, as far as the case will admit.  This moderate and respectful treatment towards foreign consuls, it is my duty to recommend and press on our citizens, because I ask it for their good towards our own consuls, from the people with whom they reside.

In what I have said, I beg leave to be understood as laying down general principles only, and not as applying them to the facts which may have arisen.  Before such application, those facts should be heard from all whom they interest.  You, who have so heard them, will be able to make the application yourself, and that, not only in the present, but in future cases.

I have the honor to be, with great esteem, your most obedient humble servant.

To George Hammond.
October 26, 1791.

Mr. Jefferson has the honor of presenting his compliments to Mr. Hammond, of expressing his regrets that he happened to be from home when Mr. Hammond did him the honor of calling on him, and was equally unlucky in not finding him at home when he waited on him on Monday.  Being informed by Mr. Bond, that Mr. Hammond is charged with a public mission to the government of the United States, relative to which some previous explanations might be proper, Mr. Jefferson has the honor to assure Mr. Hammond, he shall be ready to receive any communications and enter into explanations, formally or informally, as Mr. Hammond shall either choose, and at any time suitable to him.  He recollects with pleasure his acquaintance with Mr. Hammond in Paris, and shall be happy in every opportunity of rendering him such offices and attentions as may be acceptable to him.

To the President of the United States (George Washington).
November 6,


I have the honor to enclose you the draught of a letter to Governor Pinckney, and to observe, that I suppose it to be proper that there should, on fit occasions, be a direct correspondence between the President of the United States and the Governors of the States;  and that it will probably be grateful to them to receive from the President, answers to the letters they address to him.  The correspondence with them on ordinary business, may still be kept up by the Secretary of State, in his own name.

I enclose also a letter to Major Pinckney, with a blank to be filled up, when you shall have made up your mind on it.

I have conferred with Mr. M. on the idea of the commissioners of the federal town proceeding to make private sales of the lots, and he thinks it advisable.  I cannot but repeat, that if the surveyors will begin on the river, laying off the lots from Rock Creek to the Eastern Branch, and go on a-breast, in that way, from the river towards the back part of the town, they may pass the avenue from the President’s house to the capitol, before the spring;  and as soon as they shall have passed it, a public sale may take place, without injustice to either the Georgetown or Carrollsburg interest.  Will not the present afford you a proper occasion of assuring the commissioners, that you leave everything respecting L’Enfant to them ?  I have the honor to be, with the most sincere respect, Sir, your most obedient humble servant.

To Major Thomas Pinckney.
Philadelphia, November 6, 1791.


The mission of a Minister Plenipotentiary to the court of London being now to take place, the President of the United States is desirous of availing the public of your services in that office.  I have it in charge, therefore, from him, to ask whether it will be agreeable that he should nominate you for that purpose to the Senate.  We know that higher motives will alone influence your mind in the acceptance of this charge.  Yet it is proper, at the same time, to inform you, that as a provision for your expenses in the exercise of it, an outfit of nine thousand dollars is allowed, and an annual salary to the same amount, payable quarterly.  On receiving your permission, the necessary orders for these sums, together with your credentials, shall be forwarded to you, and it would be expected that you should proceed on the mission as soon as you can have made those arrangements for your private affairs, which such an absence may render indispensable.  Let me only ask the favor of you to give me an immediate answer, and by duplicate, by sea and post, that we may have the benefit of both chances for receiving it as early as possible.  Though I have not the honor of a personal acquaintance with you, yet I beg you to be assured, that I feel all that anxiety for your entrance on this important mission, which a thorough conviction of your fitness for it can inspire;  and that in its relations with my office, I shall always endeavor to render it as agreeable to you as possible.

I have the honor to be, with sentiments of the highest respect and esteem, Sir, your most obedient humble servant.

To the President of the United States.
Philadelphia, November 7, 1791.


I have duly considered the letter you were pleased to refer to me, of the 18th of August, from his Excellency Governor Pinckney to yourself, together with the draught of one proposed to be written by him to the Governor of Florida, claiming the re-delivery of certain fugitives from justice, who have been received in that country.  The inconveniences of such a receptacle for debtors and malefactors in the neighborhood of the southern States, are obvious and great, and I wish the remedy were as certain and short as the latter seems to suppose.

The delivery of fugitives from one country to another, as practised by several nations, is in consequence of conventions settled between them, defining precisely the cases wherein such deliveries shall take place.  I know that such conventions exist between France and Spain, France and Sardinia, France and Germany, France and the United Netherlands;  between the several sovereigns constituting the Germanic body, and, I believe, very generally between co-terminous States on the continent of Europe.  England has no such convention with any nation, and their laws have given no power to their executive to surrender fugitives of any description ;  they are, accordingly, constantly refused, and hence England has been the asylum of the Paolis, the La Mottes, the Calonnes, in short, of the most atrocious offenders as well as the most innocent victims, who have been able to get there.

The laws of the United States, like those of England, receive every fugitive, and no authority has been given to our executives to deliver them up.  In the case of Longchamp, a subject of France, a formal demand was made by the minister of France, and was refused.  He had, indeed, committed an offence within the United States;  but he was not demanded as a criminal but as a subject.

The French Government has shown great anxiety to have such a convention with the United States, as might authorize them to command their subjects coming here;  they got a clause in the consular convention signed by Dr. Franklin and the Count de Vergennes, giving their consuls a right to take and send back captains of vessels, mariners and passengers.  Congress saw the extent of the word passengers, and refused to ratify the convention;  a new one was therefore formed, omitting that word.  In fact, however desirable it be that the perpetrators of crimes, acknowledged to be such by all mankind, should be delivered up to punishment, yet it is extremely difficult to draw the line between those and acts rendered criminal by tyrannical laws only;  hence the first step always, is a convention defining the cases where a surrender shall take place.

If, then, the United States could not deliver up to Governor Quesada, a fugitive from the laws of his country, we cannot claim as a right the delivery of fugitives from us;  and it is worthy consideration, whether the demand proposed to be made in Governor Pinckney’s letter, should it be complied with by the other party, might not commit us disagreeably, perhaps dishonorably in event;  for I do not think we can take for granted, that the legislature of the United States will establish a convention for the mutual delivery of fugitives;  and without a reasonable certainty that they will, I think we ought not to give Governor Quesada any grounds to expect, that in a similar case, we would re-deliver fugitives from his government.

I have the honor to be, with the most profound respect and attachment, Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.

To James Madison.
November 11, 1791.

In my report on Howe’s case, where I state that it should go to the President, it will become a question with the House whether they shall refer it to the President themselves, or give it back to the petitioner, and let him so address it, as he ought to have done at first.  I think the latter proper, 1. because it is a case belonging purely to the Executive ;  2. the legislature should never show itself in a matter with a foreign nation, but where the case is very serious and they mean to commit the nation on its issue.  3. because if they indulge individuals in handing through the legislature their applications to the Executive, all applicants will be glad to avail themselves of the weight of so powerful a solicitor.  Similar attempts have been repeatedly made by individuals to get the President to hand in their petitions to the legislature, which he has constantly refused.  It seems proper that every person should address himself directly to the department to which the Constitution has allotted his case ;  and that the proper answer to such from any other department is, that ‘it is not to us that the Constitution has assigned the transaction of this business.’  I suggest these things to you, that they may appear to you to be right this kind of business may in the first instance be turned into its proper channel.

To Messrs. Johnson, Stewart and Carroll (Commissioners of the Federal District).
Philadelphia, November 21, 1791.


A Mr. Blodget has a scheme in contemplation for purchasing and building a whole street in the new city, and any one of them which you may think best.  The magnitude of the proposition occasioned it to be little attended to in the beginning.  However, great as it is, it is believed by good judges to be practicable.  It may not be amiss, therefore, to be ready for it.  The street most desirable to be built up at once, we suppose to be a broad one, (the avenue,) leading from the President’s house to the Capitol.  To prepare the squares adjoining to that, on both sides, in the first place, can do no harm;  because, if Mr. Blodget’s scheme does not take effect, still it is a part of a work done, which was to be done;  if his scheme takes effect, you will be in readiness for him, which would be desirable.  The President, therefore, desires me to suggest to you the beginning at once on that avenue, and when all the squares on that shall be laid off, they may go on laying off the rest of the squares between that and the river, from Georgetown to the eastern branch, according to an idea he has suggested to you in a letter not long since.  This, however, is but a suggestion for the good of the undertaking, on which you will decide as you think proper.  I have the honor to be, Gentlemen, your most obedient, and most humble servant.

To Andrew Ellicott.
Philadelphia, November 21, 1791.

Dear Sir

It is excessively desirable that an extensive sale of lots in Washington should take place as soon as possible.  It has been recommitted to the commissioners to have all the squares adjacent to the avenue from the President’s house to the Capitol, on both sides, and from thence to the river, through the whole breadth of the ground between Rock Creek and Eastern Branch, first laid of;  the object of the present is to ask your private opinion of the earliest time at which this portion of the work can be completed, which I will beg the favor of you to communicate to me by letter.  In order that the sale may not be delayed by the engraving, it is hoped that by communicating what is executed from time to time, the engraver may nearly keep pace with you.—I am, with great esteem, Dear Sir, your most obedient servant.

To William Short.
Philadelphia, November 24, 1791.

Dear Sir

My last to you was of August the 29th, acknowledging the receipt of your Nos. 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, and informing you I was about setting out to Virginia, and should not again write to you till my return.  Only one vessel has sailed from hence to Havre since my return, and my notice of her departure was so short, that I could not avail myself of it.  Your Nos. 72, 73, 74, 75, 78, came here during my absence, and 79, 80, were received October the 28th.  The Nos. 76 and 77 seem to be missing.

You mention that Drost wishes the devices of our money to be sent to him, that he may engrave them there.  This cannot be done, because not yet decided on.  The devices will be fixed by the law which shall establish the mint.  M. de Ternant tells me he has no instructions to propose to us the negotiation of a commercial treaty, and that he does not expect any.  I wish it were possible to draw that negotiation to this place.—In your letter of July the 24th, is the following paragraph :  "It is published in the English newspapers, that war is inevitable between the United States and Spain, and that preparations are making for it on both sides.  M. de Montmorin asked me how the business stood at present, and seemed somewhat surprised at my telling him, that I knew nothing later than what I had formerly mentioned to him.  I have, in more than one instance, experienced the inconvenience of being without information.  In this, it is disagreeable, as it may have the appearance with M. de Montmorin, of my having something to conceal from him, which not being the case, it would be wrong that he should be allowed to take up such an idea.—I observed, that I did not suppose there was any new circumstance, as you had not informed me of it."—Your observation was certainly just.  It would be an Augean task for me to go through the London newspapers, and formally contradict all their lies, even those relating to America.  On our side, there having been certainly no preparations for war against Spain;  nor have I heard of any on their part, but in the London newspapers.  As to the progress of the negotiation, I know nothing of it but from you;  having never had a letter from Mr. Carmichael on the subject.  Our best newspapers are sent you from my office with scrupulous exactness, by every vessel sailing to Havre or any other convenient port of France.  On these I rely for giving you information of all the facts possessed by the public;  and as to those not possessed by them, I think there has been not a single instance of my leaving you uninformed of any of them which related to the matters under your charge.—In Freneau’s paper of the 21st instant, you will see a small essay on population and emigration, which I think it would be well if the news writers of Paris would translate and insert in their papers.  The sentiments are too just not to make impression.

Some proceeding s of the assembly of St. Domingo have lately taken place, which it is necessary for me to state to you exactly, that you may be able to do the same to M. de Montmorin.  When the insurrection of their Negroes assumed a very threatening appearance, the Assembly sent a deputy here to ask assistance of military stores and provisions.  He addressed himself to M. de Ternant, who (the President being then in Virginia, as I was also) applied to the Secretaries of the Treasury and War.  They furnished one thousand stand of arms, other military stores, and placed forty thousand dollars in the treasury, subject to the order of M. de Ternant, to be laid out in provisions, or otherwise, as he should think best.  He sent the arms and other military stores;  but the want of provisions did not seem so instantaneous as to render it necessary, in his opinion, to send any at that time.  Before the vessel arrived in St. Domingo, the Assembly, further urged by the appearance of danger, sent two deputies more, with larger demands, viz., eight thousand fusils and bayonets, two thousand mousquators, three thousand pistols, three thousand sabres, twenty-four thousand barrels of flour, four hundred thousand livres worth of Indian meal, rice, peas, and hay, and a large quantity of plank, etc. to repair the buildings destroyed.  They applied to M. de Ternant, and then with his consent to me;  he and I having previously had a conversation on the subject.  They proposed to me, first, that we should supply those wants from the money we owed France ;  or secondly, from the bills of exchange which they were authorized to draw on a particular fund in France;  or thirdly, that we would guarantee their bills, in which case they could dispose of them to merchants, and buy the necessaries themselves.  I convinced them the two latter alternatives were beyond the powers of the executive, and the first could only be done with the consent of the minister of France.  In the course of our conversation, I expressed to them our sincere attachment to France and all its dominions, and most especially to them who were our neighbors, and whose interests had some common points of union with ours in matters of commerce;  that we wished, therefore, to render them every service they needed, but that we could not do it in any way disagreeable to France ;  that they must be sensible, that M. de Ternant might apprehend that jealousy would be excited by their addressing themselves directly to foreign powers, and therefore, that a concert with him in their applications to us, was essential.  The subject of independence, and their views towards it having been stated in the public papers, this led our conversation to it;  and I must say, they appeared as far from these views as any persons on Earth.  I expressed to them freely my opinion, that such an object was neither desirable on their part, nor attainable;  that, as to ourselves, there was one case which would be peculiarly alarming to us, to wit, were there a danger of their falling under any other power;  that we conceived it to be strongly our interests, that they should retain their connection with the mother country;  that we had a common interest with them, in furnishing them the necessaries of life in exchange for sugar and coffee for our own consumption, but that I thought we might rely on the justice of the mother country towards them, for their obtaining this privilege;  and on the whole, let them see that nothing was to be done, but with the consent of the minister of France.  I am convinced myself that their views and their application to us are perfectly innocent ;  however, M. de Ternant, and still more, M. de La Forest, are jealous.  The deputies, on the other hand, think that M. de Ternant is not sensible enough of their wants.  They delivered me sealed letters to the President and to Congress.  That to the President contained only a picture of their distresses, and application for relief.  That to Congress, I know no otherwise than through the public papers.  The Senate read it, and sent it to the Representatives, who read it, and have taken no other notice of it.  The line of conduct I pursue is, to persuade these gentlemen to be contented with such moderate supplies, from time to time, as will keep them from real distress, and to wait with patience for what would be a surplus, till M. de Ternant can receive instructions from France, which he has reason to expect within a few weeks ;  and I encourage the latter gentleman even to go beyond their absolute wants of the moment, so far as to keep them in good humor.  He is accordingly proposing to lay out ten thousand dollars for them, for the present It would be ridiculous in the present case, to talk about forms.  There are situations when form must be dispensed with.  A man attacked by assassins will call for help to those nearest him, and will not think himself bound to silence till a magistrate may come to his aid.  It would be unwise in the highest degree, that the colonists should be disgusted with either France or us; for it might then be made to depend on the moderation of another power, whether what appears a chimera might not become a reality.  I have thought it necessary to go thus fully into this transaction, and particularly as to the sentiments I have expressed to them, that you may be enabled to place our proceedings in their true light.

Our Indian expeditions have proved successful.  As yet, however, they have not led to peace.  Mr. Hammond has lately arrived here as Minister Plenipotentiary from the court of London, and we propose to name one to that court in return.  Congress will probably establish the ratio of representation by a bill now before them, at one representative for every thirty thousand inhabitants.  Besides the newspapers, as usual, you will receive herewith the census lately taken, by towns and counties as well as by States.—I am, with great and sincere esteem, Dear Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.

To Colonel David Humphreys.
Philadelphia, November 29, 1791.

Dear Sir

My last to you was of August 23, acknowledging the receipt of your Nos. 19, 21, and 22.  Since that, I have received from 23 to 33 inclusive.  In mine, I informed you I was about setting out for Virginia, and consequently should not write to you till my return.  This opportunity, by Captain Wicks, is the first since my return.

The party which had gone, at the date of my last, against the Indians north of the Ohio, were commanded by General Wilkinson, and were as successful as the first, having killed and taken about eighty persons, burnt some towns, and lost, I believe, not a man.  As yet, however, it has not produced peace.—A very formidable insurrection of the Negroes in French St. Domingo has taken place.  From thirty to fifty thousand are said to be in arms.  They have sent here for aids of military stores and provisions, which we furnish just as far as the French minister here approves.  Mr. Hammond is arrived here as Minister Plenipotentiary from Great Britain, and we are about sending one to that court from hence.—The census, particularly as to each part of every State, is now in the press; if done in time for this conveyance, it shall be forwarded.  The legislature have before them a bill for allowing one representative for every thirty thousand persons, which has passed the Representatives, and is now with the Senate.  Some late inquiries into the state of our domestic manufactories give a very flattering result.  Their extent is great and growing through all the States.  Some manufactories on a large scale are under contemplation.—As to the article of Etrennes inquired after in one of your letters, it was under consideration in the first instance, when it was submitted to the President, to decide on the articles of account which should be allowed the foreign ministers in addition to their salary;  and this article was excluded, as everything was meant to be which was not in the particular enumeration I gave you.  With respect to foreign newspapers, I receive those of Amsterdam, France, and London so regularly, and so early, that I will not trouble you for any of them ;  but I will thank you for those of Lisbon and Madrid, and in your letters to give me all the information you can of Spanish affairs, as I have never yet received but one letter from Mr. Carmichael, which you I believe brought from Madrid.—You will receive with this a pamphlet by Mr. Coxe in answer to Lord Sheffield, Freneau and Fenn’s papers.  I am, with great and sincere esteem, Dear Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.

To the Attorney General (Edmund Randolph).
Philadelphia, December 5, 1791.

Dear Sir

The enclosed memorial from the British minister, on the case of Thomas Pagan, containing a complaint of injustice in the dispensations of law by the courts of Massachusetts, to a British subject, the President approves of my referring it to you, to report thereon your opinion of the proceedings, and whether anything, and what, can or ought to be done by the government in consequence thereof.

I am, with great and sincere esteem, Dear Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.

To Archibald McCalester.
Philadelphia, December 22, 1791.


I am favored with yours of the 1st of November, and recollect with pleasure our acquaintance in Virginia.  With respect to the schools of Europe, my mind is perfectly made up, and on full enquiry.  The best in the world is Edinburgh.  Latterly, too, the spirit of republicanism has become that of the students in general, and of the younger professors;  so on that account also it is eligible for an American.  On the continent of Europe, no place is comparable to Geneva.  The sciences are there more modernized than anywhere else.  There, too, the spirit of republicanism is strong with the body of the inhabitants :  but that of aristocracy is strong also with a particular class;  so that it is of some consequence to attend to the class of society in which a youth is made to move.  It is a cheap place.  Of all these particulars Mr. Kinloch and Mr. Huger, of South Carolina, can give you the best account, as they were educated there, and the latter is lately from thence.  I have the honor to be, with great esteem, Sir, your most obedient humble servant.

To Archibald Stuart.
Philadelphia, December 23, 1791.

Dear Sir

I received duly your favor of October 22, and should have answered it by the gentleman who delivered it, but that he left town before I knew of it.

That it is really important to provide a constitution for our State cannot be doubted :  as little can it be doubted that the ordinance called by that name has important defects.  But before we attempt it, we should endeavor to be as certain as is practicable that in the attempt we should not make bad worse.  I have understood that Mr. Henry has always been opposed to this undertaking;  and I confess that I consider his talents and influence such as that, were it decided that we should call a convention for the purpose of amending, I should fear he might induce that convention either to fix the thing as at present, or change it for the worse.  Would it not therefore be well that means should be adopted for coming at his ideas of the changes he would agree to, and for communicating to him those which we should propose ?  Perhaps he might find ours not so distant from his, but that some mutual sacrifices might bring them together.

I shall hazard my own ideas to you as hastily as my business obliges me.  I wish to preserve the line drawn by the federal constitution between the general and particular governments as it stands at present, and to take every prudent means of preventing either from stepping over it.  Though the experiment has not yet had a long enough course to show us from which quarter encroachments are most to be feared, yet it is easy to foresee, from the nature of things, that the encroachments of the State governments will tend to an excess of liberty which will correct itself, (as in the late instance,) while those of the General Government will tend to monarchy, which will fortify itself from day to day, instead of working its own cure, as all experience shows.  I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty, than those attending too small a degree of it.  Then it is important to strengthen the State governments;  and as this cannot be done by any change in the federal constitution, (for the preservation of that is all we need contend for,) it must be done by the States themselves, erecting such barriers at the constitutional line as cannot be surmounted either by themselves or by the General Government.  The only barrier in their power is a wise government.  A weak one will lose ground in every contest.  To obtain a wise and an able government, I consider the following changes as important.  Render the legislature a desirable station by lessening the number of representatives (say to 100) and lengthening somewhat their term, and proportion them equally among the electors.  Adopt also a better mode of appointing senators.  Render the Executive a more desirable post to men of abilities by making it more independent of the legislature.  To wit, let him be chosen by other electors, for a longer time, and ineligible forever after.  Responsibility is a tremendous engine in a free government.  Let him feel the whole weight of it then, by taking away the shelter of his executive council.  Experience both ways has already established the superiority of this measure.  Render the judiciary respectable by every possible means, to wit, firm tenure in office, competent salaries, and reduction of their numbers.  Men of high learning and abilities are few in every country;  and by taking in those who are not so, the able part of the body have their hands tied by the unable.  This branch of the government will have the weight of the conflict on their hands, because they will be the last appeal of reason.—These are my general ideas of amendments;  but, preserving the ends, I should be flexible and conciliatory as to the means.  You ask whether Mr. Madison and myself could attend on a convention which should be called ?  Mr. Madison’s engagements as a member of Congress will probably be from October to March or April in every year.  Mine are constant while I hold my office, and my attendance would be very unimportant.  Were it otherwise, my office should not stand in the way of it.  I am, with great and sincere esteem, dear Sir, your friend and servant.

To the President of the United States.
Philadelphia, December 23, 1791.


As the conditions of our commerce with the French and British dominions are important, and a moment seems to be approaching when it may be useful that both should be accurately understood, I have thrown a representation of them into the form of a table, showing at one view how the principal articles interesting to our agriculture and navigation, stand in the European and American dominions of these two powers.  As to so much of it as respects France, I have cited under every article the law on which it depends;  which laws, from 1784 downwards, are in my possession.

Port charges are so different, according to the size of the vessel and the dexterity of the captain, that an examination of a greater number of port bills might, perhaps, produce a different result.  I can only say, that that expressed in the table is fairly drawn from such bills as I could readily get access to, and that I have no reason to suppose it varies much from the truth, nor on which side the variation would lie.  Still, I cannot make myself responsible for this article.  The authorities cited will vouch the rest.—I have the honor to be, with the most perfect respect and attachment, Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.

To Daniel Smith, Esq.
Philadelphia, December 24, 1791.


I have to acknowledge the receipt of your favors of September 1 and October 4, together with the report of the Executive proceedings in the South-Western government from March 1 to July 26.

In answer to that part of yours of September 1, on the subject of a seal for the use of that government, I think it extremely proper and necessary, and that one should be provided at public expense.

The opposition made by Governor Blount and yourself to all attempts by citizens of the United States to settle within the Indian lines without authority from the General Government, is approved, and should be continued.

There being a prospect that Congress, who have now the Post Office bill before them, will establish a post from Richmond to Stanton, and continue it thence towards the South-West government a good distance, if not nearly to it, our future correspondence will be more easy, quick, and certain.—I am, with great esteem, Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.