Yours of Dec. 19 has come safely. The event of the election has never been a matter of doubt in my mind. I knew that the Eastern States were disciplined in the schools of their town meetings to sacrifice differences of opinion to the great object of operating in phalanx, and that the more free and moral agency practiced in the other States would always make up the supplement of their weight. Indeed the vote comes much nearer an equality than I had expected. I know the difficulty of obtaining belief to ones declarations of a disinclination to honors, and that it is greatest with those who still remain in the world. But no arguments were wanting to reconcile me to a relinquishment of the first office or acquiescence under the second. As to the first it was impossible that a more solid unwillingness settled on full calculation, could have existed in any man s mind, short of the degree of absolute refusal. The only view on which I would have gone into it for awhile was to put our vessel on her republican tack before she should be thrown too much to leeward of her true principles. As to the second, it is the only office in the world about which I am unable to decide in my own mind whether I had rather have it or not have it. Pride does not enter into the estimate ; for I think with the Romans that the general of to-day should be a soldier to-morrow if necessary. I can particularly have no feelings which would revolt at a secondary position to Mr. Adams. I am his junior in life, was his junior in Congress, his junior in the diplomatic line, his junior lately in the civil government. Before the receipt of your letter I had written the enclosed one to him I had intended it some time, but had deferred it from time to time under the discouragement of a despair of making him believe I could be sincere in it. The papers by the last post not rendering it necessary to change anything in the letter I enclose it open for your perusal, not only that you may possess the actual state dispositions between us, but that if anything should render the delivery of it ineligible in your opinion, you may return it to me. If Mr. Adams can be induced to administer the government on its true principles, and to relinquish his bias to an English constitution, it is to be considered whether it would not be on the whole for the public good to come to a good understanding with him as to his future elections. He is perhaps the only sure barrier against Hamiltons getting in.
Since my last I have received a packet of books and pamphlets, the choiceness of which testifies that they come from you. The incidents of Hamiltons insurrection is a curious work indeed. The hero of it exhibits himself in all the attitudes of a dexterous balance master.
The political progress is a work of value and of a singular complexion. The eye of the author seems to be a natural achromatic, which divests every object of the glare of color. The preceding work under the same title had the same merit. One is disgusted indeed with the ulcerated state which it presents of the human mind : but to cure an ulcer we must go to its bottom: and no writer has ever done this more radically than this one. The reflections into which he leads one are not flattering to our species. In truth I do not recollect in all the animal kingdom a single species but man which is eternally and systematically engaged in the destruction of its own species. What is called civilization seems to have no other effect on him than to teach him to pursue the principle of bellum omnium in omnia on a larger scale, and in place of the little contests of tribe against tribe, to engage all the quarters of the earth in the same work of destruction. When we add to this that as to the other species of animals, the lions and tigers are mere lambs compared with man as a destroyer, we must conclude that it is in man alone that nature has been able to find a sufficient barrier against the too great multiplication of other animals and of man himself, an equilibriating power against the fecundity of generation. My situation points my views chiefly to his wars in the physical world: yours perhaps exhibit him as equally warring in the moral one. We both, I believe, join in wishing to see him softened. Adieu.
I received yesterday your two favors of December the 26th and 29th. Your impatience to receive your valise and its key was natural; and it is we who have been to blame ; Mr. Randolph, for not taking information of the vessel and address to which your valise was committed, and myself for having waited till I heard of your being again immerged into the land of newspapers before I forwarded your key. However, as you have at length got them safe, I claim absolution under the proverb, that "all is well which ends well."
About the end of 1793, I received from Mr. Dombey (then at Lyons) a letter announcing his intention to come here. And in May, 1794, I received one from a M. LEpine, dated from New York, and stating himself to be master of the brig Le Boon, Captain Brown, which had sailed from Havre with Mr. Dombey on board, who had sealed up his baggage and wrote my address on them, to save them in case of capture; and that when they were taken, the address did in fact protect them. He mentioned then the death of Mr. Dombey, and that he had delivered his baggage to the Custom House at New York. I immediately wrote to M. LEpine, disclaiming any right or interest in the packages under my address, and authorizing, as far as depended on me, the consul at New York, or any person the representative of Mr. Dombey, to open the packages and dispose of them according to right. I enclosed this letter open to Mr. Randolph, then Secretary of State, to get his interference for the liberation of the effects. It may have happened that he failed to forward the letter, or that M. LEpine may have gone before it reached New York. In any event, I can do no more than repeat my disclaimer of any right to Mr. Dombeys effects, and add all the authority which I can give to yourself, or the consul of France at New York, to do with those effects whatever I might do. Certainly, it would be a great gratification to me to receive the Metre and Grave committed to Mr. Dombey for me, and that you would be so good as to be the channel of my acknowledgments to Bishop Gregoire, or any one else to whom I should owe this favor.
You wish to know the state of the air here during the late cold spell, or rather the present one, for it is at this moment so cold that the ink freezes in my pen, so that my letter will scarcely be legible. The following is copied from my diary :<!-- Table of temperatures -->
In the winter of 1779-80, the mercury in Fahrenheits thermometer fell at Williamsburg once to six degrees above zero. In 1783-84, I was at Annapolis without a thermometer, and I do not know that there was one in that State. I heard from Virginia, that the mercury was again down to six degrees. In 1789-90, I was at Paris. The mercury here was as low as eighteen degrees below zero, of Fahrenheit. These have been the most remarkably cold winters ever known in America. We are told, however, that in 1762, at Philadelphia, it was twenty-two degrees below zero; in December, 1793, it was three degrees below zero there by my thermometer. On the 31st of January, 1796, it was one and three-fourth degrees above zero at Monticello. I shall therefore have to change the maximum of our cold, if ever I revise the Notes on Virginia ; as six degrees above zero was the greatest which had ever been observed.
It seems possible, from what we hear of the votes at the late election, that you may see me in Philadelphia about the beginning of March, exactly in that character which, if I were to reappear at Philadelphia, I would prefer to all others; for I change the sentiment of Clorinda to "LAltè temo, lhumile non sdegno." I have no inclination to govern men. I should have no views of my own in doing it ; and as to those of the governed, I had rather that their disappointment (which must always happen) should be pointed to any other cause, real or supposed, than to myself. I value the late vote highly; but it is only as the index of the place I hold in the esteem of my fellow-citizens. In this point of view, the difference between sixty-eight and seventy-one votes is little sensible, and still less that between the real vote which was sixty-nine and seventy; because one real elector in Pennsylvania was excluded from voting by the miscarriage of the votes, and one who was not an elector was admitted to vote. My farm, my family, my books and my building, give me much more pleasure than any public office would, and, especially, one which would keep me constantly from them. I had hoped, when you were here, to have finished the walls of my house in the autumn, and to have covered it early in winter. But we did not finish them at all. I have to resume the work, therefore, in the spring, and to take off the roof of the old part during the summer, to cover the whole. This will render it necessary for me to make a very short stay in Philadelphia, should the late vote have given me any public duty there. My visit there will be merely out of respect to the public, and to the new President.
I am sorry you have received so little information on the subject of our winds. I had once (before our revolution war) a project on the same subject. As I had then an extensive acquaintance over this State, I meant to have engaged some person in every county of it, giving them each a thermometer, to observe that and the winds twice a day, for one year, to wit, at sun-rise and at four P.M., (the coldest and the warmest point of the twenty-four hours,) and to communicate their observations to me at the end of the year. I should then have selected the days in which it appeared that the winds blew to a centre within the State, and have made a map of them, and seen how far they had analogy with the temperature of the air. I meant this to be merely a specimen to be communicated to the Philosophical Society at Philadelphia, in order to engage them, by means of their correspondents, to have the same thing done in every State, and through a series of years. By seizing the days when the winds centred in any part of the United States, we might, in time, have come to some of the causes which determine the direction of the winds, which I suspect to be very various. But this long-winded project was prevented by the war which came upon us, and since that I have been far otherwise engaged. I am sure you will have viewed the subject from much higher ground, and I shall be happy to learn your views in some of the hours of delassement, which I hope we are yet to pass together. To this must be added your observations on the new character of man, which you have seen in your journey, as he is in all his shapes a curious animal, on whom no one is better qualified to judge than yourself; and no one will be more pleased to participate of your views of him than one, who has the pleasure of offering you his sentiments of sincere respect and esteem.
As far as the public papers are to be credited, I may suppose that the choice of Vice-President has fallen on me. On this hypothesis I trouble you, and only pray, if it be wrong, that you will consider this letter as not written. I believe it belongs to the Senate to notify the Vice-President of his election. I recollect to have heard, that on the first election of President and Vice-President, gentlemen of considerable office were sent to notify the parties chosen. But this was the inauguration of our new government, and ought not to be drawn into example. At the second election, both gentlemen were on the spot and needed no messengers. On the present occasion, the President will be on the spot, so that what is now to be done respects myself alone ; and considering that the season of notification will always present one difficulty, that the distance in the present case adds a second, not inconsiderable, and which may in future happen to be sometimes much more considerable, I hope the Senate will adopt that method of notification, which will always be least troublesome and most certain. The channel of the post is certainly the least troublesome, is the most rapid, and, considering also that it may be sent by duplicates and triplicates, is unquestionably the most certain. Indorsed to the postmaster at Charlottesville, with an order to send it by express, no hazard can endanger the notification. Apprehending, that should there be a difference of opinion on this subject in the Senate, my ideas of self-respect might be supposed by some to require something more formal and inconvenient, I beg leave to avail myself of your friendship to declare, if a different proposition should make it necessary, that I consider the channel of the post-office as the most eligible in every respect, and that it is to me the most desirable; which I take the liberty of expressing, not with a view of encroaching on the respect due to that discretion which the Senate have a right to exercise on the occasion, but to render them the more free in the exercise of it, by taking off whatsoever weight the supposition of a contrary desire in me might have on the mind of any member. I am, with sincere respect, dear Sir, your friend and servant.
Yours of the 8th came to hand yesterday. I was not aware of any necessity of going on to Philadelphia immediately, yet I had determined to do it, as a mark of respect to the public, and to do away the doubts which have spread, that I should consider the second office as beneath my acceptance. The journey, indeed, for the month of February, is a tremendous undertaking for me, who have not been seven miles from home since my re-settlement. I will see you about the rising of Congress; and presume I need not stay there a week. Your letters written before the 7th of February will still find me here. My letters inform me that Mr. Adams speaks of me with great friendship, and with satisfaction in the prospect of administering the government in concurrence with me. I am glad of the first information, because though I saw that our ancient friendship was affected by a little leaven, produced partly by his constitution, partly by the contrivance of others, yet I never felt a diminution of confidence in his integrity and retained a solid affection for him. His principles of government I knew to be changed, but conscientiously changed. As to my participating in the administration, if by that he meant the executive cabinet, both duty and inclination will shut that door to me. I cannot have a wish to see the scenes of 1793 revived as to myself, and to descend daily into the arena like a gladiator, to suffer martyrdom in every conflict. As to duty, the Constitution will know me only as the member of a legislative body ; and its principle is, that of a separation of legislative, executive and judiciary functions, except in cases specified. If this principle be not expressed in direct terms, yet it is clearly the spirit of the Constitution, and it ought to be so commented and acted on by every friend to free government. I sincerely deplore the situation of our affairs with France. War with them, and consequent alliance with Great Britain, will completely compass the object of the executive council, from the commencement of the war between France and England ; taken up by some of them from that moment, by others, more latterly. I still, however, hope it will be avoided. I do not believe Mr. Adams wishes war with France; nor do I believe he will truckle to England as servilely as has been done. If he assumes this front at once, and shows that he means to attend to self-respect and national dignity with both the nations, perhaps the depredations of both on our commerce may be amicably arrested. I think we should begin first with those who first began with us, and, by an example on them, acquire a right to re-demand the respect from which the other party has departed. I suppose you are informed of the proceeding commenced by the legislature of Maryland, to claim the south branch of the Potomac as their boundary, and thus of Albemarle, now the central county of the State, to make a frontier. As it is impossible, upon any consistent principles, and after such a length of undisturbed possession, that they can expect to establish their claim, it can be ascribed to no other than an intention to irritate and divide ; and there can be no doubt from what bow the shaft is shot. However, let us cultivate Pennsylvania, and we need not fear the universe. The Assembly have named me among those who are to manage this controversy. But I am so averse to motion and contest, and the other members are so fully equal to the business, that I cannot undertake to act in it. I wish you were added to them. Indeed, I wish and hope you may consent to be added to our Assembly itself. There is no post where you can render greater services, without going out of your State. Let but this block stand firm on its basis, and Pennsylvania do the same, our Union will be perpetual, and our General Government kept within the bounds and form of the Constitution. Adieu affectionately.
It seems probable that I will be called on to preside in a legislative chamber. It is now so long since I have acted in the legislative line, that I am entirely rusty in the Parliamentary rules of procedure. I know they have been more studied and are better known by you than by any man in America, perhaps by any man living. I am in hopes that while inquiring into the subject you made notes on it. If any such remain in your hands, however informal, in books or in scraps of paper, and you will be so good as to trust me with them a little while, they shall be most faithfully returned. If they lie in small compass they might come by post, without regard to expense. If voluminous, Mr. Randolph will be passing through Richmond on his way from Varina to this place about the 10th of February, and could give them a safe conveyance. Did the Assembly do anything for the preservation by publication of the laws ? With great affection, adieu.
Your friendly letter of the 2d instant, never came to hand till yesterday, and I feel myself indebted for the solicitude you therein express for my undertaking the office to which you inform me I am called. I know not from what source an idea has spread itself, which I have found to be generally spread, that I would accept the office of President of the United States, but not of Vice-President. When I retired from the office I last held, no man in the Union less expected than I did, ever to have come forward again ; and, whatever has been insinuated to the contrary, to no man in the Union was the share which my name bore in the late contest, more unexpected than it was to me. If I had contemplated the thing beforehand, and suffered my will to enter into action at all on it, it would have been in a direction exactly the reverse of what has been imputed to me ; but I had no right to a will on the subject, much less to control that of the people of the United States in arranging us according to our capacities. Least of all could I have any feelings which would revolt at taking a station secondary to Mr. Adams. I have been secondary to him in every situation in which we ever acted together in public life for twenty years past. A contrary position would have been the novelty, and his the right of revolting at it. Be assured, then, my dear Sir, that if I had had a fibre in my composition still looking after public office, it would have been gratified precisely by the very call you are pleased to announce to me, and no other. But in truth I wish for neither honors nor offices. I am happier at home than I can be elsewhere. Since, however, I am called out, an object of great anxiety to me is that those with whom I am to act, shutting their minds to the unfounded abuse of which I have been the subject, will view me with the same candor with which I shall certainly act. An acquaintance of many long years ensures to me your just support, as it does to you the sentiments of sincere respect and attachment with which I am, dear Sir, your friend and servant.
I was yesterday gratified with the receipt of your favor of December 15th, which gave me the first information of your return from Europe. On the 20th of October I received a letter of July 30th from Colonel Monroe; but did not know through what channel it came. I should be glad to see the defence of his conduct which you possess, though no paper of that title is necessary for me. He was appointed to an office during pleasure merely to get him out of the Senate, and with an intention to seize the first pretext for exercising the pleasure of recalling him. As I shall be at Philadelphia the first week in March, perhaps I may have an opportunity of seeing the paper there in Mr. Madisons hands. I think with you it will be best to publish nothing concerning Colonel Monroe till his return, that he may accommodate the complexion of his publication to times and circumstances. When you left America you had not a good opinion of the train of our affairs. I dare say you do not find that they have got into better train. It will never be easy to convince me that by a firm yet just conduct in 1793, we might not have obtained such a respect for our neutral rights from Great Britain, as that her violations of them and use of our means to all her wars, would not have furnished any pretence to the other party to do the same. War with both would have been avoided, commerce and navigation protected and enlarged. We shall now either be forced into a war, or have our commerce and navigation at least totally annihilated, and the produce of our farms for some years left to rot on our hands. A little time will unfold these things, and show which class of opinions would have been most friendly to the firmness of our government, and to the interests of those for whom it was made. I am, with great respect, dear Sir, your most obedient servant.
I received yesterday your kind favor of the 4th instant, and the eulogium it covered on the subject of our late invaluable friend Rittenhouse, and I perused it with the avidity and approbation which the matter and manner of everything from your pen have long taught me to feel. I thank you too for your congratulations on the public call on me to undertake the second office in the United States, but still more for the justice you do me in viewing as I do the escape from the first. I have no wish to meddle again in public affairs, being happier at home than I can be anywhere else. Still less do I wish to engage in an office where it would be impossible to satisfy either friends or foes, and least of all at a moment when the storm is about to burst, which has been conjuring up for four years past. If I am to act however, a more tranquil and unoffending station could not have been found for me, nor one so analogous to the dispositions of my mind. It will give me philosophical evenings in the winter, and rural days in summer. I am indebted to the Philosophical Society a communication of some bones of an animal of the lion kind, but of most exaggerated size. What are we to think of a creature whose claws were eight inches long, when those of the lion are not 1½ inches ; whose thigh-bone was 6¼ diameter, when that of the lion is not 1½ inches ? Were not the things within the jurisdiction of the rule and compass, and of ocular inspection, credit to them could not be obtained. I have been disappointed in getting the femur as yet, but shall bring on the bones I have, if I can, for the Society, and have the pleasure of seeing you for a few days in the first week of March. I wish the usual delays of the publications of the Society may admit the addition to our new volume, of this interesting article, which it would be best to have first announced under the sanction of their authority. I am, with sincere esteem, dear Sir, your friend and servant.
Yours of the 18th came to hand yesterday. I am very thankful for the discretion you have exercised over the letter. That has happened to be the case, which I knew to be possible, that the honest expression of my feelings towards Mr. Adams might be rendered mal-apropos from circumstances existing, and known at the seat of government, but not known by me in my retired situation. Mr. Adams and myself were cordial friends from the beginning of the revolution. Since our return from Europe, some little incidents have happened, which were capable of affecting a jealous mind like his. His deviation from that line of politics on which we had been united, has not made me less sensible of the rectitude of his heart; and I wished him to know this, and also another truth, that I am sincerely pleased at having escaped the late draught for the helm, and have not a wish which he stands in the way of. That he should be convinced of these truths, is important to our mutual satisfaction, and perhaps to the harmony and good of the public service. But there was a difficulty in conveying them to him, and a possibility that the attempt might do mischief there or somewhere else; and I would not have hazarded the attempt, if you had not been in place to decide upon its expediency. It is now become unnecessary to repeat it, by a letter I have had occasion to write to Langdon in answer to one from him, in which I have said exactly the things which will be grateful to Mr. A. and no more. This I imagine will be shewn to him.
I have turned to the Constitution and laws, and find nothing to warrant the opinion that I might not have been qualified here, or wherever else I could meet with a Senator; any member of that body being authorized to administer the oath, without being confined to time or place, and consequently to make a record of it, and to deposit it with the records of the Senate. However, I shall come on, on the principle which had first determined me, respect to the public. I hope I shall be made a part of no ceremony whatever. If Governor Mifflin should show any symptoms of ceremony, pray contrive to parry them. We have now fine mild weather here. The thermometer is above the point which renders fires necessary. Adieu affectionately.
I have many acknowledgments to make for the friendly anxiety you are pleased to express in your letter of January the 12th, for my undertaking the office to which I have been elected. The idea that I would accept the office of President, but not that of Vice-President of the United States, had not its origin with me. I never thought of questioning the free exercise of the right of my fellow citizens, to marshal those whom they call into their service according to their fitness, nor ever presumed that they were not the best judges of that. Had I indulged a wish in what manner they should dispose of me, it would precisely have coincided with what they have done. Neither the splendor, nor the power, nor the difficulties, nor the fame or defamation, as may happen, attached to the first magistracy, have any attractions for me. The helm of a free government is always arduous, and never was ours more so, than at a moment when two friendly people are like to be committed in war by the ill temper of their administrations. I am so much attached to my domestic situation, that I would not have wished to leave it at all. However, if I am to be called from it, the shortest absences and most tranquil station suit me best. I value highly, indeed, the part my fellow-citizens gave me in their late vote, as an evidence of their esteem, and I am happy in the information you are so kind as to give, that many in the eastern quarter entertain the same sentiment. Where a constitution, like ours, wears a mixed aspect of monarchy and republicanism, its citizens will naturally divide into two classes of sentiment, according as their tone of body or mind, their habits, connections and callings, induce them to wish to strengthen either the monarchical or the republican features of the constitution. Some will consider it as an elective monarchy, which had better be made hereditary, and therefore endeavor to lead towards that all the forms and principles of its administration. Others will view it as an energetic republic, turning in all its points on the pivot of free and frequent elect[ions]. The great body of our native citizens are unquestionably of the republican sentiment. Foreign education, and foreign connections of interest, have produced some exceptions in every part of the Union, north and south, and perhaps other circumstances in your quarter, better known to you, may have thrown into the scale of exceptions a greater number of the rich. Still there, I believe, and here, I am sure, the great mass is republican. Nor do any of the forms in which the public disposition has been pronounced in the last half dozen years, evince the contrary. All of them, when traced to their true source, have only been evidences of the preponderant popularity of a particular great character. That influence once withdrawn, and our countrymen left to the operation of their own unbiased good sense, I have no doubt we shall see a pretty rapid return of general harmony, and our citizens moving in phalanx in the paths of regular liberty, order, and a sacrosanct adherence to the Constitution. Thus I think it will be, if war with France can be avoided. But if that untoward event comes athwart us in our present point of deviation, nobody, I believe, can foresee into what port it will drive us.
I am always glad of an opportunity of inquiring after my most ancient and respected friend, Mr. Samuel Adams. His principles, founded on the immovable basis of equal right and reason, have continued pure and unchanged. Permit me to place here my sincere veneration for him, and wishes for his health and happiness ; and to assure yourself of the sentiments of esteem and respect with which I am, dear Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.
I left Paris about ten days ago and came to this place, intending to take passage in the Dublin Packet for New York, but the Vessel being crouded I shall wait another opportunity. Mr. Monroe, whom I left at Paris, intended going by the way of Bordeaux. Four American Vessels have arrived since I have been here. 1 from Savannah, 1 from Charleston, 1 from Wilmington N.C.and 1 from N.Y.which are the only arrivals from America, for several [wee]ks past. American Vessels are not employed as Carriers by [Fran]ce; that trade, since Mr. Jays treaty of surrender, is [gone into the?] hands of the Danes and Swedes. That neutral Ships [...] property must be a general principle, or not at all. Mr. [Jay?] [...] surrenders the principle, by treating it merely as a [...]; and that without perceiving, that through the Medium [...] second Article in the treaty of Commerce with france, ev[ery cir]ctunstance is surrendered also. You can have but little conc[eption] how low the character of the American Government is sunk in Europe. The Neutral powers despise her for her meaness, and her desertion of a Common interest; England laughs at her imbecility, and France is enraged at her ingratitude, and Sly treachery. Such is the condition into which Mr. Washingtons Administration has brought America, and what makes it worse is, that John Adams has not Character to do any good. Some of the American papers speak of Mr. Madisons coming as Envoy Extraordinary. As that Character is only temporary, and his reputation stands well here, he would, I believe, be received, tho it was refused to Mr. Pinckney, as a resident Minister. The recal of Mr. Monroe cut every thing asunder, for tho here they were enraged at the American Government, they were not enraged at him. They had an esteem for him, and a good opinion of him; they would listen to him, and he could soften them; but to recall him and to send in his place the brother of the Man who was concerned in forming Jays treaty was stupidity and insult both. If Mr. Madison should come you must not expect too much.
About the time this letter comes to hand you will hear that the Bank of England stopt payment on the 27 of Febru. and continues shut up. Several people who affected to laugh at my Decline and Fall of the English System of finance now see it in another light. That little Work was translated into French, and sent by the french Govermt. to all their foreign Agents and was also translated into German, low DutchSwedish and Italien. It demolished the credit of the English funds in those Countries, and caused a great [pu]lling out. It spread all over England, for it was sold as low as [...] Coppers, and at New-Castle at two. The farmers became [...] of Paper. They run upon the Country banks with the [...] Notes they took at Market. The Country Banks collected [...] as they could of the Bank of England, and run upon [...] for Cashthe people of London began to do the [same?] [...] the whole complicated Machine knocked up at once. [Every?] bank in England is now Stopt. For my own part I cannot see how it is possible the bank of England should ever open again. Were it to open tomorrow the run upon it would be so immense, they would be obliged to shut it immediately. They are now emitting 20 shilling and forty shilling Notes, and as it is easy to see that a shopkeeper will not give change in Cash for a twenty shilling Note they will be obliged to emit ten shilling, and five shilling Notes and so on. I much question if England has gained any thing by Trade for an hundred years past; that is, ever since the funding system began. She has pushed her Manufactures about the World, at great risk and often at loss, and the bustle it made gave her the opportunity of pushing forth a vast quantity of Paper at home, which the Commercial Idiots mistook for gain and Wealth; but now, she comes to wind up her affairs she finds she has not so much money as she had an hundred years ago. The quantity of Money at this time in England is less than it was at the revolution in 1688. It is not estimated now at more than twelve Millions sterling. It never was more than twenty and if the public papers speak truth, not less than ten Millions have sent out in foreign Subsidies, foreign loans, and Expeditions on the Continent.
In France nothing is seen but Money. Paper is entirely gone. The quantity of Money in france must be great, since the whole of Trade and of Taxes is carried on entirely upon Money, and there is always a sufficiency of it whereever there is an Object to employ it [...]. Every article of provision (not foreign) is cheaper, better, and more abundant than before the [revolut]ion. Bread is two Coppers and an half per pound. Beef and Mutton eight Coppers.
[...] Peace I am not able to give you any opinion upon it. It [seems to?] me to be at a greater distance than it did four or five Mo[nths] [...] two of the Coalized Powers, Austria and England, are now [...] is now defeated every where. Bonaparte carries [...] these last few days he has beaten the Arch-Duke C[harles] [...] taken five thousand prisoners, 1400 in one Action, and 3800 [in] another. The Government of England is in a State of Bankrupt [...] and her total downfal is probable. It will be a good thing when this happens, for it is the most mischievous, surly, and ill willed Government in the World. In this state of things France is not in a hurry about peace; for of what use would be a peace that would be war again in a short time ? Four times have the English Government been running into War, or upon the brink of it, since the American War. Once on account of Holland; again on account of Russia, again on account of Nootka soundand now to support the lubberly Junto, called Crowned-heads.
How America will scuffle through I know not. The Mean, ungrateful, and treacherous Conduct of her Administration, helped on by the political Ignorance of a Considerable body of her Merchants, have ruined her Character; and from being the favourite, she is become the Scoff of the World. It is very disagreeable to me to write truths of this kind; but it can do you no service to disbelieve them. For my own part, whereever I go, I curse the Conduct of the American Government to save the Character of the Country. I hope you will accept the Vice-presidency, were it only to keep an Eye upon John Adams, or he will commit some blunder that will make matters worse. He has a Natural disposition to blunder and to offend, and Mr. Secretary Pickering is of the same Cast. When John Adams was in Holland, he published a small Work in favour of republics as if purposely to offend France; and when he was in England he wrote in support of what he called the English Constitution as if to offend republics. He is a Man entirely under the Government of a had [tem]per without having any thing Manly in his Manner of acting it. [...] Government of France appeared to be very unwilling to [...]nities with America. The injury which Governeer [Morris made?] was repaired by Mr. Monroe; and as they hated the Idea [...]ment between Republics, they enjoyed the return of con[fidence. When] Jays treaty appeared, it is easy to suppose the impression it [made] [...]. They began to suspect that Mr. Monroe was sent for the purpose [of] amusing them while Jay was to act a contrary part in England. They waited however to see, if the President would ratify it. Then, what Notice Congress would take of it; and it was only till after the last chance was past that they broke out. They then told Mr. Monroe they had rather have the Government of America for an open Enemy than a treacherous friend. It is evident that if the two Treaties, that with France and that with England, could exist together, that France would be injured by the independance of America which cost her so much to support. Before that time the American flag was not a Neutral when England was at War, and if it is now to be a Neutral to protect English property and English Merchandize from Capture, whilst it gives no protection to those of France, it would be better to France that America was still under the English Government; for that Neutrality would be more benificial to England and more injurious to France than what America, considered merely in the Scale of Naval or Military power, could be to either. You ought not to be surprised if in the issue of this business, France should demand reimbursement for the expence she was at in supporting the independence of America; for she feels herself most rascally treated for that support; and unless John Adams is watched his surly Manners and those of Timothy Pickering will give some new opportunity to provoke it. At the time the cringing treaty was formed with England, Timothy Pickering, as Secretary of State, wrote officially to Mr. Monroe, in an insulting Manner towards [Fran]ce. "The American Government, says Timothy, is the comp[etent] Guardian of every thing which concerns her National ho[nour, policy, or] interest, and it will not ask the opinion nor be [guided by the] Advice of any Nation." What are Ministers sent for, [...] and to Consult, especially between Nations supposed ]...] alliance. The language of Timothy is the language of a Blow [...] and were it said directly to france, she might be provoked to [...]. There was a time when you were glad to ask our advice and [our] Money too, pay us what we have expended for you and get about your business. In the same letter Timothy calls those who oppose the English Treaty by the Name of dissaffected persons. "From the movements, says he, of dissaffected persons &c." You will observe that I write this part only to you. Should Mr. Monroe arrive while Congress is sitting it ought to call, or invite him, before them, to know the State of their affairs; they will neither do Justice to the Country, to themselves, nor to him if they do not. It is only through the Medium of the house of representatives that the breach can be healed, and further Mischief avoided. Your Executive, John Adams, can do nothing but harm. You see that France has made every Power pay that insulted or injured her, yet those powers had not received former favours from her as America had done. The Ignorance in which your former execulive has kept Congress and the Country, with respect to the State of their foreign Affairs, is equal to any assumption of the same kind, ever acted by any Despot.
For my own part I was always opposed, and ever shall be, to the plan of working government up to an individual, and in all my publications I have written against it. In America, the place was made for the Man, and, at that time, it was not easy to prevent it. I hope it will be altered now, and my princi[pal mo]tive for wishing that you might be president, was, that [you might?] the better promote that alteration. The whole rep[...] is the president, and the part called the executive [...] a plurality, as in the french Constitution. Mr. Monroe has written quires of letters, to the secretary of State. He might [as] well have written them to the Sepulchre. An Individual President will never be any thing more than the Chief of a Party, and the conductor of its politics. All contrary information goes for nothing.
With respect to the Ships of Neutral Powers, (which makes the difficulty that America is now in) there were two Ways to have restrained if not totally to have prevented the depredation. The one was for the Neutral powers to have united for the protection of their own rights. Sweden and Denmark sent proposals to America for this purpose but no attention was paid to them. And as to Jay, he never held any communication with the Ministers of those powers when in England.
The other was, for France to have made a declaration to England, that if England Molested Neutral Ships coming to, or going from France, that France would take the Cargoes of all Neutral Ships going to or coming from England. England would then have seen that she would lose far more than she could gain. It was the forbearance of france that encouraged the depredations of England; for now that England sustains the reaction of her own politics, she seems disposed to let Neutral Ships pass. Had france made the Declaration at first, the Consequence would have been that either she would not have molested Neutral Ships, or she must have insured all Cargoes going and coming and sustained the loss of all. The Neutral Ships would not have been her [car]riers, nor traded with her, on any other Condition than being [insur]ed. I pressed the Minister De la Croix to make a declar[ation of this] kind to England when the british Agent, Malmsbury, [was in] Paris. I added, if you do not chuse to act upon the Dec[...] the effect of it. He wrote to me in answer that he would [...] all his possibles to have it done. I wish it had been done [at?] first; for it is the bold politics of France that must secure the Neutrality of the American flag since her government has surrendered it.
My health is much improved, but the Abscess in my side still continues but with very little pain.
RC (DLC); mutilated; second set of closing quotation marks supplied; only the most significant emendations are recorded in notes below; endorsed by TJ as received 5 June 1797 and so recorded in SJL.
The cash reserves of the BANK OF ENGLAND had been depleted by advances to the government, and fears of a French-sponsored invasion had also drained specie from English banks. An Order in Council of 26 Feb. 1797, confirmed by Parliament in the Bank Restriction Act of 3 May, authorized the Bank of England to cease paying out gold. Intended as a short-term expedient, the measure, which caused notes of the Bank of England to replace specie in most transactions, remained in effect for more than twenty years (Emsley, British Society and the French Wars, 57). THAT LITTLE WORK: Paines pamphlet, The Decline and Fall of the English System of Finance, had been published in Paris and London in 1796. See Sowerby, No. 3188.
At Tarvis during March, Napoleon BONAPARTE, advancing through the Italian Alps, defeated three divisions of the Austrian army commanded by the ARCH-DUKE CHARLES and appeared to have opened the way for a final advance on Vienna (Chandler, Campaigns of Napoleon, 123-5).
John Adamss WORK IN FAVOUR OF REPUBLICS was A Collection of State-Papers, relative to the first acknowledgment of the sovereignty of the United Stairs of America, printed in The Hague and London in 1782. His work IN SUPPORT OF WHAT HE CALLED THE ENGLISH CONSTITUTION was A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, published in London in 1787. See Sowerby, Nos. 3000, 8004.
Pickerings INSULTING MANNER TOWARDS FRANCE was displayed in his 12 Sep. 1795 letter to Monroe and concerned the French governments objections to the Jay Treaty. On the matter of the British definition of contraband, Pickering insisted that whether British pretensions ought to be resisted was a question for "the proper authorities of the United States to decide" (ASP, Foreign Relations, 1, 597). DISSAFFECTED PERSONS: near the beginning of his letter Pickering noted, "it is proper that you should be possessed of the opinions of the Government, especially as it appears probable, from your letters, and from the movements of disaffected persons here, that unfavorable impressions upon the Government and people of France may be apprehended" (same, 596).
After learning that SWEDEN AND DENMARK had signed a convention on 27 Mch. 1794 to protect their commerce even to the extent of initiating reprisals, in July 1794 the majority of Washingtons cabinet advised against joining such an alliance. That opinion was not announced, and in 1795 the Swedish government sent formal PROPOSALS to the United States, first through Pinckney in London and subsequently, after receiving no answer, through Monroe in France, who received only a noncommittal acknowledgment from Pickering. In May 1794, before the Washington administration had formed an opinion on the Scandinavian convention, the instructions given to John Jay for negotiating with Britain had authorized him, if "the situation of things with respect to Great Britain should dictate the necessity of taking the precaution of foreign cooperation upon this head," to meet with the Swedish, Danish, and Russian ministers in London to discuss the prospect of an alliance. However, the British government soon learned, by way of a conversation between George Hammond and Alexander Hamilton, that there was virtually no chance of the United States "entangling itself with European connexions" (Syrett, Hamilton, xvi 327, 542-3, 548, 578-9; Monroe, Writings, II, 329-30).
Your favor of March 25th came safely to hand, with the grains of [corn it covered], for which accept my thanks. A nephew of mine, Mr. S. Carr, who married a daughter of Mr. Carr, near Georgetown, setting out this day for that place, I have sent him some of the peas you desired, which he will enclose under cover to you, and lodge in the care of Mr. John Thompson Mason. This letter goes separately by post, to notify you that you may call for them in time for the present season. I wish it were in my power to satisfy you with respect to the sentiments expressed by my friend Mr. Madison in the general Convention. But the papers in my possession are under a seal which I have not broken yet, and wish not to break, till I have time to give them a thorough perusal and consideration. Two things may be safely said : 1st. When a man whose life has been marked by its candor, has given a latter opinion contrary to a former one, it is probably the result of further inquiry, reflection and conviction. This is a sound answer, if the contrariety of sentiment as to the treaty-making power were really expressed by him on the former and latter occasion, as was alleged to you. But, 2d. As no man weighs more maturely than Mr. Madison before he takes a side on any question, I do not expect he has changed either his opinion on that subject, or the expressions of it, and therefore I presume the allegation founded in some misconception or misinformation. I have just received a summons to Congress for the 15th of next month. I am sorry for it, as everything pacific could have been done without Congress, and I hope nothing is contemplated which is not pacific. I wish I may be as fortunate in my travelling companions as I was the last trip. I hope you found your father and family well; present him, if you please, the respectful homage of one who knew him when too young probably to have been known by him; and accept yourself assurances of the great esteem of, dear Sir, your most obedient humble servant.
Your favor of the 4th instant came to hand yesterday. That of the 4th of April, with the one for Monroe, has never been received. The first, of March 27th, did not reach me till April the 21st, when I was within a few days of setting out for this place, and I put off acknowledging it till I should come here. I entirely commend your dispositions towards Mr. Adams, knowing his worth as intimately and esteeming it as much as any one, and acknowledging the preference of his claims, if any I could have had, to the high office conferred on him. But in truth, I had neither claims nor wishes on the subject, though I know it will be difficult to obtain belief of this. When I retired from this place and the office of Secretary of State, it was in the firmest contemplation of never more returning here. There had indeed been suggestions in the public papers, that I was looking towards a succession to the Presidents chair, but feeling a consciousness of their falsehood, and observing that the suggestions came from hostile quarters, I considered them as intended merely to excite public odium against me. I never in my life exchanged a word with any person on the subject, till I found my name brought forward generally, in competition with that of Mr. Adams. Those with whom I then communicated, could say, if it were necessary, whether I met the call with desire, or even with a ready acquiescence, and whether from the moment of my first acquiescence, I did not devoutly pray that the very thing might happen which has happened. The second office of the government is honorable and easy, the first is but a splendid misery. You express apprehensions that stratagems will be used, to produce a misunderstanding between the President and myself. Though not a word having this tendency has ever been hazarded to me by any one, yet I consider as a certainty that nothing will be left untried to alienate him from me. These machinations will proceed from the Hamiltonians by whom he is surrounded, and who are only a little less hostile to him than to me. It cannot but damp the pleasure of cordiality, when we suspect that it is suspected. I cannot help thinking, that it is impossible for Mr. Adams to believe that the state of my mind is what it really is ; that he may think I view him as an obstacle in my way. I have no supernatural power to impress truth on the mind of another, nor he any to discover that the estimate which he may form, on a just view of the human mind as generally constituted, may not be just in its application to a special constitution. This may be a source of private uneasiness to us; I honestly confess that it is so to me at this time. But neither of us is capable of letting it have effect on our public duties. Those who may endeavor to separate us, are probably excited by the fear that I might have influence on the executive councils; but when they shall know that I consider my office as constitutionally confined to legislative functions, and that I could not take any part whatever in executive consultations, even were it proposed, their fears may perhaps subside, and their object be found not worth a machination. I do sincerely wish with you, that we could take our stand on a ground perfectly neutral and independent towards all nations. It has been my constant object through my public life; and with respect to the English and French, particularly, I have too often expressed to the former my wishes, and made to them propositions verbally and in writing, officially and privately, to official and private characters, for them to doubt of my views, if they would be content with equality. Of this they are in possession of several written and formal proofs, in my own handwriting. But they have wished a monopoly of commerce and influence with us; and they have in fact obtained it. When we take notice that theirs is the workshop to which we go for all we want; that with them centre either immediately or ultimately all the labors of our hands and lands ; that to them belongs either openly or secretly the great mass of our navigation ; that even the factorage of their affairs here, is kept to themselves by factitious citizenships; that these foreign and false citizens now constitute the great body of what are called our merchants, fill our sea ports, are planted in every little town and district of the interior country, sway everything in the former places by their own votes, and those of their dependants, in the latter, by their insinuations and the influence of their ledgers ; that they are advancing fast to a monopoly of our banks and public funds, and thereby placing our public finances under their control; that they have in their alliance the most influential characters in and out of office ; when they have shown that by all these bearings on the different branches of the government, they can force it to proceed in whatever direction they dictate, and bend the interests of this country entirely to the will of another; when all this, I say, is attended to, it is impossible for us to say we stand on independent ground, impossible for a free mind not to see and to groan under the bondage in which it is bound. If anything after this could excite surprise, it would be that they have been able so far to throw dust in the eyes of our own citizens, as to fix on those who wish merely to recover self-government the charge of subserving one foreign influence, because they resist submission to another. But they possess our printing presses, a powerful engine in their government of us. At this very moment, they would have drawn us into a war on the side of England, had it not been for the failure of her bank. Such was their open and loud cry, and that of their gazettes till this event.
After plunging us in all the broils of the European nations, there would remain but one act to close our tragedy, that is, to break up our Union; and even this they have ventured seriously and solemnly to propose and maintain by arguments in a Connecticut paper. I have been happy, however, in believing, from the stifling of this effort, that that dose was found too strong, and excited as much repugnance there as it did horror in other parts of our country; and that whatever follies we may be led into as to foreign nations, we shall never give up our Union, the last anchor of our hope, and that alone which is to prevent this heavenly country from becoming an arena of gladiators. Much as I abhor war, and view it as the greatest scourge of mankind, and anxiously as I wish to keep out of the broils of Europe, I would yet go with my brethren into these, rather than separate from them. But I hope we may still keep clear of them, notwithstanding our present thraldom, and that time may be given us to reflect on the awful crisis we have passed through, and to find some means of shielding ourselves in future from foreign influence, political, commercial, or in whatever other form it may be attempted. I can scarcely withhold myself from joining in the wish of Silas Deane, that there were an ocean of fire between us and the old world.
A perfect confidence that you are as much attached to peace and union as myself, that you equally prize independence of all nations, and the blessings of selfgovernment, has induced me freely to unbosom myself to you, and let you see the light in which I have viewed what has been passing among us from the beginning of the war. And I shall be happy, at all times, in an intercommunication of sentiments with you, believing that the dispositions of the different parts of our country have been considerably misrepresented and misunderstood in each part, as to the other, and that nothing but good can result from an exchange of information and opinions between those whose circumstances and morals admit no doubt of the integrity of their views. I remain, with constant and sincere esteem, dear Sir, your affectionate friend and servant.
I enclose you a copy of the Presidents speech at the opening of Congress, from which you will see what were the objects in calling us together. When we first met, our information from the members from all parts of the Union, was that peace was the universal wish. Whether they will now raise their tone to that of the Executive, and embark in all the measures indicative of war, and, by taking a threatening posture, provoke hostilities from the opposite party, is far from being certain. There are many who think, that, not to support the Executive, is to abandon Government. As far as we can judge as yet, the changes in the late election have been unfavorable to the republican interest. Still, we hope they will neither make nor provoke warthere appears no probability of any embargo, general or special. The bankruptcy of the English Bank is admitted to be complete, and nobody scarcely will venture to buy or draw bills, lest they should be paid there in depreciated currency. They prefer remitting dollars, for which they will get an advanced price ; but this will drain us of our specie. Good James river tobacco is 8½ to 9 dollars, flour 8½ to 9 dollars, wheat not salable. The bankruptcies have been immense, but are rather at a stand. Be so good as to make known to our commercial friends of your place and Milton, the above commercial intelligence. Adieu.
P.S. Take care that nothing from my letter gets into the newspapers.
I received at this place, from Mr. Bache, the letter of 20th Germinal, with the seeds of the bread-tree which you were so kind as to send me. I am happy that the casual circumstances respecting Oglethorpes affairs, has led to this valuable present and I shall take immediate measures to improve the opportunity it gives us of introducing so precious a plant into our Southern States. The successive supplies of the same seeds which you are kind enough to give me expectations of receiving from you, will, in like manner, be thankfully received, and distributed to those persons and places most likely to render the experiment successful. One service of this kind rendered to a nation, is worth more to them than all the victories of the most splendid pages of their history, and becomes a source of exalted pleasure to those who have been instrumental to it. May that pleasure be yours, and your name be pronounced with gratitude by those who will at some future time be tasting the sweets of the blessings you are now procuring them. With my thanks for this favor, accept assurances of the sentiments of esteem and regard with which I am, etc.
I received from you, before you left England, a letter enclosing one from the Prince of Parma. As I learnt soon after that you were shortly to return to America, I concluded to join my acknowledgments of it with my congratulations on your arrival; and both have been delayed by a blamable spirit of procrastination, forever suggesting to our indolence that we need not do to-day what may be done to-morrow. Accept these now, in all the sincerity of my heart. It is but lately I have answered the Princes letter. It required some time to establish arrangements which might effect his purpose, and I wished also to forward a particular article or two of curiosity.
You have found on your return a higher style of political difference than you had left here. I fear this is inseparable from the different constitutions of the human mind, and that degree of freedom which permits unrestrained expression. Political dissension is doubtless a less evil than the lethargy of despotism, but still it is a great evil, and it would be as worthy the efforts of the patriot as of the philosopher, to exclude its influence, if possibly, from social life. The good are rare enough at best. There is no reason to subdivide them by artificial lines. But whether we shall ever be able so far to perfect the principles of society, as that political opinions shall, in its intercourse, be as inoffensive as those of philosophy, mechanics, or any other, may be well doubted. Foreign influence is the present and just object of public hue and cry, and, as often happens, the most guilty are foremost and loudest in the cry. If those who are truly independent, can so trim our vessel as to beat through the waves now agitating us, they will merit a glory the greater as it seems less possible. When I contemplate the spirit which is driving us on here, and that beyond the water which will view us as but a mouthful the more, I have little hope of peace. I anticipate the burning of our sea ports, havoc of our frontiers, household insurgency, with a long train of et ceteras, which is enough for a man to have met once in his life. The exchange, which is to give us new neighbors in Louisiana (probably the present French armies when disbanded) has opened us to a combination of enemies on that side where we are most vulnerable. War is not the best engine for us to resort to, nature has given us one in our commerce, which, if properly managed, will be a better instrument for obliging the interested nations of Europe to treat us with justice. If the commercial regulations had been adopted which our Legislature were at one time proposing, we should at this moment have been standing on such an eminence of safety and respect as ages can never recover. But having wandered from that, our object should now be to get back, with as little loss as possible, and, when peace shall be restored to the world, endeavor so to form our commercial regulations as that justice from other nations shall be their mechanical result.
I am happy to assure you that the conduct of General Pinckney has met universal approbation. It is marked with that coolness, dignity, and good sense which we expected from him. I am told that the French government had taken up an unhappy idea, that Monroe was recalled for the candor of his conduct in what related to the British treaty, and Genl. Pinckney was sent as having other dispositions towards them. I learn further, that some of their well-informed citizens here are setting them right as to Genl. Pinckneys dispositions, so well known to have been just towards them; and I sincerely hope, not only that he may be employed as Envoy Extraordinary to them, but that their minds will be better prepared to receive him. I candidly acknowledge, however, that I do not think the speech and addresses of Congress as conciliatory as the preceding irritations on both sides would have rendered wise. I shall be happy to hear from you at all times, to make myself useful to you whenever opportunity offers, and to give every proof of the sincerity of the sentiments of esteem and respect with which I am, dear Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.
I thank you for the pamphlet of Erskine enclosed in your favor of the 9th instant, and still more for the evidence which your letter affords me of the health of your mind, and I hope of your body also. Erskine has been reprinted here, and has done good. It has refreshed the memory of those who had been willing to forget how the war between France and England had been produced; and who, aping St. James called it a defensive war on the part of England. I wish any events could induce us to cease to copy such a model, and to assume the dignity of being original. They had their paper system, stockjobbing, speculations, public debt, moneyed interest, etc., and all this was contrived for us. They raised their cry against jacobinism and revolutionists, we against democratic societies and anti-federalists; their alarmists sounded insurrection, ours marched an army to look for one, but they could not find it. I wish the parallel may stop here, and that we may avoid, instead of imitating, a general bankruptcy and disastrous war. Congress, or rather the Representatives, have been a fortnight debating between a more or less irritating answer to the Presidents speech. The latter was lost yesterday, by forty-eight against fifty-one or fifty-two. It is believed, however, that when they come to propose measures leading directly to war, they will lose some of their numbers. Those who have no wish but for the peace of their country, and its independence of all foreign influence, have a hard struggle indeed, overwhelmed by a cry as loud and imposing as if it were true, of being under French influence, and this raised by a faction composed of English subjects residing among us, or such as are English in all their relations and sentiments. However, patience will bring all to rights, and we shall both live to see the mask taken from their faces, and our citizens sensible on which side true liberty and independence are sought. Should any circumstance draw me further from home, I shall with great cordiality pay my respects to you at Rose Hill; and am not without hope of meeting you here some time. Here, there, and everywhere else, I am with great and sincere attachment and respect, your friend and servant.
I wrote you on the 18th of May. The address of the Senate was soon after that. The first draught was responsive to the speech, and higher toned. Mr. Henry arrived the day it was reported; the addressers had not yet their strength around them. They listened therefore to his objections, recommitted the papers, added him and Tazewell to the committee, and it was reported with considerable alterations; but one great attack was made on it, which was to strike out the clause approving everything heretofore done by the executive. This clause was retained by a majority of four. They received a new accession of members, held a caucus, took up all the points recommended in the speech, except the raising money, agreed the list of every committee, and on Monday passed the resolutions and appointed the committees, by an uniform vote of seventeen to eleven. (Mr. Henry was accidentally absent, Ross not then come.) Yesterday they took up the nomination of John Quincy Adams to Berlin, which had been objected to as extending our diplomatic establishment. It was approved by eighteen to fourteen. (Mr. Tatnall accidentally absent.) From the proceedings we are able to see, that eighteen on the one side and ten on the other, with two wavering votes, will decide every question. Schuyler is too ill to come this session, and Gunn has not yet come. Pinckney (the General), John Marshall and Dana are nominated Envoys Extraordinary to France. Charles Lee consulted a member from Virginia to know whether Marshall would be agreeable. He named you, as more likely to give satisfaction. The answer was, "Nobody of Mr. Madisons way of thinking will be appointed."
The Representatives have not yet got through their addresses. An amendment of Mr. Nicholass which you will have seen in the papers, was lost by a division of forty-six to fifty-two. A clause by Mr. Dayton, expressing a wish that France might be put on an equal footing with other nations, was inserted by fifty-two against forty-seven. This vote is most worthy of notice, because the moderation and justice of the proposition being unquestionable, it shows that there are forty-seven decided to go to all lengths, to prevent accomodation. No other members are expected. The absent are two from Massachusets (not elected) one from Tennissee (not elected) Benson from South Carolina who never attends and Burgess of North Carolina. They have received a new orator from the district of Mr. Ames. He is the son of the Secretary of the Senate. They have an accession from South Carolina also, that State being exactly divided. In the House of Representatives I learned the following facts, which give me real concern. When the British treaty arrived at Charleston, a meeting, as you know, was called, and a committee of seventeen appointed, of whom General Pinckney was one. He did not attend. They waited for him, sent for him : he treated the mission with great hauteur, and disapproved of their meddling. In the course of the subsequent altercations, he declared that his brother, T. Pinckney, approved of every article of the treaty, under the existing circumstances, and since that time, the politics of Charleston have been assuming a different hue. Young Rutledge joining Smith and Harper, is an ominous fact as to that whole interest.
Tobacco is at nine dollars, and flour very dull of sale. A great stagnation in commerce generally. During the present bankruptcy in England, the merchants seem disposed to lie on their oars. It is impossible to conjecture the rising of Congress, as it will depend on the system they decide on; whether of preparation for war, or inaction. In the vote of forty-six to fifty-two, Morgan, Machir and Evans were of the majority, and Clay kept his seat, refusing to vote with either. In that of fortyseven to fifty-two, Evans was the only one of our delegation who voted against putting France on an equal footing with other nations.P.M. So far, I had written in the morning. I now take up my pen to add, that the addresses having been reported to the House, it was moved to disagree to so much of the amendment as went to the putting France on an equal footing with other nations, and Morgan and Machir turning tail, (in consequence, as is said, of having been closeted last night by Charles Lee,) the vote was forty-nine to fifty. So the principle was saved by a single vote. They then proposed that compensations for spoliations shall be a sine qua non, and this will be decided on to-morrow. Yours affectionately.
In compliance with the desire you expressed in the few short moments I had the pleasure of being with you at Fredericksburg, I shall give you some account of what is passing here. The Presidents speech you will have seen ; and how far its aspect was turned towards war. Our opinion here is that the Executive had that in contemplation, and were not without expectation that the Legislature might catch the flame. A powerful part of that has shown a disposition to go all lengths with the Executive; and they have been able to persuade some of more moderate principles to go so far with them as to join them in a very sturdy address. They have voted the completing and manning the three frigates, and going on with the fortifications. The Senate have gone much further, they have brought in bills for buying more armed vessels, sending them and the frigates out as convoys to our trade, raising more cavalry, more artillerists, and providing a great army, to come into active service only, if necessary. They have not decided whether they will permit the merchants to arm. The hope and belief is that the Representatives will concur in none of these measures, though their divisions hitherto have been so equal as to leave us under doubt and apprehension. The usual majorities have been from one to six votes, and these sometimes one way, sometimes the other. Three of the Virginia members dividing from their colleagues occasion the whole difficulty. If they decline these measures, we shall rise about the 17th instant. It appears that the dispositions of the French government towards us wear a very angry cast indeed, and this before Pickerings letter to Pinckney was known to them. We do not know what effect that may produce. We expect Paine every day in a vessel from Havre, and Colonel Monroe in one from Bordeaux. Tobacco keeps up at a high price and will still rise ; flour is dull at $7.50. I am, with great esteem, dear Sir, your friend and servant.
My last was of the 8th instant. I had enclosed you separately a paper giving you an account of Bonapartes last great victory. Since which, we receive information that the preliminaries of peace were signed between France and Austria. Mr. Hammond will have arrived at Vienna too late to influence terms. The victories lately obtained by the French on the Rhine, were as splendid as Bonapartes. The mutiny on board the English fleet, though allayed for the present, has impressed that country with terror. King has written letters to his friends recommending a pacific conduct towards France, notwithstanding the continuance of her injustices. Volney is convinced France will not make peace with England, because it is such an opportunity of sinking her as she never had and may not have again. Bonapartes army would have to march seven hundred miles to Calais. Therefore, it is imagined that the armies of the Rhine will be destined for England. The Senate yesterday rejected on its second reading their own bill for raising four more companies of light dragoons, by a vote of 15 to 13. Their cost would have been about $120,000 a year. To-day the bill for manning the frigates and buying nine vessels (about $60,000 each,) comes to its third reading. Some flatter us we may throw it out. The trial will be in time to mention the issue herein. The bills for preventing our citizens from engaging in armed vessels of either party, and for prohibiting exportation of arms and ammunition, have passed both Houses. The fortification bill is before the Representatives still. It is thought by many that with all the mollifying clauses they can give it, it may perhaps be thrown out. They have a separate bill for manning the three frigates, but its fate is uncertain. These are probably the ultimate measures which will be adopted, if even these will be adopted. The folly of the convocation of Congress at so inconvenient a season and an expense of $60,000, is now palpable to everybody; or rather it is palpable that war was the object, since, that being out of the question, it is evident there is nothing else. However, nothing less than the miraculous string of events which have taken place, to wit, the victories of the Rhine and Italy, peace with Austria, bankruptcy of England, mutiny in her fleet, and Kings writing letters recommending peace, could have cooled the fury of the British faction. Even all that will not prevent considerable efforts still in both parties to show our teeth to France.We had hoped to have risen this week. It is now talked of for the 24th, but it is impossible yet to affix a time. I think I cannot omit being at our court (July 3) whether Congress rises or not. If so, I shall be with you on the Friday or Saturday preceding. I have a couple of pamphlets for you, Utrum Horum, and Paines Agrarian Justice, being the only things since Erskine which have appeared worth notice. Besides Baches paper there are two others now accommodated to country circulation. Griles (successor of Oswald) twice a week without advertisements at four dollars. His debates in Congress are the same with Claypoles. Also Smith proposes to issue a paper once a week, of news only, and an additional sheet while Congress shall be in session, price four dollars. The best daily papers now are Bradfords compiled by Loyd and Marshland and Carys. Claypoles you know. Have you remarked the pieces signed Fabius ? they are written by John Dickinson.
P.M. The bill before the Senate for equipping the three frigates, and buying nine vessels of not more than twenty guns, has this day passed on its third reading by 16 against 13. The fortification bill before the Representatives as amended in committee of the whole, passed to its third reading by 48 against 41. Adieu affectionately, with my best respects to Mrs. Madison.
The newspapers give so minutely what is passing in Congress, that nothing of detail can be wanting for your information. Perhaps, however, some general view of our situation and prospects, since you left us, may not be unacceptable. At any rate, it will give me an opportunity of recalling myself to your memory, and of evidencing my esteem for you. You well know how strong a character of division had been impressed on the Senate by the British treaty. Common error, common censure, and common efforts of defence had formed the treaty majority into a common band, which feared to separate even on other subjects. Towards the close of the last Congress, however, it had been hoped that their ties began to loosen, and their phalanx to separate a little. This hope was blasted at the very opening of the present session, by the nature of the appeal which the President made to the nation; the occasion for which had confessedly sprung from the fatal British treaty. This circumstance rallied them again to their standard, and hitherto we have had pretty regular treaty votes on all questions of principle. And indeed I fear, that as long as the same individuals remain, so long we shall see traces of the same division.
In the House of Representatives the republican body has also lost strength. The nonattendance of five or six of that description, has left the majority very equivocal indeed. A few individuals of no fixed system at all, governed by the panic or the prowess of the moment, flap as the breeze blows against the republican or the aristocratic bodies, and give to the one or the other a preponderance entirely accidental. Hence the dissimilar aspect of the address, and of the proceedings subsequent to that. The inflammatory composition of the speech excited sensations of resentment which had slept under British injuries, threw the wavering into the war scale, and produced the war address. Bonapartes victories and those on the Rhine, the Austrian peace, British bankruptcy, mutiny of the seamen, and Mr. Kings exhortations to pacific measures, have cooled them down again, and the scale of peace preponderates. The threatening propositions therefore, founded in the address, are abandoned one by one, and the cry begins now to be, that we have been called together to do nothing. The truth is, there is nothing to do, the idea of war being scouted by the events of Europe ; but this only proves that war was the object for which we were called. It proves that the executive temper was for war ; and that the convocation of the Representatives was an experiment of the temper of the nation, to see if it was in unison. Efforts at negotiation indeed were promised; but such a promise was as difficult to withhold, as easy to render nugatory. If negotiation alone had been meant, that might have been pursued without so much delay, and without calling the Representatives; and if strong and earnest negotiation had been meant, the additional nomination would have been of persons strongly and earnestly attached to the alliance of 1778. War then was intended. Whether abandoned or not, we must judge from future indications and events; for the same secrecy and mystery are affected to be observed by the present, which marked the former administration. I had always hoped, that the popularity of the late President being once withdrawn from active effect, the natural feelings of the people towards liberty would restore the equilibrium between the executive and legislative departments, which had been destroyed by the superior weight and effect of that popularity; and that their natural feelings of moral obligation would discountenance the ungrateful predilection of the executive in favor of Great Britain. But unfortunately, the preceding measures had already alienated the nation who were the object of them, had excited reaction from them, and this reaction has on the minds of our citizens an effect which supplies that of the Washington popularity. This effect was sensible on some of the late congressional elections, and this it is which has lessened the republican majority in Congress. When it will be reinforced must depend on events, and these are so incalculable, that I consider the future character of our republic as in the air ; indeed its future fortune will be in the air, if war is made on us by France, and if Louisiana becomes a Gallo-American colony. I have been much pleased to see a dawn of change in the spirit of your State. The late elections have indicated something, which, at a distance, we do not understand. However, what with the English influence in the lower, and the Patroon influence in the upper part of your State, I presume little is to be hoped. If a prospect could be once opened upon us of the penetration of truth into the eastern States; if the people there, who are unquestionably republicans, could discover that they have been duped into the support of measures calculated to sap the very foundations of republicanism, we might still hope for salvation, and that it would come, as of old, from the east. But will that region ever awake to the true state of things ? Can the middle, southern and western States hold on till they awake ? These are painful and doubtful questions; and if, in assuring me of your health, you can give me a comfortable solution of them, it will relieve a mind devoted to the preservation of our republican government in the true form and spirit in which it was established, but almost oppressed with apprehensions that fraud will at length effect what force could not, and that what with currents and countercurrents, we shall, in the end, be driven back to the land from which we launched twenty years ago. Indeed, my dear Sir, we have been but a sturdy fish on the hook of a dexterous angler, who, letting us flounce till we have spent our force, brings us up at last.I am tired of the scene, and this day sennight shall change it for one, where, to tranquillity of mind may be added pursuits of private utility, since none public are admitted by the state of things. I am, with great and sincere esteem, dear Sir, your friend and servant.
P.S. Since writing the above, we have received a report that the French Directory has proposed a declaration of war against the United States to the Council of Ancients, who have rejected it. Thus we see two nations who love one another affectionately, brought by the ill temper of their executive administrations, to the very brink of a necessity to imbrue their hands in the blood of each other.
It was with infinite joy to me that you were yesterday announced to the Senate, as Envoy Extraordinary, jointly with General Pinckney and Mr. Marshall, to the French Republic. It gave me certain assurance that there would be a preponderance in the mission, sincerely disposed to be at peace with the French government and nation. Peace is undoubtedly at present the first object of our nation. Interest and honor are also national considerations. But interest, duly weighed, is in favor of peace even at the expense of spoliations past and future; and honor cannot now be an object. The insults and injuries committed on us by both the belligerent parties, from the beginning of 1793 to this day, and still continuing, cannot now be wiped off by engaging in war with one of them. As there is great reason to expect this is the last campaign in Europe, it would certainly be better for us to rub through this year, as we have done through the four preceding ones, and hope that on the restoration of peace, we may be able to establish some plan for our foreign connections more likely to secure our peace, interest and honor, in future. Our countrymen have divided themselves by such strong affections, to the French and the English, that nothing will secure us internally but a divorce from both nations; and this must be the object of every real American, and its attainment is practicable without much self-denial. But for this, peace is necessary. Be assured of this, my dear Sir, that if we engage in a war during our present passions, and our present weakness in some quarters, our Union runs the greatest risk of not coming out of that war in the shape in which it enters it. My reliance for our preservation is in your acceptance of this mission. I know the tender circumstances which will oppose themselves to it. But its duration will be short, and its reward long. You have it in your power by accepting and determining the character of the mission, to secure the present peace and eternal union of your country. If you decline, on motives of private pain, a substitute may be named who has enlisted his passions in the present contest, and by the preponderance of his vote in the mission may entail on us calamities, your share in which, and your feelings, will outweigh whatever pain a temporary absence from your family could give you. The sacrifice will be short, the remorse would be never ending. Let me, then, my dear Sir, conjure your acceptance, and that you will, by this act, seal the mission with the confidence of all parties. Your nomination has given a spring to hope, which was dead before.I leave this place in three days, and therefore shall not here have the pleasure of learning your determination. But it will reach me in my retirement, and enrich the tranquillity of that scene. It will add to the proofs which have convinced me that the man who loves his country on its own account, and not merely for its trappings of interest or power, can never be divorced from it, can never refuse to come forward when he finds that she is engaged in dangers which he has the means of warding off. Make then an effort, my friend, to renounce your domestic comforts for a few months, and reflect that to be a good husband and good father at this moment, you must be also a good citizen. With sincere wishes for your acceptance and success, I am, with unalterable esteem, dear Sir, your affectionate friend and servant.
The Senate have this day rejected their own bill for raising a provisional army of 15,000 men. I think they will reject that for permitting private vessels to arm. The Representatives have thrown out the bill of the Senate for raising artillery. They (Wednesday) put off one forbidding our citizens to serve in foreign vessels of war till November, by a vote of fifty-two to forty-four. This day they came to a resolution proposing to the Senate to adjourn on Wednesday, the 28th, by a majority of four. Thus it is now perfectly understood that the convocation of Congress is substantially condemned by their several decisions that nothing is to be done. I may be with you somewhat later than I expected, say from the 1st to the 4th. Preliminaries of peace between Austria and France are, signed. Wane has declined the mission to France. Gerry is appointed in his room, being supported in Senate by the republican vote; six nays of the opposite description of Monroe or Payne. Adieu.
I have to acknowledge your two favors of May the 4th and 19th, and to thank you for your attentions to the commissions for the peas and oranges, which I learn have arrived in Virginia. Your draft I hope will soon follow on Mr. John Barnes, merchant, here, who, as I before advised you, is directed to answer it.
When Congress first met, the assemblage of facts presented in the Presidents speech, with the multiplied accounts of spoliations by the French West Indians, appeared by sundry votes on the address, to incline a majority to put themselves in a posture of war. Under this influence the address was formed, and its spirit would probably have been pursued by corresponding measures, had the events of Europe been of an ordinary train. But this has been so extraordinary, that numbers have gone over to those, who, from the first, feeling with sensibility the French insults, as they had felt those of England before, thought now as they thought then, that war measures should be avoided, and those of peace pursued. Their favorite engine, on the former occasion, was commercial regulations, in preference to negotiations, to war preparations and increase of debt. On the latter, as we have no commerce with France, the restriction of which could press on them, they wished for negotiation. Those of the opposite sentiment had, on the former occasion, preferred negotiation, but at the same time voted for great war preparations, and increase of debt; now also they were for negotiation, war preparations and debt. The parties have in debate mutually charged each other with inconsistency, and with being governed by an attachment to this or that of the belligerent nations, rather than the dictates of reason and pure Americanism. But, in truth, both have been consistent ; the same men having voted for war measures who did before, and the same against them now who did before. The events of Europe coming to us in astonishing and rapid succession, to wit, the public bankruptcy of England, Bonapartes successes, the successes on the Rhine, the Austrian peace, mutiny of the British fleet, Irish insurrection, a demand of forty-three millions for the current services of the year, and, above all, the warning voice, as is said, of Mr. King, to abandon all thought of connection with Great Britain, that she is going down irrecoverably, and will sink us also, if we do not clear ourselves; have brought over several to the pacific party, so as, at present, to give majorities against all threatening measures. They go on with frigates and fortifications, because they were going on with them before. They direct eighty thousand of their militia to hold themselves in readiness for service. But they reject the propositions to raise cavalry, artillery, and a provisional army, and to trust private ships with arms in the present combustible state of things. They believe the present is the last campaign of Europe, and wish to rub through this fragment of a year as they have through the four preceding ones, opposing patience to insult, and interest to honor. They will, therefore, immediately adjourn. This is, indeed, a most humiliating state of things, but it commenced in 1793. Causes have been adding to causes, and effects accumulating on effects, from that time to this. We had, in 1793, the most respectable character in the universe. What the neutral nations think of us now, I know not; but we are low indeed with the belligerents. Their kicks and cuffs prove their contempt. If we weather the present storm, I hope we shall avail ourselves of the calm of peace, to place our foreign connections under a new and different arrangement. We must make the interest of every nation stand surety for their justice, and their own loss to follow injury to us, as effect follows its cause. As to everything except commerce, we ought to divorce ourselves from them all. But this system would require time, temper, wisdom, and occasional sacrifice of interest; and how far all of these will be ours, our children may see, but we shall not. The passions are too high at present, to be cooled in our day. You and I have formerly seen warm debates and high political passions. But gentlemen of different politics would then speak to each other, and separate the business of the Senate from that of society. It is not so now. Men who have been intimate all their lives, cross the streets to avoid meeting, and turn their heads another way, lest they should be obliged to touch their hats. This may do for young men with whom passion is enjoyment. But it is afflicting to peaceable minds. Tranquillity is the old mans milk. I go to enjoy it in a few days, and to exchange the roar and tumult of bulls and bears, for the prattle of my grandchildren and senile rest. Be these yours, my dear friend, through long years, with every other blessing, and the attachment of friends as warm and sincere, as yours affectionately.
I have to acknowledge the receipt of your two favors of May 26th and 29th, which came to hand in due time, and relieved my mind considerably, though it was not finally done. During the vacation we may perhaps be able to hunt up the letters which are wanting, and get this tornado which has been threatening us, dissipated. You have seen the speech and the address, so nothing need be said on them. The spirit of both has been so whittled down by Bonapartes victories the victories on the Rhine, the Austrian peace, Irish insurgency, English bankruptcy, insubordination of the fleet, etc., that Congress is rejecting one by one the measures brought in on the principles of their own address. But nothing less than such miraculous events as have been pouring in on us from the first of our convening could have assuaged the fermentation produced in mens minds. In consequence of these events, what was the majority at first, is by degrees become the minority, so that we may say that in the Representatives moderation will govern. But nothing can establish firmly the republican principles of our government but an establishment of them in England. France will be the apostle for this. We very much fear that Gerry will not accept the mission to Paris. The delays which have attended this measure have left a dangerous void in our endeavors to preserve peace, which can scarcely be reconciled to a wish to preserve it. I imagine we shall rise from the 1st to the 3d of July. I am, dear Sir, your friend and servant.
P.S. The interruption of letters is becoming so notorious, that I am forming a resolution of declining correspondence with my friends through the channels of the Post Office altogether.
I scribbled you a line on the 24th ultimo; it missed of the post, and so went by a private hand. I perceive from yours by Mr. Bringhurst, that you had not received it. In fact, it was only an earnest exhortation to come here with Monroe, which I still hope you will do. In the meantime, I enclose you a letter from him, and wish your opinion on its principal subject. The variety of other topics the day I was with you, kept out of sight the letter to Mazzei imputed to me in the papers, the general substance of which is mine, though the diction has been considerably altered and varied in the course of its translations from English into Italian, from Italian into French, and from French into English. I first met with it at Bladensburg, and for a moment conceived I must take the field of the public papers. I could not disavow it wholly, because the greatest part was mine, in substance though not in form. I could not avow it as it stood, because the form was not mine, and, in one place, the substance very materially falsified. This, then, would render explanations necessary; nay, it would render proofs of the whole necessary, and draw me at length into a publication of all (even the secret) transactions of the administration while I was in it ; and embroil me personally with every member of the executive, with the judiciary, and with others still. I soon decided in my own mind, to be entirely silent. I consulted with several friends at Philadelphia, who, every one of them, were clearly against my avowing or disavowing, and some of them conjured me most earnestly to let nothing provoke me to it. I corrected, in conversation with them, a substantial misrepresentation in the copy published. The original has a sentiment like this (for I have it not before me), they are endeavoring to submit us to the substance, as they already have to the forms of the British government. Meaning by forms, the birth-days, levees, processions to parliament, inauguration pomposities, etc. But the copy published says, as they have already submitted us to the form of the British, etc., making me express hostility to the form of our government, that is to say, to the Constitution itself. For this is really the difference of the word form, used in the singular or plural, in that phrase, in the English language. Now it would be impossible for me to explain this publicly, without bringing on a personal difference between General Washington and myself, which nothing before the publication of this letter has ever done. It would embroil me also with all those with whom his character is still popular, that is to say, nine tenths of the people of the United States. And what good would be obtained by avowing the letter with the necessary explanations ? Very little indeed, in my opinion, to counterbalance a good deal of harm. From my silence in this instance, it cannot be inferred that I am afraid to own the general sentiments of the letter. If I am subject to either imputation, it is to that of avowing such sentiments too frankly both in private and public, often when there is no necessity for it, merely because I disdain everything like duplicity. Still, however, I am open to conviction. Think for me on the occasion, and advise me what to do, and confer with Colonel Monroe on the subject.Let me entreat you again to come with him ; there are other important things to consult on. One will be his affair. Another is the subject of the petition now enclosed you, to be proposed to our district, on the late presentment of our representative by the grand jury. The idea it brings forward is still confined to my own breast. It has never been mentioned to any mortal, because I first wish your opinion on the expediency of the measure. If you approve it, I shall propose to P. Carr or some other, to father it, and to present it to the counties at their general muster. This will be in time for our Assembly. The presentment going in the public papers just at the moment when Congress was together, produced a great effect both on its friends and foes in that body, very much to the disheartening and mortification of the latter. I wish this petition, if approved, to arrive there under the same circumstances, to produce the counter-effect so wanting for their gratification. I could have wished to receive it from you again at our court on Monday, because P. Carr and Wilson Nicholas will be there, and might also be consulted, and commence measures for putting it into motion. If you can return it then, with your opinion, it will be of importance. Present me affectionately to Mrs. Madison, and convey to her my entreaties to interpose her good offices and persuasives with you to bring her here, and before we uncover our house, which will yet be some weeks. Salutations and adieu.
With great pleasure I forward to you the Diploma of the American Philosophical Society, adopting you into their body. The attention on your part, to which they are indebted for the knowledge that such an animal has existed as the Megalonyx, as we have named him, gives them reason to hope that the same attention continued will enrich us with other objects of science, which your part of the country may yet, we hope, furnish. On my arrival at Philadelphia, I met with an account published in Spain of the skeleton of an enormous animal from Paraguay, of the clawed kind, but not of the lion class at all; indeed, it is classed with the sloth, ant-eater, etc., which are not of the carnivorous kinds ; it was dug up 100 feet below the surface, near the river La Plata. The skeleton is now mounted at Madrid, is 12 feet long and 6 feet high. There are several circumstances which lead to a supposition that our megalonyx may have been the same animal with this. There are others which still induce us to class him with the lion. Since this discovery has led to questioning the Indians as to this animal, we have received some of their traditions which confirm his classification with the lion. As soon as our 4th volume of transactions, now in the press, shall be printed I will furnish you with the account given in to the Society. I take for granted that you have little hope of recovering any more of the bones. Those sent me are delivered to the Society. I am, with great esteem, dear Sir, your most obedient servant.
I have to acknowledge the receipt of your two favors of the 2d and 22d instant, and to thank you for the pamphlet covered by the former. You know my subscription to its doctrines ; and as to the mode of emancipation, I am satisfied that that must be a matter of compromise between the passions, the prejudices, and the real difficulties which will each have their weight in that operation. Perhaps the first chapter of this history, which has begun in St. Domingo, and the next succeeding ones, which will recount how all the whites were driven from all the other islands, may prepare our minds for a peaceable accommodation between justice, policy and necessity; and furnish an answer to the difficult question, whither shall the colored emigrants go ? and the sooner we put some plan under way, the greater hope there is that it may be permitted to proceed peaceably to its ultimate effect. But if something is not done, and soon done, we shall be the murderers of our own children. The murmura venturos nautis prodentia ventos has already reached us; the revolutionary storm, now sweeping the globe, will be upon us, and happy if we make timely provision to give it an easy passage over our land. From the present state of things in Europe and America, the day which begins our combustion must be near at hand; and only a single spark is wanting to make that day to-morrow. If we had begun sooner, we might probably have been allowed a lengthier operation to clear ourselves, but every days delay lessens the time we may take for emancipation. Some people derive hope from the aid of the confederated States. But this is a delusion. There is but one State in the Union which will aid us sincerely, if an insurrection begins, and that one may, perhaps, have its own fire to quench at the same time.
The facts stated in yours of the 22d were not identically known to me, but others like them were. From the General Government no interference need be expected. Even the merchant and navigator, the immediate sufferers, are prevented by various motives from wishing to be redressed. I see nothing but a State procedure which can vindicate us from the insult. It is in the power of any single magistrate, or of the Attorney for the Commonwealth, to lay hold of the commanding officer, whenever he comes ashore, for the breach of the peace, and to proceed against him by indictment. This is so plain an operation, that no power can prevent its being carried through with effect, but the want of will in the officers of the State.I think that the matter of finances, which has set the people of Europe to thinking, is now advanced to that point with us, that the next step, and it is an unavoidable one, a land tax, will awaken our constituents, and call for inspection into past proceedings. I am, with great esteem, dear Sir, your friend and servant.
I have to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of July the 4th, and to recognize in it the sentiments you have ever held, and worthy of the day on which it is dated. It is true that a party has risen up among us, or rather has come among us, which is endeavoring to separate us from all friendly connection with France, to unite our destinies with those of Great Britain, and to assimiliate our government to theirs. Our lenity in permitting the return of the old tories, gave the first body to this party; they have been increased by large importations of British merchants and factors, by American merchants dealing on British capital, and by stock dealers and banking companies, who, by the aid of a paper system, are enriching themselves to the ruin of our country, and swaying the government by their possession of the printing presses, which their wealth commands, and by other means, not always honorable to the character of our countrymen. Hitherto, their influence and their system have been irresistible, and they have raised up an executive power which is too strong for the Legislature. But I flatter myself they have passed their zenith. The people, while these things were doing, were lulled into rest and security from a cause which no longer exists. No prepossessions now will shut their ears to truth. They begin to see to what port their leaders were steering during their slumbers, and there is yet time to haul in, if we can avoid a war with France. All can be done peaceably, by the people confining their choice of Representatives and Senators to persons attached to republican government and the principles of 1776, not office-hunters, but farmers, whose interests are entirely agricultural. Such men are the true representatives of the great American interest, and are alone to be relied on for expressing the proper American sentiments. We owe gratitude to France, justice to England, good will to all, and subservience to none. All this must be brought about by the people, using their elective rights with prudence and self-possession, and not suffering themselves to be duped by treacherous emissaries. It was by the sober sense of our citizens that we were safely and steadily conducted from monarchy to republicanism, and it is by the same agency alone we can be kept from falling back. I am happy in this occasion of reviving the memory of old things, and of assuring you of the continuance of the esteem and respect of, dear Sir, your friend and servant.
I received safely your favor of Aug. 9 with the two packets of Smyrna and Sicilian wheat. The latter I shall value as well because it lenghthens our fall sowing, as because it may be sown in the spring. And in a soil which does not suit oats (as is the case of ours) we want a good spring grain. The May wheat has been sufficiently tried to prove that it will not answer for general culture in this part of the country. In the lower country it does better.
We have now with us our friend Monroe. He is engaged in stating his conduct for the information of the public. As yet, however, he has done little, being too much occupied with re-arranging his household. His preliminary skirmish with the Secretary of State has, of course, bespoke a suspension of the public mind, till he can lay his statement before them. Our Congressional district is fermenting under the presentment of their representative by the Grand Jury; and the question of a Convention for forming a State Constitution will probably be attended to in these parts. These are the news of our Canton. Those of a more public nature you know before we do. My best respects to Mrs. Mercer, and assurances to yourself of the affectionate esteem of, dear Sir, your friend and servant.
The doubt which you suggest as to our jurisdiction over the case of the Grand Jury vs. Cabell, had occurred to me, and naturally occurs on first view of the question. But I knew, that to send the petition to the House of Representatives in Congress, would make bad worse; that a majority of that House would pass a vote of approbation. On examination of the question, too, it appeared to me that we could maintain the authority of our own government over it.
A right of free correspondence between citizen and citizen, on their joint interests, whether public or private, and under whatsoever laws these interests arise, (to wit, of the State, of Congress, of France, Spain, or Turkey), is a natural right ; it is not the gift of any municipal law, either of England, or Virginia, or of Congress; but in common with all our other natural rights, it is one of the objects for the protection of which society is formed, and municipal laws established.
The courts of this commonwealth (and among them the General Court, as a court of impeachment) are originally competent to the cognizance of all infractions of the rights of one citizen by another citizen; and they still retain all their judiciary cognizances not expressly alienated by the federal Constitution.
The federal Constitution alienates from them all cases arising, 1st, under the Constitution; 2dly, under the laws of Congress; 3dly, under treaties, etc. But this right of free correspondence, whether with a public representative in General Assembly, in Congress, in France, in Spain, or with a private one charged with pecuniary trust, or with a private friend the object of our esteem, or any other, has not been given to us under, 1st, the federal Constitution ; 2dly, any law of Congress ; or 3dly, any treaty ; but as before observed, by nature. It is therefore not alienated, but remains under the protection of our courts.
Were the question even doubtful, that is no reason for abandoning it. The system of the General Government, is to seize all doubtful ground. We must join in the scramble, or get nothing. Where first occupancy is to give right, he who lies still loses all. Besides, it is not right for those who are only to act in a preliminary form, to let their own doubts preclude the judgment of the court of ultimate decision. We ought to let it go to the House of Delegates for their consideration, and they, unless the contrary be palpable, ought to let it to go to the General Court, who are ultimately to decide on it.
It is of immense consequence that the States retain as complete authority as possible over their own citizens. The withdrawing themselves under the shelter of a foreign jurisdiction, is so subversive of order and so pregnant of abuse, that it may not be amiss to consider how far a law of praemunire should be revised and modified, against all citizens who attempt to carry their causes before any other than the State courts, in cases where those other courts have no right to their cognizance. A plea to the jurisdiction of the courts of their State, or a reclamation of a foreign jurisdiction, if adjudged valid, would be safe, but if adjudged invalid, would be followed by the punishment of praemunire for the attempt.
Think further of the preceding part of this letter, and we will have further conference on it. Adieu.
P.S. Observe, that it is not the breach of Mr. Cabells privilege which we mean to punish : that might lie with Congress. It is the wrong done to the citizens of our district. Congress gave no authority to punish that wrong. They can only take cognizance of it in vindication of their member.
So many persons have of late found an interest or a passion gratified by imputing to me sayings and writings which I never said or wrote, or by endeavoring to draw me into newspapers to harass me personally, that I have found it necessary for my quiet and my other pursuits to leave them in full possession of the field, and not to take the trouble of contradicting them even in private conversation. If I do it now, it is out of respect to your application, made by private letter and not through the newspapers, and under the perfect assurance that what I write to you will not be permitted to get in a newspaper, while you are at full liberty to assert it in conversation under my authority. I never gave an opinion that the Government would not remove to the federal city. I never entertained that opinion; but on the contrary, whenever asked the question, I have expressed my full confidence that they would remove there. Having had frequent occasion to declare this sentiment, I have endeavored to conjecture on what a contrary one could have been ascribed to me. I remember that in Georgetown, where I passed a day in February in conversation with several gentlemen on the preparations there for receiving the government, an opinion was expressed by some, and not privately, that there would be few or no private buildings erected in Washington this summer, and that the prospect of there being a sufficient number in time, was not flattering. This they grounded on the fact that the persons holding lots, from a view to increase their means of building, had converted their money at low prices, into Morris and Nicholsons notes, then possessing a good degree of credit, and that having lost these by the failure of these gentlemen, they were much less able to build than they would have been. I then observed, and I did it with a view to excite exertion, that if there should not be private houses in readiness sufficient for the accommodation of Congress and the persons annexed to the Government, it could not be expected that men should come there to lodge, like cattle, in the fields, and that it highly behoved those interested in the removal to use every exertion to provide accommodations. In this opinion, I presume I shall be joined by yourself and every other. But delivered, as it was, only on the hypothesis of a fact stated by others, it could not authorize the assertion of an absolute opinion, separated from the statement of facts on which it was hypothetically grounded. I have seen no reason to believe that Congress have changed their purpose with respect to the removal. Every public indication from them and every sentiment I have heard privately expressed by the members, convinces me they are steady in the purpose. Being on this subject, I will suggest to you; what I did privately at Georgetown to a particular person, in confidence that it should be suggested to the managers, if in event it should happen that there should not be a sufficiency of private buildings erected within the proper time, would it not be better for the commissioners to apply for a suspension of the removal for one year, than to leave it to the hazard which a contrary interest might otherwise bring on it ? Of this however you have yet two summers to consider, and you have the best knowledge of the circumstances on which a judgment may be formed whether private accommodations will be provided. As to the public buildings, every one seems to agree that they will be in readiness.
I have for five or six years been encouraging the opening a direct road from the Southern part of this State, leading through this county to Georgetown. The route proposed is from Georgetown by Colonel Alexanders, Elk-run Church, Normans Ford, Stevensburg, the Racoon Ford, the Marquiss Road, Martin Keys Ford on the Rivanna, the mouth of Slate River, the high bridge on Appomattox, Prince Edward Courthouse, Charlotte Courthouse, Coles ferry on Stanton, Dixs ferry on Dan Guilford Courthouse, Salisbury, Crosswells ferry on Saluda, Ninety-six, Augusta. It is believed this road will shorten the distance along the continent one hundred miles. It will be to open anew only from Georgetown to Prince Edward Courthouse. An actual survey has been made from Stevensburg to Georgetown, by which that much of the road will be shortened twenty miles, and be all a dead level. The difficulty is to get it first through Fairfax and Prince William. The counties after that will very readily carry it on. We consider it as opening to us a direct road to the market of the federal city, for all the beef and mutton we could raise, for which we have no market at present. I am in possession of the survey, and had thought of getting the Bridge company at Georgetown to undertake to get the road carried through Fairfax and Prince William, either by those counties or by themselves. But I have some apprehension that by pointing our road to the bridge, it might get out of the level country, and be carried over the hills, which will be but a little above it. This would be inadmissible. Perhaps you could suggest some means of our getting over the obstacle of those two counties. I shall be very happy to concur in any measure which can effect all our purposes. I am with esteem, dear Sir, your most obedient servant.
I took the Liberty of thanking you for your favor of the 4th. of June in a Long Letter directed to you at Philadelphia but having seen in the papers a few days after an account of your departure from thence for Virginia I had then my doubts and am still under an uncertainty whether it arrived in time to find you there or whether it ever got to your hands. As that Letter contained some communications relative to Cresops extermination of Logans Family as stated in the Notes on Virginia and may possibly have miscarried and as you appeared desirous of receiving every information which might tend in any degree to ascertain the correctness or error of that statement, I deem it not inexpedient to repeat what I there espressd on the subject and to add some further accounts, the result of my inquiries agreeably to your Wish. I wrote you that Colo. Francis Deakins a very respectable character in this State had informed me that some time in the year 74. he was on the Frontiers of this then Province laying off a Proprietors Manor and executing some other Surveys when Capt. Michael Cresop and his party called at his Camp on their way to the Ohio and remained there some days, that they were in a state of intoxication when they came, continued so during their Stay and left him in a similar State and vowing destruction to every Indian they should meet withthat some little time after their departure (perhaps ten days or a fortnight) he received intelligence of the above murder and a few days after while he was still surveying from 3 to 500 of the back Settlers consisting of Men Women and Children passed him some half naked and all half starved flying in confusion from their homes to avoid the just resentment of the Indians who had begun their retaliations and that he never had since heard it denied or even doubted that Cresop and his party committed the act. From the above it appears there has been an error in statement as to the Person that it was Capt. and not Colo. Cressop who headed the Party and the Father and not the Grand Father of Mr. Martins "Childrens Mother." I have now further to notify that Colo. Daniel Hughes one of the first Characters among us who has resided a great many years in this County and is well acquainted with the characters of old Colo. Cresop and his Son, assured me that shortly after the destruction of Logans Family he was informed by a respectable Friend Mr. Patric Allison that he was at the Station on the Ohio from whence issued Capt. Cresop and his Party the morning of the transaction, that Capt. Cresop pressed him to join the detachment which however he declinedthat a few hours after they left the station he heard the firing which commenced the horrid business and in the evening received the particulars of it. Mr. Allison is now a resident of Kentucky near either Lexington or Washington and Colo. Hughes has not a doubt will confirm the above account if a Letter is addressd to him. Of the general conduct and character of both Colo. Cresop and his Son, Colo. Hughes just observed that he thought Mr. Martin had better have been silent on that subject for he believed the least said would be the most favorable to them. I am told that Martin has a certificate or affidavit, I cannot say with precision which from a Mr. Tomlinson of Alleghany County (Md.) who was one of the Party (on which he [bottoms] his attempts to exculpate his friends) purporting that Cresop was 60 miles from the scene of Action when the murder was committed. Such is the information I have as yet been able to obtain to this I can add that the general opinion seems to be that Cresop and his party did destroy Logans Family and that Mr. Martins publications have not when I have heard the subject mentioned made the smallest impression in favor of his cause. Should any further information occur I will with pleasure communicate it.
From the enclosed papers it is evident how necessary the caution at the conclusion of your last Letter was and with how much avidity your good Friends the Aristocrats grasp even at a Phantom when they think there is the smallest Chance of doing you an injury. A day or two after the receipt of your Letter I communicated its contents to my Father and consulted with him on the propriety of suffering them to go further; He was decidedly of opinion that it was neither your wish nor intention to have your sentiments kept from your republican Friends who [...] receive much pleasure from themthat a correspondence which had for its basis inviolable secrecy instead of being pleasing and instructive would become irksome and disagreeable and that your caution was intended merely to prevent any extracts from being suffered to be taken or get into the public papersin company therefore some days after with Genl. Sprigg and a few other Gentlemen all your warm admirers I mentioned the contents of the Letter which afforded them much satisfaction but one of them repeating part of the substance again in Hagers Town it got to the Ears of one of the opposite party who stripping it of its zeal and d[...] it in false and exagerated colors forwarded it to Frederic and Geo. Towns the two hotbeds of Aristocracy in this state. Having occasion to visit the latter place shortly after I was informed of the report in circulation to wit that you had written me the President had informed you he was clearly of opinion that War ought to be immediately declared against France and that he would certainly have done it if he and his party had not found the majority of Congress opposed to the Measure. It was my purpose to have this fals[ehood] effectually contradicted and I know that a bare denial of it by myself or any other republican would be given little credit to by the other party. I therefore thought it adviseable to shew that part of your Letter which touched on the subject to one of my Connexions in confidence and without seeming to have heard the report mentioned nearly the substance to two other Gentlemen (all however aristocrats) in order that they might contradict the calumny wherever they heard it and this had in a great degree the desired effect; [...] nearly two months after I was told that the enclosed Quere had appeared in a Frederic Paper and had been extracted by others. I immediately obtained it and gave th[ru?] the same channel the denial which is also covered and have since heard nothing [of] the subject. You have I doubt not had Hamiltons Pamphlet. Dreadful indeed have been the dilemmas into which the spirit of Jacobinisn, had driven this great and virtuous Man when all his wellknown talents and ingenuity could not furnish him with means of escape short of so great a Sacrifice when to shield his public, he [was?] himself compelld to abandon to destruction his private character; nay to become the public recorder of his own infamy. Genl. Forest who married my Niece and myself [in?] our correspondence frequently direct political Squibs at each other. In a late [Letter] I asked him if he had seen the adulterous confessions of his Friend and whether he did not think them nearly equal to the precious confession of Mr. Randolph especially as the first was acknowledged and the latter merely supposed by Mr. Randolphs Enemies. Without giving a direct answer to the Question he endeavors to get over it by abusing the hearts of the Citizen Minister and Displaced Clerk who (he says) knowing Mr. H[amilton]s innocence of the charge of speculation had taken a disgraceful advantage to make him unhappy at home and Subject to reproach abroad. He then rails with bitterness like his fallen Angel against the spirit of Jacobinism and in the progress of his Paroxism seems to have placed prudence and even consistency in the back Groundand displays sentiments which would do honor to a despot or his Courtiers. After affecting to congratulate himself and all other friends to real Liberty and good government upon the low ebb into which the Leaders of the Democratic Party had dwindled he almost in the same breath says I believe in my soul there is such a spirit of Jacobinism in our Country that if it be not immediately checkd by the interposition of virtuous, honest, wise Characters (such I have written him I presumed as Mr. Forest, Mr. Jay, Mr. Webster Mr. Liston, Mr. Porcupine, Colo. Hamilton, Mrs. Reynolds, Mr. A his man Timothy, Mr. Wilcocks and Geo. 3d.) will prove destructive of the happiness and Prosperity of the United States. I have asked him what he meant by "the spirit of Jacobinism"? Whether it was the use in certain Citizens of their undoubted right to give their opinions freely upon the measures of their servantswhether he did not approve of a free country a free discussion of public measure or whether he did not with our President deplore that revolutionary Spirit, that opposition to every species of Government which has been fashioned into a sort of Science in Europe &ca. which was clearly advocating the doctrine of Passive Obedience and non resistance to every species of Governmentby what means he wished the restless spirit of which he complained checkd? Whether by emollient or corrosive medicines, whether by perswasion or by Seditious Billsif the former I ventured to prophecy that the republicans would never suffer themselves to be lulld into Slaveryif the latter, that the same Spirit which manifested itself in opposition to one Tyrant in 74. 5. and 6. would again burst forth and crush another. I expect by next post to have these Questions solved.
I am sorry for the difference which appears to have taken place among the different branches of the French Government; it is more unfortunate at the moment of negotiation for a General Peace as it will probably if attended with no worse consequences retard that measure. Our last Accounts say that one popular General (Pichegru) is exhorting the soldiery and citizens of Paris to rouze and defend the Constitution by protecting the legislative. Councils, while another General (Hoche) equally popular is moving to Paris with his army and threatening destruction to the enemies of the Executive Directory. I hope however that these accounts having gone thro the London [Prints?] may if not promotion be at least much exaggerated. As your opportunities of information must be far better than mine if you have received any intelligence more from [those] which I have stated I shall thank you for it and for your sentiments as to the state of that Country and the probable issue of their domestic misunderstandings. I derive a consolation from a belief that if they should unhappily arrive to the spilling of bloodthey are strong enough to 1 or 200,000 men and still be more than a Match for all their EnemiesBuonaparte seems to be immersed in the business of regulating the concerns of the new republics. He appears as absolute as ever Cæsar was but I hope not with Cæsars disposition and Viewsif he has he will it is to be hoped without his successes meet his Fate.
We have experienced the most wonderful drowth that was ever known in this Country, having only had one Rain (this was a great one) to wet the Ground two inches since harvestand scarcely a drop since We began to Seed. Our Grain must of course look dreadfully but in addition to the above we are laboring under the ravages of that destructive insect the Hessian Fly which made their appearance last fall and damaged us a little but are this season tearing up our Crops literally Root and branch. I hope it will be long before they reach your part of the Country if they ever do. We have had a succession of high Northerly Winds which with the Sun have parched our Grasses to mere Cynders. On Tuesday and Wednesday night [...] pretty severe Frosts. They caught my little Crop of butter corn ¾ths. in a perfect roasting Ear State and have very Much injured it as also the Pumpkin Crop which was not quite secured. Mr. Beall a Friend of Hagers Town keeps a Waggon plying from thence to the S. Westward, thro Staunton and promised to give me notice when it would start. He this morning sent me word that it would start tomorrow and politely offered to have any Package for you carefully lodged with Mr. A. Steward [of] Staunton as you directed. I therefore forward some of the butter Corn which however had not time to make itselfbut will answer well for seed in your Roasting [Ear] Crops. I also forward the most early kind perhaps in America and if you [...] not already of it you will find it all acquisition. I once planted some of it on the 30th. of May in my Garden and gathered from the produce Roasting Ears on [...] of the month of Julybut the season was remarkableand from the [lateness] of Planting they shot before they were 3 feet highthey are however vastly earlier than any other kind I ever knew and upon the Table a great delicacy.
My While dutch Clover has never got two inches above Ground nor shown a blossomof course I fail in getting seed this season. I sowd it with Oats in the spring which while they were in the Ground [Stifled] it and since there [has?] not been moisture enough to bring it forward. I have really tired myself with writing as I fear I shall you with reading this Scrawl. My Father [told?] me when I wrote to present you with his aff. respectsyou will therefore be so good as to accept them and those of Dr. Sir Yr Most obedt & most Humble Servt
I had almost forgot and should not have soon forgiven myself if I had, [to] tell you that your favor of the Peas got safe to hand but not till July. I however planted them in my Garden and had them regularly waterd12 Hills 5 in each from whence I have saved 3 Pints of clean full grown Peasthese will furnish me with a good Patch the ensuing season. Accept my thanks for them.
RC (DLC); frayed margin, with tape obscuring some text; at bottom of third page Fitzhugh wrote : (my bad Eyes cause crooked lines); endorsed by TJ as received 6 Nov. 1797 and so recorded in SJL.
For Fitzhughs LONG LETTER to TJ, See 20 June 1797.
The identity of the "Citizen" who sent the ENCLOSED QUERE (printed below) to the Rights of Man, a Fredericktown, Maryland, newspaper published by John Winter from 1794 to 1800, has not been established (Brigham, American Newspapers, I, 266). It is also unclear how extensively the "Quere" was EXTRACTED by other local newspapers, but a paraphrased version of it appeared in Noah Websters Minerva on 2 Aug. 1797. While Fitzhugh was concerned with the gossip over this letter in Maryland, he did not realize that Uriah Forrest had sent an extract of it to President John Adams (see TJ to Fitzhugh, 4 June 1797).
PRECIOUS CONFESSION: for the controversy surrounding Edmund Randolphs resignation as secretary of state, see TJ to Monroe, 6 Sep. 1795, and TJ to Madison, 26 Nov. 1795.
CITIZEN MINISTER AND DISPLACED CLERK: James Monroe and John Beckley.
E N C L U S U R E S
A Citizen to the Rights of Man
Frederick, (Anniversary of Independence) 97.
Whether Mr. Jefferson did say, since he has taken his present position that "it was the intention of mr. Adams (the president!) and his party, on the call of congress, to declare war against France if there had been a respectable majority"or, whether he had indubitable authority for it, if he did say so, is not satisfactorily ascertained. Report says, two gentlemen of respectability in George-Town, lately averred that major F told them he had received a letter from Mr. Jefferson since he went to Philadelphia, containing the above sentiments.
Report also says, however, that a third gentleman, equally respectable, declared, when he heard it mentioned in company, that the letter was shewn him by mr. F, in confidence, and that the above sentence was not in it; but that it was an improper letter.
As the solution of this question may be gratifying to the citizens at large, at the present interesting crisis, the investigation is humbly submitted to Peter Porcupine, Mr. Bache, and other critics.
It is supposed that the names of the within-mentioned gentlemen might readily be had if necessary.
Printed in the Federal Gazette & Baltimore Daily Advertiser, 29 July 1797; at head of text : "From the Rights of Man"; along with a letter to "Messrs. Yundy & Brown," 26 July 1797, noting : "The contents of the inclosed Quere, taken from a Frederick paper, being of a very serious nature, you will, if you please, insert it in your widely-circulating Gazette, and you will oblige A Subscriber."
Peregrine Fitzhugh to
the Rights of Man
Septr. 15th. 1797
Mr. F takes the Liberty of informing the Public that the report contained in a Quere published in this Paper of the 4th. of July last of Mr. Jeffersons having written him "that it was the intention of Mr. Adams and his party at the call of Congress to have declared war against France if there had been a greater majority" is without foundation and that the Gentlemen who are said to have averrd that Mr. F. told them so if they did aver it must have grossly misapprehended him as their respectability precludes them from the suspicion of a designed misrepresentation. There is not a word in the Letter about Mr. Adamss Party or intentions nor does it express a sentiment which can be justly construed into disrespect for the President of the United States. Mr. Fs never having seen the above quere till very lately will account for its not having been earlier noticed. It is hoped the Printers who have published the said Quere will in justice to Mr. Jefferson and Mr. F be so obliging as to give this a place in their papers also.
MS (DLC); entirely in Fitzhughs hand; at head of text : "For the Rights of Man."
Your favor of Novemb. did not come to my hands till Dec. 13. It had awaited my arrival here: and the ordinary affairs of business and ceremony prevented my applying to the patent office till Dec. 21. I then paid at the treasury the 20. Doll. bill you inclosed adding 10. Dollars, the price of the drill, as you had mentioned. The petition and description are lodged in the patent office. But a drawing is indispensably required by the law, and none came. Nor is the model yet come to hand. I have received a letter from Messrs. Monroe & Roe that the vessel being unable to come up on account of the ice, the crate was landed and put into their care, and they ask my directions. But they give no date of time or place to their letter, and my enquiries here to find out who they are and where they reside have been hitherto fruitless. I have taken measures to find whether they live at Wilmington, Marcus Hook &c and trust I shall find them, as they reside some where on the Delaware. As soon as the model arrives I will make a drawing from that which shall be lodged in the patent office and will compleat the title. I inclose you the treasurers receipt for the 30. Dollars.
Our stamp act is put off till July next. The land tax will also be put off. The approach of the elections may have had its weight on both these measures. The affluence of the treasury has rendered it possible to go on a year longer without a land tax. The questions about beginning a navy, and permitting our merchants (alias the English merchants) to arm and begin the war for us, must of course be discussed, because the speech has recommended these measures. But I see no reason to apprehend any change in the opinion of Congress on these points since the summer session. These therefore and Blounts impeachment will serve to give us an appearance of business for some time. For in honest truth I believe every man here acknoleges we have nothing to do : that there is literally nothing which the public good requires us to act upon. As we are together, I think myself we ought not to separate till we hear from our envoys at Paris. And I think we may expect by the last of January not only to hear from them, but to see what is likely to be the aspect of our affairs with France. If peaceable, I know no reason why we should not go home immediately, and economise something on the daily expences of our session, which in truth are enormous. The French Consul here tells me he has a letter from his government mentioning that they expect our envoys and that they will be well received. A pamphlet written by Fauchet is come here. I have not read it. But I understand that the sum of it is that our Executive are the enemies of France, our citizens generally friendly, but that the mutual interests of both countries requires a continuance of friendly intercourse between the two republics.A bill suspending for 3. years the law respecting foreign coins has passed the representatives with some difficulty and may possibly fail in the Senate. Whether from real fears for the mint or what other grounds I know not. But if it fails we are left almost without a coin for legal tenders. As you are in session it behoves you to see that your laws fixing the value of foreign coin and making them a tender are on a proper footing. By the constitution Congress may regulate the value of foreign coin, but if they do not do it, the old power revives to the states, the constitution only forbidding them to make any thing but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts. This construction is admitted here by persons not disposed to give to the states more powers than they are entitled to. Adieu affectionately.
[On 19 January 1798 the Virginia Assembly passed legislation FIXING THE VALUE of certain gold and silver FOREIGN coins and declaring them legal tender within the commonwealth (Shepherd, Statues, II, 84).]
I communicated to Mr. M[adison] the evening I was with him, the papers you sent by me for Mr. D[awson, John]. He was clearly of opinion nothing further ought to be done. D[awson] was decisively of the same opinion. This being the case then there was no ground for consulting L[ivingston] or B[urr] and accordingly nothing has been said to them.
Your book was later coming out than was to have been wished: however it works irresistably. It would be very gratifying to you to hear the unqualified eulogies both on the matter and manner by all who are not hostile to it from principle. A pamphlet, written by Fauchet (and now reprinting here) reinforces the views you have presented of the duplicity of the administration here. The republican party in the H[ouse] of representatives is stronger than its antagonist party in all strong questions. To-day on a question to put off the bill for permitting private vessels to arm, it was put off to the 1st. Monday of Feb. by 40. to 37. and on a motion to reconsider was confirmed by 44. to 38. We have half a dozen members absent, who if here would give decisive preponderance. Two of these are of our state, Giles and Cabell. The stamp act is put off to July, and the Land tax will not he touched this session. Before the next the elections will be over. We have therefore literally nothing to do, but to await intelligence from our envoys at Paris, and as soon as we learn that our affairs there will be of peaceable aspect (as there is reason to expect) I see nothing which ought to keep us here. The questions about building a navy, to be sure must be discussed out of respect to the speech : but it will only be to reject them. A bill has passed the Representatives giving three years longer currency to foreign coins. It is in danger in the Senate. The effect of stopping the currency of gold and silver is to force bank-paper through all the states. However I presume the state legislatures will exercise their acknoleged right of regulating the value of foreign coins, when not regulated by Congress, and their exclusive right of declaring them a tender. The Marquis Fayette was expected in the ship John from Hamburgh. She is cast away in this river. 70 passengers were said to be got ashore, and the rest still remaining on the wreck. But we do not know that he was actually a passenger. Some late elections have been remarkeable. Loyd of Maryland in the place of Henry by a majority of 1. against Winder the republican candidate. Chipman senator for Vermont by a majority of 1. against I. Smith the republican candidate. Tichenor chosen governor of Vermont by a small majority against the republican candidate. Governor Robertson of that state writes that the people there are fast coming over to a sound understanding of the state of our affairs. The same is said of some other of the N. England states. In this state that spirit rises very steadily. The republicans have a firm majority of about 6. in the H[ouse] of representatives here, a circumstance which has not been seen for some years. Even their Senate is purifying. The contest for the government will be between Mc.kean and Ross, and probably will be an extreme hard one. In N. York it will be the same between Livingston and Jay, who is becoming unpopular with his own party. We are anxious to see how the N. York representatives are. The dismission of Tenche Coxe from office without any reason assigned is considered as one of the bold acts of the President. Tant mieux.As soon as Fauchets pamphlet appears I will send you a copy. Your book so far has sold rapidly. I received from Mr. Madison paper for 500.D. for you, which will be paid in the course of a few weeks. I shall desire Barnes to receive and hold it subject to your order. Present me respectfully to Mrs. Monroe and accept assurances of my sincere friendship. Adieu.