I do not know whether you have seen some very furious abuse of me in the Baltimore papers by a Mr. Luther Martin, on account of Logans speech, published in the Notes on Virginia. He supposes both the speech and story made by me to support an argument against Buffon. I mean not to enter into a newspaper contest with Mr. Martin ; but I wish to collect, as well as the lapse of time will permit, the evidence on which we received that story. It was brought to us I remember by Lord Dunmore and his officers on the return from the expedition of 1776. I am sure it was from them I got it. As you were very much in the same circle of society in Williamsburg with myself, I am in hopes your memory will be able to help out mine, and recall some facts which have escaped me. I ask it as a great favor of you to endeavor to recollect, and to communicate to me all the circumstances you possibly can relative to this matter, particularly the authority on which we received it, and the names of any persons who you think can give me information. I mean to fix the fact with all possible care and truth, and either to establish or correct the former statement in an appendix to the Notes on Virginia, or in the first republication of the work.
Congress have done nothing interesting except postponing the stamp act. An act continuing the currency of the foreign coins three years longer has passed the Representatives, but was lost in the Senate. We have hopes that our envoys will be received decently at Paris, and some compromise agreed on. There seems to be little appearance of peace in Europe. Those among us who were so timid when they apprehended war with England, are now bold in propositions to arm. I do not think however that the Representatives will change the policy pursued by them at their summer session. The land tax will not be brought forward this year. Congress of course have no real business to be employed on. We may expect in a month or six weeks to hear so far from our commissioners at Paris as to judge what will be the aspect of our situation with France. If peaceable, as we hope, I know of nothing which should keep us together.In my late journey to this place, I came through Culpeper and Prince William to Georgetown. When I return, it will be through the Eastern Shore (a country I have never seen), by Norfolk and Petersburg; so that I shall fail then also of the pleasure of seeing you. Present respectful compliments to Mrs. Page, and accept assurances of the sincere esteem of, dear Sir, your friend and servant.
Dear Sir,Your favor of the 25th came to hand yesterday. I shall observe your directions with respect to the post day. I have spoken with the Deputy Post Master General on the subject of our Fredericksburg post. He never knew before that the Fredericksburg printer had taken the contract of the rider. He will be glad, if either in your neighborhood or ours, some good person will undertake to ride from April next. The price given this year is three hundred and thirty dollars, and it will go to the lowest bidder who can be depended on. I understand (though not from him) that Wyatt will be changed; and in general they determine that printers shall not be postmasters or riders.Before the receipt of your letter, I had informed Colo. Monroe of the paper you had put into my hands for him. The Drought was accepted & paiment will be made at the proper term. Genl. Van Cortlandt lodging in the same house with me, I had shewn him Baileys note, & he said he would let him know that I was the holder of it.All the nails you desire can be furnished from Monticello. I will give directions accordingly by my letter of this day. But as we can furnish the whole demand at any time in 3. weeks, and I presume you will not want them till your walls are done, I shall only direct that they go about them whenever they receive notice from you that you will soon want them. If you can give the second notification one month before your actual want, they will be in readiness.
Our weather here has been as with you, cold and dry. The thermometer has been at eight degrees. The river closed here the first week of December, which has caught a vast number of vessels destined for departure. It deadens also the demand for wheat. The price at New York is one dollar seventy-five cents, and of flour eight dollars fifty cents to nine dollars; tobacco eleven to twelve dollars. There need be no doubt of greater prices. The bankruptcies here continue; the prison is full of the most reputable merchants, and it is understood that the scene has not yet got to its height. Prices have fallen greatly. The market is cheaper than it has been for four years. Labor and house rent much reduced. Dry goods somewhat. It is expected that they will fall till they get nearly to old prices. Money scarce beyond all example.
The Representatives have rejected the Presidents proposition for enabling him to prorogue them. A law has passed putting off the stamp act till July next. The land tax will not be brought on. The Secretary of the Treasury says he has money enough. No doubt these two measures may be taken up more boldly at the next session, when most of the elections will be over. It is imagined the stamp act will be extended or attempted on every possible object. A bill has passed the Representatives to suspend for three years the law arresting the currency of foreign coins. The Senate propose an amendment, continuing the currency of the foreign gold only. Very possibly the bill may be lost. The object of opposing the bill is to make the French crowns a subject of speculation (for it seems they fell on the Presidents proclamation to a dollar in most of the States), and to force bank paper (for want of other medium) through all the States generally. Tenche Coxe is displaced, and no reason ever spoken of. It is therefore understood to be for his activity during the late election. It is said, that the people from hence quite to the eastern extremity are beginning to be sensible that their government has been playing a foul game. In Vermont, Chipman was elected Senator by a majority of one, against the republican candidate. In Maryland, Lloyd by a majority of one, against Winder the republican candidate. Tichenor chosen Governor of Vermont by a very small majority. The House of Representatives of this State has become republican by a firm majority of six. Two counties, it is said, have come over generally to the republican side. It is thought the republicans have also a majority in the New York House of Representatives. Hard elections are expected there between Jay and Livingston, and here between Ross and MKean. In the House of Representatives of Congress, the republican interest has at present, on strong questions, a majority of about half a dozen, as is conjectured, and there are as many of their firmest men absent; not one of the anti-republicans is from his post. The bill for permitting private vessels to arm, was put off to the first Monday in February by a sudden vote, and a majority of five. It was considered as an index of their dispositions on that subject, though some voted both ways on other ground. It is most evident, that the anti-republicans wish to get rid of Blounts impeachment. Many metaphysical niceties are handing about in conversation, to show that it cannot be sustained. To show the contrary, it is evident must be the task of the republicans, or of nobody. Monroes book is considered as masterly by all those who are not opposed in principle, and it is deemed unanswerable. An answer, however, is commenced in Fennos paper of yesterday, under the signature of Scipio. The real author not yet conjectured. As I take these papers merely to preserve them, I will forward them to you, as you can easily return them to me on my arrival at home ; for I shall not see you on my way, as I mean to go by the Eastern Shore and Petersburg. Perhaps the paragraphs in some of these abominable papers may draw from you now and then a squib. A pamphlet of Fauchets appeared yesterday. I send you a copy under another cover. A handbill has just arrived here from New York, where they learn from a vessel which left Havre about the 9th of November, that the Emperor had signed the definitive articles, given up Mantua, evacuated Mentz, agreed to give passage to the French troops to Hanover, and that the Portuguese ambassador had been ordered to quit Paris, on account of the seizure of fort St. Julians by the English supposed with the connivance of Portugal.
Though this is ordinary mercantile news, it looks like truth. The latest official intelligence from Paris, is from Talleyrand to the French consul here Lastombe,) dated September the 28th, saying that our Envoys were arrived, and would find every disposition on the part of his government to accommodate with us.
My affectionate respects to Mrs. Madison; to yourself, health and friendship. Adieu.
Dear Sir,I wrote you last on the 2d instant on which day I received yours of December 25th. I have not resumed my pen, because there has really been nothing worth writing about, but what you would see in the newspapers. There is, as yet, no certainty what will be the aspect of our affairs with France. Either the Envoys have not written to the government, or their communications are hushed up. This last is suspected, because so many arrivals have happened from Bordeaux and Havre. The letters from American correspondents in France have been always to Boston ; and the experience we had last summer of their adroitness in counterfeiting this kind of intelligence, inspires doubts as to their late paragraphs. A letter is certainly received here by an individual from Talleyrand, which says our Envoys have been heard, that their pretensions are high, that possibly no arrangement may take place, but that there will be no declaration of war by France. It is said that Bournonville has written that he has hopes of an accommodation (three audiences having then, November 3, been had), and to be himself a member of a new diplomatic mission to this country. On the whole, I am entirely suspended as to what is to be expected.The Representatives have been several days in debate on the bill for foreign intercourse. A motion has been made to reduce it to what it was before the extension of 1796. The debate will probably have good effects, in several ways, on the public mind, but the advocates for the reformation expect to lose the question. They find themselves deceived in the expectation entertained in the beginning of the session, that they had a majority. They now think the majority is on the other side by two or three, and there are moreover two or three of them absent.Blounts affair is to come on next. In the meantime the Senate have before them a bill for regulating proceedings in impeachment. This will be made the occasion of offering a clause for the introduction of juries into these trials. (Compare the paragraph in the Constitution which says, that all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury, with the eighth amendment, which says, that in all criminal prosecutions the trial shall be by jury.) There is no expectation of carrying this; because the division in the Senate is of two to one, but it will draw forth the principles of the parties, and concur in accumulating proofs on which side all the sound principles are to be found.Very acrimonious altercations are going on between the Spanish minister and the executive, and at the Natchez something worse than mere altercation. If hostilities have not begun there, it has not been for want of endeavors to bring them on by our agents.Marshall, of Kentucky, this day proposed in Senate some amendments to the Constitution. They were barely read just as we were adjourning, and not a word of explanation given. As far as I caught them in my ear, they went only to modifications of the elections of President and Vice-President, by authorizing voters to add the office for which they name each, and giving to the Senate the decision of a disputed election of President, and to the Representatives that of Vice-President. But I am apprehensive I caught the thing imperfectly, and probably incorrectly. Perhaps this occasion may be taken of proposing again the Virginia amendments, as also to condemn elections by the legislatures, themselves to transfer the power of trying impeachments from the Senate to some better constituted court, &c., &c.
Good tobacco here is thirteen dollars, flour eight dollars and fifty cents, wheat one dollar and fifty cents, but dull, because only the millers buy. The river, however, is nearly open, and the merchants will now come to market and give a spur to the price. But the competition will not be what it has been. Bankruptcies thicken, and the height of them has by no means yet come on. It is thought this winter will be very trying.
Friendly salutations to Mrs. Madison. Adieu affectionately.
January 25. I enclose Marshalls propositions. They have been this day postponed to the 1st of June, chiefly by the vote of the anti-republicans, under the acknowledged fear that other amendments would be also proposed, and that this is not the time for agitating the public mind.
Dear Sir,I wrote you last on the 25th ultimo ; since which yours of the 21st has been received. Bache had put five hundred copies of Monroes book on board a vessel, which was stopped by the early and unexpected freezing of the river. He tried in vain to get them carried by fifties at a time, by the stage. The river is now open here, the vessels are falling down, and if they can get through the ice below, the one with Baches packet will soon be at Richmond. It is surmised here that Scipio is written by C. Lee. Articles of impeachment were yesterday given in against Blount, but many knotty preliminary questions will arise. Must not a formal law settle the oath of the Senators, form of pleadings, process against person or goods, &c.? May he not appear by attorney ? Must he not be tried by a jury ? Is a Senator impeachable ? Is an ex-Senator impeachable ? You will readily conceive that these questions, to be settled by twenty-nine lawyers, are not likely to come to speedy issue. A very disagreeable question of privilege has suspended all other proceedings for some days. You will see this in the newspapers.The question of arming vessels came on, on Monday last. That morning, the President sent in an inflammatory message about a vessel taken and burnt by a French privateer, near Charleston. Of this he had been possessed some time, and it had been through all the newspapers. It seemed to come in now apropos for spurring on the disposition to arm. However, the question has not come on. In the meantime, the general spirit, even of the merchants, is becoming adverse to it. In New Hampshire and Rhode Island they are unanimously against arming, so in Baltimore. This place is becoming more so. Boston divided and desponding. I know nothing of New York, but I think there is no danger of the question being carried, unless something favorable to it is received from our Envoys. From them we hear nothing. Yet it seems reasonably believed that the executive has heard, and that it is something which would not promote their views of arming. For every action of theirs shows they are panting to come to blows.Walkerss bill will be applied to answer a draught of Colo. Monroes on Barnes. I have not heard yet from Bailey. I wrote to you about procuring a rider for the Fredericksburg post. The proposition should be here by the 14th inst., but I can get it kept open a little longer. There is no bidder yet but Green the printer, £100. Virga will be given.
Giles has arrived. My friendly salutations to Mrs. Madison. Adieu affectionately.
Dear Sir,I wrote you last on the 8th. We have still not a word from our Envoys. This long silence (if they have been silent) proves things are not going on very roughly. If they have not been silent, it proves their information, if made public, would check the disposition to arm. I had flattered myself, from the progress of the public sentiment against arming, that the same progress had taken place in the Legislature. But I am assured by those who have better opportunities of forming a good judgment, that if the question against arming is carried at all, it will not be by more than a majority of two ; and particularly, that there will not be more than four votes against it from the five eastern States, or five votes at the utmost. You will have perceived that Dayton has gone over completely. He expects to be appointed Secretary of War, in the room of MHenry who, it is said, will retire. He has been told, as report goes, that they would not have confidence enough in him to appoint him. The desire of inspiring them with more, seems the only way to account for the eclat which he chooses to give to his conversion. You will have seen the disgusting proceedings in the case of Lyon : if they would have accepted even of a commitment to the serjeant, it might have been had. But to get rid of his vote was the most material object. These proceedings must degrade the General Government, and lead the people to lean more on their State governments, which have been sunk under the early popularity of the former. This day, the question of the jury in cases of impeachment comes on. There is no doubt how it will go. The general division of the Senate is twenty-two and ten; and under the probable prospect of what it will forever be, I see nothing in the mode of proceeding by impeachment but the most formidable weapon for the purpose of dominant faction that ever was contrived. It would be the most effectual one of getting rid of any man whom they consider as dangerous to their views, and I do not know that we could count on one-third in an emergency. All depends then on the House of Representatives, who are the impeachers; and there the majorities are of one, two, or three only; and these sometimes one way and sometimes another : in a question of pure party they have the majority, and we do not know what circumstances may turn up to increase that majority temporarily, if not permanently. I know of no solid purpose of punishment which the courts of law are not equal to, and history shows, that in England, impeachment has been an engine more of passion than justice.
A great ball is to be given here on the 22d, and in other great towns of the Union. This is, at least, very indelicate, and probably excites uneasy sensations in some. I see in it, however, this useful deduction, that the birth-days which have been kept, have been, not those of the President, but of the General. I enclose with the newspapers, the two acts of parliament passed on the subject of our commerce, which are interesting. The merchants here say, that the effect of the countervailing tonnage on American vessels, will throw them completely out of employ as soon as there is peace. The eastern members say nothing but among themselves. But it is said that it is working like gravel in their stomachs. Our only comfort is, that they have brought it on themselves. My respectful salutation to Mrs. Madison; and to yourself, friendship and adieu.
Dear General,I received duly your welcome favor of the 15th, and had an opportunity of immediately delivering the one it enclosed to General Kosciusko. I see him often, and with great pleasure mixed with commiseration. He is as pure a son of liberty as I have ever known, and of that liberty which is to go to all, and not to the few or the rich alone. We are here under great anxiety to hear from our Envoys. But I think this is one of the cases where no news is good news. If the dispositions at Paris threatened war, it is impossible that our envoys should not find some means of putting us on guard, of warning us to begin our preparations : especially, too, when so many vessels have come from ports of France, and if writing were dangerous (which cannot be) there are so many of our countrymen at Paris who would bring us their vivâ voce communications. Peace then must be probable. I agree with you, that some of our merchants have been milking the cow : yet the great mass of them have become deranged; they are daily falling down by bankruptcies, and on the whole, the condition of our commerce far less firm and really prosperous, than it would have been by the regular operations and steady advances which a state of peace would have occasioned. Were a war to take place, and throw our agriculture into equal convulsions with our commerce, our business would be done at both ends. But this I hope will not be. The good news from the Natchez has cut off the fear of a breach in that quarter, where a crisis was brought on which has astonished every one. How this mighty duel is to end between Great Britain and France, is a momentous question. The sea which divides them makes it a game of chance ; but it is narrow, and all the chances are not on one side. Should they make peace, still our fate is problematical. The countervailing acts of Great Britain, now laid before Congress, threaten, in the opinion of merchants, the entire loss of our navigation to England. It makes a difference, from the present state of things, of five hundred guineas on a vessel of three hundred and fifty tons. If, as the newspapers have told us, France has renewed her Arret of 1789, laying a duty of seven livres a hundred on all tobacco brought in foreign bottoms (even our own), and should extend it to rice and other commodities, we are done, as navigators, to that country also. In fact, I apprehend that those two great nations will think it their interest not to permit us to be navigators. France had thought otherwise, and had shown an equal desire to encourage our navigation as her own, while she hoped its weight would at least not be thrown into the scale of her enemies. She sees now that this is not to be relied on, and will probably use her own means, and those of the nations under her influence, to exclude us from the ocean. How far it may lessen our happiness to be rendered merely agricultural, how far that state is more friendly to principles of virtue and liberty, are questions yet to be solved. Kosciusko has been disappointed by the sudden peace between France and Austria. A ray of hope seemed to gleam on his mind for a moment, that the extension of the revolutionary spirit through Italy and Germany, might so have occupied the remnants of monarchy there, as that his country might have risen again. I sincerely rejoice to find that you preserve your health so well. That you may so go on to the end of the chapter, and that it may be a long one, I sincerely pray. Make my friendly salutations acceptable to Mrs. Gates, and accept yourself assurances of the great and constant esteem and respect of, dear Sir, your friend and servant.
Dear Sir,Yours of the 12th is received. I wrote you last on the 15th, but the letter getting misplaced, will only go by this post. We still hear nothing from our Envoys. Whether the executive hear, we know not. But if war were to be apprehended, it is impossible our Envoys should not find means of putting us on our guard, or that the executive should hold back their information. No news, therefore, is good news. The countervailing act, which I sent you by the last post, will, confessedly, put American bottoms out of employ in our trade with Great Britain. So say well-informed merchants. Indeed, it seems probable, when we consider that hitherto, with the advantage of our foreign tonnage, our vessels could only share with the British, and the countervailing duties will, it is said, make a difference of five hundred guineas to our prejudice on a ship of three hundred and fifty tons. Still the eastern men say nothing. Every appearance and consideration render it probable, that on the restoration of peace, both France and Britain will consider it their interest to exclude us from the ocean, by such peaceable means as are in their power. Should this take place, perhaps it may be thought just and politic to give to our native capitalists the monopoly of our internal commerce. This may at once relieve us from the dangers of wars abroad and British thraldom at home. The news from the Natchez, of the delivery of the posts, which you will see in the papers, is to be relied on. We have escaped a dangerous crisis there. The great contest between Israel and Morgan, of which you will see the papers full, is to be decided this day. It is snowing fast at this time, and the most sloppy walking I ever saw. This will be to the disadvantage of the party which has the most invalids. Whether the event will be known this evening, I am uncertain. I rather presume not, and therefore, that you will not learn it till next post. You will see in the papers, the ground on which the introduction of the jury into the trial by impeachment was advocated by Mr. Tazewell, and the fate of the question. Readers motion, which I enclosed you, will probably be amended and established, so as to declare a Senator unimpeachable, absolutely; and yesterday an opinion was declared, that not only officers of the State governments, but every private citizen of the United States, are impeachable. Whether they will think this the time to make the declaration, I know not, but if they bring it on, I think there will be not more than two votes north of the Potomac against the universality of the impeaching power. The system of the Senate may be inferred from their transactions heretofore, and from the following declaration made to me personally by their oracle.(1) "No republic can ever be of any duration, without a Senate, and a Senate deeply and strongly rooted, strong enough to bear up against all popular storms and passions. The only fault in the Constitution of our Senate is, that their term of office is not durable enough. Hitherto they have done well, but probably they will be forced to give way in time." I suppose their having done well hitherto, alluded to the stand they made on the British treaty. This declaration may be considered as their text ; that they consider themselves as the bulwarks of the government, and will be rendering that the more secure, in proportion as they can assume greater powers. The foreign intercourse bill is set for to-day; but the parties are so equal on that in the House of Representatives, that they seem mutually to fear the encounter.
Tho it is my intention & the orders I left were, that the cutting machine should be repaired, yet I think it would not be advisable for you to depend on it, as to your sprigs & lathing nails if you want them before your return : as at my present distance, I could not rely sufficiently on the execution of my orders. Immediately on my return my own wants will oblige me to recommence cutting. I imagine that by this time a large cargo of Monroes book has arrived at Richmond, as the vessel which had them on board gor out during the short interval the river was open. My friendly salutations to Mrs. Madison and the family. To yourself, friendly adieus.
1 Here, in the margin of the copy filed, is written by the author, in pencil, "Mr. Adams."
Dear Sir,I have yet to acknowledge your last favor which I received at Monticello, and therefore cannot now refer to the date. The perversion of the expressions of a former letter to you which you mention to have been made in the newspapers, I had not till then heard of. Yet the spirit of it was not new. I have been for some time used as the property of the newspapers, a fair mark for every mans dirt. Some, too, have indulged themselves in this exercise who would not have done it, had they known me otherwise than through these impure and injurious channels. It is hard treatment, and for a singular kind of offence, that of having obtained by the labors of a life the indulgent opinions of a part of ones fellow-citizens. However, these moral evils must be submitted to, like the physical scourges of tempest, fire, &c. We are waiting with great anxiety to hear from our Envoys at Paris. But the very circumstance of silence speaks, I think, plain enough. If there were danger of war, we should certainly hear from them. It is impossible, if that were the aspect of their negotiations, that they should not find or make occasion of putting us on our guard, and of warning us to prepare. I consider therefore their silence as a proof of peace. Indeed I had before imagined that when France had thrown down the gauntlet to England, and was pointing all her energies to that object, her regard for the subsistence of her islands would keep her from cutting off our resources from them. I hope, therefore, we shall rub through the war, without engaging in it ourselves, and that when in a state of peace our Legislature and executive will endeavor to provide peaceable means of obliging foreign nations to be just to us, and of making their injustice recoil on themselves. The advantages of our commerce to them may be made the engine for this purpose, provided we shall be willing to submit to occasional sacrifices, which will be nothing in comparison with the calamities of war. Congress has nothing of any importance before them, except the bill on foreign intercourse, and the proposition to arm our merchant vessels. These will be soon decided, and if we then get peaceable news from our Envoys, I know of nothing which ought to prevent our immediate separation. It had been expected that we must have laid a land tax this session. However, it is thought we can get along another year without it. Some very disagreeable differences have taken place in Congress. They cannot fail to lessen the respect of the public for the General Government, and to replace their State governments in a greater degree of comparative respectability. I do not think it for the interest of the General Government itself, and still less of the Union at large, that the State governments should be so little respected as they have been. However, I dare say that in time all these as well as their central government, like the planets revolving round their common sun, acting and acted upon according to their respective weights and distances, will produce that beautiful equilibrium on which our Constitution is founded, and which I believe it will exhibit to the world in a degree of perfection, unexampled but in the planetary system itself. The enlightened statesman, therefore, will endeavor to preserve the weight and influence of every part, as too much given to any member of it would destroy the general equilibrium. The ensuing month will probably be the most eventful ever yet seen in modern Europe. It may probably be the season preferred for the projected invasion of England. It is indeed a game of chances. The sea which divides the combatants gives to fortune as well as to valor its share of influence on the enterprise. But all the chances are not on one side. The subjugation of England would be a general calamity. But happily it is impossible. Should it end in her being only republicanized, I know not on what principle a true republican of our country could lament it, whether he considers it as extending the blessings of a purer government to other portions of mankind, or strengthening the cause of liberty in our own country by the influence of that example. I do not indeed wish to see any nation have a form of government forced on them ; but if it is to be done, I should rejoice at its being a free one. Permit me to place here the tribute of my regrets for the affecting loss lately sustained within your walls, and to add that of the esteem and respect with which I am, dear Sir, your friend and servant.
Dear Sir,I wrote to you last on the 22d ultimo ; since which I have received yours without date, but probably of February the 18th or 19th. An arrival to the eastward brings us some news, which you will see detailed in the papers. The new partition of Europe is sketched, but how far authentic we know not. It has some probability in its favor. The French appear busy in their preparations for the invasion of England; nor is there any appearance of movements on the part of Russia and Prussia which might divert them from it.
The late birth-night has certainly sown tares among the exclusive federalists. It has winnowed the grain from the chaff. The sincerely Adamites did not go. The Washingtonians went religiously, and took the secession of the others in high dudgeon. The one sect threatens to desert the levees, the other the parties. The Whigs went in number, to encourage the idea that the birth-nights hitherto kept had been for the General and not the President, and of course that time would bring an end to them. Goodhue, Tracy, Sedgewick, &c., did not attend; but the three Secretaries and Attorney General did.
We were surprised, the last week, with a symptom of a disposition to repeal the stamp act. Petitions for that purpose had come from Rhode Island and Virginia, and had been committed to rest with the Ways and Means. Mr. Harper, the chairman, in order to enter on the law for amending it, observed it would be necessary first to put the petitions for repeal out of the way, and moved an immediate decision on this. The Rhode Islanders begged and prayed for a postponement; that not knowing that this was the next question to be called up, they were not at all prepared; but Harper would show no mercy; not a moments delay would be allowed. It was taken up, and, on question without debate, determined in favor of the petitions by a majority of ten. Astonished and confounded, when an order to bring in a bill for revisal was named, they began in turn to beg for time; two weeks, one week, three days, one day; not a moment would be yielded.
They made three attempts for adjournment. But the majority appeared to grow. It was decided, by a majority of sixteen, that the bill should be brought in. It was brought in the next day, and on the day after passed and was sent up to the Senate, who instantly sent it back rejected by a vote of fifteen to twelve. Rhode Island and New Hampshire voted for the repeal in Senate. The act will, therefore, go into operation July the 1st, but probably without amendments. However, I am persuaded it will be short-lived. It has already excited great commotion in Vermont, and grumblings in Connecticut. But they are so priest-ridden, that nothing is expected from them, but the most bigoted passive obedience. No news yet from our commissioners; but their silence is admitted to augur peace. There is no talk yet of the time of adjourning, though it is admitted we have nothing to do, but what could be done in a fortnight or three weeks. When the spring opens, and we hear from our commissioners, we shall probably draw pretty rapidly to a conclusion. A friend of mine here wishes to get a copy of Mazzeis Recherches Historiques et Politiques. Where are they ? Salutations and adieu.
Dear Sir,I wrote you last on the 2d instant. Yours of the 4th is now at hand. The public papers will give you the news of Europe. The French decree making the vessel friendly or enemy, according to the hands by which the cargo was manufactured, has produced a great sensation among the merchants here. Its operation is not yet perhaps well understood; but probably it will put our shipping out of competition, because British bottoms, which can come under convoy, will alone be trusted with return cargoes. Ours, losing this benefit, would need a higher freight out, in which, therefore, they will be underbid by the British. They must then retire from the competition. Some no doubt will try other channels of commerce, and return cargoes from other countries. This effect would be salutary. A very well-informed merchant, too, (a Scotchman, entirely in the English trade,) told me, he thought it would have another good effect, by checking and withdrawing our extensive commerce and navigation (the fruit of our natural position) within those bounds to which peace must necessarily bring them. That this being done by degrees, will probably prevent those numerous failures produced generally by a peace coming on suddenly. Notwithstanding this decree, the sentiments of the merchants become more and more cooled and settled down against arming. Yet it is believed the Representatives do not cool ; and though we think the question against arming will be carried, yet probably by a majority of only four or five. Their plan is, to have convoys furnished for our vessels going to Europe, and smaller vessels for the coasting defence. On this condition, they will agree to fortify southern harbors, and build some galleys. It has been concluded among them, that if war takes place, Wolcott is to be retained in office, that the President must give up MHenry, and as to Pickering they are divided, the eastern men being determined to retain him, their middle and southern brethren wishing to get rid of him. They have talked of General Pinckney as successor to MHenry. This information is certain. However, I hope we shall avoid war, and save them the trouble of a change of ministry. The President has nominated John Quincy Adams Commissioner Plenipotentiary to renew the treaty with Sweden : Tazewell made a great stand against it, on the general ground that we should let our treaties drop, and remain without any. He could only get eight votes against twenty. A trial will be made to-day in another form, which he thinks will give ten or eleven against sixteen or seventeen, declaring the renewal inexpedient. In this case, notwithstanding the nomination has been confirmed, it is supposed the President would perhaps not act under it, on the probability that more that the third would be against the ratification. I believe, however, that he would act, and that a third could not be got to oppose the ratification. It is acknowledged we have nothing to do but to decide the question about arming. Yet not a word is said about adjourning; and some even talk of continuing the session permanently ; others talk of July and August. An effort, however, will soon be made for an early adjournment.
My friendly salutations to Mrs. Madison ; to yourself an affectionate adieu.
Dear Sir,I wrote you last on the 15th ; since that, yours of the 12th has been received. Since that, too, a great change has taken place in the appearance of our political atmosphere. The merchants, as before, continue, a respectable part of them, to wish to avoid arming. The French decree operated on them as a sedative, producing more alarm than resentment ; on the Representatives, differently. It excited indignation highly in the war party, though I do not know that it had added any new friends to that side of the question. We still hoped a majority of about four; but the insane message which you will see in the public papers has had great effect. Exultation on the one side, and a certainty of victory ; while the other is petrified with astonishment. Our Evans, though his soul is wrapt up in the sentiments of this message, yet afraid to give a vote openly for it, is going off to-morrow, as is said. Those who count, say there are still two members of the other side who will come over to that of peace. If so, the members will be for war measures, fifty-two, against them fifty-three; if all are present except Evans. The question is, what is to be attempted, supposing we have a majority ? I suggest two things : 1. As the President declares he has withdrawn the executive prohibition to arm, that Congress should pass a legislative one. If that should fail in the Senate, it would heap coals of fire on their heads. 2. As, to do nothing and to gain time is everything with us, I propose that they shall come to a resolution of adjournment, "in order to go home and consult their constituents on the great crisis of American affairs now existing." Besides gaining time enough by this, to allow the descent on England to have its effect here as well as there, it will be a means of exciting the whole body of the people from the state of inattention in which they are ; it will require every member to call for the sense of his district by petition or instruction ; it will show the people with which side of the House their safety as well as their rights rest, by showing them which is for war and which for peace ; and their Representatives will return here invigorated by the avowed support of the American people. I do not know, however, whether this will be approved, as there has been little consultation on the subject. We see a new instance of the inefficiency of constitutional guards. We had relied with great security on that provision, which requires two-thirds of the Legislature to declare war. But this is completely eluded by a majoritys taking such measures as will be sure to produce war. I wrote you in my last, that an attempt was to be made on that day in Senate, to declare the inexpediency of renewing our treaties. But the measure is put off under the hope of its being attempted under better auspices. To return to the subject of war, it is quite impossible, when we consider all the existing circumstances, to find any reason in its favor resulting from views either of interest or honor, and plausible enough to impose even on the weakest mind ; and especially, when it would be undertaken by a majority of one or two only. Whatever then be our stock of charity or liberality, we must resort to other views. And those so well known to have been entertained at Annapolis, and afterwards at the grand convention, by a particular set of men, present themselves as those alone which can account for so extraordinary a degree of impetuosity. Perhaps, instead of what was then in contemplation, a separation of the Union, which has been so much the topic to the eastward of late, may be the thing aimed at. I have written so far, two days before the departure of the post. Should anything more occur to-day or to-morrow, it shall be added. Adieu affectionately.
Dear Sir,I have to acknowledge the receipt of your favors of August 16th and 18th, together with the box of seed accompanying the former, which has just come to hand. The letter of the 4th of June, which you mention to have committed to Mr. King, has never been received. It has most likely been intercepted on the sea, now become a field of lawless and indiscriminate rapine and violence. The first box which came through Mr. Donald, arrived safely the last year, but being a little too late for that season, its contents have been divided between Mr. Randolph and myself, and will be committed to the earth now immediately. The peas and the vetch are most acceptable indeed. Since you were here, I have tried that species of your field pea which is cultivated in New York, and begin to fear that that plant will scarcely bear our sun and soil. A late acquisition too of a species of our country pea, called the cow pea, has pretty well supplied the place in my husbandry which I had destined for the European field pea. It is very productive, excellent food for man and beast, awaits without loss our leisure for gathering, and shades the ground very closely through the hottest months of the year. This with the loosening of the soil, I take to be the chief means by which the pea improves the soil. We know that the sun in our cloudless climate is the most powerful destroyer of fertility in naked ground, and therefore that the perpetual fallows will not do here, which are so beneficial in a cloudy climate. Still I shall with care try all the several kinds of pea you have been so good as to send me, and having tried all hold fast that which is good. Mr. Randolph is peculiarly happy in having the barleys committed to him, as he had been desirous of going considerably into that culture. I was able at the same time to put into his hands Siberian barley, sent me from France. I look forward with considerable anxiety to the success of the winter vetch, for it gives us a good winter crop, and helps the succeeding summer one. It is something like doubling the produce of the field. I know it does well in Italy, and therefore have the more hope here. My experience leaves me no fear as to the success of clover. I have never seen finer than in some of my fields which have never been manured. My rotation is triennial ; to wit, one year of wheat and two of clover in the stronger fields, or two of peas in the weaker, with a crop of Indian corn and potatoes between every other rotation, that is to say once in seven years. Under this easy course of culture, aided with some manure, I hope my fields will recover their pristine fertility, which had in some of them been completely exhausted by perpetual crops of Indian corn and wheat alternately. The atmosphere is certainly the great workshop of nature for elaborating the fertilizing principles and insinuating them into the soil. It has been relied on as the sole means of regenerating our soil by most of the land-holders in the canton I inhabit, and where rest has been resorted to before a total exhaustion, the soil has never failed to recover. If, indeed, it be so run down as to be incapable of throwing weeds or herbage of any kind, to shade the soil from the sun, it either goes off in gullies, and is entirely lost, or remains exhausted till a growth springs up of such trees as will rise in the poorest soils. Under the shade of these and the cover soon formed of their deciduous leaves, and a commencing herbage, such fields sometimes recover in a long course of years; but this is too long to be taken into a course of husbandry. Not so, however, is the term within which the atmosphere alone will reintegrate a soil rested in due season. A year of wheat will be balanced by one, two, or three years of rest and atmospheric influence, according to the quality of the soil. It has been said that no rotation of crops will keep the earth in the same degree of fertility without the aid of manure. But it is well known here that a space of rest greater or less in spontaneous herbage, will restore the exhaustion of a single crop. This then is a rotation; and as it is not to be believed that spontaneous herbage is the only or best covering during rest, so may we expect that a substitute for it may be found which will yield profitable crops. Such perhaps are clover, peas, vetches, &c. A rotation then may be found, which by giving time for the slow influence of the atmosphere, will keep the soil in a constant and equal state of fertility. But the advantage of manuring, is that it will do more in one than the atmosphere would require several years to do, and consequently enables you so much the oftener to take exhausting crops from the soil, a circumstance of importance where there is more labor than land. I am much indebted.
Dear Sir,In the lifetime of Mr. Rittenhouse, I communicated to him the description of a mouldboard of a plough which I had constructed, and supposed to be what we might term the mould-board of least resistance. I asked not only his opinion, but that he would submit it to you also. After he had considered it, he gave me his own opinion that it was demonstrably what I had supposed, and I think he said he had communicated it to you. Of that however I am not sure, and therefore now take the liberty of sending you a description of it and a model, which I have prepared for the Board of Agriculture of England at their request. Mr. Strickland, one of their members, had seen the model, and also the thing itself in use in my farms, and thinking favorably of it, had mentioned it to them. My purpose in troubling you with it, is to ask the favor of you to examine the description rigorously, and suggest to me any corrections or alterations which you may think necessary, and would wish to have the ideas go as correct as possible out of my hands. I had sometimes thought of giving it into the Philosophical Society, but I doubted whether it was worth their notice, and supposed it not exactly in the line of their ordinary publications. I had, therefore, contemplated the sending it to some of our agricultural societies, in whose way it was more particularly, when I received the request of the English board. The papers I enclose you are the latter part of a letter to Sir John Sinclair, their president. It is to go off by the packet, wherefore I will ask the favor of you to return them with the model in the course of the present week, with any observations you will be so good as to favor me with. I am with great esteem, Dear Sir, your most obedient servant.
Dear Sir,I wrote you last on the 21st. Yours of the 12th, therein acknowledged, is the last received. The measure I suggested in mine, of adjourning for consultation with their constituents, was not brought forward; but on Tuesday three resolutions were moved, which you will see in the public papers. They were offered in committee, to prevent their being suppressed by the previous question, and in the committee on the state of the Union, to put it out of their power, by the rising of the committee and not sitting again, to get rid of them. They were taken by surprise, not expecting to be called to vote on such a proposition as "that it is inexpedient to resort to war against the French republic." After spending the first day in seeking on every side some hole to get out at, like an animal first put into a cage, they gave up their resource. Yesterday they came forward boldly, and openly combated the proposition. Mr. Harper and Mr. Pinckney pronounced bitter philippics against France, selecting such circumstances and aggravations as to give the worst picture they could present. The latter, on this, as in the affair of Lyon and Griswold, went far beyond that moderation he has on other occasions recommended. We know not how it will go. Some think the resolution will be lost, some, that it will be carried; but neither way, by a majority of more than one or two. The decision of the Executive, of two-thirds of the Senate, and half the House of Representatives, is too much for the other half of that House. We therefore fear it will be borne down, and are under the most gloomy apprehensions. In fact, the question of war and peace depends now on a toss of cross and pile. If we could but gain this season, we should be saved. The affairs of Europe would of themselves save us. Besides this, there can be no doubt that a revolution of opinion in Massachusetts and Connecticut is working. Two Whig presses have been set up in each of those States. There has been for some days a rumor, that a treaty of alliance, offensive and defensive with Great Britain, has arrived. Some circumstances have occasioned it to be listened to; to wit, the arrival of Mr. Kings secretary, which is affirmed, the departure of Mr. Listons secretary, which I know is to take place on Wednesday next, the high tone of the executive measures at the last and present session, calculated to raise things to the unison of such a compact, and supported so desperately in both Houses in opposition to the pacific wishes of the people, and at the risk of their approbation at the ensuing election. Langdon yesterday, in debate, mentioned this current report. Tracy, in reply, declared he knew of no such thing, did not believe it, nor would be its advocate.
An attempt has been made to get the Quakers to come forward with a petition, to aid with the weight of their body the feeble band of peace. They have, with some effort, got a petition signed by a few of their society; the main body of their society refuse it. MLays peace motion in the Assembly of Pennsylvania was rejected with an unanimity of the Quaker vote, and it seems to be well understood, that their attachment to England is stronger than to their principles or their country. The revolution war was a first proof of this. Mr. White, from the federal city, is here, soliciting money for the buildings at Washington. A bill for two hundred thousand dollars has passed the House of Representatives, and is before the Senate, where its fate is entirely uncertain. He has become perfectly satisfied that Mr. Adams is radically against the governments being there. Goodhue (his oracle) openly said in committee, in presence of White, that he knew the government was obliged to go there, but they would not be obliged to stay there. Mr. Adams said to White, that it would be better that the President should rent a common house there, to live in; that no President would live in the one now building. This harmonizes with Goodhues idea of a short residence. I wrote this in the morning, but need not part with it till night. If anything occurs in the day it shall be added. Adieu.
Dear Sir,I have to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of January 29th, and as the rising of Congress seems now to be contemplated for about the last of this month, and it is necessary that I settle Mr. Shorts matter with the Treasury before my departure, I take the liberty of saying a word on that subject. The sum you are to pay is to go to the credit of a demand which Mr. Short has on the treasury of the United States, and for which they consider Mr. Randolph as liable to them, so that the sum he pays to Short directly lessens so much the balance to be otherwise settled. Mr. Short, by a letter received a few days ago, has directed an immediate employment of the whole sum in a particular way. I wish your sum settled, therefore, that I may call on the Treasury for the exact balance. I should have thought your best market for stock would have been here, and, I am convinced, the quicker sold the better; for, should the war measures recommended by the Executive, and taken up by the Legislature, be carried through, the fall of stock will be very sudden, war being then more than probable. Mr. Short holds some stock here, and, should the first of Mr. Spriggs resolutions, now under debate in the lower House, be rejected, I shall, within 24 hours from the rejection, sell out the whole of Mr. Shorts stock. How that resolution will be disposed of (to wit, that against the expediency of war with the French Republic), is very doubtful. Those who count votes vary the issue from a majority of 4 against the resolution to 2 or 3 majority in its favor. So that the scales of peace and war are very nearly in equilibrio. Should the debate hold many days, we shall derive aid from the delay. Letters received from France by a vessel just arrived, concur in assuring us, that, as all the French measures bear equally on the Swedes and Danes as on us, so they have no more purpose of declaring war against us than against them. Besides this, a wonderful stir is commencing in the eastern States. The dirty business of Lyon and Griswold was of a nature to fly through the newspapers, both Whig and Tory, and to excite the attention of all classes. It, of course, carried to their attention, at the same time, the debates out of which that affair springs. The subject of these debates was, whether the representatives of the people were to have no check on the expenditure of the public money, and the Executive to squander it at their will, leaving to the Legislature only the drudgery of furnishing the money. They begin to open their eyes on this to the eastward, and to suspect they have been hoodwinked. Two or three Whig presses have set up in Massachusetts, and as many more in Connecticut. The late war message of the President has added new alarm. Town meetings have begun in Massachusetts, and are sending on their petitions and remonstrances by great majorities, against war measures, and these meetings are likely to spread. The present debate, as it gets abroad, will further show them, that it is their members who are for war measures. It happens, fortunately, that these gentlemen are obliged to bring themselves forward exactly in time for the eastern elections to Congress, which come on in the course of the ensuing summer. We have, therefore, great reason to expect some favorable changes in the Representatives from that quarter. The same is counted on with confidence from Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland; perhaps one or two also in Virginia; so that, after the next election, the Whigs think themselves certain of a very strong majority in the House of Representatives ; and though against the other branches they can do nothing good, yet they can hinder them from doing ill. The only source of anxiety, therefore, is to avoid war for the present moment. If we can defeat the measures leading to that during this session, so as to gain this summer, time will be given, as well for the public mind to make itself felt, as for the operations of France to have their effect in England as well as here. If, on the contrary, war is forced on, the Tory interest continues dominant, and to them alone must be left, as they alone desire to ride on the whirlwind, and direct the storm. The present period, therefore, of two or three weeks, is the most eventful ever known since that of 1775, and will decide whether the principles established by that contest are to prevail, or give way to those they subverted. Accept the friendly salutations and prayers for your health and happiness, of, dear Sir, your sincere and affectionate friend.
Dear Sir,I wrote you last on the 29th ultimo; since which I have no letter from you. These acknowledgments regularly made and attended to, will show whether any of my letters are intercepted, and the impression of my seal on wax (which shall be constant hereafter) will discover whether they are opened by the way. The nature of some of my communications furnishes ground of inquietude for their safe conveyance. The bill for the federal buildings labors hard in Senate, though, to lessen opposition, the Maryland Senator himself proposed to reduce the two hundred thousand dollars to one-third of that sum. Sedgewick and Hillhouse violently oppose it. I conjecture that the votes will be either thirteen for and fifteen against it, or fourteen and fourteen Every member declares he means to go there, but though charged with an intention to come away again, not one of them disavow it. This will engender incurable distrust. The debate on Mr. Spriggs resolutions has been interrupted by a motion to call for papers. This was carried by a great majority. In this case, there appeared a separate squad, to wit, the Pinckney interest, which is a distinct thing, and will be seen sometimes to lurch the President. It is in truth the Hamilton party, whereof Pinckney is made only the stalking horse. The papers have been sent in and read, and it is now under debate in both Houses, whether they shall be published. I write in the morning, and if determined in the course of the day in favor of publication, I will add in the evening a general idea of their character. Private letters from France, by a late vessel which sailed from Havre, February the 5th, assure us that France, classing us in her measures with the Swedes and Danes, has no more notion of declaring war against us than them. You will see a letter in Baches paper of yesterday, which came addressed to me. Still the fate of Spriggs resolutions seems in perfect equilibrio. You will see in Fenno two numbers of a paper signed Marcellus. They promise much mischief, and are ascribed, without any difference of opinion, to Hamilton. You must, my dear Sir, take up your pen against this champion. You know the ingenuity of his talents ; and there is not a person but yourself who can foil him. For heavens sake, then, take up your pen, and do not desert the public cause altogether.
Thursday evening. The Senate have, to-day, voted the publication of the communications from our Envoys. The House of Representatives decided against the publication by a majority of seventy-five to twenty-four. The Senate adjourned, over tomorrow (Good Friday), to Saturday morning ; but as the papers cannot be printed within that time, perhaps the vote of the House of Representatives may induce the Senate to reconsider theirs. For this reason, I think it my duty to be silent on them. Adieu.
Dear Sir,So much of the communications from our Envoys has got abroad, and so partially, that there can now be no ground for reconsideration with the Senate. I may, therefore, consistently with duty, do what every member of the body is doing. Still, I would rather you would use the communication with reserve till you see the whole papers. The first impressions from them are very disagreeable and confused. Reflection, however, and analysis resolve them into this. Mr. Adams speech to Congress in May is deemed such a national affront, that no explanation on other topics can be entered on till that, as a preliminary, is wiped away by humiliating disavowals or acknowledgments. This working hard with our Envoys, and indeed seeming impracticable for want of that sort of authority, submission to a heavy amendment (upwards of a million sterling) was, at an after meeting, suggested as an alternative, which might be admitted if proposed by us. These overtures had been through informal agents; and both the alternatives bringing the Envoys to their ne plus, they resolve to have no more communication through inofficial characters, but to address a letter directly to the government, to bring forward their pretensions. This letter had not yet, however, been prepared. There were, interwoven with these overtures, some base propositions on the part of Talleyrand, through one of his agents, to sell his interest and influence with the Directory towards soothing difficulties with them, in consideration of a large sum (fifty thousand pounds sterling); and the arguments to which his agent resorted to induce compliance with this demand, were very unworthy of a great nation, (could they be imputed to them,) and calculated to excite disgust and indignation in Americans generally, and alienation in the republicans particularly, whom they so far mistake, as to presume an attachment to France and hatred to the federal party, and not the love of their country, to be their first passion. No difficulty was expressed towards an adjustment of all differences and misunderstandings, or even ultimately a payment for spoliations, if the insult from our Executive should be first wiped away. Observe, that I state all this from only a single hearing of the papers, and therefore it may not be rigorously correct. The little slanderous imputation before mentioned, has been the bait which hurried the opposite party into this publication. The first impressions with the people will be disagreeable, but the last and permanent one will be, that the speech in May is now the only obstacle to accommodation, and the real cause of war, if war takes place. And how much will be added to this by the speech of November, is yet to be learned. It is evident, however, on reflection, that these papers do not offer one motive the more for our going to war. Yet such is their effect on the minds of wavering characters, that I fear, that to wipe off the imputation of being French partisans, they will go over to the war measures so furiously pushed by the other party. It seems, indeed, as if they were afraid they should not be able to get into war till Great Britain shall be blown up, and the prudence of our countrymen from that circumstance, have influence enough to prevent it. The most artful misrepresentations of the contents of these papers were published yesterday, and produced such a shock in the republican mind, as had never been seen since our independence. We are to dread the effects of this dismay till their fuller information. Adieu.
Dear Sir,I wrote you two letters on the 5th and 6th instant ; since which I have received yours of the 2d. I send you, in a separate package, the instructions to our Envoys and their communications. You will find that my representation of their contents from memory, was substantially just. The public mind appears still in a state of astonishment. There never was a moment in which the aid of an able pen was so important to place things in their just attitude. On this depend the inchoate movement in the eastern mind, and the fate of the elections in that quarter, now beginning and to continue through the summer. I would not propose to you such a task on any ordinary occasion. But be assured that a well-digested analysis of these papers would now decide the future turn of things, which are at this moment on the creen. The merchants here are meeting under the auspices of Fitzsimmons, to address the President and approve his propositions. Nothing will be spared on that side. Spriggs first resolution against the expediency of war, proper at the time it was moved, is now postponed as improper, because to declare that, after we have understood it has been proposed to us to try peace, would imply an acquiescence under that proposition. All, therefore, which the advocates of peace can now attempt, is to prevent war measures externally, consenting to every rational measure of internal defence and preparation. Great expenses will be incurred; and it will be left to those whose measures render them necessary, to provide to meet them. They already talk of stopping all payments of interest, and of a land tax. These will probably not be opposed. The only question will be, how to modify the land tax. On this there may be a great diversity of sentiment. One party will want to make it a new source of patronage and expense. If this business is taken up, it will lengthen our session. We had pretty generally, till now, fixed on the beginning of May for adjournment. I shall return by my usual routes, and not by the Eastern Shore, on account of the advance of the season. Friendly salutations to Mrs. Madison and yourself. Adieu.
As the instruction to our Envoys and their communications have excited a great deal of curiosity, I enclose you a copy. You will perceive that they have been assailed by swindlers, whether with or without the participation of Talleyrand is not very apparent. The known corruption of his character renders it very possible he may have intended to share largely in the £50,000 demanded. But that the Directory know anything of it is neither proved nor probable. On the contrary, when the Portuguese ambassador yielded to like attempts of swindlers, the conduct of the Directory in imprisoning him for an attempt at corruption, as well as their general conduct really magnanimous, places them above suspicion. It is pretty evident that Mr. A.s speech is in truth the only obstacle to negotiation. That humiliating disavowals of that are demanded as a preliminary, or as a commutation for that a heavy sum of money, about a million sterling. This obstacle removed, they seem not to object to an arrangement of all differences, and even to settle and acknowledge themselves debtors for spoliations. Nor does it seem that negotiation is at an end, as the Presidents message says, but that it is in its commencement only. The instructions comply with the wishes expressed in debate in the May session to place France on as good footing as England, and not to make a sine qua non of the indemnification for spoliation; but they declare the war in which France is engaged is not a defensive one, they reject the naturalization of French ships, that is to say the exchange of naturalization which France had formerly proposed to us, and which would lay open to us the unrestrained trade of her West Indies and all her other possessions; they declare the 10th article of the British treaty, against sequestering debts, money in the funds, bank stock, &c., to be founded in morality, and therefore of perpetual obligation, and some other heterodoxies.
You will have seen in the newspapers some resolutions proposed by Mr. Sprigg, the first of which was, that it was inexpedient under existing circumstances to resort to war with France. Whether this could have been carried before is doubtful, but since it is known that a sum of money has been demanded, it is thought that this resolution, were it now to be passed, would imply a willingness to avoid war even by purchasing peace. It is therefore postponed. The peace party will agree to all reasonable measures of internal defence, but oppose all external preparations. Though it is evident that these communications do not present one motive the more for going to war, yet it may be doubted whether we are strong enough to keep within the defensive line. It is thought the expenses contemplated will render a land tax necessary before we separate. If so, it will lengthen the session. The first impressions from these communications are disagreeable ; but their ultimate effect on the public mind will not be favorable to the war party. They may have some effect in the first moment in stopping the movement in the Eastern States, which were on the creen, and were running into town meetings, yet it is believed this will be momentary only, and will be over before their elections. Considerable expectations were formed of changes in the Eastern delegations favorable to the Whig interest. Present my best respects to Mrs. Carr, and accept yourself assurance of affectionate esteem.
I wrote to you last on the 19th since which yours of the 15th is received. I well remember the receiving that which inclosed a letter to Muhlenberg, but do not exactly recollect how I sent it. Yet I have no doubt I sent it by my servant, that being my constant practice. Your note from Baily Ishewed to General Van Cortlandt who was going to N. York. On his return he told me he would pay the note himself before the rising of Congress, since which I have said nothing to him more, as I doubt he will do it. Not knowing however the precise object of your letter to Baily, I have sent it to the post office.
The bill for the naval armament (twelve vessels) passed by a majority of about four to three in the House of Representatives; all restrictions on the objects for which the vessels should be used were struck out. The bill for establishing a department of Secretary of the Navy was tried yesterday, on its passage to the third reading, and prevailed by forty-seven against forty-one. It will be read the third time to-day. The provisional army of twenty thousand men will meet some difficulty. It would surely be rejected if our members were all here. Giles, Clopton, Cabell and Nicholas have gone, and Clay goes to-morrow. He received here news of the death of his wife. Parker has completely gone over to the war party. In this state of things they will carry what they please. One of the war party, in a fit of unguarded passion, declared sometime ago they would pass a citizen bill, an alien bill, and a sedition bill; accordingly, some days ago, Coit laid a motion on the table of the House of Representatives for modifying the citizen law. Their threats pointed at Gallatin, and it is believed they will endeavor to reach him by this bill. Yesterday Mr. Hillhouse laid on the table of the Senate a motion for giving power to send away suspected aliens. This is understood to be meant for Volney and Collot. But it will not stop there when it gets into a course of execution. There is now only wanting, to accomplish the whole declaration before mentioned, a sedition bill, which we shall certainly soon see proposed. The object of that, is the suppression of the Whig presses. Baches has been particularly named. That paper and also Careys totter for want of subscriptions. We should really exert ourselves to procure them, for if these papers fall, republicanism will be entirely browbeaten. Careys paper comes out three times a week, at five dollars. The meeting of the people which was called at New York, did nothing. It was found that the majority would be against the address. They therefore chose to circulate it individually. The Committee of Ways and Means have voted a land tax. An additional tax on salt will certainly be proposed in the House, and probably prevail to some degree. The stoppage of interest on the public debt will also, perhaps, be proposed, but not with effect. In the meantime, that paper cannot be sold. Hamilton is coming on as Senator from New York. There have been so much contrivance and combination in that, as to show there is some great object in hand. Troup, the district judge of New York, resigns towards the close of the session of their Assembly. The appointment of Mr. Hobart, then Senator, to succeed Troup, is not made by the President till after the Assembly had risen. Otherwise, they would have chosen the Senator in place of Hobart. Jay then names Hamilton Senator, but not till a day or two before his own election as Governor was to come on, lest the unpopularity of the nomination should be in time to affect his own election. We shall see in what all this is to end; but surely in something. The popular movement in the Eastern States is checked, as we expected, and war addresses are showering in from New Jersey and the great trading towns. However, we still trust that a nearer view of war and a land tax will oblige the great mass of the people to attend. At present, the war hawks talk of septembrizing, deportation, and the examples for quelling sedition set by the French executive. All the firmness of the human mind is now in a state of requisition.
Salutations to Mrs. Madison; and to yourself, friendship and adieu.
I wrote you last on the 26th; since which yours of the 22d of April has been received, acknowledging mine of the 12th; so that all appear to have been received to that date. The spirit kindled up in the towns is wonderful. These and New Jersey are pouring in their addresses, offering life and fortune. Even these addresses are not the worst things. For indiscreet declarations and expressions of passion may be pardoned to a multitude acting from the impulse of the moment. But we cannot expect a foreign nation to show that apathy to the answers of the President, which are more thrasonic than the addresses. Whatever chance for peace might have been left us after the publication of the despatches, is completely lost by these answers. Nor is it France alone, but his own fellow citizens, against whom his threats are uttered. In Fenno, of yesterday, you will see one, wherein he says to the address from Newark, "the delusions and misrepresentations which have misled so many citizens, must be discountenanced by authority as well as by the citizens at large;" evidently alluding to those letters from the Representatives to their constituents, which they have been in the habit of seeking after and publishing; while those sent by the Tory part of the House to their constituents, are ten times more numerous, and replete with the most atrocious falsehoods and calumnies. What new law they will propose on this subject, has not yet leaked out. The citizen bill sleeps. The alien bill, proposed by the Senate, has not yet been brought in. That proposed by the House of Representatives has been so moderated, that it will not answer the passionate purposes of the war gentlemen. Whether, therefore, the Senate will push their bolder plan, I know not. The provisional army does not go down so smoothly in the House as it did in the Senate. They are whittling away some of its choice ingredients; particularly that of transferring their own constitutional discretion over the raising of armies to the President. A committee of the Representatives have struck out his discretion, and hang the raising of the men on the contingencies of invasion, insurrection, or declaration of war. Were all our members here, the bill would not pass. But it will, probably, as the House now is. Its expense is differently estimated, from five to eight millions of dollars a year. Their purposes before voted, require two millions above all the other taxes, which, therefore, are voted to be raised on lands, houses and slaves. The provisional army will be additional to this. The threatening appearances from the alien bills have so alarmed the French who are among us, that they are going off. A ship, chartered by themselves for this purpose, will sail within about a fortnight for France, with as many as she can carry. Among these I believe will be Volney, who has in truth been the principal object aimed at by the law.
Notwithstanding the unfavorableness of the late impressions, it is believed the New York elections, which are over, will give us two or three republicans more than we now have. But it is supposed Jay is re-elected. It is said Hamilton declines coming to the Senate. We very soon stopped his Marcels. It was rather the sequel which was feared than what actually appeared. He comes out on a different plan in his Titus Manlius, if that be really his. The appointments to the Mississippi were so abominable that the Senate could not swallow them. They referred them to a committee to inquire into characters, and the President withdrew the nomination, & has now named Winthrop Serjeant Governor, Steele of Augusta in Virginia, Secretary, Tilton & two of the judges, the other not yet named. As there is nothing material now to be proposed, we generally expect to rise in about three weeks. However, I do not venture to order my horses.
My respectful salutations to Mrs. Madison. To yourself affectionate friendship, & adieu.
P.S. Perhaps the Presidents expression before quoted, may look to the sedition bill which has been spoken of, and which may be meant to put the printing presses under the imprimatur of the executive. Bache is thought a main object of it. Cabot, of Massachusetts, is appointed Secretary of the Navy.It is said Hamilton declines coming to the Senate.
Dear Sir,I am much obliged by your friendly letter of the 4th instant. As soon as I saw the first of Mr. Martins letters, I turned to the newspapers of the day, and found Logans speech, as translated by a common Indian interpreter. The version I had used, had been made by General Gibson. Finding from Mr. Martins style, that his object was not merely truth, but to gratify party passions, I never read another of his letters. I determined to do my duty by searching into the truth, and publishing it to the world, whatever it should be. This I shall do at a proper season. I am much indebted to many persons, who, without any acquaintance with me, have voluntarily sent me information on the subject. Party passions are indeed high. Nobody has more reason to know it than myself. I receive daily bitter proofs of it from people who never saw me, nor know anything of me but through Porcupine and Fenno. At this moment all the passions are boiling over, and one who keeps himself cool and clear of the contagion, is so far below the point of ordinary conversation, that he finds himself insulated in every society. However, the fever will not last. War, land tax and stamp tax, are sedatives which must cool its ardor. They will bring on reflection, and that, with information, is all which our countrymen need, to bring themselves and their affairs to rights. They are essentially republicans. They retain unadulterated the principles of 75, and those who are conscious of no change in themselves have nothing to fear in the long run. It is our duty still to endeavor to avoid war; but if it shall actually take place, no matter by whom brought on, we must defend ourselves. If our house be on fire, without inquiring whether it was fired from within or without, we must try to extinguish it. In that, I have no doubt, we shall act as one man. But if we can ward off actual war till the crisis of England is over, I shall hope we may escape it altogether.
I am, with much esteem, dear Sir, your most obedient humble servant.
Yours of April 8th and 14th, and May 4th and 14th, have been received in due time. I have not written to you since the 19th ult., because I knew you would be out on a circuit, and would receive the letters only when they would be as old almanacs. The bill for the provisional army has got through the lower House, the regulars reduced to 10,000, and the volunteers unlimited. It was carried by a majority of 14. The land tax is now on the carpet to raise two millions of dollars; yet I think they must at least double it, as the expenses of the provisional army were not provided for in it, and will require of itself four millions a year. I presume, therefore, the tax on lands, houses, and negroes, will be a dollar a head on the population of each State. There are alien bills, sedition bills, &c., also before both Houses. The severity of their aspect determines a great number of French to go off. A ship-load sails on Monday next; among them Volney. If no new business is brought on, I think they may get through the tax bill in three weeks. You will have seen, among numerous addresses and answers, one from Lancaster in this State, and its answer. The latter travelling out of the topics of the address altogether, to mention you in a most injurious manner. Your feelings have no doubt been much implicated by it, as in truth it had all the characters necessary to produce irritation. What notice you should take of it is difficult to say. But there is one step in which two or three with whom I have spoken concur with me, that feeble as the hand is from which this shaft is thrown, yet with a great mass of our citizens, strangers to the leading traits of the character from which it came, it will have considerable effect ; and that in order to replace yourself on the high ground you are entitled to, it is absolutely necessary that you should re-appear on the public theatre, and take an independent stand, from which you can be seen and known to your fellow-citizens. The House of Representatives appears the only place which can answer this end, as the proceedings of the other House are too obscure. Cabell has said he would give way to you, should you choose to come in, and I really think it would be expedient for yourself as well as the public, that you should not wait until another election, but come to the next session. No interval should be admitted between this last attack of enmity and your re-appearance with the approving voice of your constituents, and your taking a commanding attitude. I have not before been anxious for your return to public life, lest it should interfere with a proper pursuit of your private interests, but the next session will not at all interfere with your courts, because it must end March 4th, and I verily believe the next election will give us such a majority in the House of Representatives as to enable the republican party to shorten the alternate unlimited session, as it is evident that to shorten the sessions is to lessen the evils and burthens of the government on our country. The present session has already cost 200,000 dollars, besides the wounds it has inflicted on the prosperity of the Union. I have no doubt Cabell can be induced to retire immediately, and that a writ may be issued at once. The very idea of this will strike the public mind, and raise its confidence in you. If this be done, I should think it best you should take no notice at all of the answer to Lancaster. Because, were you to show a personal hostility against the answer, it would deaden the effect of everything you should say or do in your public place hereafter. All would be ascribed to an enmity to Mr. A., and you know with what facility such insinuations enter the minds of men. I have not seen Dawson since this answer has appeared, and therefore have not yet learnt his sentiments on it. My respectful salutations to Mrs. Monroe; and to yourself, affectionately adieu.
Dear Sir,I wrote to you last on the 24th, since which yours of the 20th has been received. I must begin by correcting two errors in my last. It was false arithmetic to say, that two measures therein mentioned to have been carried by majorities of eleven, would have failed if the fourteen absentees (wherein a majority of six is ours) had been present. Six coming over from the other side would have turned the scale, and this was the idea floating in my mind, which produced the mistake. The second error was in the version of Mr. Adams expression which I stated to you. His real expression was "that he would not unbrace a single nerve for any treaty France could offer; such was their entire want of faith, morality, &c."
The bill from the Senate for capturing French armed vessels found hovering on our coast was passed in two days by the lower House, without a single alteration; and the Ganges, a twenty-gun sloop, fell down the river instantly to go on a cruise. She has since been ordered to New York, to convoy a vessel from that to this port. The alien bill will be ready to-day, probably, for its third reading in the Senate. It has been considerably mollified, particularly by a proviso saving the rights of treaties. Still, it is a most detestable thing. I was glad, in yesterdays discussion, to hear it admitted on all hands, that laws of the United States, subsequent to a treaty, control its operation, and that the Legislature is the only power which can control a treaty. Both points are sound beyond doubt. This bill will unquestionably pass the House of Representatives, the majority there being very decisive, consolidated, and bold enough to do anything. I have no doubt from the hints dropped, they will pass a bill to declare the French treaty void. I question if they will think a declaration of war prudent, as it might alarm, and all its effects are answered by the act authorizing captures. A bill is brought in for suspending all communication with the dominions of France, which will no doubt pass. It is suspected that they mean to borrow money of individuals in London, on the credit of our land tax, and perhaps the guarantee of Great Britain. The land tax was yesterday debated, and a majority of six struck out the thirteenth section of the classification of houses, and taxed them by a different scale from the lands. Instead of this, is to be proposed a valuation of the houses and lands together. Macon yesterday laid a motion on the table for adjourning on the 14th. Some think they do not mean to adjourn; others, that they wait first the return of the Envoys, for whom it is now avowed the brig Sophia was sent. It is expected she would bring them off about the middle of this month. They may, therefore, be expected here about the second week of July. Whatever be their decision as to adjournment, I think it probable my next letter will convey orders for my horses, and that I shall leave this place from the 20th to the 25th of June; for I have no expectation they will actually adjourn sooner. Volney and a ship-load of others sail on Sunday next. Another ship-load will go off in about three weeks. It is natural to expect they go under irritations calculated to fan the flame. Not so Volney. He is most thoroughly impressed with the importance of preventing war, whether considered with reference to the interests of the two countries, of the cause of republicanism, or of man on the broad scale. But an eagerness to render this prevention impossible, leaves me without any hope. Some of those who have insisted that it was long since war on the part of France, are candid enough to admit that it is now begun on our part also. I enclose for your perusal a poem on the alien bill, written by Mr. Marshall. I do this, as well for your amusement, as to get you to take care of this copy for me till I return ; for it will be lost in lending it, if I retain it here, as the publication was suppressed after the sale of a few copies, of which I was fortunate enough to get one. Your locks, hinges, &c., shall be immediately attended to.
My respectful salutations and friendship to Mrs. Madison, to the family, and to yourself. Adieu.
P.S. The President, it is said, has refused ar exequatur to the consul general of France, Dupont.
Dear Sir,Mr. Volneys departure for France gives me an opportunity of writing to you. I was happy in observing, for many days after your departure, that our winds were favorable for you. I hope, therefore, you quickly passed the cruising grounds on our coast, and have safely arrived at the term of your journey. Your departure is not yet known, or even suspected.(1) Niemcewicz was much affected. He is now at the federal city. He desired me to have some things taken care of for you. There were some kitchen furniture, backgammon table and chess men, and a pelise of fine fur. The latter I have taken to my own apartment and had packed in hops, and sewed up; the former are put into a warehouse of Mr. Barnes; all subject to your future orders. Some letters came for you soon after your departure : the person who delivered them said there were enclosed in them some for your friend whom you left here, and desired I would open them. I did so in his presence, found only one letter for your friend, took it out and sealed the letters again in the presence of the same person, without reading a word or looking who they were from. I now forward them to you, as I do this to my friend Jacob Van Staphorst, at Paris. Our alien bill struggles hard for a passage. It has been considerably mollified. It is not yet through the Senate. We are proceeding further and further in war measures. I consider that event as almost inevitable. I am extremely anxious to hear from you, to know what sort of a passage you had, how you find yourself, and the state and prospect of things in Europe. I hope I shall not be long without hearing from you. The first dividend which will be drawn for you and remitted, will be in January, and as the winter passages are dangerous, it will not be forwarded till April; after that, regularly, from six months to six months. This will be done by Mr. Barnes. I shall leave this place in three weeks. The times do not permit an indulgence in political disquisitions. But they forbid not the effusion of friendship, and not my warmest toward you, which no time will alter. Your principles and dispositions were made to be honored, revered and loved. True to a single object, the freedom and happiness of man, they have not veered about with the changelings and apostates of our acquaintance. May health and happiness ever attend you. Accept sincere assurances of my affectionate esteem and respect. Adieu.
Shortly before, Mr. Jefferson had obtained passports for General Kosciusko, under an assumed name, from the foreign ministers in this country. The annexed is the note addressed to Mr. Liston, soliciting one from him.
"Thomas Jefferson presents his respects to Mr. Liston, and asks the favor of the passport for his friend Thomas Kanberg, of whom he spoke to him yesterday. He is a native of the north of Europe, (perhaps of Germany,) has been known to Thomas Jefferson these twenty years in America, is of a most excellent character, stands in no relation whatever to any of the belligerent powers, as to whom Thomas Jefferson is not afraid to be responsible for his political innocence, as he goes merely for his private affairs. He will sail from Baltimore, if he finds there a good opportunity for France ; and if not, he will come on here. March 27, 1798."
I now enclose you Mr. Martins patent. A patent had actually been made out on the first description, and how to get this suppressed and another made for a second invention without a second fee was the difficulty. I practiced a little art in a case where honesty was really on our side & nothing against us but the rigorous letter of the law, and having obtained the 1st. specification, and got the 2d. put in its place, a second patent has been formed which I now inclose with the first specification.I promised you long ago a description of a mould board. I now send it. It is a press copy & therefore dim. It will be less so by putting a sheet of white paper behind the one you are reading. I would recommend to you first to have a model made of about 3. I. to the foot, or ¼ the real dimentions, and to have two blocks, the 1st. of which, after taking out the pyramidal piece, & sawing in crosswise above & below, should be preserved in that form, to instruct workmen in making the large & real one. The 2d. block may be carried through all the operation, so as to present the form of the mould board complete. If I had an opportunity of sending you a model I would do it. It has been greately approved here, as it has been before by some very good judges at my house, where I have used it for 5. years with entire approbation.
Mr. New showed me your letter on the subject of the patent, which gave me an opportunity of observing what you said as to the effect, with you, of public proceedings, and that it was not unwise now to estimate the separate mass of Virginia and North Carolina, with a view to their separate existence. It is true that we are completely under the saddle of Massachusetts and Connecticut, and that they ride us very hard, cruelly insulting our feelings, as well as exhausting our strength and subsistence. Their natural friends, the three other Eastern States join them from a sort of family pride, and they have the art to divide certain other parts of the Union, so as to make use of them to govern the whole. This is not new, it is the old practice of despots; to use a part of the people to keep the rest in order. And those who have once got an ascendancy and possessed themselves of all the resources of the nation, their revenues and offices, have immense means for retaining their advantage. But our present situation is not a natural one. The republicans, through every part of the Union, say, that it was the irresistible influence and popularity of General Washington played off by the cunning of Hamilton, which turned the government over to anti-republican hands, or turned the republicans chosen by the people into anti-republicans. He delivered it over to his successor in this state, and very untoward events since, improved with great artifice, have produced on the public mind the impressions we see. But still I repeat it, this is not the natural state. Time alone would bring round an order of things more correspondent to the sentiments of our constituents. But are there no events impending, which will do it within a few months ? The crisis with England, the public and authentic avowal of sentiments hostile to the leading principles of our Constitution, the prospect of a war, in which we shall stand alone, land tax, stamp tax, increase of public debt, &c. Be this as it may, in every free and deliberating society, there must, from the nature of man, be opposite parties, and violent dissensions and discords; and one of these, for the most part, must prevail over the other for a longer or shorter time. Perhaps this party division is necessary to induce each to watch and delate to the people the proceedings of the other. But if on a temporary superiority of the one party, the other is to resort to a scission of the Union, no federal government can ever exist. If to rid ourselves of the present rule of Massachusetts and Connecticut, we break the Union, will the evil stop there ? Suppose the New England States alone cut off, will our nature be changed ? Are we not men still to the south of that, and with all the passions of men ? Immediately, we shall see a Pennsylvania and a Virginia party arise in the residuary confederacy, and the public mind will be distracted with the same party spirit. What a game too will the one party have in their hands, by eternally threatening the other that unless they do so and so, they will join their northern neighbors. If we reduce our Union to Virginia and North Carolina, immediately the conflict will be established between the representatives of these two States, and they will end by breaking into their simple units. Seeing, therefore, that an association of men who will not quarrel with one another is a thing which never yet existed, from the greatest confederacy of nations down to a town meeting or a vestry ; seeing that we must have somebody to quarrel with, I had rather keep our New England associates for that purpose, than to see our bickerings transferred to others. They are circumscribed within such narrow limits, and their population so full, that their numbers will ever be the minority, and they are marked, like the Jews, with such a perversity of character, as to constitute, from that circumstance, the natural division of our parties. A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolved, and the people recovering their true sight, restoring their government to its true principles. It is true, that in the meantime, we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war, and long oppressions of enormous public debt. But who can say what would be the evils of a scission, and when and where they would end ? Better keep together as we are, haul off from Europe as soon as we can, and from all attachments to any portions of it; and if they show their power just sufficiently to hoop us together, it will be the happiest situation in which we can exist. If the game runs sometimes against us at home, we must have patience till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost. For this is a game where principles are the stake. Better luck, therefore, to us all, and health, happiness and friendly salutations to yourself. Adieu.
P.S. It is hardly necessary to caution you to let nothing of mine get before the public; a single sentence got hold of by the Porcupines, will suffice to abuse and persecute me in their papers for months.
Dear Sir,Yours of the 10th instant is received. I expected mine of the 14th would have been my last from hence, as I had proposed to set out on the 20th; but on the morning of the 19th, we heard of the arrival of Marshall at New York, and I concluded to stay and see whether that circumstance would produce any new projects. No doubt he there received more than hints from Hamilton as to the tone required to be assumed. Yet I apprehend he is not hot enough for his friends. Livingston came with him from New York. Marshall told him they had no idea in France of a war with us. That Talleyrand sent passports to him and Pinckney, but none to Gerry. Upon this, Gerry staid, without explaining to them the reason. He wrote, however, to the President by Marshall, who knew nothing of the contents of the letter. So that there must have been a previous understanding between Talleyrand and Gerry. Marshall was received here with the utmost eclat. The Secretary of State and many carriages, with all the city cavalry, went to Frankford to meet him, and on his arrival here in the evening, the bells rung till late in the night, and immense crowds were collected to see and make part of the show, which was circuitously paraded through the streets before he was set down at the City tavern. All this was to secure him to their views, that he might say nothing which would oppose the game they have been playing. Since his arrival I can hear of nothing directly from him, while they are disseminating through the town things, as from him, diametrically opposite to what he said to Livingston. Doctor Logan, about a fortnight ago, sailed for Hamburg. Though for a twelvemonth past he had been intending to go to Europe as soon as he could get money enough to carry him there, yet when he had accomplished this, and fixed a time for going, he very unwisely made a mystery of it : so that his disappearance without notice excited conversation. This was seized by the war hawks; and given out as a secret mission from the Jacobins here to solicit an army from France, instruct them as to their landing, &c. This extravagance produced a real panic among the citizens ; and happening just when Bache published Talleyrands letter, Harper, on the 18th, gravely announced to the House of Representatives, that there existed a traitorous correspondence between the Jacobins here and the French Directory; that he had got hold of some threads and clues of it, and would soon be able to develop the whole. This increased the alarm; their libelists immediately set to work, directly and indirectly to implicate whom they pleased. Porcupine gave me a principal share in it, as I am told, for I never read his papers. This state of things added to my reasons for not departing at the time I intended. These follies seem to have died away in some degree already. Perhaps I may renew my purpose by the 25th. Their system is, professedly, to keep up an alarm. Tracy, at the meeting of the joint committee for adjournment, declared it necessary for Congress to stay together to keep up the inflammation of the public mind; and Otis has expressed a similar sentiment since. However, they will adjourn. The opposers of an adjournment in Senate, yesterday agreed to adjourn on the 10th of July. But I think the 1st of July will be carried. That is one of the objects which detain myself, as well as one or two more of the Senate, who had got leave of absence. I imagine it will be decided tomorrow or next day. To separate Congress now, will be withdrawing the fire from under a boiling pot.
My respectful salutations to Mrs. Madison, and cordial friendship to yourself.
P.M. A message to both Houses this day from the President, with the following communications.
March 23. Pickerings letter to the Envoys, directing them, if they are not actually engaged in negotiation with authorized persons, or if it is not conducted bona fide, and not merely for procrastination, to break up and come home, and at any rate to consent to no loan.
April 3. Talleyrand to Gerry. He supposes the other two gentlemen, perceiving that their known principles are an obstacle to negotiation, will leave the republic, and proposes to renew the negotiations with Gerry immediately.
April 4. Gerry to Talleyrand. Disclaims a power to conclude anything separately, can only confer informally and as an unaccredited person or individual, reserving to lay everything before the government of the United States for approbation.
April 14. Gerry to the President. He communicates the preceding, and hopes the President will send other persons instead of his colleagues and himself, if it shall appear that anything can be done.
The Presidents message says, that as the instructions were not to consent to any loan, he considers the negotiations as at an end, and that he will never send another minister to France, until he shall be assured that he will be received and treated with the respect due to a great, powerful, free and independent nation.
A bill was brought in the Senate this day, to declare the treaties with France void, prefaced by a list of grievances in the style of a manifesto. It passed to the second reading by fourteen to five.
A bill for punishing forgeries of bank paper, passed to the third reading by fourteen to six. Three of the fourteen (Laurence, Bingham and Read) bank directors.
It is sometime since I have understood that there are large herds of horses in a wild state, in the country west of the Mississippi, and have been desirous of obtaining details of their history in that State. Mr. Brown, Senator from Kentucky, informs me it would be in your power to give interesting information on this subject, and encourages me to ask it. The circumstances of the old world have, beyond the records of history, been such as admitted not that animal to exist in a state of nature. The condition of America is rapidly advancing to the same. The present then is probably the only moment in the age of the world, and the herds above mentioned the only subjects, of which we can avail ourselves to obtain what has never yet been recorded, and never can be again in all probability. I will add that your information is the sole reliance, as far as I can at present see, for obtaining this desideratum. You will render to natural history a very acceptable service, therefore, if you will enable our Philosophical Society to add so interesting a chapter to the history of this animal. I need not specify to you the particular facts asked for ; as your knowledge of the animal in his domesticated, as well as his wild state, will naturally have led your attention to those particulars in the manners, habits, and laws of his existence, which are peculiar to his wild state. I wish you not to be anxious about the form of your information, the exactness of the substance alone is material ; and if, after giving in a first letter all the facts you at present possess, you would be good, on subsequent occasions, as to furnish such others in addition, as you may acquire from time to time, your communications will always be thankfully received, if addressed to me at Monticello ; and put into any post office in Kentucky or Tennessee, they will reach me speedily and safely, and will be considered as obligations on, Sir, your most obedient, humble servant.
Dear Sir,Your favor of August the 4th came to hand by our last post, together with the "extract of a letter from a gentleman of Philadelphia, dated July the 10th," cut from a newspaper stating some facts which respect me. I shall notice these facts. The writer says that "the day after the last despatches were communicated to Congress, Bache, Leib, &c., and a Dr. Reynolds, were closeted with me." If the receipt of visits in my public room, the door continuing free to every one who should call at the same time, may be called closeting, then it is true that I was closeted with every person who visited me; in no other sense is it true as to any person. I sometimes received visits from Mr. Bache and Dr. Leib. I received them always with pleasure, because they are men of abilities, and of principles the most friendly to liberty and our present form of government. Mr. Bache has another claim on my respect; as being the grandson of Dr. Franklin, the greatest man and ornament of the age and country in which he lived. Whether I was visited by Mr. Bache or Dr. Leib the day after the communication referred to, I do not remember. I know that all my motions in Philadelphia, here, and everywhere, are watched and recorded. Some of these spies, therefore, may remember better than I do, the dates of these visits. If they say that these two gentlemen visited me on the day after the communication, as their trade proves their accuracy, I shall not contradict them, though I affirm that I do not recollect it. However, as to Dr. Reynolds I can be more particular, because I never saw him but once, which was on an introductory visit he was so kind as to pay me. This, I well remember, was before the communication alluded to, and that during the short conversation I had with him, not one word was said on the subject of any of the communications. Not that I should not have spoken freely on their subject to Dr. Reynolds, as I should also have done to the letter writer, or to any other person who should have introduced the subject. I know my own principles to be pure, and therefore am not ashamed of them. On the contrary, I wish them known, and therefore willingly express them to every one. They are the same I have acted on from the year 1775 to this day, and are the same, I am sure, with those of the great body of the American people. I only wish the real principles of those who censure mine were also known. But warring against those of the people, the delusion of the people is necessary to the dominant party. I see the extent to which that delusion has been already carried, and I see there is no length to which it may not be pushed by a party in possession of the revenues and the legal authorities of the United States, for a short time indeed, but yet long enough to admit much particular mischief. There is no event, therefore, however atrocious, which may not be expected. I have contemplated every event which the Maratists of the day can perpetrate, and am prepared to meet every one in such a way, as shall not be derogatory either to the public liberty or my own personal honor. The letter writer says, I am "for peace ; but it is only with France." He has told half the truth. He would have told the whole, if he had added England. I am for peace with both countries. I know that both of them have given, and are daily giving, sufficient cause of war; that in defiance of the laws of nations, they are every day trampling on the rights of the neutral powers, whenever they can thereby do the least injury, either to the other. But, as I view a peace between France and England the ensuing winter to be certain, I have thought it would have been better for us to continue to bear from France through the present summer, what we have been bearing both from her and England these four years, and still continue to bear from England, and to have required indemnification in the hour of peace, when I verily believe it would have been yielded by both. This seems to have been the plan of the other neutral nations; and whether this, or the commencing war on one of them, as we have done, would have been wisest, time and events must decide. But I am quite at a loss on what ground the letter writer can question the opinion, that France had no intention of making war on us, and was willing to treat with Mr. Gerry, when we have this from Talleyrands letter, and from the written and verbal information of our Envoys. It is true then, that, as with England, we might of right have chosen either war or peace, and have chosen peace, and prudently in my opinion, so with France, we might also of right have chosen either peace or war, and we have chosen war. Whether the choice may be a popular one in the other States, I know not. Here it certainly is not; and I have no doubt the whole American people will rally ere long to the same sentiment, and rejudge those who, at present, think they have all judgment in their own hands.
These observations will show you how far the imputations in the paragraph sent me approach the truth. Yet they are not intended for a newspaper. At a very early period of my life I determined never to put a sentence into any newspaper. I have religiously adhered to the resolution through my life, and have great reason to be contented with it. Were I to undertake to answer the calumnies of the newspapers, it would be more than all my own time, and that of twenty aids could effect. For while I should be answering one, twenty new ones would be invented. I have thought it better to trust to the justice of my countrymen, that they would judge me by what they see of my conduct on the stage where they have placed me, and what they knew of me before the epoch since which a particular party has supposed it might answer some view of theirs to vilify me in the public eye. Some, I know, will not reflect how apocryphal is the testimony of enemies so palpably betraying the views with which they give it. But this is an injury to which duty requires every one to submit whom the public think proper to call into its councils. I thank you, my dear Sir, for the interest you have for me on this occasion. Though I have made up my mind not to suffer calumny to disturb my tranquillity, yet I retain all my sensibilities for the approbation of the good and just. That is, indeed, the chief consolation for the hatred of so many, who, without the least personal knowledge, and on the sacred evidence of Porcupine and Fenno alone, cover me with their implacable hatred. The only return I will ever make them, will be to do them all the good I can, in spite of their teeth.
I have the pleasure to inform you that all your friends in this quarter are well, and to assure you of the sentiments of sincere esteem and respect with which I am, dear Sir, your friend and servant.
To avoid the suspicions and curiosity of the post office, which would have been excited by seeing your name and mine on the back of a letter, I have delayed acknowledging the receipt of your favor of July last, till an occasion to write to an inhabitant of Wilmington gives me an opportunity of putting my letter under cover to him. The system of alarm and jealousy which has been so powerfully played off in England, has been mimicked here, not entirely without success. The most longsighted politician could not, seven years ago, have imagined that the people of this wide-extended country could have been enveloped in such delusion, and made so much afraid of themselves and their own power, as to surrender it spontaneously to those who are manoeuvring them into a form of government, the principal branches of which may be beyond their control. The commerce of England, however, has spread its roots over the whole face of our country. This is the real source of all the obliquities of the public mind; and I should have had doubts of the ultimate term they might attain; but happily, the game, to be worth the playing of those engaged in it, must flush them with money. The authorized expenses of this year are beyond those of any year in the late war for independence, and they are of a nature to beget great and constant expenses. The purse of the people is the real seat of sensibility. It is to be drawn upon largely, and they will then listen to truths which could not excite them through any other organ. In this State, however, the delusion has not prevailed. They are sufficiently on their guard to have justified the assurance, that should you choose it for your asylum, the laws of the land, administered by upright judges, would protect you from any exercise of power unauthorized by the Constitution of the United States. The Habeas Corpus secures every man here, alien or citizen, against everything which is not law, whatever shape it may assume. Should this, or any other circumstance, draw your footsteps this way, I shall be happy to be among those who may have an opportunity of testifying, by every attention in our power, the sentiments of esteem and respect which the circumstances of your history have inspired, and which are peculiarly felt by, Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.
Dear Sir,I have to thank you for your favor of July the 6th, from Philadelphia. I did not immediately acknowledge it, because I knew you would have come away. The X.Y.Z. fever has considerably abated through the country, as I am informed, and the alien and sedition laws are working hard. I fancy that some of the State legislatures will take strong ground on this occasion. For my own part, I consider those laws as merely an experiment on the American mind, to see how far it will bear an avowed violation of the Constitution. If this goes down, we shall immediately see attempted another act of Congress, declaring that the President shall continue in office during life, reserving to another occasion the transfer of the succession to his heirs, and the establishment of the Senate for life. At least, this may be the aim of the Oliverians, while Monk and the Cavaliers (who are perhaps the strongest) may be playing their game for the restoration of his most gracious Majesty George the Third. That these things are in contemplation, I have no doubt; nor can I be confident of their failure, after the dupery of which our countrymen have shown themselves susceptible.
You promised to endeavor to send me some tenants. I am waiting for them, having broken up two excellent farms with twelve fields in them of forty acres each, some of which I have sowed with small grain. Tenants of any size may be accommodated with the number of fields suited to their force. Only send me good people, and write me what they are. Adieu. Yours affectionately.
Mr. Richardson has been detained by several jobs indispensable to the progress of the carpenters, & to the securing what is done against the winter. When will Whitton be done with you ? or could you by any means dispense with his services till I set out for Philadelphia ? My floors can only be laid while I am at home, and I cannot get a workman here. Perhaps you have some other with you or near you who could go on with your work till his return to you. I only mention these things that if you have any other person who could enable you to spare him a few weeks, I could employ him to much accommodation till my departure in laying floors. But in this consult your own convenience only.
I inclose you a copy of the draught of the Kentucky resolutions. I think we should distinctly affirm all the important principles they contain, so as to hold to that ground in future, and leave the matter in such a train as that we may not be committed absolutely to push the matter to extremities, and yet may be free to push as far as events will render prudent. I think to set out so as to arrive at Philadelphia the Saturday before Christmas. My friendly respects to Mrs. Madison, to your father and family ; health, happiness and adieu to yourself.
We formerly had a debtor and creditor account of letters on farming; but the high price of tobacco, which is likely to continue for some short time, has tempted me to go entirely into that culture, and in the meantime, my farming schemes are in abeyance, and my farming fields at nurse against the time of my resuming them. But I owe you a political letter. Yet the infidelities of the post office and the circumstances of the times are against my writing fully and freely, whilst my own dispositions are as much against mysteries, innuendoes and halfconfidences. I know not which mortifies me most, that I should fear to write what I think, or my country bear such a state of things. Yet Lyon's judges, and a jury of all nations, are objects of national fear. We agree in all the essential ideas of your letter. We agree particularly in the necessity of some reform, and of some better security for civil liberty. But perhaps we do not see the existing circumstances in the same point of view. There are many consideration dehors of the State, which will occur to you without enumeration. I should not apprehend them, if all was sound within. But there is a most respectable part of our State who have been enveloped in the X.Y.Z. delusion, and who destroy our unanimity for the present moment. This disease of the imagination will pass over, because the patients are essentially republicans. Indeed, the Doctor is now on his way to cure it, in the guise of a tax gatherer. But give time for the medicine to work, and for the repetition of stronger doses, which must be administered. The principle of the present majority is excessive expense, money enough to fill all their maws, or it will not be worth the risk of their supporting. They cannot borrow a dollar in Europe, or above two or three millions in America. This is not the fourth of the expenses of this year, unprovided for. Paper money would be perilous even to the paper men. Nothing then but excessive taxation can get us along; and this will carry reason and reflection to every man's door, and particularly in the hour of election.
I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of its Constitution; I mean an additional article, taking from the federal government the power of borrowing. I now deny their power of making paper money or anything else a legal tender. I know that to pay all proper expenses within the year, would, in case of war, be hard on us. But not so hard as ten wars instead of one. For wars would be reduced in that proportion; besides that the State governments would be free to lend their credit in borrowing quotas. For the present, I should be for resolving the alien and sedition laws to be against the Constitution and merely void, and for addressing the other States to obtain similar declarations; and I would not do anything at this moment which should commit us further, but reserve ourselves to shape our future measures or no measures, by the events which may happen. It is a singular phenomenon, that while our State governments are the very best in the world, without exception or comparison, our General Government has, in the rapid course of nine or ten years, become more arbitrary, and has swallowed more of the public liberty than even that of England. I enclose you a column, cut out of a London paper, to show you that the English, though charmed with our making their enemies our enemies, yet blush and weep over our sedition law. But I enclose you something more important. It is a petition for a reformation in the manner of appointing our juries, and a remedy against the jury of all nations, which is handing about here for signature, and will be presented to your House. I know it will require but little ingenuity to make objections to the details of its execution; but do not be discouraged by small difficulties; make it as perfect as you can at a first essay, and depend on amending its defects as they develop themselves in practice. I hope it will meet with your approbation and patronage. It is the only thing which can yield us a little present protection against the dominion of a faction, while circumstances are maturing for bringing and keeping the government in real unison with the spirit of their constituents. I am aware that the act of Congress has directed that juries shall be appointed by lot or otherwise, as the laws now (at the date of the act) in force in the several States provide. The New England States have always had them elected by their select men, who are elected by the people. Several or most of the other States have a large number appointed (I do not know how) to attend, out of whom twelve for each cause are taken by lot. This provision of Congress will render it necessary for our Senators or Delegates to apply for an amendatory law, accommodated to that prayed for in the petition, In the meantime, I would pass the law as if the amendatory one existed, in reliance, that our select jurors attending, the federal judge will, under a sense of right, direct the juries to be taken from among them. If he does not, or if Congress refuses to pass the amendatory law, it will serve as eye-water for their constituents. Health, happiness, safety and esteem to yourself and my ever-honored and ancient friend, Mr. Pendleton. Adieu.