The Writings of
Thomas Jefferson

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

To James Madison.
Philadelphia, January 3, 1799.

Dear Sir,—I have suffered the post hour to come so nearly on me, that I must huddle over what I have more than appears in the public papers.  I arrived here on Christmas day, not a single bill or other article of business having yet been brought into Senate.  The President’s speech, so unlike himself in point of moderation, is supposed to have been written by the military conclave, and particularly Hamilton.  When the Senate gratuitously hint Logan to him, you see him in his reply come out in his genuine colors.  The debates on that subject and Logan’s declaration you will see in the papers.  The republican spirit is supposed to be gaining ground in this State and Massachusetts.  The tax gatherer has already excited discontent.  Gerry’s correspondence with Talleyrand, promised by the President at the opening of the session, is still kept back.  It is known to show France in a very conciliatory attitude, and to contradict some executive assertions.  Therefore, it is supposed they will get their war measures well taken before they will produce this damper.  Vans Murray writes them, that the French government is sincere in their overtures for reconciliation, and have agreed, if these fail, to admit the mediation offered by the Dutch government.  In the mean time the raising the army is to go on, & it is said they propose to build twelve 74s.  Insurance is now higher in all the commercial towns against British than French capture.  The impresment of seamen from one of our armed vessels by a British man of war has occasioned Mr. Pickering to bristle up it is said.  But this cannot proceed to any effect.  The capture by the French of the Retaliation (an armed vessel we had taken from them) will probably be played off to the best advantage.  Lyon is re-elected.  His majority is great.  Reports vary from 600 to 900.  Logan was elected into the Pennsylvania legislature against F.A. Mulenburg by 1256. to 769.  Livermore has been re-elected in New Hampshire by a majority of 1. in the lower & 2. in the upper house.  General Knox has become bankrupt for four hundred thousand dollars, and has resigned his military commission.  He took in General Lincoln for one hundred and fifty thousand dollars, which breaks him.  Colonel Jackson also sunk with him.  It seems generally admitted, that several cases of the yellow fever still exist in the city, and the apprehension is, that it will re-appear early in the spring.  You promised me a copy of McGee’s bill of prices.  Be so good as to send it on to me here.  Tell Mrs. Madison her friend Madame d’Yrujo, is as well as one can be so near to a formidable crisis.  Present my friendly respects to her, and accept yourself my sincere and affectionate salutations.  Adieu.


P.S.  I omitted to mention that a petition has been presented to the President, signed by several thousand persons in Vermont, praying a remitment of Lyon’s fine.  He asked the bearer of the petition.  If Lyon himself had petitioned, and being answered in the negative, said, “penitence must precede pardon.”




To James Madison.
Philadelphia, January 16, 1799.

Dear Sir

The forgery lately attempted to be played off by Mr. H. on the House of Representatives, of a pretended memorial presented by Logan to the French government, has been so palpably exposed, as to have thrown ridicule on the whole of the clamors they endeavored to raise as to that transaction.  Still, however, their majority will pass the bill.  The real views in the importance they have given to Logan’s enterprise are mistaken by nobody.  Mr. Gerry’s communications relative to his transactions after the departure of his colleagues, though he has now been returned five months, and they have been promised to the House six or seven weeks, are still kept back.  In the meantime, the paper of this morning promises them from the Paris papers.  It is said, they leave not a possibility to doubt the sincerity and the anxiety of the French government to avoid the spectacle of a war with us.  Notwithstanding, this is well understood, the army and a great addition to our navy, are steadily intended.  A loan of five millions is opened at eight per cent. interest !  In a rough way we may state future expences thus annually, Navy 5½ millions (exclusive of it’s outfit) army (14,000 men) 6½ millions, interest of national debt (I believe) about 4 millions, interest of the new loan 400,000 which with the expences of government will make an aggregate of about 18,000,000.  All our taxes this year have brought in about 10½ millions, to which the direct tax will add 2 millions, leaving a deficit of between 5 & 6 millions Still no addition to the taxes will be ventured on at this session.  It is pretty evident from the preceedings to get at the measure & number of windows in our houses that a tax on air & light is meditated, but I suppose not till the next session.  The bankrupt bill was yesterday rejected by a majority of three.  The determination of the British commisiioners under the treaty (who are 3 against 2 of ours) are so extravagant, that about 3 days ago ours protested & seceded.  It was said yesterday they had come together again.  The demands which will be allowed on the principles of the British majority will amount to from 15 to 20 millions of Dollars.  It is not believed that our government will submit to it, & consequently that this must again become a subject of negociation.  It is very evident the British are using that part of the treaty merely as a political engine.—Notwithstanding the pretentions of the papers of the danger & destruction of Buonaparte, nothing of that is believed.  It seem probable that he will establish himself in Egypt, and that that is, at present at least, his ultimate object.  Ireland also is considered as more organised in her insurrection and stronger than she has been hitherto.—As yet no tobacco has come to this market.  At New York the new tobo. is at 13 D.  Georgia has sent on a greater quantity than had been imagined, and so improved in quality as to take place of that of Maryland & the Carolinas.  It is at 11 D. while they are about 10.  Immense sums of money now go to Virginia.  Every stage is loaded.  This is partly to pay for last year’s purchases, & partly for the new.

In a society of members, between whom and myself are great mutual esteem and respect, a most anxious desire is expressed that you would publish your debates of the Convention.  That these measures of the army, navy and direct tax will bring about a revolution of public sentiment is thought certain, and that the Constitution will then receive a different explanation.  Could those debates be ready to appear critically, their effect would be decisive.  I beg of you to turn this subject in your mind.  The arguments against it will be personal; those in favor of it moral ; and something is required from you as a set-off against the sin of your retirement.—Your favor of December the 29th came to hand January the 5th; seal sound.  I pray you always to examine the seals of mine to you, and the strength of the impression.  The suspicions against the government on this subject are strong.  I wrote you January the 5th.  Accept for yourself and Mrs. Madison my affectionate salutations.  Adieu.




To Elbridge Gerry.
Philadelphia, January 26, 1799.

My Dear Sir

Your favor of November the 12th was safely delivered to me by Mr. Binney, but not till December the 28th, as I arrived here only three days before that date.  It was received with great satisfaction.  Our very long intimacy as fellow-laborers in the same cause, the recent expressions of mutual confidence which had preceded your mission, the interesting course which that had taken, and particularly and personally as it regarded yourself, made me anxious to hear from you on your return.  I was the more so too, as I had myself, during the whole of your absence, as well as since your return, been a constant butt for every shaft of calumny which malice and falsehood could form, and the presses, public speakers, or private letters disseminate.  One of these, too, was of a nature to touch yourself;  as if, wanting confidence in your efforts, I had been capable of usurping powers committed to you, and authorizing negotiations private and collateral to yours.  The real truth is, that though Doctor Logan, the pretended missionary, about four or five days before he sailed for Hamburgh, told me he was going there, and thence to Paris, and asked and received from me a certificate of his citizenship, character, and circumstances of life, merely as a protection, should he be molested on his journey, in the present turbulent and suspicious state of Europe, yet I had been led to consider his object as relative to his private affairs;  and though, from an intimacy of some standing, he knew well my wishes for peace and my political sentiments in general, he nevertheless received then no particular declaration of them, no authority to communicate them to any mortal, nor to speak to any one in my name, or in anybody’s name, on that, or on any other subject whatever;  nor did I write by him a scrip of a pen to any person whatever.  This he has himself honestly and publicly declared since his return;  and from his well-known character and every other circumstance, every candid man must perceive that his enterprise was dictated by his own enthusiasm, without consultation or communication with any one;  that he acted in Paris on his own ground, and made his own way.  Yet to give some color to his proceedings, which might implicate the republicans in general, and myself particularly, they have not been ashamed to bring forward a suppositious paper, drawn by one of their own party in the name of Logan, and falsely pretended to have been presented by him to the government of France;  counting that the bare mention of my name therein, would connect that in the eye of the public with this transaction.  In confutation of these and all future ca umnies, by way of anticipation, I shall make to you a profession of my political faith;  in confidence that you will consider every future imputation on me of a contrary complexion, as bearing on its front the mark of falsehood and calumny.

I do then, with sincere zeal, wish an inviolable preservation of our present federal Constitution, according to the true sense in which it was adopted by the States, that in which it was advocated by its friends, and not that which its enemies apprehended, who therefore became its enemies ;  and I am opposed to the monarchising its features by the forms of its administration, with a view to conciliate a first transition to a President and Senate for life, and from that to an hereditary tenure of these offices, and thus to worm out the elective principle.  I am for preserving to the States the powers not yielded by them to the Union, and to the legislature of the Union its constitutional share in the division of powers;  and I am not for transferring all the powers of the States to the General Government, and all those of that government to the executive branch.  I am for a government rigorously frugal and simple, applying all the possible savings of the public revenue to the discharge of the national debt ;  and not for a multiplication of officers and salaries merely to make partisans, and for increasing, by every device, the public debt, on the principle of its being a public blessing.  I am for relying, for internal defence, on our militia solely, till actual invasion, and for such a naval force only as may protect our coasts and harbors from such depredations as we have experienced ;  and not for a standing army in time of peace, which may overawe the public sentiment ;  nor for a navy, which, by its own expenses and the eternal wars in which it will implicate us, will grind us with public burthens, and sink us under them.  I am for free commerce with all nations ;  political connection with none ;  and little or no diplomatic establishment.  And I am not for linking ourselves by new treaties with the quarrels of Europe;  entering that field of slaughter to preserve their balance, or joining in the confederacy of kings to war against the principles of liberty.  I am for freedom of religion, and against all manoeuvres to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another :  for freedom of the press, and against all violations of the Constitution to silence by force and not by reason the complaints or criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of their agents.  And I am for encouraging the progress of science in all its branches ;  and not for raising a hue and cry against the sacred name of philosophy ;  for awing the human mind by stories of raw-head and bloody bones to a distrust of its own vision;  and to repose implicitly on that of others;  to go backwards instead of forwards, to look for improvement ;  to believe that government, religion, morality, and every other science were in the highest perfection in ages of the darkest ignorance, and that nothing can ever be devised more perfect than what was established by our forefathers.  To these I will add, that I was a sincere well-wisher to the success of the French revolution, and still wish it may end in the establishment of a free and well-ordered republic ;  but I have not been insensible under the atrocious depredations they have committed on our commerce.  The first object of my heart is my own country.  In that is embarked my family, my fortune, and my own existence.  I have not one farthing of interest, nor one fibre of attachment out of it, nor a single motive of preference of any one nation to another, but in proportion as they are more or less friendly to us.  But though deeply feeling the injuries of France, I did not think war the surest means of redressing them.  I did believe, that a mission sincerely disposed to preserve peace, would obtain for us a peaceable and honorable settlement and retribution;  and I appeal to you to say, whether this might not have been obtained, if either of your colleagues had been of the same sentiment with yourself.—These, my friend, are my principles;  they are unquestionably the principles of the great body of our fellow-citizens, and I know there is not one of them which is not yours also.  In truth, we never differed but on one ground, the funding system;  and as, from the moment of its being adopted by the constituted authorities, I became religiously principled in the sacred discharge of it to the uttermost farthing, we are united now even on that single ground of difference.

I now turn to your inquiries.  The enclosed paper will answer one of them.  But you also ask for such political information as may be possessed by me, and interesting to yourself in regard to your embassy.  As a proof of my entire confidence in you, I shall give it fully and candidly.  When Pinckney, Marshall, and Dana were nominated to settle our differences with France, it was suspected by many, from what was understood of their dispositions, that their mission would not result in a settlement of differences, but would produce circumstances tending to widen the breach, and to provoke our citizens to consent to a war with that nation, and union with England.  Dana’s resignation and your appointment gave the first gleam of hope of a peaceable issue to the mission.  For it was believed that you were sincerely disposed to accommodation;  and it was not lung after your arrival there, before symptoms were observed of that difference of views which had been suspected to exist.—In the meantime, however, the aspect of our government towards the French republic had become so ardent, that the people of America generally took the alarm.  To the southward, their apprehensions were early excited.  In the Eastern States also, they at length began to break out.  Meetings were held in many of your towns, and addresses to the government agreed on in opposition to war.  The example was spreading like a wildfire.  Other meetings were called in other places, and a general concurrence of sentiment against the apparent inclinations of the government was imminent; when, most critically for the government, the despatches of October 22d, prepared by your colleague Marshall, with a view to their being made public, dropped into their laps.  It was truly a God-send to them, and they made the most of it.  Many thousands of copies were printed and dispersed gratis, at the public expense;  and the zealots for war co-operated so heartily, that there were instances of single individuals who printed and dispersed ten or twelve thousand copies at their own expense.  The odiousness of the corruption supposed in those papers excited a general and high indignation among the people.  Unexperienced in such manoeuvres, they did not permit themselves even to suspect that the turpitude of private swindlers might mingle itself unobserved, and give its own hue to the communications of the French government, of whose participation there was neither proof nor probability.  It served, however, for a time, the purpose intended.  The people, in many places, gave a loose to the expressions of their warm indignation, and of their honest preference of war to dishonor.  The fever was long and successfully kept up, and in the meantime, war measures as ardently crowded.—Still, however, as it was known that your colleagues were coming away, and yourself to stay, though disclaiming a separate power to conclude a treaty, it was hoped by the lovers of peace, that a project of treaty would have been prepared, ad referendum, on principles which would have satisfied our citizens, and overawed any bias of the government towards a different policy.  But the expedition of the Sophia, and, as was supposed, the suggestions of the person charged with your despatches, and his probable misrepresentations of the real wishes of the American people, prevented these hopes.  They had then only to look forward to your return for such information, either through the executive, or from yourself, as might present to our view the other side of the medal.  The despatches of October 22nd, 1797, had presented one face.  That information, to a certain degree, is now received, and the public will see from your correspondence with Talleyrand, that France, as you testify, “was sincere and anxious to obtain a reconciliation, not wishing us to break the British treaty, but only to give her equivalent stipulations, and in general was disposed to a liberal treaty.”  And they will judge whether Mr. Pickering’s report shows an inflexible determination to believe no declarations the French government can make, nor any opinion which you, judging on the spot and from actual view, can give of their sincerity, and to meet their designs of peace with operations of war.  The alien and sedition acts have already operated in the south as powerful sedatives of the X.Y.Z. inflammation.  In your quarter, where violations of principle are either less regarded or more concealed, the direct tax is likely to have the same effect, and to excite inquiries into the object of the enormous expenses and taxes we are bringing on.  And your information supervening, that we might have a liberal accommodation if we would, there can be little doubt of the reproduction of that general movement which had been changed, for a moment, by the despatches of October 22d.  And though small checks and stops, like Logan’s pretended embassy, may be thrown in the way from time to time, and may a little retard its motion, yet the tide is already turned, and will sweep before it all the feeble obstacles of art.  The unquestionable republicanism of the American mind will break through the mist under which it has been clouded, and will oblige its agents to reform the principles and practices of their administration.

You suppose that you have been abused by both parties.  As far as has come to my knowledge, you are misinformed.  I have never seen or heard a sentence of blame uttered against you by the republicans ;  unless we were so to construe their wishes that you had more boldly co-operated in a project of a treaty, and would more explicitly state, whether there was in your colleagues that flexibility, which persons earnest after peace would have practised ?  Whether, on the contrary, their demeanor was not cold, reserved, and distant, at least, if not backward ?  And whether, if they had yielded to those informal conferences which Talleyrand seems to have courted, the liberal accommodation you suppose might not have been effected, even with their agency ?  Your fellow-citizens think they have a right to full information, in a case of such great concernment to them.  It is their sweat which is to earn all the expenses of the war, and their blood which is to flow in expiation of the causes of it.  It may be in your power to save them from these miseries by full communications and unrestrained details, postponing motives of delicacy to those of duty.  It rests with you to come forward independently;  to make your stand on the high ground of your own character ;  to disregard calumny, and to be borne above it on the shoulders of your grateful fellow-citizens;  or to sink into the humble oblivion, to which the federalists (self-called) have secretly condemned you;  and even to be happy if they will indulge you oblivion, while they have beamed on your colleagues meridian splendor.  Pardon me, my dear Sir, if my expressions are strong.  My feelings are so much more so, that it is with difficulty I reduce them even to the tone I use.  If you doubt the dispositions towards you, look into the papers, on both sides, for the toasts which were given throughout the States on the Fourth of July.  You will there see whose hearts were with you, and whose were ulcerated against you.  Indeed, as soon as it was known that you had consented to stay in Paris was no measure observed in the execrations of the war party.  They openly wished you might be guillotined, or sent to Cayenne, or anything else.  And these expressions were finally stifled from a principle of policy only, and to prevent you from being urged to a justification of yourself.  From this principle alone proceed the silence and cold respect they observe towards you.  Still, they cannot prevent at times the flames bursting from under the embers, as Mr. Pickering’s letters, report, and conversations testify, as well as the indecent expressions respecting you, indulged by some of them in the debate on these despatches.  These sufficiently show that you are never more to be honored or trusted by them, and that they wait to crush you for ever only till they can do it without danger to themselves.

When I sat down to answer your letter, but two courses presented themselves, either to say nothing or everything; for half confidences are not in my character.  I could not hesitate which was due to you.  I have unbosomed myself fully;  and it will certainly be highly gratifying if I receive like confidence from you.  For even if we differ in principle more than I believe we do, you and I know too well the texture of the human mind;  and the slipperiness of human reason, to consider differences of opinion otherwise than differences of form or feature.  Integrity of views more than their soundness, is the basis of esteem.  I shall follow your direction in conveying this by a private hand;  though I know not as yet when one worthy of confidence will occur.  And my trust in you leaves me without a fear that this letter, meant as a confidential communication of my impressions, will ever go out of your own hand, or be suffered in anywise to commit my name.  Indeed, besides the accidents which might happen to it even under your care, considering the accident of death to which you are liable, I think it safest to pray you, after reading it as often as you please, to destroy at least the second and third leaves.  The first contains principles only, which I fear not to avow;  but the second and third contain facts stated for your information, and which, though sacredly conformable to my firm belief, yet would be galling to some, and expose me to illiberal attacks.  I therefore repeat my prayer to burn the second and third leaves.  And did we ever expect to see the day, when, breathing nothing but sentiments of love to our country and its freedom and happiness, our correspondence must be as secret as if we were hatching its destruction !  Adieu, my friend, and accept my sincere and affectionate salutations.  I need not add my signature.




To Edmund Pendleton.
Philadelphia, January 29, 1799.

Dear Sir

Your patriarchal address to your country is running through all the republican papers, and has a very great effect on the people.  It is short, simple, and presents things in a view they readily comprehend.  The character and circumstances too of the writer leave them without doubts of his motives.  If, like the patriarch of old, you had but one blessing to give us, I should have wished it directed to a particular object.  But I hope you have one for this also.  You know what a wicked use has been made of the French negotiation;  and particularly the X.Y.Z. dish cooked up by Marshall, where the swindlers are made to appear as the French government.  Art and industry combined, have certainly wrought out of this business a wonderful effect on the people.  Yet they have been astonished more than they have understood it, and now that Gerry’s correspondence comes out, clearing the French government of that turpitude, and showing them “sincere in their dispositions for peace, not wishing us to break the British treaty, and willing to arrange a liberal one with us,” the people will be disposed to suspect they have been duped.  But these communications are too voluminous for them, and beyond their reach.  A recapitulation is now wanting of the whole story, stating everything according to what we may now suppose to have been the truth, short, simple and levelled to every capacity.  Nobody in America can do it so well as yourself, in the same character of the father of your country, or any form you like better, and so concise as, omitting nothing material, may yet be printed in hand bills, of which we could print and disperse ten or twelve thousand copies under letter covers, through all the United States, by the members of Congress when they return home.  If the understanding of the people could be rallied to the truth on this subject, by exposing the dupery practised on them, there are so many other things about to bear on them favorably for the resurrection of their republican spirit, that a reduction of the administration to constitutional principles cannot fail to be the effect.  These are the alien and sedition laws, the vexations of the stamp act, the disgusting particularities of the direct tax, the additional army without an enemy, and recruiting officers lounging at every court-house to decoy the laborer from his plough, a navy of fifty ships, five millions to be raised to build it, on the usurious interest of eight per cent., the perseverance in war on our part, when the French government shows such an anxious desire to keep at peace with us, taxes of ten millions now paid by four millions of people, and yet a necessity, in a year or two, of raising five millions more for annual expenses.  These things will immediately be bearing on the public mind, and if it remain not still blinded by a supposed necessity, for the purposes of maintaining our independence and defending our country, they will set things to rights.  I hope you will undertake this statement.  If anybody else had possessed your happy talent for this kind of recapitulation, I would have been the last to disturb you with the application;  but it will really be rendering our country a service greater than it is in the power of any other individual to render.  To save you the trouble of hunting the several documents from which this statement is to be taken, I have collected them here completely, and enclose them to you.

Logan’s bill has passed.  On this subject, it is hardly necessary for me to declare to you, on everything sacred, that the part they ascribed to me was entirely a calumny.  Logan called on me, four or five days before his departure, and asked and received a certificate (in my private capacity) of his citizenship and circumstances of life, merely as a protection, should he be molested in the present turbulent state of Europe.  I have given such to an hundred others, and they have been much more frequently asked and obtained by Tories than Whigs.  I did not write a scrip of a pen by him to any person.  From long acquaintance he knew my wishes for peace & my political sentiments generally, but he received no particular declaration of them then, nor one word of authority to speak in my name, or any body’s name on that or any other subject.  It was an enterprise founded in the enthusiasm of his own character.  He went on his own ground & made his own way.  His object was virtous, and the effect meritorious.

Accept my sincere prayers for long and happy years to you still, and my affectionate salutations and adieu.




To Colonel Nicholas Lewis.
Philadelphia, January 30, 1799.

Dear Sir

Believing that the letters of Messrs. Gerry and Talleyrand, will give you pleasure to peruse, I send you a copy ; you will perceive by them the anxiety of the government of France for a reconciliation with us, and Mr. Gerry’s belief of their sincerity, and that they were ready to have made a liberal treaty with us.  You will also see by Mr. Pickering’s report that we are determined to believe no declarations they can make, but to meet their peaceable professions with acts of war.  An act has passed the House of Representatives by a majority of twenty, for continuing the law cutting off intercourse with France, but allowing the President by proclamation, to except out of this such parts of their dominions as disavow the depredations committed on us.  This is intended for St. Domingo, where Toussaint has thrown off dependence on France.  He has an agent here on this business.  Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted six ships of 74 guns and six of 18, making 552 guns.  These would cost in England $5,000 a gun.  They would cost here $10,000, so the whole will cost five and a half millions of dollars.  Their annual expense is stated at 1,000£ Virginia money a gun, being a little short of two millions of dollars.  And this is only a part of what is proposed;  the whole contemplated being twelve 74s, 12 frigates and about 25 smaller vessels.  The state of our income and expense is (in round numbers) nearly as follows.

Imports, seven and a half millions of dollars ;  excise, auctions, licenses, carriages, half a million;  postage, patents, and bank stock, one-eighth of a million, making eight and one-eighth millions.  To these the direct tax and stamp tax will add two millions clear of expense, making in the whole ten and one-eighth millions.  The expenses on the civil list, three-fourths of a million, foreign intercourse half a million, interest on the public debt four millions, the present navy two and a half millions, the present army one and a half millions, making nine and one-quarter millions.  The additional army will be two and a half millions, the additional navy three millions, and interest on the new loan near one-half a million, in all, fifteen and one-quarter millions ;  so in about a year or two there will be five millions annually to be raised by taxes in addition to the ten millions we now pay.  Suppose our population is now five millions, this would be three dollars a head.  This is exclusive of the outfit of the navy, for which a loan is opened to borrow five millions at eight per cent.  If we can remain at peace, we have this in our favor, that these projects will require time to execute;  that in the meantime, the sentiments of the people in the Middle States are visibly turning back to their former direction, the X.Y.Z. delusion being abated, and their minds become sensible to the circumstances surrounding them, to wit :  the alien and sedition acts, the vexations of the stamp act, the direct tax, the follies of the additional army and navy, money borrowed for these at the usurious interest of eight per cent., and Mr. Gerry’s communications showing that peace is ours unless we throw it away.  But if the joining the revolted subjects (negroes) of France, and surrounding their islands with our armed vessels, instead of their merely cruising on our own coasts to protect our own commerce, should provoke France to a declaration of war, these measures will become irremediable.

The English and German papers are killing and eating Bonaparte every day.  He is, however, safe, has effected a peaceable establishment of government in Egypt, the inhabitants of which have preferred him to their Mameluke Governors, and the expectation is renewed of his march to India.  In that country great preparations are made for the overthrow of the English power.—The insurrection of Ireland seems to be reduced low.  The peace between France and the Empire seems also to be doubtful.  Very little is apprehended for them from anything which the Turks and Russians can do against them.  I wish I could have presented you with a more comfortable view of our affairs.  However, that will come if the friends of reform, while they remain firm, avoid every act and threat against the peace of the Union, that would check the favorable sentiments of the Middle States, and rally them again around the measures which are ruining us.  Reason, not rashness, is the only means of bringing our fellow-citizens to their true minds.  Present my best compliments to Mrs. Lewis, and accept yourself assurances of the sincere and affectionate esteem with which I am, dear Sir, your friend and servant.




To James Madison.
Philadelphia, January 30, 1799.

My last to you was of the 16th, since which yours of the 12th is received, and its contents disposed of properly.  These met such approbation as to have occasioned an extraordinary impression of that day’s paper.  Logan’s bill is passed.  The lower House, by a majority of twenty, passed yesterday a bill continuing the suspension of intercourse with France, with a new clause enabling the President to admit intercourse with the rebellious negroes under Toussaint, who has an agent here, and has thrown off dependence on France.  The House of Representatives have also voted six 74s and six 18s, in part of the additional navy, say 552 guns, which in England would cost $5,000, and here $10,000, consequently more than the whole five millions for which a loan is now opened at eight per cent.  The maintenance is estimated at £1,000 (lawful) a gun annually.  A bill has been this day brought into the Senate for authorizing the President in case of a declaration of war or danger of invasion by any European power, to raise an eventual army of thirty regiments, infantry, cavalry, and artillery in addition to the additional army, the provisional army, and the corps of volunteers, which last he is authorized to brigade, officer, exercise, and pay during the time of exercise.  And all this notwithstanding Gerry’s correspondence received, and demonstrating the aversion of France to consider us as enemies.  All depends on her patiently standing the measures of the present session, and the surrounding her islands with our cruisers, and capturing their armed vessels on her own coasts.  If this is borne awhile, the public opinion is most manifestly wavering in the Middle States, and was even before the publication of Gerry’s correspondence.  In New York, Jersey, and Pennsylvania, every one attests them, and General Sumpter, just arrived, assures me the republicans of South Carolina have gained fifty per cent. in numbers since the election, which was in the moment of the X.Y.Z. fever.  I believe there is no doubt the republican Governor would be elected here now, and still less for next October.  The gentleman of North Carolina seems to be satisfied that their new delegation will furnish but three, perhaps only two anti-republicans;  if so, we shall be gainer on the whole.  But it is on the progress of public opinion we are to depend for rectifying the proceedings of the next Congress.  The only question is whether this will not carry things beyond the reach of rectification.  Petitions and remonstrances against the alien and sedition laws are coming from various parts of New York, Jersey, and Pennsylvania;  some of them very well drawn.  I am in hopes Virginia will stand so countenanced by those States as to express the wishes of the Government to coerce her, which they might venture on if they supposed she would be left alone.  Firmness on our part, but a passive firmness, is the true course.  Anything rash or threatening might check the favorable dispositions of these Middle States, and rally them again around the measures which are ruining us.—Bonaparte appears to have settled Egypt peacefully, and with the consent of those inhabitants, and seems to be looking towards the East Indies, where a most formidable co-operation has been prepared for demolishing the British power.  I wish the affairs of Ireland were as hopeful, and the peace with the north of Europe.—Nothing new here as to the price of tobacco, the river not having yet admitted the bringing any to this market.  Spain being entirely open for ours, and depending on it for her supplies during the cutting off of her intercourse with her own colonies by the superiority of the British at sea, is much in our favor.—I forgot to add that the bill for the eventual army, authorizes the President to borrow two millions more.  Present my best respects to Mrs. Madison, health and affectionate salutations to yourself.  Adieu.




To James Madison.
Philadelphia, February 5, 1799.

I wrote you last on the 30th of January ;  since which yours of the 25th is received.  At the date of my letter I had only heard the bill for the eventual army read once.  I concieved it additional to the Provisional army &c.  I must correct the error.  The bill for the Provisional army (about 10,000 men) expires this session without having been carried into execution.  The eventual army (about 30,000) is a substitute.  I say about 30,000 because some calculate the new establishment of a regiment we are now passing to a little over, & some a little under 1000 officers & privates.  The whole land army contemplated is the existing army 5000, the additional army 9000, the eventual army 30,000, and the volunteer army, the amount of which is not known.  But besides that it is 44,000 men, and nobody pretends to say that there is from any quarter the least real danger of invasion.  These may surely be set down at 500 dollars per annum a man, though they pretend that the existing army costs but 300.  The reason of that is that there are not actually above 3000 of them, the 5000 being merely on paper.

The bill for continuing the suspension of intercourse with France and her dependencies, is still before the Senate, but will pass by a very great vote.  An attack is made on what is called the Toussaint’s clause, the object of which, as is charged by the one party and admitted by the other, is to facilitate the separation of the island from France.  The clause will pass, however, by about nineteen to eight, or perhaps eighteen to nine.  Rigaud, at the head of the people of color, maintains his allegiance.  But they are only twenty-five thousand souls, against five hundred thousand, the number of the blacks.  The treaty made with them by Maitland is (if they are to be separated from France) the best thing for us.  They must get their provisions from us.  It will indeed be in English bottoms, so that we shall lose the carriage.  But the English will probably forbid them the ocean, confine them to their island, and thus prevent their becoming an American Algiers.  It must be admitted too, that they may play them off on us when they please.  Against this there is no remedy but timely measures on our part, to clear ourselves, by degrees, of the matter on which that lever can work.—The opposition to Livermore was not republican.  I have however seen letters from New Hampshire from which it appears that the public sentiment there is no longer progressive in any direction, but that at present it is dead water.  That during the whole of their late session not a word has been heard of Jacobinism, disorganization & no reproach of any kind cast on the republicans.  That there has been a general complaint among the members that they could hear but one side of the question, and a great anxiety to obtain a paper or papers which would put them in possesion of both sides.  From Massachusets & R.I.  I have no information.  Connecticut remains rivetted in her political & religious bigotry.—Baldwin is elected by the legislature of Georgia a Senator for six years in the room of Tatnal, whose want of firmness had produced the effect of a change of sides.—We have had no report of Yard’s being dead.  He is certainly living.

A piece published in Bache’s paper on foreign influence, has the greatest currency and effect.  To an extraordinary first impression, they have been obliged to make a second, and of an extraordinary number.  It is such things as these the public want.  They say so from all quarters, and that they wish to hear reason instead of disgusting blackguardism.  The public sentiment being now on the creen, and many heavy circumstances about to fall into the republican scale, we are sensible that this summer is the season for systematic energies and sacrifices.  The engine is the press.  Every man must lay his purse and his pen under contribution.  As to the former, it is possible I may be obliged to assume something for you.  As to the latter, let me pray and beseech you to set apart a certain portion of every post day to write what may be proper for the public.  Send it to me while here, and when I go away I will let you know to whom you may send, so that your name shall be sacredly secret.  You can render such incalculable services in this way, as to lessen the effect of our loss of your presence here.  I shall see you on the 5th or 6th of March.  Affectionate salutations to Mrs. Madison and yourself.  Adieu.




To James Monroe.
Philadelphia, February 11, 1799.

I wrote you last on the 23d of January, since which yours of January 26th is received.  A bill will pass the Senate to-day for enabling the President to retaliate rigorously on any French citizens who now are or hereafter may be in our power, should they put to death any sailors of ours forced on board British vessels and taken by the French.  This is founded expressly on their Arret of October 29th, 1798, communicated by the President by message.  It is known (from the Secretary of State himself) that he received, immediately after, a letter from Rufus King informing him the Arret was suspended, and it has been known a week that we were passing a retaliating act founded expressly on that Arret, yet the President has not communicated it, and the supporters of the bill, who themselves told the secret of the suspension in debate, (for it was otherwise unknown,) will yet pass the bill.  We have already an existing army of 5,000 men, and the additional army of 9,000 now going into execution.  We have a bill on its progress through the Senate for authorizing the President to raise thirty regiments (30,000 men) called an eventual army, in case of war with any European power, or of imminent danger of invasion from them in his opinion.  And also to call out and exercise at times the volunteer army, the number of which we know not.  Six 74s and six 18s, making up 500 guns (in part of the fleet of twelve 74s, twelve frigates, and 20 or 30 smaller vessels proposed to be built or bought as soon as we can), are now to be begun.  One million of dollars is voted.  The Government estimate of their cost is about 4,500 dollars (1,000 sterling) a gun.  But there cannot be a doubt they will cost 10,000 dollars a gun, and consequently the 550 guns will be 5½ millions.  A loan is now opened for five millions at eight per cent., and the eventual army bill authorizes another of two millions.—King is appointed to negotiate a treaty of commerce with Russia, in London.  Phocion Smith is proposed to go to Constantinople to make a treaty with the Turks.  Under two other covers you will receive a copy of the French originals of Gerry’s communications for yourself, and a dozen of G. N’s pamphlets on the laws of the last session.  I wish you to give these to the most influential characters among our countrymen, who are only misled, are candid enough to be open to conviction, and who may have most effect on their neighbors.  It would be useless to give them to persons already sound.  Do not let my name be connected in the business.  It is agreed on all hands that the British depredations have greatly exceeded the French during the last six months.  The insurance companies at Boston, this place and Baltimore, prove this from their books.  I have not heard how it is at New York.—The Senate struck out of the bill continuing the suspension of intercourse with France, the clauses which authorized the President to do it with certain other countries (say Spanish and Dutch), which clauses had passed the House of Representatives by a majority of, I believe, twenty.  They agreed, however, to the amendment of the Senate.  But Toussaint’s clause was retained by both Houses.  Adieu affectionately.

Feb. 12th.  The vessel called the Retaliation, formerly French property taken by us, armed and sent to cruise on them, retaken by them and carried into Guadaloupe, arrived here this morning with her own captain and crew, etc.  They say that new com- missioners from France arrived at Guadaloupe, sent Victor Hughes home in irons, liberated the crew, said to the captain that they found him to be an officer bearing a regular commission from the United States, possessed of a vessel called the Retaliation, then in their port ;  that they should inquire into no preceding fact, and that he was free with his vessel and crew to depart ;  that as to differences with the United States, commissioners were coming out from France to settle them;  in the meantime, no injury should be done to us or our citizens.  This was known to every Senator when we met.  The Retaliation bill came on, on its passage, and was passed with only two dissenting voices, two or three who would have dissented hap- pening to be absent.




To Archibald Stuart.
Philadelphia, February 13, 1799.

Dear Sir

I avoid writing to my friends because the fidelity of the post office is very much doubted.  I will give you briefly a statement of what we have done and are doing.  The following is a view of our finances in round numbers.  The import brings in the last year seven and a half millions of dollars, the excise, carriages, auctions, and licenses, half a million, the residuary small articles one-eighth of a million.  It is expected that the stamp act may pay the expense of the direct tax, so that the two may be counted at two millions, making in the whole ten and one-eighth millions.  Our expenses for the civil list three-quarters of a million, foreign intercourse half a million (this includes Indian and Algerine expenses, the Spanish and British treaties), interest of the public debt four millions, the existing navy two and a half millions, the existing army, 5,000 men, one and a half millions, making nine and a quarter millions, so that we have a surplus of near a million.  But the additional army, 9,000 men, now raising, will add two and a half millions annually, the additional navy proposed three millions, and the interest of the new loans half a million, making six millions more, so that as soon as the army and navy shall be ready, our whole expenses will be fifteen millions ;  consequently, there will be five millions annually more to be raised by taxes.  Our present taxes of ten millions are two dollars a head on our present population, and the future five millions will make it three dollars.  Our whole exports (native) this year are 28 millions, so that our taxes are now a third and will soon be half of our whole exports;  and when you add the expenses of the State governments we shall be found to have got to the plenum of taxation in ten short years of peace.  Great Britain, after centuries of wars and revolutions, had at the commencement of the present war taxed only to the amount of two-thirds of her exports.  We have opened a loan for five millions, at eight per cent. interest, and another is proposed of two millions.  These are to build six seventy-fours and six eighteens, in part of additional navy, for which a bill passed the House of Representatives two days ago, by fifty-four against forty-two.  Besides the existing army of 5,000 and additional army of 9,000, an eventual army of 30,000 is proposed to be raised by the President, in case of invasion by any European power, or danger of invasion, in his opinion, and the volunteer army, the amount of which we know not, is to be immediately called out and exercised at the public expense.  For these purposes a bill has been twice read and committed in the Senate.  You have seen by Gerry’s communications that France is sincerely anxious for reconciliation, willing to give us a liberal treaty, and does not wish us to break the British treaty, but only to put her on an equal footing.  A further proof of her sincerity turned up yesterday.  We had taken an armed vessel from her, had refitted and sent her to cruise against them, under the name of the Retaliation, and they re-captured and sent her into Guadaloupe.  The new commissioners arriving there from France, sent Victor Hughes off in irons, and said to our captain, that as they found him bearing a regular commission as an officer of the United States, with his vessel in their port, and his crew, they would inquire into no fact respecting the vessel preceding their arrival, but that he, his vessel and crew, were free to depart.  They arrived here yesterday.  The federal papers call her a cartel.  It is whispered that the executive means to return an equal number of the French prisoners, and this may give a color to call her a cartel, but she was liberated freely and without condition.  The commissioners further said to the captain that, as to the differences with the United States, new commissioners were coming out from France to settle them, and in the meantime they should do us no injury.  The President has appointed Rufus King to make a commercial treaty with the Russians in London, and William Smith, of South Carolina, to go to Constantinople to make one with the Turks.  Both appointments are confirmed by the Senate.  A little dissatisfaction was expressed by some that we should never have treated with them till the moment when they had formed a coalition with the English against the French.  You have seen that the Directory had published an arret declaring they would treat as pirates any neutrals they should take in the ships of their enemies.  The President communicated this to Congress as soon as he received it.  A bill was brought into Senate reciting that arret, and authorizing retaliation.  The President received information almost in the same instant that the Directory had suspended the arret (which fact was privately declared by the Secretary of State to two of the Senate), and, though it was known we were passing an act founded on that arret, yet the President has never communicated the suspension.  However, the Senate, informed indirectly of the fact, still passed the act yesterday, an hour after we had heard of the return of our vessel and crew before mentioned.  It is acknowledged on all hands, and declared by the insurance companies that the British depredations during the last six months have greatly exceeded the French, yet not a word is said about it officially.  However, all these things are working on the public mind.  They are getting back to the point where they were when the X.Y.Z. story was passed off on them.  A wonderful and rapid change is taking place in Pennsylvania, Jersey, and New York.  Congress is daily plied with petitions against the alien and sedition laws and standing armies.  Several parts of this State are so violent that we fear an insurrection.  This will be brought about by some if they can.  It is the only thing we have to fear.  The appearance of an attack of force against the government would check the present current of the middle States, and rally them around the government ;  whereas, if suffered to go on, it will pass on to a reformation of abuses.  The materials now bearing on the public mind will infallibly restore it to its republican soundness in the course of the present summer, if the knowledge of facts can only be disseminated among the people.  Under separate cover you will receive some pamphlets written by George Nicholas on the acts of the last session.  These I would wish you to distribute, not to sound men who have no occasion for them, but to such as have been misled, are candid and will be open to the conviction of truth, and are of influence among their neighbors.  It is the sick who need medicine, and not the well.  Do not let my name appear in the matter.  Perhaps I shall forward you some other things to be distributed in the same way.

Let me now trouble you with a small private matter of my own.  Mr. Clarke was tolerably punctual in his remittances as long as he continued in business.  But when he quitted he had near £100 of mine for nails actually sold, in his hands.  For so I had a right to consider it as I charged only ready money prices, and such was the condition settled between us.  This money has now been a twelvemonth in his hands, and the intermediate applications ineffectual.  In truth I am not able to carry on my manufactory but on ready money sales.  I have no money capital to enable me to make great advances & long winded debts.  If you could mention the matter to Mr. Clarke in any way that would best suit the footing on which you stand with him, and be the means of my receiving it immediately on my return home (about the 10th of March) it would be very sensible relief to me.  And indeed if he does not pay it soon I must use effectual means to obtain it, such delays being incompatible with the course or the necessities of my manufactory.  Present me respectfully to Mrs. Stuart, and accept assurances of the sincere esteem of, dear Sir, your affectionate friend and servant.




To Edmund Pendleton.
Philadelphia, February 14, 1799.

Dear Sir

I wrote you a petition on the 29th of January.  I know the extent of this trespass on your tranquillity, and how indiscreet it would have been under any other circumstances.  But the fate of this country, whether it shall be irretrievably plunged into a form of government rejected by the makers of the Constitution, or shall get back to the true principles of that instrument, depends on the turn which things may take within a short period of time ensuing the present moment.  The violations of the Constitution, propensities to war, to expense, and to a particular foreign connection, which we have lately seen, are becoming evident to the people, and are dispelling that mist which X.Y.Z. had spread before their eyes.  This State is coming forward with a boldness not yet seen.  Even the German counties of York and Lancaster, hitherto the most devoted, have come about, and by petitions with four thousand signers remonstrate against the alien and sedition laws, standing armies, and discretionary powers in the President.  New York and Jersey are also getting into great agitation.  In this State, we fear that the ill-designing may produce insurrection.  Nothing could be so fatal.  Anything like force would check the progress of the public opinion and rally them round the government.  This is not the kind of opposition the American people will permit.  But keep away all show of force, and they will bear down the evil propensities of the government, by the constitutional means of election and petition.  If we can keep quiet, therefore, the tide now turning will take a steady and proper direction.  Even in New Hampshire there are strong symptoms of a rising inquietude.  In this state of things, my dear Sir, it is more in your power than any other man’s in the United States, to give the coup de grace to the ruinous principles and practices we have seen.  In hopes you have consented to it, I shall furnish to you some additional matter which has arisen since my last.  I enclose you a part of a speech of Mr. Gallatin on the naval bill.  The views he takes of our finances, and of the policy of our undertaking to establish a great navy, may furnish some hints.  I am told something on the same subject from Mr. J. Nicholas will appear in the Richmond and Fredericksburg papers.  I mention the real author, that you may respect it duly, for I presume it will be anonymous.  The residue of Gallatin’s speech shall follow when published.  A recent fact, proving the anxiety of France for a reconciliation with us, is the following.  You know that one of the armed vessels which we took from her was refitted by us, sent to cruise against her, recaptured, and carried into Guadaloupe under the name of the Retaliation.  On the arrival there of Desfourneaux, the new commissioner, he sent Victor Hughes home in irons, called up our captain, told him that he found he had a regular commission as an officer of the United States, that his vessel was then lying in the harbor, that he should inquire into no fact preceding his own arrival (by this he avoided noticing that the vessel was really French property) and that, therefore, himself and crew were free to depart with their vessel;  that as to the differences between France and the United States, commissioners were coming out to settle them, and in the meantime, no injury should be done on their part.  The captain insisted on being a prisoner ;  the other disclaimed, and so he arrived here with vessel and crew the day before yesterday.  Within an hour after this was known to the Senate, they passed a retaliation bill, of which I enclose you a copy.  This was the more remarkable, as the bill was founded expressly on the Arret of October the 29th, which had been communicated by the President as soon as received, and he remarked, “that it could not be too soon communicated to the two Houses and the public.”  Yet he almost in the same instant received, through the same channel, Mr. King’s information that that Arret was suspended, and though he knew we were making it the foundation of a retaliation bill, he has never yet communicated it.  But the Senate knew the fact informally from the Secretary of State, and knowing it, passed the bill.  The President has appointed, and the Senate approved Rufus King, to enter into a treaty of commerce with the Russians, at London, and William Smith, (Phocion) Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary, to go to Constantinople to make one with the Turks.  So that as soon as there is a coalition of Turks, Russians and English, against France, we seize that moment to countenance it as openly as we dare, by treaties, which we never had with them before.  All this helps to fill up the measure of provocation towards France, and to get from them a declaration of war, which we are afraid to be the first in making.  It is certain the French have behaved atrociously towards neutral nations, and us particularly;  and though we might be disposed not to charge them with all the enormities committed in their name in the West Indies, yet they are to be blamed for not doing more to prevent them.  A just and rational censure ought to be expressed on them, while we disapprove the constant billingsgate poured on them officially.  It is at the same time true, that their enemies set the first example of violating neutral rights, and continue it to this day;  insomuch, that it is declared on all hands, and particularly by the insurance companies and denied by none, that the British spoliations have considerably exceeded the French during the last six months.  Yet not a word of these things is said officially to the Legislature.  Still further, to give the devil his due, (the French) it should be observed that it has been said without contradiction, and the people made to believe, that their refusal to receive our Envoys was contrary to the law of nations, and a sufficient cause of war;  whereas, every one who ever read a book on the law of nations knows, that it is an unquestionable right in every power to refuse to receive any minister who is personally disagreeable.  Martens, the latest and a very respected writer, has laid this down so clearly and shortly in his “Summary of the Law of Nations” B. 7. ch. 2. sec. 9, that I will transcribe the passage verbatim.  “Section 9.  Of choice in the person of the minister.  The choice of the person to be sent as minister depends of right on the sovereign who sends him, leaving the right, however, of him to whom he is sent, of refusing to acknowledge any one, to whom he has a personal dislike, or who is inadmissible by the laws and usages of the country.”  And he adds notes proving by instances, etc.  This is the whole section.—Notwithstanding all these appearances of peace from France, we are, besides our existing army of five thousand men, and an additional army of nine thousand (now officered and levying), passing a bill for an eventual army of thirty regiments (thirty thousand men) and for regimenting, brigading, officering and exercising at the public expense our volunteer army, the amount of which we know not.  I enclose you a copy of the bill, which has been twice read and committed in Senate.  To meet this expense, and that of the six seventy-fours and six eighteens, part of the proposed fleet, we have opened a loan of five millions at eight per cent., and authorize another of two millions;  and at the same time, every man voting for these measures acknowledges there is no probability of an invasion by France.  While speaking of the restoration of our vessel, I omitted to add, that it is said that our government contemplate restoring the Frenchmen taken originally in the same vessel, and kept at Lancaster as prisoners.  This has furnished the idea of calling her a cartel vessel, and pretending that she came as such for an exchange of prisoners, which is false.  She was delivered free and without condition, but it does not suit to let any new evidence appear of the desire of conciliation in France.—I believe it is now certain that the commissioners on the British debts can proceed together no longer.  I am told that our two have prepared a long report, which will perhaps be made public.  The result will be, that we must recur again to negotiation, to settle the principles of the British claims.—You know that Congress rises on the 3d of March, and that if you have acceded to my prayers, I should hear from you at least a week before our rising.  Accept my affectionate salutations, and assurances of the sincere esteem with which I am, dear Sir, your friend and servant.




To James Madison.
February 19, 1799.

Dear Sir

I wrote you last on the 11th.  Yesterday the bill for the eventual army of thirty regiments (thirty thousand) and seventy-five thousand volunteers, passed the Senate.  By an amendment, the President was authorized to use the volunteers for every purpose for which he can use militia, so that the militia are rendered completely useless.  The friends of the bill acknowledged that the volunteers are a militia, and agreed that they might properly be called the “Presidential militia.”  They are not to go out of their State without their own consent.  Consequently, all service out of the State is thrown on the constitutional militia, the Presidential militia being exempted from doing duty with them.

Leblanc, an agent from Desfourneaux of Guadaloupe, came in the Retaliation.  You will see in the papers Desfourneaux’s letter to the President, which will correct some immaterial circumstances of the statement in my last.  You will see the truth of the main fact, that the vessel and crew were liberated without condition.  Notwithstanding this, they have obliged Leblanc to receive the French prisoners, and to admit, in the papers, the terms, “in exchange for prisoners taken from us,” he denying at the same time that they consider them as prisoners, or had any idea of exchange.  The object of his mission was not at all relative to that, but they choose to keep up the idea of a cartel, to prevent the transaction from being used as evidence of the sincerity of the French government towards a reconciliation.  He came to assure us of a discontinuance of all irregularities in French privateers from Guadaloupe.  He has been received very cavalierly.  In the meantime, a consul general is named to St. Domingo, who may be considered as our Minister to Toussaint.—But the event of events was announced to the Senate yesterday.  It is this :  it seems that soon after Gerry’s departure, overtures must have been made by Pichon, French chargé d’affaires at the Hague, to Murray.  They were so soon matured, that on the 28th  of September, 1798, Talleyrand writes to Pichon, approving what had been done, and particularly of his having assured Murray that whatever Plenipotentiary the government of the United States should send to France to end our differences would undoubtedly be received with the respect due to the representative of a free, independent and powerful nation;  declaring that the President’s instructions to his Envoys at Paris, if they contain the whole of the American government’s intentions, announce dispositions which have been always entertained by the Directory;  and desiring him to communicate these expressions to Murray, in order to convince him of the sincerity of the French government, and to prevail on him to transmit them to his government.  This is dated September the 28th and may have been received by Pichon October the 1st, and nearly five months elapse before it is communicated.  Yesterday, the President nominated to the Senate William Vans Murray Minister Plenipotentiary to the French Republic, and added, that he shall be instructed not to go to France without direct and unequivocal assurances from the French government that he shall be received in character, enjoy the due privileges, and a minister of equal rank, title and power, be appointed to discuss and conclude our controversy by a new treaty.  This had evidently been kept secret from the federalists of both Houses, as appeared by their dismay.  The Senate have passed over this day without taking it up.  It is said they are graveled and divided; some are for opposing, others do not know what to do.  But in the meantime, they have been permitted to go on with all the measures of war and patronage, and when the close of the session is at hand it is made known.  However, it silences all arguments against the sincerity of France, and renders desperate every further effort towards war.  I enclose you a paper with more particulars.  Be so good as to keep it till you see me, and then return it, as it is the copy of one I sent to another person, and is the only copy I have.—Since I began my letter I have received yours of February the 7th and 8th, with its enclosures; that referred to my discretion is precious, and shall be used accordingly. Affectionate salutations to Mrs. Madison and yourself, and adieu.


P.S.  I have committed you & your friends for 100 dollars.  I will justify it when I see you.




To Edmund Pendleton.
Philadelphia, February 19, 1799.

Dear Sir

Since my last, which was of the 14th, a Monsieur Leblane, agent from Desfourneaux, has come to town.  He came in the Retaliation, and a letter of Desfourneaux, of which he was the bearer, now enclosed, will correct some circumstances in my statement relative to that vessel which were not very material.  It shows, at the same time, that she was liberated without condition ; still it is said, but I have no particular authority for it, that he has been obliged to receive French prisoners here, and to admit in the paper that the terms 'in exchange for prisoners taken from us’ should be used, he declaring, at the same time, that they had never considered ours as prisoners, nor had an idea of exchange.  The object of his mission was to assure the government against any future irregularities by privateers from Guadaloupe, and to open a friendly intercourse.  He has been treated very cavalierly.  I enclose you the President’s message to the House of Representatives relative to the suspension of the Arret, on which our retaliation bill is founded.

A great event was presented yesterday.  The President communicated a letter from Talleyrand to Pichon, French charge des affaires at the Hague, approving of some overtures which had passed between him and Mr. Murray, and particularly of his having undertaken to assure Murray that whatever Plenipotentiary we might send to France to negotiate differences, should be received with the respect due to the representative of a free, independent and powerful nation, and directing him to prevail on Murray to transmit these assurances to his government.  In consequence of this, a nomination of Mr. Murray, Minister Plenipotentiary to the French Republic, was yesterday sent to the Senate.  This renders their efforts for war desperate, and silences all further denials of the sincerity of the French government.  I send you extracts from these proceedings for your more special information.  I shall leave this the 2d day of March.  Accept my affectionate salutations.  Adieu.


P.S.  I should have mentioned that a nomination is before the Senate of a consul general to St. Domingo.  It is understood that he will present himself to Toussaint, and is, in fact, our minister to him.

The face they will put on this business is, that they have frightened France into a respectful treatment.  Whereas, in truth, France has been sensible that her measures to prevent the scandalous spectacle of war between the two republics, from the known impossibility of our injuring her, would not be imputed to her as a humiliation.




To Chancellor Robert R. Livingston.
Philadelphia, February 23, 1799.

Dear Sir

I have received with great pleasure your favor on the subject of the steam engine.  Though deterred by the complexity of that hitherto known, from making myself minutely acquainted with it, yet I am sufficiently acquainted with it to be sensible of the superior simplicity of yours, and its superior economy.  I particularly thank you for the permission to communicate it to the Philosophical Society; and though there will not be another session before I leave town, yet I have taken care, by putting it into the hands of one of the Vice-Presidents to-day, to have it presented at the next meeting.  I lament the not receiving it a fortnight sooner, that it might have been inserted in a volume now closed, and to be published in a few days, before it would be possible for this engraving to be ready.  There is one object to which I have often wished a steam engine could be adapted.  You know how desirable it is both in town and country to be able to have large reservoirs of water on the top of our houses, not only for use (by pipes) in the apartments, but as a resource against fire.  This last is most especially a desideratum in the country.  We might indeed have water carried from time to time in buckets to cisterns on the top of the house, but this is troublesome, and therefore we never do it.  Consequently are without resource when a fire happens.  Could any agent be employed which would be little or no additional expense or trouble except the first purchase, it would be done.  Every family has such an agent, its kitchen fire.  It is small indeed, but if its small but constant action could be accumulated so as to give a stroke from time to time which might throw ever so small a quantity of water from the bottom of a well to the top of the house (say one hundred feet), it would furnish more than would waste by evaporation, or be used by the family.  I know nobody who must better know the value of such a machine than yourself, nor more equal to the invention of it, and especially with your familiarity with the subject.  I have imagined that the iron back of the chimney might be a cistern for holding the water, which should supply steam and would be constantly kept in a boiling state by the ordinary fire.  I wish the subject may appear as interesting to you as it does to me, it would then engage your attention, and we might hope this desideratum would be supplied.

A want of confidence in the post office deters me from writing to my friends on subjects of politics, Indeed I am tired of writing Jeremiades on that subject.  What person, who remembers the times and tempers we have seen, would have believed that within so short a period, not only the jealous spirit of liberty which shaped every operation of our revolution, but even the common principles of English whigism would be scouted, and the tory principle of passive obedience under the new-fangled names of confidence and responsibility, become entirely triumphant ?  That the tories, whom in mercy we did not crumble to dust and ashes, could so have entwined us in their scorpion tails, that we cannot now move hand or foot.  But the spell is dissolving.  The public mind is recovering from the delirium into which it had been thrown, and we may still believe with security that the great body of the American people must for ages yet be substantially republican.  You have heard of the nomination of Mr. Murray.  Not being in the secret of this juggle, I am not yet able to say how it is to be played off.  Respectful and affectionate salutations from, dear Sir, your sincere friend and servant.




To James Madison.
Philadelphia, February 26, 1799.

Dear Sir

My last to you was of the 19th, it acknowledged yours of the 8th.  In mine, I informed you of the nomination of Murray.  There is evidence that the letter of Talleyrand was known to one of the Secretaries, therefore probably to all;  the nomination, however, is declared by one of them to have been kept secret from them all.  He added, that he was glad of it, as, had they been consulted, the advice would have been against making the nomination.  To the rest of the party, however, the whole was a secret till the nomination was announced.  Never did a party show a stronger mortification, and consequently, that war had been their object.  Dana declared in debate (as I have from those who were present) that we had done everything which might provoke France to war;  that we had given her insults which no nation ought to have borne;  and yet she would not declare war.  The conjecture as to the executive is, that they received Talleyrand’s letter before or about the meeting of Congress;  that not meaning to meet the overture effectually, they kept it secret, and let all the war measures go on;  but that just before the separation of the Senate, the President, not thinking he could justify the concealing such an overture, nor indeed that it could be concealed, made a nomination, hoping that his friends in the Senate would take on their own shoulders the odium of rejecting it;  but they did not choose it.  The Hamiltonians would not, and the others could not, alone.  The whole artillery of the phalanx, therefore, was played secretly on the President, and he was obliged himself to take a step which should parry the overture while it wears the face of acceding to it.  (Mark that I state this as conjecture ;  but founded on workings and indications which have been under our eyes.)  Yesterday, therefore, he sent in a nomination of Oliver Ellsworth, Patrick Henry and William Vans Murray, Envoys Extraordinary and Ministers Plenipotentiary to the French Republic, but declaring the two former should not leave this country till they should receive from the French Directory assurances that they should be received with the respect due by the law of nations to their character, etc.  This, if not impossible, must at least keep off the day so hateful and so fatal to them, of reconciliation, and leave more time for new projects of provocation.  Yesterday witnessed a scandalous scene in the House of Representatives.  It was the day for taking up the report of their committee against the alien and sedition laws, etc.  They held a caucus and determined that not a word should be spoken on their side, in answer to anything which should be said on the other.  Gallatin took up the alien, and Nicholas the sedition law ; but after a little while of common silence, they began to enter into loud conversations, laugh, cough, etc., so that for the last hour of these gentlemen’s speaking, they must have had the lungs of a vendue master to have been heard.  Livingston, however, attempted to speak.  But after a few sentences, the Speaker called him to order, and told him what he was saying was not to the question.  It was impossible to proceed.  The question was taken and carried in favor of the report, fifty-two to forty-eight ;  the real strength of the two parties is fifty-six to fifty.  But two of the latter have not attended this session.  I send you the report of their committee.—I still expect to leave this on the 1st, and be with you on the 7th of March.  But it is possible I may not set out till the 4th, and then shall not be with you till the 10th.  Affectionately adieu.




To Bishop James Madison.
Philadelphia, February 27, 1799.

Dear Sir

Your favor of February 10th came safely to hand.  We were for a moment flattered with the hope of a friendly accommodation of our differences with France, by the President’s nomination of Mr. Murray our Minister at the Hague to proceed to Paris for that purpose.  But our hopes have been entirely dashed by his revoking that and naming Mr. Ellsworth, Mr. Patrick Henry and Murray;  the two former not to embark from America till they shall receive assurances from the French Government, that they will be received with the respect due to their character by the law of nations ;  and this too after the French Government had already given assurances that whatever Minister the President should send should be received with the respect due to the representative of a great free and independent nation.  The effect of the new nomination is completely to parry the advances made by France towards a reconciliation.  A great change is taking place in the public mind in these Middle States, and they are rapidly resuming the Republican ground which they had for a moment relinquished.  The tables of Congress are loaded with petitions proving this.  Thirteen of the twenty-two counties of this State have already petitioned against the proceedings of the late Congress.  Many also from New York and New Jersey, and before the summer is over, these three States will be in unison with the Southern and Western.  I take the liberty of putting under your cover a letter for a young gentleman known to you, and to whom I know not how otherwise to direct it.  I am, with great esteem, dear Sir, your friend and servant.




To Thomas Lomax.
Monticello, March 12, 1799.

Dear Sir

Your welcome favor of last month came to my hands in Philadelphia.  So long a time has elapsed since we have been separated by events, that it was like a letter from the dead, and recalled to my memory very dear recollections.  My subsequent journey through life has offered nothing which, in comparison with those, is not cheerless and dreary.  It is a rich comfort sometimes to look back on them.

I take the liberty of enclosing a letter to Mr. Baylor, open, because I solicit your perusal of it.  It will, at the same time, furnish the apology for my not answering you from Philadelphia.  You ask for any communication I may be able to make, which may administer comfort to you.  I can give that which is solid.  The spirit of 1776 is not dead.  It has only been slumbering.  The body of the American people is substantially republican.  But their virtuous feelings have been played on by some fact with more fiction;  they have been the dupes of artful manoeuvres, and made for a moment to be willing instruments in forging chains for themselves.  But time and truth have dissipated the delusion, and opened their eyes.  They see now that France has sincerely wished peace, and their seducers have wished war, as well for the loaves and fishes which arise out of war expenses, as for the chance of changing the Constitution, while the people should have time to contemplate nothing but the levies of men and money.  Pennsylvania, Jersey and New York are coming majestically round to the true principles.  In Pennsylvania, thirteen out of twenty-two counties had already petitioned on the alien and sedition laws.  Jersey and New York had begun the same movement, and though the rising of Congress stops that channel for the expression of their sentiment, the sentiment is going on rapidly, and before their next meeting those three States will be solidly embodied in sentiment with the six southern and western ones.  The atrocious proceedings of France towards this country, had well nigh destroyed its liberties.  The Anglomen and monocrats had so artfully confounded the cause of France with that of Freedom, that both went down in the same scale.  I sincerely join you in abjuring all political connection with every foreign power;  and though I cordially wish well to the progress of liberty in all nations, and would forever give it the weight of our countenance, yet they are not to be touched without contamination from their other bad principles.  Commerce with all nations, alliance with none, should be our motto.  Accept assurances of the constant and unaltered affection of, dear Sir, your sincere friend and servant.




To Edmund Randolph.
Monticello, August 18, 1799.

Dear Sir

I received only two days ago your favor of the 12th, and as it was on the eve of the return of our post, it was not possible to make so prompt a despatch of the answer.  Of all the doctrines which have ever been broached by the federal government, the novel one, of the common law being in force and cognizable as an existing law in their courts, is to me the most formidable.  All their other assumptions of un-given powers have been in the detail.  The bank law, the treaty doctrine, the sedition act, alien act, the undertaking to change the State laws of evidence in the State courts by certain parts of the stamp act, etc., etc., have been solitary, unconsequential, timid things, in comparison with the audacious, barefaced and sweeping pretension to a system of law for the United States, without the adoption of their Legislature, and so infinitively beyond their power to adopt.  If this assumption be yielded to, the State courts may be shut up, as there will then be nothing to hinder citizens of the same State suing each other in the federal courts in every case, as on a bond for instance, because the common law obliges payment of it, and the common law they say is their law.  I am happy you have taken up the subject; and I have carefully perused and considered the notes you enclosed, and find but a single paragraph which I do not approve.  It is that wherein (page two) you say, that laws being emanations from the legislative department, and, when once enacted, continuing in force from a presumption that their will so continues, that that presumption fails and the laws of course fall, on the destruction of that legislative department.  I do not think this is the true bottom on which laws and the form [of] [...] [administering] them rest.  The whole body of the nation is the sovereign legislative, judiciary and executive power for itself.  The inconvenience of meeting to exercise these powers in person, and their inaptitude to exercise them, induce them to appoint special organs to declare their legislative will, to judge and to execute it.  It is the will of the nation which makes the law obligatory;  it is their will which creates or annihilates the organ which is to declare and announce it.  They may do it by a single person, as an Emperor of Russia, (constituting his declarations evidence of their will,) or by a few persons, as the aristocracy of Venice, or by a complication of councils, as in our former regal government, or our present republican one.  The law being law because it is the will of the nation, is not changed by their changing the organ through which they choose to announce their future will;  no more than the acts I have done by one attorney lose their obligation by my changing or discontinuing that attorney.  This doctrine has been, in a certain degree, sanctioned by the federal executive.  For it is precisely that on which the continuance of obligation from our treaty with France was established, and the doctrine was particularly developed in a letter to Gouverneur Morris, written with the approbation of President Washington and his cabinet.  Mercer once prevailed on the Virginia Assembly to declare a different doctrine in some resolutions.  These met universal disapprobation in this, as well as the other States, arid if I mistake not, a subsequent Assembly did something to do away the authority of their former unguarded resolutions.  In this case, as in all others, the true principle will be quite as effectual to establish the just deductions.  Before the revolution, the nation of Virginia had, by the organs they then thought proper to constitute, established a system of laws, which they divided into three denominations of 1, common law;  2, statute law;  3, chancery.  Or, if you please, into two only, of 1, common law;  2, chancery.  When, by the Declaration of Independence, they chose to abolish their former organs of declaring their will, the acts of will already formally and constitutionally declared, remained untouched.  For the nation was not dissolved, was not annihilated;  its will, therefore, remained in full vigor;  and on the establishing the new organs, first of a convention, and afterwards a more complicated legislature, the old acts of national will continued in force, until the nation should, by its new organs, declare its will changed.  The common law, therefore, which was not in force when we landed here, nor till we had formed ourselves into a nation, and had manifested by the organs we constituted that the common law was to be our law, continued to be our law, because the nation continued in being, and because though it changed the organs for the future declarations of its will, yet it did not change its former declarations that the common law was its law.  Apply these principles to the present case.  Before the revolution there existed no such nation as the United States; they then first associated as a nation, but for special purposes only.  They had all their laws to make, as Virginia had on her first establishment as a nation.  But they did not, as Virginia had done, proceed to adopt a whole system of laws ready made to their hand.  As their association as a nation was only for special purposes, to wit, for the management of their concerns with one another and with foreign nations, and the States composing the association chose to give it powers for those purposes and no others, they could not adopt any general system, because it would have embraced objects on which this association had no right to form or declare a will.  It was not the organ for declaring a national will in these cases.  In the cases confided to them, they were free to declare the will of the nation, the law;  but till it was declared there could be no law.  So that the common law did not become, ipso facto, law on the new association;  it could only become so by a positive adoption, and so far only as they were authorized to adopt.

I think it will be of great importance, when you come to the proper part, to portray at full length the consequences of this new doctrine, that the common law is the law of the United States, and that their courts have, of course, jurisdiction co-extensive with that law, that is to say, general over all cases and persons.  But, great heavens !  Who could have conceived in 1789, that within ten years we should have to combat such windmills !  Adieu.  Yours affectionately.




To Wilson Cary Nicholas.
Monticello, August 26, 1799.

Dear Sir

I am deeply impressed with the importance of Virginia and Kentucky pursuing the same tract at the ensuing sessions of their Legislatures.  Your going thither furnishes a valuable opportunity of effecting it, and as Mr. Madison will be at our Assembly as well as yourself, I thought it important to procure a meeting between you.  I therefore wrote to propose to him to ride to this place on Saturday or Sunday next; supposing that both he and yourself might perhaps have some matter of business at our court, which might render it less inconvenient for you to be here together on Sunday.  I took for granted that you would not set off to Kentucky pointedly at the time you first proposed, and hope and strongly urge your favoring us with a visit at the time proposed.  Mrs. Madison, who was the bearer of my letter, assured me I might count on Mr. M.’s being here.  Not that I mentioned to her the object of my request, or that I should propose the same to you, because, I presume, the less said of such a meeting the better.  I shall take care that Mrs. Monroe shall dine with us.  In hopes of seeing you, I bid you affectionately adieu.




To Wilson Cary Nicholas.
Monticello, September 5, 1799.

Dear Sir

Yours of August 30th came duly to hand.  It was with great regret we gave up the hope of seeing you here, but could not but consider the obstacle as legitimate.  I had written to Mr. Madison, as I had before informed you, and had stated to him some general ideas for consideration and consultation when we should meet.  I thought something essentially necessary to be said, in order to avoid the inference of acquiescence;  that a resolution or declaration should be passed, 1, answering the reasonings of such of the States as have ventured into the field of reason, and that of the committee of Congress, taking some notice too of those States who have either not answered at all, or answered without reasoning.  2. Making firm protestation against the precedent and principle, and reserving the right to make this palpable violation of the federal compact the ground of doing in future whatever we might now rightfully do, should repetitions of these and other violations of the compact render it expedient.  3. Expressing in affectionate and conciliatory language our warm attachment to union with our sister States, and to the instrument and principles by which we are united;  that we are willing to sacrifice to this everything but the rights of self-government in those important points which we have never yielded, and in which alone we see liberty, safety, and happiness ;  that not at all disposed to make every measure of error or of wrong, a cause of scission, we are willing to look on with indulgence, and to wait with patience till those passions and delusions shall have passed over, which the federal government have artfully excited to cover its own abuses and conceal its designs, fully confident that the good sense of the American people, and their attachment to those very rights which we are now vindicating, will, before it shall be too late, rally with us round the true principles of our federal compact.  This was only meant to give a general idea of the complexion and topics of such an instrument.  Mr. M. who came, as had been proposed, does not concur in the reservation proposed above;  and from this I recede readily, not only in deference to his judgment, but because, as we should never think of separation but for repeated and enormous violations, so these, when they occur, will be cause enough of themselves.  To these topics, however, should be added animadversions on the new pretensions to a common law of the United States.

I proposed to Mr. M. to write to you, but he observed that you knew his sentiments so perfectly from a former conference, that it was unnecessary.  As to the preparing anything, I must decline it, to avoid suspicions (which were pretty strong in some quarters on the late occasion), and because there remains still (after their late loss) a mass of talents in Kentucky sufficient for every purpose.  The only object of the present communication is to procure a concert in the general plan of action.  [as it is extremely desirable that Virginia and Kentucky should pursue the same track on this occasion]  Besides, how could you better while away the road from hence to Kentucky, than in meditating this very subject, and preparing something yourself, than whom nobody will do it better.  The loss of your brother, and the visit of the apostle Marshall to Kentucky, excite anxiety.  However, we doubt not that his poisons will be effectually counterworked.  Wishing you a pleasant journey and happy return, I am with great and sincere esteem, dear Sir, your affectionate friend and servant.




To James Madison.
Monticello, November 22, 1799.

Dear Sir

I have never answered your letter by Mr. Polk, because I expected to have paid you a visit.  This has been prevented by various causes, till yesterday.  That being the day fixed for the departure of my daughter Eppes, my horses were ready for me to have set out to see you.  An accident postponed her departure to this day, and my visit also.  But Colonel Monroe dined with me yesterday, and on my asking his commands for you, he entered into the subject of the visit and dissuaded it entirely, founding the motives on the espionage of the little wretch in Charlottesville who would make it a subject of some political slander, and perhaps of some political injury.  I have yielded to his representations, and therefore shall not have the pleasure of seeing you till my return from Philadelphia.  I regret it sincerely, not only on motives of attention, but of affairs.  Some late circumstances changing considerably the aspect of our situation, must affect the line of conduct to be observed.  I regret it the more too, because from the commencement of the ensuing session, I shall trust the post offices with nothing confidential, persuaded that during the ensuing twelve months they will lend their inquisitorial aid to furnish matter for newspapers.  I shall send you as usual printed communications, without saying anything confidential on them.  You will of course understand the cause.

In your new station let me recommend to you the jury system :  as also the restoration of juries in the court of chancery, which a law not long since repealed, because “the trial by jury is troublesome and expensive.”  If the reason be good, they should abolish it at common law also.  If Peter Carr is elected in the room of W.N. he will undertake the proposing this business, and only need your support.  If he is not elected, I hope you will get it done otherwise.  My best respects to Mrs. Madison, and affectionate salutations to yourself.