Dear Sir,Yours of January the 4th was received last night. I had then no opportunity of communicating to you confidentially information of the state of opinions here, but I learn to-night that two Mr. Randolphs will set out to-morrow morning for Richmond. If I can get this into their hands I shall send it, otherwise it may wait long.
On the subject of an election by a general ticket, or by districts, most persons here seem to have made up their minds. All agree that an election by districts would be best, if it could be general ; but while ten States choose either by their legislatures or by a general ticket, it is folly and worse than folly for the other six not to do it. In these ten States the minority is certainly unrepresented, and their majorities not only have the weight of their whole State in their scale, but have the benefit of so much of our minorities as can succeed at a district election. This is, in fact, ensuring to our minorities the appointment of the government. To state it in another form, it is merely a question whether we will divide the United States into sixteen or one hundred and thirty-seven districts. The latter being more chequered, and representing the people in smaller sections, would be more likely to be an exact representation of their diversified sentiments. But a representation of a part by great, and part by small sections; would give a result very different from what would be the sentiment of the whole people of the United States, were they assembled together.I have to-day had a conversation with 113 [Burr] who has taken a flying trip here from New York. He says, they have now really a majority in the House of Representatives, but for want of some skilful person to rally round, they are disjointed, and will lose every question. In the Senate there is a majority of eight or nine against us. But in the new election which is to come on in April, three or four in the Senate will be changed in our favor; and in the House of Representatives the county elections will still be better than the last; but still all will depend on the city election, which is of twelve members. At present there would be no doubt of our carrying our ticket there; nor does there seem to be time for any events arising to change that disposition. There is, therefore, the best prospect possible of a great and decided majority on a joint vote of the two Houses. They are so confident of this, that the republican party there will not consent to elect either by districts or a general ticket. They choose to do it by their legislature. I am told the republicans of New Jersey are equally confident, and equally anxious against an election either by districts or a general ticket. The contest in this State will end in a separation of the present legislature without passing any election law, (and their former one has expired,) and in depending on the new one, which will be elected October the 14th, in which the republican majority will be more decided in the Representatives, and instead of a majority of five against us in the Senate, will be of one for us. They will, from the necessity of the case, choose the electors themselves. Perhaps it will be thought I ought in delicacy to be silent on this subject. But you, who know me, know that my private gratifications would be most indulged by that issue, which should leave me most at home. If anything supersedes this propensity, it is merely the desire to see this government brought back to its republican principles.Consider this as written to Mr. Madison as much as yourself ; and communicate it, if you think it will do any good; to those possessing our joint confidence, or any others where it may be useful and safe. Health and affectionate salutations.
In answer to the several inquiries in your letter of this day, I have the honor to inform you that the marble statue of General Washington in the Capitol in Richmond, with its pedestal, cost in Paris 24,000 livres, or 1,000 Louis dors. It is of the size of life, and made by Houdon, reckoned one of the first statuaries in Europe. Besides this, we paid Houdons expenses coming to and returning from Virginia to take the Generals likeness, which as well as I recollect were about 50 guineas, and the transportation of the statue to Virginia with a workman to put it up, the amount of which I never heard.
The price of an equestrian statue of the usual size, which is considerably above that of life, whether in marble or bronze, costs in Paris 40,000 Louis dors from the best hand. Houdon asked that price for one that had been thought of for General Washington ; but I do not recollect whether this included the pedestal of marble, which is a considerable piece of work. These were the prices in 1785 in Paris. I believe that in Rome or Florence, the same thing may be had from the best artists for about two-thirds of the above prices, executed in the marble of Carrara, the best now known. But unless Carraccis busts of General Washington are, any of them, there, it would be necessary to send there one of Houdons figures in plaster, which, packed properly for safe transportation, would probably cost 20 or 30 guineas. I do not know that any of Carraccis busts of the General are to be had anywhere. I am, with great consideration, Sir, your very humble servant.
Your letter of October 1, has been duly received, and I have to make you my acknowledgments for the offer of the two Indian busts found on the Cumberland, and in your possession. Such monuments of the state of the arts among the Indians, are too singular not to be highly esteemed, and I shall preserve them as such with great care. They will furnish new and strong proofs how far the patience and perseverance of the Indian artist supplied the very limited means of execution which he possessed. Accept, therefore, I pray you, my sincere thanks for your kind offer, and assurances of the gratification these curiosities will yield here. As such objects cannot be conveyed without injury but by water, I will ask the favor of you to forward them by some vessel going down the river to Orleans, to the address of Mr. Daniel Clarke, junior, of that place, to whom I wrote to have them forwarded round by sea, and to answer for me the expenses of transportation, package, &c. I am, with many acknowledgments for this mark of your attention, Sir, your most obedient humble servant.
I have to thank you for the pamphlets you were so kind as to send me. You will know what I thought of them by my having before sent a dozen sets to Virginia to distribute among my friends. Yet I thank you not the less for these, which I value the more as they came from yourself. The stock of them which Campbell had was, I believe, exhausted the first or second day of advertising them. The papers of political arithmetic, both in yours and Mr. Coopers pamphlets, are the most precious gifts that can be made to us; for we are running navigation mad, and commerce mad, and navy mad, which is worst of all. How desirable is it that you could pursue that subject for us ! From the Porcupines of our country you will receive no thanks; but the great mass of our nation will edify and thank you. How deeply have I been chagrined and mortified at the persecutions which fanatism and monarchy have excited against you, even here ! At first I believed it was merely a continuance of the English persecution. But I observe that on the demise of Porcupine and division of his inheritance between Fenno and Brown, the latter (though succeeding only to the federal portion of Porcupinism, not the Anglican, which is Fennos part) serves up for the palate of his sect, dishes of abuse against you as high seasoned as Porcupines were. You have sinned against church and king, and can therefore never be forgiven. How sincerely have I regretted that your friend, before he fixed his choice of a position, did not visit the valleys on each side of the ridge in Virginia, as Mr. Madison and myself so much wished ! You would have found there equal soil, the finest climate and most healthy one on the earth, the homage of universal reverence and love, and the power of the country spread over you as a shield. But since you would not make it your country by adoption, you must now do it by your good offices. I have one to propose to you which will produce their good, and gratitude to you for ages, and in the way to which you have devoted a long life, that of spreading light among men.
We have in that State a College (William and Mary) just well enough endowed to draw out the miserable existence to which a miserable constitution has doomed it. It is moreover eccentric in its position, exposed to all bilious diseases as all the lower country is, and therefore abandoned by the public care, as that part of the country itself is in a considerable degree by its inhabitants. We wish to establish in the upper country, and more centrally for the State, an University on a plan so broad and liberal and modern, as to be worth patronizing with the public support, and be a temptation to the youth of other States to come and drink of the cup of knowledge and fraternize with us. The first step is to obtain a good plan ; that is, a judicious selection of the sciences, and a practicable grouping of some of them together, and ramifying of others, so as to adopt the professorships to our uses and our means. In an institution meant chiefly for use, some branches of science, formerly esteemed, may be now omitted, so may others now valued in Europe, but useless to us for ages to come. As an example of the former, the Oriental learning, and of the latter, almost the whole of the institution proposed to Congress by the Secretary of Wars report of the 5th instant. Now there is no one to whom this subject is so familiar as yourself. There is no one in the world who, equally with yourself, unites this full possession of the subject with such a knowledge of the state of our existence, as enables you to fit the garment to him who is to pay for it and to wear it. To you therefore we address our solicitations, and to lessen to you as much as possible the ambiguities of our object, I will venture even to sketch the sciences which seem useful and practicable for us, as they occur to me while holding my pen. Botany, chemistry, zoology, anatomy, surgery, medicine, natural philosophy, agriculture, mathematics, astronomy, geography, politics, commerce, history, ethics, law, arts, fine arts. This list is imperfect because I make it hastily, and because I am unequal to the subject. It is evident that some of these articles are too much for one professor and must therefore be ramified ; others may be ascribed in groups to a single professor. This is the difficult part of the work, and requires a head perfectly knowing the extent of each branch, and the limits within which it may be circumscribed, so as to bring the, whole within the powers of the fewest professors possible, and consequently within the degree of expense practicable for us. We should propose that the professors follow no other calling, so that their whole time may be given to their academical functions; and we should propose to draw from Europe the first characters in science, by considerable temptations, which would not need to be repeated after the first set should have prepared fit successors and given reputation to the institution. From some splendid characters I have received offers most perfectly reasonable and practicable.
I do not propose to give you all this trouble merely of my own head, that would be arrogance. It has been the subject of consultation among the ablest and highest characters of our State, who only wait for a plan to make a joint and I hope a successful effort to get the thing carried into effect. They will receive your ideas with the greatest deference and thankfulness. We shall be here certainly for two months to come; but should you not have leisure to think of it before Congress adjourns, it will come safely to me afterwards by post, the nearest post office being Milton.
Will not the arrival of Dupont tempt you to make a visit to this quarter ? I have no doubt the alarmists are already whetting their shafts for him also, but their gas is nearly run out, and the day I believe is approaching when we shall be as free to pursue what is true wisdom as the effects of their follies will permit ; for some of them we shall be forced to wade through because we are submerged in them.
Wishing you that pure happiness which your pursuits and circumstances offer, and which I am sure you are too wise to suffer a diminution of by the pigmy assaults made on you, and with every sentiment of affectionate esteem and respect, I am, dear Sir, your most humble, and most obedient servant.
Your favor of December 6th I received here on the 30th of same month, and have to thank you for the papers it contained. They serve to prove that if Cresap was not of the party of Logans murderers, yet no injury was done his character by believing it. I shall, while here this winter, publish such material testimony on the subject as I have received; which by the kindness of my friends will be amply sufficient. It will appear that the deed was generally imputed to Cressap by both whites and Indians, that his character was justly stained with their blood, perhaps that he ordered this transaction, but that he was not himself present at the time. I shall consequently make a proper change in the text of the Notes on Virginia, to be adopted, if any future edition of that work should be printed.
With respect to the judiciary district to be established for the Western States, nothing can be wilder than to annex to them any State on the Eastern waters. I do not know what may be the dispositions of the House of Representatives on that subject, but I should hope from what I recollect of those manifested by the Senate on the same subject at the former session, that they may be induced to set off the Western country in a district. And I expect that the reason of, the thing must bring both Houses into the measure.
The Mississippi Territory has petitioned to be placed at once in what is called the second stage of government. Surely, such a government as the first form prescribed for the Territories is a despotic oligarchy without one rational object.
I had addressed the enclosed letters to the care of the postmaster at Louisville; but not knowing him, I have concluded it better to ask the favor of you to avail them of any passage which may offer down the river. I presume the boats stop of course at those places.
We have wonderful rumors here at this time. One that the King of England is dead. As this would ensure a general peace, I do not know that it would be any misfortune to humanity. The other is that Bonaparte, Sieyes and Ducos have usurped the French government. This is West India news, and shows that after killing Bonaparte a thousand times, they have still a variety of parts to be acted by him. Were it really true While I was writing the last word a gentleman enters my room and brings a confirmation that something has happened at Paris. This is arrived at New York by a ship from Corke. The particulars differ from the West India account. We are therefore only to believe that a revolution of some kind has taken place, and that Bonaparte is at the head of it, but what are the particulars and what the object, we must wait with patience to learn. In the meantime we may speak hypothetically. If Bonaparte declares for Royalty, either in his own person, or of Louis XVIII., he has but a few days to live. In a nation of so much enthusiasm, there must be a million of Brutuses who will devote themselves to death to destroy him. But, without much faith in Bonapartes heart, I have so much in his head, as to indulge another train of reflection. The republican world has been long looking with anxiety on the two experiments going on of a single elective Executive here, and a plurality there. Opinions have been considerably divided on the event in both countries. The greater opinion there has seemed to be heretofore in favor of a plurality, here it has been very generally, though not universally, in favor of a single elective Executive. After eight or nine years experience of perpetual broils and factions in their Directory, a standing division (under all changes) of three against two, which results in a government by a single opinion, it is possible they may think the experiment decided in favor of our form, and that Bonaparte may be for a single executive, limited in time and power, and flatter himself with the election to that office ; and that to this change the nation may rally itself. Perhaps it is the only one to which all parties could be rallied. In every case it is to be feared and deplored that, that nation has yet to wade through half a century of disorder and convulsions. These, however, are conjectures only, which you will take as such, and accept assurances of the great esteem and attachment of, dear Sir, your friend and servant.
In my last letter of the 18th, I omitted to say any thing of the languages as part of our proposed University. It was not that I think, as some do, that they are useless. I am of a very different opinion. I do not think them very essential to the obtaining eminent degrees of science ; but I think them very useful towards it. I suppose there is a portion of life during which our faculties are ripe enough for this, and for nothing more useful. I think the Greeks and Romans have left us the present models which exist of fine composition, whether we examine them as works of reason, or of style and fancy ; and to them we probably owe these characteristics of modern composition. I know of no composition of any other ancient people, which merits the least regard as a model for its matter or style. To all this I add, that to read the Latin and Greek authors in their original, is a sublime luxury; and I deem luxury in science to be at least as justifiable as in architecture, painting, gardening, or the other arts. I enjoy Homer in his own language infinitely beyond Popes translation of him, and both beyond the dull narrative of the same events by Dares Phrygius; and it is an innocent enjoyment. I thank on my knees, Him who directed my early education, for having put into my possession this rich source of delight, and I would not exchange it for anything which I could then have acquired, and have not since acquired. With this regard for those languages, you will acquit me of meaning to omit them. About twenty years ago, I drew a bill for our legislature, which proposed to lay off every county into hundreds or townships of five or six miles square, in the centre of each of them was to be a free English school ; the whole State was further laid off into ten districts, in each of which was to be a college for teaching the languages, geography, surveying, and other useful things of that grade; and then a single University for the sciences. It was received with enthusiasm; but as I had proposed that William and Mary, under an improved form, should be the University, and that was at that time pretty highly Episcopal, the dissenters after awhile began to apprehend some secret design of a preference to that sect. About three years ago they enacted that part of my bill which related to English schools, except that instead of obliging, they left it optional in the court of every county to carry it into execution or not. I think it probable the part of the plan for the middle grade of education, may also be brought forward in due time. In the meanwhile, we are not without a sufficient number of good country schools, where the languages, geography, and the first elements of mathematics, are taught. Having omitted this information in my former letter, I thought it necessary now to supply it, that you might know on what base your superstructure was to be reared.I have a letter from Mr. Dupont, since his arrival at New York, dated the 20th, in which he says he will he in Philadelphia within about a fortnight from that time ; but only on a visit. How much would it delight me if a visit from you at the same time, were to show us two such illustrious foreigners embracing each other in my country, as the asylum for whatever is great and good. Pardon, I pray you, the temporary delirium which has been excited here, but which is fast passing away. The Gothic idea that we are to look backwards instead of forwards for the improvement of the human mind, and to recur to the annals of our ancestors for what is most perfect in government, in religion and in learning, is worthy of those bigots in religion and government, by whom it has been recommended, and whose purposes it would answer. But it is not an idea which this country will endure ; and the moment of their showing it is fast ripening; and the signs of it will be their respect for you, and growing detestation of those who have dishonored our country by endeavors to disturb our tranquillity in it. No one has felt this with more sensibility than, my dear Sir, your respectful and affectionate friend and servant.
Your favor of the 13th has been duly received, as had been that containing the resolutions of your legislature on the subject of the former resolutions. I was glad to see the subject taken up, and done with so much temper, firmness and propriety. From the reason of the thing I cannot but hope that the western country will be laid off into a separate judiciary district. From what I recollect of the dispositions on the same subject at the last session, I should expect that the partiality to a general and uniform system would yield to geographical and physical impracticabilities. I was once a great advocate for introducing into chancery viva voce testimony, and trial by jury. I am still so as to the latter, but have retired from the former opinion on the information received from both your State and ours, that it worked inconveniently. I introduced it into the Virginia law, but did not return to the bar, so as to see how it answered. But I do not understand how the viva voce examination comes to be practiced in the Federal court with you, and not in your own courts ; the Federal courts being decided by law to proceed and decide by the laws of the States.
A great revolution has taken place at Paris. The people of that country, having never been in the habit of self government, are not yet in the habit of acknoleging that fundamental law of nature, by which alone self government can be exercised by society, I mean the lex majoris partis. Of the sacredness of this law, our countrymen are impressed from their cradle, so that with them it is almost innate. This single circumstance may possibly decide the fate of the two nations. One party appears to have been prevalent in the Directory and council of 500. The other in the council of antients. Sieyes & Ducos, the minority in the Directory, not being able carry their points there seem to have gained over Buonaparte, & associating themselves with the majority of the council of 500 so as to give themselves a Majority in the latter council also. They have established Buonaparte, Sieyes & Ducos into an executive, or rather Dictatorial consulate, given them a committee of between 20 & 30 from each council, and have adjourned to the 20th of Feb. Thus the Constitution of the 3d year which was getting consistence & firmness from time, is demolished in an instant, and nothing is said about a new one. How the nation will bear it is yet unknown. Had the Consuls been put to death in the first tumult, & before the nation had time to take sides, the Directory & councils might have re-established themselves on the spot. But that not being done, perhaps it is now to be wished that Buonaparte may be spared, as, according to his protestations, he is for liberty, equality & representative government, and he is more able to keep the nation together, & to ride out the storm, than any other. Perhaps it may end in their establishing a single executive, & that in his person. I hope it will not be for life, for fear of the influence of the example on our countrymen. It is very material for the latter to be made sensible that their own character & situation are materially different from the French; and that whatever may be the fate of republicanism there, we are able to preserve it inviolate here : we are sensible of the duty and can wait with patience till they get right, if they happen to be at any time wrong. Our vessel is moored at such a distance, that should theirs blow up, ours is still safe, if we will but think so.
I had recommended the inclosed letter to the care of the post master at Louisville; but have been advised it is better to get a friend to forward it by some of the boats. I will ask that favor of you. It is the duplicate of one which the same address which I inclosed last week to Mr. Innes, & should therefore go by a different conveyance. I am with great esteem Dr. Sir
Your friend & servt.
Dear Sir,I have received your favor of the 17th & communicated it to Mr. Smith. I lately forwarded you a letter from Dr. Priestly, endorsed 'with a book; I struck these words through with my pen, because no book had then come. It is now received, & shall be forwarded to Richmond by the first opportunity : but such opportunities are difficult to find; gentlemen going in the stage not liking to take charge of a package which is to be attended to every time the stage is changed. The best chance will be by some captain of a vessel going round to Richmond. I shall address it to the care of Mr. George Jefferson there.
I have lately by accident got a sight of a single volume (the 3d.) of the Abbé Barruels Antisocial conspiracy, which gives me the first idea I have ever had of what is meant by the Illuminatism against which illuminate Morse as he is now called, & his ecclesiastical & monarchical associates have been making such a hue and cry. Barruels own parts of the book are perfectly the ravings of a Bedlamite. But he quotes largely from Wishaupt whom he considers as the founder of what he calls the order. As you may not have had an opportunity of forming a judgment of this cry of mad dog which has been raised against his doctrines, I will give you the idea I have formed from only an hours reading of Barruels quotations from him, which you may be sure are not the most favorable. Wishaupt seems to be an enthusiastic Philanthropist. He is among those (as you know the excellent Price and Priestley also are) who believe in the indefinite perfectibility of man. He thinks he may in time be rendered so perfect that he will be able to govern himself in every circumstance so as to injure none, to do all the good he can, to leave government no occasion to exercise their powers over him, & of course to render political government useless. This you know is Godwins doctrine, and this is what Robinson, Barruel & Morse had called a conspiracy against all government. Wishaupt believes that to promote this perfection of the human character was the object of Jesus Christ. That his intention was simply to reinstate natural religion, & by diffusing the light of his morality, to teach us to govern ourselves. His precepts are the love of god & love of our neighbor. And by teaching innocence of conduct, he expected to place men in their natural state of liberty & equality. He says, no one ever laid a surer foundation for liberty than our grand master, Jesus of Nazareth. He believes the Free masons were originally possessed of the true principles & objects of Christianity, & have still preserved some of them by tradition, but much disfigured. The means he proposes to effect this improvement of human nature are to enlighten men, to correct their morals & inspire them with benevolence. Secure of our success, sais he, we abstain from violent commotions. To have foreseen, the happiness of posterity & to have prepared it by irreproachable means, suffices for our felicity. The tranquility of our consciences is not troubled by the reproach of aiming at the ruin or overthrow of states or thrones. As Wishaupt lived under the tyranny of a despot & priests, he knew that caution was necessary even in spreading information, & the principles of pure morality. He proposed therefore to lead the Free masons to adopt this object & to make the objects of their institution the diffusion of science & virtue. He proposed to initiate new members into his body by gradations proportioned to his fears of the thunderbolts of tyranny. This has given an air of mystery to his views, was the foundation of his banishment, the subversion of the masonic order, & is the colour for the ravings against him of Robinson, Barruel & Morse, whose real fears are that the craft would be endangered by the spreading of information, reason, & natural morality among men.This subject being new to me, I have imagined that if it be so to you also, you may receive the same satisfaction in seeing, which I have had in forming the analysis of it : & I believe you will think with me that if Wishaupt had written here, where no secrecy is necessary in our endeavors to render men wise & virtuous, he would not have thought of any secret machinery for that purpose. As Godwin, if he had written in Germany, might probably also have thought secrecy & mysticism prudent.I will say nothing to you on the late revolution of France, which is painfully interesting. Perhaps when we know more of the circumstances which gave rise to it, & the direction it will take, Buonaparte, its chief organ, may stand in a better light than at present. I am with great esteem, dear sir, your affectionate friend.
My letters to yourself and my dear Martha have been of January 13th, 21st, and 28th. I now enclose a letter lately received for her. You will see in the newspapers all the details we have of the proceedings of Paris. I observe that Lafayette is gone there. When we see him, Volney, Sieyes, Talleyrand, gathering round the new powers, we may conjecture from thence their views and principles. Should it be really true that Bonaparte has usurped the government with an intention of making it a free one, whatever his talents may be for war, we have no proofs that he is skilled in forming governments friendly to the people. Wherever he has meddled we have seen nothing but fragments of the old Roman government stuck into materials with which they can form no cohesion : we see the bigotry of an Italian to the ancient splendor of his country, but nothing which bespeaks a luminous view of the organization of rational government. Perhaps, however, this may end better than we augur; and it certainly will if his head is equal to true and solid calculations of glory. It is generally hoped here that peace may take place. There was before no union of views between Austria and the members of the triple coalition; and the defeats of Suwarrow appear to have completely destroyed the confidence of Russia in that power, and the failure of the Dutch expedition to have weaned him from the plans of England. The withdrawing his armies we hope is the signal for the entire dissolution of the coalition, and for every one seeking his separate peace. We have great need of this event, that foreign affairs may no longer bear so heavily on ours. We have great need for the ensuing twelve months to be left to ourselves. The enemies of our Constitution are preparing a fearful operation, and the dissensions in this State are too likely to bring things to the situation they wish; when our Bonaparte, surrounded by his comrades in arms, may step in to give us political salvation in his way. It behooves our citizens to be on their guard, to be firm in their principles, and full of confidence in themselves. We are able to preserve our self-government if we will but think so. I think the return of Lafayette to Paris ensures a reconciliation between them and us. He will so entwist himself with the Envoys that they will not be able to draw off.Mr. C. Pinckney has brought into the Senate a bill for the uniform appointment of juries. A tax on public stock, bank stock, &c., is to be proposed. This would bring one hundred and fifty millions into contribution with the lands, and levy a sensible proportion of the expenses of a war on those who are so anxious to engage us in. it. Robbinss affair is perhaps to be inquired into. However, the majority against these things leave no hope of success. It is most unfortunate that while Virginia and North Carolina were steady, the Middle States drew back; now that these are laying their shoulders to the draught, Virginia and North Carolina balk; so that never drawing together, the Eastern States, steady and unbroken, draw all to themselves. I was mistaken last week in saying no more failures had happened. New ones have been declaring every day in Baltimore, others here and at New York. The last here have been Nottnagil, Montmollin and Co., and Peter Blight. These sums are enormous. I do not know the firms of the bankrupt houses in Baltimore, but the crush will be incalculable. In the present stagnation of commerce, and particularly that in tobacco, it is difficult to transfer money from hence to Richmond. Government bills on their custom house at Bermuda can from time to time be had. I think it would be best for Mr. Barnes always to keep them bespoke, and to remit in that way your instalments as fast as they are either due or within the discountable period. The first is due the middle of March, and so from two months to two months in five equal instalments. I am looking out to see whether such a difference of price here may be had as will warrant our bringing our tobacco from New York here, rather than take eight dollars there. We have been very unfortunate in this whole business. First in our own miscalculations of the effect of the non-intercourse law; and where we had corrected our opinions, that our instructions were from good, but mistaken views, not executed. My constant love to my dear Martha, kisses to her young ones, and affectionate esteem to yourself.
Mr. Erving delivered me your favor of January 31st, and I thank you for making me acquainted with him. You will always do me a favor in giving me an opportunity of knowing gentlemen as estimable in their principles and talents as I find Mr. Erving to be. I have not yet seen Mr. Winthrop. A letter from you, my respectable friend, after three and twenty years of separation, has given me a pleasure I cannot express. It recalls to my mind the anxious days we then passed in struggling for the cause of mankind. Your principles have been tested in the crucible of time, and have come out pure. You have proved that it was monarchy, and not merely British monarchy, you opposed. A government by representatives, elected by the people at short periods, was our object, and our maxim at that day was, 'where annual election ends, tyranny begins. Nor have our departures from it been sanctioned by the happiness of their effects. A debt of an hundred millions growing by usurious interest, and an artificial paper phalanx overruling the agricultural mass of our country, with other et ceteras, have a portentous aspect.
I fear our friends on the other side of the water, laboring in the same cause, have yet a great deal of crime and misery to wade through. My confidence has been placed in the head, not in the heart of Bonaparte. I hoped he would calculate truly the difference between the fame of a Washington and a Cromwell. Whatever his views may be, he has at least transferred the destinies of the republic from the civil to the military arm. Some will use this as a lesson against the practicability of republican government. I read it as a lesson against the danger of standing armies. Adieu, my ever respected and venerable friend. May that kind overruling providence which has so long spared you to our country, still foster your remaining years with whatever may make them comfortable to yourself and soothing to your friends. Accept the cordial salutations of your affectionate friend.
I have never Written to you since my arrival here, for reasons which were explained. Yours of December 29th, January the 4th, 9th, 12th, 18th, and February the 14th, have therefore remained unacknowledged. I have at different times enclosed to you such papers as seemed interesting. To-day I forward Binghams amendment to the election bill formerly enclosed to you, Mr. Pinckneys proposed amendment to the Constitution, and the report of the Ways and Means. Binghams amendment was lost by the usual majority of two to one. A very different one will be proposed, containing the true sense of the minority, viz., that the two Houses, voting by heads, shall decide such questions as the Constitution authorizes to be raised. This may probably be taken up in the other House under better auspices, for though the federalists have a great majority there, yet they are of a more moderate temper than for some time past. The Senate, however, seem determined to yield to nothing which shall give the other House greater weight in the decision on elections than they have.
Mr. Pinckneys motion has been supported, and is likely to have some votes which were not expected. I rather believe he will withdraw it, and propose the same thing in the form of a bill; it being the opinion of some that such a regulation is not against the present Constitution. In this form it will stand a better chance to pass, as a majority only in both Houses will be necessary. By putting off the building of the seventy-fours and stopping enlistments, the loan will be reduced to three and a half millions. But I think it cannot be obtained. For though no new bankruptcies have happened here for some weeks, or in New York, yet they continue to happen in Baltimore, and the whole commercial race are lying on their oars, and gathering in their affairs, not knowing what new failures may put their resources to the proof. In this state of things they cannot lend money. Some foreigners have taken asylum among us, with a good deal of money, who may perhaps choose that deposit. Robbinss affair has been under agitation for some days. Livingston made an able speech of two and a half hours yesterday. The advocates of the measure feel its pressure heavily; and though they may be able to repel Livingstons motion of censure, I do not believe they can carry Bayards of approbation.The landing of our Envoys at Lisbon will risk a very dangerous consequence, insomuch as the news of Truxtons aggression will perhaps arrive at Paris before our commissioners will. Had they gone directly there, they might have been two months ahead of that news. We are entirely without further information from Paris. By letters from Bordeaux, of December the 7th, tobacco was then from twenty-five to twenty-seven dollars per hundred. Yet did Marshall maintain on the non-intercourse bill, that its price at other markets had never been affected by that law. While the navigating and provision States, who are the majority, can keep open all the markets, or at least sufficient ones for their objects, the cries of the tobacco makers, who are the minority, and not at all in favor, will hardly be listened to. It is truly the fable of the monkey pulling the nuts out of the fire with the cats paw; and it shows that G. Masons proposition in the Convention was wise, that on laws regulating commerce, two-thirds of the votes should be requisite to pass them. However, it would have been trampled under foot by a triumphant majority.
March 8. My letter has lain by me till now, waiting Mr. Trists departure. The question has been decided to-day on Livingstons motion respecting Robbins. Thirty-five for it, about sixty against it. Livingston, Nicholas, and Gallatin distinguished themselves on one side, and J. Marshall greatly on the other. Still it is believed they will not push Bayards motion of approbation. We have this day also decided in Senate on the motion for overhauling the editor of the Aurora. It was carried, as usual, by about two to one, H. Marshal voting of course with them, as did, and frequently does Anderson of Tennissee, who is perfectly at market. It happens that the other party are so strong, that they do not think either him or Marshall worth buying.As the conveyance is confidential, I can say something on a subject which, to those who do not know my real dispositions respecting it, might seem indelicate. The federalists begin to be very seriously alarmed about their election next fall. Their speeches in private, as well as their public and private demeanor to me, indicate it strongly. This seems to be the prospect. Keep out Pennsylvania, Jersey, and New York, and the rest of the States are about equally divided; and in this estimate it is supposed that North Carolina and Maryland added together are equally divided. Then the event depends on the three Middle States before mentioned. As to them, Pennsylvania passes no law for an election at the present session. They confide that the next election gives a decided majority in the two Houses, when joined together. MKean, therefore, intends to call the legislature to meet immediately after the new election, to appoint electors themselves. Still you may be sensible there may arise a difficulty between the two Houses about voting by heads or by Houses.The republican members here from Jersey are entirely confident that their two Houses, joined together, have a majority of republicans; their Council being republican by six or eight votes, and the lower House federal by only one or two ; and they have no doubt the approaching election will be in favor of the republicans. They appoint electors by the two Houses voting together.In New York all depends on the success of the city election, which is of twelve members, and of course makes a difference of twenty-four, which is sufficient to make the two Houses joined together, republican in their vote. Governor Clinton, General Gates, and some other old revolutionary characters, have been put on the republican ticket. Burr, Livingston, &c., entertain no doubt on the event of that election. Still these are the ideas of the republicans only in these three States, and we must make great allowance for their sanguine views. Upon the whole, I consider it as rather more doubtful than the last election, in which I was not deceived in more than a vote or two. If Pennsylvania votes, then either Jersey or New York giving a republican vote, decides the election. If Pennsylvania does not vote, then New York determines the election. In any event, we may say that if the city election of New York is in favor of the republican ticket, the issue will be republican; if the federal ticket for the city of New York prevails, the probabilities will be in favor of a federal issue, because it would then require a republican vote both from Jersey and Pennsylvania to preponderate against New York, on which we could not count with any confidence. The election of New York being in April, it becomes an early and interesting object. It is probable the landing of our Envoys in Lisbon will add a month to our session: because all that the eastern men are anxious about, is to get away before the possibility of a treatys coming in upon us.You must consider the money you have in Mr. Barness hands as wholly at your disposal. I have no note here of the amount of our nail account; but it i small and will be quite as convenient to me to receive after I go home. Present my respectful salutations to Mrs. Madison, and be assured of my constant and affectionate esteem.
1 Jonathan Robbins was arrested in Charleston South Carolina, in February 1799 at the request of the British consul Benjamin Moodie. The consul indentified him as British subject Thomas Nash, a participant in the mutiny on the British naval frigate Hermione in 1797, during which most of the ship's officers were killed. The British demanded his extradition under Article 27 of the Jay Treaty, but Federal District Court Judge Thomas Bee refused to act without directions from the secretary of state. Pickering communicated with Adams on the matter and on 21 May the president granted the petition. On 1 July, Bee notified the British consul of the court's readiness to have Robbins brought forward for extradition. Moodie requested that he remain in prison until a vessel arrived for him. As the accused was about to be turned over to the British, several South Carolina Republicans learned that Robbins claimed to be an American citizen and at the time of his arrest carried an affidavit indicating that he was born in Danbury, Connecticut. They demanded a hearing. In open court on 25 July Robbins's statement reaffirmed that he was a native of Connecticut who had been impressed by the crew of the Hermione and detained on the ship. He added that he had not participated in the mutiny. Alexander Moultrie, former attorney general of South Carolina, and Samuel Ker, his assistant, argued that the question was whether an American citizen should be tried by his country, or be delivered up to a foreign tribunal. After listening to the case, Bee ruled that Robins's claim of American citizenship did not exclude him from extradition under the treaty and that sufficient evidence of criminality was present to remand him to the British for trial. The British quickly sent Robbins to Jamaica, where his court-martial and execution were carried out by 19 August.
2 George Mason favored Charles Pinckneys August 1787 proposition in the Convention that laws regulating commerce should be approved by a two-thirds majority of both houses in order to safeguard against any of the five distinct commercial regions gaining undue influence. Madison, claiming that the southern states were a minority, opposed it.
I had twice before attempted to open a correspondence by writing to you, but receiving no answer, I took it for granted my letters did not reach you, and consequently that no communication could be found. Yesterday, however, your nephew put into my hands your favor of January 23d, and informs me that a letter sent by post by way of Fort Wilkinson, will be certain of getting safely to you. Still, I expect your long absence from this part of the States, has rendered occurrences here but little interesting to you. Indeed, things have so much changed their aspect, it is like a new world. Those who know us only from 1775 to 1793 can form no better idea of us now than of the inhabitants of the moon; I mean as to political matters. Of these, therefore, I shall not say one word, because nothing I could say, would be any more intelligible to you, if said in English, than if said in Hebrew. On your part, however, you have interesting details to give us. I particularly take great interest in whatever respects the Indians, and the present state of the Creeks, mentioned in your letter is very interesting. But you must not suppose that your official communications will ever be seen or known out of the offices. Reserve as to all their proceedings is the fundamental maxim of the Executive department. I must, therefore, ask from you one communication to be made to me separately, and I am encouraged to it by that part of your letter which promises me something on the Creek language. I have long believed we can never get any information of the ancient history of the Indians, of their descent and filiation, but from a knowledge and comparative view of their languages. I have, therefore, never failed to avail myself of any opportunity which offered of getting their vocabularies. I have now made up a large collection, and afraid to risk it any longer, lest by some accident it might be lost, I am about to print it. But I still want the great southern languages, Cherokee, Creeks, Choctaw, Chickasaw. For the Cherokee, I have written to another, but for the three others, I have no chance but through yourself. I have indeed an imperfect vocabulary of the Choctaw, but it wants all the words marked in the enclosed vocabulary with either this mark (*) or this (+). I therefore throw myself on you to procure me the Creek, Choctaw, and Chickasaw, and I enclose you a vocabulary of the particular words I want. You need not take the trouble of having any others taken, because all my other vocabularies are confined to these words, and my object is only a comparative view. The Creek column I expect you will be able to fill up at once, and when done I should wish it to come on without waiting for the others. As to the Choctaw and Chickasaw, I know your relations are not very direct, but as I possess no means at all of getting at them, I am induced to pray your aid. All the despatch which can be conveniently used is desirable to me, because this summer I propose to arrange all my vocabularies for the press, and I wish to place every tongue in the column adjacent to its kindred tongues. Your letters, addressed by post to me at Monticello, near Charlottesville, will come safely, and more safely than if put under cover to any of the offices, where they may be mislaid or lost.
Your old friend, Mrs. Trist, is now settled at Charlottesville, within two and a half miles of me. She lives with her son, who married here, and removed there. She preserves her health and spirits fully, and is much beloved with us, as she deserves to be. As I know she is a favorite correspondent of yours, I shall observe that the same channel will be a good one to her as I have mentioned for myself. Indeed, if you find our correspondence worth having, it can now be as direct as if you were in one of these States. Mr. Madison is well. I presume you have long known of his marriage. He is not yet a father. Mr. Giles is happily and wealthily married to a Miss Tabb. This I presume is enough for a first dose; after hearing from you, and knowing how it agrees with you, it may be repeated. With sentiments of constant and sincere esteem, I am, dear Sir, your affectionate friend and servant.
Your favor of Feb. 2 came to hand Feb. 11 and I put off the acknoleging it, till I could forward to you some pamphlets on a subject very interesting to all states, and containing views which I am anxious should be generally exhibited. In a former collection of tracts published by Mr. Cooper were two papers on Political arithmetic. He was printing a 2d edition of the whole, & was prevailed on to strike off an extra-number of the two on Political arithmetic, adding to it some principles of government from a former work of his. I have forwarded to you by a vessel going from hence to Richmond 8 dozen of these, with a view that one should be sent to every county commee in the state, either from yourself personally or from your central commee. Tho I know that this is not the immediate object of your institution, yet I consider it as a most valuable object, to which the institution may most usefully be applied. I trust yourself only with the secret that these pamphlets go from me. You will readily see what a handle would be made of my advocating their contents. I must leave to yourself therefore to say how they come to you. Very possibly they will have got to you before this does, as I shall retain it for a private conveyance, & know of none as yet. I dare trust nothing this summer through the post offices. At other times they would not have such strong motives to infidelity.
It is too early to think of a declaratory act as yet, but the time is approaching and not distant. Two elections more will give us a solid majority in the House of Representatives, and a sufficient one in the Senate. As soon as it can be depended on, we must have "a Declaration of the principles of the Constitution" in nature of a Declaration of rights, in all the points in which it has been violated. The people in the Middle States are almost rallied to Virginia already; and the Eastern States are commencing the vibration which has been checked by X.Y.Z. North Carolina is at present in the most dangerous state. The lawyers all tories, the people substantially republican, but uninformed and deceived by the lawyers, who are elected of necessity because few other candidates. The medicine for that State must be very mild and secretly administered. But nothing should be spared to give them true information. I am, dear Sir, yours affectionately.
I received with great pleasure your favor of the 11th instant. By this time I presume the result of your labors is known with you, though not here. Whatever it may be, and my experience of the art, industry, and resources of the other party has not permitted me to be prematurely confident, yet I am entirely confident that ultimately the great body of the people are passing over from them. This may require one or two elections more; but it will assuredly take place. The madness and extravagance of their career is what ensures it. The people through all the States are for republican forms, republican principles, simplicity, economy, religious and civil freedom.
I have nothing to offer you but Congressional news. The Judiciary bill is postponed to the next session ; so is the Militia ; so the Military Academy. The bill for the election of the President and Vice-President has undergone much revolution. Marshall made a dexterous manoeuvre; he declares against the constitutionality of the Senates bill, and proposed that the right of decision of their grand committee should be controllable by the concurrent votes of the two houses of Congress; but to stand good if not rejected by a concurrent vote. You will readily estimate the amount of this sort of control. The Committee of the House of Representatives, however, took from the Committee the right of giving any opinion, requiring them to report facts only, and that the votes returned by the States should be counted, unless reported by a concurrent vote of both houses. In what form it will pass them or us, cannot be foreseen. Our Jury bill in Senate will pass so as merely to accommodate New York and Vermont. The House of Representatives sent us yesterday a bill for incorporating a company to work Roosewelts copper mines in New Jersey. I do not know whether it is understood that the Legislature of Jersey was incompetent to this, or merely that we have concurrent legislation under the sweeping clause. Congress are authorized to defend the nation. Ships are necessary for defence ; copper is necessary for ships ; mines necessary for copper; a company necessary to work mines; and who can doubt this reasoning who has ever played at "This is the House that Jack built ?" Under such a process of filiation of necessities the sweeping clause makes clean work. We shall certainly rise on the 12th. There is nothing to do now but to pass the Ways and Means, and to settle some differences of opinion of the two houses on the Georgia bill, the bill for dividing the NorthWestern Territory, and that for the sale of the Western lands. Salutations and affectionate esteem. Adieu.
Congress will rise to-day or tomorrow. Mr. Nicholas proposing to call on you, you will get from him the Congressional news. On the whole, the federalists have not been able to carry a single strong measure in the lower House the whole session. When they met, it was believed they had a majority of twenty, but many of these were new and moderate men, and soon saw the true character of the party to which they had been well disposed while at a distance. This tide, too, of public opinion sets so strongly against the federal proceedings, that this melted off their majority, and dismayed the heroes of the party. The Senate alone remained undismayed to the last. Firm to their purpose, regardless of public opinion, and more disposed to coerce than to court it; not a man of their majority gave way in the least; and on the election bill they adhered to John Marshalls amendment, by their whole number; and if there had been a full Senate, there would have been but eleven votes against it, which include H. Marshall, who has voted with the republicans this session.
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I received from J. Bringhurst for Mrs. Madison a letter which I delivered to Mr. Nicholas. Also a small package containing, I think he said, a watch-chain & other things, and another containing a book. If Mr. Nicholas can take the former I will send it by him. If not, I will find room for it in my trunk. I am so streightened however that I have been obliged to put the book into a trunk which goes round by sea.I have this day paid 5 Dollars at the Aurora office for Capt. Winston, as you desired. I hope I shall see you soon after my return either at your own house or Monticello or both. Accept assurances of constant and affectionate esteem to Mrs. Madison and yourself from, dear Sir, your sincere friend and servant.
I received with great pleasure your favor of June the 4th, and am much comforted by the appearance of a change of opinion in your State ; for though we may obtain, and I believe shall obtain, a majority in the Legislature of the United States, attached to the preservation of the federal Constitution according to its obvious principles, and those on which it was known to be received; attached equally to the preservation to the States of those rights unquestionably remaining with them; friends to the freedom of religion, freedom of the press, trial by jury and to economical government; opposed to standing armies, paper systems, war, and all connection, other than commerce, with any foreign nation; in short, a majority firm in all those principles which we have espoused and the federalists have opposed uniformly; still, should the whole body of New England continue in opposition to these principles of government, either knowingly or through delusion, our government will be a very uneasy one. It can never be harmonious and solid, while so respectable a portion of its citizens support principles which go directly to change of the federal Constitution, to sink the State governments, consolidate them into one, and to monarchize that. Our country is too large to have all its affairs directed by a single government. Public servants at such a distance, and from under the eye of their constituents, must, from the circumstance of distance, be unable to administer and overlook all the details necessary for the good government of the citizens, and the same circumstance, by rendering detection impossible to their constituents, will invite the public agents to corruption, plunder and waste. And I do verily believe, that if the principle were to prevail, of a common law being in force in the United States, (which principle possesses the General Government at once of all the powers of the State governments, and reduces us to a single consolidated government,) it would become the most corrupt government on the earth. You have seen the practises by which the public servants have been able to cover their conduct, or, where that could not be done, delusions by which they have varnished it for the eye of their constituents. What an augmentation of the field for jobbing, speculating, plundering, office-building and office-hunting would be produced by an assumption of all the State powers into the hands of the General Government ! The true theory of our Constitution is surely the wisest and best, that the States are independent as to everything within themselves, and united as to everything respecting foreign nations. Let the General Government be reduced to foreign concerns only, and let our affairs be disentangled from those of all other nations, except as to commerce, which the merchants will manage the better, the more they are left free to manage for themselves, and our General Government may be reduced to a very simple organization, and a very inexpensive one; a few plain duties to be performed by a few servants. But I repeat, that this simple and economical mode of government can never be secured, if the New England States continue to support the contrary system. I rejoice, therefore, in every appearance of their returning to those principles which I had always imagined to be almost innate in them. In this State, a few persons were deluded by the X.Y.Z. duperies. You saw the effect of it in our last Congressional representatives, chosen under their influence. This experiment on their credulity is now seen into, and our next representation will be as republican as it has heretofore been. On the whole, we hope, that by a part of the Union having held on to the principles of the Constitution, time has been given to the States to recover from the temporary frenzy into which they had been decoyed, to rally round the Constitution, and to rescue it from the destruction with which it had been threatened even at their own hands. I see copied from the American Magazine two numbers of a paper signed Don Quixote, most excellently adapted to introduce the real truth to the minds even of the most prejudiced.
I would, with great pleasure, have written the letter you desired in behalf of your friend, but there are existing circumstances which render a letter from me to that magistrate as improper as it would be unavailing. I shall be happy, on some more fortunate occasion, to prove to you my desire of serving your wishes.
I sometime ago received a letter from a Mr. MGregory of Derby, in your State; it is written with such a degree of good sense and appearance of candor, as entitles it to an answer. Yet the writer being entirely unknown to me, and the stratagems of the times very multifarious, I have thought it best to avail myself of your friendship, and enclose the answer to you. You will see its nature. If you find from the character of the person to whom it is addressed, that no improper use would probably be made of it, be so good as to seal and send it. Otherwise suppress it.
How will the vote of your State and Rhode Island be as to A. and P.?
I am, with great and sincere esteem, dear Sir, your friend and servant.
Your favor of July the 19th has been received, and received with the tribute of respect due to a person, who, unurged by motives of personal friendship or acquaintance, and unaided by particular information, will so far exercise his justice as to advert to the proofs of approbation given a public character by his own State and by the United States, and weigh them in the scale against the fatherless calumnies he hears uttered against him. These public acts are known even to those who know nothing of my private life, and surely are better evidence to a mind disposed to truth, than slanders which no man will affirm on his own knowledge, or ever saw one who would. From the moment that a portion of my fellow citizens looked towards me with a view to one of their highest offices, the floodgates of calumny have been opened upon me; not where I am personally known, where their slanders would be instantly judged and suppressed, from a general sense of their falsehood; but in the remote parts of the Union, where the means of detection are not at hand, and the trouble of an inquiry is greater than would suit the hearers to undertake. I know that I might have filled the courts of the United States with actions for these slanders, and have ruined perhaps many persons who are not innocent. But this would be no equivalent to the loss of character. I leave them, therefore, to the reproof of their own consciences. If these do not condemn them, there will yet come a day when the false witness will meet a judge who has not slept over his slanders. If the Reverend Cotton Mather Smith of Shena believed this as firmly as I do, he would surely never have affirmed that "I had obtained my property by fraud and robbery; that in one instance, I had defrauded and robbed a widow and fatherless children of an estate to which I was executor, of ten thousand pounds sterling, by keeping the property and paying them in money at the nominal rate, when it was worth no more than forty for one ; and that all this could be proved." Every tittle of it is fable ; there not having existed a single circumstance of my life to which any part of it can hang. I never was executor but in two instances, both of which having taken place about the beginning of the revolution, which withdrew me immediately from all private pursuits, I never meddled in either executorship. In one of the cases only, were there a widow and children. She was my sister. She retained and managed the estate in her own hands, and no part of it was ever in mine. In the other, I was a copartner, and only received on a division the equal portion allotted me. To neither of these executorships therefore, could Mr. Smith refer. Again, my property is all patrimonial, except about seven or eight hundred pounds worth of lands, purchased by myself and paid for, not to widows and orphans; but to the very gentleman from whom I purchased. If Mr. Smith, therefore, thinks the precepts of the gospel intended for those who preach them as well as for others, he will doubtless some day feel the duties of repentance, and of acknowledgment in such forms as to correct the wrong he has done. Perhaps he will have to wait till the passions of the moment have passed away. All this is left to his own conscience.
These, Sir, are facts, well known to every person in this quarter, which I have committed to paper for your own satisfaction, and that of those to whom you may choose to mention them. I only pray that my letter may not go out of your own hands, lest it should get into the newspapers, a bear-garden scene into which I have made it a point to enter on no provocation.
I am, Sir, your most obedient humble servant.
I have to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of August the 22d, and to congratulate you on the healthiness of your city. Still Baltimore, Norfolk and Providence admonish us that we are not clear of our new scourge. When great evils happen, I am in the habit of looking out for what good may arise from them as consolations to us, and Providence has in fact so established the order of things, as that most evils are the means of producing some good. The yellow fever will discourage the growth of great cities in our nation, and I view great cities as pestilential to the morals, the health and the liberties of man. True, they nourish some of the elegant arts, but the useful ones can thrive elsewhere, and less perfection in the others, with more health, virtue and freedom, would be my choice.
I agree with you entirely, in condemning the mania of giving names to objects of any kind after persons still living. Death alone can seal the title of any man to this honor, by putting it out of his power to forfeit it. There is one other mode of recording merit, which I have often thought might be introduced, so as to gratify the living by praising the dead. In giving, for instance, a commission of Chief Justice to Bushrod Washington, it should be in consideration of his integrity, and science in the laws, and of the services rendered to our country by his illustrious relation, &c. A commission to a descendant of Dr. Franklin, besides being in consideration of the proper qualifications of the person, should add that of the great services rendered by his illustrious ancestor, Benjamin Franklin, by the advancement of science, by inventions useful to man, &c. I am not sure that we ought to change all our names. And during the regal government, sometimes, indeed, they were given through adulation; but often also as the reward of the merit of the times, sometimes for services rendered the colony. Perhaps, too, a name when given, should be deemed a sacred property.
I promised you a letter on Christianity, which I have not forgotten. On the contrary, it is because I have reflected on it, that I find much more time necessary for it than I can at present dispose of. I have a view of the subject which ought to displease neither the rational Christian nor Deists, and would reconcile many to a character they have too hastily rejected. I do not know that it would reconcile the genus irritabile vatum who are all in arms against me. Their hostility is on too interesting ground to be softened. The delusion into which the X.Y.Z. plot showed it possible to push the people; the successful experiment made under the prevalence of that delusion on the clause of the Constitution, which, while it secured the freedom of the press, covered also the freedom of religion, had given to the clergy a very favorite hope of obtaining an establishment of a particular form of Christianity through the United States; and as every sect believes its own form the true one, every one perhaps hoped for his own, but especially the Episcopalians and Congregationalists. The returning good sense of our country threatens abortion to their hopes, and they believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly: for I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: and enough too in their opinion. And this is the cause of their printing lying pamphlets against me, forging conversations for me with Mazzei, Bishop Madison, &c., which are absolute falsehoods without a circumstance of truth to rest on; falsehoods, too, of which I acquit Mazzei and Bishop Madison, for they are men of truth.
But enough of this : it is more than I have before committed to paper on the subject of all the lies that has been preached and printed against me. I have not seen the work of Sonnoni which you mention, but I have seen another work on Africa, (Parkes,) which I fear will throw cold water on the hopes of the friends of freedom. You will hear an account of an attempt at insurrection in this State. I am looking with anxiety to see what will be its effect on our State. We are truly to be pitied. I fear we have little chance to see you at the federal city or in Virginia, and as little at Philadelphia. It would be a great treat to receive you here. But nothing but sickness could effect that; so I do not wish it. For I wish you health and happiness, and think of you with affection. Adieu.
Your former communications on the subject of the steam engine, I took the liberty of laying before the American Philosophical Society, by whom they will be printed in their volume of the present year. I have heard of the discovery of some large bones, supposed to be of the mammoth, at about thirty or forty miles distance from you; and among the bones found, are said to be some of which we have never been able to procure. The first interesting question is, whether they are the bones of the mammoth ? The second, what are the particular bones, and could I possibly procure them ? The bones I am most anxious to obtain are those of the head and feet, which are said to be among those found in your State, as also the ossa innominata, and the scapula. Others would also be interesting, though similar ones may be possessed, because they would show by their similarity that the set belong to the mammoth. Could I so far venture to trouble you on this subject, as to engage some of your friends near the place, to procure for me the bones above mentioned ? If they are to be bought I will gladly pay for them whatever you shall agree to as reasonable; and will place the money in New York as instantaneously after it is made known to me, as the post can carry it, as I will all expenses of package, transportation, &c., to New York and Philadelphia, where they may be addressed to John Barnes, whose agent (he not being on the spot) will take care of them for me.
But I have still a more important subject whereon to address you. Though our information of the votes of the several States be not official, yet they are stated on such evidence as to satisfy both parties that the republican vote has been successful. We may, therefore, venture to hazard propositions on that hypothesis without being justly subjected to raillery or ridicule. The Constitution to which we are all attached was meant to be republican, and we believe to be republican according to every candid interpretation. Yet we have seen it so interpreted and administered, as to be truly what the French have called, a monarchie masque. Yet so long has the vessel run on this way and been trimmed to it; that to put her on her republican tack will require all the skill, the firmness and the zeal of her ablest and best friends. It is a crisis which calls on them, to sacrifice all other objects, and repair to her aid in this momentous operation. Not only their skill is wanting, but their names also. It is essential to assemble in the outset persons to compose our administration, whose talents, integrity and revolutionary name and principles may inspire the nation at once, with undoubted confidence, and impose an awful silence on all the maligners of republicanism; as may suppress in embryo the purpose avowed by one of their most daring and effective chiefs, of beating down the administration. These names do not abound at this day. So few are they, that yours, my friend, cannot be spared among them without leaving a blank which cannot be filled. If I can obtain for the public the aid of those I have contemplated, I fear nothing. If this cannot be done, then are we unfortunate indeed ! We shall be unable to realize the prospects which have been held out to the people, and we must fall back into monarchism, for want of heads, not hands to help us out of it. This is a common cause, my dear Sir, common to all republicans. Though I have been too honorably placed in front of those who are to enter the breach so happily made, yet the energies of every individual are necessary, and in the very place where his energies can most serve the enterprise. I can assure you that your colleagues will be most acceptable to you ; one of them, whom you cannot mistake, peculiarly so. The part which circumstances constrain us to propose to you is, the secretaryship of the navy. These circumstances cannot be explained by letter. Republicanism is so rare in those parts which possess nautical skill, that I cannot find it allied there to the other qualifications. Though you are not nautical by profession, yet your residence and your mechanical science qualify you as well as a gentleman can possibly be, and sufficiently to enable you to choose under-agents perfectly qualified, and to superintend their conduct. Come forward then, my dear Sir, and give us the aid of your talents and the weight of your character towards the new establishment of republicanism : I say, for its new establishment ; for hitherto we have only seen its travesty. I have urged thus far, on the belief that your present office would not be an obstacle to this proposition. I was informed, and I think it was by your brother, that you wished to retire from it, and were only restrained by the fear that a successor of different principles might be appointed. The late change in your council of appointment will remove this fear. It will not be improper to say a word on the subject of expense. The gentlemen who composed General Washingtons first administration took up, too universally, a practice of general entertainment, which was unnecessary, obstructive of business, and so oppressive to themselves, that it was among the motives for their retirement. Their successors profited by the experiment, and lived altogether as private individuals, and so have ever continued to do. Here, indeed, it cannot be otherwise, our situation being so rural, that during the vacations of the legislature we shall have no society but of the officers of the government, and in time of sessions the legislature is become and becoming so numerous, that for the last half dozen years nobody but the President has pretended to entertain them. I have been led to make the application before official knowledge of the result of our election, because the return of Mr. Van Benthuysen, one of your electors and neighbors, offers me a safe conveyance at a moment when the post offices will be peculiarly suspicious and prying. Your answer may come by post without danger, if directed in some other handwriting than your own ; and I will pray you to give me an answer as soon as you can make up your mind.
Accept assurances of cordial esteem and respect, and my friendly salutations.
Although we have not official information of the votes for President and Vice-President, and cannot have until the first week in February, yet the state of the votes is given on such evidence, as satisfies both parties that the two republican candidates stand highest. From South Carolina we have not even heard of the actual vote; but we have learned who were appointed electors, and with sufficient certainty how they would vote. It is said they would withdraw from yourself one vote. It has also been said that a General Smith, of Tennessee, had declared that he would give his second vote to Mr. Gallatin, not from any indisposition towards you, but extreme reverence to the character of Mr. Gallatin. It is also surmised that the vote of Georgia will not be entire. Yet nobody pretends to know these things of a certainty, and we know enough to be certain that what it is surmised will be withheld, will still leave you four or five votes at least above Mr. Adams. However, it was badly managed not to have arranged with certainty what seems to have been left to hazard. It was the more material, because I understand several of the high. flying federalists have expressed their hope that the two republican tickets may be equal, and their determination in that case to prevent a choice by the House of Representatives, (which they are strong enough to do,) and let the government devolve on a President of the Senate. Decency required that I should be so entirely passive during the late contest that I never once asked whether arrangements had been made to prevent so many from dropping votes intentionally, as might frustrate half the republican wish ; nor did I doubt, till lately that such had been made.
While I must congratulate you, my dear Sir, on the issue of this contest, because it is more honorable, and doubtless more grateful to you than any station within the competence of the chief magistrate, yet for myself, and for the substantial service of the public, I feel most sensibly the loss we sustain of your aid in our new administration. It leaves a chasm in my arrangements, which cannot be adequately filled up. I had endeavored to compose an administration whose talents, integrity, names, and dispositions, should at once inspire unbounded confidence in the public mind, and insure a perfect harmony in the conduct of the public business. I lose you from the list, and am not sure of all the others. Should the gentlemen who possess the public confidence decline taking a part in their affairs, and force us to take persons unknown to the people, the evil genius of this country may realize his avowal that "he will beat down the administration." The return of Mr. Van Benthuysen, one of your electors, furnishes me a confidential opportunity of writing this much to you, which I should not have ventured through the post office at this prying season. We shall of course see you before the 4th of March. Accept my respectful and affectionate salutations.
I received, while at home, the letter you were so kind as to write me. The employments of the country have such irresistible attractions for me, that while I am at home, I am not very punctual in acknowledging the letters of my friends. Having no refuge here from my room and writing-table, it is my regular season for fetching up the lee-way of my correspondence.
Before you receive this, you will have understood that the State of South Carolina (the only one about which there was uncertainty) has given a republican vote, and saved us from the consequences of the annihilation of Pennsylvania. But we are brought into dilemma by the probable equality of the two republican candidates. The federalists in Congress mean to take advantage of this, and either to prevent an election altogether, or reverse what has been understood to have been the wishes of the people, as to the President and Vice-President; wishes which the Constitution did not permit them specially to designate. The latter alternative still gives us a republican administration. The former, a suspension of the federal government, for want of a head. This opens to us an abyss, at which every sincere patriot must shudder. General Davie has arrived here with the treaty formed (under the name of a convention) with France. It is now before the Senate for ratification, and will encounter objections. He believes firmly that a continental peace in Europe will take place, and that England also may be comprehended.
Accept assurances of the great respect of, dear Sir, your most obedient servant.
Mr. Browns departure for Virginia enables me to write confidentially what I could not have ventured by the post at this prying season. The election in South Carolina has in some measure decided the great contest. Though as yet we do not know the actual votes of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Vermont, yet we believe the votes to be on the whole, J. seventy-three, B. seventy-three, A. sixty-five, P. sixty-four. Rhode Island withdrew one from P. There is a possibility that Tennessee may withdraw one from B., and Burr writes that there may be one vote in Vermont for J. But I hold the latter impossible, and the former not probable; and that there will be an absolute parity between the two republican candidates. This has produced great dismay and gloom on the republican gentlemen here, and exultation in the federalists, who openly declare they will prevent an election, and will name a President of the Senate, pro tem. by what they say would only be a stretch of the Constitution. The prospect of preventing this, is as follows : Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Vermont, Pennsylvania, and New York, can be counted on for their vote in the House of Representatives, and it is thought by some that Baer of Maryland, and Linn of New Jersey will come over. Some even count on Morris of Vermont. But you must know the uncertainty of such a dependence under the operation of caucuses and other federal engines. The month of February, therefore, will present us storms of a new character. Should they have a particular issue, I hope you will be here a day or two, at least, before the 4th of March. I know that your appearance on the scene before the departure of Congress, would assuage the minority, and inspire in the majority confidence and joy unbounded, which they would spread far and wide on their journey home. Let me beseech you then to come with a view of staying perhaps a couple of weeks, within which time things might be put into such a train, as would permit us both to go home for a short time, for removal. I wrote to R.R.L. by a confidential hand three days ago. The person proposed for the Treasury has not come yet.
Davie is here with the Convention, as it is called ; but it is a real treaty, and without limitation of time. It has some disagreeable features, and will endanger the compromising us with Great Britain. I am not at liberty to mention its contents, but I believe it will meet with opposition from both sides .of the House. It has been a bungling negotiation. Ellsworth remains in France for the benefit of his health. He has resigned his office of Chief Justice. Putting these two things together, we cannot misconstrue his views. He must have had great confidence in Mr. Adams continuance to risk such a certainty as he held. Jay was yesterday nominated Chief Justice. We were afraid of something worse. A scheme of government for the territory is cooking by a committee of each House, under separate authorities, but probably a voluntary harmony. They let out no hints. It is believed that the judiciary system will not be pushed, as the appointments, if made by the present administration, could not fall on those who create them. But I very much fear the road system will be urged. The mines of Peru would not supply the moneys which would be wasted on this object, nor the patience of any people stand the abuses which would be incontrollably committed under it. I propose, as soon as the state of the election is perfectly ascertained, to aim at a candid understanding with Mr. Adams. I do not expect that either his feelings or his views of interest will oppose it. I hope to induce in him dispositions liberal and accommodating. Accept my affectionate salutations.
I shall neither frank nor subscribe my letter, because I do not choose to commit myself to the fidelity of the post-office. For the same reason, I have avoided putting pen to paper through the whole summer, except on mere business, because I knew it was a prying season. I received from time to time papers under your superscription, which showed that our friends were not inattentive to the great operation which was agitating the nation. You are by this time apprised of the embarrassment produced by the equality of votes between the two republican candidates. The contrivance in the Constitution for marking the votes works badly, because it does not enounce precisely the true expression of the public will. We do not see what is to be the issue of the present difficulty. The federalists, among whom those of the republican section are not the strongest, propose to prevent an election in Congress, and to transfer the government by an act to the C.J. (Jay) or Secretary of State, or to let it devolve on the President pro tem. of the Senate, till next December, which gives them another years predominance, and the chances of future events. The republicans propose to press forward to an election. If they fail in this, a concert between the two higher candidates may prevent the dissolution of the government and danger of anarchy, by an operation, bungling indeed and imperfect, but better than letting the legislature take the nomination of the Executive entirely from the people. Excuse the infrequency of my acknowledgments of your kind attentions, The danger of interruption makes it prudent for me not to indulge my personal wishes in that way. I pray you to accept assurances of my great esteem.