Dear Sir,A confidential opportunity offering by Mr. Baring, I can venture to write to you with less reserve than common conveyances admit. The 150 livres you paid to Mr. Chas for me shall be replaced in the hands of Mr. Lewis your manager here, with thanks to you for honoring what you had no reason to doubt was a just claim on me. I do not know him personally or any otherwise than by his history of our Revolution, & of Buonaparte, a single copy of which he sent me. I never heard of any other being sent, nor should I have undertaken, or he expected me, to be the vender of his books here, to keep accounts and make remittances for him. If he has sent any copies for sale to my care, I have never heard of them. Isaac Coles, son of Colo. Coles our neighbor is gone to London, Paris, &c. He asked from me a letter to you. I told him I had been obliged to make it a rule to give no letters of introduction while in my present office; but that in my first letter to you I would mention to you the reason why I gave him none. He is a most worthy young man, & one whom I had intended to have asked to be my Secretary, had Mr. Harvie declined the offer. You know the worth of his family. I inclose you two letters for Mr. Williams, asking you from your knolege of persons and things to use your discretion for me, and deliver whichever you think best, suppressing the other. With respect to my correspondence with literary characters in Europe, to the great mass of those who send me copies of their works, being otherwise unknown to me, or perhaps not advantageously known, I return them simple notes of thanks, sometimes saying I have no doubt I shall have great satisfaction in persuing their works as soon as my occupations will permit; and, where I have found the work to possess merit, saying so in a complimentary way. With Volney, Dupont, Cabanis, Cepede, I had intimate & very friendly intercourse in France, & with the two first here. With Sr. John Sinclair I had the same in France & England, and with Mr. Strickland here. To these persons I write freely on subjects of literature, and to a certain degree on politics, respecting however their personal opinions, and their situation so as not to compromit them were a letter intercepted. Indeed what I write to them in this way are for the most part such truths & sentiments as would do us good if known to their government, and, as probably as not, are communicated to them. To the Earl Buchan I have written one letter in answer to the compliment of a volume of his which he sent me. He is an honorable, patriotic, & virtuous character, was in correspondence with Dr. Franklin and General Washington, & had every title to a respectful answer from me. I expressed myself to him in terms which were true, & therefore the more satisfactory to him. I have received a volume of geology, of great merit, from Faufas de St. Fond. I did not know him personally, nor do I know the standing he holds in society or his government; but an intimate acquaintance of his here gives me a good account of him as an amiable and virtuous man. My answer to him will be more than a mere compliment of thanks, but confined to the branch of science which is the subject of his work. An opening has been given me of making a communication which will be acceptable to the emperor Alexander, either directly or indirectly, and as from one private individual to another. I have not decided whether to do it or not. This is the whole extent of the literary correspondence which I now keep up in Europe, and I set the more value on it inasmuch as I can make private friendships instrumental to the public good by inspiring a confidence which is denied to public, and official communications.
I expect this evenings post will bring us the account that Louisiana was formally delivered to us about the 16th of December. This acquisition is seen by our constituents in all its importance, & they do justice to all those who have been instrumental towards it. Fortunately, the federal leaders have had the imprudence to oppose it pertinaciously, which has given an occasion to a great proportion of their quondam honest adherents to abandon them and join the republican standard. They feel themselves now irretrievably lost, and are ceasing to make further opposition in the states, or anywhere but in Congress. I except however N. Hampshire, Mass. Connect. & Delaware. The 1st will be with us in the course of this year; Connecticut is advancing with a slow but steady step, never losing the ground she gains; Massachusetts has a Republicanism of so flaccid a texture, and Delaware so much affected by every little topical information, that we must wait for them with patience & good Humour. Congress is now engaged in a bill for the government of Louisiana. It is impossible to foresee in what shape it will come out. They talk of giving 5,000 D. to the Governor, but the bill also proposes to commence at the close of this session. I have in private conversations demonstrated to individuals that that is impossible; that the necessary officers cannot be mustered there under 6 months. If they give that time for its commencement, it may admit our appointing you to that office, as I presume you could be in place with a term not much beyond that, & in the interval the Secretary of the state would govern. But the idea of the public as to the importance of that office would not bear a long absence of the principal. You are not to calculate that 5,000 D. would place you by any means as much at your ease there as 9,000 D. where you are. In that station you cannot avoid expensive hospitality. Where you are, altho it is not pleasant to fall short in returning civilities, yet necessity has rendered this so familiar in Europe as not to lessen respect for the person whose circumstances do not permit a return of hospitalities. I see by your letters the pain which this situation gives you, and I can estimate its acuteness from the generosity of your nature. But, my dear friend, calculate with mathematical rigour the pain annexed to each branch of the dilemma & pursue that which brings the least. To give up entertainment, & to live with the most rigorous economy till you have cleared yourself of every demand is a pain for a definite time only: but to return here with accumulated encumbrances on you, will fill your life with torture. We wish to do everything for you which law & rule will permit. But more than this would injure you as much as us. Believing that the mission to Spain will enable you to suspend expense greatly in London, & to apply your salary during your absence to the clearing off your debt, you will be instructed to proceed there as soon as you shall have regulated certain points of neutral right for us with England, or as soon as you find nothing in that way can be done. This you should hurry as much as possible, that you may proceed to Spain, for settling with that court the boundaries of Louisiana. On this subject Mr. Madison will send you the copy of a memoir of mine, written last summer while I was among my books at Monticello. We scarcely expect any liberal or just settlement with Spain, and are perfectly determined to obtain or to take our just limits. How far you will suffer yourself to be detained there by the procrastinations of artifice or indolence must depend on the prospects which arise, and on your own determination to accept the government of Louisiana, which will admit but of a limited delay. It is probable that the inhabitants of Louisiana on the left bank of the Mississippi and inland Eastwardly to a considerable extent, will very soon claim to be received under our jurisdiction, and that this end of W. Florida will thus be peaceably got possession of. For Mobile and the Eastern end we shall await favorable conjunctures. If they refuse to let our vessels have free ingress & egress in the Mobile to & from the Tombiggy settlements, and if Spain is at war, the crisis there will be speedy. Fulwar Skipwith wishes office in Louisiana. But he should be made sensible of the impossibility of an office remaining vacant till we can import an incumbent from Europe. That of Govr. is the only one for which the law has made that sort of provision. Besides he has been so long absent from America, that he cannot have habits and feelings, and the tact necessary to be in unison with his countrymen here. He is much fitter for any matters of business (below that of diplomacy) which we may have to do in Europe. There is here a great sense of the inadequacy of C. Pinckney to the office he is in. His continuance is made a subject of standing reproach to myself personally, by whom the appointment was made before I had collected the administration. He declared at the time that nothing would induce him to continue so as not to be here at the ensuing Presidential election. I am persuaded he expected to be proposed at it as V. P. After he got to Europe his letters asked only a continuance of two years. But he now does not drop the least hint of a voluntary return. Pray, my dear sir, avail yourself of his vanity, his expectations, his fears, and whatever will weigh with him to induce him to ask leave to return, and obtain from him to be the bearer of the letter yourself. You will render us in this the most acceptable service possible. His enemies here are perpetually dragging his character in the dirt, and charging it on the administration. He does, or ought to know this, and to feel the necessity of coming home to vindicate himself, if he looks to anything further in the career of honor.
You ask for small news. Mr. Randolph & Mr. Eppes are both of Congress, and now with me, their wives lying in at home. Trist was appointed collector of Natchez and on the removal of that office down to New Orleans will be continued there. His family still remain in Albemarle, but will join him in the spring. Dr. Bache has been to N. Orleans as Physician to the hospital there. He is returned to Philadelphia where his wife is, and where they will probably remain. Peachey Gilmer has married Miss House, and will go with the family to New Orleans. Mr. Short has been to Kentucky, and will return to Europe in the spring. The deaths of Samuel Adams & Judge Pendleton you will have heard of. Colo. N. Lewis, Divers & the Carrs are all well and their families. Sam. Carr is now living in Albemarle. J.F. Mercers quarrel with his counsel has carried him over openly to the federalists. He is now in the Maryland legislature entirely thrown off by the republicans. He has never seen or written on these things to Mr. Madison or myself. When mentioning your going to N. Orleans & that the salary there would not increase the ease of your situation, I meant to have added that the only considerations which might make it eligible to you were the facility of getting there the richest land in the world, the extraordinary profitableness of their culture, and that the removal of your slaves there might immediately put you under way. You alone however can weigh these things for yourself, and after all, it may depend on the time the legislature may give for commencing the new government. But, let us hear from you as soon as you can determine, that we may not incur the blame of waiting for nothing. Mr. Merry is with us, and we believe him to be personally as desirable a character as could have been sent us. But he is unluckily associated with one of an opposite character in every point. She has already disturbed our harmony extremely. He began by claiming the first visit from the national ministers. He corrected himself in this. But a pretension to take precedence at dinners &c. over all others is persevered in. We have told him that the principle of society, as well as of government, with us, is the equality of the individuals composing it. That no man here would come to a dinner, where he was to be marked with inferiority to any other. That we might as well attempt to force our principle of equality at St. Jamess as he his principle of precedent here. I had been in the habit, when I invited female company (having no lady in my family) to ask one of the ladies of the 4. secretaries to come & take care of my company; and as she was to do the honors of the table I handed her to dinner myself. That Mr. Merry might not construe this as giving them a precedence over Mrs. Merry, I have discontinued it. And here as well as in private houses, the pêle-mêle practice, is adhered to. They have got Yrujo to take a zealous part in the claim of precedence: it has excited generally emotions of great contempt and indignation, (in which the members of the legislature participate sensibly,) that the agents of foreign nations should assume to dictate to us what shall be the laws of our society. The consequence will be that Mr. & Mrs. Merry will put themselves into Coventry, & that he will lose the best half of his usefulness to his nation, that derived from a perfectly familiar & private intercourse with the secretaries & myself. The latter be assured, is a virago, and in the short course of a few weeks has established a degree of dislike among all classes which one would have thought impossible in so short a time. Thornton has entered into their ideas. At this we wonder, because he is a plain man, a sensible one, & too candid to be suspected of wishing to bring on their recall & his own substitution. To counterwork their misrepresentations, it would be well their government should understand as much of these things as can be communicated with decency, that they may know the spirit in which their letters are written. We learn that Thornton thinks we are not as friendly now to Great Britain as before our acquisition of Louisiana. This is totally without foundation. Our friendship to that nation is cordial and sincere. So is that with France. We are anxious to see England maintain her standing, only wishing she would use her power on the ocean with justice. If she had done this heretofore, other nations would not have stood by and looked on with unconcern on a conflict which endangers her existence. We are not indifferent to its issue, nor should we be so on a conflict on which the existence of France should be in danger. We consider each as a necessary instrument to hold in check the disposition of the other to tyrannize over other nations. With respect to Merry, he appears so reasonable and good a man, that I should be sorry to lose him as long as there remains a possibility of reclaiming him to the exercise of his own dispositions. If his wife perseveres, she must eat her soup at home, and we shall endeavor to draw him into society as if she did not exist. It is unfortunate that the good understanding of nations should hang on the caprice of an individual, who ostensibly has nothing to do with them. Present my friendly & respectful salutations to Mrs. Monroe & Miss Eliza: and be assured yourself of my constant affections.
Jan. 16. Louisiana was delivered to our Commissioners on the 20th. Dec.
Dear Sir,I have duly received your favor of the 8th but the act of ratification which it announces is not yet come to hand. No doubt it is on its way. That great opposition is and will be made by federalists to this amendment is certain. They know that if it prevails, neither a Presidt or Vice President can ever be made but by the fair vote of the majority of the nation, of which they are not. That either their opposition to the principle of discrimination now, or their advocation of it formerly was on party, not moral motives, they cannot deny. Consequently they fix for themselves the place in the scale of moral rectitude to which they are entitled. I am a friend to the discriminating principle; and for a reason more than others have, inasmuch as the discriminated vote of my constituents will express unequivocally the verdict they wish to cast on my conduct. The abominable slanders of my political enemies have obliged me to call for that verdict from my country in the only way it can be obtained, and if obtained it will be my sufficient voucher to the rest of the world & to posterity, and leave me free to seek, at a definite time, the repose I sincerely wished to have retired to now. I suffer myself to make no inquiries as to the persons who are to be placed on the rolls of competition for the public favor. Respect for myself as well as for the public requires that I should be the silent & passive subject of their consideration. We are now at work on a territorial division & government for Louisiana. It will probably be a small improvement of our former territorial governments, or first grade of government. The act proposes to give them an assembly of Notables, selected by the Governor from the principal characters of the territory. This will, I think, be a better legislature than the former territorial one, & will not be a greater departure from sound principle. Accept my friendly salutations & assurances of high respect & consideration.
My letters since your departure have been of July 11th and 15th, November 16th, and January 13th. Yours received are of July 8th, 15th, 22d, and 25th, September 25th and 30th, and October 3d. Since the date of the last we have no certain information of your movements. With mine of November 16th, I sent you some extracts made by myself from the journal of an agent of the trading company of St. Louis up the Missouri. I now enclose a translation of that journal in full for your information. In that of the 13th instant I enclosed you a map of a Mr. Evans, a Welshman, employed by the Spanish government for that purpose, but whose original object I believe had been to go in search of the Welsh Indians, said to be up the Missouri. On this subject a Mr. Rees, of the same nation, established in the western part of Pennsylvania, will write to you. New Orleans was delivered to us on the 20th of December, and our garrisons and government established there. The orders for the delivery of the upper ports were to leave New Orleans on the 28th; and we presume all those ports will be occupied by our troops by the last day of the present month. When your instructions were penned, this new position was not so authentically known as to affect the complexion of your instructions. Being now become sovereigns of the country, without, however, any diminution of the Indian rights of occupancy, we are authorized to propose to them in direct terms the institution of commerce with them. It will now be proper you should inform those through whose country you will pass, or whom you may meet, that their late fathers, the Spaniards, have agreed to withdraw all their troops from all the waters and country of the Mississippi and Missouri. That they have surrendered to us all their subjects, Spanish and French, settled there and all their posts and lands; that henceforward we become their fathers and friends, and that we shall endeavor that they shall have no cause to lament the change ; that we have sent you to inquire into the nature of the country and the nations inhabiting it, to know at what places and times we must establish stores of goods among them, to exchange for their peltries; that as soon as you return with the necessary information, we shall prepare supplies of goods and persons to carry them, and make the proper establishments; that in the meantime the same traders who reside among us visit them, and who now are a part of us, will continue to supply them as usual; that we shall endeavor to become acquainted with them as soon as possible; and that they will find in us faithful friends and protectors. Although you will pass through no settlements of the Sioux (except seceders) yet you will probably meet with parties of them. On that nation we wish most particularly to make a friendly impression, because of their immense power, and because we learn that they are very desirous of being on the most friendly terms with us. I enclose you a letter, which I believe is from some one on the part of the Philosophical Society. They have made you a member, and your diploma is lodged with me ; but I suppose it safest to keep it here and not to send it after you. Mr. Harvie departs to-morrow for France, as the bearer of the Louisiana stock to Paris. Captain William Brent takes his place with me. Congress will probably continue in session through the month of March. Your friends here and in Albemarle, as far as I recollect, are well. Trist will be the collector of New Orleans, and his family will go to him in the spring. Dr. Bache is now in Philadelphia, and probably will not return to New Orleans. Accept my friendly salutations, and assurances of affectionate esteem and respect.
I thank you for the seed of the flytrap. It is the first I have ever been able to obtain, and shall take great care of it. I am well pleased to hear of the progress of republicanism with you. To do without a land tax, excise, stamp tax and the other internal taxes, to supply their place by economies, so as still to support the government properly, and to apply $7,300,000 a year steadily to the payment of the public debt ; to discontinue a great portion of the expenses on armies and navies, yet protect our country and its commerce with what remains; to purchase a country as large and more fertile than the one we possessed before, yet ask neither a new tax, nor another soldier to be added, but to provide that that country shall by its own income, pay for itself before the purchase money is due; to preserve peace with all nations, and particularly an equal friendship to the two great rival powers France and England, and to maintain the credit and character of the nation in as high a degree as it has ever enjoyed, are measures which I think must reconcile the great body of those who thought themselves our enemies; but were in truth only the enemies of certain Jacobinical, atheistical, anarchical, imaginary caricatures, which existed only in the land of the raw head and bloody bones, beings created to frighten the credulous. By this time they see enough of us to judge our characters by what we do, and not by what we never did, nor thought of doing, but in the lying chronicles of the newspapers. I know indeed there are some characters who have been too prominent to retract, too proud and impassioned to relent, too greedy after office and profit to relinquish their longings, and who have covered their devotion to monarchism under the mantle of federalism; who never can be cured of their enmities. These are incurable maniacs, for whom the hospitable doors of Bedlam are ready to open, but they are permitted to walk abroad while they refrain from personal assault.
The applications for Louisiana are so numerous that it would be immoral to give a hope to the friends you mention. The rage for going to that country seems universal. Accept my affectionate salutations, and assurances of great esteem and respect.
Your favor of December 12th came duly to hand, as did the second letter to Doctor Linn, and the treatise of Phlogiston, for which I pray you to accept my thanks. The copy for Mr. Livingston has been delivered, together with your letter to him, to Mr. Harvie, my secretary, who departs in a day or two for Paris, & will deliver them himself to Mr. Livingston, whose attention to your matter cannot be doubted. I have also to add my thanks to Mr. Priestley, your son, for the copy of your Harmony, which I have gone through with great satisfaction. It is the first I have been able to meet with, which is clear of those long repetitions of the same transaction, as if it were a different one because related with some different circumstances.
I rejoice that you have undertaken the task of comparing the moral doctrines of Jesus with those of the ancient Philosophers. You are so much in possession of the whole subject, that you will do it easier & better than any other person living. I think you cannot avoid giving, as preliminary to the comparison, a digest of his moral doctrines, extracted in his own words from the Evangelists, and leaving out everything relative to his personal history and character. It would be short and precious. With a view to do this for my own satisfaction, I had sent to Philadelphia to get two testaments Greek of the same edition, & two English, with a design to cut out the morsels of morality, and paste them on the leaves of a book, in the manner you describe as having been pursued in forming your Harmony. But I shall now get the thing done by better hands.
I very early saw that Louisiana was indeed a speck in our horizon which was to burst in a tornado; and the public are unapprized how near this catastrophe was. Nothing but a frank & friendly development of causes & effects on our part, and good sense enough in Bonaparte to see that the train was unavoidable, and would change the face of the world, saved us from that storm. I did not expect he would yield till a war took place between France and England, and my hope was to palliate and endure, if Messrs. Ross, Morris, &c. did not force a premature rupture, until that event. I believed the event not very distant, but acknolege it came on sooner than I had expected. Whether, however, the good sense of Bonaparte might not see the course predicted to be necessary & unavoidable, even before a war should be imminent, was a chance which we thought it our duty to try; but the immediate prospect of rupture brought the case to immediate decision. The dénoument has been happy; and I confess I look to this duplication of area for the extending a government so free and economical as ours, as a great achievement to the mass of happiness which is to ensue. Whether we remain in one confederacy, or form into Atlantic and Mississippi confederacies, I believe not very important to the happiness of either part. Those of the western confederacy will be as much our children & descendants as those of the eastern, and I feel myself as much identified with that country, in future time, as with this; and did I now foresee a separation at some future day, yet I should feel the duty & the desire to promote the western interests as zealously as the eastern, doing all the good for both portions of our future family which should fall within my power.
Have you seen the new work of Malthus on population? It is one of the ablest I have ever seen. Altho his main object is to delineate the effects of redundancy of population, and to test the poor laws of England, & other palliations for that evil, several important questions in political economy, allied to his subject incidentally, are treated with a masterly hand. It is a single octavo volume, and I have been only able to read a borrowed copy, the only one I have yet heard of. Probably our friends in England will think of you, & give you an opportunity of reading it. Accept my affectionate salutations, and assurances of great esteem & respect.
I have to acknowledge the receipt of your obliging letter, and with it, of two very interesting volumes on Political Economy. These found me engaged in giving the leisure moments I rarely find, to the perusal of Malthus work on population, a work of sound logic, in which some of the opinions of Adam Smith, as well as of the economists, are ably examined. I was pleased, on turning to some chapters where you treat the same questions, to find his opinions corroborated by yours. I shall proceed to the reading of your work with great pleasure. In the meantime, the present conveyance, by a gentleman of my family going to Paris, is too safe to hazard a delay in making my acknowledgments for this mark of attention, and for having afforded to me a satisfaction, which the ordinary course of literary communications could not have given me for a considerable time.
The differences of circumstance between this and the old countries of Europe, furnish differences of fact whereon to reason, in questions of political economy, and will consequently produce sometimes a difference of result. There, for instance, the quantity of food is fixed, or increasing in a slow and only arithmetical ratio, and the proportion is limited by the same ratio. Supernumerary births consequently add only to your mortality. Here the immense extent of uncultivated and fertile lands enables every one who will labor, to marry young, and to raise a family of any size. Our food, then, may increase geometrically with our laborers, and our births, however multiplied, become effective. Again, there the best distribution of labor is supposed to be that which places the manufacturing hands alongside the agricultural; so that the one part shall feed both, and the other part furnish both with clothes and other comforts. Would that be best here ? Egoism and first appearances say yes. Or would it be better that all our laborers should be employed in agriculture ? In this case a double or treble portion of fertile lands would be brought into culture; a double or treble creation of food be produced, and its surplus go to nourish the now perishing births of Europe, who in return would manufacture and send us in exchange our clothes and other comforts. Morality listens to this, and so invariably do the laws of nature create our duties and interests, that when they seem to be at variance, we ought to suspect some fallacy in our reasonings. In solving this question, too, we should allow its just weight to the moral and physical preference of the agricultural, over the manufacturing, man. My occupations permit me only to ask questions. They deny me the time, if I had the information, to answer them. Perhaps, as worthy the attention of the author of the Traité dEconomie Politique, I shall find them answered in that work. If they are not, the reason will have been that you wrote for Europe; while I shall have asked them because I think for America. Accept, Sir, my respectful salutations, and assurances of great consideration.
I now return you the manuscript history of Bacons rebellion, with many thanks for the communication. It is really a valuable morsel in the history of Virginia. That transaction is the more marked, as it was the only rebellion or insurrection which had ever taken place in the colony before the American Revolution. Neither its cause nor course have been well understood, the public records containing little on the subject. It is very long since I read the several histories of Virginia, but the impression remaining on my mind was not at all that which the writer gives; and it is impossible to refuse assent to the candor and simplicity of history. I have taken the liberty of copying it, which has been the reason of the detention of it. I had an opportunity, too, of communicating it to a person who was just putting into the press a history of Virginia, but all in a situation to be corrected. I think it possible that among the ancient manuscripts I possess at Monticello, I may be able to trace the author. I shall endeavor to do it the first visit I make to that place, and if with success, I will do myself the pleasure of communicating it to you. From the public records there is no hope, as they were destroyed by the British, I believe, very completely, during their invasion of Virginia. Accept my salutations, and assurances of high consideration and respect.
Doctor Stevens having been sent by the preceding administration, in 1798, to St. Domingo, with the commission of consul-general, and also with authorities as an agent additional to the consular powers, under a stipulation that his expenses should be borne; an account of these is now exhibited to the Secretary of State, and the questions arise whether the payment can be authorized by the Executive, and out of what fund ?
The Constitution has made the Executive the organ for managing our intercourse with foreign nations. It authorizes him to appoint and receive ambassadors, other public ministers, and consuls. The term minister being applicable to other agents as well as diplomatic, the constant practice of the government, considered as a commentary, established this broad meaning; and the public interest approves it; because it would be extravagant to employ a diplomatic minister for a business which a mere rider would execute. The Executive being thus charged with the foreign intercourse, no law has undertaken to prescribe its specific duties. The permanent act of 1801, however, first, where he uses the agency of a minister plenipotentiary, or charge, restricts him in the sums to be allowed for outfit, salary, return, and a secretary; and second, when any law has appropriated a sum for the contingent expenses of foreign intercourse, leaves to his discretion to dispense with the exhibition of the vouchers of its expenditure in the public offices. Under these two standing provisions there is annually a sum appropriated for the expenses of intercourse with foreign nations. The purposes of the appropriation being expressed by the law, in terms as general as the duties are by the Constitution, the application of the money is left as much to the discretion of the Executive, as the performance of the duties saving always the provisions of 1801.
It is true that this appropriation is usually made on an estimate, given by the Secretary of State to the Secretary of the Treasury, and by him reported to Congress. But Congress, aware that too minute a specification has its evil as well as a too general one, does not make the estimate a part of their law, but gives a sum in gross, trusting the Executive discretion for that year and that sum only; so in other departments, as of war for instance, the estimate of the Secretary specifies all the items of clothing, subsistence pay, etc., of the army. And Congress throws this into such masses as they think best, to wit, a sum in gross for clothing, another for subsistence, a third for pay, etc., binding up the Executive discretion only by the sum, and the object generalized to a certain degree. The minute details of the estimate are thus dispensed with in point of obligation, and the discretion of the officer is enlarged to the limits of the classification, which Congress thinks it best for the public interest to make. In the case before us, then, the sum appropriated may be applied to any agency with a foreign nation, which the Constitution has made a part of the duty of the President, as the organ of foreign intercourse.
The sum appropriated is generally the exact amount of the estimate, but not always. In the present instance the estimate, being for 1803, was only of $62 550, (including two outfits,) and the appropriation was Of $75,562 leaving a difference of $13,012. If indeed, there be not enough of this appropriation left to pay Dr. Stevens just demands, they cannot be paid until Congress shall make some appropriation applicable to them. I say his just demands, because by the undertaking of the then administration to pay his expenses, justice as well as law will understand his reasonable expenses. These must be tried by the scale which law and usage have established, whereon the Minister, Chargé, and Secretary, are given as fixed terms of comparison. The undefined agency of Dr. Stevens must be placed opposite to that term of the scale, with which it may fairly be thought to correspond; and if he has gone beyond that, his expenses should be reduced to it. I think them beyond it, and suppose that Dr. Stevens, viewing himself as a merchant, as well as a public agent, found it answer his purposes as a merchant to apply a part of his receipts in that character in addition to what he might reasonably expect from the public, not then meaning to charge to his public character the extraordinary style of expense which he believed at the time he could afford out of his mercantile profits.
[Statement of Dr. Stevens case, referred to in preceding letter.]
The Constitution having provided that the President should appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and all other officers which shall be established by law, the first Congress which met passed a law (July 1, 1790) authorizing him to draw from the treasury $40,000 annually for the support of such persons as he shall commission to serve the United States in foreign parts, and for the expense incident to the business in which they may be employed; with a proviso that, exclusive of an outfit to a Minister Plenipotentiary or Chargé, not exceeding a years salary, he should allow to any Minister Plenipotentiary not more than $9,000 a year, for all his personal services and other expenses; to a Chargé not more than $4,500; to a Secretary not more than $1,350; and with a second proviso as to the mode of settlement. This act, which was temporary, was continued by those of 1793, February 9, 1794, March 20, 1796, May 30, 1798, March 19, till 1800, May 10, when they turned the two provisos into enacting clauses, and made them permanent, and the appropriating clause which made the body of the law before, is now annually inserted in the general appropriating law. See 1800, May 7, 1801, March 1802, May 1, 1803, March 2, and 1804, March ----. As Congress, in order to limit the discretion of officers as far as is safe, is in the practice of throwing the objects of appropriations into groups, e.g., to the Secretary of State, and clerks, and other persons in that department so much; Secretary of Treasury, etc., so much; clothing for the army so much; subsistence so much; pay so much, etc. So they might have analyzed the foreign appropriation by allowing for outfits of ministers so much; salaries of ministers so much; contingent expenses so much, etc. But they chose to throw it all into one mass, only providing that no outfit should exceed a years salary, and no salary of a Minister be more than $9,000; of a Chargé $4,500; Secretary $1,350, etc.; leaving the President free to give them less if he chose, and to give to Ambassadors, Envoys, and other agents, what he thought proper. From the origin of the present government to this day, the construction of the laws, and the practice under them, has been to consider the whole fund (with only the limitations before mentioned) as under the discretion of the President as to the persons he should commission to serve the United States in foreign parts, and all the expenses incident to the business in which they may be employed. The grade consequently or character in which they should be employed, their allowance, etc. Thus Governor Morris was appointed by General Washington informally and without a commission to confer with the British ministers, and was allowed for eight months (I think) $1,300. Colonel Humphreys was appointed in 1790, to go as an agent to Madrid, and was allowed at the rate of $2,250 per annum. Dumas was kept at the Hague many years as an agent at $1,300 a year. Mr. Cutting was allowed disbursements for sailors in London in 1791, $233.33. Presents were made to the Chevalier Luzerne, on taking leave, worth $1,062. Van Berhel $697. Du Moustier $555, in 1791. Mr. Short was sent to Amsterdam as an agent in 1792, and allowed $444.43. James Blake was sent as agent to Madrid in 1793, and received an advance Of $800. I know not how much afterwards, as I left the office of Secretary of State at the close that year. In 1794, Mr. Jay was appointed Envoy that year. Extraordinary, a grade not particularly named in the Constitution, or any law, yet General Washington fixed his allowance. During the present administration Mr. Dawson and Lieutenant Leonard have been sent on special agencies. From the beginning of the government it has been the rule when one of our ministers is ordered to another place on a special business, to allow his expenses on that special mission, his salary going on at his residence where his family remains. Mr. Shorts mission from Paris to Amsterdam, from Paris to Madrid; Mr. Pinckney from London to Madrid; Mr. Murrays from the Hague to Paris, and others not recollected by me, are instances of this. These facts are stated to show that it has been the uniform opinion and practice that the whole foreign fund was placed by the Legislature on the footing of a contingent fund, in which they undertake no specifications, but leave the whole to the discretion of the President. The whole is but from forty to sixty or seventy thousand dollars. After the establishment of the general fund for foreign intercourse, Congress found it necessary to make a separate branch for the Barbary powers. This was done covertly in the beginning, to wit, in 1792, they gave $50,000 additional to the foreign fund, in 1794, $1,000,000 additional without limiting it to Barbary. Yet it was secretly understood by the President, and his discretion was trusted. In 1796, they gave $260,000 for treaties with the Mediterranean powers, in 1797, $280,259.03, for the expenses of negotiation with Algiers. They did not undertake a more minute analysis or specification, but left it to the President. The laws of 1796, May 6, 1797, March 3, 1799, March 2, give sums for specific purposes because these purposes were simple and understood by the Legislature. But in general, in this branch of the foreign expenses, as in the former one, the Legislature has thought that to cramp the public service by too minute specifications in cases which they could not foresee, might do more evil than a temporary trust to the President, which could be put an end to if abused.
In our western governments, heretofore established, they were so well understood by Congress, that they could and did specify every item of expense, except a very small residuum for which they made contingent appropriations. But when they came provide at this session for the Louisiana government, with which they were not acquainted, they gave twenty thousand dollars for compensation to the officers of the government employed by the President, and for other civil expenses under the direction of the President. And their first step towards the acquisition of that country was to confide to the President two millions of dollars under the general appropriation for foreign intercourse. These facts show that so far from having experienced evil from confiding the forty thousand dollars, foreign fund, to the discretion of the Executive without a specific analysis of its application, they have continued it on that footing, and in many other great cases where analysis was difficult or inexpedient they have given the sums in mass, and left the analysis to him, only requiring an account to be rendered.
This statement has been made in order to place on its true ground the case of Doctor Stevens. He was employed by Mr. Adams as agent to St. Domingo, and was to be allowed his expenses, though these were not limited, yet the law limits them in such case to what were reasonable. Doubts have arisen at the treasury whether the Executive had a right to make such a contract, and whether there be any fund out of which it can be paid ? Some doubt has been expressed whether an appropriation law gives authority to pay for the purpose of the appropriation without some particular law authorizing it. If this be the case, the forty thousand dollar fund has been paid away without authority from its first establishment; for it never has been given but by a clause of appropriation. The Executive believes this sufficient authority, and so we presume did the Legislature, or they would have given authority in some other sufficient form. And where is the rule of legal construction to be found which ascribes less effect to the words of an appropriation law, than of any other law ? It is also doubted whether the estimate on which an appropriation is founded does not restrain the application to the specific articles, their number and amount as stated in the estimate ? Were an appropriation law to come before a judge would he decide its meaning from its text, or would he call on the officer to produce their estimates as being a part of the law ? On the whole, the following questions are to be determined : 1. Whether the laws do not justify the construction which has been uniformly given, either strictly, or at least so ambiguously, that, as in judiciary cases, the decisions which have taken place have fixed their meaning and made it law ? 2. Whether they are so palpably against law that the practice must be arrested ? 3. Whether it shall be arrested retrospectively as to moneys engaged but not yet actually paid, or only as to future contracts ? 4. Whether any circumstances take Dr. Stevens case out of the conditions and rights of other foreign agencies ?
March 23, 1804.
Dear Sir,I receive with sincere grief your letter of the 21st and lament the necessity which calls for your retirement, if that necessity really exists. I had looked to you as one of those calculated to give cohesion to our rope of sand. You now see the composition of our public bodies, and how essential system and plan are for conducting our affairs wisely with so bitter a party in opposition to us, who look not at all to what is best for the public, but how they may thwart whatever we may propose, tho they should thereby sink their country. Talents in our public councils are at all times important; but perhaps there never was a moment when the loss of any would be more injurious than at the present. The condition of our affairs is advantageous. But it is also true that we are now under a crisis which is not without hazard from different quarters at home and abroad. But all this you understand perfectly, and if under such circumstances you withdraw I shall believe that the necessity which occasions it is imperious, and shall lament it most sincerely. Accept my affectionate salutations.
I am sorry the explanations attempted between Dr. Thornton and yourself, on the manner of finishing the chamber of the House of Representatives, have not succeeded. At the original establishment of this place advertisements were published many months offering premiums for the best plans for a Capitol and a Presidents house. Many were sent in. A council was held by General Washington with the Board of Commissioners, and after very mature examination two were preferred, and the premiums given to their authors, Doctor Thornton and Hobens, and the plans were decided on. Hobens has been executed. On Doctor Thorntons plan of the Capitol the north wing has been extended, and the south raised one story. In order to get along with any public undertaking it is necessary that some stability of plan be observed nothing impedes progress so much as perpetual changes of design. I yield to this principle in the present case more willingly because the plan begun for the Representative room will, in my opinion, be more handsome and commodious than anything which can now be proposed on the same area. And though the spheroidical dome presents difficulties to the executor, yet they are not beyond his art; and it is to overcome difficulties that we employ men of genius. While, however, I express my opinion that we had better go through with this wing of the Capitol on the, plan which has been settled, I would not be understood to suppose there does exist sufficient authority to control the original plan in any of its parts, and to accommodate it to changes of circumstances. I only mean that it is not advisable to change that of this wing in its present stage. Though I have spoken of a spheroidical roof, that will not be correct by the figure. Every rib will be a portion of a circle of which the radius will be determined by the span and rise of each rib. Would it not be best to make the internal columns of well-burnt brick, moulded in portions of circles adapted to the diminution of the columns ? Burlington, in his notes on Palladio, tells us that he found most of the buildings erected under Palladios direction, and described in his architecture, to have their columns made of brick in this way and covered over with stucco. I know an instance of a range of six or eight columns in Virginia, twenty feet high, well proportioned and properly diminished, executed by a common bricklayer. The bases and capitals would of course be of hewn stone. I suggest this for your consideration, and tender you my friendly salutations.
Although it is long since I received your favor of Oct. 27, yet I have not had leisure sooner to acknolege it. In the middle Southern States, as great an union of sentiment has now taken place as is perhaps desirable. For as there will always be an opposition, I believe it had better be from avowed monarchists than republicans. New York seems to be in danger of republican division; Vermont is solidly with us; Rhode Island with us on anomalous grounds; New Hampshire on the verge of the republican shore; Connecticut advancing towards it very slowly, but with steady step; your State only uncertain of making port at all. I had forgotten Delaware, which will be always uncertain, from the divided character of her citizens. If the amendment of the Constitution passes Rhode Island, (and we expect to hear in a day or two,) the election for the ensuing 4 years seems to present nothing formidable. I sincerely regret that the unbounded calumnies of the federal party have obliged me to throw myself on the verdict of my country for trial, my great desire having been to retire, at the end of the present term, to a life of tranquillity; and it was my decided purpose when I entered into office. They force my continuance. If we can keep the vessel of State as steadily in her course another 4 years, my earthly purposes will be accomplished, and I shall be free to enjoy, as you are doing, my family, my farm, & my books. That your enjoiments may continue as long as you shall wish them, I sincerely pray, and tender you my friendly salutations, and assurances of great respect & esteem.
Dear Sir,We have just heard of the calamitous event of Norfolk. I have not heard whether any persons are named to receive donations for the relief of the poor sufferers, and therefore take the liberty of inclosing two hundred dollars to you, & of asking the favor of you to have it applied in the way you think best, for the relief of such description of sufferers as you shall think best. I pray not to be named in newspapers on this occasion. Accept my friendly salutations & assurances of respect.
Your favor of January 28 has been duly received, and I have read with great satisfaction your ingenuous paper on the subject of the Mississippi, which I shall immediately forward to the Philosophical Society, where it will be duly prized. To prove the value I set on it, and my wish that it may go to the public without any imperfection about it, I will take the liberty of submitting to your consideration the only passage which I think may require it. You say, page 9, "The velocity of rivers is greatest at the surface, and gradually diminishes downwards." And this principle enters into some subsequent parts of the paper, and has too much effect on the phenomena of that river not to merit mature consideration. I can but suppose it at variance with the law of motion in rivers. In strict theory, the velocity of water at any given depth in a river is (in addition to its velocity at its surface) whatever a body would have acquired by falling through a space equal to that depth. If, in the middle of a river, we drop a vertical line, a e, from its surface to its bottom, and (using a perch, or rather a measure of 16.125 feet, for our unit of measure) we draw, at the depths, b c d e, (which suppose = 1.4 9.16 perch ordinates in the direction of the stream, equal to the odd numbers, 3, 5, 7, 9 perch, these ordinates will represent the additional velocities of the water per second of time, at the depth of their respective abscissa, and will terminate in a curve, a f g h i,) which will represent the velocity of their current in every point, and the whole mass of water passing on in a second of time.* This would be the theory of the motion of rivers, were there no friction; but the bottom being rough, its friction with the lower sheet or lamina of water will retard that lamina; the friction or viscosity of the particles of which, again, with those of the one next above, will retard that somewhat less, the 2d retard the 3d, the 3d the 4th, and so on upwards, diminishing till the retardation becomes insensible; and the theoretic curve will be modified by that cause, as at n o, removing the maximum of motion from the bottom somewhere upwardly. Again, the same circumstances of friction and viscosity of the particles of water among themselves, will cause the lamina at the surface to be accelerated by the quicker motion of the one next below it, the 2d still more by the 3d, the 3d by the 4th, and so on downwards, the acceleration always increasing till it reached the lamina of greatest motion. The exact point of the maximum of motion cannot be calculated, because it depends on friction; but it is probably much nearer the bottom than top, because the greater power of the current there sooner overcomes the effect of the friction. Ultimately, the curve will be sensibly varied by being swelled outwardly above, and retracted inwardly below, somewhat like a k l m n o, in the preceding diagram.
Indulging corollaries on this theory, let us suppose a plane surface, as a large sheet of cast-iron, let down by a cable from a boat, and made to present its surface to the current by a long vane fixed on its axis in the direction of the current. Would not the current below, laying hold of this plate, draw the boat down the stream with more rapidity than that with which it otherwise moves on the surface of the water ? Again, at the cross current of the surface which flows into the Chafaleya, and endangers the drawing boats into that river, as you mention, page 18, would not the same plane surface, if let down into the under current, which moves in the direction of the bed of the main river, have the effect of drawing the vessel across the lateral current prevailing at its surface, and conduct the boat with safety along the channel of the river ?
The preceding observations are submitted to your consideration. By drawing your attention to the subject, they will enable you, on further reflection, to confirm or correct your first opinion. If the latter, there would be time, before we print a volume, to make any alterations or additions to your paper which you might wish. We were much indebted for Your communications on the subject of Louisiana. The Substance of what was received from you, as well as others, was digested together and printed, without letting it be seen from whom the particulars came, as some were of a nature to excite ill-will. Of these Publications I sent you a copy. On the subject of the limits of Louisiana, nothing was said therein, because we thought it best first to have explanations with Spain. In the first visit, after receiving the treaty, which I paid to Monticello, which was in August, I availed myself of what I have there, to investigate the limits. While I was in Europe, I had purchased everything I could lay my hands on which related to any part of America, and particularly had a pretty full collection of the English, French and Spanish authors, on the subject of Louisiana. The information I got from these was entirely satisfactory and I threw it into a shape which would easily take the form of a memorial. I now enclose you a copy of it. One single fact in it was taken from a publication in a newspaper, supposed to be written by judge Bay, who had lived in West Florida. This asserted that the country from the Iberville to the Perdido was to this day called Louisiana, and a part of the government of Louisiana. I wrote to you to ascertain that fact, and received the information you were so kind as to send me; on the receipt of which, I changed the form of the assertion, so as to adapt it to what I suppose to be the fact, and to reconcile the testimony I have received, to wit, that though the name and division of West Florida have been retained; and in strictness, that country is still called by that name; yet it is also called Louisiana in common parlance, and even in some authentic public documents. The fact, however, is not of much importance. It would only have been an argumentum ad hominem. Although I would wish the paper enclosed never to be seen by anybody but yourself, and that it should not even be mentioned that the facts and opinions therein stated are founded in public authority, yet I have no objections to their being freely advanced in conversation, and as private and individual opinion, believing it will be advantageous that the extent of our rights should be known to the inhabitants of the country; and that however we may compromise on our Western limits, we never shall on the Eastern.
I formerly acquainted you with the mission of Captain Lewis up the Missouri, and across from its head to the Pacific. He takes about a dozen men with him, is well provided with instruments, and qualified to give us the geography of the line he passes along with astronomical accuracy. He is now hutted opposite the mouth of the Missouri, ready to enter it on the opening of the season. He will be at least two years on the expedition. I propose to charge the Surveyor-General N. of Ohio, with a survey of the Mississippi from its source to the mouth of the Ohio, and with settling some other interesting points of geography in that quarter. Congress will probably authorize me to explore the greater waters on the western side of the Mississippi and Missouri, to their sources. In this case I should propose to send one party up the Panis river to its source, thence along the highlands to the source of the Radoncas river and down it to its mouth, giving the whole course of both parties, corrected by astronomical observation. These several surveys will enable us to prepare a map of Louisiana, which in its contour and main waters will be perfectly correct, and will give us a skeleton to be filled up with details hereafter. For what lies north of the Missouri, we suppose British industry will furnish that. As you live so near to the point of departure of the lowest expedition, and possess and can acquire so much better the information, which may direct that to the best advantage, I have thought, if Congress should authorize the enterprise, to propose to you the unprofitable trouble of directing it. The party would consist of ten or twelve picked soldiers, volunteers with an officer, under the guidance of one or two persons, qualified to survey and correct by observations of latitude and longitude, the latter lunar, and as well informed as we can get them in the departments of botany, natural history, and mineralogy. I am told there is a Mr. Walker in your town, and a Mr. Gillespie in North Carolina, possessing good qualifications. As you know them both, you can judge whether both are qualified, should two persons go, or which is best, should but one be sent, or whether there is any other person better qualified than either. Their pay would probably not exceed $1000 a year, to which would be added their subsistence. All preparations would be to be made at Natchez and New Orleans on your order. Instructions similar to those of Captain Lewis would go from here, to be added to by what should occur to yourself, and you would be the centre for the communications from the party to the government. Still this is a matter of speculation only, as Congress are hurrying over their business for adjournment, and may leave this article of it unfinished. In that case what I have said will be as if I had not said it.
There is such a difference of opinion in Congress as to the government to be given to Louisiana, that they may continue the present one another year. I hope and urge their not doing it, and the establishment of a government on the spot capable of meeting promptly its own emergencies. Accept my friendly salutations, and assurances of great esteem and respect.
* These ordinates are arithmetical progressionals, each of which is double the root of its abscissa, plus unit. The equation, therefore, expressing the law of the curve is y = 2 N x + 1; that is, the velocity of the water of any depth will be double the root of that depth, plus unit. Were the line a e a wall, and b f e g d h e i troughs, along which water spouted from apertures at b c d e, their intersections with the curve at f g h i would mark the point in each trough to which the water would flow in a second of time, abating for friction.
In our last conversation you mentioned a federal scheme afloat, of forming a coalition between the federalists and republicans, of what they called the 7 Eastern States. The idea was new to me, and after time for reflection I had no opportunity of conversing with you again. The federalists know, that, eo nominie, they are gone forever. Their object, therefore, is, how to return into power under some other form. Undoubtedly they have but one means, which is to divide the republicans, join the minority, and barter with them for the cloak of their name. I say, join the minority; because the majority of the republicans not needing them, will not buy them. The minority, having no other means of ruling the majority, will give a price for auxiliaries, and that price must be principle. It is true that the federalists, needing their numbers also, must also give a price, and principle is the coin they must pay in. Thus a bastard system of federo-republicanism will rise on the ruins of the true principles of our revolution. And when this party is formed, who will constitute the majority of it, which majority is then to dictate? Certainly the federalists. Thus their proposition of putting themselves into gear with the republican minority, is exactly like Roger Shermans proposition to add Connecticut to Rhode island. The idea of forming 7 Eastern States is moreover clearly to form the basis of a separation of the Union. Is it possible that real republicans can be gulled by such a bait ? & for what ? What do they wish that they have not ? Federal measures ? That is impossible. Republican measures ? Have they them not ? Can any one deny, that in all important questions of principle, republicanism prevails ? But do they want that their individual will shall govern the majority ? They may purchase the gratification of this unjust wish, for a little time, at a great price; but the federalists must not have the passions of other men, if, after getting thus into the seat of power, they suffer themselves to be governed by their minority. This minority may say, that whenever they relapse into their own principles, they will quit them, & draw the seat from under them. They may quit them, indeed, but, in the meantime, all the venal will have become associated with them, & will give them a majority sufficient to keep them in place, & to enable them to eject the heterogeneous friends by whose aid they get again into power. I cannot believe any portion of real republicans will enter into this trap; and if they do, I do not believe they can carry with them the mass of their States, advancing so steadily as we see them, to an union of principle with their brethren. It will be found in this, as in all other similar cases, that crooked schemes will end by overwhelming their authors & coadjutors in disgrace, and that he alone who walks strait & upright, and who, in matters of opinion, will be contented that others should be as free as himself, & acquiesce when his opinion is fairly overruled, will attain his object in the end. And that this may be the conduct of us all, I offer my sincere prayers, as well as for your health & happiness.
Dear Sir,I return by this mail the letters &c. received with yours of the 15th. I think with you that a cordial answer should be given to Mr. Merry on the orders he communicated, altho they were merely the correction of an injustice. Would to god that nation would so far be just in her conduct, as that we might with honor give her that friendship it is so much our interest to bear her. She is now a living example that no nation however powerful, any more than an individual, can be unjust with impunity. Sooner or later public opinion, an instrument merely moral in the beginning, will find occasion physically to inflict its sentences on the unjust. Nothing else could have kept the other nations of Europe from relieving her under her present crisis. The lesson is useful to the weak as well as the strong.
On the 17th instant our hopes & fears here took their ultimate form. I had originally intended to have left this towards the end of the present week. But a desire to see my family in a state of more composure before we separate will keep me somewhat longer. Still it is not probable I shall be here to answer any letter which leaves Washington after the 26th, because those of the succeeding post (the 30th) could not be answered till the 7th of May, when I may probably be on the road. Not having occasion to write to-day to the other heads of departments, will you be so good as to mention this to them ? Accept my affectionate salutations.
Dear Sir,I now return you the sentence of the court of inquiry in Morriss case. What is the next step ? I am not military jurist enough to say. But if it be a court marshal to try and pass the proper sentence on him, pray let it be done without delay while our captains are here. This opportunity of having a court should not be lost.
I have never been so mortified as at the conduct of our foreign functionaries on the loss of the Philadelphia. They appear to have supposed that we were all lost now, & without resource : and they have hawked us in forma pauperis begging alms at every court in Europe. This self-degradation is the more unpardonable as, uninstructed & unauthorized, they have taken measures which commit us by moral obligations which cannot be disavowed. The most serious of these is with the first consul of France, the Emperor of Russia & Grand Seigneur. The interposition of the two first has been so prompt, so cordial, so energetic, that it is impossible for us to decline the good offices they have done us. From the virtuous & warm-hearted character of the Emperor, and the energy he is using with the Ottoman Porte, I am really apprehensive that our squadron will, on its arrival, find our prisoners all restored. If this should be the case, it would be ungrateful and insulting to these three great powers, to chastise the friend (Tripoli) whom they had induced to do us voluntary justice. Our expedition will in that case be disarmed and our just desires of vengeance disappointed, and our honor prostrated. To anticipate these measures, and to strike our blow before they shall have had their effect, are additional & cogent motives for getting off our squadron without a moments avoidable delay. At the same time it has now become necessary to decide before it goes, what is to be the line of conduct of the Commodore if he should find our prisoners restored. I shall be with you about this day fortnight. Should the frigates be ready to go before that, I must desire you to have a consultation of the heads of departments as to the instructions, and to give orders to the Commodore in conformity. I would wish at the same time a question to be taken whether the Commodore should not be instructed immediately on his arrival at his rendez-vous in the Mediterranean to send off at our expense the presents destined by Tripoli for the Grand Seigneur, and intercepted by us, with a letter from the Secretary of State to their analogous officer, who I believe is called the Reis effendi. I am not without hope Preble will have had the good sense to do this of his own accord. Its effect will now be lessened, as it will be considered, not as spontaneous, but in consequence of what the Porte may have done on the interference of the Emperor of Russia. Accept my affectionate salutations & assurances of attachment.
Dear Sir,We find it of advantage to the public to ask of those to whom appointments are proposed, if they are not accepted, to say nothing of the offer, at least for a convenient time. The refusal cheapens the estimation of the public appointments and renders them less acceptable to those to whom they are secondarily proposed. The occasion of this remark will be found in a letter you will receive from the Secretary of State proposing to you the appointment to Paris as successor to Chancellor Livingston. I write this private letter to remove some doubts which might perhaps arise in your mind. You have doubtless heard of the complaints of our foreign ministers as to the incompetency of their salaries. I believe it would be better were they somewhat enlarged. Yet a moments reflection will satisfy you that a man may live in any country on any scale he pleases, and more easily in that than this, because there the grades are more distinctly marked. From the ambassador there a certain degree of representation is expected. But the lower grades of Envoy, minister resident, Chargé, have been introduced to accommodate both the sovereign & missionary as to the scale of expense. I can assure you from my own knowledge of the ground that these latter grades are left free in the opinion of the place to adopt any style they please, & that it does not lessen their estimation or their usefulness. When I was at Paris two-thirds of the diplomatic men of the 2d and 3d orders entertained nobody. Yet they were as much invited out and honored as those of the same grades who entertained. I suspect from what I hear that the Chancellor having always stood on a line with those of the first expense here, has not had resolution enough to yield place there, & that he has taken up the ambassadorial scale of expense. This procures one some sunshine friends who like to eat of your good things, but has no effect on the men of real business, the only men of real use to you, in a place where every man is estimated at what he really is. But this subject requires more detail than can be given but in conversation. If you accept, I think it will be necessary for you to come and pass some days here in reading the correspondence with the courts of Paris, London & Madrid, that you may be fully possessed of the state of things on that side the water so far as they concern us. The Chancellor being extremely urging in his last letters to be immediately relieved, we are obliged to ask all the expedition in departure which is practicable. The state of affairs between us & France as they respect St. Domingo is somewhat embarrassing & urgent. Accept my friendly salutations & assurances of great esteem & respect.
Altho I know that it is best generally to assign no reason for a removal from office, yet there are also times when the declaration of a principle is advantageous. Such was the moment at which the New Haven letter appeared. It explained our principles to our friends, and they rallied to them. The public sentiment has taken a considerable stride since that, and seems to require that they should know again where we stand. I suggest therefore for your consideration, instead of the following passage in your letter to Bowen, I think it due to candor at the same time to inform you, that I had for some time been determined to remove you from office, although a successor has not yet been appointed by the President, nor the precise time fixed for that purpose communicated to me; to substitute this, I think it due to candor at the same time to inform you, that the President considering that the patronage of public office should no longer be confided to one who uses it for active opposition to the national will, had, some time since, determined to place your office in other hands. But a successor not being yet fixed on, I am not able to name the precise time when it will take place.
My own opinion is, that the declaration of this principle will meet the entire approbation of all moderate republicans, and will extort indulgence from the warmer ones. Seeing that we do not mean to leave arms in the hands of active enemies, they will care the less at our tolerance of the inactive. Nevertheless, if you are strongly of opinion against such a declaration, let the letter go as you had written it.
Thomas Jefferson asks leave to observe to Baron de Humboldt that the question of limits of Louisiana, between Spain and the United States is this. They claim to hold to the river Mexicana or Sabine, and from the head of that northwardly along the heads of the waters of the Mississippi, to the head of the Red river and so on. We claim to the North river from its mouth to the source either of its eastern or western branch, thence to the head of Red river, and so on. Can the Baron inform me what population may be between those lines, of white, red, or black people ? And whether any and what mines are within them ? The information will be thankfully received. He tenders him his respectful salutations.
Dear Sir,A Mr. John Hill of Philadelphia asks of me whether Mr. Duane senr ever said in my presence that the members of the St. Patricks society in Phila were all Federalists. I do not know Mr. Hill, and the liberties which have been taken in publishing my letters renders it prudent not to commit them to persons whom I do not know, yet a desire never to be wanting to truth and justice makes me wish it to be known that Mr. Duane never did use such an expression or anything like it to me either verbally or in writing or any other way, nor utter a sentiment disrespectful of the society. I remember a considerable time ago to have had a letter from one of the society stating that such information they heard had been given me, but not saying by whom, which letter I immediately answered with an assurance that no such suggestion had ever been made to me. I cannot now recollect to whom the answer was given and therefore cannot turn to it. Our friends in Philadelphia seem to have got into such a jumble of subdivision that not knowing how they stand individually, I have been at a loss to whom I should address this with a request to repeat verbally the substance of this declaration as on my authority but not letting the letter go out of his hands. I have concluded to ask that favor of you whose justice I am sure will induce you to give the assurance where it may contribute to justice, and whose friendship will excuse the trouble of this request. Accept my friendly salutations & assurances of esteem & respect.
The affectionate sentiments which you have had the goodness to express in your letter of May 20, towards my dear departed daughter, have awakened in me sensibilities natural to the occasion, & recalled your kindnesses to her, which I shall ever remember with gratitude & friendship. I can assure you with truth, they had made an indelible impression on her mind, and that to the last, on our meetings after long separations, whether I had heard lately of you, and how you did, were among the earliest of her inquiries. In giving you this assurance I perform a sacred duty for her, & at the same time, am thankful for the occasion furnished me, of expressing my regret that circumstances should have arisen, which have seemed to draw a line of separation between us. The friendship with which you honored me has ever been valued, and fully reciprocated; & altho events have been passing which might be trying to some minds, I never believed yours to be of that kind, nor felt that my own was. Neither my estimate of your character, nor the esteem founded in that, have ever been lessened for a single moment, although doubts whether it would be acceptable may have forbidden manifestations of it.
Mr. Adamss friendship & mine began at an earlier date. It accompanied us thro long & important scenes. The different conclusions we had drawn from our political reading & reflections, were not permitted to lessen mutual esteem; each party being conscious they were the result of an honest conviction in the other. Like differences of opinion existing among our fellow citizens, attached them to one or the other of us, and produced a rivalship in their minds which did not exist in ours. We never stood in one anothers way; for if either had been withdrawn at any time, his favorers would not have gone over to the other, but would have sought for some one of homogeneous opinions. This consideration was sufficient to keep down all jealousy between us, & to guard our friendship from any disturbance by sentiments of rivalship; and I can say with truth, that one act of Mr. Adamss life, and one only, ever gave me a moments personal displeasure. I did consider his last appointments to office as personally unkind. They were from among my most ardent political enemies, from whom no faithful co-operation could ever be expected; and laid me under the embarrassment of acting thro men whose views were to defeat mine, or to encounter the odium of putting others in their places. It seemed but common justice to leave a successor free to act by instruments of his own choice. If my respect for him did not permit me to ascribe the whole blame to the influence of others, it left something for friendship to forgive, and after brooding over it for some little time, and not always resisting the expression of it, I forgave it cordially, and returned to the same state of esteem & respect for him which had so long subsisted. Having come into life a little later than Mr. Adams, his career has preceded mine, as mine is followed by some other; and it will probably be closed at the same distance after him which time originally placed between us. I maintain for him, & shall carry into private life, an uniform & high measure of respect and good will and for yourself a sincere attachment.
I have thus, my dear Madam, opened myself to you without reserve, which I have long wished an opportunity of doing; and without knowing how it will be received, I feel relief from being unbosomed. And I have now only to entreat your forgiveness for this transition from a subject of domestic affliction, to one which seems of a different aspect. But tho connected with political events, it has been viewed by me most strongly in its unfortunate bearings on my private friendships. The injury these have sustained has been a heavy price for what has never given me equal pleasure. That you may both be favored with health, tranquillity and long life, is the prayer of one who tenders you the assurance of his highest consideration and esteem.
Your letter, my dear friend, of the 25th ultimo, is a new proof of the goodness of your heart, and the part you take in my loss marks an affectionate concern for the greatness of it. It is great indeed. Others may lose of their abundance, but I, of my want, have lost even the half of all I had. My evening prospects now hang on the slender thread of a single life. Perhaps I may be destined to see even this last cord of parental affection broken ! The hope with which I had looked forward to the moment, when, resigning public cares to younger hands, I was to retire to that domestic comfort from which the last great step is to be taken, is fearfully blighted. When you and I look back on the country over which we have passed, what a field of slaughter does it exhibit ! Where are all the friends who entered it with us, under all the inspiring energies of health and hope ? As if pursued by the havoc of war, they are strewed by the way, some earlier, some later, and scarce a few stragglers remain to count the numbers fallen, and to mark yet, by their own fall, the last footsteps of their party. Is it a desirable thing to bear up through the heat of the action, to witness the death of all our companions, and merely be the last victim ? I doubt it. We have, however, the travellers consolation. Every step shortens the distance we have to go; the end of our journey is in sight, the bed wherein we are to rest, and to rise in the midst of the friends we have lost. "We sorrow not then as others who have no hope;" but look forward to the day which "joins us to the great majority." But whatever is to be our destiny, wisdom, as well as duty, dictates that we should acquiesce in the will of Him whose it is to give and take away, and be contented in the enjoyment of those who are still permitted to be with us. Of those connected by blood, the number does not depend on us. But friends we have, if we have merited them. Those of our earliest years stand nearest in our affections. But in this too, you and I have been unlucky. Of our college friends (and they are the dearest) how few have stood with us in the great political questions which have agitated our country; and these were of a nature to justify agitation. I did not believe the Lilliputian fetters of that day strong enough to have bound so many. Will not Mrs. Page, yourself and family, think it prudent to seek a healthier region for the months of August and September ? And may we not flatter ourselves that you will cast your eye on Monticello ? We have not many summers to live. While fortune places us then within striking distance, let us avail ourselves of it, to meet and talk over the tales of other times.
Present me respectfully to Mrs. Page, and accept yourself my friendly salutations, and assurances of constant affection.
Your favor of the 10th instant has been duly received. Amidst the direct falsehoods, the misrepresentations of truth, the calumnies and the insults resorted to by a faction to mislead the public mind, and to overwhelm those entrusted with its interests, our support is to be found in the approving voice of our conscience and country, in the testimony of our fellow citizens, that their confidence is not shaken by these artifices. When to the plaudits of the honest multitude, the sober approbation of the sage in his closet is added, it becomes a gratification of an higher order. It is the sanction of wisdom superadded to the voice of affection. The terms, therefore, in which you are so good as to express your satisfaction with the course of the present administration cannot but give me great pleasure. I may err in my measures, but never shall deflect from the intention to fortify the public liberty by every possible means, and to put it out of the power of the few to riot on the labors of the many. No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions. The firmness with which the people have withstood the late abuses of the press, the discernment they have manifested between truth and falsehood, show that they may safely be trusted to hear everything true and false, and to form a correct judgment between them. As little is it necessary to impose on their senses, or dazzle their minds by pomp, splendor, or forms. Instead of this artificial, how much surer is that real respect, which results from the use of their reason, and the habit of bringing everything to the test of common sense.
I hold it, therefore, certain, that to open the doors of truth, and to fortify the habit of testing everything by reason, are the most effectual manacles we can rivet on the hands of our successors to prevent their, manacling the people with their own consent. The panic into which they were artfully thrown in 1798, the frenzy which was excited in them by their enemies against their apparent readiness to abandon all the principles established for their own protection, seemed for awhile to countenance the opinions of those who say they cannot be trusted with their own government. But I never doubted their rallying; and they did rally much sooner than I expected. On the whole, that experiment on their credulity has confirmed my confidence in their ultimate good sense and virtue.
I lament to learn that a like misfortune has enabled you to estimate the afflictions of a father on the loss of a beloved child. However terrible the possibility of such another accident, it is still a blessing for you of inestimable value that you would not even then descend childless to the grave. Three sons, and hopeful ones too, are a rich treasure. I rejoice when I hear of young men of virtue and talents, worthy to receive, and likely to preserve the splendid inheritance of self-government, which we have acquired and shaped for them.
The complement of midshipmen for the Tripoline squadron, is full; and I hope the frigates have left the Capes by this time. I have, however, this day, signed warrants of midshipmen for the two young gentlemen you recommended. These will be forwarded by the Secretary of the Navy. He tells me that their first services will be to be performed on board the gun boats.
Accept my friendly salutations, and assurances of great esteem and respect.
We did not collect the sense of our brethren the other day by regular questions, but as far as I could understand from what was said, it appeared to be,1. That an acknolegment of our right to the Perdido, is a sine qua non, and no price to be given for it. 2. No absolute & perpetual relinquishment of right is to be made of the country East of the Rio Bravo del Norte even in exchange for Florida. (I am not quite sure that this was the opinion of all.) It would be better to lengthen the term of years to any definite degree than to cede in perpetuity. 3. That a country may be laid off within which no further settlement shall be made by either party for a given time, say thirty years. This country to be from the North river eastwardly towards the Rio Colorado, or even to, but not beyond the Mexican or Sabine river. To whatever river it be extended, it might from its source run northwest, as the most eligible direction; but a due north line would produce no restraint that we should feel in 20 years. This relinquishment, & 2 millions of Dollars, to be the price of all the Floridas East of the Perdido, or to be apportioned to whatever part they will cede.
But on entering into conferences, both parties should agree that, during their continuance, neither should strengthen their situation between the Iberville, Missipi & Perdido, nor interrupt the navigation of the rivers therein. If they will not give such an order instantly, they should be told that we have for peace sake only, forborne till they could have time to give such an order, but that as soon as we receive notice of their refusal to give the order we shall enter into the exercise of our right of navigating the Mobile, & protect it, and increase our force there pari passu with them.
In a letter of the 17th of April, which I wrote you from Monticello, I observed to you that as the legislative council for the territory of Orleans, was to be appointed by me, and our distance was great, and early communication on the subject was necessary, that it ought to be composed of men of integrity, of understanding, of clear property and influence among the people, well acquainted with the laws, customs, and habits of the country, and drawn from the different parts of the territory, whose population was considerable. And I asked the favor of you to inform me of the proper characters, with short sketches of the material outlines for estimating them; and I observed that a majority should be of sound American characters long established and esteemed there, and the rest of French or Spaniards, the most estimable and well affected. When in daily expectation of an answer from you, I received your favor of May 29th, whereby I perceive that my letter to you has never got to hand. I must therefore, at this late day, repeat my request to you, and ask an early answer, because after receiving it, I may perhaps have occasion to consult you again before a final determination. A letter written any time in August will find me at Monticello, near Milton, and had better be so directed. A blank commission for a Surveyor and Inspector for the port of Bayou St. John, will be forwarded to you to be filled up with any name you approve. I would prefer a native Frenchman, if you can find one proper and disposed to co-operate with us in extirpating that corruption which has prevailed in those offices under the former government, and had so familiarized itself as that men, otherwise honest, could look on that without horror. I pray you to be alive to the suppression of this odious practice, and that you bring to punishment and brand with eternal disgrace every man guilty of it, whatever be his station.
The inclosed reclamations of Girod & Chote against the claims of Bapstropp to a monopoly of the Indian commerce supposed to be under the protection of the 3d article of the Louisiana Convention, as well as some other claims to abusive grants, will probably force us to meet that question. The article has been worded with remarkable caution on the part of our negociators. It is that the inhabitants shall be admitted as soon as possible, according to the principles of our Constn., to the enjoyment of all the rights of citizens, and, in the mean time, en attendant, shall be maintained in their liberty, property & religion. That is that they shall continue under the protection of the treaty, until the principles of our constitution can be extended to them, when the protection of the treaty is to cease, and that of our own principles to take its place. But as this could not be done at once, it has been provided to be as soon as our rules will admit. Accordingly Congress has begun by extending about 20 particular laws by their titles, to Louisiana. Among these is the act concerning intercourse with the Indians, which establishes a system of commerce with them admitting no monopoly. That class of rights therefore are now taken from under the treaty & placed under the principles of our laws. I imagine it will be necessary to express an opinion to Governor Claiborne on this subject, after you shall have made up one. Affectionate salutations.
It is very long, I know, since I wrote you. So constant is the pressure of business that there is never a moment, scarcely, that something of public importance is not waiting for me. I have, therefore, on a principle of conscience, thought it my duty to withdraw almost entirely from all private correspondence, and chiefly the trans-Atlantic; I scarcely write a letter a year to any friend beyond sea. Another consideration has led to this, which is the liability of my letters to miscarry, be opened, and made ill use of. Although the great body of our country are perfectly returned to their ancient principles, yet there remains a phalanx of old tories and monarchists, more envenomed, as all their hopes become more desperate. Every word of mine which they can get hold of, however innocent, however orthodox even, is twisted, tormented, perverted, and, like the words of holy writ, are made to mean everything but what they were intended to mean. I trust little, therefore, unnecessarily in their way, and especially on political subjects. I shall not, therefore, be free to answer all the several articles of your letters.
On the subject of treaties, our system is to have none with any nation, as far as can be avoided. The treaty with England has therefore not been renewed, and all overtures for treaty with other nations have been declined. We believe, that with nations as with individuals, dealings may be carried on as advantageously, perhaps more so, while their continuance depends on a voluntary good treatment, as if fixed by a contract, which, when it becomes injurious to either, is made, by forced constructions, to mean what suits them, and becomes a cause of war instead of a bond of peace. We wish to be on the closest terms of friendship with Naples, and we will prove it by giving to her citizens, vessels and goods all the privileges of the most favored nation; and while we do this voluntarily, we cannot doubt they will voluntarily do the same for us. Our interests against the Barbaresques being also the same, we have little doubt she will give us every facility to insure them, which our situation may ask and hers admit. It is not, then, from a want of friendship that we do not propose a treaty with Naples, but because it is against our system to embarrass ourselves with treaties, or to entangle ourselves at all with the affairs of Europe. The kind offices we receive from that government are more sensibly felt, as such, than they would be, if rendered only as due to us by treaty.
Five fine frigates left the Chesapeake the 1st instant for Tripoli, which, in addition to the force now there, will, I trust, recover the credit which Commodore Morris two years sleep lost us, and for which he has been broke. I think they will make Tripoli sensible, that they mistake their interest in choosing war with us; and Tunis also, should she have declared war as we expect, and almost wish.
Notwithstanding this little diversion, we pay seven or eight millions of dollars annually of our public debt, and shall completely discharge it in twelve years more. That done, our annual revenue, now thirteen millions of dollars, which by that time will be twenty-five, will pay the expenses of any war we may be forced into, without new taxes or loans. The spirit of republicanism is now in almost all its ancient vigor, five-sixths of the people being with us. Fourteen of the seventeen States are completely with us, and two of the other three will be in one year. We have now got back to the ground on which you left us. I should have retired at the end of the first four years, but that the immense load of tory calumnies which have been manufactured respecting me, and have filled the European market, have obliged me to appeal once more to my country for a justification. I have no fear but that I shall receive honorable testimony by their verdict on those calumnies. At the end of the next four years I shall certainly retire. Age, inclination and principle all dictate this. My health, which at one time threatened an unfavorable turn, is now firm. The acquisition of Louisiana, besides doubling our extent, and trebling our quantity of fertile country, is of incalculable value, as relieving us from the danger of war. It has enabled us to do a handsome thing for Fayette. He had received a grant of between eleven and twelve thousand acres north of Ohio, worth, perhaps, a dollar an acre. We have obtained permission of Congress to locate it in Louisiana. Locations can be found adjacent to the city of New Orleans, in the island of New Orleans and in its vicinity, the value of which cannot be calculated. I hope it will induce him to come over and settle there with his family. Mr. Livingston having asked leave to return, General Armstrong, his brother-in-law, goes in his place; he is of the first order of talents.
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Remarkable deaths lately, are, Samuel Adams, Edmund Pendleton, Alexander Hamilton, Stephens Thompson Mason, Mann Page, Bellini, and Parson Andrews. To these I have the inexpressible grief of adding the name of my youngest daughter, who had married a son of Mr. Eppes, and has left two children. My eldest daughter alone remains to me, and has six children. This loss has increased my anxiety to retire, while it has dreadfully lessened the comfort of doing it. Wythe, Dickinson, and Charles Thompson are all living, and are firm republicans. You informed me formerly of your marriage, and your having a daughter, but have said nothing in your late letters on that subject. Yet whatever concerns your happiness is sincerely interesting to me, and is a subject of anxiety, retaining as I do, cordial sentiments of esteem and affection for you. Accept, I pray you, my sincere assurances of this, with my most friendly salutations.
Dear Madam,Your favor of the 1st inst. was duly received, and I would not have again intruded on you, but to rectify certain facts which seem not to have been presented to you under their true aspect. My charities to Callender are considered as rewards for his calumnies. As early, I think, as 1796, I was told in Philadelphia that Callender, the author of the Political progress of Britain, was in that city, a fugitive from persecution for having written that book, and in distress. I had read and approved the book: I considered him as a man of genius, unjustly persecuted. I knew nothing of his private character, and immediately expressed my readiness to contribute to his relief, & to serve him. It was a considerable time after, that, on application from a person who thought of him as I did, I contributed to his relief, and afterwards repeated the contribution. Himself I did not see till long after, nor ever more than two or three times. When he first began to write, he told some useful truths in his coarse way; but nobody sooner disapproved of his writing than I did, or wished more that he would be silent. My charities to him were no more meant as encouragements to his scurrilities, than those I give to the beggar at my door are meant as rewards for the vices of his life, & to make them chargeable to myself. In truth, they would have been greater to him, had he never written a word after the work for which he fled from Britain. With respect to the calumnies and falsehoods which writers and printers at large published against Mr. Adams, I was as far from stooping to any concern or approbation of them, as Mr. Adams was respecting those of Porcupine, Fenno, or Russell, who published volumes against me for every sentence vended by their opponents against Mr. Adams. But I never supposed Mr. Adams had any participation in the atrocities of these editors, or their writers. I knew myself incapable of that base warfare, & believed him to be so. On the contrary, whatever I may have thought of the acts of the administration of that day, I have ever borne testimony to Mr. Adams personal worth; nor was it ever impeached in my presence without a just vindication of it on my part. I never supposed that any person who knew either of us, could believe that either of us meddled in that dirty work. But another fact is, that I liberated a wretch who was suffering for a libel against Mr. Adams. I do not know who was the particular wretch alluded to; but I discharged every person under punishment or prosecution under the sedition law, because I considered, & now consider, that law to be a nullity, as absolute and as palpable as if Congress had ordered us to fall down and worship a golden image; and that it was as much my duty to arrest its execution in every stage, as it would have been to have rescued from the fiery furnace those who should have been cast into it for refusing to worship their image. It was accordingly done in every instance, without asking what the offenders had done, or against whom they had offended, but whether the pains they were suffering were inflicted under the pretended sedition law. It was certainly possible that my motives for contributing to the relief of Callender, and liberating sufferers under the sedition law, might have been to protect, encourage, and reward slander; but they may also have been those which inspire ordinary charities to objects of distress, meritorious or not, or the obligations of an oath to protect the Constitution, violated by an unauthorized act of Congress. Which of these were my motives, must be decided by a regard to the general tenor of my life. On this I am not afraid to appeal to the nation at large, to posterity, and still less to that Being who sees himself our motives, who will judge us from his own knolege of them, and not on the testimony of Porcupine or Fenno.
You observe, there has been one other act of my administration personally unkind, and suppose it will readily suggest itself to me. I declare on my honor, Madam, I have not the least conception what act is alluded to. I never did a single one with an unkind intention. My sole object in this letter being to place before your attention, that the acts imputed to me are either such as are falsely imputed, or as might flow from good as well as bad motives, I shall make no other addition, than the assurance of my continued wishes for the health and happiness of yourself and Mr. Adams.
Dear Sir,Yours of the 4th came to hand last night & I now return you the letters of Livingston, Bourne, Lee, Lynch, Villandry & Mr. King. Stewarts is retained for communication with the Post-Master General. I send also for your perusal a letter of a Mr. Farquhar of Malta. Mr. Livingstons letters (two short ones excepted) being all press copies & very bad ones, I can make nothing distinct of them. When manuscript copies are received I shall be glad to read them. The conduct of the commissioners at Paris merits examination. But what Mr. Livingston means by delays on our part in the execution of the Convention is perfectly incomprehensible. I do not know that a single day was unnecessarily lost on our part. In order however to lessen the causes of appeal to the Convention, I sincerely wish that Congress at the next session may give to the Orleans territory a legislature to be chosen by the people, as this will be advancing them quite as fast as the rules of our government will admit; and the evils which may arise from the irregularities which such a legislature may run into, will not be so serious as leaving them the pretext of calling in a foreign umpire between them & us. The answer to Mr. Villandry should certainly be what you mention, that the objects of his application are only within the competence of Congress, to whom they must apply by petition, if they chuse it. Perhaps it would be but kind & candid to add that as there has been no example of such measures taken by Congress as they ask, they should consider whether it would not be wise in them to act for themselves as they would do were no such measures expected. I expect daily to receive answers from the principal officers for the Orleans government. These received, I will proceed to make out the whole arrangement, and inclose it to you, asking your counsel on it without delay. It will not be practicable to submit it to the other members, but I have so often conversed with them on the subject as to possess their sentiments. As we count on the favor of a family visit could you accommodate that in point of time so as that we might be together at making out the final list ? Affectionate salutations & assurances of friendship.
Your letter dated the 7th should probably have been of the 14th, as I received it only by that days post. I return you Monroes letter, which is of an awful complexion; and I do not wonder the communication it contains made some impression on him. To a person placed in Europe, surrounded by the immense resources of the nations there, and the greater wickedness of their courts, even the limits which nature imposes on their enterprises are scarcely sensible. It is impossible that France and England should combine for any purpose; their mutual distrust and deadly hatred of each other admit no co-operation. It is impossible that England should be willing to see France re-possess Louisiana, or get footing on our continent, and that France should willingly see the US. re-annexed to the British dominions. That the Bourbons should be replaced on their throne and agree to any terms of restitution, is possible; but that they and England joined, could recover us to British dominion, is impossible. If these things are not so, then human reason is of no aid in conjecturing the conduct of nations. Still, however, it is our unquestionable interest & duty to conduct ourselves with such sincere friendship & impartiality towards both nations, as that each may see unequivocally, what is unquestionably true, that we may be very possibly driven into her scale by unjust conduct in the other. I am so much impressed with the expediency of putting a termination to the right of France to patronize the rights of Louisiana, which will cease with their complete adoption as citizens of the U S, that I hope to see that take place on the meeting of Congress. I enclosed you a paragraph from a newspaper respecting Saint Domingo, which gives me uneasiness. Still I conceive the British insults in our harbor as more threatening. We cannot be respected by France as a neutral nation, nor by the world ourselves as an independent one, if we do not take effectual measures to support, at every risk, our authority in our own harbors. I shall write to Mr. Wagner directly (that a post may not be lost by passing thro you) to send us blank commissions for Orleans & Louisiana, ready sealed, to be filled up, signed and forwarded by us. Affectionate salutations & constant esteem.
Various circumstances of delay have prevented my forwarding till now, the general arrangements of the government of the territory of Orleans. Enclosed herewith you will receive the commissions. Among these is one for yourself as Governor. With respect to this I will enter into frank explanations. This office was originally destined for a person whose great services and established fame would have rendered him peculiarly acceptable to the nation at large. Circumstances, however, exist, which do not now permit his nomination, and perhaps may not at any time hereafter. That, therefore, being suspended and entirely contingent, your services have been so much approved as to leave no desire to look elsewhere to fill the office. Should the doubts you have sometimes expressed, whether it would be eligible for you to continue, still exist in your mind, the acceptance of the commission gives you time to satisfy yourself by further experience, and to make the time and manner of withdrawing, should you ultimately determine on that, agreeable to yourself. Be assured that whether you continue or retire, it will be with every disposition on my part to be just and friendly to you.
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I salute you with friendship and respect.
1 In the margin is written by the author, "La Fayette."
Dear Sir,I inclose for your perusal a letter from Dr. Rush, asking the favor of you to return it. On the question whether the yellow fever is infectious, or endemic, the medical faculty is divided into parties, and it certainly is not the office of the public functionaries to denounce either party as the Doctr. proposes. Yet, so far as they are called on to act, they must form for themselves an opinion to act on. In the early history of the disease, I did suppose it to be infectious. Not reading any of the party papers on either side, I continued in this supposition until the fever at Alexandria brought facts under my own eye, as it were, proving it could not be communicated but in a local atmosphere, pretty exactly circumscribed. With the composition of this atmosphere we are unacquainted. We know only that it is generated near the water side, in close built cities, under warm climates. According to the rules of philosophizing when one sufficient cause for an effect is known, it is not within the economy of nature to employ two. If local atmosphere suffices to produce the fever, miasmata from a human subject are not necessary and probably do not enter into the cause. Still it is not within my province to decide the question; but as it may be within yours to require the performance of quarantine or not, I execute a private duty in submitting Doctr. Rushs letter to your consideration. But on this subject nil mihi rescribas, et tamen ipsi veni. Accept for yourself & Mrs. Page affectionate & respectful salutations.
Dear Sir,Yours of the 16th was received on the 21st. Dickersons delay of proceeding to New Orleans will give us time. If Pinckney accepts the office of judge, Robert Williams might be the attorney; if Pinckney does not accept, or does not arrive in time (and a few days only must now decide the latter point) Williams must be the judge. Hill accepts as district judge. With respect to Neufville I am not satisfied with Freneaus recommendation & especially as he sais nothing of his Politics. His situation would naturally bias a man of feeling to speak favorably of him. I have therefore written to Mr. Wagner for a blank commission which I will inclose blank to Freneau, desiring him to fill it up for Doyley if he will accept of it; if not, then with whatever name he thinks best, having regard to moral & political character & standing in society. I have no fear to trust to his fidelity & secrecy. I shall immediately direct a commission for Mr. Travis: & shall forward to Mr. Nicholas the new recommendations for Hampton for his advice. Accept affectionate salutations.
Dear Sir,I inclose you a letter and other papers which I received from Capt. Truxtun by the last post. The malice and falsehood so habitual in Federal zealots had prepared me against surprise at the insinuations of this officer against you & myself. But what was his view in inclosing the letter to me ? Was it to give greater point to his disrespect ? Or did he imagine I should make him overtures to prevent his publication ? I would rather he would publish than not; for while his writings will let the public see what he is, & what are the motives of his discontent, a few sentences of plain fact will set everything in them to rights as to our conduct. Be so good as to return me the written letter.
The following paragraph which comes to me from a friend in Philadelphia I quote for your notice.
It is said here that George Harrison has applied for the place in the navy that Genl. Irvine had. He has got too much already for any Federalist who has rendered his country no personal service in the field. This man is married to Thos. Willings niece. Willing is Presidt. of the Bank of the U. S. You may also observe he was chairman at a meeting when they agreed to hoist the black cockade on the left arm in honor of Hamilton. They also resolved and expected the clergymen would preach in his favor.
The writer is a most solid Republican, and who generally expresses the feelings of the republicans in Philadelphia pretty faithfully. I know not what functions Irvine executed for the navy; but if any, the above sentiments are worthy of attention, as the emploiment of Harrison has given them heart burnings. I know nothing of him, whether moderate or violent; but until the party learn a little more moderation & decency, no new favors should be conferred on them. Pennsylvania seems to have in its bowels a good deal of volcanic matter, & some explosion may be expected. We must be neutral between the discordant republicans but not between them & their common enemies. I salute you with sincere affection & respect.
After waiting to the twelfth hour to get all the information I could respecting the government of Orleans, I have on consultation with Mr. Madison, sent on the commissions by the mail which left Charlottesville yesterday morning for the westward. It is very much what had been approved by the heads of Departments separately and provisionally, with a few alterations shown to be proper by subsequent information. It is as follows :
Secretary, James Brown.
Judges of Superior Court, Kirby, Prevost, and Pinkney or Williams.
Judge of District, Hall.
Marshal, Urquhart, or Clouast, or Guillot, or any native Frenchman Claiborne prefers.
Legislative Council, Morgan, Watkins, Clarke, Jones, Roman, and Wikoff certain. Don or George Pollock, as Claiborne chooses. Boré, Poydras, and Bellechasse certain, and any three which Claiborne may choose of these five, to wit : Derbigue, Detrehan, Dubruys, Cantarelle, Sauvé.
It will be necessary for us to consider of a gradation of peaceable measures which may coerce the belligerent powers into an obedience to the laws within our waters, so as to avoid using the gunboats if possible: a non-intercourse law may be necessary; but would not the power to forbid the admitting to entry any vessel of a belligerent so long as there should be an armed vessel of the nation in our waters in a state of disobedience to the laws or lawful orders of the Executive, be effectual ? Making it lawful for us at the same time to give admittance to the armed vessels of a belligerent on such terms only as we should prescribe. These things should be considered and agreed on among ourselves, and suggested to our friends. I salute you with affection and respect.
P.S. I shall be in Washington by the last day of the month.
As we shall have to lay before Congress the proceedings of the British vessels at New York, it will be necessary for us to say to them with certainty which specific aggressions were committed within the common law, which within the admiralty jurisdiction, and which on the high seas. The rule of the common law is that wherever you can see from land to land, all the Water within the line of sight is in the bo I dy of the adjacent county and within common law jurisdiction. Thus, if in this curvature a c b you can see from a to b, all the water within the line of sight is within common law jurisdiction, and a murder committed at c is to be tried as at common law. Our coast is generally visible, I believe, by the time you get within about twenty-five miles. I suppose that at New York you must be some miles out of the Hook before the opposite shores recede twenty-five miles from each other. The three miles of maritime jurisdiction is always to be counted from this line of sight. It will be necessary we should be furnished with the most accurate chart to be had of the shores and waters in the neighborhood of the Hook; and that we may be able to ascertain on it the spot of every aggression. I presume it would be within the province of Mr. Gelston to procure such a chart, and to ascertain the positions of the offending vessels. If I am right in this, will you be so good as to instruct him so to do ?
I think the officers of the federal government are meddling too much with the public elections. Will it be best to admonish them privately or by proclamation ? This for consideration till we meet. I shall be at Washington by the last day of the month. I salute you with affection and respect.
Your letter, Madam, of the 18th of Aug has been some days received, but a press of business has prevented the acknolegment of it : perhaps, indeed, I may have already trespassed too far on your attention. With those who wish to think amiss of me, I have learned to be perfectly indifferent; but where I know a mind to be ingenuous, & to need only truth to set it to rights, I cannot be as passive. The act of personal unkindness alluded to in your former letter, is said in your last to have been the removal of your eldest son from some office to which the judges had appointed him. I conclude then he must have been a commissioner of bankruptcy. But I declare to you, on my honor, that this is the first knolege I have ever had that he was so. It may be thought, perhaps, that I ought to have inquired who were such, before I appointed others. But it is to be observed, that the former law permitted the judges to name commissioners occasionally only, for every case as it arose, & not to make them permanent officers. Nobody, therefore, being in office, there could be no removal. The judges, you well know, have been considered as highly federal; and it was noted that they confined their nominations exclusively to federalists. The Legislature, dissatisfied with this, transferred the nomination to the President, and made the officers permanent. The very object in passing the law was, that he should correct, not confirm, what was deemed the partiality of the judges. I thought it therefore proper to inquire, not whom they had employed, but whom I ought to appoint to fulfil the intentions of the law. In making these appointments, I put in a proportion of federalists, equal, I believe, to the proportion they bear in numbers through the Union generally. Had I known that your son had acted, it would have been a real pleasure to me to have preferred him to some who were named in Boston, in what was deemed the same line of politics. To this I should have been led by my knolege of his integrity, as well as my sincere dispositions towards yourself & Mr. Adams.
You seem to think it devolved on the judges to decide on the validity of the sedition law. But nothing in the Constitution has given them a right to decide for the Executive, more than to the Executive to decide for them. Both magistracies are equally independent in the sphere of action assigned to them. The judges, believing the law constitutional, had a right to pass a sentence of fine and imprisonment; because that power was placed in their hands by the Constitution. But the Executive, believing the law to be unconstitutional, was bound to remit the execution of it; because that power has been confided to him by the Constitution. That instrument meant that its co-ordinate branches should be checks on each other. But the opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional, and what not, not only for themselves in their own sphere of action, but for the Legislature & Executive also, in their spheres, would make the judiciary a despotic branch. Nor does the opinion of the unconstitutionality, & consequent nullity of that law, remove all restraint from the overwhelming torrent of slander, which is confounding all vice and virtue, all truth & falsehood, in the U.S. The power to do that is fully possessed by the several State Legislatures. It was reserved to them, & was denied to the General Government, by the Constitution, according to our construction of it. While we deny that Congress have a right to control the freedom of the press, we have ever asserted the right of the States, and their exclusive right, to do so. They have accordingly, all of them, made provisions for punishing slander, which those who have time and inclination, resort to for the vindication of their characters. In general, the State laws appear to have made the presses responsible for slander as far as is consistent with its useful freedom. In those States where they do not admit even the truth of allegations to protect the printer, they have gone too far.
The candor manifested in your letter, & which I ever believed you to possess, has alone inspired the desire of calling your attention, once more, to those circumstances of fact and motive by which I claim to be judged. I hope you will see these intrusions on your time to be, what they really are, proofs of my great respect for you. I tolerate with the utmost latitude the right of others to differ from me in opinion without imputing to them criminality. I know too well the weakness & uncertainty of human reason to wonder at its different results. Both of our political parties, at least the honest portion of them, agree conscientiously in the same objectthe public good; but they differ essentially in what they deem the means of promoting that good. One side believes it best done by one composition of the governing powers; the other, by a different one. One fears most the ignorance of the people; the other, the selfishness of rulers independent of them. Which is right, time and experience will prove. We think that one side of this experiment has been long enough tried, and proved not to promote the good of the many; & that the other has not been fairly and sufficiently tried. Our opponents think the reverse. With whichever opinion the body of the nation concurs, that must prevail. My anxieties on the subject will never carry me beyond the use of fair & honorable means, of truth and reason; nor have they ever lessened my esteem for moral worth, nor alienated my affections from a single friend, who did not first withdraw himself. Whenever this has happened, I confess I have not been insensible to it; yet have ever kept myself open to a return of their justice. I conclude with sincere prayers for your health & happiness, that yourself & Mr. Adams may long enjoy the tranquillity you desire and merit, and see in the prosperity of your family what is the consummation of the last and warmest of human wishes.
Your letter of the 7th inst. came to hand on the 14th only, by which it seems to have lost a post by the way. This therefore cannot be in Washington but on the evening of the 17th. No information has been received from Mr. Pinckney of the character which your letter supposes. The latest we have from him inclosed a letter to him from M. de Cevallos in a tone not as friendly as heretofore used by that Minister towards us, more suited, as we thought, to the close of an unsuccessful discussion, than the beginning of a friendly one, and not calculated to impress a nation whose intentions are just but firm and unyielding to any other motive than justice. What followed the reception of that letter is entirely unknown to us; & what we have seen in the public papers was so little like what would flow from anything done on our part, or expected from yours, that we have given no credit to it. The state of things between us seems indeed to require unreserved explanations, cool & calm discussion, to avoid those evils which neither party probably intends, yet unfounded jealousies & suspicions may beget. These discussions should regularly be between yourself & the Secretary of State: But, a friend to the substance of business, & disregarding all forms which obstruct the way to it, I agree with readiness to the direct & personal interview you propose; and shall receive you here with pleasure at your earliest convenience, as I am to leave this place for Washington on the 26th or 27th instant. Being totally uninformed of what has past I must rely on you to bring any documents or other papers which may be necessary to present a full view of the subject of communication.
Mrs. Randolph will be happy in the opportunity of paying her respects to the Marchioness Yrujo at Monticello, & of contributing her attentions to render the time we may possess her here as agreeable as she can. She joins me in respects to the Marchioness & I add my friendly salutations to yourself & assurances of great consideration & respect.
Dear Sir,It will be necessary to lay before Congress the aggressions of the British vessels before the harbor of New York. For this purpose it will be necessary in the first place to examine all the cases, and to class them according to the principle of the aggression, and secondly to prepare a succinct statement of them, for I believe that would be more proper than to furnish them the documents. They are not called on to legislate on each case, for then they should inquire into it specifically, but are told by the Executive that such things have happened, in order that they may pass laws to prevent such in future. As the American citizen of New York has kept a steady eye on them and stated the cases I have cut them out of the paper, and now inclose them to you; as they will give you more time to consider the cases, and an opportunity perhaps of consulting your own library on questionable points. Authentic documents & fuller information on every case will be ready for you at Washington, for which place I set out the 27th inst. The Spanish minister here seems to have found means of exciting his court considerably on the act for establishing a port of entry on the Mobile: and something serious has passed between Pinckney and them of which we are not informed. I take for granted that such circumstances as these will be easily allayed by good humor and reason, between reasonable men. The new administration in England is entirely cordial. There has never been a time when our flag was so little molested by them in the European seas, or irregularities there so readily & respectfully corrected. As the officers here began their insults before the change, it is a proof it did not proceed from that change. We must expect however unequivocal measures from them to prevent such things in future, while Congress should enable us to arrest them by our own means, and not expose us to pass such another year of insulted jurisdiction. Accept my affectionate salutations & assurances of great esteem & respect.
Dear Sir,Your favor of Sep. 21 was received on my return to this place. Certainly the distribution of so atrocious a libel as the pamphlet Aristides, and still more the affirming its contents to be true as holy writ, presents a shade in the morality of Mr. Swartwout, of which his character had not before been understood to be susceptible. Such a rejection of all regard to truth, would have been sufficient cause against receiving him into the corps of executive officers at first; but whether it is expedient after a person is appointed, to be as nice on a question of removal requires great consideration. I proposed soon after coming into office to enjoin the executive officers from intermeddling with elections as inconsistent with the true principles of our Constitution. It was laid over for consideration: but late occurrences prove the propriety of it, and it is now under consideration. In the absence of the Secretary of State I desired his chief clerk to inclose you an extract of a letter respecting Genl. Moreau. That as private individuals we should receive him with cordiality is just. But any public display would be injurious to him, and to our harmony with his former government. I salute you with friendship & respect.
Your favor of September 28th, in behalf of Mr. Harwood, was duly received; the grounds on which one of the competitors stood, set aside of necessity all hesitation. Mr. Halls having been a member of the Legislature, a Speaker of the Representatives, and a member of the Executive. Council, were evidences of the respect of the State towards him, which our respect for the State could not neglect. You say you are forcibly led to say something on another subject very near your heart, which you defer to another opportunity. I presume it to be on your political situation, and perhaps the degree in which it may bear on our friendship. In the first case I declare to you that I have never suffered political opinion to enter into the estimate of my private friendships; nor did I ever abdicate the society of a friend on that account till he had first withdrawn from mine. Many have left me on that account, but with many I still preserve affectionate intercourse, only avoiding to speak on politics, as with a Quaker or Catholic I would avoid speaking on religion. But I do not apply this to you; for however confidently it has been affirmed, I have not supposed that you have changed principles. What in fact is the difference of principle between the two parties here ? The one desires to preserve an entire independence of the executive and legislative branches on each other, and the dependence of both on the same source the free election of the people. The other party wishes to lessen the dependence of the Executive and of one branch of the Legislature on the people, some by making them hold for life, some hereditary, and some even for giving the Executive an influence by patronage or corruption over the remaining popular branch, so as to reduce the elective franchise to its minimum. I shall not believe you gone over to the latter opinions till better evidence than I have had. Yet were it the case, I repeat my declaration that exclusive of political coincidence of opinion, I have found a sufficiency of other qualities in you to value and cherish your friendship.