The Writings of
Thomas Jefferson

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

To Mr. Lithson.
Washington, January 4, 1805.

Dear Sir

Your favor of December 4th has been duly received.  Mr. Duane informed me that he meant to publish a new edition of the Notes on Virginia, and I had in contemplation some particular alterations which would require little time to make.  My occupations by no means permit me at this time to revise the text, and make those changes in it which I should now do.  I should in that case certainly qualify several expressions in the nineteenth chapter, which have been construed differently from what they were intended.  I had under my eye, when writing, the manufacturers of the great cities in the old countries, at the time present, with whom the want of food and clothing necessary to sustain life, has begotten a depravity of morals, a dependence and corruption, which renders them an undesirable accession to a country whose morals are sound.  My expressions looked forward to the time when our own great cities would get into the same state.  But they have been quoted as if meant for the present time here.  As yet our manufacturers are as much at their ease, as independent and moral as our agricultural inhabitants, and they will continue so as long as there are vacant lands for them to resort to;  because whenever it shall be attempted by the other classes to reduce them to the minimum of subsistence, they will quit their trades and go to laboring the earth.  A first question is, whether it is desirable for us to receive at present the dissolute and demoralized handicraftsman of the old cities of Europe ?  A second and more difficult one is, when even good handicraftsmen arrive here, is it better for them to set up their trade, or go to the culture of the earth ?  Whether their labor in their trade is worth more than their labor on the soil, increased by the creative energies of the earth ?  Had I time to revise that chapter, this question should be discussed, and other views of the subject taken, which are presented by the wonderful changes which have taken place here since 1781, when the Notes on Virginia were written.  Perhaps when I retire, I may amuse myself with a serious review of this work; at present it is out of the question.  Accept my salutations and good wishes.




To John Taylor, Esq.
Washington, January 6, 1805.

Dear Sir

Your favor of Dec. 26th has been duly received, and was received as a proof of your friendly partialities to me, of which I have so often had reason to be sensible.  My opinion originally was that the President of the U.S. should have been elected for 7. years, & forever ineligible afterwards.  I have since become sensible that 7. years is too long to be irremovable, and that there should be a peaceable way of withdrawing a man in midway who is doing wrong.  The service for 8. years with a power to remove at the end of the first four, comes nearly to my principle as corrected by experience.  And it is in adherence to that that I determined to withdraw at the end of my second term.  The danger is that the indulgence & attachments of the people will keep a man in the chair after he becomes a dotard, that reelection through life shall become habitual, & election for life follow that.  Genl. Washington set the example of voluntary retirement after 8. years.  I shall follow it, and a few more precedents will oppose the obstacle of habit to anyone after a while who shall endeavor to extend his term.  Perhaps it may beget a disposition to establish it by an amendment of the constitution.  I believe I am doing right, therefore, in pursuing my principle.  I had determined to declare my intention, but I have consented to be silent on the opinion of friends, who think it best not to put a continuance out of my power in defiance of all circumstances.  There is, however, but one circumstance which could engage my acquiescence in another election, to wit, such a division about a successor as might bring in a Monarchist.  But this circumstance is impossible.  While, therefore, I shall make no formal declarations to the public of my purpose, I have freely let it be understood in private conversation.  In this I am persuaded yourself & my friends generally will approve of my views: and should I at the end of a 2d term carry into retirement all the favor which the 1st has acquired, I shall feel the consolation of having done all the good in my power, and expect with more than composure the termination of a life no longer valuable to others or of importance to myself.  Accept my affectionate salutations & assurances of great esteem & respect.




To Albert Gallatin.
January 26, 1805.

The question arising on Mr. Simons’ letter of January 10th is whether sea-letters shall be given to the vessels of citizens neither born nor residing in the United States.  Sea-letters are the creatures of treaties.  No act of the ordinary legislature requires them.  The only treaties now existing with us, and calling for them, are those with Holland, Spain, Prussia, and France.  In the two former we have stipulated that when the other party shall be at war, the vessels belonging to our people shall be furnished with sea-letters;  in the two latter that the vessels of the neutral party shall be so furnished.  France being now at war, the sea-letter is made necessary for our vessels;  and consequently it is our duty to furnish them.  The laws of the United States confine registers to home-built vessels belonging to citizens;  but they do not make it unlawful for citizens to own foreign-built vessels;  and the treaties give the right of sea-letters to all vessels belonging to citizens.

But who are citizens ?  The laws of registry consider a citizenship obtained by a foreigner who comes merely for that purpose, and returns to reside in his own country, as fraudulent, and deny a register to such an one, even owning home-built vessels.  I consider distinction as sound and safe, and that we ought not to give sea-letters to a vessel belonging to such a pseudo-citizen.  It compromises our peace, by lending our flag to cover the goods of one of the belligerents to the injury of the other.  It produces vexatious searches on the vessels of our real citizens, and gives to others the participation of our neutral advantages, which belong to the real citizen only.  And inasmuch as an uniformity of rule between the different branches of the government is convenient and proper, I would propose as a rule that sea-letters be given to all vessels belonging to citizens under whose ownership of a registered vessel such vessel would be entitled to the benefits of her register.  Affectionate salutations.




To William A. Burwell
Washington, January 28, 1805.

Dear Sir

Your letter of the 18th has been duly received and Mr. Coles consents to remain here till the 4th of March, when I shall leave this place for Monticello and pass a month there.  Consequently if you can join me here the second week in April it will be as early as your absence could effect my convenience.  I have long since given up the expectation of any early provision for the extinguishment of slavery among us.  There are many virtuous men who would make any sacrifices to affect it, many equally virtuous who persuade themselves either that the thing is not wrong, or that it cannot be remedied, and very many with whom interest is morality.  The older we grow, the larger we are disposed to believe the last party to be.  But interest is really going over to the side of morality.  The value of the slave is every day lessening; his burden on his master daily increasing.  Interest is therefore preparing the disposition to be just; and this will be goaded from time to time by the insurrectionary spirit of the slaves.  This is easily quelled in it’s first efforts; but from being local it will become general, and whenever it does it will rise more formidable after every defeat, until we shall be forced, after dreadful scenes & sufferings to release them in their own way, which, without such sufferings we might now model after our own convenience.  Accept my affectionate salutations.




To Joseph H. Nicholson.
Washington, January 29, 1805.

Dear Sir

Mr. Eppes has this moment put into my hands your letter of yesterday, asking information on the subject of the gunboats proposed to be built.  I lose no time in communicating to you fully my whole views respecting them, premising a few words on the system of fortifications.  Considering the harbors which, from their situation and importance, are entitled to defence, and the estimates we have seen of the fortifications planned for some of them, this system cannot be completed on moderate scale for less than fifty millions of dollars, nor manned in time of war, with less than fifty thousand men, and in peace, two thousand.  And when done they avail little;  because all military men agree wherever a vessel may pass a fort without tacking under her guns, which is the case at all our seaport towns, she may be annoyed more or less, according to the advantages of the position, but can never be prevented.  Our own experience during the war proved this on different occasions.  Our predecessors have, nevertheless, proposed to go into this system, and had commenced it.  But no law requiring us to proceed, we have suspended it.

If we cannot hinder vessels from entering our harbors, we should turn our attention to the putting it out of their power to lie, or come to, before a town to injure it.  Two means of doing this may be adopted in aid of each other.  1. Heavy cannon travelling carriages, which may be moved to any point on the bank or beach most convenient for dislodging the vessel.  A sufficient number of these should be lent to each seaport town, and their militia trained to them.  The executive is authorized to do this;  it has been done in a small degree, and will now be done more competently.

2.  Having cannon on floating batteries or boats, which may be so stationed as to prevent a vessel entering the harbor, or force her, after entering, to depart.  There are about fifteen harbors in the United States which ought to be in a state of substantial defence.  The whole of these would require, according to the best opinions, two hundred and forty gunboats.  Their cost was estimated by Captain Rogers at two thousand dollars each;  but we had better say four thousand dollars.  The whole would cost one million of dollars.  But we should allow ourselves ten years to complete it, unless circumstances should force it sooner.  There are three situations in which the gunboat may be.  1. Hauled up under a shed, in readiness to be launched and manned by the seamen and militia of the town on short notice.  In this situation she costs nothing but an enclosure, or a sentinel to see that no mischief is done to her.  2. Afloat, and with men enough to navigate her in harbor and take care of her, but depending on receiving her crew from the town on short warning.  In this situation, her annual expense is about two thousand dollars, as by an official estimate at the end of this letter.  3. Fully manned for action.  Her annual expense in this situation is about eight thousand dollars, as per estimate subjoined.  When there is general peace, we should probably keep about six or seven afloat in the second situation;  their annual expense twelve to fourteen thousand dollars;  the rest all hauled up.  When France and England are at war, we should keep, at the utmost, twenty-five in the second situation;  their annual expense, fifty thousand dollars.  When we should be at war ourselves, some of them would probably be kept in the third situation, at an annual expense of eight thousand dollars;  but how many, must depend on the circumstances of the war.  We now possess ten, built and building.  It is the opinion of those consulted, that fifteen more would enable us to put every harbor under our view into a respectable condition;  and that this should limit the views of the present year.  This would require an appropriation of sixty thousand dollars;  and I suppose that the best way of limiting it, without declaring the number, as perhaps that sum would build more.  I should think it best not to give a detailed report, which exposes our policy too much.  A bill, with verbal explanations, will suffice for the information of the House.  I do not ow whether General Wilkinson would approve the printing his paper.  If he would, it would be useful.

Accept affectionate and respectful salutations.




To C.F.C. De Volney.
Washington, February 8, 1805.

Dear Sir

Your letter of November the 26th came to hand May the 14th;  the books some time after, which were all distributed according to direction.  The copy for the East Indies went immediately by a, safe conveyance.  The letter of April the 28th, and the copy of your work accompanying that, did not come to hand till August, That copy was deposited in the Congressional library.  It was not till my return here from my autumnal visit to Monticello, that I had an opportunity of reading your work.  I have read it, and with great satisfaction.  Of the first part I am less a judge than most people, having never travelled westward of Staunton, so as to know anything of the face of the country;  nor much indulged myself in geological inquiries, from a belief that the skin-deep scratches which we can make or find on the surface of the earth, do not repay our time with as certain and useful deductions as our pursuits in some other branches.  The subject of our winds is more familiar to me.  On that, the views you have taken are always great, supported in their outlines by your facts;  and though more extensive observations, and longer continued, may produce some anomalies, yet they will probably take their place in this first great canvas which you have sketched.  In no case, perhaps, does habit attach our choice or judgment more than in climate.  The Canadian glows with delight in his sleigh and snow;  the very idea of which gives me the shivers.  The comparison of climate between Europe and North America, taking together its corresponding parts, hangs chiefly on three great points.  1. The changes between heat and cold in America are greater and more frequent, and the extremes comprehend a greater scale on the thermometer in America than in Europe.  Habit, however, prevents these from affecting us more than the smaller changes of Europe affect the European.  But he is greatly affected by ours.  2. Our sky is always clear;  that of Europe always cloudy.  Hence a greater accumulation of heat here than there, in the same parallel.  3. The changes between wet and dry are much more frequent and sudden in Europe than in America.  Though we have double the rain, it falls in half the time.  Taking all these together, I prefer much the climate of the United States to that of Europe.  I think it a more cheerful one.  It is our cloudless sky which has eradicated from, our constitutions all disposition to hang ourselves, which we might otherwise have inherited from our English ancestors.  During a residence of between six and seven years in Paris, I never, but once, saw the sun shine through a whole day, without being obscured by a cloud in any part of it;  and I never saw the moment, in which, viewing the sky through its whole Hemisphere, I could say there was not the smallest speck of a cloud in it.  I arrived at Monticello, on my return from France, in January;  and during only two months’ stay there, I observed to my daughters, who had been with me to France, that, twenty odd times within that term, there was not a speck of a cloud in the whole hemisphere.  Still I do not wonder that an European should prefer his gray to our azure sky.  Habit decides our taste in this, as in most other cases.

The account you give of the yellow fever, is entirely agreeable to what we then knew of it.  Further experience has developed more and more its peculiar character.  Facts appear to have established that it is originated here by a local atmosphere, which is never generated but in the lower, closer, and dirtier parts of our large cities, in the neighborhood of the water;  and that, to catch the disease, you must enter the local atmosphere.  Persons having taken the disease in the infected quarter, and going into the country, are nursed and buried by their friends without an example of communicating it.  A vessel going from the infected quarter, and carrying its atmosphere in its hold into another State, has given the disease to every person who there entered her.  These have died in the arms of their families, without a single communication of the disease.  It is certainly, therefore, an epidemic, not a contagious disease;  and calls on the chemists for some mode of purifying the vessel by a decomposition of its atmosphere, if ventilation be found insufficient.  In the long scale of bilious fevers, graduated by many shades, this is probably the last and most mortal term.  It seizes the native of the place equally with strangers it has not been long known in any part of the United States.  The shade next above it, called the stranger’s fever, has been coeval with the settlement of the larger cities in the Southern parts, to wit, Norfolk, Charleston, New Orleans.  Strangers going to these places in the months of July, August, or September, find this fever as mortal as the genuine yellow fever.  But it rarely attacks those who have resided in them some time.  Since we have known that kind of yellow fever which is no respecter of persons, its name, has been extended to the stranger’s fever, and every species of bilious fever which produces a black vomit, that is to say, a discharge of very dark bile.  Hence we hear of yellow fever on the Alleghany mountains, in Kentucky, etc.  This is a matter of definition only;  but it leads into error those who do not know how loosely and how interestedly some physicians think and speak.  So far as we have yet seen, I think we are correct in saying, that the yellow fever, which seizes on all indiscriminately, is an ultimate degree of bilious fever never known in the United States till lately, nor farther South, as yet, than Alexandria;  and that what they have recently called the yellow fever in New Orleans, Charleston and Norfolk, is what has always been known in those places as confined chiefly to strangers, and nearly as mortal to them, as the other is to all its subjects.  But both grades are local;  the stranger’s fever less so, as it sometimes extends a little into the neighborhood;  but the yellow fever rigorously so, confined within narrow and well-defined limits, and not communicable out of those limits.  Such a constitution of atmosphere being requisite to originate this disease as is generated only in low, close, and ill-cleansed parts of a town, I have supposed it practicable to prevent its generation by building our cities on a more open plan.  Take, for instance, the chequer board for a plan.  Let the black squares only be building squares, and the white ones be left open, in turf and trees.  Every square of houses will be surrounded by four open squares, and every house will front an open square.  The atmosphere of such a town would be like that of the country, insusceptible of the miasmata which produce yellow fever.  I have accordingly proposed that the enlargements of the city of New Orleans, which must immediately take place, shall be on this plan.  But it is only in case of enlargements to be made, or of cities to be built, that this means of prevention can be employed.

The genus irritabile vatum could not let the author of the Ruins publish a new work, without seeking in it the means of discrediting that puzzling composition.  Some one of those holy calumniators has selected from your new work every scrap of a sentence, which, detached from its context, could displease an American reader.  A cento has been made of these, which has run through a particular description of newspapers, and excited a disapprobation even in friendly minds, which nothing but the reading of the book will cure.  But time and truth will at length correct error.

Our countrymen are so much occupied in the busy scenes of life, that they have little time to write or invent.  A good invention here, therefore, is such a rarity as it is lawful to offer to the acceptance of a friend.  A Mr. Hawkins of Frankford, near Philadelphia, has invented a machine which he calls a polygraph, and which carries two, three, or four pens.  That of two pens, with which I am now writing, is best;  and is so perfect that I have laid aside the copying-press, for a twelvemonth past, and write always with the polygraph.  I have directed one to be made, of which I ask your acceptance.  By what conveyance I shall send it while Havre is blockaded, I do not yet know.  I think you will be pleased with it, and will use it habitually as I do;  because it requires only that degree of mechanical attention which I know you to possess.  I am glad to hear that M. Cabanis is engaged in writing on the refomation of medicine.  It needs the hand of a reformer, and cannot be in better hands than his.  Will you permit my respects to him and the Abbe de la Roche to find a place here ?

A word now on our political state.  The two parties which prevailed with so much violence when you were here, are almost wholly melted into one.  At the late Presidential election I have received one hundred and sixty-two votes against fourteen only.  Connecticut is still federal by a small majority;  and Delaware on a poise, as she has been since 1775, and will be till Anglomany with her yields to Americanism.  Connecticut will be with us in a short time.  Though the people in mass have joined us, their leaders had committed themselves too far to retract.  Pride keeps them hostile;  they brood over their angry passions, and give them vent in the newspapers which they maintain.  They still make as much noise as if they were the whole nation.  Unfortunately, these being the mercantile papers, published chiefly in the seaports, are the only ones which find their way to Europe, and make very false impressions there.  I am happy to hear that the late derangement of your health is going off, and that you are re-established.  I sincerely pray for the continuance of that blessing, and with my affectionate salutations, tender you assurances of great respect and attachment.


P.S.  The sheets which you receive are those of the copying-pen of the polygraph, not of the one with which I have written.




To Wilson Cary Nicholas
Monticello, March 26, 1805.

Dear Sir

Your favor of the 10th was received only the last night.  I now return you the letter to Colo. Newton, which I pray you to deliver & use your influence to induce an acceptance.  It is in truth only asking him to become responsible for his son, which he would of course do were the office given to his son directly: & it will relieve me from a painful dilemma.  Should he however refuse, be so good as to inform me of it, and you may at the same time address your letter of resignation to Mr. Gallatin, only confining the knolege of the fact as much as you can between Colo. Newton and yourself, that the appointment may be made before any solicitations can be forwarded.

The divisions among the republicans which you speak of are distressing, but they are not unexpected to me.  From the moment I foresaw the entire prostration of federalism, I knew that at that epoch more distressing divisions would take its place.  The opinions of men are as various as their faces, and they will always find some rallying principle or point at which those nearest to it will unite, reducing themselves to two stations, under a common name for each.  These stations or camps will be formed of very heterogeneous materials, combining from very different motives, & with very different views.  I did believe my station in March 1801 as painful as could be undertaken, having to meet in front all the terrible passions of federalism in the first moment of it’s defeat & mortification, and to grapple with it until compleatly subdued.  But I consider that as less painful than to be placed between conflicting friends.  There my way was clear & my mind made up.  I never for a moment had to balance between two opinions.  In the new divisions which are to arise the case will be very different.  Even those who seem to coalesce will be like the image of clay & brass.  However under difficulties of this kind I have ever found one, & only one rule, to do what is right, & generally we shall disentangle ourselves without almost perceiving how it happens.  Accept my affectionate salutations.




To Judge John Tyler.
Monticello, March 29, 1805.

Dear Sir

Your favor of the 17th found me on a short visit to this place, and I observe in it with great pleasure a continuance of your approbation of the course we are pursuing, and particularly the satisfaction you express with the last inaugural address.  The first was, from the nature of the case, all profession and promise.  Performance, therefore, seemed to be the proper office of the second.  But the occasion restricted me to mention only the most prominent heads, and the strongest justification of these in the fewest words possible.  The crusade preached against philosophy by the modem disciples of steady habits, induced me to dwell more in showing its effect with the Indians than the subject otherwise justified.

The war with Tripoli stands on two grounds of fact.  1st.  It is made known to us by our agents with the three other Barbary States, that they only wait to see the event of this, to shape their conduct accordingly.  If the war is ended by additional tribute, they mean to offer us the same alternative.  2dly.  If peace was made, we should still, and shall ever, be obliged to keep a frigate in the Mediterranean to overawe rupture, or we must abandon that market.  Our intention in sending Morris with a respectable force, was to try whether peace could be forced by a coercive enterprise on their town.  His inexecution of orders baffled that effort.  Having broke him, we try the same experiment under a better commander.  If in the course of the summer they cannot produce peace, we shall recall our force, except one frigate and two small vessels, which will keep up a perpetual blockade.  Such a blockade will cost us no more than a state of peace, and will save us from increased tributes, and the disgrace attached to them.  There is reason to believe the example we have set, begins already to work on the dispositions of the powers of Europe to emancipate themselves from that degrading yoke.  Should we produce such a revolution there, we shall be amply rewarded for what we have done.  Accept my friendly salutations, and assurances of great respect and esteem.




To the Secretary of State (James Madison.)
Monticello, April 05, 1805.

Dear Sir,—Yours of the 27th is received.  I put Lattimore’s letter into my bundle of agenda to be acted on in due time.  Monroe’s, Pinckney’s & Jarvis’s are now returned.  I suspect that Pinckney gives us the true design of Gr. Br. to oust the French and Dutch from our quarter & leave the Spaniards [and] Portuguese.  It is possible she would rather see these two last in possession of the southern continent than of any other nation.  It is really of good augury that Taleyrand should have been silent about the western boundary of Louisiana, & I have no doubt Monroe will make the most of it.  Should it end in our getting the navigation of the Mobile only we must make our protestation to Spain that we reserve our right which neither time nor silence is to lessen & shall assert it when circumstances call for it.  In the meantime propose the keeping it in statu quo, unsettled.  I shall be glad that nothing be forwarded to me here after the mail which leaves Washington on Friday the 5th.  Accept my affectionate salutations & assurances of constant esteem & respect.




To the Secretary of the Treasury (Albert Gallatin.)
Monticello, April 3, 1805.

Dear Sir,—Your favor of the 26th March is received, and I learn with real concern the danger that a temporary loan may be necessary, because we know how it will be perverted to throw dust in the eyes of the people.  However, if no other expedient can be used, we must meet it.  I have no expectation that Monroe will be able to get any acknowledgement of boundary which we can admit.  The next best measure will be to obtain a free use of the rivers of either party, rising within the limits of the other, and that neither party shall either settle or fortify within the disputed country until the limits can be fixed.  This will give us time to await and avail ourselves of events.  I presume the appointment of Flowers may await my return.  In the meantime the other may be heard from.  I have desired the Postmaster-General to forward nothing to me here after the 5th instant, as I expect to be with you in a fortnight.  Accept affectionate salutations and assurances of constant friendship and respect.




To the U.S. Minister to Spain (James Bowdoin.)
Washington, April 27, 1805.

Dear Sir,—Your favor of Mar. 25 has been duly received.  I regret that the state of your health renders a visit to this place unadvisable.  Besides the gratification we should have felt from personal considerations, the perusal of the correspondences, for some time back, with the governments of Europe most interesting to us, by putting you in possession of the actual state of things between us, would have enabled you to act under all emergencies with that satisfaction to yourself which is derived from a full knolege of the ground.  But I presume you will find this supplied, as to the government to which you go, by the papers of the office at Madrid.  Our relations with that nation are vitally interesting.  That they should be of a peaceable & friendly character has been our most earnest desire.  Had Spain met us with the same dispositions, our idea was that her existence in this hemisphere & ours, should have rested on the same bottom; should have swam or sunk together.  We want nothing of hers, & we want no other nation to possess what is hers.  But she has met our advances with jealousy, secret malice and ill-faith.  Our patience under this unworthy return of disposition is now on it’s last trial.  And the issue of what is now depending between us will decide whether our relations with her are to be sincerely friendly, or permanently hostile.  I still wish & would cherish the former, but have ceased to expect it.

I thank you for the sentiments of esteem you are so good as to express towards me, and the mark of it you wish me to place at Monticello.  It shall be deposited with the memorials of those worthies whose remembrance I feel a pride & comfort in consecrating there.  With my best wishes for the restoration of your health & for a pleasant voyage, I tender you my friendly salutations & assurances of great esteem & respect.




To Doctor George Logan.
Washington, May 11, 1805.

Dear Sir

I received last night a letter from Mr. Thomas Brannagan 163 S. Water St., Philadelphia, asking my subscription to the work announced in the inclosed paper.  The cause in which he embarks is so holy, the sentiments he expresses in his letter so friendly that it is highly painful to me to hesitate on a compliance which appears so small.  But that is not it’s true character, and it would be injurious even to his views, for me to commit myself on paper by answering his letter.  I have most carefully avoided every public act or manifestation on that subject.  Should an occasion ever occur in which I can interpose with decisive effect, I shall certainly know & do my duty with promptitude & zeal.  But in the meantime it would only be disarming myself of influence to be taking small means.  The subscription to a book on this subject is one of those little irritating measures, which, without advancing it’s end at all, would, by lessening the confidence & good will of a description of friends composing a large body, only lessen my powers of doing them good in the other great relations in which I stand to the publick.  Yet I cannot be easy in not answering Mr. Brannagan’s letter, unless he can be made sensible that it is better I should not answer it; & I do not know how to effect this, unless you would have the goodness, the first time you go to Philadelphia to see him and to enter into an explanation with him.

I see with infinite pain the bloody schism which has taken place among our friends in Pennsylvania & New York, & will probably take place in other states.  The main body of both sections mean well, but their good intentions will produce great public evil.  The minority, whichever section shall be the minority, will end in coalition with the federalists, and some compromise of principle because these will not sell their aid for nothing.  Republicanism will thus lose, and royalism gain some portion of that ground which we thought we had rescued to good government.  I do not express my sense of our misfortunes from any idea that they are remediable.  I know that the passions of men will take their course, that they are not to be controulled but by despotism, & that this melancholy truth is the pretext for despotism.  The duty of an upright administration is to pursue it’s course steadily, to know nothing of these family dissensions, and to cherish the good principles of both parties.  The war ad internecionem which we have waged against federalism has filled our latter ties with strife and unhappiness.  We have met it, with pain indeed, but with firmness, because we believed it the last convulsive effort of that hydra which in earlier times we had conquered in the field.  But if any degeneracy of principle should ever render it necessary to give ascendancy to one of the rising sections over the other, I thank my God it will fall to some other to perform that operation.  The only cordial I wish to carry into my retirement is the undivided good will of all those with whom I have acted.  Present me affectionately to Mrs. Logan, and accept my salutations & assurance of constant friendship & respect.




To Judge James Sullivan.
Washington, May 21, 1805.

Dear Sir

An accumulation of business, which I found on my return here from a short visit to Monticello has prevented till now my acknolegment of your favor of the 14th ulti. This delay has given time to see the result of the contest in your State, & I cannot but congratulate you on the advance it manifests, & the certain prospect it offers that another year restores Massachusetts to the general body of the nation.  You have indeed received the federal unction of lying & slandering.  But who has not? Who will ever again come into eminent office, unanointed with this chrism? It seems to be fixed that falsehood & calumny are to be their ordinary engines of opposition; engines which will not be entirely without effect.  The circle of characters equal to the first stations is not too large, & will be lessened by the voluntary retreat of those whose sensibilities are stronger than their confidence in the justice of public opinion.  I certainly have known, & still know, characters eminently qualified for the most exalted trusts, who could not bear up against the brutal hackings & hewings of these heroes of Billingsgate.  I may say, from intimate knolege, that we should have lost the services of the greatest character of our country, had he been assailed with the degree of abandoned licentiousness now practised.  The torture he felt under rare & slight attacks, proved that under those of which the federal bands have shewn themselves capable, he would have thrown up the helm in a burst of indignation.  Yet this effect of sensibility must not be yielded to.  If we suffer ourselves to be frightened from our post by mere lying, surely the enemy will use that weapon; for what one so cheap to those of whose system of politics morality makes no part? The patriot, like the Christian, must learn that to bear revilings & persecutions is a part of his duty; and in proportion as the trial is severe, firmness under it becomes more requisite & praiseworthy.  It requires, indeed, self-command.  But that will be fortified in proportion as the calls for it’s exercise are repeated.  In this I am persuaded we shall have the benefit of your good example.  To the other falsehoods they have brought forward, should they add, as you expect, insinuations of any want of confidence in you from the administration generally, or myself particularly, it will, like their other falsehoods, produce in the public mind a contrary inference.  No evidence however of that confidence, which I could furnish should be wanting.  An appointment to office would be such.  But at present there is no opening for it.  No vacancy exists in your own state, and the only office here unfulfilled, has been otherwise tendered, & indeed would be incompatible with the views of your state, which destines you for the most distinguished mark of their affection & confidence, requiring your residence there.  To the nation in general your election will be as gratifying as to that particular state; for never can we consider our union as solid while so important a member as Massachusetts is disaffected.  That we may not fail to obtain this accession to our harmony & prosperity, nor you so honorable a testimony of the esteem & approbation of a respectable state, no one prays more sincerely than I do: and with this assurance I tender you my friendly and respectful salutations.




To William Dunbar.
Washington, May 25, 1805.

Dear Sir

Your several letters, with the portions of your journals, forwarded at different times, have been duly received;  and I am now putting the journal into the hands of a person properly qualified to extract the results of your observations, and the various interesting information contained among them, and bring them into such a compass as may be communicated to the Legislature.  Not knowing Whether you might not intend to make a map yourself, of the course of the river, he will defer that to the last part of his work, on the possibility that we may receive it from yourself.  Your observations on the difficulty of transporting baggage from the head of the Red river to that of the Arkansas, with the dangers from the seceding Osages residing on the last river, have determined me to confine the ensuing mission to the ascent of the Red river to its source, and to descend the same river again, which will give an opportunity of better ascertaining that which, in truth, next to the Missouri, is the most interesting water of the Mississippi.  You will accordingly receive instructions to this effect, from the Secretary of War.  Dr. Hunter does not propose to take a part in this mission, and we suppose that Mr. George Davis, a deputy of Mr. Briggs, will be the fittest person to take the direction of the expedition, and Colonel Freeman as an assistant, and successor, in case of accident, to the principal.  Still, these propositions are submitted to your control, as being better acquainted with both characters.  I write to Governor Claiborne, to endeavor to get a passport from the Marquis of Casa-Calvo, for our party, as a protection from any Spaniards who may be fallen in with on the route.  We offer to receive one or two persons, to be named by him, and subsisted by us into the party, as a proof that the expedition is merely scientific, and without any views to which Spain could take exception.  The best protection against the Indians will be the authority to confer with them on the subject of commerce.  Such conferences should be particularly held with the Arkansas and Panis, residing on the Red river, and everything possible be done to attach them to us affectionately.  In the present state of things between Spain and us, we should spare nothing to secure the friendship of the Indians within reach of her.  While Captain Lewis’ mission was preparing, as it was understood that his reliance for his longitudes must be on the lunar observations taken, as at sea, with the aid of a time-keeper, and I knew that a thousand accidents might happen to that in such a journey as his, and thus deprive us of the principal object of the expedition, to wit, the ascertaining the geography of that river, I set myself to consider whether in making observations at land, that furnishes no resource which may dispense with the time-keeper, so necessary at sea.  It occurred to me that as we can always have a meridian at land, that would furnish what we want of it at sea obliges us to supply by the time-keeper.  Supposing Captain Lewis then furnished with a meridian, and having the requisite tables and nautical almanac with him,--first, he might find the right ascension of the moon, when on the meridian of Greenwich, on any given day;  then find by observation when the moon should attain that right ascension (by the aid of a known star), and measure her distance in that moment from his meridian.  This distance would be the difference of longitude between Greenwich and the place of observation.  Or secondly, observe the moon’s passage over his meridian, and her right ascension at that moment.  See by the tables the time at Greenwich when she had that right ascension.  That gives her distance from the meridian of Greenwich, when she was on his meridian.  Or thirdly, observe the moon’s distance from his meridian at any moment, and her right ascension at that moment;  and find from the tables her distance from the meridian of Greenwich, when she had that right ascension, which will give the distance of the two meridians.  This last process will be simplified by taking, for the moment of observation, that of an appulse of the moon and a known star, or when the moon and a known star are in the same vertical.  I suggested this to Mr. Briggs, who considered it as correct and practicable, and proposed communicating it to the Philosophical Society;  but I observed that it was too obvious not to have been thought of before, and d it had not been adopted in practice, because suppose of no use at sea, where a meridian cannot be had, and where alone the nations of Europe had occasion for it.  Before his confirmation of the idea, however, Captain Lewis was gone.  In conversation afterwards with Baron Humboldt, he observed that the idea was correct, but not new;  that I would find it in the third volume of Delalande.  I received two days ago the third and fourth volumes of Montucla’s History of Mathematics, finished and edited by Delalande;  and find, in fact, that Morin and Vanlangren, in the seventeenth century, proposed observations of the moon on the meridian, but it does not appear whether they meant to dispense with the timekeeper.  But a meridian at sea being too impracticable, their idea was not pursued.  The purpose of troubling you with these details, is to submit to your consideration and decision whether any use can be made of them advantageously in our future expeditions, and particularly that up the Red river.

Your letter on the current of the Mississippi, and paper on the same subject, corrected at once my doubts on your theory of the currents of that river.  Constant employment in a very different line permits me to turn to philosophical subjects only when some circumstance forces them on my attention.  No occurrence had called my mind to this subject, particularly since I had first been initiated into the original Torricellian doctrine of the velocities at different depths, being in the sub-duplicate ratio of the depths.  And though Buat had given me his book while at Paris, your letter was the first occasion of my turning to it, and getting my mind set to rights to a certain degree.  There is a subsequent work by Bernard, which is said to have furnished corrections and additions to Buat;  but I have never seen it.

The work we are now doing is, I trust, done for posterity, in such a way that they need not repeat it.  For this we are much indebted to you, not only for the labor and time you have devoted to it, but for the excellent method of which you have set the example, and which I hope will be the model to be followed by others.  We shall delineate with correctness the great arteries of this great country.  Those who come after us will extend the ramifications as they become acquainted with them, and fill up the canvas we begin.  With my acknowledgments for your zealous aid in this business, accept my friendly salutations, and assurances of great esteem and respect.




To Doctor John Sibley.
Washington, May 27, 1805.

Dear Sir

I have been some time a debtor for your letters Of March 20th and September 2d, of the last year.  A constant pressure of things which will not admit delay, prevents my acknowledging with punctuality the letters I receive, although I am not insensible to the value of the communications, an the favor done me in making them.  To these acknowledgments I propose to add a solicitation of a literary kind, to which I am led by your position, favorable to this object, and by a persuasion that you are disposed to make to science those contributions which are within your convenience.  The question whether the Indians of America have emigrated from another continent, is still undecided.  Their vague and imperfect traditions can satisfy no mind on that subject.  I have long considered their languages as the only remaining monument of connection with other nations, or the want of it, to which we can now have access.  They will likewise show their connections with one another.  Very early in life, therefore, I formed a vocabulary of such objects as, being present everywhere, would probably have a name in every language;  and my course of life having given me opportunities of obtaining vocabularies of many Indian tribes, I have done so on my original plan, which though far from being perfect, has the valuable advantage of identity, of thus bringing the languages to the same points of comparison.  A letter from you to General Dearborn, giving valuable information respecting the Indians west of the Mississippi and south of the Arkansas, presents a much longer list of tribes than I had expected; and the relations in which you stand with them, and the means of intercourse these will furnish, induce me to hope you will avail us of your means of collecting their languages for this purpose.  I enclose you a number of my blank vocabularies, to lessen your trouble as much as I can.  I observe vou mention several tribes which, having an original language of their own, nevertheless have adopted some other, common to other tribes.  But it is their original languages I wish to obtain.  I am in hopes you will find persons situated among or near most of the tribes, who will take the trouble of filling up a vocabulary.  No matter whether the orthography used be English, Spanish, French, or any other, provided it is stated what the orthography is.  To save unnecessary trouble, I should observe that I already possess the vocabularies of the Attacapas and Chetimachas, and no others within the limits before mentioned.  I have taken measures for obtaining those north of the Arcansa, and already possess most of the languages on this side the Mississippi.  A similar work, but on a much greater scale, has been executed under the auspices of the late empress of Russia, as to the red nations of Asia, which, however, I have never seen.  A comparison of our collection with that will probably decide the question of the sameness or difference of origin, although it will not decide which is the mother country, and which the colony.  You will receive from General Dearborn some important instructions with respect to the Indians.  Nothing must be spared to convince them of the justice and liberality we are determined to use towards them, and to attach them to us indissolubly.  Accept my apologies for the trouble I am giving you, with my salutations and assurances of respect.




To the Secretary of the Treasury (Albert Gallatin.)
May 29, 1805.

I have no information that the Act dividing Orleans into counties is passed.  By the papers which came yesterday it appeared to have been twice read and committed.  Would not the waters of the Red River form one proper district, and the residuary country another ? or the waters of the Red River and the country above and between that and the Mississippi for one, and the residuary country the other ?

The financial part of your letter is highly pleasing.  There must be something more in this increase of revenue than the natural and war increase; depreciation to a small degree in other countries, a sensible one in this, and a great one in England, must make a part of it, and is a lesson to us to prefer ad valorem to fixed duties.  The latter require often retouching, or they become delusive.  As to the Orleans revenue, I presume we may consider it as the consumption of 60,000 people and their increase, added to that of 6,000,000 and their increase; for though the former will increase faster than the latter, it will only be by drawing off numbers from them.  But, from whatever cause, the increase of revenue is a pleasing circumstance, as it hastens the moment of liberating our revenue, and of permitting us to begin upon canals, roads, college, &c. I presume you will locate on your map the Indians from Sibley’s statement; my maps being in the hands of the binder, I cannot do it; but when you shall have done it, I shall be glad to have a consultation with you on the extent to which we may lay off townships, and of the assurance we may give to the Indians included within them.  I enclose you a paper at Mr. Madison’s request.  Affectionate salutations.




To John Daly Burke
Washington, June 1, 1805.

Sir,—Your favor of May 26th is received, and I am perfectly disposed to communicate to you the collections I possess as far as their condition will admit.  What this is will need explanation.

I have a collection, nearly compleat, of the laws from 1624 to 1662 where Purvis’s printed collection begins.  But some of the volumes are in such a state of decay, that the leaf falls to pieces on being turned over.  Consequently as they never can be examined but once I reserve that to the moment when the legislature shall decide to have an authentic copy taken.  In the meantime I have sewed them up in oil cloth, and seared the joints to preserve them from the air.  These being antecedent to Bacon’s Rebellion are not within the period of your desires.

The printed collection of laws in my possession which comprehend the period you mention, to wit, from Bacon’s Rebellion to 1752 are

6th, 7th and 8th volumes are of subsequent dates.

The 1st 2d 3d & 4th vols. above mentioned are in every lawyer’s hands, therefore you will easily obtain them in your neighborhood.  The 5th volume is the only one of which there exists probably no other collection.  This fact being generally known, the courts in the different parts of the state are in the practice of resorting to this volume for copies of particular acts called for in the cases before them.  For this reason I have always refused to let it go from Monticello not only because it might be lost, but because while it was gone out in the service of one person, many might have occasion to recur to it.  But as the depositing it with Governor Page at the seat of government, will keep it within the access of others, and you mention that that deposit will be perfectly convenient for you, it shall be deposited there.

My collection of newspapers is from 1741 downwards.  The vols. preceding 1752 shall be sent with the other to Richmond to be used by you either there or at Petersburg according to your convenience.  These also being the only collection probably in existence I purchased & cherish it with a view to public utility.  It is answering one of its principal objects when I put it into your hands, & the same public principle will insure your care of it, and it’s restoration to it’s deposit when you shall have taken what you desire from it.  I will immediately write to Mr. Randolph to take these books from the library at Monticello, of which he has the key, & to have them safely conveyed by water to Govr. Page at Richmond to whom also I will write on the subject.  Altho’ I have not yet had time to peruse the volume you have published (for indeed my occupations permit me to read almost nothing) yet occasional recurrence to parts of it & the opinions of others who have read it, occasion me to regret that I am not in a situation to give you the benefit of all my materials.  Were I residing at home I could do it, and would with pleasure: and should a second edition be called for after my return to live at Monticello, I am persuaded it will be in my power, as it is certainly in my wish, to furnish you with some useful matter, not perhaps to be found elsewhere.  I pray you to accept my salutations & assurances of great respect.




To Thomas Paine.
Washington, June 5, 1805.

Dear Sir

Your letters, No. 1, 2, 3, the last of them dated Apr. 20, were received April 26th.  I congratulate you on your retirement to your farm, and still more that it is of a character so worthy of your attention.  I much doubt whether the open room on your 2d story will answer your expectations.  There will be a few days in the year in which it will be delightful, but not many.  Nothing but trees, or Venetian blinds, can protect it from the sun.  The semi-cylindrical roof you propose will have advantages.  You know it has been practised on the cloth market at Paris.  De Lorme, the inventor, shews many forms of roofs in his book to which it is applicable.  I have used it at home for a dome, being 120° of an oblong octagon, and in the capitol we unite two quadrants of a Sphere by a semi-cylinder;  all framed in De Lorme’s manner.  How has your planing machine answered ?  Has it been tried & persevered in by any workmen ?

France has become so jealous of our conduct as to St. Domingo (which in truth is only the conduct of our merchants), that the offer to become a mediator would only confirm her suspicions.  Bonaparte, however, expressed satisfaction at the paragraph in my message to Congress on the subject of that commerce.  With respect to the German redemptioners, you know I can do nothing unless authorized by law.  It would be made a question in Congress, whether any of the enumerated objects to which the Constitution authorizes the money of the Union to be applied, would cover an expenditure for importing settlers to Orleans.  The letter of the revolutionary sergeant, which you enclosed to me, was attended to by Gen. Dearborne, who wrote to him informing him how to proceed to obtain his land.

Doctr Eustis’s observation to you, that “certain paragraphs in the National Intelligencer” respecting my letter to you, “supposed to be under Mr. Jefferson’s direction, had embarrassed Mr. Jefferson’s friends in Massachusetts; that they appeared like a half denial of the letter, or as if there was something in it not proper to be owned, or that needed an apology,” is one of those mysterious half-confidences difficult to be understood.  That tory printers should think it advantageous to identify me with that paper, the Aurora, &c., in order to obtain ground for abusing me, is perhaps fair warfare.  But that any one who knows me personally should listen one moment to such an insinuation, is what I did not expect.  I neither have, nor ever had, any more connection with those papers than our antipodes have; nor know what is to be in them until I see it in them, except proclamations & other documents sent for publication.  The friends in Massachusetts who could be embarrassed by so weak a weapon as this, must be feeble friends indeed.  With respect to the letter, I never hesitated to avow and to justify it in conversation.  In no other way do I trouble myself to contradict anything which is said.  At that time, however, there were certain anomalies in the motions of some of our friends, which events have at length reduced to regularity.

It seems very difficult to find out what turns things are to take in Europe.  I suppose it depends on Austria, which, knowing it is to stand in the way of receiving the first hard blows, is cautious of entering into a coalition.  As to France & England we can have but one wish, that they may disable one another from injuring others.

Accept my friendly salutations, & assurances of esteem & respect.




To the Secretary of State (James Madison.)
Monticello, August 4, 1805.

Dear Sir,—On my return from Bedford two days ago I received your favor of July 24 and learnt with sincere regret that Mrs. Madison’s situation required her going to Philadelphia.  I suppose the choice between Physic and Baynham was well weighed.  I hope the result will be speedy & salutary, and that we shall see you in this quarter before the season passes over.

A letter from Charles Pinckney of May 22 informs me that Spain refuses to settle a limit, & perseveres in withholding the rectification of the convention.  He says not a word of the status quo, from which I conclude it has not been proposed.  I observe by the papers that Dalton is arrived with the public dispatches, from which we shall know the particulars.  I think the status quo, if not already proposed, should be immediately offered through Bowdoin.  Should it even be refused, the refusal to settle a limit is not of itself a sufficient cause of war, nor is the withholding a ratification worthy of such a redress.  Yet these acts shew a purpose both in Spain & France against which we ought to provide before the conclusion of a peace.  I think therefore we should take into consideration whether we ought not immediately to propose to England an eventual treaty of alliance, to come into force whenever (within [...] years) a war shall take place with Spain or France.  It may be proper for the ensuing Congress to make some preparations for such an event, and it should be in our power to shew we have done the same.  This for your consideration.

Mr. Wagner writes me that two black convicts from Surinam are landed at Philadelphia.  Being on the spot you will have a better opportunity of judging what should be done with them.  To me it seems best that we should send them to England with a proper representation against such a measure.  If the transportation is not within any of the regular appropriations it will come properly on the contingent fund.  If the law does not stand in the way of such an act, & you think as I do, it may be immediately carried into execution.  Accept for Mrs. Madison & yourself my affectionate salutations & assurances of constant esteem & respect.




To James Madison.
Monticello, August 7, 1805.

Dear Sir

On a view of our affairs with Spain, presented me in a letter from C. Pinckney, I wrote you on the 23d of July, that I thought we should offer them the status quo, but immediately proposed provincial alliance with England.  I have not yet received the whole correspondence.  But the portion of the papers now enclosed to you, confirm me in the opinion of the expediency of a treaty with England, but make the offer of the status quo more doubtful.  The correspondence will probably throw light on that question;  from the papers already received I infer a confident reliance on the part of Spain on the omnipotence of Bonaparte, but a desire of procrastination till peace in Europe shall leave us without an ally.  General Dearborn has seen all the papers.  I will ask the favor of you to communicate them to Mr. Gallatin and Mr. Smith.  From Mr. Gallatin I shall ask his first opinion, preparatory to the stating formal questions for our ultimate decision.  I am in hopes you can make it convenient to see and consult with Mr. Smith and General Dearborn, unless the latter should come on here where I can do it myself.  On the receipt of your own ideas, Mr. Smith’s and the other gentlemen, I shall be able to form points for our final consideration and determination.

I enclose you some communications from the Mediterranean.  They show Barron’s understanding in a very favorable view.  When you shall have perused them, be so good as to enclose them to the Secretary of the Navy.  Accept my fervent wishes for the speedy recovery of Mrs. Madison, and your speedy visit to this quarter.




To the Secretary of the Treasury (Albert Gallatin.)
Monticello, August 7, 1805.

Dear Sir,—You have probably learnt through other channels that our Commissioners to Spain have terminated their mission without success in a single point.  I have desired Mr. Madison to send you the papers, and when you shall have perused them I will ask a communication of your general view of what is expedient for us to do.  I ask the same of the other gentlemen.  When I shall have received them it will enable me to form precise points on which to ask their ultimate judgment.  This will employ some time; but the case is serious, and is entitled to time and mature consideration.


P.S.  It seems essential to our success with England that we should not be understood as absolutely committed to war with Spain.




To James Madison.
Monticello, August 25, 1805.

Dear Sir

I confess that the enclosed letter from General Turreau excites in me both jealousy & offence in undertaking, & without apology, to say in what manner we are to receive and treat Moreau within our own country.  Had Turreau been here longer he would have known that the national authority pays honors to no foreigners.  That the State authorities, municipalities and individuals, are free to render whatever they please, voluntarily, & free from restraint by us; & he ought to know that no part of the criminal sentence of another country can have any effect here.  The style of that government in the Spanish business, was calculated to excite indignation; but it was a case in which that might have done injury.  But the present is a case which would justify some notice in order to let them understand we are not of those powers who will receive & execute mandates.  I think the answer should shew independence as well as friendship.  I am anxious to receive the opinions of our brethren after their review & consideration of the Spanish papers.  I am strongly impressed with a belief of hostile & treacherous intentions against us on the part of France, and that we should lose no time in securing something more than a mutual friendship with England.

Not having heard from you for some posts, I have had a hope you were on the road & consequently that Mrs. Madison was re-established.  We are now in want of rain, having had none in the last ten days.  In your quarter I am afraid they have been much longer without it.  We hear great complaints from F. Walker’s Lindsay’s, Maury’s, &c., of drought.  Accept affectionate salutations, & assurances of constant friendship.


P.S.  I suppose Kuhn, at Genoa, should have new credentials.




To the Secretary of State. (James Madison.)
Monticello, August 27, 1805.

Dear Sir

Yours of the 20th has been received, and in that a letter from Casinove, and another from Mrs. Ciracchi; but those from Turreau and to Yrujo were not enclosed.  Probably the former was what came to me by the preceding post, respecting Moreau; if so, you have my opinion on it in my last.  Considering the character of Bonaparte, I think it material at once to let him see that we are not one of the powers who will receive his orders.

I think you have misconceived the nature of the treaty I thought we should propose to England.  I have no idea of committing ourselves immediately or independently of our further will to the war.  The treaty should be provisional only, to come into force on the event of our being engaged in war with either France or Spain during the present war in Europe.  In that event we should make common cause, & England should stipulate not to make peace without our obtaining the objects for which we go to war to wit, the acknolegment by Spain of the rightful boundaries of Louisiana (which we should reduce to our minimum by a secret article) and 2, indemnification for spoliations, for which purpose we should be allowed to make reprisal on the Floridas & retain them as an indemnification.  Our co-operation in the war (if we should actually enter into it) would be a sufficient consideration for Great Britain to engage for it’s object; and it being generally known to France & Spain that we had entered into treaty with England, would probably ensure us a peaceable & immediate settlement of both points.  But another motive much more powerful would indubitably induce England to go much further.  Whatever illhumor may at times have been expressed against us by individuals of that country, the first wish of every Englishman’s heart is to see us once more fighting by their sides against France; nor could the king or his ministers do an act so popular as to enter into an alliance with us.  The nation would not weigh the consideration by grains & scruples.  They would consider it as the price & pledge of an indissoluble course of friendship.  I think it possible that for such a provisional treaty they would give us their general guarantee of Louisiana & the Floridas.  At any rate we might try them.  A failure would not make our situation worse.  If such a one could be obtained we might await our own convenience for calling up the casus fœderis. I think it important that England should receive an overture as early as possible, as it might prevent her listening to terms of peace.  If I recollect rightly, we had instructed Monroe, when he went to Paris, to settle the deposit; if he failed in that object to propose a treaty to England immediately.  We could not be more engaged to secure the deposit then than we are the country now, after paying 15. millions for it.  I do expect, therefore, that, considering the present state of things as analogous to that, & virtually within his instructions, he will very likely make the proposition to England.  I write my thoughts freely, wishing the same from the other gentlemen, that seeing & considering the ground of each other’s opinions we may come as soon as possible to a result.  I propose to be in Washington on the 2d of October.  By that time I hope we shall be ripe for some conclusion.

I have desired Mr. Barnes to pay my quota of expenses relating to the Marseilles cargo, whatever you will be so good as to notify him that it is.  I wish I could have heard that Mrs. Madison’s course of recovery were more speedy.  I now fear we shall not see you but in Washington.  Accept for her & yourself my affectionate salutations, & assurances of constant esteem & respect.




To James Madison.
Monticello, September 16, 1805.

Dear Sir

The enclosed letter from General Armstrong furnishes matter for consideration.  You know the French considered themselves entitled to the Rio Bravo, & that Laussat declared his orders to be to receive possession to that limit, but not to Perdido; & that France has to us been always silent as to the Western boundary, while she spoke decisively as to the Eastern.  You know Turreau agreed with us that neither party should strengthen themselves in the disputed country during negociation; and Armstrong, who says Monroe concurs with him, is of opinion, from the character of the Emperor, that were we to restrict ourselves to taking the posts on the west side of the Missipi. & threaten a cessation of intercourse with Spain, Bonaparte would interpose efficiently to prevent the quarrel going further.  Add to these things the fact that Spain has sent 500. colonists to St. Antonio, & 100 troops to Nacogdoches, & probably has fixed or prepared a post at the Bay of St. Bernard, at Matagordo.  Supposing, then, a previous alliance with England to guard us in the worst event, I should suppose that Congress should pass acts, 1, authorizing the Exve. to suspend intercourse with Spain at discretion; 2, to dislodge the new establishments of Spain between the Missipi. & Bravo; and 3, to appoint commrs. to examine & ascertain all claims for spoliation that they might be preserved for future indemnification.  I commit these ideas merely for consideration, & that the subject may be matured by the time of our meeting at Washington, where I shall be myself on the 2d of October.  I have for some time feared I should not have the pleasure of seeing you either in Albemarle or Orange, from a general observation of the slowness of surgical cases.  However, should Mrs. Madison be well enough for you to come to Orange, I will call on you on my way to Washington, if I learn you are at home.  Genl. Dearborne is here.  His motions depend on the stage.  Accept for Mrs. M. & yourself affectionate salutations.


P.S.  I am afraid Bowdoin’s journey to England will furnish a ground for Pinckney’s remaining at Madrid.  I think he should be instructed to leave it immediately, & Bowdoin might as well, perhaps, delay going there till circumstances render it more necessary.




To the Secretary of State (James Madison.)
Washington, October 11, 1805.

Dear Sir,—The only questions which press on the Executive for decision are whether we shall enter into a provisional alliance with England to come into force only in the event that during the present war we become engaged in war with France? leaving the declaration of the casus federis ultimately to us.  Whether we shall send away Yrujo, Casacalvo, Morales? Whether we shall instruct Bowdoin not to go to Madrid until further orders? But we are all of opinion that the first of these questions is too important & too difficult to be decided but on the fullest consideration, in which your aid and council should be waited for.  I sincerely regret the cause of your absence from this place, and hope it will soon be removed; but it is one of those contingencies from the effects of which even the march of public affairs cannot be exempt.  Perhaps it would not be amiss to instruct Bowdoin to await at London further orders; because if we conclude afterwards that he should proceed, this may follow the other instruction without delay.

I am glad we did not intermeddle with Armstrong’s decision against the insurance companies.  I am told these companies have a great mixture of English subscribers.  If so, the question becomes affected by the partnership.  What is become of our hermitage? As you are in the neighborhood of Butler I presume the claim upon us could be easily settled & apportioned.  Present my respects to Mrs. Madison & my prayers for her speedy & perfect re-establishment and accept yourself affectionate salutations.




To Albert Gallatin.
Washington, October 18, 1805.

Dear Sir

I had detained the letter of Mr. Merry on Foster’s claims of freedom from importing duties, in expectation that Mr. Madison’s return would enable him, you and myself, to confer on it.  If the case presses, I will express my opinion on it.  Every person diplomatic in his own right, is entitled to the privileges of the law of nations, in his own right.  Among these is the receipt of all packages unopened and unexamined by the country which receives him.  The usage of nations has established that this shall liberate whatever is imported bona fide for his own use, from paying any duty.  A government may control the number of diplomatic characters it will receive;  but if it receives them it cannot control their rights while bona fide exercised.  Thus Dr. Franklin, Mr. Adams, Colonel Humphreys, and myself, all residing at Paris at the same time, had all of us our importation duty free.  Great Britain had an ambassador and a minister plenipotentiary there, and an ambassador extra for several years;  all three had their entries free.  In most countries this privilege is Permanent.  Great Britain is niggardly, and allows it only on the first arrival.  But in this as she treats us only as she does the most favored nations, so we should treat her as we do the most favored nations.  If these principles are right, Mr. Foster is duty free.  If you concur, let it be so settled.  If you think differently, let it lie for Madison’s opinion.  Colonel Monroe, in a letter of May, from Madrid, expressed impatience to get back to London that he might get to America before the equinox.  It was the first I had heard of his having any thought of coming here, and though equivocally expressed, I thought he meant only a visit.  In subsequent letters from Paris and London, down to August 16, he says nothing of coming;  on the contrary, he has re-opened a particular negotiation.  The motives which led him to wish to arrive before the equinox would prevent his venturing between the equinox and winter.  I think, therefore, he has no fixed idea of coming away.  Accept affectionate salutations.




To the Secretary of the Treasury (Albert Gallatin.)
October 23, 1805.

I send for your perusal another letter of Mr. Madison, which I will ask the favor of you to return immediately with the one sent on Saturday, and on which it is necessary to act.

The war on the Continent of Europe appears now so certain, and that peace is at least one year off, that we are now placed at our ease in point of time.  We may make another effort for a peaceable accommodation with Spain without the danger of being left alone to cope with both France and Spain; and even if we are driven to war, it is now much more questionable than it was whether we had not better enter into it without fettering ourselves with an alliance, that we may be free to retire whenever our terms can be obtained.  Peace cannot now be made in Europe but by a general convention, and that will take best part of a twelvemonth to arrange.  Our question now is in what way to give Spain another opportunity of arrangement ?  Is not Paris the place ?  France the agent ?  The purchase of the Floridas the means? Affectionate salutations.




To Wilson Cary Nicholas
Washington, October 25, 1805.

Dear Sir,—Immediately on my arrival here I examined my papers & found that I had delivered up to the Treasury the copy of the judgment against Robinson’s administrators.  I took the first opportunity therefore of speaking to Mr. Gallatin & desiring him to transmit it to you.  He did not recollect the receipt of it, but promised to have it searched for, from him therefore you will receive it.

It seems now certain there will be an extensive war on the continent of Europe.  We shall avail ourselves of the time which this event gives us to bring Spain peaceably to reason, & I believe there is a way of doing it with dignity & effect.  Should it even fail, we shall still be in time to do ourselves justice if the case shall call for it.  This new state of things is the more fortunate in proportion as it would have been disagreeable to have proposed closer connections with England at a moment when so much just clamour exists against her for her new encroachments on neutral rights.  Accept affectionate salutations & assurances of great esteem & respect.




To J.P. Reibelt
Washington, December 21, 1805.

Sir,—During the sitting of the legislature, & especially at it’s commencement it is rare that I can find a moment for my private correspondence.  Hence my tardiness in acknoleging the receipt of your favors of the 3d 16th & 19th.

I had often thought on the subject you propose as to the mode of procuring German emigrants to take the place of our blacks.  To this, however, the state legislatures are alone competent, the general government possessing no powers but those enumerated in the Constitution, and that of obtaining emigrants at the general expense not being one of the enumerated powers.  With respect to the state governments, I not only doubt, but despair, of their taking up this operation, till some strong pressure of circumstance shall force it on them.  The same may be said as to the Merino sheep.  Congress could not, by our Constitution give one dollar for all in Spain, because that kind of power has not been given them.  It is probable that private exertions will transplant & spread them.  I have possessed the breed several years, and have been constantly distributing them in my neighborhood.  Colo. Humphreys brought over 50 from which stock he is furnishing great numbers.