I received the favor of your letter, written soon after your arrival, a little before I left Washington, and during a press of business preparatory to my departure on a short visit to this place; this has prevented my earlier congratulations to you on your safe return to your own country. There, judging from my own experience, you will enjoy much more of the tranquil happiness of life, than is to be found in the noisy scenes of the great cities of Europe. I am also aware that you had at Paris additional causes of disquietude; these seem inseparable from public life, and, indeed, are the greatest discouragements to entering into or continuing in it. Perhaps, however, they sweeten the hour of retirement, and secure us from all dangers of regret. On the subject of that disquietude, it is proper for me only to say that, however unfortunate the incident, I found in it no cause of dissatisfaction with yourself, nor of lessening the esteem I entertain for your virtues and talents; and, had it not been disagreeable to yourself, I should have been well pleased that you could have proceeded on your original destination.
While I thank you for the several letters received from you during your absence, I have to regret the miscarriage of some of those I wrote you. Not having my papers here, I cannot cite their dates by memory; but they shall be the subject of another letter on my return to Washington.
You find us on your return in a crisis of great difficulty. An embargo had, by the course of events, become the only peaceable card we had to play. Should neither peace, nor a revocation of the decrees and orders in Europe take place, the day cannot be distant when that will cease to be preferable to open hostility. Nothing just or temperate has been omitted on our part, to retard or to avoid this unprofitable alternative. Our situation will be the more singular, as we may have to choose between two enemies, who have both furnished cause of war. With one of them we could never come into contact; with the other great injuries may be mutually inflicted and received. Let us still hope to avoid, while we prepare to meet them.
Hoping you will find our cloudless skies and benign climate more favorable to your health than those of Europe, I pray you to accept my friendly salutations, and assurances of great esteem and consideration.
I return you all the papers received from you by yesterdays mail, except Mr. Burnleys, which I shall send by the Secretary of War. Although all the appointments below field-officers are made, it is possible some may decline, and open a way for new competition. I have observed that Turreaus letters have for some time past changed their style unfavorably. I believe this is the first occasion he has had to complain of French deserters being enlisted by us, and if so, the tone of his application is improper. The answer to him, however, is obvious as to our laws and instructions, and the discharge, not delivery, of the men, for which purpose I presume you will write a line to the Secretary of War. Woodwards scruples are perplexing. And they are unfounded because, on his own principle, if a law requires an oath to be administered, and does not say by whom, he admits it may be any judge; if, therefore, it names a person no longer in existence, it is as if it named nobody. On this construction all the territories have practised, and all the authorities of the national government,even the Legislature. It was wrong on a second ground; no judge ever refusing to administer an oath in any useful case, although he may not consider it as strictly judicial. If it may be valid or useful, he administers "ut valeat quantum valer potest." But what is to be done ? Would it not be well for you to send the case to the Attorney General, and get him to enclose his opinion to Governor Hull, who will use it with judge Witherall, or some territorial judge or justice ?
With the quarrel of judge Vandeberg and his bar we cannot intermeddle. Mercers querulous letter is an unreasonable one. How could his offer of service be acted on, but by putting it in the hands of those who were to act on all others ?
I shall to-day direct the post-rider not to continue his route to this place after to-day, and to take your orders as to the time you would wish him to continue coming to you. I salute you with affectionate esteem and respect.
I have considered the letter of the director of the mint, stating the ease with which the errors of Commodore Truxtons medal may be corrected on the medal itself, and the unpracticability of doing it on the die. In my former letter to you on this subject, I observed that to make a new die would be a serious thing, requiring consideration. In fact, the first die having been made by authority of the Legislature, the medal struck, accepted, and acquiesced in for so many years, the powers given by that law are executed and at an end, and a second law would be requisite to make a second die or medal. But I presume it will be quite as agreeable to Commodore Truxton to have his medal corrected in one way as another, if done equally well, and it certainly may be as well or better done by the graver, and with more delicate traits. I remember it was the opinion of Doctor Franklin that where only one or a few medals were to be made, it was better to have them engraved.
The medal being corrected, the die becomes immaterial. That has never been delivered to the party, the medal itself being the only thing voted to him. I say this on certain grounds, because I think this and Prebles are the only medals given by the United States which have not been made under my immediate direction. The dies of all those given by the old Congress, and made at Paris, remain to this day deposited with our bankers at Paris. That of General Lee, made in Philadelphia, was retained in the mint. I mention this not as of consequence whether the die be given or retained, but to show that there can be no claim of the party to it, or consequently to its correction. I think, therefore, the medal itself should be corrected by Mr. Reich; that this is as far as we can stretch our authority, and I hope it will be satisfactory to the Commodore. I salute you with constant affection and respect.
Your favor of the 4th was received on my return to this place, and the proposition of your correspondent on the subject of fortification was referred to the Secretary of War, where office and qualifications make him the proper judge of it. I enclose you his answer. The same prudence which in private life would forbid our paying our own money for unexplained projects, forbids it in the dispensation of the public moneys. It is not enough that an individual and an unknown one says and even thinks he has made a discovery of the magnitude announced on this occasion. Not only explanation, but the actual experiment must be required before we can cease to doubt whether the inventor is not deceived by some false or imperfect view of his subject. Still your patriotic attention to bring such a proposition under our notice, that it might be applied to the public good, if susceptible of it, is praiseworthy, and I return you thanks for it with the assurances of my esteem and respect.
I thank you for the pamphlet containing your ideas on the subject of canals constructed of wood; but it is not in my power to give any definite opinion of its national importance. If there exists a cement which used as a lining for cisterns and aqueducts, renders them impermeable to water, (and it is affirmed that in France they are in the possession and use of such an one,) then it becomes the common question whether constructions of wood, brick, or rough stone are cheapest in the end ? A question on which every man possesses materials for forming his judgment. I suspect it is the supposed necessity of using hewn stone in works of this kind which has had the greatest effect in discouraging their being undertaken. I tender you my salutations and respects.
Your favor of May 30th was delivered me on my return to this place, and I now enclose the prospectus of Clarksons history with my subscription to it. I have perused with great satisfaction the Report of the Committee for the African institution. The sentiments it breathes are worthy of the eminent characters who compose the institution, as are also the generous cares they propose to undertake. I wish they may begin their work at the right end. Our experience with the Indians has proved that letters are not the first, but the last step in the progression from barbarism to civilization. Our Indian neighbors will occupy all the attentions we may spare, towards the improvement of their condition. The four great Southern tribes are advancing hopefully. The foremost are the Cherokees, the upper settlements of whom have made to me a formal application to be received into the Union as citizens of the United States, and to be governed by our laws. If we can form for them a simple and acceptable plan of advancing by degrees to a maturity for receiving our laws, the example will have a powerful effect towards stimulating the other tribes in the same progression, and will cheer the gloomy views which have overspread their minds as to their own future history. I salute you with friendship and great respect.
Thomas Jefferson returns his thanks to Mr. Franklin for the address to the Society of Friends which he was so kind as to send him. The appeal both to facts and principles is strong, and their consistency will require an able advocate. Conscious that the present administration has been essentially pacific, and that in all questions of importance it has been governed by the identical principles professed by that Society, it has been quite at a loss to conjecture the unknown cause of the opposition of the greater part, and bare neutrality of the rest. The hope, however, that prejudices would at length give way to facts, has never been entirely extinguished, and still may be realized in favor of another administration.
I have duly received your favor covering a copy of the talk to the Tammany society, for which I thank you, and particularly for the favorable sentiments expressed towards myself. Certainly, nothing will so much sweeten the tranquillity and comfort of retirement, as the knoledge that I carry with me the good will & approbation of my republican fellow citizens, and especially of the individuals in unison with whom I have so long acted. With respect to the federalists, I believe we think alike; for when speaking of them, we never mean to include a worthy portion of our fellow citizens, who consider themselves as in duty bound to support the constituted authorities of every branch, and to reserve their opposition to the period of election. These having acquired the appellation of federalists, while a federal administration was in place, have not cared about throwing off their name, but adhering to their principle, are the supporters of the present order of things. The other branch of the federalists, those who are so in principle as well as in name, disapprove of the republican principles & features of our Constitution, and would, I believe, welcome any public calamity (war with England excepted) which might lessen the confidence of our country in those principles & forms. I have generally considered them rather as subjects for a mad-house. But they are now playing a game of the most mischievous tendency, without perhaps being themselves aware of it. They are endeavoring to convince England that we suffer more by the embargo than they do, & that if they will but hold out awhile, we must abandon it. It is true, the time will come when we must abandon it. But if this is before the repeal of the orders of council, we must abandon it only for a state of war. The day is not distant, when that will be preferable to a longer continuance of the embargo. But we can never remove that, & let our vessels go out & be taken under these orders, without making reprisal. Yet this is the very state of things which these federal monarchists are endeavoring to bring about; and in this it is but too possible they may succeed. But the fact is, that if we have war with England, it will be solely produced by their manœuvres. I think that in two or three months we shall know what will be the issue.
I salute you with esteem & respect.
Thomas Jefferson presents his compliments to General Wilkinson, and in answer to his letters of yesterday observes that during the course of the Burr conspiracy, the voluminous communications he received were generally read but once & then committed to the Attorney General, and were never returned to him. It is not in his power, therefore, to say that General Wilkinson did or did not denounce eminent persons to him, & still less who they were. It was unavoidable that he should from time to time mention persons known or supposed to be accomplices of Burr, and it is recollected that some of these suspicions were corrected afterwards on better information. Whether the undefined term denunciation goes to cases of this kind or not Thomas Jefferson does not know, nor could he now name from recollection the persons suspected at different times. He salutes General Wilkinson respectfully.
The information given to me by Mrs. Paradise of letters to me from her grandsons, is without foundation. I have not for many years heard a tittle respecting the family at Venice. Should any information respecting them come to me I will certainly communicate it to Mrs. Paradise.
That the embargo is approved by the body of republicans through the Union, cannot be doubted. It is equally known that a great proportion of the federalists approve of it; but as they think it an engine which may be used advantageously against the republican system, they countenance the clamors against it. I salute you with great friendship and respect.
I enclose you a mercantile advertiser for the sake of the extraordinary fabrication in its Postscript by an arrival from Cork with London dates to the 9th of May. The arrival of the Osage in England (which had been detained in France by Armstrong himself) furnishes the occasion of amusing that nation with the forgeries of fact which I have included in an inked line on the margin, within which line every word is false. Yet this lie will run through all the papers. Few readers will think of asking themselves how this London (or Cork) printer should know all the particulars he states, & for which he quotes no authority. The fact is that there never has been a proposition or intimation to us from France to join them in the war, unless Champagnys letter be so considered: nor has there ever been the slightest disrespect to Armstrong, as far as we have a right to conclude from his silence and from that of Turreau. So from England we have in like manner had no such intimation except in Holland & Aucklands note subjoined to the treaty. We have nothing from Armstrong or Pinckney. Indeed we can have nothing interesting from France while the Emperor is absent. I continue to send you the Public Advertiser & citizen of New York while their fire is kept up on the presidential election. The papers of the other states are almost entirely silent on the subject. It seems understood that De Witt Clinton sinks with his tool Cheetham. We have proof on the oath of a credible man that he set Burr on board the last British packet in the evening of her departure. He was disguised in a sailors habit, as were two other gentlemen unknown to the person, but one of whom Burr called Ogden at taking leave. He was met at New York by Mrs. Alston, whose child babbled out in his play with another that Grandpapa was come.
I charged Bacon very strictly to keep the water of the canal always running over the waste, as Shoemaker has made the want of water the ground of insisting on a suspension of rent, and will probably continue to do it. Present my tender love to Martha & the family and be assured yourself of my affectionate attachment & respect.
General Turreaus application for two vessels to carry French subjects to France, must, I think, be granted, because under present circumstances we ought not on slight grounds to dissatisfy either belligerent. The vessels may be back before winter, and their only danger will be of stoppage by the English, who, however, have no right but to take out the French subjects.
At the same time, I think it would be well to say to General Turreau that we reluctantly let our seamen be exposed to capture, or perhaps to a voluntary engagement with one of the belligerents : that we rely, therefore, on his so proportioning the vessels to the number of passengers as merely to give them a reasonable accommodation. It would be well, too, that he should inform us after their departure, of the number of persons sent in them.
I have lately seen a printed report of the committee of the Canal company o f New Orleans, stating the progress and prospects of their enterprise. In this the United States feel a strong interest, inasmuch as it will so much facilitate the passage of our armed vessels out of the one water into the other. For this purpose, however, there must be at least five and a half feet water through the whole line of communication from the lake to the river. In some conversations with Mr. Clark on this subject the winter before last, there was a mutual understanding that the company would complete the canal, and the United States would make the locks. This we are still disposed to do; and so anxious are we to get this means of defence completed, that to hasten it we would contribute any other encouragement within the limits of our authority which might produce this effect. If, for instance, the completion of it within one year could be insured by our contributing such a sum as one or two thousand dollars a month to the amount of twenty thousand dollars, in the whole, we might do it, requiring as a consideration for our justification that the vessels of the United States should always pass toll-free. The object of this letter is to sound the principal members, without letting them know you do it by instruction from us, and to find out what moderate and reasonable aid on our part would be necessary to get a speedy conclusion of the work, and in what form that aid would be most useful, and to be so good as to communicate it to me as soon as the knowledge is obtained by yourself. I should be glad to learn, at the same time, what is the perpendicular height of the top of the levee above the surface of the water in the Mississippi in its lowest state. Five and a half feet below this would be indispensable for our purposes. I salute you with great esteem and respect.
1. (Peyton Skipwighs letter.) I approve of the proposition to authorize the collector of St. Marys or Savannah to permit vessels to bring to St. Marys such supplies as in his opinion are really wanted for the individuals applying, and where he has entire confidence no fraud will be committed. But the vessels should be reasonably proportioned to the cargo. Should this be extended to Passamaquoddy ?
2. (The cases of detention by Gelston and Turner.) The Legislature finding that no general rules could be formed which would not be evaded by avarice and roguery, finally authorized the collector, if there were still circumstances of suspicion, to detain the vessel. Wherever, therefore, the collector is impressed with suspicion, from a view of all circumstances, which are often indescribable, I think it proper to confirm his detention. It would be only where, from his own showing, or other good information, prejudice or false views biassed his judgment, that I should be disposed to countermand his detention.
3. The declaration of the bakers of New York, that their citizens will be dissatisfied, under the present circumstances of their country, to cat bread of the flour of their own State, is equally a libel on the produce and citizens of the State. The citizens have certainly a right to speak for themselves on such occasions, and when they do we shall be able to judge whether their numbers or characters are such as to be entitled to a sacrifice of the embargo law. If this prevails, the next application will be for vessels to go to New York for the pippins of that State, because they are higher flavored than the same species of apples growing in other States.
4. We should by all means appoint a new collector at Sacketts Harbor. If the Governor knows nobody there who can be depended on, can he not find some faithful man in the city or country who would consider the emoluments acceptable, such as they are ?
5. The seizure by Mr. Illsley not being under the embargo law, will take its course. With respect to the aid of gunboats, desired by him and Mr. Holmes of Sunbury, or any military aid, that can always be settled directly between Mr. Gallatin and the Secretaries of the Navy or War. Both those gentlemen know our extreme anxiety to give a full effect to the important experiment of the embargo, at any expense within the bounds of reason, and will, on the application of Mr. Gallatin, yield the aid of their departments without waiting the delay of consulting me.
I have gone a little into the grounds of these opinions, in order that there being a mutual understanding on these subjects, Mr. Gallatin during the time of our separation may decide on the cases occurring, without the delay of consulting me at such a distance. My principle is that the conveniences of our citizens shall yield reasonably, and their taste greatly to the importance of giving the present experiment so fair a trial that on future occasions our legislators may know with certainty how far they may count on it as an engine for national purposes.
If my recollection does not deceive me, the collection of the remains of the animal incognitum of the Ohio (sometimes called mammoth), possessed by the Cabinet of Natural History at Paris, is not very copious. Under this impression, and presuming that this Cabinet is allied to the National Institute, to which I am desirous of rendering some service, I have lately availed myself of an opportunity of collecting some of those remains. General Clarke (the companion of Governor Lewis in his expedition to the Pacific Ocean) being, on a late journey, to pass by the Big-bone Lick of the Ohio, was kind enough to undertake to employ for me a number of laborers, and to direct their operations in digging for these bones at this important deposit of them. The result of these researches will appear in the enclosed catalogue of specimens which I am now able to place at the disposal of the National Institute. An aviso being to leave this place for some port of France on public service, I deliver the packages to Captain Haley, to be deposited with the Consul of the United States, at whatever port he may land. They are addressed to Mr. Warden of our legation at Paris, for the National Institute, and he will have the honor of delivering them. To these I have added the horns of an animal called by the natives the Mountain Ram, resembling the sheep by his head, but more nearly the deer in his other parts; as also the skin of another animal, resembling the sheep by his fleece but the goat in his other parts. This is called by the natives the Fleecy Goat, or in the style of the natural historian, the Pokotragos. I suspect it to be nearly related to the Pacos, and were we to group the fleecy animals together, it would stand perhaps with the Vigogne, Pacos, and Sheep. The Mountain Ram was found in abundance by Messrs. Lewis and Clarke on their western tour, and was frequently an article of food for their party, and esteemed more delicate than the deer. The Fleecy Goat they did not see, but procured two skins from the Indians, of which this is one. Their description will be given in the work of Governor Lewis, the journal and geographical part of which may be soon expected from the press; but the parts relating to the plants and animals observed in his tour, will be delayed by the engravings. In the meantime, the plants of which be brought seeds, have been very successfully raised in the botanical garden of Mr. Hamilton of the Woodlands, and by Mr. McMahon, a gardener of Philadelphia; and on the whole, it is with pleasure I can assure you that the addition to our knowledge in every department, resulting from this tour of Messrs. Lewis and Clarke, has entirely fulfilled my expectations in setting it on foot, and that the world will find that those travellers have well earned its favor. I will take care that the Institute as well as yourself shall receive Governor Lewiss work as it appears.
It is with pleasure I embrace this occasion of returning you my thanks for the favor of your very valuable works, sur les poissons et les cetacées, which you were so kind as to send me through Mr. Livingston and General Turreau, and which I find entirely worthy of your high reputation in the literary world. That I have not sooner made this acknowledgment has not proceeded from any want of respect and attachment to yourself, or a just value of your estimable present, but from the strong and incessant calls of duty to other objects. The candor of your character gives me confidence of your indulgence on this head, and I assure you with truth that no circumstances are more welcome to me than those which give me the occasion of recalling myself to your recollection, and of renewing to you the assurances of sincere personal attachment, and of great respect and consideration.
Contents of the large square box
Two ribs belonging to the upper part of the thorax.
Two ribs from lower part of the thorax.
One entire vertebra.
Two spinous processes of the vertebra broken from the bodies.
Dentes molares, which appear to have belonged to the full-grown animal.
A portion of the under-jaw of a young animal with two molar teeth in it.
These teeth appear to have belonged to a first set, as they are small, and the posterior has but three grinding ridges, instead of five, the common number in adult teeth of the lower jaw.
Another portion of the under-jaw, including the symphisis, or chin. In this portion the teeth of one side are every way complete; to wit, the posterior has five transverse ridges, and the anterior three.
A fragment of the upper-jaw with one molar tooth much worn.
Molar teeth which we suppose to be like those of the mammoth or elephant of Siberia. They are essentially different from those of the mammoth or elephant of this country, and although similar in some respects to the teeth of the Asiatic elephant, they agree more completely with the description of the teeth found in Siberia in the arrangement and size of the transverse lamina of enamel. This idea, however, is not derived from actual comparison of the different teeth with each other, for we have no specimens of Siberian teeth in this country; but from inferences deduced from the various accounts in and drawings of these teeth to be found in books. A few of these teeth have been found in several places where the bones of the American animal have existed.
In the large box in which the preceding bones are, is a small one containing a promiscuous mass of small bones, chiefly of the feet.
In the large irregular-shaped box, a tusk of large size. The spiral twist in all the specimens of these tusks which we have seen, was remarked so long ago as the time of Breyneus, in his description of the tusks of the Siberian mammoth in the Philosophical Transactions, if that paper is rightly recollected, for the book is not here to be turned to at present. Many fragments of tusks have been sent from the Ohio, generally resembling portions of such tusks as are brought to us in the course of commerce. But of these spiral tusks, in a tolerable complete state, we have had only four. One is found near the head of the north branch of the Susquehanna. A second possessed by Mr. Peale, was found with the skeleton, near the Hudson. A third is at Monticello, found with the bones of this collection at the Big-bone Lick of Ohio, and the fourth is that now sent for the Institute, found at the same place and larger than that at Monticello.
The smallest box contains the horns of the mountain, ram, and skin of the fleecy goat.
I had received from you on a former occasion the four first volumes of the Memoirs of the Agricultural Society of the Seine, and since that, your letter of September 19th, with the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th volumes, being for the years 1804, 5, 6, with some separate memoirs. These I have read with great avidity and satisfaction, and now return you my thanks for them. But I owe particular acknowledgments for the valuable present of the Théâtre de Serres, which I consider as a prodigy for the age in which it was composed, and shows an advancement in the science of agriculture which I had never suspected to have belonged to that time. Brought down to the present day by the very valuable notes added, it is really such a treasure of agricultural knowledge, as has not before been offered to the world in a single work.
It is not merely for myself, but for my country, that I must do homage to the philanthropy of the Society, which has dictated their destination for me of their newly improved plough. I shall certainly so use it as to answer their liberal views, by making the opportunities of profiting by it as general as possible.
I have just received information that a plough addressed to me has arrived at New York, from England, but unaccompanied by any letter or other explanation. As I have had no intimation of such an article to be forwarded to me from that country, I presume it is the one sent by the Society of the Seine, that it, has been carried into England under their orders of council, and permitted to come on from thence. This I shall know within a short time. I shall with great pleasure attend to the construction and transmission to the Society of a plough with my mould-board. This is the only part of that useful instrument to which I have paid any particular attention. But knowing how much the perfection of the plough must depend, 1st, on the line of traction; 2d, on the direction of the share; 3d, on the angle of the wing; 4th, on the form of the mould-board; and persuaded that I shall find the three first advantages eminently exemplified in that which the Society sends me, I am anxious to see combined with these a mould-board of my form, in the hope it will still advance the perfection of that machine. But for this I must ask time till I am relieved from the cares which have now a right to all my time, that is to say, till the next spring. Then giving, in the leisure of retirement, all the time and attention this construction merits and requires, I will certainly render to the Society the result in a plough of the best form I shall be able to have executed. In the meantime, accept for them and yourself the assurances of my high respect and consideration.
I have duly received your favor of March 28th, and with it your treatises on the culture of the sugar cane and cotton plant in France. The introduction of new cultures, and especially of objects of leading importance to our comfort, is certainly worthy the attention of every government, and nothing short of the actual experiment should discourage an essay of which any hope can be entertained. Till that is made, the result is open to conjecture; and I should certainly conjecture that the sugar cane could never become an article of profitable culture in France. We have within the ancient limits of the United States, a great extent of country. Which brings the orange to advantage, but not a foot in which the sugar cane can be matured. France, within its former limits, has but two small spots, (Olivreles and Hieres) which brings the orange in open air, and à fortiori, therefore, none proper for the cane. I should think the maple-sugar more worthy of experiment. There is no part of France of which the climate would not admit this tree. I have never seen a reason why every farmer should not have a sugar orchard, as well as an apple orchard. The supply of sugar for his family would require as little ground, and the process of making it as easy as that of cider. Mr. Macaws, your botanist here, could send you plants as well as seeds, in any quantity from the United States. I have no doubt the cotton plant will succeed in some of the southern parts of France. Whether its culture will be as advantageous as those they are now engaged in, remains to be tried. We could, in the United States, make as great a variety of wines as are made in Europe, not exactly of the same kinds, but doubtless as good. Yet I have ever observed to my countrymen, who think its introduction important, that a laborer cultivating wheat, rice, tobacco, or cotton here, will be able with the proceeds, to purchase double the quantity of the wine he could make. Possibly the same quantity of land and labor in France employed on the rich produce of your Southern counties, would purchase double the quantity of the cotton they would yield there. This however may prove otherwise on trial, and therefore it is worthy the trial. In general, it is a truth that if every nation will employ itself in what it is fittest to produce, a greater quantity will be raised of the things contributing to human happiness, than if every nation attempts to raise everything it wants within itself. The limits within which the cotton plant is worth cultivating in the United States, are the Rappahannock river to the north, and the first mountains to the west. And even from the Rappahannock to the Roanoke, we only cultivate for family use, as it cannot there be afforded at market in competition with that of the more Southern region. The Mississippi country, also within the same latitudes, admits the culture of cotton.
The superficial view I have yet had time to take of your treatise on the cotton plant, induces a belief that it is rich and correct in its matter, and contains a great fund of learning on that plant. When retired to rural occupations, as I shall be ere long, I shall profit of its contents practically, in the culture of that plant merely for household manufacture. In that situation, too, I shall devote myself to occupations much more congenial with my inclinations than those to which I have been called by the character of the times into which my lot was cast. About to be relieved from this corvée by age and the fulfilment of the quadragena stipendia, what remains to me of physical activity will chiefly be employed in the amusements of agriculture. Having little practical skill, I count more on the pleasures than the profits of that occupation. They will give me, too, the leisure which my present situation nearly denies, of rendering such services as may be within my means, to the Institute, the Agricultural Society of the Seine, to yourself, and such other worthy individuals as may find any convenience in a correspondence here. I shall then be able particularly to fulfil the wishes expressed, of my sending to the Society of Agriculture a plough with my mould-board. Perhaps I may be able to add some other implements, peculiar to us, to the collection which I perceive that the Society is making. I salute you, Sir, with assurances of great esteem and respect.
Complaints multiply upon us of evasions of the embargo laws, by fraud and force. These come from Newport, Portland, Machias, Nantucket, Marthas Vineyard, etc., etc. As I do consider the severe enforcement of the embargo to be of an importance, not to be measured by money, for our future government as well as present objects, I think it will be advisable that during this summer all the gunboats, actually manned and in commission, should be distributed through as many ports and bays as may be necessary to assist the embargo. On this subject I will pray you to confer with Mr. Gallatin, who will call on you on his passage through Baltimore, and to communicate with him hereafter, directly, without the delay of consulting me, and generally to aid this object with such means of your department as are consistent with its situation.
I think I shall be able to leave this place by Wednesday. I will mention for your information, that the post for Milton leaves this place on Tuesdays and Fridays, and arrives at it on Sundays and, I believe, Thursdays.
I salute you with affection and respect.
The correspondence which you sent me the other day, between the British commanders and our officers in Moose Island, is now in the hands of Mr. Madison, and will be delivered to you on application. On consulting him and Mr. Gallatin, I find the facts to be that Moose Island has ever been in our possession, as well before as ever since the treaty of peace with Great Britain; that in the convention formed between Mr. King and the British government, about four years ago, wherein our limits in that quarter were mutually recognized, Moose Island was expressly acknowledged to belong to us; and, through an account of an article respecting Louisiana, the convention has not yet been ratified, yet both parties have acted on the article of these limits as if it had been ratified,each party considering the parts then assigned to them as no longer questioned by the other.
I think you had better communicate the papers, with a copy of that article of the convention, to General Dearborn, with these observations, from whom the answer to our officer will go with more propriety. If you will speak on this subject with Mr. Madison, he will, perhaps, be able to state to you what passed between us on this subject more fully than I have done. Accept my salutations.
In my letter of May 6th I asked the favor of your Excellency, as I did of the Governors of other States not furnishing in their interior country flour sufficient for the consumption of the State, to take the trouble of giving certificates, in favor of any merchants meriting confidence, for the quantities I necessary for consumption beyond the interior supplies. Having desired from the Treasury Department a statement of the quantities called for under these certificates, I find that those of your Excellency, received at the Treasury, amount to 51,000 barrels of flour, 108,400 bushels of Indian corn, 560 tierces of rice, 2,000 bushels of rye, and, in addition thereto, that there had been given certificates for either 12,450 barrels of flour, or 40,000 bushels of corn. As these supplies, although called for within the space of two months, will undoubtedly furnish the consumption of your State for a much longer time, I have thought it advisable to ask the favor of your Excellency, after the receipt of this letter, to discontinue issuing any other certificates, that we may not unnecessarily administer facilities to the evasion of the embargo laws; for I repeat what I observed in my former letter, that these evasions are effected chiefly by vessels clearing coastwise. But while I am desirous of preventing the frauds which go to defeat the salutary objects of these laws, I am equally so that the fair consumption of our citizens may in nowise be abridged. It would, therefore, be deemed a great favor if your Excellency could have me furnished with an estimate, on the best data possessed, of the quantities of flour, corn, and rice, which, in addition to your internal supplies, may be necessary for the consumption, in any given time, of those parts of your State which habitually depend on importation for these articles. I ask this the more freely, because I presume you must have had such an estimate formed for the government, of your discretion in issuing the preceding certificates, and because it may be so necessary for our future government. I salute you with assurance of great respect and esteem.
After writing my letter of the 9th, I received one from Mr. Pitot in the name of the New Orleans Canal Company, which ought to have come with the printed report, stating more fully their views, and more explicitly the way in which we can aid them. They ask specifically that we should lend them $50,000, or take the remaining fourth of their shares now on hand. This last measure is too much out of our policy of not embarking the public in enterprises better managed by individuals, and which might occupy as much of our time as those political duties for which the public functionaries are particularly instituted. Some money could be lent them, but only on an assurance that it would be employed so as to secure the public objects. The first interests of the company will be to bring a practicable navigation from the Lake Pontchartrain through the Bayou St. Jean and Canal de Carondelet to the city, because that entitles them to a toll on the profitable part of the enterprise. But this would answer no object of the government unless it was carried through to the Mississippi, so that our armed vessels drawing five feet water might pass through. Instead therefore of the ground I suggested in my last letter, I would propose to lend them a sum of money on the condition of their applying it entirely to that part of the canal which, beginning at the Mississippi, goes round the city to a junction with the canal of Carondelet, and we may moreover at our own expense erect the locks. The Secretary of War not being here, I cannot propose these or any other terms precisely, but you may more openly than I proposed in my last letter, give these as the general shape of the aid which we contemplate, collect the ideas of individual members, and communicate them to me, so that when I shall have an opportunity of consulting the Secretary of War we may put our proposition in the form most acceptable to them. On this subject I shall wish to hear from you soon.
Mr. Livingston was here lately, and finding that we considered the Batture as now resting with Congress, and that it was our duty to keep it clear of all adversary possession till their decision is obtained, wrote a letter to the Secretary of State, which, if we understand it, amounts to a declaration that he will on his return bring the authority, of the court into array against that of the executive, and endeavor to obtain a forcible possession. But I presume that the court knows too well that the title of the United States to land is subject to the jurisdiction of no court, it having never been deemed safe to submit the major interests of the nation to an ordinary tribunal, or to any one but such as the Legislature establishes for the special occasion; and the Marshal will find his duty too plainly marked out in the act of March 3, 1807, to be at a loss to determine what authority he is to obey. It will be well however that you should have due attention paid to this subject, and particularly to apprise Mr. Grymes to be prepared to take care that the public rights receive no detriment.
I salute you with great respect and esteem.
Dear Sir,Since I parted with you in Albemarle in Sep. last, I have never had a line from you, nor I believe has the Secretary at War with whom you have much connection through the Indian department. The misfortune which attended the effort to send the Mandane chief home, became known to us before you had reached St. Louis. We took no step on the occasion, counting on receiving your advice so soon as you should be in place, and knowing that your knoledge of the whole subject & presence on the spot would enable you to judge better than we could what ought to be done. The constant persuasion that something from you must be on its way to us, has as constantly prevented our writing to you on the subject. The present letter, however, is written to put an end at length to this mutual silence, and to ask from you a communication of what you think best to be done to get the chief & his family back. We consider the good faith, and the reputation of the nation, as pledged to accomplish this. We would wish indeed not to be obliged to undertake any considerable military expedition in the present uncertain state of our foreign concerns & especially not till the new body of troops shall be raised. But if it can be effected in any other way & at any reasonable expense, we are disposed to meet it.
A powerful company is at length forming for taking up the Indian commerce on a large scale. They will employ a capital the first year of 300,000 D. and raise it afterwards to a million. The English Mackinac company will probably withdraw from the competition. It will be under the direction of a most excellent man, a Mr. Astor, mercht of New York, long engaged in the business, & perfectly master of it. He has some hope of seeing you at St. Louis, in which case I recommend him to your particular attention. Nothing but the exclusive possession of the Indian commerce can secure us their peace.
Our foreign affairs do not seem to clear up at all. Should they continue as at present, the moment will come when it will be a question for the Legislature whether war will not be preferable to a longer continuance of the embargo.
The Presidential question is clearing up daily, and the opposition subsiding. It is very possible that the suffrage of the nation may be undivided. But with this question it is my duty not to intermeddle. I have not lately heard of your friends in Albemarle. They were well when I left that in June, and not hearing otherwise affords presumptions they are well. But I presume you hear that from themselves. We have no tidings yet of the forwardness of your printer. I hope the first part will not be delayed much longer. Wishing you every blessing of life & health, I salute you with constant affection & respect.
I had written to Governor Claiborne according to what had been agreed between you and myself, after which I received a letter from Pitot on behalf of the Canal company of New Orleans, which should have accompanied the printed report I communicated to you. The letter agrees with the report, and asks specifically that we should either lend them fifty thousand dollars, or buy the remaining fourth part of their shares now on hand. On consultation with Mr. Madison, Gallatin, and Rodney, we concluded it best to say we would lend them a sum of money if they would agree to lay out the whole of it in making the canal from the Mississippi round the town to its junction with the canal of Carondelet; and I wrote to Claiborne to sound the members of the company, and to find out if there were any modifications which would render the proposition more acceptable, to communicate them to me, and that when I should have an opportunity of consulting you, we would make the proposition in form.
I send you a letter of General Wilkinsons, the papers it covered, and my answer, which will sufficiently explain themselves. That in cases of military Operations some occasions for secret service money must arise, is certain. But I think that they should be more fully explained to the government than the General has done, seems also proper.
Mr. Smith will send you some British complaints on our fortifying Moose Islands, and the kind of answer recommended on consultation with the heads of departments.
We have such complaints of the breach of embargo by fraud and force on our northern water line, that I must pray your co-operation with the Secretary of the Treasury by rendezvousing as many new recruits as you can in that quarter. The Osage brought us nothing in the least interesting. I salute you with affection and respect.
Your favor of May 28 has been duly received, and in it the proceeding of the Court on the mandamus to the collector of Charleston. I saw them with great concern because of the quarter from whence they came, and where they could not be ascribed to any political waywardness.
The Legislature having found, after repeated trials, that no general rules could be formed which fraud and avarice would not elude, concluded to leave, in those who were to execute the power, a discretionary power paramount to all their general rules. This discretion was of necessity lodged with the collector in the first instance, but referred, finally, to the President, lest there should be as many measures of law or discretion for our citizens as there were collectors of districts. In order that the first decisions by the collectors might also be as uniform as possible, and that the inconveniences of temporary detention might be imposed by general and equal rules throughout the States, we thought it advisable to draw some outlines for the government of the discretion of the collectors, and to bring them all to one tally.
With this view they were advised to consider all shipments of flour prima facie, as suspicious. Because, if pretended to be for a State which made enough within itself, it could not, in these times, but be suspicious, and, if for a State which needed importations, we had provided, by the aid of the Governors of those States, a criterion for that case.
But your collector seems to have decided for himself that, instead of a general rule applicable equally to all, the personal character of the shipper was a better criterion, and his own individual opinion too, of that character.
You will see at once to what this would have led in the hands of an hundred collectors, of all sorts of characters, connections, and principles, and what grounds would have been given for the malevolent charges of favoritism with which the federal papers have reproached even the trust we reposed in the first and highest magistrates of particular States. It has been usual in another department, after the decision of any point by the superior tribunal is known, for the inferior one to conform to that decision. The declaration of Mr. Theus, that he did not consider the case as suspicious, founded on his individual opinion of the shipper, broke down that barrier which we had endeavored to erect against favoritism, and furnished the grounds for the subsequent proceedings. The attorney for the United States seems to have considered the acquiescence of the collector as dispensing with any particular attentions to the case, and the judge to have taken it as a case agreed between plaintiff and defendant, and brought to him only formally to be placed oil his records. But this question has too many important bearings on the constitutional organization of our government, to let it go off so carelessly. I send you the Attorney Generals opinion on it, formed on great consideration and consultation. It is communicated to the collectors and marshals for their future government. I hope, however, the business will stop here, and that no similar case will occur. A like attempt has been made in another State, which I believe failed in the outset.
I have seen, with great satisfaction, the circumspection and moderation with which you have been so good as to act under my letter of May 6th. I owe the same approbation to some other of the Governors, but not to every one. Our good citizens having submitted to such sacrifices under the present experiment, I am determined to exert every power the law has vested in me for its rigorous fulfilment; that we may know the full value and effect of this measure on any future occasion on which a resort to it might be contemplated.
The Osage did not bring us a tittle of anything interesting. The absence of the Emperor from Paris makes that a scene of no business; and I do not think we are to consider the course of the British government as finally decided, until the nation, as well as the ministry, are possessed of the communications to Congress of March 22, and our act hanging the duration of the embargo laws on that of the orders of council. The newspapers say Mr. Rose is coming over again. Mr. Pinckney did not know this at the departure of the Osage. Yet it may be so. It is well calculated to throw dust in the eyes of the nation, and to silence all attempts of the opposition to force a change of their measures. In this view it is a masterly stroke. The truth is that their debt is become such as the nation can no longer pay its interest. Their omnipotence at sea has bloated their imaginations so as to persuade them they can oblige all nations to carry all their produce to their island as an entrepot, to pay them a tax on it, and receive their license to carry it to its ultimate market. It is indeed a desperate throw, in the language of Canning, and who knows, says he, what the dice may turn up ?
I answer, we know. Since writing so far, I received your favor of June 30th, covering resolutions of your Legislature. They are truly worthy of them, and never could declarations be better timed for dissipating the, delusions in which the British government are nourished by the federal papers, and prevented from that return to justice which alone can continue our peace.
Wishing you every blessing of health and life, I salute you with assurances of great esteem and respect.
I enclose you the petition of Somes, to do in it whatever is agreeable to general rule.
Punqua Winchung, the Chinese Mandarin, has, I believe, his headquarters at New York, and therefore his case is probably known to you. He came to Washington just as I had left it, and therefore wrote to me, praying permission to depart for his own country with his property, in a vessel to be engaged by himself. I enclose you Mr. Madisons letter, which contains everything I know on the subject. I consider it as a case of national comity, and coming within the views of the first section of the first embargo act. The departure of this individual with good dispositions, may be the means of making our nation known advantageously at the source of power in China, to which it is otherwise difficult to convey information. It may be of sensible advantage to our merchants in that country. I cannot, therefore, but consider that a chance of obtaining a permanent national good should overweigh the effect of a single case taken out of the great field of the embargo. The case, too, is so singular, that it can lead to no embarrassment as a precedent.
I think, therefore, he should be permitted to engage a vessel to carry himself and his property, under such cautions and recommendations to him as you shall think best.
I leave it therefore to yourself to direct all the necessary details without further application to me, and for this purpose send you a blank passport for the vessel, etc., and Mr. Graham will obtain and forward you passports from the foreign ministers here. I salute you with affection and respect.
I received duly your favor of July 1st, covering an offer of Mr. McDonald of an iron mine to the public, and I thank you for taking the trouble of making the communication, as it might have its utility. But having always observed that public works are much less advantageously managed than the same are by private hands, I have thought it better for the public to go to market for whatever it wants which is to be found there; for there competition brings it down to the minimum of value. I have no doubt We can buy brass cannon at market cheaper than we could make iron ones. I think it material too, not to abstract the high executive officers from those functions which nobody else is charged to carry on, and to employ them in superintending works which are going on abundantly in private hands. Our predecessors went on different principles; they bought iron mines, and sought for copper ones. We own a mine at Harpers Ferry of the finest iron ever put into a cannon, which we are afraid to attempt to work. We have rented it heretofore, but it is now without a tenant.
We send a vessel to France and England every six weeks, for the purposes of public as well as mercantile correspondence. These the public papers are in the habit of magnifying into special missionaries for great and special purposes. It is true that they carry our public despatches, whether the subject of the day happens to be great or small. The Osage was one of these; but she was charged with nothing more than repetitions of instructions to our ministers not to cease in their endeavors to have the obnoxious orders and decrees repealed. She brought not a tittle of the least interest. The St. Michael was another of these vessels, and may now be expected in a few days. The schooner Hope was a third, and, sailed a few days ago. She may be expected a fortnight before Congress meets, and our ministers are apprised that whatsoever the belligerent powers mean to do, must be done before that time, as on the state of things then existing and known to us, Congress will have to act. I return the letter of Mr. McDonald, as it may be useful for other purposes, and salute you with esteem and respect.
I enclose you a letter of information of what is passing on the Canada line. To prevent it is, I suppose, beyond our means, but we must try to harass the unprincipled agents, and punish as many as we can.
I transmit, also, the petition of Tyson and James, millers of Baltimore, for permission to send a load of flour to New Orleans, to direct in it what is regular for I do not see any circumstance in the case sufficiently peculiar to take it out of the rule. If their views are honest, as I suppose them to be, it would be a great relief to them to be permitted, by giving bond for an increased valuation, to send their flour to its destination, and equal relief to us from these tormenting applications. Yet, as the other gentlemen seemed not satisfied that it would be legal, I would not have it done on my own opinion alone, however firmly I am persuaded of its legality. Could you not in the way of conversation with some of the sound lawyers of New York, find what would be their prima facie opinion, and if encouraged by that, we may take the opinion of the Attorney General, and others. The questions to be solved are,first : To what place should the valuation refer ? and second : Would too high a valuation render the bond null in law ? On the first, I observe that the law says that bond shall be given in double the value, etc., without saying whether its value here, or at the place of sale, is meant; that, generally speaking, its value here would be understood; but that whenever the words of a law will bear two meanings, one of which will give effect to the law, and the other will defeat it, the former must be supposed to have been intended by the Legislature, because they could not intend that meaning, which would defeat their intention, in passing that law; and in a statute, as in a will, the intention of the party is to be sought after. On the second point we would ask, who is to value the cargo on which the bond is to be taken ? Certainly the collector, either by himself or his agents. When the bond is put in suit it must be recovered. Neither judge nor jury can go into the question of the value of the cargo. If anybody could, it would be the chancellor; but his maxim is never to lend his power in support of fraud or wrong. The common law could only give a remedy on an action for damages, as, for instance, if a collector, by requiring too large security, prevents a party from clearing out, damages might be recovered. But in the case in question, the consent of the party would take away the error, and besides, as the voyage takes place, no damages for preventing it can be recovered. These are general considerations to be brought into view in such a conversation, which, indeed would recur to every lawyer who turned his mind to the subject at all. It would be a most important construction for the relief of the honest merchant, to whom the amount of bond is important, and to us, also, in the execution of the law ; and I think its legality far more defensible than that of limiting the provisions to one-eighth of the cargo. My situation in the country gives me no opportunity to consult lawyers of the first order. Should such occur, however, I will avail myself of them.
I salute you affectionately.
The passport for the Leonidas goes by this post, to the collector of Norfolk. I return you Jarvis, Hackleys, and Montgomerys letters, and send you Hulls, Hunts, Clarkes, and Mr. Shorts, for perusal, and to be returned. On this last, the following questions arise : When exactly shall the next vessel go ? Whence ? Is not the secrecy of the mission essential ? Is it not the very ground of sending it while the Senate is not sitting, in order that it in may be kept secret ? I doubt the expediency of sending one of our regular armed vessels. If we do, she should go to Petersburg direct. And yet may there not be advantage in conferences between S. and A.? I have signed the commission and letter of credence, and now enclose them. Yet I must say I think the latter is very questionable indeed, in point of propriety. It says that the Minister is to reside near his person; but whether we should establish it at once into a permanent legation is much to be doubted, and especially in a recess of the Senate. I should think it better to express purposes something like the following : "to bear to your Imperial Majesty the assurances of the sincere friendship of the United States, and of their desire to maintain with your Majesty and your subjects the strictest relations of intercourse and commerce; to explain to your Majesty the position of the United States, and the considerations flowing from that which should keep them aloof from the contests of Europe; to assure your Majesty of their desire to observe a faithful and impartial neutrality, if not forced from that line by the wrongs of the belligerents; and to express their reliance that they will be befriended in these endeavors by your Majestys powerful influence and friendship towards these States." This is hasty,it is too long, and neither the expressions nor thoughts sufficiently accurate; but something of this kind, more concise and correct, may be formed, leaving the permanency of the mission still in our power.
There is no doubt but that the transaction at New Orleans, between Ortega and the British officer with the prize sloop Guadaloupe, has been a mere fraud, to evade our regulation against the sale of prizes in our harbors; and his insolent letter intended merely to cover the fraud. His ready abandonment of the vessel, and Ortegas resumption of her, are clear proofs. Should not, or could not, process be ordered against Ortega and the vessel ? I think a copy of Reeves letter to Governor Claiborne, and of the proceedings of the court, might be sent to Mr. Erskine, with proper observations on this double outrage, and an intimation that the habitual insolence of their officers may force us to refuse them an asylum, even when seeking it in real distress, if the boon is to be abused as it has been by this insolent and dishonest officer. And as it is very possible the rascal may push his impostures to the making complaint to his government, this step with Mr. Erskine may anticipate it.
I salute you with sincere and constant affection.
The inclosed are formal, and for the public; but in sending them to you, I cannot omit the occasion of indulging my friendship in a more familiar way, & of recalling myself to your recollection. How much have I wished to have had you still with us through the years of my emploiment at Washington. I have seen with great pleasure the moderation & circumspection with which you have been kind enough to act under my letter of May 6, and I have been highly gratified with the late general expressions of public sentiment in favor of a measure which alone could have saved us from immediate war, & give time to call home 80 millions of property, 20, or 30,000 seamen, & 2,000 vessels. These are now nearly at home, & furnish a great capital, much of which will go into manufactures and seamen to man a fleet of privateers, whenever our citizens shall prefer war to a longer continuance of the embargo. Perhaps however the whale of the ocean may be tired of the solitude it has made on that element, and return to honest principles; and his brother robber on the land may see that, as to us, the grapes are sour. I think one war enough for the life of one man: and you and I have gone through one which at least may lessen our impatience to embark in another. Still, if it becomes necessary we must meet it like men, old men indeed, but yet good for something. But whether in peace or war, may you have as many years of life as you desire, with health & prosperity to make them happy years. I salute you with constant affection & great esteem & respect.
I enclose you a letter from the Pathkiller and others of the Cherokees, the object of which I do not precisely see. I suppose they are of Vans party. The sentiments are unquestionably those of a white man.
Sibleys letters present a disagreeable view. It will be troublesome if we are once compelled to use acts of force against those people. It is the more difficult as we should have to pursue them into the country beyond the Sabine, on which an understanding with the Spaniards would be necessary. But what is the meaning of our not pursuing deserters over the Rio Hondo ? I thought we had so far settled that matter, as that it was understood by the Spaniards that until a final settlement of boundary, the Sabine was to be that to which each was to exercise jurisdiction. On the same principles ought we not immediately to suppress this new appointment of a Spanish Alcalde at Bayou Pierre ? I ask this for information, because I do not precisely recollect what we finally intended as to Bayou Pierre, and I have not the papers here. I suppose the trial and punishment of the guilty Alabamas, and Sibleys reclamations with the tribe for reparation, wilt give us time till we meet to consider what is to be done. Has any and what step been taken for the recovery of Pikes men ?
Governor Lewis letter offers something more serious. The only information I have on the subject, is his letter to Governor Harrison in a newspaper, which I cut out and enclose you. The retirement of White Hairs to St. Louis is strong proof that the case is serious. As they are at war with all nations, and in order to protect them we have been endangering our peace and friendship with the other nation, would not our best course be to inform all those nations that, however desirous we have been of promoting peace among them, and however earnest our endeavors have been to restore friendship between them and the Osages particularly, we have found it impossible to bring that nation to a just and peaceable conduct towards others? That therefore we withdraw ourselves from before them, and leave them to be freely attacked and destroyed by all those who have cause of war against them ? Would such a written message from me to the nations at war with them, be advisable ? particularly to the Cherokees, Creeks, Chickasaws, and Choctaws, and such northern tribes as are at war with them. I do not recollect those of the latter description. Would it not be advisable to aid their war parties with provisions, and ammunition, and the repairs of their arms at our posts ? Will it be necessary to authorize expeditions of militia, or only permit volunteers to join the Indian parties ? or shall we leave what respects Militia to Governor Lewis ? We shall certainly receive further information soon, but in the meantime I have thought we should turn it in our minds, and interchange ideas on the subject. I shall therefore be glad to hear from you on it. I salute you with constant affection and respect.
A complaint has come to me indirectly on the part of the Cadets at West Point, that the promotions in their corps are made on other principles than those of seniority or merit. They do not charge Colonel Williams with an unjust selection by himself, but with leaving the selection to his lieutenant, whose declaration that it was so left to him, they say can be proved. It is stated particularly that a young man from the country, uneducated, and who had been with the corps but three months, and had acquired little there, was lately made an ensign to the prejudice of much superior qualifications. His name was mentioned to me but I have forgotten it. Justice to the officers forbids us to give credit to such amputations till proved; but justice to the corps requires us so far to attend to them as to make them the subject of inquiry; and I presume this was the object of the communication to me. I now mention it to you, because in returning through New York you may have an opportunity of inquiring into it. Iam much more inclined to impute to the vanity of the lieutenant the declaration he is said to have made, than to suppose Colonel Williams has really delegated so important a trust to him. I salute you with constant affection.
It has been represented to me on behalf of the inhabitants of the town of Washington in Pennsylvania, that by a survey made at their expense, it is found that the western road, if carried through their town, to Wheeling, would be but a mile longer, would pass through better ground, and be made at less expense; and if carried to Short Creek, instead of Wheeling, the difference of distance would still be less. The principal object of this road is a communication directly westwardly. If, however, inconsiderable deflections from this course will benefit particular places, and better accommodate travellers, these are circumstances to be taken into consideration. I have therefore to desire that, having a regard to the funds which remain, you make as good an examination as they will admit, of the best route through Washington to Wheeling, and also to Short Creek or any other point on the river, offering a more advantageous route towards Chillicothe and Cincinnati, and that you report to me the material facts, with your opinions for consideration. I salute you with respect.
On the subject of the western road, our first error was the admitting a deviation to Brownsville, and thus suffering a first encroachment on its principle. This is made a point dappui to force a second, and I am told a third holds itself in reserve, so that a few towns in that quarter seem to consider all this expense as undertaken merely for their benefit. I should have listened to these solicitations with more patience, had it not been for the unworthy motives presented to influence me by some of those interested. Sometimes an o position by force was held up, sometimes electioneering effects, as if I were to barter away, on such motives, a public trust committed to me for a different object. It seems, however, that our first error having made Brownsville, and no longer Cumberland, the point of departure, we must now go no further back in examining the claim of Washington. I have therefore written to the commissioners, the letter of which I enclose you a copy. The time saved by sending it to them direct, may be important, as they may be, near their return. I am doubtful whether they have money enough left for a thorough examination If they have, their report will enable us to decide on this second deflection. But what will Wheeling say if we take the road from it, to give it to Washington ? I do not know its size or importance, nor whether some obstacles to navigation may not oppose our crossing at a higher place. I salute you with constant affection.
Yours of July 27th is received. It confirms the accounts we receive from others that the infractions of the embargo in Maine & Massachusetts are open. I have removed Pope, of New Bedford, for worse than negligence. The collector of Sullivan is on the totter. The tories of Boston openly threaten insurrection if their importation of flour is stopped. The next post will stop it. I fear your Governor is not up to the tone of these parricides, and I hope, on the first symptom of an open opposition to the laws by force, you will fly to the scene and aid in suppressing any commotion.
I enclose you the letter of Captain Dillard, recommending Walter Bourke for appointment. I know nothing of the writers of any of the letters exceed Thore, Jones, and Thweat, who are good men. I like Meigs scheme with the Cherokees, and would wish it success. But will Congress give such a sum of money ? The message of the Creek Chief is so far satisfactory, that I think we should give them time. Could we engage them to assist us in destroying the guilty banditti ? The letter enclosed from Cuthbert to Mr. Madison, on the means of taking Quebec, is worthy notice, and I wish you could, before your return, have an interview with him. Your office, and receipt of the letter from me, will give confidence to his communications. We have letters from Pinckney to May 30, but not one word interesting. Present me respectfully to Mrs. Dearborne, and accept my affectionate salutations.
I enclose you, for your information, letters from General Dearborn, P.D. Sargent, and Elisha Tracey, on the infractions of the embargo, and their ideas on the means of remedy. I pass them through the hands of the Secretary of the Navy, with a request that he will, in concert with you, give all the aid for the enforcement of the law which his department can afford. I think the conduct of Jordan, at Sullivan, should be inquired into, with a view to his removal if found either undisposed or negligent. Indeed, the distance of his residence, if it be fact, renders it impossible he should even sufficiently superintend the due execution of the duties of his office.
We have letters from Mr. Pinckney of the 30th of May, but containing not one interesting word. If England should be disposed to continue peace with us, and Spain gives to Bonaparte the occupation she promises, will not the interval be favorable for our reprisals on the Floridas for the indemnifications withheld ? Before the meeting of Congress we shall see further. I salute you with affection and respect.
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I have some apprehension the tories of Boston, etc., with so poor a head of a Governor, may attempt to give us trouble. I have requested General Dearborn to be on the alert, and fly to the spot where any open and forcible opposition shall be commenced, and to crush it in embryo. I am not afraid but that there is sound matter enough in Massachusetts to prevent an opposition of the laws by force. I am glad to see that Spain is likely to give Bonaparte employment. Tant mieux pour nous. Accept affectionate salutations.
Your letters of July 29th and Aug. 5th, came to hand yesterday, and I now return you those of Waynne, Wolsey, Quincy, Otis, Lincoln, & Dearborne. This embargo law is certainly the most embarrassing one we have ever had to execute. I did not expect a crop of so sudden & rank growth of fraud & open opposition by force could have grown up in the U.S. I am satisfied with you that if orders & decrees are not repealed, and a continuance of the embargo is preferred to war (which sentiment is universal here), Congress must legalize all means which may be necessary to obtain its end. Mr. Smith, in enclosing to me General Dearbornes & Lincolns letters, informs me that immediately on receiving them he gave the necessary orders to the Chesapeake, the Wasp, & Argus. Still I shall pass this letter and those it encloses, through his hands for information. I am clearly of opinion this law ought to be enforced at any expense, which may not exceed our appropriation. I approve of the instructions to General Lincoln, for selling the revenue cutter there & buying another, and also of what you propose at New London & Portsmouth, and generally I wish you to do as to the revenue cutters what you shall think best, without delaying it to hear from me. You possess the details so much better than I do, and are so much nearer the principal scenes, that my approbation can be but matter of form. As to ordering out militia, you know the difficulty without another proclamation. I advise Mr. Madison to inform General Turreau that the vessels we allow to the foreign ministers are only in the character of transports, & that they cannot be allowed but where the number of persons bears the proportion to the vessel which is usual with transports. You will see by my last that on learning the situation of affairs in Spain, it had occurred to me that it might produce a favorable occasion of doing ourselves justice in the south. We must certainly so dispose of our southern recruits & armed vessels as to be ready for the occasion. A letter of June 5 from Mr. Pinckney says nothing more than that in a few days he was to have a full conference on our affairs with Mr. Canning. That will doubtless produce us immediately an interesting letter from him. I salute you affectionately.
P.S. I this day direct a commission for General Steele, vice General Shee, deceased.
Yours of July 30th came to hand yesterday. It has consequently loitered somewhere two posts. I am glad to learn the prompt aid you have afforded the Treasury department. To let you further understand the importance of giving all the aid we can, I pass through your hands my letter of this day to Mr. Gallatin, with those it encloses, which I will pray you, after perusal, to seal and put into the post-office. In the support of the embargo laws, our only limit should be that of the appropriations of the department. A letter of June 5th from Mr. Pinckney informs us he was to have a free conference with Canning, in a few days. Should England get to rights with us, while Bonaparte is at war with Spain, the moment may be favorable to take possession of our own territory held by Spain, and so much more as may make a proper reprisal for her spoliations. We ought therefore to direct the rendezvous of our southern recruits and gunboats so as to be in proper position for striking the stroke in an instant, when Congress shall will it. I have recommended this to General Dearborn, as I now do to yourself. Mr. Fulton writes to me under a great desire to prepare a decisive experiment of his torpedo at Washington, for the meeting of Congress. This means of harbor-defence has acquired such respectability, from its apparent merit, from the attention shown it by other nations, and from our own Experiments at New York, as to entitle it to a full experiment from us. He asks only two workmen for one month from us, which he estimates at $130 only. But should it cost considerably more I should really be for granting it, and would accordingly recommend it to you. This sum is a mere trifle as an encroachment on our appropriation. I salute you with affection and respect.
Yours of July 27 has been received. I now enclose you the letters of Hawkins, Harrison, Wells, Hull, & Claiborne, received from the war office, and as I conjecture, not yet seen by you. Indian appearances, both in the northwest & south, are well. Beyond the Mississippi they are not so favorable. I fear Governor Lewis has been too prompt in committing us with the Osages so far as to oblige us to go on. But it is astonishing we get not one word from him. I enclose you letters of Mr. Griff & Maclure, which will explain themselves. A letter of June 5 from Mr. Pinckney informs us he was to have a free conference with Canning in a few days. Should England make up with us, while Bonaparte continues at war with Spain, a moment may occur when we may without danger of commitment with either France or England seize to our own limits of Louisiana as of right, & the residue of the Floridas as reprisal for spoliations. It is our duty to have an eye to this in rendezvousing & stationing our new recruits & our armed vessels, so as to be ready, if Congress authorizes it, to strike in a moment. I wish you to consider this matter in the orders to the southern recruits, as I have also recommended to the Secretary of the Navy, as to the armed vessels in the South. Indeed, I would ask your opinion as to the positions we had better take with a view to this with our armed vessels as well as troops. The force in the neighborhood of Baton Rouge is enough for that. Mobile, Pensacola & St. Augustine are those we should be preparing for. The enforcing the embargo would furnish a pretext for taking the nearest healthy position to St. Marys, and on the waters of Tombigbee. I salute you with affection & respect.
Yours of the 10th came to hand yesterday, & I return you Forondas, Tufts, Soderstroms, & Turreaus letters. I think it is become necessary to let Turreau understand explicitly that the vessels we permit foreign ministers to send away are merely transports, for the conveyance of such of their subjects as were here at the time of the embargo; that the numbers must be proportioned to the vessels, as is usual with transports; and that all who meant to go away must be presumed to have gone before now,at any rate, that none will be accommodated after the present vessel. We never can allow one belligerent to buy & fit out vessels here, to be manned with his own people, & probably act against the other. You did not return my answer to Sullivan. But fortunately I have received another letter, which will enable me to give the matter an easier turn, & let it down more softly. Should the conference announced in Mr. Pinckneys letter of June 5, settle friendship between England & us, & Bonaparte continue at war with Spain, a moment may occur favorable, without compromitting us with either France or England, for seizing our own from the Rio Bravo to Perdido, as of right, & the residue of Florida, as a reprisal for spoliations. I have thought it proper to suggest this possibility to Genl Dearborne & Mr. Smith, & to recommend an eye to it in their rendezvousing & stationing the new southern recruits & gun-boats, so that we may strike in a moment when Congress says so. I have appointed Genl Steele successor to Shee. Mr. & Mrs. Barlow, & Mrs. Blagden, will be here about the 25th. May we hope to see Mrs. Madison & yourself then, or when? I shall go to Bedford about the 10th of September. I salute you with constant affection & respect.
Your letter of July 21 has been received some days; that of July 23 not till yesterday. Some accident had probably detained it on the road considerably beyond its regular passage. In the former you mention that you had thought it advisable to continue issuing certificates for the importation of flour, until you could hear further from me; and in the latter, that you will be called from the Capital in the fall months, after which it is your desire that the power of issuing certificates may be given to some other, if it is to be continued.
In mine of July 16th I had stated that, during the two months preceding that, your certificates, received at the Treasury, amounted, if I rightly recollect, to about 60,000 barrels of flour, & a proportionable quantity of corn. If this whole quantity had been bonâ fide landed & retained in Massachusetts, I deemed it certain there could not be a real want for a considerable time, &, therefore, desired the issues of certificates might be discontinued. If, on the other hand, a part has been carried to foreign markets, it proves the necessity of restricting reasonably this avenue to abuse. This is my sole object, and not that a real want of a single individual should be one day unsupplied. In this I am certain we shall have the concurrence of all the good citizens of Massachusetts, who are too patriotic and too just to desire, by calling for what is superfluous, to open a door for the frauds of unprincipled individuals who, trampling on the laws, and forcing a commerce shut to all others, are enriching themselves on the sacrifices of their honester fellow citizens;sacrifices to which these are generally & willingly submitting, as equally necessary whether to avoid or prepare for war.
Still further, however, to secure the State against all danger of want, I will request you to continue issuing certificates, in the moderate way proposed in your letter, until your departure from the Capital, as before stated, when I will consider it as discontinued, or make another appointment if necessary. There is less risk of inconvenience in this, as, by a letter from the Secretary of the Treasury, of May 20th, the collectors were advised not to detain any vessel, the articles of whose lading were so proportioned as to give no cause of suspicion that they were destined for a foreign market. This mode of supply alone seems to have been sufficient for the other importing States, if we may judge from the little use they have made of the permission to issue certificates.
Should these reasonable precautions be followed, as is surmised in your letter of July 21, by an artificial scarcity, with a view to promote turbulence of any sort or on any pretext, I trust for an ample security against this danger to the character of my fellow citizens of Massachusetts, which has, I think, been emphatically marked by obedience to law, & a love of order. And I have no doubt that whilst we do our duty, they will support us in it. The laws enacted by the general government, will have made it our duty to have the embargo strictly observed, for the general good; & we are sworn to execute the laws. If clamor ensue, it will be from the few only, who will clamor whatever we do. I shall be happy to receive the estimate promised by your Excellency, as it may assist to guide us in the cautions we may find necessary. And here I will beg leave to recall your attention to a mere error of arithmetic in your letter of July 23. The quantity of flour requisite on the date there given, would be between thirteen & fourteen thousand barrels per month. I beg you to accept my salutations, & assurances of high respect & consideration.
Immediately on the receipt of your letter of the 5th, I wrote to the Secretary of the Navy, recommending a compliance with your request of the workmen. Although no public servant could justify the risking the safety of an important seaport, solely on untried means of defence, yet I have great confidence in those proposed by you as additional to the ordinary means. Their small cost, too, in comparison with the object, ought to overrule those rigorous attentions to keep within the limits of our appropriations, which have probably weighed with the Secretary in declining the proposition. You are sensible, too, that harassed as the offices are daily by the visions of unsound heads, even those solid inventions destined to better our condition, feel the effects of being grouped with them. Wishing every success to your experiment, I salute you with esteem and respect.
I this moment receive your favor of the 12th, with Captain Saunders letter on the acquisition of a site for a battery at Norfolk. I think that, instead of acceding to the proposition to take the whole three acres at $1,500, it will be better to accept the other alternative of Mr. Thompson, to have the ground valued by proper persons. In this case, too, it should be attempted to restrain the purchase to the half acre, as desired by the Secretary of War, but if the owner insists on selling the whole or none, the whole should be taken rather than let the works of defence be delayed. You will be pleased to give instructions accordingly.
The despatches hitherto received at the War Office, and forwarded to me, I have from time to time sent directly to General Dearborn, on the presumption they had not vet been seen by him. If this is wrong, be so good as to notify me of it. I return you Captain Saunders letter, and tender you my salutations.
I have this day received your Excellencys favor of the 9th instant, and I now return you the papers it enclosed. The case of opposition to the embargo laws on the Canada line, I take to be that of distinct combinations of a number of individuals to oppose by force and arms the execution of those laws, for which purpose they go armed, fire upon the public guards, in one instance at least have wounded one dangerously, and rescue property held under these laws. This may not be an insurrection in the popular sense of the word, but being arrayed in war-like manner, actually committing acts of war, and persevering systematically in defiance of the public authority, brings it so fully within the legal definition of an insurrection, that I should not hesitate to issue a proclamation, were I not restrained by motives of which your Excellency seems to be apprised. But as by the laws of New York an insurrection can be acted on without a previous proclamation, I should conceive it perfectly correct to act on it as such, and I cannot doubt it would be approved by every good citizen. Should you think proper to do so, I will undertake that the necessary detachments of militia called out in support of the laws, shall be considered as in the service of the United States, and at their expense. And as it has been intimated to me that you would probably take the trouble of going to the spot yourself, I will refer to your discretion the measures to be taken, and the numbers to be called out at different places, only saying, as duty requires me to fix some limit, that the whole must not exceed five hundred men without further consulting me. Should you be willing to take the trouble of going to the place, you will render a great public service, as I am persuaded your presence there will be such a manifestation of the public determination to support the authority of the laws, as will probably deter the insurgents from pursuing their course. I think it so important in example to crush these audacious proceedings, and to make the offenders feel the consequences of individuals daring to oppose a law by force, that no effort should be spared to compass this object. As promptitude is requisite, and the delay of consulting me on details at this distance might defeat our views, I would rather, where you entertain doubts, that you would satisfy yourself by conference with the Secretary of the Treasury, who is with you, and to whom our general views are familiar. I salute you with esteem and high respect.
Yours of the 6th and 9th, are just now received, as well as a letter from Governor Tompkins on the subject of aiding the revenue officers on the Canada line with militia. I refer you on this subject to my answer to him, and pray you to encourage strongly his going to the spot himself, and acting according to the urgencies which will present themselves there. Should you have satisfactory evidence of either mala fides or negligence in Pease, he shall be removed without ceremony. I do not know the residence of Greene of Massachusetts. The opinion you have given in the case stated by Ellery is certainly correct. No civil officer of the States can take cognizance of a federal case. Considering our determination to let no more vessels go so far as the Cape of Good Hope, I see nothing in the case of the brig Resolution, Craycroft, to justify a change of the rule, and therefore cannot consent to a vessels being sent there. The case of the Chinese Mandarin is so entirely distinct, that it can give no ground for this claim. The opportunity hoped from that, of making known through one of its own characters of note, our nation, our circumstances and character, and of letting that government understand at length the difference between us and the English, and separate us in its policy, rendered that measure a diplomatic one in my view, and likely to bring lasting advantage to our merchants and commerce with that country.
I enclose you the rough draught of a letter I have written to Governor Sullivan, in answer to two of his. It was done on consultation with Mr. Madison.
I informed you in mine of the 11th that I had directed a commission for General Steele as successor to Shee. This was certainly according to what had been agreed upon at Washington, the event of Shees death being then foreseen and made the subject of consultation with yourself, Mr. Rodney, and, I believe, Mr. Madison. The call for the militia from all the States having been agreed on in April, I have taken for granted it was going on. I will look to it, as also to the fortifications of New York. I salute you with affection and respect.
General Dearborn being on a visit to the province of Maine, your letter to him (the date not recollected) was sent to me from his office, and, after perusal, was forwarded to him. As the case of the five Alabamas, under prosecution for the murder of a white man, may not admit delay, if a conviction takes place, I have thought it necessary to recommend to you in that case to select the leader, or most guilty, for execution, and to reprieve the others till a copy of the judgment can be forwarded, and a pardon sent you; in the meantime letting them return to their friends, with whom you will of course take just merit for this clemency, our wish being merely to make them sensible by the just punishment of one, that our citizens are not to be murdered or robbed with impunity.
I have learnt with real mortification that the engineers successively appointed, have withdrawn from their undertaking to carry on the defensive works of New Orleans. It is more regretted as capable persons in that line are more difficult to be got, and it takes so long for the information to come here, and the place to be supplied. Two other persons applied to here have declined going. Whether General Dearborn has at length been able to engage one I am not informed. I fear that these disappointments will lose us the season in a work which more than any other it was my desire to have had completed this year. Certainly these losses of time shall be shortened by us as far as is in our power. I salute you with esteem and respect.
Yours of August 3d, which ought to have been here on the 8th, was not received till yesterday. It has loitered somewhere, therefore, ten days, during which three mails have been received. I proceed to its contents.
Somess case. The rule agreed to at our meeting of June 30th was general, that no permissions should be granted for Europe, Asia, or Africa, and there is nothing in Somess case to entitle it to exemption from the rule, more than will be found in every case that shall occur; as a precedent then, it would be a repeal of the rule, and in fact of the embargo law. He might have sent his proofs to Malta through England, either by the British packets or by our avisos. If he has not done it, and cannot now do it, it is his fault; the permission therefore must be refused.
Coquerels case. 1. The question whether he had a right to expect a permit is against him. None in writing was given; no note or memorandum on any paper is found warranting the fact, nor is there even any trace of it in the memory of the collector. On what evidence then does it rest ? Merely on the words of the owner and captain that the language of the collector conveyed an impression on them that they were to have a permit; but we well know where this sort of evidence would land us.
2d. But suppose we had had a positive or written permission, why was it not used ? Could it be believed to be good for this year, next year, or ten years hence ? The reason of the thing must have shown to every one that it was good under existing circumstances only, and might become null if not used till these were changed. But the written notification of August 1st, giving a final day, annuls all permits after that day; and not a single circumstance is stated which entitles them to a prolongation of the time, which would not entitle every other, and consequently repeal the limitation of time and the law. I see no ground, therefore, for relieving him from the operation of the rule.
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I enclose you a letter from a Mr. Ithomel to the Secretary of the Navy. I know not who he is, perhaps an officer of the navy. This is the second letter he has written, expressing his belief that there is ground to apprehend insurgency in Massachusetts. Neither do I know his politics, which might also be a key to his apprehensions. That the federalists may attempt insurrection is possible, and also that the Governor would sink before it. But the republican part of the State, and that portion of the federalists who approve the embargo in their judgments, and at any rate would not court mob-law, would crush it in embryo. I have some time ago written to General Dearborn to be on the alert on such an occasion, and to take direction of the public authority on the spot. Such an incident will rally the whole body of republicans of every shade to a single point,that of supporting the public authority. Be so good as to return the letter to Mr. Smith. He informs me he has left to yourself and Commander Rogers to order whatever gunboats you think can be spared from New York to aid the embargo law. If enough be left there or near there, to preserve order in the harbor, or to drive out a single ship of, force, it would be sufficient in the present tranquil state of things.
The principle of our indulgence of vessels to foreign ministers was, that it was fair to let them send away I all their subjects caught here by the embargo, and who had no other means of getting away.
General Turreau says there are fifteen hundred French sailors,-deserters, here, many of whom wish to go home. I have desired Mr. Madison to inform him that the tonnage permitted must be proportioned to the numbers, according to the rules in transport service. On this ground, I do not know that we can do wrong. We have nothing yet from Pinckney or Armstrong. But the first letter from the former must be so. I salute you with affection and respect.
I enclose you a letter of July 1st, from Governor Lewis, received from the War Office by the last post. It presents a full, and not a pleasant, view of our Indian affairs west of the Mississippi. As the punishment of the Osages has been thought necessary, the means employed appear judicious. First, to draw off the friendly part of the nation, and then, withdrawing the protection of the United States, leave the other tribes free to take their own satisfaction of them for their own wrongs. I think we may go further, without actually joining in the attack. The greatest obstacle to the Indian acting in large bodies, being the difficulty of getting provisions, we might supply them, and ammunition also, if necessary. I hope the Governor will be able to settle with the Sacs and Foxes without war, to which, however, he seems too much committed. If we had gone to war for every bunter or trader killed, and murderer refused, we should have had general and constant war. The process to be, followed, in my opinion, when a murder has been committed, is first to demand the murderer, and not regarding a first refusal to deliver, give time and press it. If perseveringly refused, recall all traders, and interdict commerce with them, until he be delivered. I believe this would rarely fail in producing the effect desired; and we have seen that, by steadily following this line, the tribes become satisfied of our moderation, justice, and friendship to them, and become firmly attached to us. The want of time to produce these dispositions in the Indians west of the Mississippi, has been the cause of the Kanzas, the Republican, the Great and the Wolf Panis, the Matas, and Poncaras, adhering to the Spanish interest against us. But if we use forbearance, and open commerce for them, they will come to, and give us time to attach them to us. In the meantime, to secure our frontiers against their hostility, I would allow Governor Lewis the three companies of spies, and military stores he desires. We are so distant, and he so well acquainted with the business, that it is safest for our citizens there and for ourselves, after enjoining him to pursue our principles, to permit him to select the means. The factories proposed on the Missouri and Mississippi, as soon as they can be in activity, will have more effect than as many armies. It is on their interests we must rely for their friendship, and not on their fears. With the establishment of these factories, we must prohibit the British from appearing westward of the Mississippi, and southward of logarithm degree; we must break up all their factories on this side the Mississippi, west of Lake Michigan; not permit them to send out individual traders to the Indian towns, but require all their commerce to be carried on at their factories,putting our own commerce under the same regulations, which will take away all ground of complaint. In like manner, I think well of Governor Lewis proposition to carry on all our commerce west of the Mississippi, at fixed points; licensing none but stationary traders residing at these points; and obliging the Indians to come to the commerce, instead of sending it to them. Having taken this general view of the subject, which I know is nearly conformable to your own, I leave to yourself the detailed answer to Governor Lewis, and salute you with constant affection and respect.
Your letter to General Dearborn, of July 1st, was not received at the War Office till a few days ago, was forwarded to me, and after perusal sent on to General Dearborn, at present in Maine. As his official answer will be late in getting to you, I have thought it best, in the meantime, to communicate to yourself, directly, ideas in conformity with those I have expressed to him, and with the principles on which we have conducted Indian affairs. I regret that it has been found necessary to come to open rupture with the Osages, but, being so, I approve of the course you have pursued,that of drawing off the friendly part of the nation,withdrawing from the rest the protection of the United States, and permitting the other nations to take their own satisfaction for the wrongs they complain of. I have stated to General Dearborn that I think we may go further, and as the principal obstacle to the Indians acting in large bodies, is the want of provisions, we might supply that want, and ammunition also, if they need it. With the Sacs and Foxes I hope you will be able to settle amicably, as nothing ought more to be avoided than the embarking ourselves in a system of military coercion on the Indians. If we do this, we shall have general and perpetual war. When a murder has been committed on one of our stragglers, the murderer should be demanded. If not delivered, give time, and still press the demand. We find it difficult, with our regular government, to take and punish a murderer of an Indian. Indeed, I believe we have never been able to do it in a single instance. They have their difficulties also, and require time. In fact, it is a case where indulgence on both sides is just and necessary, to prevent the two nations from being perpetually committed in war, by the acts of the most vagabond and ungovernable of their members. When the refusal to deliver the murderer is permanent, and proceeds from the want of will, and not of ability, we should then interdict all trade and intercourse with them till they give us complete satisfaction. Commerce is the great engine by which we are to coerce them, and not war. I know this will be less effectual on this side the Mississippi, where they can have recourse to the British; but this will not be a long-lived evil. By this forbearing conduct towards the Mississippian Indians for seven years past, they are become satisfied of our justice and moderation towards them, that we have no desire of injuring them, but, on the contrary, of doing them all the good offices we can, and they are become sincerely attached to us; and this disposition, beginning with the nearest, has spread and is spreading itself to the more remote, as fast as they have opportunities of understanding our conduct. The Sacs and Foxes, being distant, have not yet come over to us. But they are on the balance. Those on this side the Mississippi, will soon be entirely with us, if we pursue our course steadily. The Osages, Kanzas, the Republican, Great and Wolf Panis, Matas, Poncaras, etc., who are inclined to the Spaniards, have not yet had time to know our dispositions. But if we use forbearance, and open commerce with them, they will come to, and give us time to attach them to us. In the meantime, to secure our frontiers, I have expressed myself to General Dearborn in favor of the three companies of spies, and the military supplies you ask for. So, also, in the having established factories, at which all the traders shall be stationary, allowing none to be itinerant, further than indispensable circumstances shall require. As soon as our factories on the Missouri and Mississippi can be in activity, they will have more powerful effects than so many armies. With respect to the British, we shall take effectual steps to put an immediate stop to their crossing the Mississippi, by the severest measures. And I have proposed to General Dearborn to break up all their factories within our limits on this side the Mississippi, to let them have them only at fixed points, and suppress all itinerant traders of theirs, as well as our own. They have, by treaty, only an equal right of commerce with ourselves, the regulations of which on our side of the line belong to us, as that on their side belongs to them. All that can be required is that these regulations be equal. These are the general views which, on the occasion of your letter, I have expressed to General Dearborn. I reserve myself for consultation with him, and shall be very glad to receive your sentiments also on the several parts of them, after which we may decide on the modifications which may be approved. In the meantime you will probably receive from him an answer to your letter, till which this communication of my sentiments may be of some aid in determining your own course of proceeding.
Your friends here are all well, except Colonel Lewis, who has declined very rapidly the last few months. He scarcely walks about now, and never beyond his yard. We can never lose a better man. I salute ,You with affection and respect.
You are unapprised that in order not to check the evasions of the embargo laws effected under color of the coasting trade, we found it necessary to prevent the transportation of flour coastwise, except to the States not making enough for their own consumption, and that to place the supplies of these States under some check, a discretionary power was given to the Governors to give licenses to the amount of what they deemed the necessary importation. By a subsequent regulation, the collectors were advised not to detain suspicious vessels, the articles of whose cargoes were so proportioned as not to excite suspicion of fraudulent intentions; and particularly where not more than one-eighth in value was provisions. This last regulation has operated so well that in the other importing States (Massachusetts excepted) little or no use has been made of the power of giving special licenses. But the licenses of Massachusetts, in the first two months, having amounted to 60,000 barrels of flour, the quantity was so much beyond their consumption, that it was suspected the licenses were fraudulently perverted to cover exportation. I therefore requested Governor Sullivan to discontinue issuing them, as, if the whole quantity was landed and retained in the State, it could not want for some time, and if exported, it showed we ought to guard that avenue to fraud. He apprised me, however, by letter, of circumstances which induced him to continue a moderated issue of licenses till he could hear from me, and I approved of his doing so till he should leave the capital, which he informed me he should do in the fall, when, if the power were to be continued, he wished it to be put into other hands, as his absence would prevent his exercising it. On this ground the matter now rests. He supposes that about ninety thousand persons in the State subsist on imported flour, which, at a pound a day, would require between thirteen and fourteen thousand barrels a month. Certainly it is not my- wish that the want of a single individual should be unsupplied a single day; and I presume the well-affected citizens of Massachusetts would not wish, by importing a superfluous stock, to open a door for defeating a law judged by the national authorities necessary for the public good, and cheerfully submitted to elsewhere in the union. The question is, whether, after so great importations, the permission to all coasting vessels to take one-eighth in provisions will not supply the State ? On this subject I ask your friendly information. If it will not, then I must request your undertaking to issue licenses, on the departure of the Governor, to such characters as you may not suspect would make a fraudulent use of them. The power will, with propriety, devolve on you, on the Governors declining it. You stand next in the confidence, of the State, and certainly second to no one in my confidence. I will therefore ask from you a full communication of facts, and your opinions on this subject, with an entire disposition on my part to do whatever, consistently with my duty, I can do to obviate difficulties. I pray you to be assured of my constant esteem and attachment.
My letter of August 21st being gone to the post-office, I write this as a supplement, which will be in time to go by the same post. Isham Lewis arrived here last night and tells me he was with you at St. Louis about the second week in July, and consequently, after your letter of the 1st of that month, that four Iowas had been delivered up to you as guilty of the murder which had been charged to the Sacs and Foxes, and that you supposed three of them would be hung. It is this latter matter which induces me to write again.
As there was but one white murdered by them, I should be averse to the execution of more than one of them, selecting the most guilty and worst character. Nothing but extreme criminality should induce the execution of a second, and nothing beyond that. Besides their idea that justice allows only man for man, that all beyond that is new aggression, which must be expiated by a new sacrifice of an equivalent number of our people, it is our great object to impress them with a firm persuasion that all our dispositions towards them are fatherly; that if we take man for man, it is not from a thirst for blood or revenge, but as the smallest measure necessary to correct the evil, and that though all concerned are guilty, and have forfeited their lives by our usages, we do not wish to spill their blood as long as there can be a hope of their future good conduct. We may make a merit of restoring the others to their friends and their nation, and furnish a motive for obtaining a sincere attachment. There is the more reason for this moderation, as we know we cannot punish any murder which shall be committed by us on them. Even if the murderer can be taken, our juries have never yet convicted the murderer of an Indian. Should these Indians be- convicted, I would wish you to deliver up to their friends at once, those whom you select for pardon, and not to detain them in confinement until a pardon can be actually sent you. That shall be forwarded to you as soon as you shall send me a copy of the judgment on which it shall be founded.
I am uneasy hearing nothing from you about the Mandan chief, nor the measures for restoring him to his country. That is an object which presses on our justice and our honor, and further than that I suppose a severe punishment of the Ricaras indispensable, taking for it our own time and convenience. My letter from Washington asked your opinions on this subject. I repeat my salutations of affection and respect.
In my letter of the 15th I informed you that I had authorized Governor Tompkins to order out such aids of militia on Lake Ontario and the Canada line, as he should find necessary to enforce the embargo, not exceeding five hundred, he proposing to repair thither himself to select trusty persons. I am now to request that you will have measures taken for their pay, subsistence, and whatever else is requisite.
I enclose you applications for military command in favor of John B. Livingston and John Murphy, a letter from Governor Hull, and one from Howell Hern, who seems to have just cause of complaint against Captain Armstead; and I salute you with affection and respect.
Yours of the 17th was received only yesterday. It ought to have come by the preceding post. I mention the delay of your letters, as you may perhaps know how it happens.
The exportation of these doits was refused before, and I see no reason for a change of opinion. They are understood to be private property. I they were public, we might on a principle of comity permit their exportation in their own or any other foreign vessel. But comity does not require us to send our ships and seamen into the mouths of captors. I am not sufficiently informed of the conduct of the Batavian government towards our vessels at present, to derive any motive from that to affect the present case.
Kettridges letter, with yours to him and Blake, and Burts letter, are now returned. I am in hopes the successes of our armed vessels will check the evasions of the embargo. I have received no letter from Governor Tompkins since that of the 9th, my answer to which, of the 15th, contained assurances which would fully meet any case of militia ordered out by him under five hundred, as to our answering the expense. I will write immediately to General Dearborn to provide pay and subsistence, and will send it open to his chief clerk at Washington, with instructions to him to take order in it immediately, to prevent the delay from General Dearborns absence, I will also write to General Wilkinson to forward the recruits of New York to the positions you have named. Your circular for the North Carolina navigation, and the papers concerning the Mandarin, are not yet received. Astors publication in the Aurora has sufficiently quieted me on that head.
P.S. No letter yet from Mr. Pinckney.
In answer to the petition which you delivered me from the officers of merchant vessels belonging to Philadelphia, I must premise my sincere regret at the sacrifices which our fellow citizens generally, and the petitioners in particular, have been obliged to meet by the circumstances of the times. We live in an age of affliction, to which the history of nations presents no parallel. We have for years been looking on Europe covered with blood and violence, and seen rapine spreading itself over the ocean. On this element it has reached us, and at length in so serious a degree, that the Legislature of the nation has thought it necessary to withdraw our citizens and property from it, either to avoid, or to prepare for engaging in the general contest. But for this timely precaution, the petitioners and their property might now have been in the hands of spoilers, who have laid aside all regard to moral right. Withdrawing from the greater evil, a lesser one has been necessarily encountered. And certainly, could the Legislature have made provision against this also, I should have had great pleasure as the instrument of its execution, but it was impracticable, by any general and just rules, to prescribe in every case the best resource against the inconveniences of this new situation. The difficulties of the crisis will certainly fall with greater pressure on some descriptions of citizens than on others; and on none perhaps with greater than our seafaring brethren. Should any means of alleviation occur within the range of my duties, I shall with certainty advert to the situation of the petitioners, and, in availing the nation of their services, aid them with a substitute for their former occupations. I salute them and yourself with sentiments of sincere regard.