The Writings of
Thomas Jefferson

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

To Thomas Leiper.
Monticello, June 12, 1815.

Dear Sir

A journey soon after the receipt of your favor of April the 17th, and an absence from home of some continuance, have prevented my earlier acknowledgment of it.  In that came safely my letter of January the 2d, 1814.  In our principles of government we differ not at all;  nor in the general object and tenor of political measures.  We concur in considering the government of England as totally without morality, insolent beyond bearing, inflated with vanity and ambition, aiming at the exclusive dominion of the sea, lost in corruption, of deep-rooted hatred towards us, hostile to liberty wherever it endeavors to show its head, and the eternal disturber of the peace of the world.  In our estimate of Bonaparte, I suspect we differ.  I view him as a political engine only, and a very wicked one;  you, I believe, as both political and religious, and obeying, as an instrument, an unseen hand.  I still deprecate his becoming sole lord of the continent of Europe, which he would have been, had he reached in triumph the gates of St. Petersburg.  The establishment in our day of another Roman empire, spreading vassalage and depravity over the face of the globe, is not, I hope, within the purposes of Heaven.  Nor does the return of Bonaparte give me pleasure unmixed;  I see in his expulsion of the Bourbons, a valuable lesson to the world, as showing that its ancient dynasties may be changed for their misrule.  Should the allied powers presume to dictate a ruler and government to France, and follow the example he had set of parcelling and usurping to themselves their neighbor nations, I hope he will give them another lesson in vindication of the rights of independence and self-government, which himself had heretofore so much abused, and that in this contest he will wear down the maritime power of England to limitable and safe dimensions.  So far, good.  It cannot be denied, on the other hand, that his successful perversion of the force (committed to him for vindicating the rights and liberties of his country) to usurp its government, and to enchain it under an hereditary despotism, is of baneful effect in encouraging future usurpations, and deterring those under oppression from rising to redress themselves.  His restless spirit leaves no hope of peace to the world;  and his hatred of us is only a little less than that he bears to England, and England to us.  Our form of government is odious to him, as a standing contrast between republican and despotic rule;  and as much from that hatred, as from ignorance in political economy, he had excluded intercourse between us and his people, by prohibiting the only articles they wanted from us, that is, cotton and tobacco.  Whether the war we have had with England, and the achievements of that war, and the hope that we may become his instruments and partisans against that enemy, may induce him, in future, to tolerate our commercial intercourse with his people, is still to be seen.  For my part, I wish that all nations may recover and retain their independence;  that those which are overgrown may not advance beyond safe measures of power, that a salutary balance may be ever maintained among nations, and that our peace, commerce, and friendship, may be sought and cultivated by all.  It is our business to manufacture for ourselves whatever we can, to keep our markets open for what we can spare or want;  and the less we have to do with the amities or enmities of Europe, the better.  Not in our day, but at no distant one, we may shake a rod over the heads of all, which may make the stoutest of them tremble.  But I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power, the greater it will be.

The federal misrepresentation of my sentiments, which occasioned my former letter to you, was gross enough;  but that and all others are exceeded by the impudence and falsehood of the printed extract you sent me from Ralph’s paper.  That a continuance of the embargo for two months longer would have prevented our war;  that the non-importation law which succeeded it was a wise and powerful measure, I have constantly maintained.  My friendship for Mr. Madison, my confidence in his wisdom and virtue, and my approbation of all his measures, and especially of his taking up at length the gauntlet against England, is known to all with whom I have ever conversed or corresponded on these measures.  The word federal, or its synonym lie, may therefore be written under every word of Mr. Ralph’s paragraph.  I have ransacked my memory to recollect any incident which might have given countenance to any particle of it, but I find none.  For if you will except the bringing into power and importance those who were enemies to himself as well as to the principles of republican government, I do not recollect a single measure of the President which I have not approved.  Of those under him, and of some very near him, there have been many acts of which we have all disapproved, and he more than we.  We have at times dissented from the measures, and lamented the dilatoriness of Congress.  I recollect an instance the first winter of the war, when, from sloth of proceedings, an embargo was permitted to run through the winter, while the enemy could not cruise, nor consequently restrain the exportation of our whole produce, and was taken off in the spring, as soon as they could resume their stations.  But this procrastination is unavoidable.  How can expedition be expected from a body which we have saddled with an hundred lawyers, whose trade is talking ?  But lies, to sow division among us, is so stale an artifice of the federal prints, and are so well understood, that they need neither contradiction nor explanation.  As to myself, my confidence in the wisdom and integrity of the administration is so entire, that I scarcely notice what is passing, and have almost ceased to read newspapers.  Mine remain in our post office a week or ten days, sometimes, unasked for.  I find more amusement in studies to which I was always more attached, and from which I was dragged by the events of the times in which I have happened to live.

I rejoice exceedingly that our war with England was single-handed.  In that of the Revolution, we had France, Spain, and Holland on our side, and the credit of its success was given to them.  On the late occasion, unprepared and unexpecting war, we were compelled to declare it, and to receive the attack of England, just issuing from a general war, fully armed, and freed from all other enemies, and have not only made her sick of it, but glad to prevent, by peace, the capture of her adjacent possessions, which one or two campaigns more would infallibly have made ours.  She has found that we can do her more injury than any other enemy on earth, and henceforward will better estimate the value of our peace.  But whether her government has power, in opposition to the aristocracy of her navy, to restrain their piracies within the limits of national rights, may well be doubted.  I pray, therefore, for peace, as best for all the world, best for us, and best for me, who have already lived to see three wars, and now pant for nothing more than to be permitted to depart in peace.  That you also, who have longer to live, may continue to enjoy this blessing with health and prosperity, through as long a life as you desire, is the prayer of yours affectionately.


P.S.  June the 14th.—Before I had sent my letter to the post office, I received the new treaty of the allied powers, declaring that the French nation shall not have Bonaparte, and shall have Louis XVIII. for their ruler.  They are all then as great rascals as Bonaparte himself.  While he was in the wrong, I wished him exactly as much success as would answer our purposes, and no more.  Now that they are wrong and he in the right, he shall have all my prayers for success, and that he may dethrone every man of them.




To James Maury.
Monticello, June 15, 1815.

I congratulate you, my dear and ancient friend, on the return of peace, and the restoration of intercourse between our two countries.  What has passed may be a lesson to both of the injury which either can do the other, and the peace now opened may show what would be the value of a cordial friendship;  and I hope the first moments of it will be employed to remove the stumbling block which must otherwise keep us eternal enemies.  I mean the impressment of our citizens.  This was the sole object of the continuance of the late war, which the repeal of the orders of council would otherwise have ended at its beginning.  If according to our estimates, England impressed into her navy 6,000 of our citizens, let her count the cost of the war, and a greater number of men lost in it, and she will find this resource for manning her navy the most expensive she can adopt, each of these men having cost her $30,000 sterling, and a man of her own besides.  On that point we have thrown away the scabbard, and the moment an European war brings her back to this practice, adds us again to her enemies.  But I hope an arrangement is already made on this subject.  Have you no statesmen who can look forward two or three score years ?  It is but forty years since the battle of Lexington.  One-third of those now living saw that day, when we were about two millions of people, and have lived to see this, when we are ten millions.  One-third of those now living, who see us at ten millions, will live another forty years, and see us forty millions;  and looking forward only through such a portion of time as has passed since you and I were scanning Virgil together, (which I believe is near three score years,) we shall be seen to have a population of eighty millions, and of not more than double the average density of the present.  What may not such a people be worth to England as customers and friends ? and what might she not apprehend from such a nation as enemies ?  Now, what is the price we ask for our friendship ?  Justice, and the comity usually observed between nation and nation.  Would there not be more of dignity in this, more character and satisfaction, than in her teasings and harassings, her briberies and intrigues, to sow party discord among us, which can never have more effect here than the opposition within herself has there ;  which can never obstruct the begetting children, the efficient source of growth ;  and by nourishing a deadly hatred, will only produce and hasten events which both of us, in moments of sober reflection, should deplore and deprecate.  One-half of the attention employed in decent observances towards our government, would be worth more to her than all the Yankee duperies played off upon her, at a great expense on her part of money and meanness, and of nourishment to the vices and treacheries of the Henrys and Hulls of both nations.  As we never can be at war with, any other nation, (for no other nation can get at us but Spain, and her own people will manage her,) the idea may be generated that we are natural enemies, and a calamitous one it will be to both.  I hope in God her government will come to a sense of this, and will see that honesty and interest are as intimately connected in the public as in the private code of morality.  Her ministers have been weak enough to believe from the newspapers that Mr. Madison and myself are personally her enemies.  Such an idea is unworthy a man of sense ;  as we should have been unworthy our trusts could we have felt such a motive of public action.  No two men in the United States have more sincerely wished for cordial friendship with her;  not as her vassals or dirty partisans, but as members of co-equal States, respecting each other, and sensible of the good as well as the harm each is capable of doing the other.  On this ground there was never a moment we did not wish to embrace her.  But repelled by their aversions, feeling their hatred at every point of contact, and justly indignant at its supercilious manifestations, that happened which has happened, that will follow which must follow, in progressive ratio, while such dispositions continue to be indulged.  I hope they will see this, and do their part towards healing the minds and cooling the temper of both nations.  The irritation here is great and general, because the mode of warfare both on the maritime and inland frontiers has been most exasperating.  We perceive the English passions to be high also, nourished by the newspapers, that first of all human contrivances for generating war.  But it is the office of the rulers on both sides to rise above these vulgar vehicles of passion ;  to assuage angry feelings, and by examples and expressions oŁ mutual regard in their public intercourse, to lead their citizens into good temper with each other.  No one feels more indignation than myself when reflecting on the insults and injuries of that country to this.  But the interests of both require that these should be left to history, and in the meantime be smothered in the living mind.  I have indeed little personal concern in it.  Time is drawing her curtain on me.  But I should make my bow with more satisfaction, if I had more hope of seeing our countries shake hands together cordially.  In this sentiment I am sure you are with me, and this assurance must apologize for my indulging myself in expressing it to you, with that of my constant and affectionate friendship and respect.




To James Maury.
Monticello, June 16, 1815.

My Dear Sir

Just as I was about to close my preceding letter, yours of April 29th is put into my hands, and with it the papers your kindness forwards to me.  I am glad to see in them expressions of regard for our friendship and intercourse from one side of the Houses of Parliament.  But I would rather have seen them from the other, if not from both.  What comes from the opposition is understood to be the converse of the sentiments of the government, and we would not there, as they do here, give up the government for the opposition.  The views of the Prince and his ministers are unfortunately to be taken from the speech af Earl Bathurst, in one of the papers you sent me.  But what is incomprehensible to me is that the Marquis of Wellesley, advocating us, on the ground of opposition, says that “the aggression which led to the war, was from the United States, not from England.”  Is there a person in the world who, knowing the circumstances, thinks this ?  The acts which produced the war were, 1st, the impressment of our citizens by their ships of war, and, 2d, the orders of council forbidding our vessels to trade with any country but England, without going to England to obtain a special license.  On the first subject the British minister declared to our charge, Mr. Russel, that this practice of their ships of war would not be discontinued, and that no admissible arrangement could be proposed;  and as to the second, the Prince Regent, by his proclamation of April 21st, 1812, declared in effect solemnly that he would not revoke the orders of council as to us, on the ground that Bonaparte had revoked his decrees as to us;  that, on the contrary, we should continue under them until Bonaparte should revoke as to all the world.  These categorical and definite answers put an end to negotiation, and were a declaration of a continuance of the war in which they had already taken from us one thousand ships and six thousand seamen.  We determined then to defend ourselves, and to oppose further hostilities by war on our side also.  Now, had we taken one thousand British ships and six thousand of her seamen without any declaration of war, would the Marquis of Wellesley have considered a declaration of war by Great Britain as an aggression on her part ?  They say we denied their maritime rights.  We never denied a single one.  It was their taking our citizens, native as well as naturalized, for which we went into war, and because they forbade us to trade with any nation without entering and paying duties in their ports on both the outward and inward cargo.  Thus to carry a cargo of cotton from Savannah to St. Mary’s, and take returns in fruits, for example, our vessel was to go to England, enter and pay a duty on her cotton there, return to St. Mary’s, then go back to England to enter and pay a duty on her fruits, and then return to Savannah, after crossing the Atlantic four times, and paying tributes on both cargoes to England, instead of the direct passage of a few hours.  And the taking ships for not doing this, the Marquis says, is no aggression.  However, it is now all over, and I hope forever over.  Yet I should have had more confidence in this, had the friendly expressions of the Marquis come from the ministers of the Prince.  On the contrary, we see them scarcely admitting that the war ought to have been ended.  Earl Bathurst shuffles together chaotic ideas merely to darken and cover the views of the ministers in protracting the war ;  the truth being, that they expected to give us an exemplary scourging, to separate from us the States east of the Hudson, take for their Indian allies those west of the Ohio, placing three hundred thousand American citizens under the government oŁ the savages, and to leave the residuum a powerless enemy, if not submissive subjects.  I cannot conceive what is the use of your Bedlam when such men are out of it.  And yet that such were their views we have evidence, under the hand of their Secretary of State in Henry’s case, and of their Commissioners at Ghent.  Even now they insinuate the peace in Europe has not suspended the practices which produced the war.  I trust, however, they are speaking a different language to our ministers, and join in the hope you express that the provocations which occasioned the late rupture will not be repeated.  The interruption of our intercourse with England has rendered us one essential service in planting, radically and firmly, coarse manufactures among us.  I make in my family two thousand yards of cloth a year, which I formerly bought from England, and it only employs a few women, children and invalids, who could do little on the farm.  The State generally does the same, and allowing ten yards to a person, this amounts to ten millions of yards ;  and if we are about the medium degree of manufacturers in the whole Union, as I believe we are, the whole will amount to one hundred millions of yards a year, which will soon reimburse us the expenses of the war.  Carding machines in every neighborhood, spinning machines in large families and wheels in the small, are too radically established ever to be relinquished.  The finer fabrics perhaps, and even probably, will be sought again in Europe, except broadcloth, which the vast multiplication of merinos among us will enable us to make much cheaper than can be done in Europe.

Your practice of the cold bath thrice a week during the winter, and at the age of seventy, is a bold one, which I should not, à priori, have pronounced salutary.  But all theory must yield to experience, and every constitution has its own laws.  I have for fifty years bathed my feet in cold water every morning (as you mention), and having been remarkably exempted from colds (not having had one in every seven years of my life on an average), I have supposed it might be ascribed to that practice.  When we see two facts accompanying one another for a long time, we are apt to suppose them related as cause and effect.

Our tobacco trade is strangely changed.  We no longer know how to fit the plant to the market.  Differences of from four to twelve dollars the hundred are now made on qualities appearing to us entirely whimsical.  The British orders of council had obliged us to abandon the culture generally;  we are now, however, returning to it, and experience will soon decide what description of lands may continue it to advantage.  Those which produce the qualities under seven or eight dollars, must, I think, relinquish it finally.  Your friends here are well as far as I have heard.  So I hope you are;  and that you may continue so as long as you shall think the continuance of life itself desirable, is the prayer of yours sincerely and affectionately.




John Adams to Thomas Jefferson.
Quincy, June 20, 1815.

Dear Sir

The fit of recollection came upon both of us so nearly at the same time, that I may, some time or other, begin to think there is something in Priestley’s and Hartley’s vibrations.  The day before yesterday I sent to the post office a letter to you, and last night I received your kind favor of the 10th.

The question before the human race is, whether the God of Nature shall govern the world by His own laws, or whether priests and kings shall rule it by fictitious miracles ?  Or, in other words, whether authority is originally in the people ? or whether it has descended for 1800 years in a succession of popes and bishops, or brought down from heaven by the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove, in a phial of holy oil ?

Who shall take the side of God and Nature ? Brahmans ? Mandarins ? Druids ? or Tecumseh and his brother the prophet ?  Or shall we become disciples of the Philosophers ?  And who are the Philosophers ?  Frederic ? Voltaire ? Rousseau ? Buffon ? Diderot ? or Condorcet ?  These philosophers have shown themselves as incapable of governing mankind, as the Bourbons or the Guelphs.  Condorcet has let the cat out of the bag.  He has made precious confessions.  I regret that I have only an English translation of his “Outlines of an Historical View of the Progress of the Human Mind.”  But in pages 247, 248, and 249, you will find it frankly acknowledged, that the philosophers of the eighteenth century, adopted all the maxims, and practiced all the arts of the Pharisees, the ancient priests of all countries, the Jesuits, the Machiavellians, &c., &c., to overthrow the institutions that such arts had established.  This new philosophy was, by his own account, as insidious, fraudulent, hypocritical, and cruel, as the old policy of the priests, nobles, and kings.  When and where were ever found, or will be found, sincerity, honesty, or veracity, in any sect or party in religion, government, or philosophy ?  Johnson and Burke were more of Catholics than Protestants at heart, and Gibbon became an advocate for the Inquisition.

There is no act of uniformity in the Church, or State, philosophic.  As many sects and systems among them, as among Quakers and Baptists.  Bonaparte will not revive Inquisitions, Jesuits or slave trade, for which habitudes the Bourbons have been driven again into exile.

We shall get along, with or without war.  I have at last procured the Marquis D’Argens’ Occellus, Timaeus, and Julian.  Three such volumes I never read.  They are a most perfect exemplification of Condorcet’s previous confessions.  It is astonishing they have not made more noise in the world.  Our Athanasians have printed in a pamphlet in Boston, your letters and Priestley’s from Belsham’s Lindsey.  It will do you no harm.  Our correspondence shall not again be so long interrupted.  Affectionately.


Mrs. Adams thanks Mr. Jefferson for his friendly remembrance of her, and reciprocates to him a thousand good wishes.


P.S.  Ticknor and Gray were highly delighted with their visit;  charmed with the whole family.  Have you read Carnot ?  Is it not afflicting to see a man of such large views, so many noble sentiments, and such exalted integrity, groping in the dark for a remedy, a balance, or a mediator between independence and despotism ?  How shall his “love of country,” “his honor,” and his “national spirit,” be produced ?

I cannot write a hundredth part of what I wish to say to you.




John Adams to Thomas Jefferson.
Quincy, June 22, 1815.

Dear Sir

Can you give me any information concerning A.G. Camus ?  Is he a Chateaubriand ? or a Marquis D’Argens ?  Does he mean to abolish Christianity ? or to restore the Inquisition, the Jesuits, the Pope and the Devil ?

Within a few days I have received a thing as unexpected to me as an apparition from the dead :  Rapport à l’Institut National. Par A.G. Camus, imprime par ordre de l’Institut, Pluviose An XI.

In page 55 of this report, he says, “Certain pieces which I found in the chamber of accounts in Brussels, gave me useful indications concerning the grand collection of the Bollandists;  and conducted me to make researches into the state of that work, unfortunately interrupted at this day.  It would add to the Institute to propose to government the means of completing it;  as it has done with success for the collection of the historians of France, of diplomas and ordinances.”*

Permit me to dwell a few minutes on this important work.

“Almost all the history of Europe, and a part of that of the east, from the seventh century to the thirteenth, is in the lives of personages to whom have been given the title of Saints.  Every one may have remarked, that in reading history, there is no event of any importance, in civil order, in which some Bishop, some Abbé, some Monk, or some Saint, did not take a part.  It is, therefore, a great service, rendered by the Jesuits (known under the name of the Bollandists) to those who would write history, to have formed the immense collection, extended to fifty-two volumes in folio, known under the title of the Acts of the Saints.  The service they have rendered to literature is considerably augmented by the insertion, in their Acts of the Saints, of a great number of diplomas and dissertations, the greatest part of which are models of criticism.  There is no man, among the learned, who does not interest himself in this great collection.  My intention is not to recall to your recollection the original authors, or their first labors.  We may easily know them by turning over the leaves of the collection, or if we would find the result already written, it is in the Historical Library of Mensel, T. 1, part 1, p. 306, or in the Manual of Literary History, by Bougine, T. 2, p. 641.

“ I shall date what I have to say to you only from the epoch of the suppression of the society, of which the Bollandists were members.

“At that time, three Jesuits were employed in the collection of the Acts of the Saints;  to wit, the Fathers De Bie, De Bue, and Hubens.  The Father Gesquière, who had also labored at the Acts of the Saints, reduced a particular collection, entitled Select Fragments from Belgical Writers, and extracts or references to matters contained in a collectinn entitled Museum of Bellarmine.  These four monks inhabited the house of the Jesuits at Antwerp.  Independently of the use of the library of the convent, the Bollandists had their particular library, the most important portion of which was a state of the Lives of the Saints for every day of the month, with indications of the books in which were found those which were already printed, and the original manuscripts, or the copies of manuscripts, which were not yet printed.  They frequently quote this particular collection in their general collection.  The greatest part of the copies they had assembled, were the fruit of a journey of the Fathers Papebroch and Henshen, made to Rome in 1660.  They remained there till 1662.  Papebroch and his associate brought from Rome copies of seven hundred Lives of Saints, in Greek or in Latin.  The citizen La Serna has in his library a copy, taken by himself, from the originals, of the relation of the journey of Papebroch to Rome, and of the correspondence of Henshen with his colleagues.  The relation and the correspondence are in Latin.  See Catalogue de la Serna, T. 3, N. 3903.

“After the suppression of the Jesuits, the commissioners apposed their seals upon the library of the Bollandists, as well as on that of the Jesuits of Antwerp.  But Mr. Girard, then Secretary of the Academy at Brussels, who is still living, and who furnished me a part of the documents I use, charged with the inventory and sale of the books, withdrew those of the Bollandists, and transported them to Brussels.

“ The Academy of Brussels proposed to continue the Acts of the Saints under its own name, and for this purpose to admit the four Jesuits into the number of its members.  The Father Gesquière alone consented to this arrangement.  The other Jesuits obtained of government, through the intervention of the Bishop of Newstadt, the assurance, that they might continue their collection.  In effect, the Empress Maria Theresa approved, by a decree of the 19th of June, 1778, a plan which was presented to her, for the continuation of the works, both by the Bollandists and of Gesquiere.  This plan is in ample detail.  It contains twenty articles, and would be useful to consult, if any persons should resume the Acts of the Saints.  The establishment of the Jesuits was fixed in the Abbey of Candenberg, at Brussels;  the library of the Bollandists was transported to that place ;  one of the monks of the Abbey was associated with them ;  and the Father Hubens being dead, was replaced by the Father Berthod, a Benedictin, who died in 1789.  The Abby of Candenberg having been suppressed, the government assigned to the Bollandists a place in the ancient College of the Jesuits, at Brussels.  They there placed their library, and went there to live.  There they published the fifty-first volume of their collection in 1786, the fifth tome of the month of October, printed at Brussels, at the printing press Imperial and Royal, (in typis Cæsario regiis.)  They had then two associates, and they flattered themselves that the Emperor would continue to furnish the expense of their labors.  Nevertheless, in 1788, the establishment of the Bollandists was suppressed, and they even proposed to sell the stock of the printed volumes;  but, by an instruction (Avis) of the 6th of December, 1788, the ecclesiastical commission superseded the sale, till the result could be known of a negotiation which the Father De Bie had commenced with the Abbé of St. Blaise, to establish the authors, and transport the stock of the work, as well as the materials for its continuation at St. Blaise.

“ In the meantime, the Abby of Tongerloo offered the government to purchase the library and stock of the Bollandists, and to cause the work to be continued by the ancient Bollandists, with the monks of Tongerloo associated with them.  These propositions were accepted.  The Fathers De Bie, De Bue, and Gesqueire, removed to Tongerloo ;  the monks of Candenberg refused to follow them, though they had been associated with them.  On the entry of the French troops into Belgium, the monks of Tongerloo quitted their Abby;  the Fathers De Bie, and Gesquiere, retired to Germany, where they died ;  the Father De Bue retired to the City Hall, heretofore Province of Hainault, his native country.  He lives, but is very aged.  One of the monks of Tongerloo, who had been associated with them, is the Father Heylen;  they were not able to inform me of the place of his residence.  Another monk associated with the Bollandists of 1780, is the Father Fonson, who resides at Brussels.

“ In the midst of these troubles, the Bollandists have caused to be printed the fifty-second volume of the Acts of the Saints, the sixth volume of the month of October.  The fifty-first volume is not common in commerce, because the sale of it has been interrupted by the continual changes of the residence of the Bollandists.  The fifty-second volume, or the sixth of the same month of October, is much more rare.  Few persons know its existence.

“ The citizen La Serna has given me the two hundred and ninety-six first pages of the volume, which he believes were printed at Tongerloo.  He is persuaded that the rest of the volume exists, and he thinks it was at Rome that it was finished (terminé).

“ The citizen De Herbonville, Prefect of the two Niths at Antwerp, has made, for about eighteen months, attempts with the ancient Bollandists, to engage them to resume their labors.  They have not had success.  Perhaps the present moment would be the most critical, (opportune,) especially if the government should consent to give to the Bollandists assurance of their safety.

“ The essential point would be to make sure of the existence of the manuscripts which I have indicated ;  and which, by the relation of the citizen La Serna, filled a body of a library of about three toises in length, and two in breadth.  If these manuscripts still exist, it is easy to terminate the Acts of the Saints;  because we shall have all the necessary materials.  If these manuscripts are lost, we must despair to see this collection completed.

“ I have enlarged a little on this digression on the Acts of the Saints, because it is a work of great importance;  and because these documents, which cannot be obtained with any exactitude but upon the spots, seem to me to be among the principal objects which your travellers have to collect, and of which they ought to give you an account.”


Now, my friend Jefferson !  I await your observations on this morsel.  You may think I waste my time and yours.  I do not think so.  If you will look into the “Nouveau Dictionnaire Historique,” under the words “Bollandus, Heinshernius, and Papebrock,” you will find more particulars of the rise and progress of this great work, “The Acts of the Saints.”

I shall make only an observation or two.

1.  The Pope never suppressed the work, and Maria Theresa established it.  It therefore must be Catholic.

2.  Notwithstanding the professions of the Bollandists, to discriminate the true from the false miracles, and the dubious from both, I suspect that the false will be found the fewest, the dubious the next, and the true the most numerous of all.

3.  From all that I have read, of the legends, of the lives, and writings of the Saints, and even of the Fathers, and of ecclesiastical history in general, I have no doubt that the Acta Sanctorum is the most enormous mass of lies, frauds, hypocrisy, and imposture, that ever was heaped together on this globe.  If it were impartially consulted, it would do more to open the eyes of rnankind, than all the philosophers of the 18th century, who were as great hypocrites as any of the philosophers or theologians of antiquity.



* “ The Committee of the Institute, for proposing and superintending the literary labors, in the month of Frimaire, An XI., wrote to the Minister of the Interior, requesting him to give orders to the Prefect of the Dyle, and to the Prefect of the Two Nithes, to summon the citizens De Bue, Fonson, Heyten, and all others who had taken any part in the sequel of the work of the Bollandists, to confer with these persons, as well concerning the continuation of this work, as concerning the cession of the materials destined for the continuation of it;  to promise to the continuators of the Bollandists the support of the French government, and to render an account of their conferences.”




To Monsieur Correa de Serra.
Monticello, June 28, 1815.

Dear Sir

When I learned that you proposed to give a course of Botanical lectures in Philadelphia, I feared it would retard the promised visit to Monticello.  On my return from Bedford, however, on the 4th instant, I received a letter from M. Dupont flattering me with the prospect that he and yourself would be with us as soon as my return should be known.  I, therefore, in the instant wrote him of my return, and my hope of seeing you both shortly.  I am still without that pleasure, but not without the hope.  Europe has been a second time turned topsy-turvy since we were together;  and so many things have happened there that I have lost my compass.  As far as we can judge from appearances, Bonaparte, from being a mere military usurper, seems to have become the choice of his nation ;  and the allies in their turn, the usurpers and spoliators of the European world.  The right of nations to self-government being my polar star, my partialities are steered by it, without asking whether it is a Bonaparte or an Alexander towards whom the helm is directed.  Believing that England has enough on her hands without us, and therefore has by this time settled the question of impressment with Mr. Adams, I look on this new conflict of the European gladiators, as from the higher forms of the amphitheatre, wondering that man, like the wild beasts of the forest, should permit himself to be led by his keeper into the arena, the spectacle and sport of the lookers on.  Nor do I see the issue of this tragedy with the sanguine hopes of our friend M. Dupont.  I fear, from the experience of the last twenty-five years, that morals do not of necessity advance hand in hand with the sciences.  These, however, are speculations which may be adjourned to our meeting at Monticello, where I will continue to hope that I may receive you with our friend Dupont, and in the meantime repeat the assurances of my affectionate friendship and respect.




To Madame la Baronne de Staël-Holstein (Germaine Necker).
Monticello, July 3, 1815.

Dear Madam

I considered your letter of November 10th, 12th, as an evidence of the interest you were so kind as to take in the welfare of the United States, and I was even flattered by your exhortations to avoid taking any part in the war then raging in Europe, because they were a confirmation of the policy I had myself pursued, and which I thought and still think should be the governing canon of our republic.  Distance, and difference of pursuits, of interests, of connections and other circumstances, prescribe to us a different system, having no object in common with Europe, but a peaceful interchange of mutual comforts for mutual wants.  But this may not always depend on ourselves;  and injuries may be so accumulated by an European power, as to pass all bounds of wise forbearance.  This was our situation at the date of your letter.  A long course of injuries, systematically pursued by England, and finally, formal declarations that she would neither redress nor discontinue their infliction, had fixed the epoch which rendered an appeal to arms unavoidable.  In the letter of May 28th, 1813, which I had the honor of writing you, I entered into such details of these injuries, and of our unremitting endeavors to bring them to a peaceable end, as the narrow limits of a letter perrnitted.  Resistance on our part at length brought our enemy to reflect, to calculate, and to meet us in peaceable conferences at Ghent;  but the extravagance of the pretensions brought forward by her negotiators there, when first made known in the United States, dissipated at once every hope of a just peace, and prepared us for a war of utter extremity.  Our government, in that state of things, respecting the opinion of the world, thought it a duty to present to it a justification of the course which was likely to be forced upon us;  and with this view the pamphlet was prepared which I now enclose.  It was already printed, when (instead of their ministers whom they hourly expected from a fruitless negotiation) they received the treaty of pacification signed at Ghent and ratified at London.  They endeavored to suppress the pamphlet as now unreasonable—but the proof sheets having been surreptitiously withdrawn, soon made, their appearance in the public papers, and in the form now sent.  This vindication is so exact in its facts, so cogent in its reasonings, so authenticated by the documents to which it appeals, that it cannot fail to bring the world to a single opinion on our case.  The concern you manifested on our entrance into this contest, assures me you will take the trouble of reading it ;  which I wish the more earnestly, because it will fully explain the very imperfect views which my letter had presented;  and because we cannot be indifferent as to the opinion which yourself personally shall ultimately form of the course we have pursued.

I learned with great pleasure your return to your native country.  It is the only one which offers elements of society analogous to the powers of your mind, and sensible of the flattering distinction of possessing them.  It is true that the great events which made an opening for your return, have been reversed.  But not so, I hope, the circumstances which may admit its continuance.  On these events I shall say nothing.  At our distance, we hear too little truth and too much falsehood to form correct judgments concerning them;  and they are moreover foreign to our umpirage.  We wish the happiness and prosperity of every nation;  we did not believe either of these promoted by the former pursuits of the present ruler of France, and hope that his return, if the nation wills it to be permanent, may be marked by those changes which the solid good of his own country, and the peace and well-being of the world, may call for.  But these things I leave to whom they belong;  the object of this letter being only to convey to you a vindication of my own country, and to have the honor on a new occasion of tendering you the homage of my great consideration, and respectful attachment.




To Andrew C. Mitchell, Esq.
Monticello, July 16, 1815.

I thank you, Sir, for the pamphlet which you have been so kind as to send me.  I have read it with attention and satisfaction.  It is replete with sound views, some of which will doubtless be adopted.  Some may be checked by difficulties.  None more likely to be so than the proposition to amend the Constitution, so as to authorize Congress to tax exports.  The provision against this in the framing of that instrument, was a sine quâ non with the States of peculiar pr oductions, as rice, indigo, cotton and tobacco, to which may now be added sugar.  A jealousy prevailing that to the few States producing these articles, the justice of the others might not be a sufficient protection in opposition to their interest, they moored themselves to this anchor.  Since the hostile dispositi.ons lately manifested by the Eastern States, they would be lcss willing than before to place themselves at their mercy ;  and the rather, as the Eastern States have no exports which can be taxed equivalently.  It is possible, however, that this difficulty might be got over;  but the subject looking forward beyond my time, I leave it to those to whom its burdens and benefits will belong, adding only my prayers for whatever may be best for our country, and assurances to yourself of my great respect.




To William Wirt, Esq.
Monticello, August 5, 1815.

Dear Sir

Your favor of July 24th came to hand on the 31st, and I will proceed to answer your inquiries in the order they are presented as far as I am able.

I have no doubt that the fifth of the Rhode Island resolutions of which you have sent me a copy, is exactly the one erased from our journals.  The Mr. Lees, and especially Richard Henry, who was industrious, had a close correspondence, I know, with the two Adamses, and probably with others in that and the other Eastern States ;  and I think it was said at the time that copies were sent off by them to the northward the very evening of the day on which they were passed.  I can readily enough believe these resolutions were written by Mr. Henry himself.  They bear the stamp of his mind, strong without precision.  That they were written by Johnson who seconded them, was only the rumor of the day, and very possibly unfounded.  But how Edmund Randolph should have said they were written by William Fleming, and Mr. Henry should have written that he showed them to William Fleming, is to me incomprehensible.  There was no William Fleming then but the judge now living, whom nobody will ever suspect of taking the lead in rebellion.  I am certain he was not then a member, and I think was never a member until the Revolution had made some progress.  Of this, however, he will inform us with candor and truth.  His eldest brother, John Fleming, was a member, and a great speaker in debate.  To him they may have been shown.  Yet I should not have expected this, because he was extremely attached to Robinson, Peyton Randolph, &c., and at their beck, and had no independence or boldness of mind.  However, he was attentive to his own popularity, might have been overruled by views to that, and without correction of the Christian name, Mr. Henry’s note is sufficient authority to suppose he took the popular side on that occasion.  I remember nothing to the contrary.  The opposers of the resolutions were Robinson, Peyton Randolph, Pendleton, Wythe, Bland, and all the cyphers of the aristocracy.  No longer possessing the journals, I cannot recollect nominally the others.  They opposed them on the ground that the same principles had been expressed in the petition, &c., of the preceding year, to which an answer, not yet received, was daily expected, that they were therein expressed in more conciliatory terms, and therefore more likely to have good effect.  The resolutions were carried chiefly by the vote of the middle and upper country.  To state the differences between the classes of society and the lines of demarkation which separated them, would be difficult.  The law, you know, admitted none except as to the twelve counsellors.  Yet in a country insulated from the European world, insulated from its sister colonies, with whom there was scarcely any intercourse, little visited by foreigners, and having little matter to act upon within itself, certain famiiies had risen to splendor by wealth and the preservation of it from generation to generation under the law entails ;  some had produced a series of men of talents;  families in general had remained stationary on the grounds of their forefathers, for there was no emigration to the westward in those days.  The wild Irish, who had gotten possession of the valley between the Blue Ridge and North Mountain, forming a barrier over which none ventured to leap, and would still less venture to settle among.  In such a state of things, scarcely admitting any change of station, society would settle itself down into several strata, separated by no marked lines, but shading off imperceptibly from top to bottom, nothing disturbing the order of their repose.  There were then aristocrats, half-breeds, pretenders, a solid independent yeomanry, looking askance at those above, yet not venturing to jostle them, and last and lowest, a seculum of beings called overseers, the most abject, degraded and unprincipled race, always cap in hand to the Dons who employed them, and furnishing materials for the exercise of their pride, insolence and spirit of domination.  Your characters are inimitably and justly drawn.  I am not certain if more might not be said of Colonel Richard Bland.  He was the most learned and logical man of those who took prominent lead in public affairs, profound in constitutional lore, a most ungraceful speaker, (as were Peyton Randolph and Robinson, in a remarkable degree.)  He wrote the first pamphlet on the nature of the connection with Great Britain which had any pretension to accuracy of view on that subject, but it was a singular one.  He would set out on sound principles, pursue them logically till he found them leading to the precipice which he had to leap, start back alarmed, then resume his ground, go over it in another direction, be led again by the correctness of his reasoning to the same place, and again back about, and try other processes to reconcile right and wrong, but finally left his reader and himself bewildered between the steady index of the compass in their hand, and the phantasm to which it seemed to point.  Still there was more sound matter in his pamphlet than in the celebrated Farmer’s letters which were really but an ignis fatuus, misleading us from true principles.

Landon Carter’s measure you may take from the first volume of the American Philosophical transactions, where he has one or more long papers on the weavil, and perhaps other subjects.  His speeches, like his writings, were dull, vapid, verbose, egotistical, smooth as the lullaby of the nurse, and commanding, like that, the repose only of the hearer.

You ask if you may quote me, first, for the loan office ;  second, Philips’ case ;  and third, the addresses prepared for Congress by Henry and Lee.  For the two first certainly, because within my own knowledge, especially citing the record in Philips case, which of itself refutes the diatribes published on that subject;  but not for the addresses, because I was not present, nor know anything relative to them but by hearsay from others.  My first and principal information on that subject I know I had from Ben Harrison, on his return from the first session of the old Congress.  Mr. Pendleton, also, I am tolerably certain, mentioned it to me ;  but the transaction is too distant, and my memory too indistinct, to hazard as with precision, even what I think I heard from them.  In this decay of memory Mr. Edmund Randolph must have suffered at a much earlier period of life than myself.  I cannot otherwise account for his saying to you that Robert Carter Nicholas came into the legislature only on the death of Peyton Randolph, which was in 1776.  Seven years before that period, I went first into the legislature myself, to wit :  in 1769, and Mr. Nicholas was then a member, and I think not a new one.  I remember it from an impressive circumstance.  It was the first assembly of Lord Botetourt, being called on his arrival.  On receiving the Governor’s speech, it was usual to move resolutions as heads for an address.  Mr. Pendleton asked me to draw the resolutions, which I did.  They were accepted by the house, and Pendleton, Nicholas, myself and some others, were appointed a committee to prepare the address.  The committee desired me to do it, but when presented it was thought to pursue too strictly the diction of the resolutions, and that their subjects were not sufficiently amplified.  Mr. Nicholas chiefly objected to it, and was desired by the committee to draw one more at large, which he did with amplification enough, and it was accepted.  Being a young man as well as a young member, it made on me an impression, proportioned to the sensibility of that time of life.  On a similar occasion some years after, I had reason to retain a remembrance of his presence while Peyton Randolph was living.  On the receipt of Lord North’s propositions, in May or June, 1775, Lord Dunmore called the assembly.  Peyton Randolph, then President of Congress and Speaker of the House of Burgesses, left the former body and came home to hold the assembly, leaving in Congress the other delegates who were the ancient leaders of our house.  He therefore asked me to prepare the answer to Lord North’s propositions, which I did.  Mr. Nicholas, whose mind had as yet acquired no tone for that contest, combated the answer from alpha to omega, and succeeded in diluting it in one or two small instances.  It was firmly supported, however, in committee of the whole, by Peyton Randolph, who had brought with him the spirit of the body over which he had presided, and it was carried, with very little alteration, by strong majorities.  I was the bearer of it myself to Congress, by whom, as it was the first answer given to those propositions by any legislature, it was received with peculiar satisfaction.  I am sure that from 1769, if not earlier, to 1775, you will find Mr. Nicholas’ name constantly in the journals, for he was an active member.  I think he represented James City county.  Whether on the death of Peyton Randolph he succeeded him for Williamsburg, I do not know.  If he did, it may account for Mr. Randolph’s error.

You ask some account of Mr. Henry’s mind, information and manners in 1759-60, when I first became acquainted with him.  We met at Nathan Dandridge’s, in Hanover, about the Christmas of that winter, and passed perhaps a fortnight together at the revelries of the neighborhood and season.  His manners had something of the coarseness of the society he had frequented;  his passion was fiddling, dancing and pleasantry.  He excelled in the last, and it attached every one to him.  The occasion perhaps, as much as his idle disposition, prevented his engaging in any conversation which might give the measurc either of his mind or information.  Opportunity was not wanting, because Mr. John Campbell was there;  who had married Mrs. Spotswood, the sister of Colonel Dandridge.  He was a man of science, and often introduced conversations on scientific subjects.  Mr. Henry had a little before broke up his store, or rather it had broken him up, and within three months after he came to Williamsburg for his license, and told me, I think, he had read law not more than six weeks.  I have by this time, probably, tired you with these old histories, and shall, therefore, only add the assurance of my great friendship and respect.




To Phillip Mazzei
Monticello, August 9, 1815.

My Dear Friend

Your letter of Sep. 24. came inclosed to me in one of Octob. 20. from Mr. Warden, which did not get to my hands until the 15th of the last month.  How the present answer will get to you I do not yet know but I shall confide it to the Secretary of State, to be forwarded with his despatches either to Paris or Leghorn.

My letter of Dc. 29. 13. stated to you the circumstances, both here and abroad, which rendered a remittance of the price of your lots impracticable.  The money might have been invested in the government loans, but the principal would then have been payable only at the end of a long term of years.  It might have been vested in the stock of some of our banks;  but besides their daily fluctuations in value the banks had indulged themselves in such extravagant emissions of their paper notes that it was obvious they must be on the verge of bankruptcy;  and accordingly, within a very few months every bank in the US. stopt the payment of cash for their own notes, have never since resumed it, and everyone is satisfied they never can pay them.  So that with all the indulgencies of time which has been given them their insolvency is notorious.  There remained then only the resource of placing it on interest in private hands.  This the circumstances of the country rendered impracticable but in the usual way of repaiments by annual instalments.  We were then under the blockade of the enemy, and an embargo of our own, the sale of produce was as absolutely null, as you remember it in the revolutionary war, and the prospect of peace thought to be distant.  Under these difficulties therefore I really thought it safest for you to retain the price in my own hands, stating at the same time in my letter of Dec. 19. 13. that the sum being considerable, it’s repayment would require a delay of one or two years from the time you should give notice that you preferred placing it there rather than here.  The distressing injury which every individual sustained during the war by the entire loss of the produce of their farms for want of a market, the expences of the war, and great advance of price on all foreign articles, have left us in so exhausted a state, that immediate paiments are known to be impossible.  I am sorry therefore, my dear friend, that the remittances must of necessity be delayed so much beyond your wish;  and that you must make up your account to receive one moiety only the next year, and the other the year after, according to the former advice.  This you may count on;  and if bills on London will be negociable with you, that mode will be without difficulty.  Through Paris it would not be so easy.  We are ignorant with which of these powers you now have either peace or war.

Our commissioners in London are endeavouring by a convention with England to put an end to their impressment of our seamen.  If they succeed it is probable we may continue in peace.  All things here are going on quietly, except that we are in a great crisis as to our circulating medium.  A parcel of mushroom banks have set up in every state, have filled the country with their notes, and have thereby banished all our specie.  A twelvemonth ago they all declared they could not pay cash for their own notes, and notwithstanding this act of bankruptcy, this trash has of necessity been passing among us, because we have no other medium of exchange, and is still taken and passed from hand to hand, as you remember the old continental money to have been in the revolutionary war;  every one getting rid of it as quickly as he can, by laying it out in property of any sort at double, treble and manifold higher prices.  It was this which procured the extravagant price for your lots, and in this paper the payment was made.  A general crush is daily expected when this trash will be lost in the hands of the holders.  This will take place the moment some specie returns among us, or so soon as the government will issue bills of circulation.  The little they have issued is greatly sought after, and a premium given for them which is rising fast.

In Europe you are all at war again.  No man more severely condemned Bonaparte than myself during his former career, for his unprincipled enterprises on the liberty of his own country, and the independence of others.  But the allies having now taken up his pursuits, and he arrayed himself on the legitimate side, I also am changed as to him.  He is now fighting for the independence of nations, of which his whole life hitherto had been a continued violation, and he has now my prayers as sincerely for success as he had before for his overthrow.  He has promised a free government to his own country, and to respect the rights of others;  and altho’ his former conduct does not inspire entire faith in his promises;  yet we had better take the chance of his word for doing right, than the certainty of the wrong which his adversaries avow.

My health continues firm;  and I am sorry to learn that yours is not good.  But your prudence and temperance may yet give you many years, and that they may be years of health and happiness is the sincere prayer of yours ever affectionately.




To John Adams.
Monticello, August 10, 1815.

Dear Sir

The simultaneous movements in our correspondence have been remarkable on several occasions.  It would seem as if the state of the air, or state of the times, or some other unknown cause, produced a sympathetic effect on our mutual recollections.  I had sat down to answer your letters of June the 19th, 20th and 22d, with pen, ink and paper before me, when I received from our mail that of July the 30th.  You ask information on the subject of Camus.  All I recollect of him is, that he was one of the deputies sent to arrest Dumourier at the head of his army, who were, however, themselves arrested by Dumourier, and long detained as prisoners.  I presume, therefore, he was a Jacobin.  You will find his character in the most excellent revolutionary history of Toulongeon.  I believe, also, he may be the same person who has given us a translation of Aristotle’s Natural History, from the Greek into French.  Of his report to the National Institute on the subject of the Bollandists, your letter gives me the first information.  I had supposed them defunct with the society of Jesuits, of which they were;  and that their works, although above ground, were, from their bulk and insignificance, as effectually entombed on their shelves, as if in the graves of their authors.  Fifty-two volumes in folio, of the acta sanctorum, in dog-Latin, would be a formidable enterprise to the most laborious German.  I expect, with you, they are the most enormous mass of lies, frauds, hypocrisy and imposture, that was ever heaped together on this globe.  By what chemical process M. Camus supposed that an extract of truth could be obtained from such a farrago of falsehood, I must leave to the chemists and moralists of the age to divine.

On the subject of the history of the American Revolution, you ask who shall write it ?  Who can write it ?  And who will ever be able to write it ?  Nobody;  except merely its external facts;  all its councils, designs and discussions having been conducted by Congress with closed doors, and no members, as far as I know, having even made notes of them.  These, which are the life and soul of history, must forever be unknown.  Botta, as you observe, has put his own speculations and reasonings into the mouths of persons whom he names, but who, you and I know, never made such speeches.  In this he has followed the example of the ancients, who made their great men deliver long speeches, all of them in the same style, and in that of the author himself.  The work is nevertheless a good one, more judicious, more chaste, more classical, and more true than the party diatribe of Marshall.  Its greatest fault is in having taken too much from him.  I possessed the work, and often recurred to considerable portions of it, although I never read it through.  But a very judicious and well-informed neighbor of mine went through it with great attention, and spoke very highly of it.  I have said that no member of the old Congress, as far as I knew, made notes of the discussion.  I did not know of the speeches you mention of Dickinson and Witherspoon.  But on the questions of Independence, and on the two articles of Confederation respecting taxes and votings, I took minutes of the heads of the arguments.  On the first, I threw all into one mass, without ascribing to the speakers their respective arguments;  pretty much in the manner of Hume’s summary digests of the reasonings in parliament for and against a measure.  On the last, I stated the heads of the arguments used by each speaker.  But the whole of my notes on the question of Independence does not occupy more than five pages, such as of this letter;  and on the other questions, two such sheets.  They have never been communicated to any one.  Do you know that there exists in manuscript the ablest work of this kind ever yet executed, of the debates of the constitutional convention of Philadelphia in 1788 ?  The whole of everything said and done there was taken down by Mr. Madison, with a labor and exactness beyond comprehension.

I presume that our correspondence has been observed at the post offices, and thus has attracted notice.  Would you believe, that a printer has had the effrontery to propose to me the letting him publish it ?  These people think they have a right to everything, however secret or sacred.  I had not before heard of the Boston pamphlet with Priestley’s letters and mine.

At length Bonaparte has got on the right side of a question.  From the time of his entering the legislative hall to his retreat to Elba, no man has execrated him more than myself.  I will not except even the members of the Essex Junto;  although for very different reasons;  I, because he was warring against the liberty of his own country, and independence of others;  they, because he was the enemy of England, the Pope, and the Inquisition.  But at length, and as far as we can judge, he seems to have become the choice of his nation.  At least, he is defending the cause of his nation, and that of all mankind, the rights of every people to independence and self-government.  He and the allies have now changed sides.  They are parcelling out among themselves Poland, Belgium, Saxony, Italy, dictating a ruler and government to France, and looking askance at our republic, the splendid libel on their governments, and he is fighting for the principles of national independence, of which his whole life hitherto has been a continued violation.  He has promised a free government to his own country, and to respect the rights of others;  and although his former conduct inspires little confidence in his promises, yet we had better take the chance of his word for doing right, than the certainty of the wrong which his adversaries are doing and avowing.  If they succeed, ours is only the boon of the Cyclops to Ulysses, of being the last devoured.

Present me affectionately and respectfully to Mrs. Adams, and Heaven give you both as much more of life as you wish, and bless it with health and happiness.


P.S.  August the 11th.—I had finished my letter yesterday, and this morning receive the news of Bonaparte’s second abdication. [June 22, 1815.]  Very well.  For him personally, I have no feeling but reprobation.  The representatives of the nation have deposed him.  They have taken the allies at their word, that they had no object in the war but his removal.  The nation is now free to give itself a good government, either with or without a Bourbon;  and France unsubdued, will still be a bridle on the enterprises of the combined powers, and a bulwark to others.




John Adams to Thomas Jefferson.
Quincy, August 24, 1815.

Dear Sir

If I am neither deceived by the little information I have, or by my wishes for its truth, I should say that France is the most Protestant country of Europe at this time, though I cannot think it the most reformed.  In consequence of these reveries, I have imagined that Camus and the Institute meant, by the revival and continuance of the Acta Sanctorum, to destroy the Pope, and the Catholic Church and Hierarchies, de fonde en comble, or in the language of Frederick Pollair, D’Alembert, &c., “ecraser le miserable”—“Crush the wretch.”  This great work must contain the most complete history of the corruptions of Christianity that has ever appeared, Priestley’s not excepted and his history of ancient opinions not excepted.

As to the History of the Revolution, my ideas may be peculiar, perhaps singular.  What do we mean by the Revolution ?  The war ?  That was no part of the Revolution.  It was only an effect, and consequence of it.  The revolution was in the minds of the people, and this was effected, from 1760 to 1775, in the course of fifteen years, before a drop of blood was drawn at Lexington.  The records of thirteen legislatures, the pamphlets, newspapers, in all the colonies ought to be consulted, during that period, to ascertain the steps by which the public opinion was enlightened and informed, concerning the authority of Parliament over the colonies.  The Congress of 1774 resembled in some respects, though I hope not in many, the Council of Nice in ecclesiastical history.  It assembled the priests from the east and the west, the north and the south, who compared notes, engaged in discussions and debates, and formed results by one vote, and by two votes, which went out to the world as unanimous.

Mr. Madison’s Notes of the Convention of 1787 or 1788 are consistent with his indefatigable character.  I shall never see them, but I hope posterity will.

That our correspondence has been observed is no wonder;  for your hand is more universally known than your face.  No printer has asked me for copies;  but it is no surprise that you have been requested.  These gentry will print whatever will sell ;  and our correspondence is thought such an oddity by both parties, that the printers imagine an edition would soon go off, and yield them a profit.  There has, however, been no tampering with your letters to me.  They have all arrived in good order.

Poor Bonaparte !  Poor Devil !  What has, and what will become of him ?  Going the way of King Theodore, Alexander, Caesar, Charles XIIth, Cromwell, Wat Tyler, and Jack Cade, i.e., to a bad end.  And what will become of Wellington ?  Envied, hated, despised, by all the barons, earls, viscounts, marquises, as an upstart, a parvenue elevated over their heads.  For these people have no idea of any merit, but birth.  Wellington must pass the rest of his days buffeted, ridiculed, scorned and insulted by factions, as Marlborough and his Duchess did.  Military glory dazzles the eyes of mankind, and for a time eclipses all wisdom and virtue, all laws, human and divine;  and after this it would be bathos to descend to services merely civil or political.

Napoleon has imposed kings upon Spain, Holland, Sweden, Westphalia, Saxony, Naples, &c.  The combined emperors and kings are about to retaliate upon France, by imposing a king upon her.  These are all abominable examples, detestable precedents.  When will the rights of mankind, the liberties and independence of nations, be respected ?  When the perfectibility of the human mind shall arrive at perfection.  When the progress of Manillius’ Ratio shall have not only eripuit caelo fulmen, Jouvisque fulgores, but made mankind rational creatures.

It remains to be seen whether the allies were honest in their declaration that they were at war only with Napoleon.

Can the French ever be cordially reconciled to the Bourbons again ?  If not, whom can they find for a head ? the infant, or one of the generals ?  Innumerable difficulties will embarrass either project.  I am, as ever.




To Judge Spencer Roane.
Monticello, October 12, 1815.

Dear Sir

I received in a letter from Colonel Monroe the enclosed paper communicated, as he said, with your permission, and even with a wish to know my sentiments on the important question it discusses.  It is now more than forty years since I have ceased to be habitually conversant with legal questions;  and my pursuits through that period have seldom required or permitted a renewal of my former familiarity with them.  My ideas at present, therefore, on such questions, have no claim to respect but such as might be yielded to the common auditors of a law argument.

I well knew that in certain federal cases the laws of the United States had given to a foreign party, whether plaintiff or defendant, a right to carry his cause into the federal court;  but I did not know that where he had himself elected the State judicature, he could, after an unfavorable decision there, remove his case to the federal court, and thus take the benefit of two chances where others have but one;  nor that the right of entertaining the question in this case had been exercised or claimed by the federal judiciary after it had been postponed on the party’s first election.  His failure, too, to place on the record the particular ground which might give jurisdiction to the federal court, appears to me an additional objection of great weight.  The question is of the first importance.  The removal of it seems to be out of the analogies which guide the two governments on their separate tracts, and claims the solemn attention of both judicatures, and of the nation itself.  I should fear to make up a final opinion on it, until I could see as able a development of the grounds of the federal claim as that which I have now read against it.  I confess myself unable to foresee what those grounds would be.  The paper enclosed must call them forth, and silence them too, unless they are beyond my ken.  I am glad, therefore, that the claim is arrested, and made the subject of special and mature deliberation.  I hope our courts will never countenance the sweeping pretensions which have been set up under the words “general defence and public welfare.” These words only express the motives which induced the Convention to give to the ordinary legislature certain specified powers which they enumerate, and which they thought might be trusted to the ordinary legislature, and not to give them the unspecified also;  or why any specification ?  They could not be so awkward in language as to mean, as we say, “all and some.”  And should this construction prevail, all limits to the federal government are done away.  This opinion, formed on the first rise of the question, I have never seen reason to change, whether in or out of power;  but, on the contrary, find it strengthened and confirmed by five and twenty years of additional reflection and experience: and any countenance given to it by any regular organ of the government, I should consider more ominous than anything which has yet occurred.

I am sensible how much these slight observations, on a question which you have so profoundly considered, need apology.  They must find this in my zeal for the administration of our government according to its true spirit, federal as well as republican, and in my respect for any wish which you might be supposed to entertain for opinions of so little value.  I salute you with sincere and high respect and esteem.




To Capt. A. Partridge of the Corps of Engineers, West Point, New York.
Monticello, October 12, 1815.

SIR

I thank you for the statement of altitudes, which you have been so kind as to send me of our northern mountains.  It came opportunely, as I was about making inquiries for the height of the White Mountains of New Hampshire, Which have the reputation of being the highest in our maritime States, and purpose shortly to measure geometrically the height of the Peaks of Otter, which I suppose the highest from their base, of any on the east side of the Mississippi, except the White Mountains, and not far short of their height, if they are but of 4,885 feet.  The method of estimating heights by the barometer, is convenient and useful, as being ready, and furnishing an approximation to truth.  Of what degree of accuracy it is susceptible we know not as yet;  no certain theory being established for ascertaining the density and weight of that portion of the column of atmosphere contiguous to the mountain;  from the weight of which, nevertheless, we are to infer the height of the mountain.  The most plausible seems to be that which supposes the mercury of barometer divided into horizontal lamina of equal thickness;  and a similar column of the atmosphere into lamina of equal weights.  The former divisions give a set of arithmetical, the latter of geometrical progressionals, which being the character of Logarithms and their numbers, the tables of these furnish ready computations, needing, however, the corrections which the state of the thermometer calls for.  It is probable that in taking heights in the vicinity of each other in this way, there may be no considerable error, because the passage between them may be quick and repeated.  The height of a mountain from its base, thus taken, merits, therefore, a very different degree of credit from that of its height above the level of the sea, where that is distant.  According, for example, to the theory above mentioned, the height of Monticello from its base is 580 feet, and its base 610 feet 8 inches, above the level of the ocean ;  the former, from other facts, I judge to be near the truth;  but a knowledge of the different falls of water from hence to the tide-water at Richmond, a distance of seventy-five miles, enables us to say that the whole descent to that place is but 170 or 180 feet.  From thence to the ocean may be a distance of one hundred miles ;  it is all tide-water, and through a level country.  I know not what to conjecture as the amount of descent, but certainly not 435 feet, as that theory would suppose, nor the quarter part of it.  I do not know by what rule Gerieral Williams made his computations;  he reckons the foot of the Blue Ridge, twenty miles from here, but 100 feet above the tide-water at Richmond.  We know the descent, as before observed, to be at least 170 feet from hence, to which is to be added that from the Blue Ridge to this place, a very hilly country, with constant and great waterfalls.  His estimate, therefore, must be much below truth.  Results so different prove that for distant comparisons of height, the barometer is not to be relied on according to any theory yet known.  While, therefore, we give a good degree of credit to the results of operations between the summit of a mountain and its base, we must give less to those between its summit and the level of the ocean.

I will do myself the pleasure of sending you my estimate of the Peaks of Otter, which I count on undertaking in the course of the next month.  In the meantime accept the assurance of my great respect.




To Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse
Monticello, October 13, 1815.

Dear Sir

I was highly gratified with the receipt of your letter of Sep. 1. by Genl. and Mrs. Dearborne;  and by the evidence it furnished me of your bearing up with firmness and perseverance against the persecutions of your enemies, religious, political and professional.  These last I suppose have not yet forgiven you the introduction of vaccination and annihilation of the great variolous field of profit to them;  and none of them pardon the proof you have established that the condition of man may be meliorated, if not infinitely, as enthusiasm alone pretends, yet indefinitely, as bigots alone can doubt.  In lieu of these enmities you have the blessings of all the friends of human happiness, for this great peril from which they are rescued.

I have read with pleasure the orations of Mr. Holmes & Mr. Austin.  From the former we always expect what is good;  and the latter has by this specimen taught us to expect the same in future from him.  Both have set the valuable example of quitting the beaten ground of the revolutionary war, and making the present state of things the subject of annual animadversion and instruction.  A copious one it will be and highly useful if properly improved.  Cobbet’s address would of itself have mortified and humbled the Cossac priests;  but brother Jonathan has pointed his arrow to the hearts of the worst of them.  These reverend leaders of the Hartford nation it seems then are now falling together about religion, of which they have not one real principle in their hearts.  Like bawds, religion becomes to them a refuge from the despair of their loathsome vices.  They seek in it only an oblivion of the disgrace with which they have loaded themselves, in their political ravings, and of their mortification at the ridiculous issue of their Hartford convention.  No event, more than this, has shewn the placid character of our constitution.  Under any other their treasons would have been punished by the halter.  We let them live as laughing stocks for the world, and punish them by the torment of eternal contempt.  The emigrations you mention from the Eastern states are what I have long counted on.  The religious & political tyranny of those in power with you, cannot fail to drive the oppressed to milder associations of men, where freedom of mind is allowed in fact as well as in pretence.  The subject of their present clawings and caterwaulings is not without it’s interest to rational men.  The priests have so disfigured the simple religion of Jesus that no one who reads the sophistications they have engrafted on it, from the jargon of Plato, of Aristotle & other mystics, would conceive these could have been fathered on the sublime preacher of the sermon on the mount.  Yet, knowing the importance of names they have assumed that of Christians, while they are mere Platonists, or any thing rather than disciples of Jesus.  One of these parties beginning now to strip off these meretricious trappings their followers may take courage to make thorough work, and restore to us the figure in it’s original simplicity and beauty.  The effects of this squabble therefore, whether religious or political, cannot fail to be good in some way.

The visit to Monticello, of which you hold up an idea, would be a favor indeed of the first order.  I know however the obstacles of age & distance and should therefore set due value on it’s vicarious execution, should business or curiosity lead a son of yours to visit this Sodom and Gomorrah of parsons Osgood, Parish & Gardiner.  Accept my wishes for your health and happiness, and the assurance of my great esteem & respect.




To Doctor George Logan.
Monticello, October 15, 1815.

Dear Sir

I thank you for the extract in yours of August 16th respecting the Emperor Alexander.  It arrived here a day or two after I had left this place, from which I have been absent seven or eight weeks.  I had from other information formed the most favorable opinion of the virtues of Alexander, and considered his partiality to this country as a prominent proof of them.  The magnanimity of his conduct on the first capture of Paris still magnified everything we had believed of him;  but how he will come out of his present trial remains to be seen.  That the sufferings which France had inflicted on other countries justified severe reprisals, cannot be questioned;  but I have not yet learned what crimes of Poland, Saxony, Belgium, Venice, Lombardy and Genoa, had merited for them, not merely a temporary punishment, but that of permanent subjugation and a destitution of independence and self-government.  The fable of Esop of the lion dividing the spoils, is, I fear, becoming true history, and the moral code of Napoleon and the English government a substitute for that of Grotius, of Puffendorf, and even of the pure doctrine of the great author of our own religion.  We were safe ourselves from Bonaparte, because he had not the British fleets at his command.  We were safe from the British fleets, because they had Bonaparte at their back;  but the British fleets and the conquerors of Bonaparte being now combined, and the Hartford nation drawn off to them, we have uncommon reason to look to our own affairs.  This, however, I leave to others, offering prayers to heaven, the only contribution of old age, for the safety of our country.  Be so good as to present me affectionately to Mrs. Logan, and to accept yourself the assurance of my esteem and respect.




To Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin.
Monticello, October 16, 1815.

DEAR SIR,—A long absence from home must apologize for my so late acknowledgment of your welcome favor of September 6th.  Our storm of the 4th of that month gave me great uneasiness for you ;  for I was certain you must be on the coast, and your actual arrival was unknown to me.  It was such a wind as I have not witnessed since the year 1769.  It did, however, little damage with us, only prostrating our corn, and tearing tobacco, without essential injury to either.  It could have been nothing compared with that of the 23d, off the coast of New England, of which we had not a breath, but on the contrary, fine, fair weather.  Is this the judgment of God between us ?  I congratulate you sincerely on your safe return to your own country, and without knowing your own wishes, mine are that you would never leave it again.  I know you would be useful to us at Paris, and so you would anywhere ; but nowhere so useful as here.  We are undone, my dear Sir, if this banking mania be not suppressed.  Aut Carthago, aut Roma delenda est.  The war, had it proceeded, would have upset our government;  and a new one, whenever tried, will do it.  And so it must be while our money, the nerve of war, is much or little, real or imaginary, as our bitterest enemies choose to make it.  Put down the banks, and if this country could not be carried through the longest war against her most powerful enemy, without ever knowing the want of a dollar, without dependence on the traitorous classes of her citizens, without bearing hard on the resources of the people, or loading the public with an indefinite burden of debt, I know nothing of my countrymen.  Not by any novel project, not by any charlatanerie, but by ordinary and well-experienced means ;  by the total prohibition of all private paper at all times, by reasonable taxes in war aided by the necessary emissions of public paper of circulating size, this bottomed on special taxes, redeemable annually as this special tax comes in, and finally within a moderate period,—even with the flood of private paper by which we were deluged, would the treasury have ventured its credit in bills of circulating size, as of five or ten dollars, etc., they would have been greedily received by the people in preference to bank paper.  But unhappily the towns of America were considered as the nation of America, the dispositions of the inhabitants of the former as those of the latter, and the treasury, for want of confidence in the country, delivered itself bound hand and foot to bold and bankrupt adventurers and pretenders to be money-holders, whom it could have crushed at any moment.  Even the last half-bold, half-timid threat of the treasury, showed at once that these jugglers were at the feet of government.  For it never was, and is not, any confidence in their frothy bubbles, but the want of all other medium, which induced, or now induces, the country people to take their paper;  and at this moment, when nothing else is to be had, no man will receive it but to pass it away instantly, none for distant purposes.  We are now without any common measure of the value of property, and private fortunes are up or down at the will of the worst of our citizens.  Yet there is no hope of relief from the legislatures who have immediate control over this subject.  As little seems to be known of the principles of political economy as if nothing had ever been written or practised on the subject, or as was known in old times, when the Jews had their rulers under the hammer.  It is an evil, therefore, which we must make up our minds to meet and to endure as those of hurricanes, earth,quakes and other casualties : let us turn over theref ore another leaf.

I grieve for France ;  although it cannot be denied that by the afflictions with which she wantonly and wickedly overwhelmed other nations, she has merited severe reprisals.  For it is no excuse to lay the enormities to the wretch who led to them, and who has been the author of more misery and suffering to the world, than any being who ever lived before him.  After destroying the liberties of his country, he has exhausted all its resources, physical and moral, to indulge his own maniac ambition, his own tyrannical and overbearing spirit.  His sufferings cannot be too great.  But theirs I sincerely deplore, and what is to be their term ?  The will of the allies ?  There is no more moderation, forbearance, or even honesty in theirs, than in that of Bonaparte.  They have proved that their object, like his, is plunder.  They, like him, are shuffliing nations together, or into their own hands, as if all were right which they feel a power to do.  In the exhausted state in which Bonaparte has left France, I see no period to her sufferings, until this combination of robbers fall together by the ears.  The French may then rise up and choose their side.  And I trust they will finally establish for themselves a government of rational and well-tempered liberty.  So much science cannot be lost ;  so much light shed over them can never fail to produce to them some good, in the end.  Till then, we may ourselves fervently pray, with the liturgy a little parodied, “ Give peace till that time, oh Lord, because there is none other that will fight for us but only thee, oh God.”  It is rare that I indulge in these poetical effusions ;  but your former and latter relations with both subjects have associated you with them in my mind, and led me beyond the limits of attention I ordinarily give to them.  Whether you go or stay with us, you have always the prayers of yours affectionately.


P.S.  The two letters you enclosed me were from Warden and De Lormerie, and neither from La Fayette, as you supposed.





John Adams to Thomas Jefferson.
Quincy, November 13, 1815.

Dear Sir

The fundamental article of my political creed is, that despotism, or unlimited sovereignty, or absolute power, is the same in a majority of a popular assembly, an aristocratical council, an oligarchical junto, and a single emperor;  equally arbitrary, cruel, bloody, and in every respect diabolical.

Accordingly, arbitrary power, wherever it has resided, has never failed to destroy all the records, memorials, and histories of former times which it did not like, and to corrupt and interpolate such as it was cunning enough to preserve or tolerate.  We cannot therefore say with much confidence, what knowledge or what virtues may have prevailed in some former ages in some quarters of the world.  Nevertheless, according to the few lights that remain to us, we may say that the eighteenth century, notwithstanding all its errors and vices, has been, of all that are past, the most honorable to human nature.  Knowledge and virtues were increased and diffused.  Arts, sciences useful to men, ameliorating their condition, were improved more than in any former equal period.

But what are we to say now ?  Is the nineteenth century to be a contrast to the eighteenth ?  Is it to extinguish all the lights of its predecessors ?  Are the Sorbonne, the Inquisition, the Index Expurgatorius, and the knights-errant of St. Ignatius Loyola to be revived and restored to all their salutary powers of supporting and propagating the mild spirit of Christianity ?  The proceedings of the allies and their Congress at Vienna, the accounts from Spain, France, &c., the Chateaubriands and the Gentis, indicate which way the wind blows.  The priests are at their old work again.  The Protestants are denounced, and another St. Bartholomew’s day threatened. This, however, will probably, twenty-five years hence, be honored with the character of “The effusions of a splenetic mind, rather than as the sober reflections of an unbiased understanding.”  I have received Memoirs of the Life of Dr. Price, by William Morgan, F.R.S.  In pages 151 and 155 Mr. Morgan says :  “So well assured was Dr. Price of the establishment of a free Constitution in France, and of the subsequent overthrow of despotism throughout Europe, as the consequence of it, that he never failed to express his gratitude to heaven for having extended his life to the present happy period, in which after sharing the benefits of one revolution, he has been spared to be a witness to two other revolutions, both glorious.  But some of his correspondents were not quite so sanguine in their expectations from the last of the revolutions ;  and among these, the late American Ambassador, Mr. John Adams.  In a long letter which he wrote to Dr. Price at this time, so far from congratulating him on the occasion, he expresses himself in terms of contempt, in regard to the French Revolution;  and after asking rather too severely what good was to be expected from a nation of Atheists, he concluded with foretelling the destruction of a million of human beings as the probable consequence of it.  These harsh censures and gloomy predictions were particularly ungrateful to Dr. Price, nor can it be denied that they must have then appeared as the effusions of a splenetic mind, rather than as the sober reflections of an unbiased understanding.”

I know now that a candid public will think of this practice of Mr. Morgan, after the example of Mr. Belsham, who, finding private letters in the cabinet of a great and good man, after his decease, written in the utmost freedom and confidence of intimate friendship, by persons still living, though after the lapse of a quarter of a century, produces them before the world.

Dr. Disney had different feelings and a different judgment.  Finding some cursory letters among the papers of Mr. Hollis, he would not publish them without my consent.  In answer to his request, I submitted them to his discretion, and might have done the same to Mr. Morgan ;  indeed, had Mr. Morgan published my letter entire, I should not have given him nor myself any concern about it.  But as in his summary he has not done the latter justice, I shall give it with all its faults.

Mr. Morgan has been more discreet and complaisant to you than to me.  He has mentioned respectfully your letters from Paris to Dr. Price, but has given us none of them.  As I would give more for these letters than for all the rest of the book, I am more angry with him for disappointing me, than for all he says of me and my letter, which, scambling as it is, contains nothing but the sure words of prophecy.  I am, as usual, yours.




To William Bentley.
Monticello, December 28, 1815.

Dear Sir

At the date of your letter of October 30th, I had just left home on a journey from which I am recently returned.  I had many years ago understood that Professor Ebeling was engaged in a geographical work which would comprehend the United States, and indeed I expected it was finished and published.  I am glad to learn that his candor and discrimination have been sufficient to guard him against trusting the libel of Dr. Morse on this State.  I wish it were in my power to give him the aid you ask, but it is not.  The whole forenoon with me is engrossed by correspondence too extensive and laborious for my age.  Health, habit, and necessary attention to my farms, require me then to be on horseback until a late dinner, and the society of my family and friends, with some reading, furnish the necessary relaxations of the rest of the day.  Add to this that the cession of my library to Congress has left me without materials for such an undertaking.  I wish the part of his work which gives the geography of this country may be translated and published;  that ourselves and the world may at length have something like a dispassionate account of these States.  Poor human nature ! when we are obliged to appeal ? for the truth of mere facts from an eye-witness to one whose faculties for discovering it are only an honest candor and caution in sifting the grain f rom its chaff !

The Professor’s history of Hamburg is doubtless interesting and instructive, and valuable as a corrective of the false information we derive from newspapers.  I should read it with pleasure, but I fear its transportation and return would expose it to too much risk.  Notwithstanding all the French and British atrocities, which will forever disgrace the present era of history, their shameless prostration of all the laws of morality which constitute the security, the peace and comfort of man—notwithstanding the waste of human life, and measure of human suffering which they have inflicted on the world—nations hitherto in slavery have descried through all this bloody mist a glimmering of their own rights, have dared to open their eyes, and to see that their own power and their own will suffice for their emancipation.  Their tyrants must now give them more moderate forms of government, and they seem now to be sensible of this themselves.  Instead of the parricide treason of Bonaparte in employing the means confided to him as a republican magistrate to the overthrow of that republic, and establishment of a military despotism in himself and his descendants, to the subversion of the neighboring governments, and erection of thrones for his brothers, his sisters and sycophants, had he honestly employed that power in the establishment and support of the freedom of his own country, there is not a nation in Europe which would not at this day have had a more rational government, one in which the will of the people should have had a moderating and salutary influence.  The work will now be longer, will swell more rivers with blood, produce more sufferings and more crimes.  But it will be consummated;  and that it may be will be the theme of my constant prayers while I shall remain on the earth beneath, or in the heavens above.  To these I add sincere wishes for your health and happiness.




To George Fleming.
Monticello, December 29, 1815.

SIR

At the date of your favor of October 30th, I had just left home on a journey to a distant possession of mine, from which I am but recently returned, and I wish that the matter of my answer could compensate for its delay.  But, Sir, it happens that of all the machines which have been employed to aid human labor, I have made myself the least acquainted with (that which is certainly the most powerful of all) the steam engine.  In its original and simple form indeed, as first constructed by Newcomen and Savary, it had been a subject of my early studies;  but once possessed of the principle, I ceased to follow up the numerous modifications of the machinery for employing it, of which I do not know whether England or our own country has produced the greatest number.  Hence, I am entirely incompetent to form a judgment of the comparative merit of yours with those preceding it;  and the cession of my library to Congress has left me without any examples to turn to.  I see, indeed, in yours, the valuable properties of simplicity, cheapness and accommodation to the small and more numerous calls of life, and the calculations of its power appear sound and correct.  Yet experience and frequent disappointment have taught me not to be over-confident in theories or calculations, until actual trial of the whole combination has stamped it with approbation.  Should this sanction be added, the importance of your construction will be enhanced by the consideration that a smaller agent, applicable to our daily concerns, is infinitely more valuable than the greatest which can be used only for great objects.  For these interest the few alone, the former the many.  I once had an idea that it might perhaps be possible to economize the steam of a common pot, kept boiling on the kitchen fire until its accumulation should be sufficient to give a stroke, and although the strokes might not be rapid, there would be enough of them in the day to raise from an adjacent well the water necessary for daily use ;  to wash the linen, knead the bread, beat the hominy, churn the butter, turn the spit, and do all other household offfices which require only a regular mechanical motion.  The unproductive hands now necessarily employed in these might then increase the produce of our fields.  I proposed it to Mr. Rumsey, one of our greatest mechanics, who believed in its possibility, and promised to turn his mind to it.  But his death soon after disappointed this hope.  Of how much more value would this be to ordinary life than Watts and Bolton’s thirty pair of mill-stones to be turned by one engine, of which I saw seven pair in actual operation.  It is an interesting part of your question, how much fuel would be requisite for your machine ?

Your letter being evidence of your attention to mechanical things, and to their application to matters of daily interest, I will mention a trifle in this way, which yet is not without value.  I presume, like the rest of us in the country, you are in the habit of household manufacture, and that you will not, like too many, abandon it on the return of peace, to enrich our late enemy, and to nourish foreign agents in our bosom, whose baneful influence and intrigues cost us so much embarrassment and dissension.  The shirting for our laborers has been an object of some difficulty.  Flax is injurious to our lands, and of so scanty produce that I have never attempted it.  Hemp, on the other hand, is abundantly productive, and will grow forever on the same spot.  But the breaking and beating it, which has been always done by hand, is so slow, so laborious, and so much complained of by our laborers, that I had given it up and purchased and manufactured cotton for their shirting.  The advanced price of this, however, now makes it a serious item of expense ;  and in the meantime, a method of removing the difficulty of preparing hemp occurred to me, so simple and so cheap, that I return to its culture and manufacture.  To a person having a threshing machine, the addition of a hempbreak will not cost more than twelve or fifteen dollars.  You know that the first mover in that machine is a horizontal horse-wheel with cogs on its upper face.  On these is placed a wallower and shaft, which give motion to the threshing apparatus.  On the opposite side of this same wheel I place another wallower and shaft, through which, and near its outer end, I pass a cross-arm of sufficient strength, projecting on each side fifteen inches in this form : ----[drawing of implement]----  Nearly under the cross-arm is placed a very strong hemp-break, much stronger and heavier than those for the hand.  Its head block particularly is massive, and four feet high, and near its upper end, in front, is fixed a strong pin (which we may call its horn) ;  by this the cross-arm lifts and lets fall the break twice in every revolution of the wallower.  A man feeds the break with hemp stalks, and a little person holds under the head block a large twist of the hemp which has been broken, resembling a twist of tobacco, but larger, where it is more perfectly beaten than I have ever seen done by hand.  If the horse-wheel has one hundred and forty-four cogs;  the wallower eleven rounds;  and the horse goes three times round in a minute, it will give about eighty strokes in a minute.  I had fixed a break to be moved by the gate of my saw-mill, which broke and beat at the rate of two hundred pounds a day.  But the inconveniences of interrupting that, induced me to try the power of a horse, and I have found it to answer perfectly.  The power being less, so also probably will be the effect, of which I cannot make a fair trial until I commence on my new crop.  I expect that a single horse will do the breaking and beating of ten men.  Something of this kind has been so long wanted by the cultivators of hemp, that as soon as I can speak of its effect with certainty, I shall probably describe it anonymously in the public papers, in order to forestall the prevention of its use by some interloping patentee.  I shall be happy to learn that an actual experiment of your steam engine fulfils the expectations we form of it, and I pray you to accept the assurances of my esteem and respect.




To Monsieur Dupont de Nemours.
Monticello, December 31, 1815.

Nothing, my very dear and ancient friend, could have equaled the mortification I felt on my arrival at home, and receipt of the information that I had lost the happiness of your visit.  The season had so far advanced, and the weather become so severe, that together with the information given me by Mr. Correa, so early as September, that your friends even then were dissuading the journey, I had set it down as certain it would be postponed to a milder season of the ensuing year.  I had yielded, therefore, with the less reluctance to a detention in Bedford by a slower progress of my workmen than had been counted on.  I have never more desired anything than a full and free conversation with you.  I have not understood the transactions in France during the years ’14 and ’15.  From the newspapers we cannot even conjecture the secret and real history;  and I had looked for it to your visit.  A pamphlet (Le Conciliateur) received from M. Jullien, had given me some idea of the obliquities and imbecilities of the Bourbons, during their first restoration.  Some manoeuvres of both parties I had learnt from Lafayette, and more recently from Gallatin.  But the note you referred me to at page 360 of your letter to Say, has possessed me more intimately of the views, the conduct and consequences of the last apparition of Napoleon.  Still much is wanting.  I wish to know what were the intrigues which brought him back, and what those which finally crushed him ?  What parts were acted by A, B, C, D, &c., some of whom I know, and some I do not ?  How did the body of the nation stand affectioned, comparatively, between the fool and the tyrant ? &c., &c., &c.  From the account my family gives me of your sound health, and of the vivacity and vigor of your mind, I will still hope we shall meet again, and that the fine temperature of our early summer, to wit, of May and June, may suggest to you the salutary effects of exercise, and change of air and scene.  En attendant, we will turn to other subjects.

That your opinion of the hostile intentions of Great Britain towards us is sound, I am satisfied, from her movements north and south of us, as well as from her temper.  She feels the gloriole of her late golden achievements tarnished by our successes against her by sea and land ;  and will not be contented until she has wiped it off by triumphs over us also.  I rely, however, on the volcanic state of Europe to present other objects for her arms and her apprehensions;  and am not without hope we shall be permitted to proceed peaceably in making children, and maturing and moulding our strength and resources.  It is impossible that France should rest under her present oppressions and humiliations.  She will rise in that gigantic strength which cannot be annihilated, and will fatten her fields with the blood of her enemies.  I only wish she may exercise patience and forbearance until divisions among them may give her a choice of sides.  To the overwhelming power of England I see but two chances of limit.  The first is her bankruptcy, which will deprive her of the golden instrument of all her successes.  The other in that ascendency which nature destines for us by immutable laws.  But to hasten this last consummation, we too must exercise patience and forbearance.  For twenty years to come we should consider peace as the summum bonum of our country.  At the end of that period we shall be twenty millions in number, and forty in energy, when encountering the starved and rickety paupers and dwarfs of English workshops.  By that time I hope your grandson will have become one of our High-admirals, and bear distinguished part in retorting the wrongs of both his countries on the most implacable and cruel of their enemies.  In this hope, and because I love you, and all who are dear to you, I wrote to the President in the instant of reading your letter of the 7th, on the subject of his adoption into our navy.  I did it because I was gratified in doing it, while I knew it was unnecessary.  The sincere respect and high estimation in which the President holds you, is such that there is no gratification, within the regular exercise of his functions, which he would withhold from you.  Be assured then that, if within that compass, this business is safe.

Were you any other than who you are, I should shrink from the task you have proposed to me, of undertaking to judge of the merit of your own translation of the excellent letter on education.  After having done all which good sense and eloquence could do on the original, you must not ambition the double need of English eloquence also.  Did you ever know an instance of one who could write in a foreign language with the elegance of a native ?  Cicero wrote Commentaries of his own Consulship in Greek;  they perished unknown, while his native compositions have immortalized him with themselves.  No, my dear friend; you must not risk the success of your letter on foreignisms of style which may weaken its effect.  Some native pen must give it to our countrymen in a native dress, faithful to its original.  You will find such with the aid of our friend Correa, who knows everybody, and will readily think of some one who has time and talent for this work.  I have neither.  Till noon I am daily engaged in a correspondence much too extensive and laborious for my age.  From noon to dinner, health, habit, and business require me to be on horseback;  and render the society of my family and friends a necessary relaxation for the rest of the day.  These occupations scarcely leave time for the papers of the day ;  and to renounce entirely the sciences and belleslettres is impossible.  Had not Mr. Gilmer just taken his place in the ranks of the bar, I think we could have engaged him in this work.  But I am persuaded that Mr. Correa’s intimacy with the persons of promise in our country, will leave you without difficulty in laying this work of instruction open to our citizens at large.

I have not yet had time to read your Equinoctial Republics, nor the letter of Say ;  because I am still engrossed by the letters which had accumulated during my absence.  The latter I accept with thankfulness, and will speedily read and return the former.  God bless you, and maintain you in strength of body and mind, until your own wishes shall be to resign both.