The Writings of
Thomas Jefferson

editor H.A. Washington
New York :  H.W. Derby, 1861
To Captain A. Partridge.
Monticello, January 2, 1816.

SIR

I am but recently returned from my journey to the neighborhood of the Peaks of Otter, and find here your favors of November 23d and December 9th.  I have therefore to thank you for your meteorological table and the corrections of Colonel Williams’ altitudes of the mountains of Virginia, which I had not before seen;  but especially for the very able extract on barometrical measures.  The precision of the calculations, and soundness of the principles on which they are founded, furnish, I am satisfied, a great approximation towards truth, and raise that method of estimating heights to a considerable degree of rivalship with the trigonometrical.  The last is not without some sources of inaccuracy, as you have truly stated.  The admeasurement of the base is liable to errors which can be rendered insensible only by such degrees of care as have been exhibited by the mathematicians who have been employed in measuring degrees on the surface of the earth.  The measure of the angles by the wonderful perfection to which the graduation of instruments has been brought by a Bird, a Ramsden, a Troughton, removes nearly all distrust from that operation;  and we may add that the effect of refraction, rarely worth notice in short distances, admits of correction by well-established laws ;  these sources of error once reduced to be insensible, their geometrical employment is certainty itself.  No two men can differ on a principle of trigonometry.  Not so as to the theories of barometrical mensuration.  On these have been great differences of opinion, and among characters of just celebrity.

Dr. Halley reckoned one-tenth inch of mercury equal to go feet altitude of the atmosphere.  Derham thought it equal to something less than go feet.  Cassini’s tables to 24 degrees of the barometer allowed 676 toises of altitudes.

Mariole’s to the same. . . . . . . . . . . . 544 toises
Schruchzer’s to the same . . . . . . . . . 559 toises

Nettleton’s tables applied to a difference of 0.5975 of mercury, in a particular instance have 512.17 feet of altitude, and Bonguor’s and De Luc’s rules, to the same difference gave 579.5 feet.  Sir Isaac Newton had established that at heights in arithmetical progression the ratio of rarity in the air would be geometrical, and this being the character of the natural numbers and their logarithms, Bonguor adopted the ratio in his mensuration of the mountains of South America, and stating in French lignes the height of the mercury of different stations, took their logarithms to five places only, including the index, and considered the resulting difference as expressing that of the altitudes in French toises.  He then applied corrections required by the effect of the temperature of the moment on the air and mercury.  His process, on the whole, agrees very exactly with that established in your excellent extract.  In 1776 I observed the height of the mercury at the base and summit of the mountain I live on, and by Nettleton’s tables, estimated the height at 512.17 feet, and called it about 500 feet in the Notes on Virginia.  But calculating it since on the same observations, according to Bonguor’s method with De Luc’s improvements the result was 579.5 feet ;  and lately I measured the same height trigonometrically, with the aid of a base of 1,175 feet in a vertical plane with the summit, and at the distance of about 1,500 yards from the axis of the mountain, and made it 599.35 feet.  I consider this as testing the advance of the barometrical process towards truth by the adoption of the logarithmic ratio of heights and densities ;  and continued observations and experiments will continue to advance it still more.  But the first character of a common measure of things being that of invariability, I can never suppose that a substance so heterogeneous and variable as the atmospheric fluid, changing daily and hourly its weight and dimensions to the amount, sometimes, of one-tenth of the whole, can be applied as a standard of measure to anything, with as much mathematical exactness, as a trigonometrical process.  It is still, however, a resource of great value for these purposes, because its use is so easy, in comparison with the other, and especially where the grounds are unfavorable for a base; and its results are so near the truth as to answer all the common purposes of information.  Indeed, I should in all cases prefer the use of both, to warn us against gross error, and to put us, when that is suspected, on a repetition of our process.  When lately measuring trigonometrically the height of the Peaks of Otter (as my letter of October 12th informed you I was about to do), I very much wished for a barometer, to try the height of that also.  But it was too far and hazardous to carry my own, and there was not one in that neighborhood.  On the subject of that admeasurement, I must premise that my object was only to gratify a common curiosity as to the height of those mountains, which we deem our highest, and to furnish an à peu près, sufficient to satisfy us in a comparison of them with the other mountains of our own, or of other countries.  I therefore neither provided such instruments, nor aimed at such extraordinary accuracy in the measures of my base, as abler operators would have employed in the more important object of measuring a degree, or of ascertaining the relative position of different places for astronomical or geographical purposes.  My instrument was a theodolite by Ramsden, whose horizontal and vertical circles were of 3½ inches radius, its graduation subdivided by noniuses to one-third, admitting however by its intervals, a further subdivision by the eye to a single minute, with two telescopes, the one fixed, the other movable, and a Gunter’s chain of four poles, accurately adjusted in its length, and carefully attended on its application to the base line.  The Sharp, or southern peak, was first measured by a base of 2806.32 feet in the vertical plane of the axis of the mountain.  A base then nearly parallel with the two mountains of 6589 feet was measured, and observations taken at each end, of the altitudes and horizontal angles of each apex, and such other auxiliary observations made as to the stations, inclination of the base, etc., as a good degree of correctness in the result would require.  The ground of our bases was favorable, being an open plain of close grazed meadow on both sides of the Otter river, declining so uniformly with the descent of the river as to give no other trouble than an observation of its angle of inclination, in order to reduce the base to the plane of the horizon.  From the summit of the Sharp peak I took also the angle of altitude of the flat or northern one above it, my other observations sufficing to give their distance from one another.  The result was, the mean height of the Sharp peak above the surface of Otter river 2946.5 inches.  Mean height of the flat peak above the surface of Otter river 3103.5 inches.  The distance between the two summits 9507.73 inches.

Their rhumb N. 33° 50' E. the distance of the stations of observation from the points in the bases of the mountains vertically under their summits was, the shortest 19002.2 feet, the longest 24523.3 feet.  These mountains are computed to be visible to fifteen counties of the State, without the advantage of counter-elevations, and to several more with that advantage.  I must add that I have gone over my calculations but once, and nothing is more possible than the mistake of a figure now and then, in calculating so many triangles, which may occasion some variation in the result.  I mean, therefore, when I have leisure, to go again over the whole.  The ridge of mountains of which Monticello is one, is generally low;  there is one in it, however, called Peter’s mountain, considerably higher than the general ridge.  This being within a dozen miles of me, northeastwardly, I think in the spring of the year to measure it by both processes, which may serve as another trial of the logarithmic theory.  Should I do this, you shall know the result.  In the meantime accept assurances of my great respect and esteem.




To Colonel Charles Yancey.
Monticello, January 6, 1816.

Dear Sir,—I am favored with yours of December 24th, and perceive you have many matters before you of great moment.  I have no fear but that the legislature will do on all of them what is wise and just.  On the particular subject of our river, in the navigation of which our county has so great an interest, I think the power of permitting dams to be erected across it, ought to be taken from the courts, so far as the stream has water enough for navigation.  The value of our property is sensibly lessened by the dam which the court of Fluvana authorized not long since to be erected, but a little above its mouth.  This power over the value and convenience of our lands is of much too high a character to be placed at the will of a county court, and that of a county, too, which has not a common interest in the preservation of the navigation for those above them.  As to the existing dams, if any conditions are proposed more than those to which they were subjected on their original erection, I think they would be allowed the alternative of opening a sluice for the passage of navigation, so as to put the river into as good a condition for navigation as it was before the erection of their dam, or as it would be if their dam were away.  Those interested in the navigation might then use the sluices or make locks as should be thought best.  Nature and reason, as well as all our constitutions, condemn retrospective conditions as mere acts of power against right.

I recommend to your patronage our Central College.  I look to it as a germ from which a great tree may spread itself.

There is before the assembly a petition of a Captain Miller which I have at heart, because I have great esteem for the petitioner as an honest and useful man.  He is about to settle in our county, and to establish a brewery, in which art I think him as skilful a man as has ever come to America.  I wish to see this beverage become common instead of the whiskey which kills one-third of our citizens and ruins their families.  He is staying with me until he can fix himself, and I should be thankful for information from time to time of the progress of his petition.

Like a dropsical man calling out for water, water, our deluded citizens are clamoring for more banks, more banks.  The American mind is now in that state of fever which the world has so often seen in the history of other nations.  We are under the bank bubble, as England was under the South Sea bubble, France under the Mississippi bubble, and as every nation is liable to be, under whatever bubble, design, or delusion may puff up in moments when off their guard.  We are now taught to believe that legerdemain tricks upon paper can produce as solid wealth as hard labor in the earth.  It is vain for common sense to urge that nothing can produce but nothing ;  that it is an idle dream to believe in a philosopher’s stone which is to turn everything into gold, and to redeem man from the original sentence of his Maker, “ in the sweat of his brow shall he eat his bread.”  Not Quixote enough, however, to attempt to reason Bedlam to rights, my anxieties are turned to the most practicable means of withdrawing us from the ruin into which we have run.  Two hundred millions of paper in the hands of the people, (and less cannot be from the employment of a banking capital known to exceed one hundred millions,) is a fearful tax to fall at haphazard on their heads.  The debt which purchased our independence was but of eighty millions, of which twenty years of taxation had in 1809 paid but the one half.  And what have we purchased with this tax of two hundred millions which we are to pay by wholesale but usury, swindling, and new forms of demoralization.  Revolutionary history has warned us of the probable moment when this baseless trash is to receive its fiat.  Whenever so much of the precious metals shall have returned into the circulation as that every one can get some in exchange for his produce, paper, as in the Revolutionary war, will experience at once an universal rejection.  When public opinion changes, it is with the rapidity of thought.  Confidence is already on the totter, and every one now handles this paper as if playing at Robin’s alive.  That in the present state of the circulation the banks should resume payments in specie, would require their vaults to be like the widow’s cruse.  The thing to be aimed at is, that the excesses of their emissions should be withdrawn as gradually, but as speedily, too, as is practicable, without so much alarm as to bring on the crisis dreaded.  Some banks are said to be calling in their paper.  But ought we to let this depend on their discretion ?  Is it not the duty of the legislature to endeavor to avert from their constituents such a catastrophe as the extinguishment of two hundred millions of paper in their hands ?  The difficulty is indeed great ;  and the greater, because the patient revolts against all medicine.  I am far from presuming to say that any plan can be relied on with certainty, because the bubble may burst from one moment to another ;  but if it fails, we shall be but where we should have been without any effort to save ourselves.  Different persons, doubtless, will devise different schemes of relief.  One would be to suppress instantly the currency of all paper not issued under the authority of our own State or of the General Government ;  to interdict after a few months the circulation of all bills of five dollars and under ;  after a few months more, all of ten dollars and under ;  after other terms, those of twenty, fifty, and so on to one hundred dollars, which last, if any must be left in circulation, should be the lowest denomination.  These might be a convenience in mercantile transactions and transmissions, and would be excluded by their size from ordinary circulation.  But the disease may be too pressing to await such a remedy.  With the legislature I cheerfully leave it to apply this medicine, or no medicine at all.  I am sure their intentions are faithful ;  and embarked in the same bottom, I am willing to swim or sink with my fellow citizens.  If the latter is their choice, I will go down with them without a murmur.  But my exhortation would rather be “ not to give up the ship.”

I am a great friend to the improvements of roads, canals, and schools.  But I wish I could see some provision for the former as solid as that of the latter, —something better than fog.  The literary fund is a solid provision, unless lost in the impending bankruptcy.  If the legislature would add to that a perpetual tax of a cent a head on the population of the State, it would set agoing at once, and forever maintain, a system of primary or ward schools, and an university where might be taught, in its highest degree, every branch of science useful in our time and country ;  and it would rescue us from the tax of toryism, fanaticism, and indifferentism to their own State, which we now send our youth to bring from those of New England.  If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.  The functionaries of every government have propensities to command at will the liberty and property of their constituents.  There is no safe deposit for these but with the people themselves ;  nor can they be safe with them without information.  Where the press is free, and every man able to read, all is safe.  The frankness of this communication will, I am sure, suggest to you a discreet use of it.  I wish to avoid all collisions of opinion with all mankind.  Show it to Mr. Maury, with expressions of my great esteem.  It pretends to convey no more than the opinions of one of your thousand constituents, and to claim no more attention than every other of that thousand.

I will ask you once more to take care of Miller and our College, and to accept assurances of my esteem and respect.




To Benjamin Austin, Esq.
Monticello, January 9, 1816.

Dear Sir,—Your favor of December 21st has been received, and I am first to thank you for the pamphlet it covered.  The same description of persons which is the subject of that is so much multiplied here too, as to be almost a grievance, and by their numbers in the public councils, have wrested from the public hand the direction of the pruning knife.  But with us as a body, they are republican, and mostly moderate in their views ;  so far, therefore, less objects of jealousy than with you.  Your opinions on the events which have taken place in France, are entirely just, so far as these events are yet developed.  But they have not reached their ultimate termination.  There is still an awful void between the present and what is to be the last chapter of that history ;  and I fear it is to be filled with abominations as frightful as those which have already disgraced it.  That nation is too high-minded, has too much innate force, intelligence and elasticity, to remain under its present compression.  Samson will arise in his strength, as of old, and as of old will burst asunder the withes and the cords, and the webs of the Philistines.  But what are to be the scenes of havoc and horror, and how widely they may spread between brethren of the same house, our ignorance of the interior feuds and antipathies of the country places beyond our ken.  It will end, nevertheless, in a representative government, in a government in which the will of the people will be an effective ingredient.  This important element has taken root in the European mind, and will have its growth ;  their despots, sensible of this, are already offering this modification of their gevernments, as if of their own accord.  Instead of the parricide treason of Bonaparte, in perverting the means confided to him as a republican magistrate, to the subversion of that republic and erection of a military despotism for himself and his family, had he used it honestly for the establishment and support of a free government in his own country, France would now have been in freedom and rest ;  and her example operating in a contrary direction, every nation in Europe would have had a government over which the will of the people would have had some control.  His atrocious egotism has checked the salutary progress of principle, and deluged it with rivers of blood which are not yet run out.  To the vast sum of devastation and of human misery, of which he has been the guilty cause, much is still to be added.  But the object is fixed in the eye of nations, and they will press on to its accomplishment and to the general amelioration of the condition of man.  What a germ have we planted, and how faithfully should we cherish the parent tree at home !

You tell me I am quoted by those who wish to continue our dependence on England for manufactures.  There was a time when I might have been so quoted with more candor, but within the thirty years which have since elapsed, how are circumstances changed! We were then in peace.  Our independent place among nations was acknowledged.  A commerce which offered the raw material in exchange for the same material after receiving the last touch of industry, was worthy of welcome to all nations.  It was expected that those especially to whom manufacturing industry was important, would cherish the friendship of such customers by every favor, by every inducement, and particularly cultivate their peace by every act of justice and friendship.  Under this prospect the question seemed legitimate, whether, with such an immensity of unimproved land, courting the hand of husbandry, the industry of agriculture, or that of manufactures, would add most to the national wealth ?  And the doubt was entertained on this consideration chiefly, that to the labor of the husbandman a vast addition is made by the spontaneous energies of the earth on which it is employed :  for one grain of wheat committed to the earth, she renders twenty, thirty, and even fifty fold, whereas to the labor of the manufacturer nothing is added.  Pounds of flax, in his hands, yield, on the contrary, but pennyweights of lace.  This exchange, too, laborious as it might seem, what a field did it promise for the occupations of the ocean ;  what a nursery for that class of citizens who were to exercise and maintain our equal rights on that element ?  This was the state of things in 1785, when the “Notes on Virginia” were first printed ;  when, the ocean being open to all nations, and their common right in it acknowledged and exercised under regulations sanctioned by the assent and usage of all, it was thought that the doubt might claim some consideration.  But who in 1785 could foresee the rapid depravity which was to render the close of that century the disgrace of the history of man ?  Who could have imagined that the two most distinguished in the rank of nations, for science and civilization, would have suddenly descended from that honorable eminence, and setting at defiance all those moral laws established by the Author of nature between nation and nation, as between man and man, would cover earth and sea with robberies and piracies, merely because strong enough to do it with temporal impunity ;  and that under this disbandment of nations from social order, we should have been despoiled of a thousand ships, and have thousands of our citizens reduced to Algerine slavery.  Yet all this has taken place.  One of these nations interdicted to our vessels all harbors of the globe without having first proceeded to some one of hers, there paid a tribute proportioned to the cargo, and obtained her license to proceed to the port of destination.  The other declared them to be lawful prize if they had touched at the port, or been visited by a ship of the enemy nation.  Thus were we completely excluded from the ocean.  Compare this state of things with that of ’85, and say whether an opinion founded in the circumstances of that day can be fairly applied to those of the present.  We have experienced what we did not then believe, that there exist both profligacy and power enough to exclude us from the field of interchange with other nations :  that to be independent for the comforts of life we must fabricate them ourselves.  We must now place the manufacturer by the side of the agriculturist.  The former question is suppressed, or rather assumes a new form.  Shall we make our own comforts, or go without them, at the will of a foreign nation ?  He, therefore, who is now against domestic manufacture, must be for reducing us either to dependence on that foreign nation, or to be clothed in skins, and to live like wild beasts in dens and caverns.  I am not one of these ;  experience has taught me that manufactures are now as necessary to our independence as to our comfort ;  and if those who quote me as of a different opinion, will keep pace with me in purchasing nothing foreign where an equivalent of domestic fabric can be obtained, without regard to difference of price, it will not be our fault if we do not soon have a supply at home equal to our demand, and wrest that weapon of distress from the hand which has wielded it.  If it shall be proposed to go beyond our own supply, the question of ’85 will then recur, will our surplus labor be then most beneficially employed in the culture of the earth, or in the fabrications of art ?  We have time yet for consideration, before that question will press upon us ;  and the maxim to be applied will depend on the circumstances which shall then exist ;  for in so complicated a science as political economy, no one axiom can be laid down as wise and expedient for all times and circumstances, and for their contraries.  Inattention to this is what has called for this explanation, which reflection would have rendered unnecessary with the candid, while nothing will do it with those who use the former opinion only as a stalking horse, to cover their disloyal propensities to keep us in eternal vassalage to a foreign and unfriendly people.

I salute you with assurances of great respect and esteem.




To John Adams.
Monticello, January 11, 1816.

Dear Sir,—Of the last five months I have passed four at my other domicile, for such it is in a considerable degree.  No letters are forwarded to me there, because the cross post to that place is circuitous and uncertain ;  during my absence, therefore, they are accumulating here, and awaiting acknowledgments.  This has been the fate of your favor of November 13th.

I agree with you in all its eulogies on the eighteenth century.  It certainly witnessed the sciences and arts, manners and morals, advanced to a higher degree than the world had ever before seen.  And might we not go back to the æra of the Borgias, by which time the barbarous ages had reduced national morality to its lowest point of depravity, and observe that the arts and sciences, rising from that point, advanced gradually through all the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, softening and correcting the manners and morals of man ?  I think, too, we may add to the great honor of science and the arts, that their natural effect is, by illuminating public opinion, to erect it into a censor, before which the most exalted tremble for their future, as well as present fame.  With some exceptions only, through the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, morality occupied an honorable chapter in the political code of nations.  You must have observed while in Europe, as I thought I did, that those who administered the governments of the greater powers at least, had a respect to faith, and considered the dignity of their government as involved in its integrity.  A wound indeed was inflicted on this character of honor in the eighteenth century by the partition of Poland.  But this was the atrocity of a barbarous government chiefly, in conjunction with a smaller one still scrambling to become great, while one only of those already great, and having character to lose, descended to the baseness of an accomplice in the crime.  France, England, Spain, shared in it only inasmuch as they stood aloof and permitted its perpetration.

How then has it happened that these nations, France especially and England, so great, so dignified, so distinguished by science and the arts, plunged all at once into all the depths of human enormity, threw off suddenly and openly all the restraints of morality, all sensation to character, and unblushingly avowed and acted on the principle that power was right ?  Can this sudden apostasy from national rectitude be accounted for ?  The treaty of Pilnitz seems to have begun it, suggested perhaps by the baneful precedent of Poland.  Was it from the terror of monarchs, alarmed at the light returning on them from the west, and kindling a volcano under their thrones ?  Was it a combination to extinguish that light, and to bring back, as their best auxiliaries, those enumerated by you, the Sorbonne, the Inquisition, the Index Expurgatorius, and the knights of Loyola ?  Whatever it was, the close of the century saw the moral world thrown back again to the age of the Borgias, to the point from which it had departed three hundred years before.  France, after crushing and punishing the conspiracy of Pilnitz, went herself deeper and deeper into the crimes she had been chastising.  I say France and not Bonaparte ;  for, although he was the head and mouth, the nation furnished the hands which executed his enormities.  England, although in opposition, kept full pace with France, not indeed by the manly force of her own arms, but by oppressing the weak and bribing the strong.  At length the whole choir joined and divided the weaker nations among them.  Your prophecies to Dr. Price proved truer than mine;  and yet fell short of the fact, for instead of a million, the destruction of eight or ten millions of human beings has probably been the effect of these convulsions.  I did not, in ’89, believe they would have lasted so long, nor have cost so much blood.  But although your prophecy has proved true so far, I hope it does not preclude a better final result.  That same light from our west seems to have spread and illuminated the very engines employed to extinguish it.  It has given them a glimmering of their rights and their power.  The idea of representative government has taken root and growth among them.  Their masters feel it, and are saving themselves by timely offers of this modification of their powers.  Belgium, Prussia, Poland, Lombardy, etc., are now offered a representative organization ;  illusive probably at first, but it will grow into power in the end.  Opinion is power, and that opinion will come.  Even France will yet attain representative government.  You observe it makes the basis of every Constitution which has been.  demanded or offered,—of that demanded by their Senate ;  of that offered by Bonaparte ;  and of that granted by Louis XVIII.  The idea then is rooted, and will be established, although rivers of blood may yet flow between them and their object.  The allied armies now couching upon them are first to be destroyed, and destroyed they will surely be.  A nation united can never be conquered.  We have seen what the ignorant, bigoted and unarmed Spaniards could do against the disciplined veterans of their invaders.  What then may we not expect from the power and character of the French nation ?  The oppressors may cut off heads after heads, but like those of the Hydra they multiply at every stroke.  The recruits within a nation’s own limits are prompt and without number;  while those of their invaders from a distance are slow, limited, and must come to an end.  I think, too, we perceive that all these allies do not see the same interest in the annihilation of the power of France.  There are certainly some symptoms of foresight in Alexander that France might produce a salutary diversion of force were Austria and Prussia to become her enemies.  France, too, is the neutral ally of the Turk, as having no interfering interests, and might be useful in neutralizing and perhaps turning that power on Austria.  That a re-acting jealousy, too, exists with Austria and Prussia, I think their late strict alliance indicates ;  and I should not wonder if Spain should discover a sympathy with them.  Italy is so divided as to be nothing.  Here then we see new coalitions in embryo, which, after France shall in turn have suffered a just punishment for her crimes, will not only raise her from the earth on which she is prostrate, but give her an opportunity to establish a government of as much liberty as she can bear—enough to ensure her happiness and prosperity.  When insurrection begins, be it where it will, all the partitioned countries will rush to arms, and Europe again become an arena of gladiators.  And what is the definite object they will propose ?  A restoration certainly of the status quo prius, of the state of possession of ’89.  I see no other principle on which Europe can ever again settle down in lasting peace.  I hope your prophecies will go thus far, as my wishes do, and that they, like the former, will prove to have been the sober dictates of a superior understanding, and a sound calculation of effects from causes well understood.  Some future Morgan will then have an opportunity of doing you justice, and of counterbalancing the breach of confidence of which you so justly complain, and in which no one has had more frequent occasion of fellow-feeling than myself.  Permit me to place here my affectionate respects to Mrs. Adams, and to add for yourself the assurances of cordial friendship and esteem.




To Dabney Carr.
Monticello, January 19, 1816.

Dear Sir

At the date of your letter of December the 1st, I was in Bedford, and since my return, so many letters, accumulated during my absence, have been pressing for answers, that this is the first moment I have been able to attend to the subject of yours.  While Mr. Girardin was in this neighborhood writing his continuation of Burke’s history, I had suggested to him a proper notice of the establishment of the committee of correspondence here in 1773, and of Mr. Carr, your father, who introduced it.  He has doubtless done this, and his work is now in the press.  My books, journals of the times, etc., being all gone, I have nothing now but an impaired memory to resort to for the more particular statement you wish.  But I give it with the more confidence, as I find that I remember old things better than new.  The transaction took place in the session of Assembly of March, 1773.  Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, Frank Lee, your father and myself, met by agreement, one evening, about the close of the session, at the Raleigh Tavern, to consult on the measures which the circumstances of the times seemed to call for.  We agreed, in result, that concert in the operations of the several colonies was indispensable ;  and that to produce this, some channel of correspondence between them must be opened ;  that therefore, we would propose to our House the appointment of a committee of correspondence, which should be authorized and instructed to write to the Speakers of the House of Representatives of the several colonies, recommending the appointment of similar committees on their part, who, by a communication of sentiment on the transactions threatening us all, might promote a harmony of action salutary to all.  This was the substance, not pretending to remember the words.  We proposed the resolution, and your father was agreed on to make the motion.  He did it the next day, March the 12th, with great ability, reconciling all to it, not only by the reasonings, but by the temper and moderation with which it was developed.  It was adopted by a very general vote.  Peyton Randolph, some of us who proposed it, and who else I do not remember, were appointed of the committee.  We immediately despatched letters by expresses to the Speakers of all the other Assemblies.  I remember that Mr. Carr and myself, returning home together, and conversing on the subject by the way, concurred in the conclusion that that measure must inevitably beget the meeting of a Congress of Deputies from all the colonies, for the purpose of uniting all in the same principles and measures for the maintenance of our rights.  My memory cannot deceive me, when I affirm that we did it in consequence of no such proposition from any other colony.  No doubt the resolution itself and the journals of the day will show that ours was original, and not merely responsive to one from any other quarter.  Yet, I am certain I remember also, that a similar proposition, and nearly cotemporary, was made by Massachusetts, and that our northern messenger passed theirs on the road.  This, too, may be settled by recurrence to the records of Massachusetts.  The proposition was generally acceded to by the other colonies, and the first effect, as expected, was the meeting of a Congress at New York the ensuing year.  The committee of correspondence appointed by Massachusetts, as quoted by you from Marshall, under the date of 1770, must have been for a special purpose, and functus officio before the date of 1773, or Massachusetts herself would not then have proposed another.  Records should be examined to settle this accurately.  I well remember the pleasure expressed in the countenance and conversation of the members generally, on this debut of Mr. Carr, and the hopes they conceived as well from the talents as the patriotism it manifested.  But he died within two months after, and in him we lost a powerful fellow-laborer.  His character was of a high order.  A spotless integrity, sound judgment, handsome imagination, enriched by education and reading, quick and clear in his conceptions, of correct and ready elocution, impressing every hearer with the sincerity of the heart from which it flowed.  His firmness was inflexible in whatever he thought was right ;  but when no moral principle stood in the way, never had man more of the milk of human kindness, of indulgence, of softness, of pleasantry of conversation and conduct.  The number of his friends, and the warmth of their affection, were proofs of his worth, and of their estimate of it.  To give to those now living, an idea of the affliction produced by his death in the minds of all who knew him, I liken it to that lately felt by themselves on the death of his eldest son, Peter Carr, so like him in all his endowments and moral qualities, and whose recollection can never recur without a deep-drawn sigh from the bosom of any one who knew him.  You mention that I showed you an inscription I had proposed for the tombstone of your father.  Did I leave it in your hands to be copied? I ask the question, not that I have any such recollection, but that I find it no longer in the place of its deposit, and think I never took it out but on that occasion.  Ever and affectionately yours.




To Dr. Peter Wilson, Professor of languages, Columbia College, New York.
Monticello, January 20, 1816.

SIR

Of the last five months, I have been absent four from home, which must apologize for so very late an acknowledgment of your favor of November 22d, and I wish the delay could be compensated by the matter of the answer.  But an unfortunate accident puts that out of my power.  During the course of my public life, and from a very early period of it, I omitted no opportunity of procuring vocabularies of the Indian languages, and for that purpose formed a model expressing such objects in nature as must be familiar to every people, savage or civilized.  This being made the standard to which all were brought, would exhibit readily whatever affinities of language there be between the several tribes.  It was my intention, on retiring from public business, to have digested these into some order, so as to show not only what relations of language existed among our own aborigines, but by a collation with the great Russian vocabulary of the languages of Europe and Asia, whether there were any between them and the other nations of the continent.  On my removal from Washington, the package in which this collection was coming by water, was stolen and destroyed.  It consisted of between thirty and forty vocabularies, of which I can, from memory, say nothing particular;  but that I am certain more than half of them differed as radically, each from every other, as the Greek the Latin, and Icelandic.  And even of those which seemed to be derived from the same radix, the departure was such that the tribes speaking them could not probably understand one another.  Single words, or two or three together, might perhaps be understood, but not a whole sentence of any extent or construction.  I think, therefore, the pious missionaries who shall go to the several tribes to instruct them in the Christian religion will have to learn a language for every tribe they go to ;  nay, more, that they will have to create a new language for every one, that is to say, to add to theirs new words for the new ideas they will have to communicate.  Law, medicine, chemistry, mathematics, every science has a language of its own, and divinity not less than others.  Their barren vocabularies cannot be vehicles for ideas of the fall of man, his redemption, the triune composition of the Godhead, and other mystical doctrines considered by most Christians of the present date as essential elements of faith.  The enterprise is therefore arduous, but the more inviting perhaps to missionary zeal, in proportion as the merit of surmounting it will be greater.  Again repeating my regrets that I am able to give so little satisfaction on the subject of your inquiry, I pray you to accept the assurance of my great consideration and esteem.




To Amos J. Cook, Preceptor of Fryeburg Academy in the District of Maine.
Monticello, January 21, 1816.

SIR

Your favor of December 18th was exactly a month on its way to this place ;  and I have to thank you for the elegant and philosophical lines communicated by the Nestor of our Revolution.  Whether the style or sentiment be considered, they were well worthy the trouble of being copied and communicated by his pen.  Nor am I less thankful for the happy translation of them.  It adds another to the rare instances of a rival to its original :  superior indeed in one respect, as the same outline of sentiment is brought within a compass of better proportion.  For if the original be liable to any criticism, it is that of giving too great extension to the same general idea.  Yet it has a great authority to support it, that of a wiser man than all of us.  "I sought in my heart to give myself unto wine ;  I made me great works ;  I builded me houses ;  I planted me vineyards ;  I made me gardens, and orchards, and pools to water them;  I got me servants and maidens, and great possessions of cattle ;  I gathered me also silver and gold, and men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, and musical instruments of all sorts ;  and whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them;  I withheld not my heart from any joy.  Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and behold ! all was vanity and vexation of spirit !  I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness."  The Preacher, whom I abridge, has indulged in a much larger amplification of his subject.  I am not so happy as my friend and ancient colleague, Mr. Adams, in possessing anything original, inedited, and worthy of comparison with the epigraph of the Spanish monk.  I can offer but humble prose, from the hand indeed of the father of eloquence and philosophy;  a moral morsel, which our young friends under your tuition should keep ever in their eye, as the ultimate term of your instructions, and of their labors.  "Hic, quisquis est, qui moderatione et constantia quietus animo est, sibique ipse placatus;  ut nec tabescat molestiis, nec frangatur timore, nec sitienter quid expectens ardeat desiderio, nec alacritate futili gestiens deliquescat;  is est sapiens, quem quaerimus;  is est beatus;  cui nihil humanarum rerum aut intolerabile ad dimittendum animum, aut nimis lactabile ad efferendum, videri potest."  Or if a poetical dress will be more acceptable to the fancy of the juvenile student :

"Quisnam igitur liber ?  Sapiens, sibique imperiosus :
Quem neque pauperies, neque mors, neque vincula terrent :
Responsare cupidinibus, contemnere honores
Fortis, et in seipso totus teres, atque rotundus ;
Externi ne quid valeat per laeve morari :
In quem manca ruit semper Fortuna."

And if the Wise be the happy man, as these sages say, he must be virtuous too;  for, without virtue, happiness cannot be.  This then is the true scope of all academical emulation.

You request something in the handwriting of General Washington.  I enclose you a letter which I received from him while in Paris, covering a copy of the new Constitution;  it is offered merely as what you ask, a specimen of his handwriting.

On the subject of your Museum, I fear I cannot flatter myself with being useful to it.  Were the obstacle of distance out of the way, age and retirement have withdrawn me from the opportunities of procuring objects in that line.  With every wish for the prosperity of your institution, accept the assurances of my great esteem and respect.




To Mr. Thomas Ritchie.
Monticello, January 21, 1816.

Dear Sir,—In answering the letter of a Northern correspondent lately, I indulged in a tirade against a pamphlet recently published in this quarter.  On revising my letter, however, I thought it unsafe to commit myself so far to a stranger.  I struck out the passage therefore, yet I think the pamphlet of such a character as not to be unknown, or unnoticed by the people of the United States.  It is the most bold and impudent stride New England has ever made in arrogating an ascendency over the rest of the Union.  The first form of the pamphlet was an address from the Reverend Lyman Beecher, chairman of the Connecticut Society for the education of pious young men for the ministry.  Its matter was then adopted and published in a sermon by Reverend Mr. Pearson of Andover in Massachusetts, where they have a theological college ;  and where the address "with circumstantial variations to adapt it to more general use" is reprinted on a sheet and a half of paper, in so cheap a form as to be distributed, I imagine, gratis, for it has a final note indicating six thousand copies of the first edition printed.  So far as it respects Virginia, the extract of my letter gives the outline.  I therefore send it to you to publish or burn, abridge or alter, as you think best.  You understand the public palate better than I do.  Only give it such a title as may lead to no suspicion from whom you receive it.  I am the more induced to offer it to you because it is possible mine may be the only copy in the State, and because, too, it may be à propos for the petition for the establishment of a theological society now before the legislature, and to which they have shown the unusual respect of hearing an advocate for it at their bar.  From what quarter this theological society comes forward I know not; perhaps from our own tramontaine clergy, of New England religion and politics ; perhaps it is the entering wedge from its theological sister in Andover, for the body of "qualified religious instructors" proposed by their pious brethren of the East "to evangelize and catechize," to edify our daughters by weekly lectures, and our wives by "family visits" from these pious young monks from Harvard and Yale.  However, do with this what you please, and be assured of my friendship and respect.




To Nathaniel Macon.
Monticello, January 22, 1816.

Dear Sir,—Your favor of the 7th, after being a fortnight on the road, reached this the last night.  On the subject of the statue of General Washington, which the legislature of North Carolina has ordered to be procured, and set up in their Capitol, I shall willingly give you my best information and opinions.

1.  Your first inquiry is whether one worthy the character it is to represent, and the State which erects it, can be made in the United States ?  Certainly it cannot.  I do not know that there is a single marble statuary in the United States, but I am sure there cannot be one who would offer himself as qualified to undertake this monument of gratitude and taste.  Besides, no quarry of statuary marble has yet, I believe, been opened in the United States, that is to say, of a marble pure white, and in blocks of sufficient size, without vein or flaw.  The quarry of Carrara, in Italy, is the only one in the accessible parts of Europe which furnishes such blocks.  It was from thence we brought to Paris that for the statue of General Washington, made there on account of this State;  and it is from there that all the southern and maritime parts of Europe are supplied with that character of marble.

2.  Who should make it ?  There can be but one answer to this.  Old Canova, of Rome.  No artist in Europe would place himself in a line with him;  and for thirty years, within my own knowledge, he has been considered by all Europe, as without a rival.  He draws his blocks from Carrara, and delivers the statue complete, and packed for transportation, at Rome;  from thence it descends the Tiber, but whether it must go to Leghorn, or some other shipping port, I do not know.

3.  Price, time, size, and style ?  It will probably take a couple of years to be ready.  I am not able to be exact as to the price.  We gave Houdon, at Paris, one thousand guineas for the one he made for this State;  but he solemnly and feelingly protested against the inadequacy of the price, and evidently undertook it on motives of reputation alone.  He was the first artist in France, and being willing to come over to take the model of the General, which we could not have got Canova to have done, that circumstance decided on his employment.  We paid him additionally for coming over about five hundred guineas ;  and when the statue was done, we paid the expenses of one of his under workmen to come over and set it up, which might, perhaps, be one hundred guineas more.  I suppose, therefore, it cost us, in the whole, eight thousand dollars.  But this was only of the size of life.  Yours should be something larger.  The difference it makes in the impression can scarcely be conceived.  As to the style or costume, I am sure the artist, and every person of taste in Europe, would be for the Roman, the effect of which is undoubtedly of a different order.  Our boots and regimentals have a very puny effect.  Works of this kind are about one-third cheaper at Rome than Paris ;  but Canova’s eminence will be a sensible ingredient in price.  I think that for such a statue, with a plain pedestal, you would have a good bargain from Canova at seven or eight thousand dollars, and should not be surprised were he to require ten thousand dollars, to which you would have to add the charges of bringing over and setting up.  The one-half of the price would probably have to be advanced, and the other half paid on delivery.

4.  From what model ?  Ciracchi made the bust of General Washington in plaster.  It was the finest which came from his hand, and my own opinion of Ciracchi was, that he was second to no sculptor living except Canova ;  and, if he had lived, would have rivalled him.  His style had been formed on the fine models of antiquity in Italy, and he had caught their ineffable majesty of expression.  On his return to Rome, he made the bust of the General in marble, from that in plaster;  it was sent over here, was universally considered as the best effigy of him ever executed, was bought by the Spanish Minister for the King of Spain, and sent to Madrid.  After the death of Ciracchi, Mr. Appleton, our Consul at Leghorn, a man of worth and taste, purchased of his widow the original plaster with a view to profit by copies of marble and plaster from it.  He still has it at Leghorn ;  and it is the only original from which the statue can be formed.  But the exterior of the figure will also be wanting, that is to say, the outward lineaments of the body and members, to enable the artist to give to them also their true forms and proportions.  There are, I believe, in Philadelphia, whole-length paintings of General Washington, from which, I presume, old Mr. Peale or his son would sketch on canvas the mere outlines at no great charge.  This sketch, with Ciracchi’s bust, will suffice.

5.  Through whose agency ?  None so ready or so competent as Mr. Appleton himself ;  he has had relations with Canova, is a judge of price, convenient to engage the work, to attend to its progress, to receive and forward it to North Carolina.  Besides the accommodation of the original bust to be asked from him, he will probably have to go to Rome himself, to make the contract, and will incur a great deal of trouble besides, from that time to the delivery in North Carolina;  and it should therefore be made a matter of interest with him to act in it, as his time and trouble is his support.  I imagine his agency from beginning to end would not be worth less than from one to two hundred guineas.  I particularize all these things, that you may not be surprised with after-claps of expense, not counted on beforehand.  Mr. Appleton has two nephews at Baltimore, both in the mercantile line, and in correspondence with him.  Should the Governor adopt this channel of execution, he will have no other trouble than that of sending to them his communications for Mr. Appleton, and making the remittances agreed on as shall be convenient to himself.  A letter from the Secretary of State to Mr. Appleton, informing him that any service he can render the State of North Carolina in this business, would be gratifying to his government, would not be without effect.

Accept the assurance of my great esteem and respect.




To Joseph C. Cabell.
Monticello, January 24, 1816.

Dear Sir,—Your favor of the 16th experienced great delay on the road, and to avoid that of another mail, I must answer very briefly.

My letter to Peter Carr contains all I ever wrote on the subject of the College, a plan for the institution being the only thing the trustees asked or expected from me.  Were it to go into execution, I should certainly interest myself further and strongly in procuring proper professors.

The establishment of a Proctor is taken from the practice of Europe, where an equivalent officer is made a part, and is a very essential one, of every such institution;  and as the nature of his functions requires that he should always be a man of discretion, understanding, and integrity, above the common level, it was thought that he would never be less worthy of being trusted with the powers of a justice, within the limits of institution here, than the neighboring justices generally are;  and the vesting him with the conservation of the peace within that limit, was intended, while it should equally secure its object, to shield the young and unguarded student from the disgrace of the common prison, except where the case was an aggravated one.  A confinement to his own room was meant as an act of tenderness to him, his parents and friends;  in fine, it was to give them a complete police of their own, tempered by the paternal attentions of their tutors.  And, certainly, in no country is such a provision more called for than in this, as has been proved from times of old, from the regular annual riots and battles between the students of William and Mary with the town boys, before the Revolution, quorum pars fui, and the many and more serious affrays of later times.  Observe, too, that our bill proposes no exclusion of the ordinary magistrate, if the one attached to the institution is thought to execute his power either partially or remissly.

The transfer of the power to give commencement to the Ward or Elementary Schools from the court and aldermen to the visitors, was proposed because the experience of twenty years has proved that no court will ever begin it.  The reason is obvious.  The members of the courts are the wealthy members of the counties ;  and as the expenses of the schools are to be defrayed by a contribution proportioned to the aggregate of other taxes which every one pays, they consider it as a plan to educate the poor at the expense of the rich.  It proceeded, too, from a hope that the example and good effects being exhibited in one county, they would spread from county to county and become general.  The modification of the law, by authorizing the alderman to require the expense of tutorage from such parents as are able, would render trifling, if not wholly prevent, any call on the county for pecuniary aid.  You know that nothing better than a log-house is required for these schools, and there is not a neighborhood which would not meet and build this themselves for the sake of having a school near them.

I know of no peculiar advantage which Charlottesville offers for Mr. Braidwood’s school of deaf and dumb.  On the contrary, I should think the vicinity of the seat of government most favorable to it.  I should not like to have it made a member of our College.  The objects of the two institutions are fundamentally distinct.  The one is science, the other mere charity.  It would be gratuitously taking a boat in tow which may impede, but cannot aid the motion of the principal institution.

Ever and affectionately yours.




To Reverend Noah Worcester.
Monticello, January 29, 1816.

SIR

Your letter bearing date October 18th, 1815, came only to hand the day before yesterday, which is mentioned to explain the date of mine.  I have to thank you for the pamphlets accompanying it, to wit, the Solemn Review, the Friend of Peace or Special Interview, and the Friend of Peace, No. 2;  the first of these I had received through another channel some months ago.  I have not read the two last steadily through, because where one assents to propositions as soon as announced it is loss of time to read the arguments in support of them.  These numbers discuss the first branch of the causes of war, that is to say, wars undertaken for the point of honor, which you aptly analogize with the act of duelling between individuals, and reason with justice from the one to the other.  Undoubtedly this class of wars is, in the general, what you state them to be, "needless, unjust and inhuman, as well as anti-Christian."  The second branch of this subject, to wit, wars undertaken on account of wrong done, and which may be likened to the act of robbery in private life, I presume will be treated of in your future numbers.  I observe this class mentioned in the Solemn Review, p. 10, and the question asked, "Is it common for a nation to obtain a redress of wrongs by war ?"  The answer to this question you will of course draw from history.  In the meantime, reason will answer it on grounds of probability, that where the wrong has been done by a weaker nation, the stronger one has generally been able to enforce redress ;  but where by a stronger nation, redress by war has been neither obtained nor expected by the weaker.  On the contrary, the loss has been increased by the expenses of the war in blood and treasure.  Yet it may have obtained another object equally securing itself from future wrong.  It may have retaliated on the aggressor losses of blood and treasure far beyond the value to him of the wrong he had committed, and thus have made the advantage of that too dear a purchase to leave him in a disposition to renew the wrong in future.  In this way the loss by the war may have secured the weaker nation from loss by future wrong.  The case you state of two boxers, both of whom get a "terrible bruising," is apposite to this.  He of the two who committed the aggression on the other, although victor in the scuffle, yet probably finds his aggression not worth the bruising it has cost him.  To explain this by numbers, it is alleged that Great Britain took from us before the late war near one thousand vessels, and that during the war we took from her fourteen hundred.  That before the war she seized and made slaves of six thousand of our citizens, and that in the war we killed more than six thousand of her subjects, and caused her to expend such a sum as amounted to four or five thousand guineas a head for every slave she made.  She might have purchased the vessels she took for less than the value of those she lost, and have used the six thousand of her men killed for the purposes to which she applied ours, have saved the four or five thousand guineas a head, and obtained a character of justice which is valuable to a nation as to an individual.  These considerations, therefore, leave her without inducement to plunder property and take men in future on such dear terms.  I neither affirm nor deny the truth of these allegations, nor is their truth material to the question.  They are possible, and therefore present a case which will claim your consideration in a discussion of the general question whether any degree of injury can render a recourse to war expedient ?  Still less do I propose to draw to myself any part in this discussion.  Age and its effects both on body and mind, has weaned my attentions from public subjects, and left me unequal to the labors of correspondence beyond the limits of my personal concerns.  I retire, therefore, from the question, with a sincere wish that your writings may have effect in lessening this greatest of human evils, and that you may retain life and health to enjoy the contemplation of this happy spectacle ;  and pray you to be assured of my great respect.




John Adams to Thomas Jefferson.
Quincy, February 2, 1816.

Dear Sir,—I know not what to think of your letter of the 11th of January, but that it is one of the most consolatory I ever received.

To trace the commencement of the Reformation, I suspect we must go farther back than Borgia, or even Huss or Wickliffe, and I want the Acta Sanctorum to assist me in this research.  That stupendous monument of human hypocrisy and fanaticism, the church of St. Peter at Rome, which was a century and a half in building, excited the ambition of Leo the Xth, who believed no more of the Christian religion than Diderot, to finish it;  and finding St. Peter’s pence insufficient, he deluged all Europe with indulgences for sale, and excited Luther to controvert his authority to grant them.  Luther, and his associates and followers, went less than half way in detecting the corruptions of Christianity, but they acquired reverence and authority among their followers almost as absolute as that of the Popes had been.

To enter into details would be endless ;  but I agree with you, that the natural effect of science and arts is to erect public opinion into a censor, which must in some degree be respected by all.

There is no difference of opinion or feeling between us, concerning the partition of Poland, the intended partitions of Pilnitz, or the more daring partitions of Vienna.

Your question "How the apostasy from national rectitude can be accounted for ?"—is too deep and wide for my capacity to answer.  I leave Fisher Ames to dogmatize up the affairs of Europe and mankind.  I have done too much in this way.  A burned child dreads the fire.  I can only say at present, that it should seem that human reason, and human conscience, though I believe there are such things, are not a match for human passions, human imaginations, and human enthusiasm.  You, however, I believe, have hit one mark, "the fires the governments of Europe felt kindling under their seats;"  and I will hazard a shot at another, the priests of all nations imagined they felt approaching such flames, as they had so often kindled about the bodies of honest men.  Priests and politicians, never before, so suddenly and so unanimously concurred in reestablishing darkness and ignorance, superstition and despotism.  The morality of Tacitus is the morality of patriotism, and Britain and France have adopted his creed;  i.e., that all things were made for Rome.  "Jura negat sibi lata, nihil non arrogat armis," said Achilles.  "Laws were not made for me," said the Regent of France, and his cardinal minister Du Bois.  The universe was made for me, says man.  Jesus despised and condemned such patriotism;  but what nation, or what Christian, has adopted his system ?  He was, as you say, "the most benevolent Being that ever appeared on earth."  France and England Bourbons and Bonaparte, and all the sovereigns at Vienna, have acted on the same principle.  "All things were made for my use.  So man for mine, replies a pampered goose."  The philosophers of the eighteenth century have acted on the same principle.  When it is to combat evil, ’tis lawful to employ the devil.  Bonus populus vult decipi, decipiatur.  They have employed the same falsehood, the same deceit, which philosophers and priests of all ages have employed for their own selfish purposes.  We now know how their efforts have succeeded.  The old deceivers have triumphed over the new.  Truth must be more respected than it has ever been, before any great improvement can be expected in the condition of mankind.  As Rochefoucauld his maxims drew "from history and from practice," I believe them true.  From the whole nature of man, moral, intellectual, and physical, he did not draw them.

We must come to the principles of Jesus.  But when will all men and all nations do as they would be done by ?  Forgive all injuries, and love their enemies as themselves ?  I leave those profound philosophers, whose sagacity perceives the perfectibility of human nature ;  and those illuminated theologians, who expect the Apocalyptic reign;—to enjoy their transporting hopes, provided always that they will not engage us in Crusades and French Revolutions, nor burn us for doubting.  My spirit of prophecy reaches no farther than New England GUESSES.

You ask, how it has happened that all Europe has acted on the principle, "that Power was Right."  I know not what answer to give you, but this, that Power always sincerely, conscientiously, de tres bon foi, believes itself right.  Power always thinks it has a great soul, and vast views, beyond the comprehension of the weak;  and that it is doing God service, when it is violating all His laws.  Our passions, ambition, avarice, love, resentment, etc., possess so much metaphysical subtlety, and so much overpowering eloquence, that they insinuate themselves into the understanding and the conscience, and convert both to their party;  and I may be deceived as much as any of them, when I say, that Power must never be trusted without a check.

Morgan has misrepresented my guess.  There is not a word in my letter about "a million of human beings."  Civil wars, of an hundred years, throughout Europe, were guessed at ;  and this is broad enough for your ideas;  for eighteen or twenty millions would be a moderate computation for a century of civil wars throughout Europe.  I still pray that a century of civil wars may not desolate Europe, and America too, south and north.

Your speculations into futurity in Europe are so probable, that I can suggest no doubt to their disadvantage.  All will depend on the progress of knowledge.  But how shall knowledge advance ?  Independent of temporal and spiritual power, the course of science and literature is obstructed and discouraged by so many causes that it is to be feared their motions will be slow.  I have just finished reading four volumes of D’Israeli’s—two on the "Calamities," and two on the "Quarrels of Authors."  These would be sufficient to show that, slow rises genius by poverty and envy oppressed.  Even Newton, and Locke, and Grotius, could not escape.  France could furnish four other volumes of the woes and wars of authors.

My compliments to Mrs. Randolph, her daughter Ellen, and all her other children ;  and believe me, as ever.

To which Mrs. Adams adds her affectionate regard, and a wish that distance did not separate souls congenial.




To Joseph C. Cabell
Monticello, February 2, 1816


Dear Sir, — Your favors of the 23d and 24th ult., were a week coming to us.  I instantly enclosed to you the deeds of Capt. Miller, but I understand that the Post Master, having locked his mail before they got to the office, would not unlock it to give them a passage.

Having been prevented from retaining my collection of the acts and journals of our legislature by the lumping manner in which the Committee of Congress chose to take my library, it may be useful to our public bodies to know what acts and journals I had, and where they can now have access to them.  I therefore enclose you a copy of my catalogue, which I pray you to deposit in the council office for public use.  It is in the eighteenth and twenty-fourth chapters they will find what is interesting to them.  The form of the catalogue has been much injured in the publication; for although they have preserved my division into chapters, they have reduced the books in each chapter to alphabetical order, instead of the chronological or analytical arrangements I had given them.  You will see sketches of what were my arrangements at the heads of some of the chapters.

The bill on the obstructions in our navigable waters appears to me proper; as do also the amendments proposed.  I think the State should reserve a right to the use of the waters for navigation, and that where an individual landholder impedes that use, he shall remove that impediment, and leave the subject in as good a state as nature formed it.  This I hold to be the true principle; and to this Colonel Green’s amendments go.  All I ask in my own case is, that the legislature will not take from me my own works.  I am ready to cut my dam in any place, and at any moment requisite, so as to remove that impediment, if it be thought one, and to leave those interested to make the most of the natural circumstances of the place.  But I hope they will never take from me my canal, made through the body of my own lands, at an expense of twenty thousand dollars, and which is no impediment to the navigation of the river.  I have permitted the riparian proprietors above (and they not more than a dozen or twenty) to use it gratis, and shall not withdraw the permission unless they so use it as to obstruct too much the operations of my mills, of which there is some likelihood.

Doctor Smith, you say, asks what is the best elementary book on the principles of government ?  None in the world equal to the Review of Montesquieu, printed at Philadelphia a few years ago.  It has the advantage, too, of being equally sound and corrective of the principles of political economy; and all within the compass of a thin 8vo.  Chipman’s and Priestley’s Principles of Government, and the Federalists, are excellent in many respects, but for fundamental principles not comparable to the Review.  I have no objections to the printing my letter to Mr. Carr, if it will promote the interests of science; although it was not written with a view to its publication.

My letter of the 24th ult. conveyed to you the grounds of the two articles objected to the College bill.  Your last presents one of them in a new point of view, that of the commencement of the ward schools as likely to render the law unpopular to the country.  It must be a very inconsiderate and rough process of execution that would do this.  My idea of the mode of carrying it into execution would be this:  Declare the county ipso facto divided into wards for the present, by the boundaries of the militia captaincies;  somebody attend the ordinary muster of each company, having first desired the captain to call together a full one.  There explain the object of the law to the people of the company, put to their vote whether they will have a school established, and the most central and convenient place for it;  get them to meet and build a log school-house;  have a roll taken of the children who would attend it, and of those of them able to pay.  These would probably be sufficient to support a common teacher, instructing gratis the few unable to pay.  If there should be a deficiency, it would require too trifling a contribution from the county to be complained of;  and especially as the whole county would participate, where necessary, in the same resource.  Should the company, by its vote, decide that it would have no school, let them remain without one.  The advantages of this proceeding would be that it would become the duty of the alderman elected by the county, to take an active part in pressing the introduction of schools, and to look out for tutors.  If, however, it is intended that the State government shall take this business into its own hands, and provide schools for every county, then by all means strike out this provision of our bill.  I would never wish that it should be placed on a worse footing than the rest of the State.  But if it is believed that these elementary schools will be better managed by the governor and council, the commissioners of the literary fund, or any other general authority of the government, than by the parents within each ward, it is a belief against all experience.  Try the principle one step further, and amend the bill so as to commit to the governor and council the management of all our farms, our mills, and merchants’ stores.  No, my friend, the way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the functions he is competent to. Let the national government be entrusted with the defence of the nation, and its foreign and federal relations;  the State governments with the civil rights, laws, police, and administration of what concerns the State generally;  the counties with the local concerns of the counties, and each ward direct the interests within itself.  It is by dividing and subdividing these republics from the great national one down through all its subordinations, until it ends in the administration of every man’s farm by himself;  by placing under every one what his own eye may superintend, that all will be done for the best.  What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun ?  The generalizing and concentrating all cares and powers into one body, no matter whether of the autocrats of Russia or France, or of the aristocrats of a Venetian senate.  And I do believe that if the Almighty has not decreed that man shall never be free, (and it is a blasphemy to believe it,) that the secret will be found to be in the making himself the depository of the powers respecting himself, so far as he is competent to them, and delegating only what is beyond his competence by a synthetical process, to higher and higher orders of functionaries, so as to trust fewer and fewer powers in proportion as the trustees become more and more oligarchical.  The elementary republics of the wards, the county republics, the States republics, and the republic of the Union, would form a gradation of authorities, standing each on the basis of law, holding every one its delegated share of powers, and constituting truly a system of fundamental balances and checks for the government.  Where every man is a sharer in the direction of his ward-republic, or of some of the higher ones, and feels that he is a participator in the government of affairs, not merely at an election one day in the year, but every day;  when there shall not be a man in the State who will not be a member of some one of its councils, great or small, he will let the heart be torn out of his body sooner than his power be wrested from him by a Caesar or a Bonaparte.  How powerfully did we feel the energy of this organization in the case of embargo ?  I felt the foundations of the government shaken under my feet by the New England townships.  There was not an individual in their States whose body was not thrown with all its momentum into action;  and although the whole of the other States were known to be in favor of the measure, yet the organization of this little selfish minority enabled it to overrule the Union. What would the unwieldy counties of the middle, the south, and the west do ?  Call a county meeting, and the drunken loungers at and about the court houses would have collected, the distances being too great for the good people and the industrious generally to attend. The character of those who really met would have been the measure of the weight they would have had in the scale of public opinion.  As Cato, then, concluded every speech with the words, “Carthago delenda est,” so do I every opinion, with the injunction, “divide the counties into wards.”  Begin them only for a single purpose; they will soon show for what others they are the best instruments.  God bless you, and all our rulers, and give them the wisdom, as I am sure they have the will, to fortify us against the degeneracy of one government, and the concentration of all its powers in the hands of the one, the few, the well-born or the many.


[Embargo Act of 1807, passed Dec. 22, 1807, by the U.S. Congress in answer to the British orders in council restricting neutral shipping and to Napoleon's restrictive Continental System.  The U.S. merchant marine suffered from both the British and French, and Thomas Jefferson undertook to answer both nations with measures that by restricting neutral trade would show the importance of that trade.  The first attempt was the Nonimportation Act, passed Apr. 18, 1806, forbidding the importation of specified British goods in order to force Great Britain to relax its rigorous rulings on cargoes and sailors (see impressment).  The act was suspended, but the Embargo Act of 1807 was a bolder statement of the same idea.  It forbade all international trade to and from American ports, and Jefferson hoped that Britain and France would be persuaded of the value and the rights of a neutral commerce.  In Jan., 1808, the prohibition was extended to inland waters and land commerce to halt the skyrocketing trade with Canada.  Merchants, sea captains, and sailors were naturally dismayed to find themselves without income and to see the ships rotting at the wharves.  All sorts of dodges were used to circumvent the law.  The daring attempt to use economic pressure in a world at war was not successful.  Britain and France stood firm, and not enough pressure could be brought to bear.  Enforcement was difficult, especially in New England, where merchants looked on the scheme as an attempt to defraud them of a livelihood.  When in Jan., 1809, Congress, against much opposition, passed an act to make enforcement more rigid, resistance approached the point of rebellion—again especially in New England—and the scheme had to be abandoned.  On Mar. 1, 1809, the embargo was superseded by the Nonintercourse Act.  This allowed resumption of all commercial intercourse except with Britain and France.  Jefferson reluctantly accepted it.  Not unexpectedly, it failed to bring pressure on Britain and France.  In 1810 it was replaced by Macon's Bill No. 2 (named after Nathaniel Macon), which virtually ended the experiment.  It provided for trade with both Britain and France unless one of those powers revoked its restrictions;  in that case, the President was authorized to forbid commerce with the country that had not also revoked its offensive measures.]

 




To Thomas W. Maury.
Monticello, February 3, 1816.

Dear Sir,—Your favor of the 24th ultimo was a week on its way to me, and this is our first subsequent mail day.  Mr. Cabell had written to me also on the want of the deeds in Captain Miller’s case ;  and as the bill was in that House, I enclosed them immediately to him.  I forgot, however, to desire that they might be returned when done with, and must, therefore, ask this friendly attention of you.

You ask me for observations on the memorandum you transcribe, relating to a map of the States, a mineralogical survey and statistical tables.  The field is very broad, and new to me.  I have never turned my mind to this combination of objects, nor am I at all prepared to give an opinion on it.  On what principles the association of objects may go that far and not farther, whether we could find a character who would undertake the mineralogical survey, and who is qualified for it, whether there would be room for its designations on a well-filled geographical map, and also for the statistical details, I cannot say.  The best mineralogical charts I have seen, have had nothing geographical but the water-courses, ranges of hills, and most remarkable places, and have been colored, so as to present to the eye the mineralogical ranges.  For the articles of a statistical table, I think the last census of Congress presented what was proper, as far as it went, but did not go far enough.  It required detailed accounts of our manufactures, and an enumeration of our people, according to ages, sexes, and colors.  But to this should be added an enumeration according to their occupations.  We should know what proportion of our people are employed in agriculture, what proportion are carpenters, smiths, shoemakers, tailors, bricklayers, merchants, seamen, etc.  No question is more curious than that of the distribution of society into occupations, and none more wanting.  I have never heard of such tables being effected but in the instance of Spain, where it was first done under the administration, I believe, of Count D’Aranda, and a second time under the Count de Florida Blanca, and these have been considered as the most curious and valuable tables in the world.  The combination of callings with us would occasion some difficulty, many of our tradesmen being, for instance, agriculturists also; but they might be classed under their principal occupation.  On the geographical branch I have reflected occasionally.  I suppose a person would be employed in every county to put together the private surveys, either taken from the surveyors’ books or borrowed from the proprietors, to connect them by supplementary surveys, and to survey the public roads, noting towns, habitations, and remarkable places, by which means a special delineation of water-courses, roads, etc., will be obtained.  But it will be further indispensable to obtain the latitudes and longitudes of principal points in every county, in order to correct the errors of the topographical surveys, to bring them together, and to assign to each county its exact space on the map.  These observations of latitude and longitude might be taken f or the whole State, by a single person well qualified, in the course of a couple of years.  I could offer some ideas on that subject to abridge and facilitate the operations, and as to the instruments to be used ;  but such details are probably not within the scope of your inquiries, they would be in time if communicated to those who will have the direction of the work.  I am sorry I am so little prepared to offer anything more satisfactory to your inquiries than these extempore hints.  But I have no doubt that what is best will occur to those gentlemen of the legislature who have had the subject under their contemplation, and who, impressed with its importance, are exerting themselves to procure its execution.  Accept the assurance of my great esteem and respect.


To James Monroe.
Monticello, February 4, 1816.

Dear Sir,—Your letter concerning that of General Scott is received, and his is now returned.  I am very thankful for these communications.  From forty years’ experience of the wretched guess-work of the newspapers of what is not done in open daylight, and of their falsehood even as to that, I rarely think them worth reading, and almost never worth notice.  A ray, therefore, now and then, from the fountain of light, is like sight restored to the blind.  It tells me where I am ;  and that to a mariner who has long been without sight of land or sun, is a rallying of reckoning which places him at ease.  The ground you have taken with Spain is sound in every part.  It is the true ground, especially, as to the South Americans.  When subjects are able to maintain themselves in the field, they are then an independent power as to all neutral nations, are entitled to their commerce, and to protection within their limits.  Every kindness which can be shown the South Americans, every friendly office and aid within the limits of the law of nations, I would extend to them, without fearing Spain or her Swiss auxiliaries.  For this is but an assertion of our own independence.  But to join in their war, as General Scott proposes, and to which even some members of Congress seem to squint, is what we ought not to do as yet.  On the question of our interest in their independence, were that alone a sufficient motive of action, much may be said on both sides.  When they are free, they will drive every article of our produce from every market, by underselling it, and change the condition of our existence, forcing us into other habits and pursuits.  We shall, indeed, have in exchange some commerce with them, but in what I know not, for we shall have nothing to offer which they cannot raise cheaper;  and their separation from Spain seals our everlasting peace with her.  On the other hand, so long as they are dependent, Spain, from her jealousy, is our natural enemy, and always in either open or secret hostility with us.  These countries, too, in war, will be a powerful weight in her scale, and, in peace, totally shut to us.  Interest then, on the whole, would wish their independence, and justice makes the wish a duty.  They have a right to be free, and we a right to aid them, as a strong man has a right to assist a weak one assailed by a robber or murderer.  That a war is brewing between us and Spain cannot be doubted.  When that disposition is matured on both sides, and open rupture can no longer be deferred, then will be the time for our joining the South Americans, and entering into treaties of alliance with them.  There will then be but one opinion, at home or abroad, that we shall be justifiable in choosing to have them with us, rather than against us.  In the meantime, they will have organized regular governments, and perhaps have formed themselves into one or more confederacies; more than one I hope, as in single mass they would be a very formidable neighbor.  The geography of their country seems to indicate three :  1. What is north of the Isthmus.  2. What is south of it on the Atlantic ;  and 3. The southern part on the Pacific.  In this form, we might be the balancing power.  A propos of the dispute with Spain, as to the boundary of Louisiana.  On our acquisition of that country, there was found in possession of the family of the late Governor Messier, a most valuable and original MS. history of the settlement of Louisiana by the French, written by Bernard de la Harpe, a principal agent through the whole of it.  It commences with the first permanent settlement of 1699, (that by de la Salle in 1684, having been broken up,) and continues to 1723, and shows clearly the continual claim of France to the Province of Texas, as far as the Rio Bravo, and to all the waters running into the Mississippi, and how, by the roguery of St. Denis, an agent of Crozat, the merchant, to whom the colony was granted for ten years, the settlements of the Spaniards at Nacadoches, Adais, Assinays, and Natchitoches, were fraudulently invited and connived at Crozat’s object was commerce, and especially contraband, with the Spaniards, and these posts were settled as convenient smuggling stages on the way to Mexico.  The history bears such marks of authenticity as place it beyond question.  Governor Claiborne obtained the MS. for us, and thinking it too hazardous to risk its loss by the way, unless a copy were retained, he had a copy taken.  The original having arrived safe at Washington, he sent me the copy, which I now have.  Is the original still in your office ? or was it among the papers burnt by the British ?  If lost, I will send you my copy;  if preserved, it is my wish to deposit the copy for safe keeping with the Philosophical Society at Philadelphia, where it will be safer than on my shelves.  I do not mean that any part of this letter shall give to yourself the trouble of an answer;  only desire Mr. Graham to see if the original still exists in your office, and to drop me a line saying yea or nay;  and I shall know what to do.  Indeed the MS. ought to be printed;  and I see a note to my copy which shows it has been in contemplation, and that it was computed to be of twenty sheets at sixteen dollars a sheet, for three hundred and twenty copies, which would sell at one dollar apiece, and reimburse the expense.

On the question of giving to La Motte the consulship of Havre, I know the obstacle of the Senate.  Their determination to appoint natives only is generally proper, but not always.  These places are for the most part of little consequence to the public;  and if they can be made resources of profit to our ex-military worthies, they are so far advantageous.  You and I, however, know that one of these new novices, knowing nothing of the laws or authorities of his port, nor speaking a word of its language, is of no more account than the fifth wheel of a coach.  Had the Senate a power of removing as well as of rejecting, I should have fears, from their foreign antipathies, for my old friend Cathalan, Consul at Marseilles.  His father was appointed by Dr. Franklin, early in the Revolutionary war, but being old, the business was done by the son.  On the establishment of our present government, the commission was given by General Washington to the son, at the request of the father.  He has been the consul now twenty-six years, and has done its duties nearly forty years.  He is a man of understanding, integrity and zeal, of high mercantile standing, an early citizen of the United States, and speaks and writes our language as fluently as French.  His conduct in office has been without a fault.  I have known him personally and intimately for thirty years, have a great and affectionate esteem for him, and should feel as much hurt were he to be removed as if removed myself from an office.  But I trust he is out of the reach of the Senate, and secure under the wings of the executive government.  Let me recommend him to your particular care and patronage, as well deserving it, and end the trouble of reading a long letter with assurances of my constant and affectionate friendship.




To Benjamin Austin, Esq.
Monticello, February 9, 1816.

SIR,—Your favor of January 25th is just now received.  I am in general extremely unwilling to be carried into the newspapers, no matter what the subject ;  the whole pack of the Essex kennel would open upon me.  With respect, however, to so much of my letter of January 9th as relates to manufactures, I have less repugnance, because there is perhaps a degree of duty to avow a change of opinion called for by a change of circumstances, and especially on a point now become peculiarly interesting.

What relates to Bonaparte stands on different ground.  You think it will silence the misrepresentations of my enemies as to my opinions of him.  No, Sir ;  it will not silence them.  They had no ground either in my words or actions for these misrepresentations before, and cannot have less afterwards; nor will they calumniate less.  There is, however, a consideration respecting our own friends, which may merit attention.  I have grieved to see even good republicans so infatuated as to this man, as to consider his downfall as calamitous to the cause of liberty.  In their indignation against England which is just, they seem to consider all her enemies as our friends, when it is well known there was not a being on earth who bore us so deadly a hatred.  In fact, he saw nothing in this world but himself, and looked on the people under him as his cattle, beasts for burden and slaughter.  Promises cost him nothing when they could serve his purpose.  On his return from Elba, what did he not promise ?  But those who had credited them a little, soon saw their total insignificance, and, satisfied they could not fall under worse hands, refused every effort after the defeat of Waterloo.  Their present sufferings will have a term ;  his iron despotism would have had none.  France has now a family of fools at its head, from whom, whenever it can shake off its foreign riders, it will extort a free Constitution, or dismount them and establish some other on the solid basis of national right.  To whine after this exorcised demon is a disgrace to republicans, and must have arisen either from want of reflection, or the indulgence of passion against principle.  If anything I have said could lead them to take correcter views, to rally to the polar principles of genuine republicanism, I could consent that that part of my letter also should go into a newspaper.  This I leave to yourself and such candid friends as you may consult.  There is one word in the letter, however, which decency towards the allied sovereigns requires should be softened.  Instead of despots, call them rulers.  The first paragraph, too, of seven or eight lines, must be wholly omitted.  Trusting all the rest to your discretion, I salute you with great esteem and respect.




John Adams to Thomas Jefferson.
Quincy, March 2, 1816.

Dear Sir,—I cannot be serious !  I am about to write you the most frivolous letter you ever read.

Would you go back to your cradle and live over again your seventy years ?  I believe you would return me a New England answer, by asking me another question.  Would you live your eighty years over again ?

I am not prepared to give you an explicit answer, the question involves so many considerations of metaphysics and physics, of theology and ethics, of philosophy and history, of experience and romance, of tragedy, comedy and farce, that I would not give my opinion without writing a volume to justify it.

I have lately lived over again, in part, from 1753, when I was junior sophister at college, till 1769, when I was digging in the mines as a barrister at law, for silver and gold, in the town of Boston;  and got as much of the shining dross for my labor as my utmost avarice at that time craved.

At the hazard of all the little vision that is left me, I have read the history of that period of sixteen years, in the volumes of the Baron de Grimm.  In a late letter to you, I expressed a wish to see a history of quarrels and calamities of authors in France, like that of D’Israeli in England.  I did not expect it so soon ;  but now I have it in a manner more masterly than I ever hoped to see it.  It is not only a narration of the incessant great wars between the ecclesiastics and the philosophers, but of the little skirmishes and squabbles of Poets, Musicians, Sculptors, Painters, Architects, Tragedians, Comedians, Opera-Singers and Dancers, Chansons, Vaudevilles, Epigrams, Madrigals, Epitaphs, Anagrams, Sonnets, etc.  No man is more sensible than I am of the service to science and letters, Humanity, Fraternity and Liberty, that would have been rendered by the Encyclopedists and Economists, by Voltaire, D’Alembert, Buffon, Diderot, Rousseau, La Lande, Frederick and Catherine, if they had possessed common sense.  But they were all totally destitute of it.  They all seemed to think that all Christendom was convinced as they were, that all religion was "visions Judaicques," and that their effulgent lights had illuminated all the world.  They seemed to believe, that whole nations and continents had been changed in their principles, opinions, habits and feelings, by the sovereign grace of their almighty philosophy, almost as suddenly as Catholics and Calvinists believe in instantaneous conversion.  They had not considered the force of early education on the millions of minds who had never heard of their philosophy.  And what was their philosophy ?  Atheism;  pure, unadulterated Atheism.  Diderot, D’Alembert, Frederick, De La Lande and Grimm, were indubitable Atheists.  The universe was matter only, and eternal;  spirit was a word without a meaning;  liberty was a word without a meaning.  There was no liberty in the universe ;  liberty was a word void of sense.  Every thought, word, passion, sentiment, feeling, all motion, and action was necessary.  All beings and attributes were of eternal necessity;  conscience, morality, were all nothing but fate.

This was their creed, and this was to perfect human nature, and convert the earth into a paradise of pleasure.

Who, and what is this fate ?  He must be a sensible fellow.  He must be a master of science.  He must be a master of spherical trigonometry and great circle sailing.  He must calculate eclipses in his head by intuition.  He must be master of the science of infinitessimal—"Le science des infinimens petits."  He must involve and extract all the roots by intuition, and be familiar with all possible or imaginable sections of the cone.  He must be a master of arts, mechanical and imitative.  He must have more eloquence than Demosthenes, more wit than Swift or Voltaire, more humor than Butler or Trumbull, and what is more comfortable than all the rest, he must be good natured;  for this is upon the whole a good world.  There is ten times as much pleasure as pain in it.

Why then should we abhor the word God, and fall in love with the word Fate ?  We know there exists energy and intellect enough to produce such a world as this, which is a sublime and beautiful one, and a very benevolent one, notwithstanding all our snarling;  and a happy one, if it is not made otherwise by our own fault.  Ask a mite, in the centre of your mammoth cheese, what he thinks of the "----(Greek inserted here)----."

I should prefer the philosophy of Timaus, of Locris, before that of Grimm and Diderot, Frederick and D’Alembert.  I should even prefer the Shasta of Hindostan, or the Chaldean, Egyptian, Indian, Greek, Christian, Mahometan, Tubonic, or Celtic theology.  Timaeus and Picellus taught that three principles were eternal, God, Matter and Form.  God was good, and had ideas.  Matter was necessity.  Fate dead without ideas—without form, without feeling—perverse, untractible;  capable, however, of being cut into forms, spheres, circles, triangles, squares, cubes, cones, etc.  The ideas of the good God labored upon matter to bring it into form;  but matter was fate, necessity, dulness, obstinacy—and would not always conform to the ideas of the good God who desired to make the best of all possible worlds ;  but Matter, Fate, Necessity, resisted, and would not let Him complete His idea.  Hence all the evil and disorder, pain, misery and imperfection of the universe.

We all curse Robespierre and Bonaparte, but were they not both such restless, vain, extravagant animals as Diderot and Voltaire ?  Voltaire was the greatest literary character, and Bonaparte the greatest military character of the eighteenth century.  There is all the difference between them.  Both equally heroes and equally cowards.

When you ask my opinion of a University—it would have been easy to advise Mathematics, experimental Philosophy, Natural History, Chemistry and Astronomy, Geography and the Fine Arts ;  to the exclusion of Metaphysics and Theology.  But knowing the eager impatience of the human mind to search into eternity and infinity, the first cause and last end of all things—I thought best to leave it its liberty to inquire till it is convinced, as I have been these fifty years, that there is but one Being in the universe who comprehends it ; and our last resource is resignation.

This Grimm must have been in Paris when you were there.  Did you know him, or hear of him ?

I have this moment received two volumes more, but these are f rom 1777 to 1782,—leaving the chain broken from 1769 to 1777.  I hope hereafter to get the two intervening volumes.  I am your old friend.




To ------.*
Monticello, March 13, 1816.

A writer in the National Intelligencer of February 24th, who signs himself B., is endeavoring to shelter under the cloak of General Washington, the present enterprise of the Senate to wrest from the House of Representatives the power, given them by the Constitution, of participating with the Senate in the establishment and continuance of laws on specified subjects.  Their aim is, by associating an Indian chief, or foreign government, in form of a treaty, to possess themselves of the power of repealing laws become obnoxious to them, without the assent of the third branch, although that assent was necessary to make it a law.  We are then to depend for the secure possession of our laws;  not on our immediate representatives chosen by ourselves, and amenable to ourselves every other year, but on Senators chosen by the legislatures, amenable to them only, and that but at intervals of six years, which is nearly the common estimate for a term for life.  But no act of that sainted worthy, no thought of General Washington, ever countenanced a change of our Constitution so vital as would be the rendering insignificant the popular, and giving to the aristocratical branch of our government, the power of depriving us of our laws.

The case for which General Washington is quoted is that of his treaty with the Creeks, wherein was a stipulation that their supplies of goods should continue to be imported duty free.  The writer of this article was then a member of the legislature, as he was of that which afterwards discussed the British treaty, and recollects the facts of the day, and the ideas which were afloat.  The goods for the supplies of the Creeks were always imported into the Spanish ports of St. Augustine, Pensacola, Mobile, New Orleans, etc., (the United States not owning then one foot of coast on the gulf of Mexico, or south of St. Mary’s,) and from these ports they were carried directly into the Creek country, without ever entering the jurisdiction of the United States.  In that country their laws pretended to no more force than in Florida or Canada.  No officer of their customs could go to levy duties in the Spanish or Creek countries, out of which these goods never came.  General Washington’s stipulation in that treaty, therefore, was nothing more than that our laws should not levy duties where we have no right to levy them, that is, in foreign ports, or foreign countries.  These transactions took place while the Creek deputation was in New York, in the month of July, 1790, and in March preceding we had passed a law delineating specially the line between their country and ours.  The only subject of curiosity is how so nugatory a stipulation should have been placed in a treaty ?  It was from the fears of Mr. Gillevray, who was the head of the deputation, who possessed from the Creeks themselves the exclusive right to supply them with goods, and to whom this monopoly was the principal source of income.

The same writer quotes from a note in Marshall’s history, an opinion of Mr. Jefferson, given to General Washington on the same occasion of the Creek treaty.  Two or three little lines only of that opinion are given us, which do indeed express the doctrine in broad and general terms.  Yet we know how often a few words withdrawn from their place may seem to bear a general meaning, when their context would show that their meaning must have been limited to the subject with respect to which they were used.  If we could see the whole opinion, it might probably appear that its foundation was the peculiar circumstances of the Creek nation.  We may say too, on this opinion, as on that of a judge whose positions beyond the limits of the case before him are considered as obiter sayings, never to be relied on as authority.

In July, ’90, moreover, the government was but just getting under way.  The duty law was not passed until the succeeding month of August.  This question of the effect of a treaty was then of the first impression;  and none of us, I suppose, will pretend that on our first reading of the Constitution we saw at once all its intentions, all the bearings of every word of it, as fully and as correctly as we have since understood them, after they have become subjects of public investigation and discussion ;  and I well remember the fact that, although Mr. Jefferson had retired from office before Mr. Jay’s mission, and the question on the British treaty, yet during its discussion we were well assured of his entire concurrence in opinion with Mr. Madison and others who maintained the rights of the House of Representatives, so that, if on a prima facie view of the question, his opinion had been too general, on stricter investigation and more mature consideration, his ultimate opinion was with those who thought that the subjects which were confided to the House of Representatives in conjunction with the President and Senate, were exceptions to the general treaty power given to the President and Senate alone ;  (according to the general rule that an instrument is to be so construed as to reconcile and give meaning and effect to all its parts ;) that whenever a treaty stipulation interferes with a law of the three branches, the consent of the third branch is necessary to give it effect ;  and that there is to this but the single exception of the question of war and peace.  There the Constitution expressly requires the concurrence of the three branches to commit us to the state of war, but permits two of them;  the President and Senate, to change it to that of peace, for reasons as obvious as they are wise.  I think then I may affirm, in contradiction to B., that the present attempt of the Senate is not sanctioned by the opinion either of General Washington or of Mr. Jefferson.

I meant to confine myself to the case of the Creek treaty, and not to go into the general reasoning, for after the logical and demonstrative arguments of Mr. Wilde of Georgia, and others on the floor of Congress, if any man remains unconvinced I pretend not the powers of convincing him.


* This unaddressed letter signed "A" on the original draft in Jefferson’s handwriting.





To Governor Wilson C. Nicholas.
Monticello, April 2, 1816.

Dear Sir,—Your favor of March and has been received.  It finds me more laboriously and imperiously engaged than almost on any occasion of my life.  It is not, therefore, in my power to take into immediate consideration all the subjects it proposes;  they cover a broad surface, and will require some development.  They respect,

I.  Defence.

II.  Education.

III.  The map of the State.

This last will comprise,

I.  An astronomical survey, to wit, Longitudes and Latitudes.

2.  A geometrical survey of the external boundaries, the mountains and rivers.

3.  A topographical survey of the counties.

4.  A mineralogical survey.

Each of these heads requires distinct consideration.  I will take them up one at a time, and communicate my ideas as leisure will permit.

I.  On the subject of Defence, I will state to you what has been heretofore contemplated and proposed.  Some time before I retired from office, when the clouds between England and the United States thickened so as to threaten war at hand, and while we were fortifying various assailable points on our sea-board, the defence of the Chesapeake became, as it ought to have been, a subject of serious consideration, and the problem occurred, whether it could be defended at its mouth ? its effectual defence in detail being obviously impossible.  My idea was that we should find or prepare a station near its mouth for a very great force of vessels of annoyance of such a character as to assail, when the weather and position of an enemy suited, and keep or withdraw themselves into their station when adverse.  These means of annoyance were to consist of gun-boats, row-boats, floating batteries, bomb-ketches, fire-ships, rafts, turtles, torpedoes, rockets, and whatever else could be desired to destroy a ship becalmed, to which could now be added Fulton scows.  I thought it possible that a station might be made on the middle grounds, (which are always shallow, and have been known to be uncovered by water,) by a circumvallation of stones dropped loosely on one another, so as to take their own level, and raised sufficiently high to protect the vessels within them from the waves and boat attacks.  It is by such a wall that the harbor of Cherbourg has been made.  The middle grounds have a firmer bottom, and lie two or three miles from the ship channel on either side, and so near the Cape as to be at hand for any enemy moored or becalmed within them.  A survey of them was desired, and some officer of the navy received orders on the subject, who being opposed to our possessing anything below a frigate or line of battle ship, either visited or did not visit them, and verbally expressed his opinion of impracticability.  I state these things from memory, and may err in small circumstances, but not in the general impression.

A second station offering itself was the mouth of Lynhaven river, which having but four or five feet water, the vessels would be to be adapted to that, or its entrance deepened;  but there it would be requisite to have, first, a fort protecting the vessels within it, and strong enough to hold out until a competent force of militia could be collected for its relief.  And second, a canal uniting the tide-waters of Lynhaven river and the eastern branch, three or four miles apart only of low level country.  This would afford to the vessels a retreat for their own safety, and a communication with Norfolk and Albemarle Sound, so as to give succor to these places if attacked, or receive it from them for a special enterprise.  It was believed that such a canal would then have cost about thirty thousand dollars.

This being a case of personal as well as public interest, I thought a private application not improper, and indeed preferable to a more general one, with an executive needing no stimulus to do what is right;  and therefore, in May and June, 1813, I took the liberty of writing to them on this subject, the defence of Chesapeake;  and to what is before stated I added some observations on the importance and pressure of the case.  A view of the map of the United States shows that the Chesapeake receives either the whole or important waters of five of the most producing of the Atlantic States, to wit :  North Carolina, (for the Dismal Canal makes Albemarle Sound a water of the Chesapeake, and Norfolk its port of exportation,) Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York.  We know that the waters of the Chesapeake, from the Genesee to the Sawra towns and Albemarle Sound, comprehend two-fifths of the population of the Atlantic States, and furnish probably more than half their exported produce;  that the loss of James river alone, in that year, was estimated at two hundred thousand barrels of flour, fed away to horses or sold at half-price, which was a levy of a million of dollars on a single one of these numerous waters, and that levy to be repeated every year during the war;  that this important country can all be shut up by two or three ships of the enemy, lying at the mouth of the bay;  that an injury so vast to us and so cheap to the enemy, must forever be resorted to by them, and maintained constantly through every war;  that this was a hard trial of the spirit of the Middle States, a trial which, backed by impossible taxes, might produce a demand for peace on any terms;  that when it was considered that the Union had already expended four millions of dollars for the defence of the single city of New York, and the waters of a single river, the Hudson, (which we entirely approved, and now we might probably add four more since expended on the same spot,) we thought it very moderate for so great a portion of the country, the population, the wealth, and contributing industry and strength of the Atlantic States, to ask a few hundred thousand dollars, to save the harassment of their militia, conflagrations of their towns and houses, devastations of their farms, and annihilation of all the annual fruits of their labor.  The idea of defending the bay at its mouth was approved, but the necessary works were deemed inexecutable during a war, and an answer more cogent was furnished by the fact that our treasury and credit were both exhausted.  Since the war, I have learned (I cannot say how) that the Executive has taken up the subject and sent on an engineer to examine and report the localities, and that this engineer thought favorably of the middle grounds.  But my recollection is too indistinct but to suggest inquiry to you.  After having once taken the liberty of soliciting the executive on this subject, I do not think it would be respectful for me to do it a second time, nor can it be necessary with persons who need only suggestions of what is right, and not importunities to do it.  If the subject is brought before them, they can readily recall or recur to my letters, if worth it.  But would it not be advisable in the first place, to have surveys made of the middle grounds and the grounds between the tide-waters of Lynhaven and the eastern branch, that your representations may be made on known facts ?  These would be parts only of the surveys you are authorized to make, and might, for so good a reason, be anticipated and executed before the general work can be done.

Perhaps, however, the view is directed to a defence by frigates or ships of the line, stationed at York or elsewhere.  Against this, in my opinion, both reason and experience declaim.  Had we half a dozen seventy-fours stationed at York, the enemy would place a dozen at the capes.  This great force called there would enable them to make large detachments against Norfolk when it suited them, to harass and devastate the bay coasts incessantly, and would oblige us to keep large armies of militia at York to defend the ships, and at Norfolk to defend that.  The experience of New London proves how certain and destructive this blockade would be;  for New London owed its blockade and the depredations on its coasts to the presence of a frigate sent there for its defence; and did the frigate at Norfolk bring us defence or assault ?


II.  Education.—The President and Directors of the literary fund are desired to digest and report a system of public education, comprehending the establishment of an university, additional colleges or academies, and schools.  The resolution does not define the portions of science to be taught in each of these institutions, but the first and last admit no doubt.  The university must be intended for all useful sciences, and the schools mean elementary ones, for the instruction of the people, answering to our present English schools; the middle term, colleges or academies, may be more conjectural.  But we must understand from it some middle grade of education.  Now, when we advert that the ancient classical languages are considered as the foundation preparatory for all the sciences;  that we have always had schools scattered over the country for teaching these languages, which often were the ultimate term of education;  that these languages are entered on at the age of nine or ten years, at which age parents would be unwilling to send their children from every part of the State to a central and distant university, and when we observe that the resolution supposes there are to be a plurality of them, we may well conclude that the Greek and Latin are the objects of these colleges.  It is probable, also, that the legislature might have under their eye the bill for the more general diffusion of knowledge, printed in the revised code of 1779, which proposed these three grades of institution, to wit :  an university, district colleges, or grammar schools, and county or ward schools.  I think, therefore, we may say that the object of these colleges is the classical languages, and that they are intended as the portico of entry to the university.  As to their numbers, I know no better rule to be assumed than to place one within a day’s ride of every man’s door, in consideration of the infancy of the pledges he has at it.  This would require one for every eight miles square.

Supposing this the object of the colleges, the report will have to present the plan of an university, analyzing the sciences, selecting those which are useful, grouping them into professorships, commensurate each with the time and faculties of one man, and prescribing the regimen and all other necessary details.  On this subject I can offer nothing new.  A letter of mine to Peter Carr, which was published during the last session of Assembly, is a digest of all the information I possess on the subject, from which the Board will judge whether they can extract anything useful;  the professorship of the classical languages being of course to be expunged, as more effectually supplied by the establishment of the colleges.

As the buildings to be erected will also enter into their report, I would strongly recommend to their consideration, instead of one immense building, to have a small one for every professorship, arranged at proper distances around a square, to admit extension, connected by a piazza, so that they may go dry from one school to another.  This village form is preferable to a single great building for many reasons, particularly on account of fire, health, economy, peace and quiet.  Such a plan had been approved in the case of the Albemarle College, which was the subject of the letter above mentioned;  and should the idea be approved by the Board, more may be said hereafter on the opportunity these small buildings will afford, of exhibiting models in architecture of the purest forms of antiquity, furnishing to the student examples of the precepts he will be taught in that art.

The Elementary or Ward schools are the last branch of this subject ;  on this, too, my ideas have been long deposited in the bill for the diffusion of knowledge, before mentioned, and time and reflection have continued to strengthen them as to the general principle, that of a division of every county into wards, with a school in each ward.  The details of the bill will of course be varied as the difference of present circumstances from those of that day will require.

My partiality for that division is not founded in views of education solely, but infinitely more as the means of a better administration of our government, and the eternal preservation of its republican principles.  The example of this most admirable of all human contrivances in government, is to be seen in our Eastern States; and its powerful effect in the order and economy of their internal affairs, and the momentum it gives them as a nation, is the single circumstance which distinguishes them so remarkably from every other national association.  In a letter to Mr. Adams a few years ago, I had occasion to explain to him the structure of our scheme of education as proposed in the bill for the diffusion of knowledge, and the views of this particular section of it ;  and in another lately to Mr. Cabell, on the occasion of the bill for the Albemarle College, I also took a view of the political effects of the proposed division into wards, which being more easily copied than thrown into new form here, I take the liberty of enclosing extracts from them.  Should the Board of Directors approve of the plan, and make ward divisions the substratum of their elementary schools, their report may furnish a happy occasion of introducing them, leaving all their other uses to be adapted from time to time hereafter as occasions shall occur.

With these subjects I shall close the present letter, but that it may be necessary to anticipate on the next one so far as respects proper persons for carrying into execution the astronomical and geometrical surveys, I know no one in the State equal to the first who could be engaged in it ;  but my acquaintance in the State is very limited.  There is a person near Washington possessing every quality which could be desired, among our first mathematicians and astronomers, of good bodily activity, used to rough living, of great experience in field operations, and of the most perfect integrity.  I speak of Isaac Briggs, who was Surveyor-General south of Ohio, and who was employed to trace the route from Washington to New Orleans, below the mountains, which he did with great accuracy by observations of longitude and latitude only, on a journey thither.  I do not know that he would undertake the present work, but I have learnt that he is at this time disengaged ;  I know he is poor, and was always moderate in his views.  This is the most important of all the surveys, and if done by him, I will answer for this part of your work standing the test of time and criticism.  If you should desire it, I could write and press him to undertake it;  but it would be necessary to say something about compensation.

John Wood, of the Petersburg Academy, has written to me that he would be willing to undertake the geometrical survey of the external boundaries, and internal divisions.  We have certainly no abler mathematician;  and he informs me he has had good experience in the works of the field.  He is a great walker, and is, therefore, probably equal to the bodily fatigue, which is a material qualification.  But he is so much better known where you are, that I need only mention his readiness to undertake, and your own personal knowledge or inquiries will best determine what should be done.  It is the part of the work above the tide-waters which he would undertake;  that below, where soundings are to be taken, requiring nautical apparatus and practice.

Whether he is a mineralogist or not, I do not know.  It would be a convenient and economical association with that of the geometrical survey.

I am obliged to postpone for some days the consideration of the remaining subjects of your letter.  Accept the assurance of my great esteem and high consideration.




To Mr. Joseph Milligan.
Monticello, April 6, 1816.

SIR

Your favor of March 6th did not come to hand until the 15th.  I then expected I should finish revising the translation of Tracy’s book within a week, and could send the whole together.  I got through it, but, on further consideration, thought I ought to read it over again, lest any errors should have been left in it.  It was fortunate I did so, for I found several little errors.  The whole is now done and forwarded by this mail, with a title, and something I have written which may serve for a Prospectus, and indeed for a Preface also, with a little alteration.  You will see from the face of the work what a horrible job I have had in the revisal.  It is so defaced that it is absolutely necessary you should have a fair copy taken, and by a person of good understanding, for that will be necessary to decipher the erasures, interlineations, etc., of the translation.  The translator’s orthography, too, will need great correction, as you will find a multitude of words shamefully misspelt;  and he seems to have had no idea of the use of stops :  he uses the comma very commonly for a full stop;  and as often the full stop, followed by a capital letter, for a comma.  Your copyist will, therefore, have to stop it properly quite through the work.  Still, there will be places where it cannot be stopped correctly without reference to the original; for I observed many instances where a member of a sentence might be given either to the preceding or following one, grammatically, which would yet make the sense very different, and could, therefore, be rectified only by the original.  I have, therefore, thought it would be better for you to send me the proof sheets as they come out of the press.  We have two mails a week, which leave this Wednesdays and Saturdays, and you should always receive it by return of the first mail.  Only observe that I set out for Bedford in five or six days, and shall not be back till the first week in May.

The original construction of the style of the translation was so bungling, that although I have made it render the author’s sense faithfully, yet it was impossible to change the structure of the sentences to anything good.  I have endeavored to apologize for it in the Prospectus;  as also to prepare the reader for the dry, and to most of them, uninteresting character of the preliminary tracts, advising him to pass at once to the beginning of the main work, where, also, you will see I have recommended the beginning the principal series of pages.  In this I have departed from the order of pages adopted by the author.

My name must in nowise appear connected with the work.  I have no objection to your naming me in conversation, but not in print, as the person to whom the original was communicated.  Although the author puts his name to the work, yet, if called to account for it by his government, he means to disavow it, which its publication at such a distance will enable him to do.  But he would not think himself at liberty to do this if avowedly sanctioned by me here.  The best open mark of approbation I can give is to subscribe for a dozen copies;  or if you would prefer it, you may place on your subscription paper a letter in these words :  "Sir, I subscribe with pleasure for a dozen copies of the invaluable book you are about to publish on Political Economy.  I should be happy to see it in the hands of every American citizen."

The Ainsworth, Ovid, Cornelius Nepos and Virgil, as also of the two books below mentioned,* and formerly written for.  I fear I shall not get the Ovid and Nepos I sent to be bound, in time for the pocket in my Bedford trip.  Accept my best wishes and respects.


TITLE.—"A Treatise on Political Economy by the Count Destutt Tracy, member of the Senate and Institute of France, and of the American Philosophical Society, to which is prefixed a supplement to a preceding work on the Understanding or Elements of Ideology, by the same author, with an analytical table, and an introduction on the faculty of the will, translated from the unpublished French original."

Prospectus.—Political Economy in modern times assumed the form of a regular science first in the hands of the political sect in France, called the Economists.  They made it a branch only of a comprehensive system on the natural order of societies.  Quesnai first, Gournay, Le Frosne, Turgot and Dupont de Nemours, the enlightened, philanthropic, and venerable citizen, now of the United States, led the way in these developments, and gave to our inquiries the direction they have since observed.  Many sound and valuable principles established by them, have received the sanction of general approbation.  Some, as in the infancy of a science might be expected, have been brought into question, and have furnished occasion for much discussion.  Their opinions on production, and on the proper subjects of taxation, have been particularly controverted ;  and whatever may be the merit of their principles of taxation, it is not wonderful they have not prevailed;  not on the questioned score of correctness, but because not acceptable to the people, whose will must be the supreme law.  Taxation is in fact the most difficult function of government—and that against which their citizens are most apt to be refractory.  The general aim is therefore to adopt the mode most consonant with the circumstances and sentiments of the country.

Adam Smith, first in England, published a rational and systematic work on Political Economy, adopting generally the ground of the Economists, but differing on the subjects before specified.  The system being novel, much argument and detail seemed then necessary to establish principles which now are assented to as soon as proposed.  Hence his book, admitted to be able, and of the first degree of merit, has yet been considered as prolix and tedious.

In France, John Baptist Say has the merit of producing a very superior work on the subject of Political Economy.  His arrangement is luminous, ideas clear, style perspicuous, and the whole subject brought within half the volume of Smith’s work.  Add to this considerable advances in correctness and extension of principles.

The work of Senator Tracy, now announced, comes forward with all the lights of his predecessors in the science, and with the advantages of further experience, more discussion, and greater maturity of subjects.  It is certainly distinguished by important traits ;  a cogency of logic which has never been exceeded in any work, a rigorous enchainment of ideas, and constant recurrence to it to keep it in the reader’s view, a fearless pursuit of truth whithersoever it leads, and a diction so correct that not a word can be changed but for the worse;  and, as happens in other cases, that the more a subject is understood, the more briefly it may be explained, he has reduced, not indeed all the details, but all the elements and the system of principles within the compass of an 8vo, of about 400 pages.  Indeed we might say within two-thirds of that space, the one-third being taken up with some preliminary pieces now to be noticed.

Mr. Tracy is the author of a treatise on the Elements of Ideology, justly considered as a production of the first order in the science of our thinking faculty, or of the understanding.  Considering the present work but as a second section to those Elements under the titles of Analytical Table, Supplement, and Introduction, he gives in these preliminary pieces a supplement to the Elements, shows how the present work stands on that as its basis, presents a summary view of it, and, before entering on the formation, distribution, and employment of property and personality, a question not new indeed, yet one which has not hitherto been satisfactorily settled.  These investigations are very metaphysical, profound, and demonstrative, and will give satisfaction to minds in the habit of abstract speculation.  Readers, however, not disposed to enter into them, after reading the summary view, entitled, "on our actions," will probably pass on at once to the commencement of the main subject of the work, which is treated of under the following heads :

Of Society.

Of Production, or the formation of our riches.

Of Value, or the measure of utility.

Of change of form, or fabrication.

Of change of place, or commerce.

Of Money.

Of the distribution of our riches.

Of Population.

Of the employment of our riches, or consumption.

Of public revenue, expenses and debts.

Although the work now offered is but a translation, it may be considered in some degree as the original, that having never been published in the country in which it was written.  The author would there have been submitted to the unpleasant alternative either of mutilating his sentiments, where they were either free or doubtful, or of risking himself under the ursettled regimen of the press.  A manuscript copy communicated to a friend here has enabled him to give it to a country which is afraid to read nothing, and which may be trusted with anything, so long as its reason remains unfettered by law.

In the translation, fidelity has been chiefly consulted.  A more correct style would sometimes have given a shade of sentiment which was not the author’s, and which, in a work standing in the place of the original, would have been unjust towards him.  Some Gallicisms have, therefore, been admitted, where a single word gives an idea which would require a whole phrase of dictionary English.  Indeed, the horrors of Neologism, which startle the purist, have given no alarm to the translator.  Where brevity, perspicuity, and even euphony can be promoted by the introduction of a new word, it is an improvement to the language.  It is thus the English language has been brought to what it is ;  one-half of it having been innovations, made at different times, from the Greek, Latin, French, and other languages.  And is it the worse for these ?  Had the preposterous idea of fixing the language been adopted by our Saxon ancestors, of Pierce Plowman, of Chaucer, of Spenser, the progress of ideas must have stopped with that of the language.  On the contrary, nothing is more evident than that as we advance in the knowledge of new things, and of new combinations of old ones, we must have new words to express them.  Were Van Helmont, Stane, Scheele, to rise from the dead at this time, they would scarcely understand one word of their own science.  Would it have been better, then, to have abandoned the science of Chemistry, rather than admit innovations in its terms ?  What a wonderful accession of copiousness and force has the French language attained, by the innovations of the last thirty years !  And what do we not owe to Shakespeare for the enrichment of the language, by his free and magical creation of words ?  In giving a loose to Neologism, indeed, uncouth words will sometimes be offered; but the public will judge them, and receive or reject, as sense or sound shall suggest, and authors will be approved or condemned according to the use they make of this license, as they now are from their use of the present vocabulary.  The claim of the present translation, however, is limited to its duties of fidelity and justice to the sense of its original ; adopting the author’s own word only where no term of our own language would convey his meaning.


(A Note communicated to the Editor.)

Our author’s classification of taxes being taken from those practised in France, will scarcely be intelligible to an American reader;  to whom the nature as well as names of some of them must be unknown.  The taxes with which we are familiar, class themselves readily according to the basis on which they rest.  1. Capital.  2. Income.  3. Consumption.  These may be considered as commensurate ;  Consumption being generally equal to Income, and Income the annual profit of Capital.  A government may select either of these bases for the establishment of its system of taxation and so frame it as to reach the faculties of every member of the society;  and to draw from him his equal proportion of the public contributions ;  and, if this be correctly obtained, it is the perfection of the function of taxation.  But when once a government has assumed its basis, to select and tax special articles from either of the other classes, is double taxation.  For example, if the system be established on the basis of Income, and his just proportion on that scale has been already drawn from every one, to step into the field of Consumption, and tax special articles in that, as broadcloth or homespun, wine or whiskey, a coach or a wagon, is doubly taxing the same article.  For that portion of Income with which these articles are purchased, having already paid its tax as Income, to pay another tax on the thing it purchased, is paying twice for the same thing;  it is an aggrievance on the citizens who use these articles in exoneration of those who do not, contrary to the most sacred of the duties of a government, to do equal and impartial justice to all its citizens.

How far it may be the interest and the duty of all to submit to this sacrifice on other grounds, for instance, to pay for a time an impost on the importation of certain articles, in order to encourage their manufacture at home, or an excise on others injurious to the morals or health of the citizens, will depend on a series of considerations of another order, and beyond the proper limits of this note.  The reader, in deciding which basis of taxation is most eligible for the local circumstances of his country, will, of course, avail himself of the weighty observations of our author.

To this a single observation shall yet be added.  Whether property alone, and the whole of what each citizen possesses, shall be subject to contribution, or only its surplus after satisfying his first wants, or whether the faculties of body and mind shall contribute also from their annual earnings, is a question to be decided.  But, when decided, and the principle settled, it is to be equally and fairly applied to all.  To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, "the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry, and the fruits acquired by it."  If the overgrown wealth of an individual be deemed dangerous to the State, the best corrective is the law of equal inheritance to all in equal degree ;  and the better, as this enforces a law of nature, while extra-taxation violates it.


* Moore’s Greek Grammar, translated by Ewen.  Mair’s Tyro’s Dictionary.





To John Adams.
Monticello, April 8, 1816.

Dear Sir,—I have to acknowledge your two favors of February the 16th and March the 2d, and to join sincerely in the sentiment of Mrs. Adams, and regret that distance separates us so widely.  An hour of conversation would be worth a volume of letters.  But we must take things as they come.

You ask, if I would agree to live my seventy or rather seventy-three years over again ?  To which I say, yea.  I think with you, that it is a good world on the whole;  that it has been framed on a principle of benevolence, and more pleasure than pain dealt out to us.  There are, indeed, (who might say nay) gloomy and hypochondriac minds, inhabitants of diseased bodies, disgusted with the present, and despairing of the future;  always counting that the worst will happen, because it may happen.  To these I say, how much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened !  My temperament is sanguine.  I steer my bark with Hope in the head, leaving Fear astern.  My hopes, indeed, sometimes fail; but not oftener than the forebodings of the gloomy.  There are, I acknowledge, even in the happiest life, some terrible convulsions, heavy set-offs against the opposite page of the account.  I have often wondered for what good end the sensations of grief could be intended.  All our other passions, within proper bounds, have an useful object.  And the perfection of the moral character is, not in a stoical apathy, so hypocritically vaunted, and so untruly too, because impossible, but in a just equilibrium of all the passions.  I wish the pathologists then would tell us what is the use of grief in the economy, and of what good it is the cause, proximate or remote.

Did I know Baron Grimm while at Paris ?  Yes, most intimately.  He was the pleasantest and most conversable member of the diplomatic corps while I was there;  a man of good fancy, acuteness, irony, cunning and egoism.  No heart, not much of any science, yet enough of every one to speak its language; his forte was belles-lettres, painting and sculpture.  In these he was the oracle of society, and as such, was the Empress Catharine’s private correspondent and factor, in all things not diplomatic.  It was through him I got her permission for poor Ledyard to go to Kamschatka, and cross over thence to the western coast of America, in order to penetrate across our continent in the opposite direction to that afterwards adopted for Lewis and Clarke;  which permission she withdrew after he had got within two hundred miles of Kamschatka, had him seized, brought back, and set down in Poland.  Although I never heard Grimm express the opinion directly, yet I always supposed him to be of the school of Diderot, D’Alembert, D’Holbach;  the first of whom committed his system of atheism to writing in "Le bon sens," and the last in his "Systeme de la Nature."  It was a numerous school in the Catholic countries, while the infidelity of the Protestant took generally the form of theism.  The former always insisted that it was a mere question of definition between them, the hypostasis of which, on both sides, was "Nature," or "the Universe;"  that both agreed in the order of the existing system, but the one supposed it from eternity, the other as having begun in time.  And when the atheist descanted on the unceasing motion and circulation of matter through the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms, never resting, never annihilated, always changing form, and under all forms gifted with the power of reproduction ;  the theist pointing "to the heavens above, and to the earth beneath, and to the waters under the earth," asked, if these did not proclaim a first cause, possessing intelligence and power ;  power in the production, and intelligence in the design and constant preservation of the system ;  urged the palpable existence of final causes ;  that the eye was made to see, and the ear to hear, arid not that we see because we have eyes, and hear because we have ears;  an answer obvious to the senses, as that of walking across the room, was to the philosopher demonstrating the non-existence of motion.  It was in D’Holbach’s conventicles that Rousseau imagined all the machinations against him were contrived; and he left, in his Confessions, the most biting anecdotes of Grimm.  These appeared after I left France; but I have heard that poor Grimm was so much afflicted by them, that he kept his bed several weeks.  I have never seen the Memoirs of Grimm.  Their volume has kept them out of our market.

I have lately been amusing myself with Levi’s book, in answer to Dr. Priestley.  It is a curious and tough work.  His style is inelegant and incorrect, harsh and petulant to his adversary, and his reasoning flimsy enough.  Some of his doctrines were new to me, particularly that of his two resurrections ;  the first, a particular one of all the dead, in body as well as soul, who are to live over again, the Jews in a state of perfect obedience to God, the other nations in a state of corporeal punishment for the sufferings they have inflicted on the Jews.  And he explains this resurrection of the bodies to be only of the original stamen of Leibnitz, or the human calus in semine masculino, considering that as a mathematical point, insusceptible of separation or division.  The second resurrection, a general one of souls and bodies, eternally to enjoy divine glory in the presence of the Supreme Being.  He alleges that the Jews alone preserve the doctrine of the unity of God.  Yet their God would be deemed a very indifferent man with us; and it was to correct their anamorphosis of the Deity, that Jesus preached, as well as to establish the doctrine of a future state.  However, Levi insists, that that was taught in the Old Testament, and even by Moses himself and the prophets.  He agrees that an anointed prince was prophesied and promised;  but denies that the character and history of Jesus had any analogy with that of the person promised.  He must be fearfully embarrassing to the Hierophants of fabricated Christianity ;  because it is their own armor in which he clothes himself for the attack.  For example, he takes passages of Scripture from their context, (which would give them a very different meaning,) strings them together, and makes them point towards what object he pleases;  he interprets them figuratively, typically, analogically, hyperbolically ;  he calls in the aid of emendation, transposition, ellipse, metonymy, and every other figure of rhetoric ;  the name of one man is taken for another, one place for another, days and weeks for months and years ;  and finally, he avails himself all his advantage over his adversaries by his superior knowledge of the Hebrew, speaking in the very language of the divine communication, while they can only fumble on with conflicting and disputed translations.  Such is this war of giants.  And how can such pigmies as you and I decide between them ?  For myself, I confess that my head is not formed tantas componere lites.  And as you began yours of March the 2d, with a declaration that you were about to write me the most frivolous letter I had ever read, so I will close mine by saying, I have written you a full match for it, and by adding my affectionate respects to Mrs. Adams, and the assurance of my constant attachment and consideration for yourself.