The Writings of
Thomas Jefferson

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

To Hugh Nelson, Esq.
Monticello, March 12, 1820.

I thank you, dear Sir, for the information in your favor of the 4th instant, of the settlement, for the present, of the Missouri question.  I am so completely withdrawn from all attention to public matters, that nothing less could arouse me than the definition of a geographical line, which on an abstract principle is to become the line of separation of these States, and to render desperate the hope that man can ever enjoy the two blessings of peace and self-government.  The question sleeps for the present, but is not dead.  This State is in a condition of unparalleled distress.  The sudden reduction of the circulating medium from a plethory to all but annihilation is producing an entire revolution of fortune.  In other places I have known lands sold by the sheriff for one year’s rent ;  beyond the mountain we hear of good slaves selling for one hundred dollars, good horses for five dollars, and the sheriffs generally the purchasers.  Our produce is now selling at market for one-third of its price before this commercial catastrophe, say flour at three and a quarter and three and a half dollars the barrel.  We should have less right to expect relief from our legislators if they had been the establishers of the unwise system of banks.  A remedy to a certain degree was practicable, that of reducing the quantum of circulation gradually to a level with that of the countries with which we have commerce, and an eternal abjuration of paper.  But they have adjourned without doing anything.  I fear local insurrections against these horrible sacrifices of property.  In every condition of trouble or tranquillity be assured of my constant esteem and respect.

To John Adams.
Monticello, March 14, 1820.

Dear Sir

A continuation of poor health makes me an irregular correspondent.  I am, therefore, your debtor for the two letters of January 20th and February 21st.  It was after you left Europe that Dugald Stewart, concerning whom you inquire, and Lord Dare, second son of the Marquis of Lansdowne, came to Paris.  They brought me a letter from Lord Wycombe, whom you knew.  I became immediately intimate with Stewart, calling mutually on each other and almost daily, during their stay at Paris, which was of some months.  Lord Dare was a young man of imagination, with occasional flashes indicating deep penetration, but of much caprice, and little judgment.  He has been long dead, and the family title is now, I believe, in the third son, who has shown in Parliament talents of a superior order.  Stewart is a great man, and among the most honest living.  I have heard nothing of his dying at top, as you suppose.  Mr. Ticknor, however, can give you the best information on that subject, as he must have heard particularly of him when in Edinburgh, although I believe he did not see him.  I have understood he was then in London superintending the publication of a new work.  I consider him and Tracy as the ablest metaphysicians living ;  by which I mean investigators of the thinking faculty of man.  Stewart seems to have given its natural history from facts and observations;  Tracy its modes of action and deduction, which he calls Logic and Ideology;  and Cabanis, in his Physique et Morale de l’Homme, has investigated anatomically, and most ingeniously, the particular organs in the human structure which may most probably exercise that faculty.  And they ask why may not the mode of action called thought, have been given to a material organ of peculiar structure, as that of magnetism is to the needle, or of elasticity to the spring by a particular manipulation of the steel.  They observe that on ignition of the needle or spring, their magnetism and elasticity cease.  So on dissolution of the material organ by death, its action of thought may cease also, and that nobody supposes that the magnetism or elasticity retire to hold a substantive and distinct existence.  These were qualities only of particular conformations of matter;  change the conformation, and its qualities change also.  Mr. Locke, you know, and other materialists, have charged with blasphemy the spiritualists who have denied the Creator the power of endowing certain forms of matter with the faculty of thought.  These, however, are speculations and subtleties in which, for my own part, I have little indulged myself.  When I meet with a proposition beyond finite comprehension, I abandon it as I do a weight which human strength cannot lift, and I think ignorance, in these cases, is truly the softest pillow on which I can lay my head.  Were it necessary, however, to form an opinion, I confess I should, with Mr. Locke, prefer swallowing one incomprehensibility rather than two.  It requires one effort only to admit the single incomprehensibility of matter endowed with thought, and two to believe, first that of an existence called spirit, of which we have neither evidence nor idea, and then secondly how that spirit, which has neither extension nor solidity, can put material organs into motion.  These are things which you and I may perhaps know ere long.  We have so lived as to fear neither horn of the dilemma.  We have, willingly, done injury to no man;  and have done for our country the good which has fallen in our way, so far as commensurate with the faculties given us.  That we have not done more than we could, cannot be imputed to us as a crime before any tribunal.  I look, therefore, to the crisis, as I am sure you also do, as one “qui summum nec metuit diem nec optat."  In the meantime be our last as cordial as were our first affections.

To the Honorable Mark Langdon Hill.
Monticello, April 5, 1820.


A near relation of my late friend Governor Langdon, needs no apology for addressing a letter to me, that relationship giving sufficient title to all my respect.  We were fellow laborers from the beginning of the first to the accomplishment of the second revolution in our government, of the same zeal and the same sentiments, and I shall honor his memory while memory remains to me.  The letter you mention is proof of my friendship and unreserved confidence in him;  it was written in warm times, and is therefore too warmly expressed for the more reconciled temper of the present day.  I must pray you, therefore, not to let it get before the public, lest it rekindle a flame which burnt too long and too fiercely against me.  It was my lot to be placed at the head of the column which made the first breach in the ramparts of federalism, and to be charged, on that event, with the duty of changing the course of the government from what we deemed a monarchical, to its republican tack.  This made me the mark for every shaft which calumny and falsehood could point against me.  I bore them with resignation, as one of the duties imposed on me by my post.  But I assure you it was among the most painful duties from which I hoped to find relief in retirement.  Tranquillity is the summum bonum of old age and ill health, and nothing could so much disturb this with me as to awaken angry feelings from the slumber in which I wish them ever to remain.  I beseech you then, good Sir, in the name of my departed friend, not to bring on me a contention which neither duty nor public good requires me to encounter.

I regret the circumstances which have deprived us of the pleasure of your visit, but console myself with the French proverb that “all is not lost which is deferred,” and the hope that more favorable circumstances will some day give us that gratification.  I congratulate you on the sleep of the Missouri question.  I wish I could say on its death, but of this I despair.  The idea of a geographical line once suggested will brood in the minds of all those who prefer the gratification of their ungovernable passions to the peace and union of their country.  If I do not contemplate this subject with pleasure, I do sincerely that of the independence of Maine, and the wise choice they have made of General King in the agency of their affairs, and I tender to yourself the assurance of my esteem and respect.

To William Short.
Monticello, April 13, 1820.

Dear Sir

Your favor of March the 27th is received, and as you request, a copy of the syllabus is now enclosed.  It was originally written to Dr. Rush.  On his death, fearing that the inquisition of the public might get hold of it, I asked the return of it from the family, which they kindly complied with.  At the request of another friend, I had given him a copy.  He lent it to his friend to read, who copied it, and in a few months it appeared in the Theological Magazine of London.  Happily that repository is scarcely known in this country, and the syllabus, therefore, is still a secret, and in your hands I am sure it will continue so.

But while this syllabus is meant to place the character of Jesus in its true and high light, as no impostor Himself, but a great Reformer of the Hebrew code of religion, it is not to be understood that I am with Him in all His doctrines.  I am a Materialist;  he takes the side of Spiritualism;  he preaches the efficacy of repentance towards forgiveness of sin;  I require a counterpoise of good works to redeem it, etc., etc.  It is the innocence of His character, the purity and sublimity of His moral precepts, the eloquence of His inculcation, the beauty of the apologues in which He conveys them, that I so much admire;  sometimes, indeed, needing indulgence to eastern hyperbolism.  My eulogies, too, may be founded on a postulate which all may not be ready to grant.  Among the sayings and discourses imputed to Him by His biographers, I find many passages of fine imagination, correct morality, and of the most lovely benevolence;  and others, again, of so much ignorance, so much absurdity, so much untruth, charlatanism and imposture, as to pronounce it impossible that such contradictions should have proceeded from the same Being.  I separate, therefore, the gold from the dross;  restore to Him the former, and leave the latter to the stupidity of some, and roguery of others of His disciples.  Of this band of dupes and impostors, Paul was the great Coryphaeus, and first corruptor of the doctrines of Jesus.  These palpable interpolations and falsifications of His doctrines, led me to try to sift them apart.  I found the work obvious and easy, and that His past composed the most beautiful morsel of morality which has been given to us by man.  The syllabus is therefore of his doctrines, not all of mine.  I read them as I do those of other ancient and modern moralists, with a mixture of approbation and dissent.

I rejoice, with you, to see an encouraging spirit of internal improvement prevailing in the States.  The opinion I have ever expressed of the advantages of a western communication through the James river, I still entertain;  and that the Cayuga is the most promising of the links of communication.

The history of our University you know so far.  Seven of the ten pavilions destined for the professors, and about thirty dormitories, will be completed this year;  and three other, with six hotels for boarding, and seventy other dormitories, will be completed the next year, and the whole be in readiness then to receive those who are to occupy them.  But means to bring these into place, and to set the machine into motion, must come from the legislature.  An opposition, in the meantime, has been got up.  That of our alma mater, William and Mary, is not of much weight.  She must descend into the secondary rank of academies of preparation for the University.  The serious enemies are the priests of the different religious sects, to whose spells on the human mind its improvement is ominous.  Their pulpits are now resounding with denunciations against the appointment of Doctor Cooper, whom they charge as a monotheist in opposition to their tritheism.  Hostile as these sects are, in every other point, to one another, they unite in maintaining their mystical theogony against those who believe there is one God only.  The Presbyterian clergy are loudest;  the most intolerant of all sects, the most tyrannical and ambitious ;  ready at the word of the lawgiver, if such a word could be now obtained, to put the torch to the pile, and to rekindle in this virgin hemisphere, the flames in which their oracle Calvin consumed the poor Servetus, because he could not find in his Euclid the proposition which has demonstrated that three are one and one is three, nor subscribe to that of Calvin, that magistrates have a right to exterminate all heretics to Calvinistic Creed.  They pant to re-establish, by law, that holy inquisition, which they can now only infuse into public opinion.  We have most unwisely committed to the hierophants of our particular superstition, the direction of public opinion, that lord of the universe.  We have given them stated and privileged days to collect and catechise us, opportunities of delivering their oracles to the people in mass, and of moulding their minds as wax in the hollow of their hands.  But in despite of their fulminations against endeavors to enlighten the general mind, to improve the reason of the people, and encourage them in the use of it, the liberality of this State will support this institution, and give fair play to the cultivation of reason.  Can you ever find a more eligible occasion of visiting once more your native country, than that of accompanying Mr. Correa, and of seeing with him this beautiful and hopeful institution in ovo ?

Although I had laid down as a law to myself, never to write, talk, or even think of politics, to know nothing of public affairs, and therefore had ceased to read newspapers, yet the Missouri question aroused and filled me with alarm.  The old schism of federal and republican threatened nothing, because it existed in every State, and united them together by the fraternism of party.  But the coincidence of a marked principle, moral and political, with a geographical line, once conceived, I feared would never more be obliterated from the mind;  that it would be recurring on every occasion and renewing irritations, until it would kindle such mutual and mortal hatred, as to render separation preferable to eternal discord.  I have been among the most sanguine in believing that our Union would be of long duration.  I now doubt it much, and see the event at no great distance, and the direct consequence of this question ;  not by the line which has been so confidently counted on—the laws of nature control this—but by the Potomac, Ohio and Missouri, or more probably, the Mississippi upwards to our northern boundary.  My only comfort and confidence is, that I shall not live to see this ;  and I envy not the present generation the glory of throwing away the fruits of their fathers’ sacrifices of life and fortune, and of rendering desperate the experiment which was to decide ultimately whether man is capable of self-government.  This treason against human hope, will signalize their epoch in future history, as the counterpart of the medal of their predecessors.

You kindly inquire after my health.  There is nothing in it immediately threatening, but swelled legs, which are kept down mechanically, by bandages from the toe to the knee.  These I have worn for six months.  But the tendency to turgidity may proceed from debility alone.  I can walk the round of my garden;  not more.  But I ride six or eight miles a day without fatigue.  I shall set out for Poplar Forest within three or four days ;  a journey from which my physician augurs much good.

I salute you with constant and affectionate friendship and respect.

To John Holmes.
Monticello, April 22, 1820.

I thank you, dear Sir, for the copy you have been so kind as to send me of the letter to your constituents on the Missouri question.  It is a perfect justification to them.  I had for a long time ceased to read newspapers, or pay any attention to public affairs, confident they were in good hands, and content to be a passenger in our bark to the shore from which I am not distant.  But this momentous question, like a fire-bell in the night, awakened and filled me with terror.  I considered it at once as the knell of the Union.  It is hushed, indeed, for the moment.  But this is a reprieve only, not a final sentence.  A geographical line, coinciding with a marked principle, moral and political, once conceived and held up to the angry passions of men, will never be obliterated;  and every new irritation will mark it deeper and deeper.  I can say, with conscious truth, that there is not a man on earth who would sacrifice more than I would to relieve us from this heavy reproach, in any practicable way.  The cession of that kind of property, for so it is misnamed, is a bagatelle which would not cost me a second thought, if, in that way, a general emancipation and expatriation could be effected ;  and, gradually, and with due sacrifices, I think it might be.  But as it is, we have the wolf by the ears, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go.  Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other.  Of one thing I am certain, that as the passage of slaves from one State to another, would not make a slave of a single human being who would not be so without it, so their diffusion over a greater surface would make them individually happier, and proportionally facilitate the accomplishment of their emancipation, by dividing the burden on a greater number of coadjutors.  An abstinence too, from this act of power, would remove the jealousy excited by the undertaking of Congress to regulate the condition of the different descriptions of men composing a State.  This certainly is the exclusive right of every State, which nothing in the Constitution has taken from them and given to the General Government.  Could Congress, for example, say, that the non-freemen of Connecticut shall be freemen, or that they shall not emigrate into any other State ?

I regret that I am now to die in the belief, that the useless sacrifice of themselves by the generation of 1776, to acquire self-government and happiness to their country, is to be thrown away by the unwise and unworthy passions of their sons, and that my only consolation is to be, that I live not to weep over it.  If they would but dispassionately weigh the blessings they will throw away, against an abstract principle more likely to be effected by union than by scission, they would pause before they would perpetrate this act of suicide on themselves, and of treason against the hopes of the world.  To yourself, as the faithful advocate of the Union, I tender the offering of my high esteem and respect.

To the President of the United States (James Monroe).
Monticello, May 14, 1820.

Dear Sir

Your favor of the 3d is received, and always with welcome.  These texts of truth relieve me from the floating falsehoods of the public papers.  I confess to you I am not sorry for the non-ratification of the Spanish treaty.  Our assent to it has proved our desire to be on friendly terms with Spain ;  their dissent, the imbecility and malignity of their government towards us, have placed them in the wrong in the eyes of the world, and that is well ;  but to us the province of Techas will be the richest State of our Union, without any exception.  Its southern part will make more sugar than we can consume, and the Red river, on its north, is the most luxuriant country on earth.  Florida, moreover, is ours.  Every nation in Europe considers it such a right.  We need not care for its occupation in time of peace, and, in war, the first cannon makes it ours without offence to anybody.  The friendly advisements, too, of Russia and France, as well as the change of government in Spain, now ensured, require a further and respectful forbearance.  While their request will rebut the plea of proscriptive possession, it will give us a right to their approbation when taken in the maturity of circumstances.  I really think, too, that neither the state of our finances, the condition of our country, nor the public opinion, urges us to precipitation into war.  The treaty has had the valuable effect of strengthening our title to the Techas, because the cession of the Floridas in exchange for Techas imports an acknowledgment of our right to it.  This province moreover, the Floridas and possibly Cuba, will join us on the acknowledgment of their independence, a measure to which their new government will probably accede voluntarily.  But why should I be saying all this to you, whose mind all the circumstances of this affair have had possession for years ?  I shall rejoice to see you here ;  and were I to live to see you here finally, it would be a day of jubilee.  But our days are all numbered, and mine are not many.  God bless you and preserve you muchos años.

To General Robert Taylor.
Monticello, May 16, 1820.

Dear Sir

We regretted much your absence at the late meeting of the Board of Visitors, but did not doubt it was occasioned by uncontrollable circumstances.  As the matters which came before us were of great importance to the institution, I think it a duty to inform you of them.

You know the sanction of the legislature to our borrowing $60,000 on the pledge of our annuity of $15,000.  The Literary Board offered us $40,000 on that pledge, to be repaid at five instalments, commencing at the end of the third year from the date of the loan, and interest to be regularly paid, in the meantime.  We endeavored to obtain permission to draw for only $15,000 at first, and for $2,000 monthly afterwards, to avoid the payment of dead interest.  This they declined, as bound themselves to keep the whole of their capital always in a course of fructification.  We then requested a postponement of the instalments to the fourth instead of the third year, with an additional loan of the further sum of $20,000, authorized by the law.  To the postponement they acceded, and we are assured they will to the further loan.  To explain to them the urgency of this additional year’s postponement, a paper was laid before them of which I enclose you a copy, and on which you are now acting.  Should the legislature not help us to the $93,600 there noted, the result will be that at the end of the next year all the buildings will be completed, (the library excepted,) and will then remain unoccupied five years longer, until our funds shall be free for the engagements of professors.  Should they, on the other hand, give this aid, our funds will be free, at the beginning of the next year, and will enable us to take measures for procuring professors in the course of that summer, and to open the University.  We were all of opinion that we ought to complete the buildings for the ten professors contemplated, as well as accommodations for the students, before opening the institution;  for were we to stop at any point short of the full establishment, and open partially, as our funds would thenceforward be absorbed by the professors’ salaries, we should never be able to advance a step further, nor to cover the whole field of science contemplated by the law, and made the object of our care and duty.  We thought it better, therefore, to risk a delay of eight years for a perfect establishment, than to begin earlier and go on forever with a defective one;  and we suppose it impossible that either the legislature, or their constituents, should not consider an immediate commencement as worth the sum necessary to procure it.  You will observe that in the estimate enclosed, no account is taken of our subscription moneys.  They are, in fact, too uncertain in their collection to found any necessary contracts ;  and we thought it better, therefore, to reserve them as a contingent fund, and a resource to cover miscalculations and accidents.

Another subject on this, as on former occasions, gave us embarrassment.  You may have heard of the hue and cry raised from the different pulpits on our appointment of Dr. Cooper, whom they charge with Unitarianism as boldly as if they knew the fact, and as presumptuously as if it were a crime, and one for which, like Servetus, he should be burned; and perhaps you may have seen the particular attack made on him in the Evangelical magazine.  For myself I was not disposed to regard the denunciations of these satellites of religious inquisition;  but our colleagues, better judges of popular feeling, thought that they were not to be altogether neglected;  and that it might be better to relieve Dr. Cooper, ourselves and the institution from this crusade.  I had received a letter from him expressing his uneasiness, not only for himself, but lest this persecution should become embarrassing to the visitors, and injurious to the institution ;  with an offer to resign, if we had the same apprehensions.  The Visitors, therefore, desired the Committee of Superintendence to place him at freedom on this subject, and to arrange with him a suitable indemnification.  I wrote accordingly in answer to his, and a meeting of trustees of the college at Columbia happening to take place soon after his receipt of my letter, they resolved unanimously that it should be proposed to, and urged on their legislature, to establish a professorship of Geology and Mineralogy, or a professorship of law, with a salary of $1,000 a year to be given him, in addition to that of chemistry, which is $2,000 a year, and to purchase his collection of minerals;  and they have no doubt of the legislature’s compliance.  On the subject of indemnification, he is contented with the balance of the $1,500 we had before agreed to give him and which he says will not more than cover his, actual losses of time and expense;  he adds, it is right I should acknowledge the liberality of your board with thanks.  I regret the storm that has been raised on my account ;  for it has separated me from many fond hopes and wishes.  Whatever my religious creed may be, and perhaps I do not exactly know it myself, it is pleasure to reflect that my conduct has not brought, and is not likely to bring, discredit to my friends.  Wherever I have been, it has been my good fortune to meet with, or to make ardent and affectionate friends.  I feel persuaded I should have met with the same lot in Virginia had it been my chance to have settled there, as I had hoped and expected, for I think my course of conduct is sufficiently habitual to count on its effects."

I do sincerely lament that untoward circumstances have brought on us the irreparable loss of this professor, whom I have looked to as the corner-stone of our edifice.  I know no one who could have aided us so much in forming the future regulations for our infant institution;  and although we may perhaps obtain from Europe equivalents in science, they can never replace the advantages of his experience, his knowledge of the character, habits and manners of our country, his identification with its sentiments and principles, and high reputation he has obtained in it generally.

In the hope of meeting you at our fall visitation, and that you will do me the favor of making this your headquarters, and of coming the day before, at least, that we may prepare our business at ease, I tender you the assurance of my great esteem and respect.

To William Short.
Monticello, August 4, 1820.

Dear Sir

I owe you a letter for your favor of June the 29th, which was received in due time;  and there being no subject of the day, of particular interest, I will make this a supplement to mine of April the 13th.  My aim in that was to justify the character of Jesus against the fictions of His pseudo-followers, which have exposed Him to the inference of being an impostor.  For if we could believe that He really countenanced the follies, the falsehoods, and the charlatanisms which His biographers father on Him, and admit the misconstructions, interpolations, and theorizations of the fathers of the early, and fanatics of the latter ages, the conclusion would be irresistible by every sound mind, that He was an impostor.  I give no credit to their falsifications of His actions and doctrines, and to rescue His character, the postulate in my letter asked only what is granted in reading every other historian.  When Livy and Siculus, for example, tell us things which coincide with our experience of the order of nature, we credit them on their word, and place their narrations among the records of credible history.  But when they tell us of calves speaking, of statues sweating blood, and other things against the course of nature, we reject these as fables not belonging to history in like manner, when an historian, speaking of a character well known and established on satisfactory testimony, imputes to it things incompatible with that character, we reject them without hesitation, and assent to that only of which we have better evidence.  Had Plutarch informed us that Cæsar and Cicero passed their whole lives in religious exercises, and abstinence from the affairs of the world, we should reject what was so inconsistent with their established characters, still crediting what he relates in conformity with our ideas of them.  So again, the superlative wisdom of Socrates is testified by all antiquity, and placed on ground not to be questioned.  When, therefore, Plato puts into his mouth such paralogisms, such quibbles on words, and sophisms as a schoolboy would be ashamed of, we conclude they were the whimsies of Plato’s own foggy brain, and acquit Socrates of puerilities so unlike his character.  (Speaking of Plato, I will add, that no writer, ancient or modern, has bewildered the world with more ignis fatui, than this renowned philosopher, in Ethics, in Politics, and Physics.  In the latter, to specify a single example, compare his views of the animal economy, in his Timæus, with those of Mrs. Bryan in her Conversations on Chemistry, and weigh the science of the canonized philosopher against the good sense of the unassuming lady.  But Plato’s visions have furnished a basis for endless systems of mystical theology, and he is therefore all but adopted as a Christian saint.  It is surely time for men to think for themselves, and to throw off the authority of names so artificially magnified.  But to return from this parenthesis.)  I say, that this free exercise of reason is all I ask for the vindication of the character of Jesus.  We find in the writings of His biographers matter of two distinct descriptions.  First, a groundwork of vulgar ignorance, of things impossible, of superstitions, fanaticisms, and fabrications.  Intermixed with these, again, are sublime ideas of the Supreme Being, aphorisms, and precepts of the purest morality and benevolence, sanctioned by a life of humility, innocence, and simplicity of manners, neglect of riches, absence of worldly ambition and honors, with an eloquence and persuasiveness which have not been surpassed.  These could not be inventions of the grovelling authors who relate them.  They are far beyond the powers of their feeble minds.  They show that there was a character, the subject of their history, whose splendid conceptions were above all suspicion of being interpolations from their hands.  Can we be at a loss in separating such materials, and ascribing each to its genuine author ?  The difference is obvious to the eye and to the understanding, and we may read as we run to each his part ;  and I will venture to affirm, that he who, as I have done, will undertake to winnow this grain from the chaff, will find it not to require a moment’s consideration.  The parts fall asunder of themselves, as would those of an image of metal and clay.

There are, I acknowledge, passages not free from objection, which we may, with probability, ascribe to Jesus Himself ;  but claiming indulgence from the circumstances under which He acted.  His object was the reformation of some articles in the religion of the Jews, as taught by Moses.  That sect had presented for the object of their worship, a Being of terrific character, cruel, vindictive, capricious, and unjust.  Jesus, taking for His type the best qualities of the human head and heart, wisdom, justice, goodness, and adding to them power, ascribed all of these, but in infinite perfection, to the Supreme Being, and formed Him really worthy of their adoration.  Moses had either not believed in a future state of existence, or had not thought it essential to be explicitly taught to his people.  Jesus inculcated that doctrine with emphasis and precision.  Moses had bound the Jews to many idle ceremonies, mummeries, and observances, of no effect towards producing the social utilities which constitute the essence of virtue ;  Jesus exposed their futility and insignificance.  The one instilled into his people the most anti-social spirit towards other nations;  the other preached philanthropy and universal charity and benevolence.  The office of reformer of the superstitions of a nation, is ever dangerous.  Jesus had to walk on the perilous confines of reason and religion;  and a step to right or left might place Him within the grasp of the priests of the superstition, a bloodthirsty race, as cruel and remorseless as the Being whom they represented as the family God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, and the local God of Israel.  They were constantly laying snares, too, to entangle Him in the web of the law.  He was justifiable, therefore, in avoiding these by evasions, by sophisms, by misconstructions and misapplications of scraps of the prophets, and in defending Himself with these their own weapons, as sufficient, ad homines, at least.  That Jesus did not mean to impose Himself on mankind as the Son of God, physically speaking, I have been convinced by the writings of men more learned than myself in that lore.  But that He might conscientiously believe Himself inspired from above, is very possible.  The whole religion of the Jew, inculcated on him from his infancy, was founded in the belief of divine inspiration.  The fumes of the most disordered imaginations were recorded in their religious code, as special communications of the Deity;  and as it could not but happen that, in the course of ages, events would now and then turn up to which some of these vague rhapsodies might be accommodated by the aid of allegories, figures, types, and other tricks upon words, they have not only preserved their credit with the Jews of all subsequent times, but are the foundation of much of the religions of those who have schismatised from them.  Elevated by the enthusiasm of a warm and pure heart, conscious of the high strains of an eloquence which had not been taught Him, he might readily mistake the coruscations of His own fine genius for inspirations of an higher order.  This belief carried, therefore, no more personal imputation, than the belief of Socrates, that himself was under the care and admonitions of a guardian Dæmon.  And how many of our wisest men still believe in the reality of these inspirations, while perfectly sane on all other subjects.  Excusing, therefore, on these considerations, those passages in the Gospels which seem to bear marks of weakness in Jesus, ascribing to Him what alone is consistent with the great and pure character of which the same writings furnish proofs, and to their proper authors their own trivialities and imbecilities, I think myself authorized to conclude the purity and distinction of His character, in opposition to the impostures which those authors would fix upon Him;  and that the postulate of my former letter is no more than is granted in all other historical works.

Mr. Correa is here, on his farewell visit to us.  He has been much pleased with the plan and progress of our University, and has given some valuable hints to its botanical branch.  He goes to do, I hope, much good in his new country ;  the public instruction there, as I understand, being within the department destined for him.  He is not without dissatisfaction, and reasonable dissatisfaction too, with the piracies of Baltimore;  but his justice and friendly dispositions will, I am sure, distinguish between the iniquities of a few plunderers, and the sound principles of our country at large, and of our government especially.  From many conversations with him, I hope he sees, and will promote in his new situation, the advantages of a cordial fraternization among all the American nations, and the importance of their coalescing in an American system of policy, totally independent of and unconnected with that of Europe.  The day is not distant, when we may formally require a meridian of partition through the ocean which separates the two hemispheres, on the hither side of which no European gun shall ever be heard, nor an American on the other ;  and when, during the rage of the eternal wars of Europe, the lion and the lamb, within our regions, shall lie down together in peace.  The excess of population in Europe, and want of room, render war, in their opinion, necessary to keep down that excess of numbers.  Here, room is abundant.  population scanty, and peace the necessary means for producing men, to whom the redundant soil is offering the means of life and happiness.  The principles of society there and here, then, are radically different, and I hope no American patriot will ever lose sight of the essential policy of interdicting in the seas and territories of both Americas, the ferocious and sanguinary contests of Europe.  I wish to see this coalition begun.  I am earnest for an agreement with the maritime powers of Europe, assigning them the task of keeping down the piracies of their seas and the cannibalisms of the African coasts, and to us, the suppression of the same enormities within our seas ;  and for this purpose, I should rejoice to see the fleets of Brazil and the United States riding together as brethren of the same family, and pursuing the same object.  And indeed it would be of happy augury to begin at once this concert of action here, on the invitation of either to the other government, while the way might be preparing for withdrawing our cruisers from Europe, and preventing naval collisions there which daily endanger our peace.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Accept assurances of the sincerity of my friendship and respect for you.

To Doctor Thomas Cooper.
Monticello, August 14, 1820.

Dear Sir

Yours of the 24th ultimo was received in due time, and I shall rejoice indeed if Mr. Elliot and Mr. Nulty are joined to you in the institution at Columbia, which now becomes of immediate interest to me.  Mr. Stack has given notice to his first class that he shall dismiss them on the 10th of the next month, and his mathematical assistant also at the same time, being determined to take only small boys in future.  My grandson, Eppes, is of the first class ;  and I have proposed to his father to send him to Columbia, rather than anywhere northwardly.  I am obliged, therefore, to ask of you by what day he ought to be there, so as to be at the commencement of what they call a session, and to be so good as to do this by the first mail, as I shall set out to Bedford within about a fortnight.  He is so far advanced in Greek and Latin that he will be able to pursue them by himself hereafter ;  and being between eighteen and nineteen years of age he has no time to lose.  I propose that he shall commence immediately with the mathematics and natural philosophy, to be followed by astronomy, chemistry, mineralogy, botany, natural history.  It would be time lost for him to attend professors of ethics, metaphysics, logic, etc.  The first of these may be as well acquired in the closet as from living lecturers ;  and supposing the two last to mean the science of mind, the simple reading of Locke, Tracy, and Stewart will give him as much in that branch as is real science.  A relation of his (Mr. Baker) and classmate will go with him.

I hope and believe you are mistaken in supposing the reign of fanaticism to be on the advance.  I think it certainly declining.  It was first excited artificially by the sovereigns of Europe as an engine of opposition to Bonaparte and to France.  It rose to a great height there, and became indeed a powerful engine of loyalism, and of support to their governments.  But that loyalism is giving way to very different dispositions, and its prompter, fanaticism, is vanishing with it.  In the meantime it had been wafted across the Atlantic, and chiefly from England, with their other fashions, but it is here also on the wane.  The ambitious sect of Presbyterians indeed, the Loyalists of our country, spare no pains to keep it up.  But their views of ascendency over all other sects in the United States seem to excite alarm in all, and to unite them as against a common and threatening enemy.  And although the Unitarianism they impute to you is heterodoxy with all of them, I suspect the other sects will admit it to their alliance in order to strengthen the phalanx of opposition against the enterprises of their more aspiring antagonists.  Although spiritualism is most prevalent with all these sects, yet with none of them, I presume, is materialism declared heretical.  Mr. Locke, on whose authority they often plume themselves, openly maintained the materialism of the soul ;  and charged with blasphemy those who denied that it was in the power of an Almighty Creator to endow with the faculty of thought any composition of matter He might think fit.  The fathers of the church of the three first centuries generally, if not universally, were materialists, extending it even to the Creator Himself ; nor indeed do I know exactly[1] in what age of the Christian church the heresy of spiritualism was introduced.  Huet, in his commentaries on Origen,[2] says, “Deus igitur, cui anima similis est, juxta Origenem, reapse corporalis est, sed graviorum tantum ratione corporum incorporeus."[3]  St. Macari,[4] as speaking of angels, says, “quam vis enim subtilia sint, tamen in substantia, forma, et figura, secundum tenuitatem naturæ eorum corpora sunt tenuia, quemadmodum et hoc corpus in substantia sua crassum et solidum est."[5]  St. Justin Martyr says expressly, “----(greek text)----"

Tertullian’s words are, “quid euim Deus nisi corpus ?” and again, “quis autem negabit Deum esse corpus ? et si deus spiritus, spiritus etiam corpus est sui generis, in suà effigie,” and that the soul is matter he adduces the following tangible proof :  “in ipso ultimo voluptatis aestu, quo genitale virus expellitur, nonne aliquid de anima sentimus exire ?"[6]  The holy father thus asserting, and, as it would seem, from his own feelings, that the sperm infused into the female matrix deposits there the matter and germ of both soul and body, conjunctim, of the new foetus.  Although I do not pretend to be familiar with these fathers, and give the preceding quotations at second hand, yet I learn from authors whom I respect, that not only those I have named, but St. Augustin,[7] St. Basil, Lactantius, Tatian, Athenagoras, and others, concurred in the materiality of the soul.  Our modern doctors would hardly venture or wish to condemn their fathers as heretics, the main pillars of their fabric resting on their shoulders.

In the consultations of the Visitors of the University on the subject of releasing you from your engagement with us, although one or two members seemed alarmed at this cry of “fire” from the Presbyterian pulpits, yet the real ground of our decision was that our funds were in fact hypotheticated for five or six years to redeem the loan we had reluctantly made ;  and although we hoped and trusted that the ensuing legislature would remit the debt and liberate our funds, yet it was not just, on this possibility, to stand in the way of your looking out for a more certain provision.  The completing all our buildings for professors and students by the autumn of the ensuing year, is now secured by sufficient contracts, and our confidence is most strong that neither the State nor their legislature will bear to see those buildings shut up for five or six years, when they have the money in hand, and actually appropriated to the object of education, which would open their doors at once for the reception of their sons, now waiting and calling aloud for that institution.  The legislature meets on the 1st Monday of December, and before Christmas we shall know what are their indentions.  If such as we expect, we shall then immediately take measures to engage our professors and bring them into place the ensuing autumn or early winter.  My hope is that you will be able and willing to keep yourself uncommitted, to take your place among them about that time ;  and I can assure you there is not a voice among us which will not be cordially given for it.  I think, too, I may add, that if the Presbyterian opposition should not die by that time, it will be directed at once against the whole institution, and not amuse itself with nibbling at a single object.  It did that only because there was no other, and they might think it politic to mask their designs on the body of the fortress, under the ---- of a battery against a single bastion.  I will not despair then of the avail of your services in an establishment which I contemplate as the future bulwark of the human mind in this hemisphere.  God bless you and preserve you multos annos.

1 I believe by Athanasius and the Council of Nicaea.
2 Ocellus de d’Argens, p. 97.
3 Enfield, vi. 3.
4 Ibid. 105.
5 Timaeus, 17., Enfield, vi. 3.
6 Hist. des Saints, 2, c. 4, p. 212, 215.
7 Ocellus, 90.

To John Adams.
Monticello, August 15, 1820.

I am a great defaulter, my dear Sir, in our correspondence, but prostrate health rarely permits me to write;  and when it does, matters of business imperiously press their claims.  I am getting better however, slowly, swelled legs being now the only serious symptom, and these, I believe, proceed from extreme debility.  I can walk but little ;  but I ride six or eight miles a day without fatigue ;  and within a few days, I shall endeavor to visit my other home, after a twelvemonth’s absence from it.  Our University, four miles distant, gives me frequent exercise, and the oftener, as I direct its architecture.  Its plan is unique, and it is becoming an object of curiosity for the traveler.  I have lately had an opportunity of reading a critique on this institution in your North American Review of January last, having been not without anxiety to see what that able work would say of us;  and I was relieved on finding in it much coincidence of opinion, and even where criticisms were indulged, I found they would have been obviated had the developments of our plan been fuller.  But these were restrained by the character of the paper reviewed, being merely a report of outlines, not a detailed treatise, and addressed to a legislative body, not to a learned academy.  For example, as an inducement to introduce the Anglo-Saxon into our plan, it was said that it would reward amply the few weeks of attention which alone would be requisite for its attainment ;  leaving both term and degree under an indefinite expression, because I know that not much time is necessary to attain it to an useful degree sufficient to give such instruction in the etymologies of our language as may satisfy ordinary students, while more time would be requisite for those who should propose to attain a critical knowledge of it.  In a letter which I had occasion to write to Mr. Crofts, who sent you, I believe, as well as myself, a copy of his treatise on the English and German languages, as preliminary to an etymological dictionary he meditated, I went into explanations with him of an easy process for simplifying the study of the Anglo-Saxon, and lessening the terrors and difficulties presented by its rude alphabet, and unformed orthography.  But this is a subject beyond the bounds of a letter, as it was beyond the bounds of a report to the legislature.  Mr. Crofts died, I believe, before any progress was made in the work he had projected.

The reviewer expresses doubt, rather than decision, on our placing military and naval architecture in the department of pure mathematics.  Military architecture embraces fortification and fieldworks, which, with their bastions, curtains, hornworks, redoubts, etc., are based on a technical combination of lines and angles.  These are adapted to offence and defence, with and against the effects of bombs, balls, escalades, etc.  But lines and angles make the sum of elementary geometry, a branch of pure mathematics ;  and the direction of the bombs, balls, and other projectiles, the necessary appendages of military works, although no part of their architecture, belong to the conic sections, a branch of transcendental geometry.  Diderot and D’Alembert, therefore, in their Arbor Scientiæ, have placed military architecture in the department of elementary geometry.  Naval architecture teaches the best form and construction of vessels ;  for which best form it has recourse to the question of the solid of least resistance;  a problem of transcendental geometry.  And its appurtenant projectiles belong to the same branch, as in the preceding case.  It is true, that so far as respects the action of the water on the rudder and oars, and of the wind on the sails, it may be placed in the department of mechanics, as Diderot and D’Alembert have done ;  but belonging quite as much to geometry, and allied in its military character to military architecture, it simplified our plan to place both under the same head.  These views are so obvious, that I am sure they would have required but a second thought, to reconcile the reviewer to their location under the head of pure mathematics.  For this word location, see Bailey, Johnson, Sheridan, Walker, etc.  But if dictionaries are to be the arbiters of language, in which of them shall we find neologism ?  No matter.  It is a good word, well sounding, obvious, and expresses an idea, which would otherwise require circumlocution.  The reviewer was justifiable, therefore, in using it ;  although he noted at the same time, as unauthoritative, centrality, grade, sparse;  all which have been long used in common speech and writing.  I am a friend to neology.  It is the only way to give to a language copiousness and euphony.  Without it we should still be held to the vocabulary of Alfred or of Ulphilas ;  and held to their state of science also :  for I am sure they had no words which could have conveyed the ideas of oxygen, cotyledons, zoophytes, magnetism, electricity, hyaline, and thousands of others expressing ideas not then existing, nor of possible communication in the state of their language.  What a language has the French become since the date of their revolution, by the free introduction of new words !  The most copious and eloquent in the living world;  and equal to the Greek, had not that been regularly modifiable almost ad infinitum.  Their rule was, that whenever their language furnished or adopted a root, all its branches, in every part of speech, were legitimated by giving them their appropriate terminations.  ----(greek text)----.  And this should be the law of every language.  Thus, having adopted the adjective fraternal, it is a root which should legitimate fraternity, fraternation, fraternisation, fraternism, to fraternate, fraternise, fraternally.  And give the word neologism to our language, as a root, and it should give us its fellow substantives, neology, neologist, neologisation;  its adjectives, neologous, neological, neologistical;  its verb, neologise;  and adverb, neologically.  Dictionaries are but the depositories of words already legitimated by usage.  Society is the workshop in which new ones are elaborated.  When an individual uses a new word, if ill formed, it is rejected in society if well formed, adopted, and after due time, laid up in the depository of dictionaries.  And if, in this process of sound neologisation, our trans-Atlantic brethren shall not choose to accompany us, we may furnish, after the Ionians, a second example of a colonial dialect improving on its primitive.

But enough of criticism :  let me turn to your puzzling letter of May the 12th, on matter, spirit, motion, etc.  Its crowd of scepticisms kept me from sleep.  I read it, and laid it down;  read it, and laid it down, again and again ;  and to give rest to my mind, I was obliged to recur ultimately to my habitual anodyne, “I feel, therefore I exist."  I feel bodies which are not myself :  there are other existences then.  I call them matter.  I feel them changing place.  This gives me motion.  Where there is an absence of matter, I call it void, or nothing, or immaterial space.  On the basis of sensation, of matter and motion, we may erect the fabric of all the certainties we can have or need.  I can conceive thought to be an action of a particular organization of matter, formed for that purpose by its Creator, as well as that attraction is an action of matter, or magnetism of loadstone.  When he who denies to the Creator the power of endowing matter with the mode of action called thinking, shall show how He could endow the sun with the mode of action called attraction, which reins the planets in the track of their orbits, or how an absence of matter can have a will, and by that will put matter into motion, then the Materialist may be lawfully required to explain the process by which matter exercises the faculty of thinking.  When once we quit the basis of sensation, all is in the wind.  To talk of immaterial existences, is to talk of nothings.  To say that the human soul, angels God are immaterial is to say, they are nothings, or that there is no God, no angels, no soul.  I cannot reason otherwise :  but I believe I am supported in my creed of materialism by the Lockes, the Tracys and the Stewarts.  At what age[1] of the Christian Church this heresy of immaterialism, or masked atheism, crept in, I do not exactly know.  But a heresy it certainly is.  Jesus taught nothing of it.  He told us, indeed, that “God is a Spirit,” but He has not defined what a spirit is, nor said that it is not matter.  And the ancient fathers generally, of the three first centuries, held it to be matter, light and thin indeed, an etherial gas;  but still matter.  Origen says, “Deus se ipse corporalis est ; sed graviorum tantum corporum ratione, incorporeus."  Tertullian, “quid enim Deus nisi corpus ?"  And again, “quis negabit Deum esse corpus ?  Etsi Deus spiritus, spiritus etiam corpus est, sui generis in sua effigie."  St. Justin Martyr, “----(greek text)----".  And St. Macarius, speaking of angels, says, “quamvis enim subtilia sint, tamen in substantia, forma et figura, secundurn tenuitatem naturae eorum, corpora sunt tenuia."  And St. Augustin, St. Basil, Lactantius, Tatian, Athenagoras and others, with whose writings I pretend not a familiarity, are said by those who are better acquainted with them, to deliver the same doctrine.  (Enfield x. 3, 1.)  Turn to your Ocellus d’Argens, 97, 105, and to his Timaeus, 17, for these quotations.  In England, these Immaterialists might have been burnt until the 29 Car .2, when the writ de hæretico comburendo was abolished;  and here until the Revolution, that statute not having extended to us.  All heresies, being now done away with us, these schismatists are merely atheists, differing from the material atheist only in their belief, that “nothing made something,” and from the material deist, who believes that matter alone can operate on matter.

Rejecting all organs of information, therefore, but my senses, I rid myself of the pyrrhonisms with which an indulgence in speculations hyperphysical and antiphysical, so uselessly occupy and disquiet the mind.  A single sense may indeed be sometimes deceived, but rarely;  and never all our senses together, with their faculty of reasoning.  They evidence realities, and there are enough of these for all the purposes of life, without plunging into the fathomless abyss of dreams and phantasms.  I am satisfied, and sufficiently occupied with the things which are, without tormenting or troubling myself about those which may indeed be, but of which I have no evidence.  I am sure that I really know many, many things, and none more surely than that I love you with all my heart, and pray for the continuance of your life until you shall be tired of it yourself.

1That of Athanasius and the Council of Nicæa, anno 324.

To William Charles Jarvis.
Monticello, September 28, 1820.

I thank you, Sir, for the copy of your Republican which you have been so kind as to send me, and I should have acknowledged it sooner but that I am just returned home after a long absence.  I have not vet had time to read it seriously, but in looking over it cursorily I see much in it to approve, and shall be glad if it shall lead our youth to the practice of thinking on such subjects and for themselves.  That it will have this tendency may be expected, and for that reason I feel an urgency to note what I deem an error in it, the more requiring notice as your opinion is strengthened by that of many others.  You seem, in pages 84 and 148, to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questionsa very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy.  Our judges are as honest as other men, and not more so.  They have, with others, the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps.  Their maxim is “boni judicis est ampliare jurisdictionem,” and their power the more dangerous as they are in office for life, and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control.  The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots.  It has more wisely made all the departments co-equal and co-sovereign within themselves.  If the legislature fails to pass laws for a census, for paying the judges and other officers of government, for establishing a militia, for naturalization as prescribed by the Constitution, or if they fail to meet in congress, the judges cannot issue their mandamus to them ;  if the President fails to supply the place of a judge, to appoint other civil or military officers, to issue requisite commissions, the judges cannot force him.  They can issue their mandamus or distringas to no executive or legislative officer to enforce the fulfilment of their official duties, any more than the President or legislature may issue orders to the judges or their officers.  Betrayed by English example, and unaware, as it should seem, of the control of our Constitution in this particular, they have at times overstepped their limit by undertaking to command executive officers in the discharge of their executive duties ;  but the Constitution, in keeping three departments distinct and independent, restrains the authority of the judges to judiciary organs, as it does the executive and legislative to executive and legislative organs.  The judges certainly have more frequent occasion to act on constitutional questions, because the laws of meum and tuum and of criminal action, forming the great mass of the system of law, constitute their particular department.  When the legislative or executive functionaries act unconstitutionally, they are responsible to the people in their elective capacity.  The exemption of the judges from that is quite dangerous enough.  I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves ;  and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education.  This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.  Pardon me, Sir, for this difference of opinion.  My personal interest in such questions is entirely extinct, but not my wishes for the longest possible continuance of our government on its pure principles ;  if the three powers maintain their mutual independence on each other it may last long, but not so if either can assume the authorities of the other.  I ask your candid re-consideration of this subject, and am sufficiently sure you will form a candid conclusion.  Accept the assurance of my great respect.

To Charles Pinckney.
Monticello, September 30, 1820.

Dear Sir

An absence of some time from home has occasioned me to be thus late in acknowledging the receipt of your favor of the 6th, and I see in it with pleasure evidences of your continued health and application to business.  It is now, I believe, about twenty years since I had the pleasure of seeing you, and we are apt, in such cases, to lose sight of time, and to conceive that our friends remain stationary at the same point of health and vigor as when we last saw them.  So I perceive by your letter you think with respect to myself, but twenty years added to fifty-seven make quite a different man.  To threescore and seventeen add two years of prostrate health, and you have the old, infirm, and nerveless body I now am, unable to write but with pain, and unwilling to think without necessity.  In this state I leave the world and its affairs to the young and energetic, and resign myself to their care, of whom I have endeavored to take care when young.  I read but one newspaper and that of my own State, and more for its advertisements than its news.  I have not read a speech in Congress for some years.  I have heard, indeed, of the questions of the tariff and Missouri, and formed primâ facie opinions on them, but without investigation.  As to the tariff, I should say put down all banks, admit none but a metallic circulation, that will take its proper level with the like circulation in other countries, and then our manufacturers may work in fair competition with those of other countries, and the import duties which the government may lay for the purposes of revenue will so far place them above equal competition.  The Missouri question is a mere party trick.  The leaders of federalism, defeated in their schemes of obtaining power by rallying partisans to the principle of monarchism, a principle of personal, not of local division, have changed their tack, and thrown out another barrel to the whale.  They are taking advantage of the virtuous feelings of the people to effect a division of parties by a geographical line;  they expect that this will ensure them, on local principles, the majority they could never obtain on principles of federalism;  but they are still putting their shoulder to the wrong wheel ;  they are wasting Jeremiads on the miseries of slavery, as if we were advocates for it.  Sincerity in their declamations should direct their efforts to the true point of difficulty, and unite their counsels with ours in devising some reasonable and practicable plan of getting rid of it.  Some of these leaders, if they could attain the power, their ambition would rather use it to keep the Union together, but others have ever had in view its separation.  If they push it to that, they will find the line of separation very different from their 36° of latitude, and as manufacturing and navigating States, they will have quarrelled with their bread and butter, and I fear not that after a little trial they will think better of it, and return to the embraces of their natural and best friends.  But this scheme of party I leave to those who are to live under its consequences.  We who have gone before have performed an honest duty, by putting in the power of our successors a state of happiness which no nation ever before had within their choice.  If that choice is to throw it away, the dead will have neither the power nor the right to control them.  I must hope, nevertheless, that the mass of our honest and well-meaning brethren of the other States, will discover the use which designing leaders are making of their best feelings, and will see the precipice to which they are led, before they take the fatal leap.  God grant it, and to you health and happiness.

To Richard Rush, Esq.
Monticello, October 20, 1820.

Dear Sir

In your favor of May 3d, which I have now to acknowledge, you so kindly proffered your attentions to any little matters I might have on that side of the water, that I take the liberty of availing myself of this proof of your goodness so far as to request you to put the enclosed catalogue in the hands of some honest bookseller of London, who will procure and forward the books to me, with care and good faith.  They should be packed in a cheap trunk, and not put on ship-board until April, as they would be liable to damage on a winter passage.  I ask an honest correspondent in that line, because, when we begin to import for the library of our University, we shall need one worthy of entire confidence.

I send this letter open to my correspondent in Richmond, Captain Bernard Peyton, with a request that he will put into it a bill of exchange on London of £40 sterling, which of course, therefore, I cannot describe to you by naming drawer and drawee.  He will also forward, by other conveyance, the duplicate and triplicate as usual.  This sum would more than cover the cost of the books written for, according to their prices stated in printed catalogues ;  but as books have risen with other things in price, I have enlarged the printed amount by about 15 per cent. to cover any rise.  Still, should it be insufficient, the bookseller is requested to dock the catalogue to the amount of the remittance.

I have no news to give you;  for I have none but from the newspapers, and believing little of that myself, it would be an unworthy present to my friends.  But the important news lies now on your side of the Atlantic.  England, in throes from a trifle, as it would seem, but that trifle the symptom of an irremediable disease proceeding from a long course of exhaustion by efforts and burdens beyond her natural strength;  France agonizing between royalists and constitutionalists;  the other States of Europe pressing on to revolution and the rights of man, and the colossal powers of Russia and Austria marshalled against them.  These are more than specks of hurricane in the horizon of the world.  You, who are young, may live to see its issue;  the beginning only is for my time.  Nor is our side of the water entirely untroubled, the boisterous sea of liberty is never without a wave.  A hideous evil, the magnitude of which is seen, and at a distance only, by the one party, and more sorely felt and sincerely deplored by the other, from the difficulty of the cure, divides us at this moment too angrily.  The attempt by one party to prohibit willing States from sharing the evil, is thought by the other to render desperate, by accumulation, the hope of its final eradication.  If a little time, however, is given to both parties to cool, and to dispel their visionary fears, they will see that concurring in sentiment as to the evil, moral and political, the duty and interest of both is to concur also in divining a practicable process of cure.  Should time not be given, and the schism be pushed to separation, it will be for a short term only ;  two or three years trial will bring them back, like quarrelling lovers to renewed embraces, and increased affections.  The experiment of separation would soon prove to both that they had mutually miscalculated their best interests.  And even were the parties in Congress to secede in a passion, the soberer people would call a convention and cement again the severance attempted by the insanity of their functionaries.  With this consoling view, my greatest grief would be for the fatal effect of such an event on the hopes and happiness of the world.  We exist, and are quoted, as standing proofs that a government, so modelled as to rest continually on the will of the whole society, is a practicable government.  Were we to break to pieces, it would damp the hopes and the efforts of the good, and give triumph to those of the bad through the whole enslaved world.  As members, therefore, of the universal society of mankind, and standing in high and responsible relation with them, it is our sacred duty to suppress passion among ourselves, and not to blast the confidence we have inspired of proof that a government of reason is better than one of force.  This letter is not of facts, but of opinions, as you will observe;  and although the converse is generally the most acceptable, I do not know that, in your situation, the opinions of your countrymen may not be as desirable to be known to you as facts.  They constitute, indeed, moral facts, as important as physical ones to the attention of the public functionary.  Wishing you a long career to the services you may render your country, and that it may be a career of happiness and prosperity to yourself, I salute you with affectionate attachment and respect.

To Correa de Serra.
Monticello, October 24, 1820.

Your kind letter, dear Sir, of October 12th, was handed to me by Dr. Cooper, and was the first correction of an erroneous belief that you had long since left our shores.  Such had been Colonel Randolph’s opinion, and his had governed mine.  I received your adieu with feelings of sincere regret at the loss we were to sustain, and particularly of those friendly visits by which you had made me so happy.  I shall feel, too, the want of your counsel and approbation in what we are doing and have yet to do in our University, the last of my mortal cares, and the last service I can render my country.  But turning from myself, throwing egotism behind me, and looking to your happiness, it is a duty and consolation of friendship to consider that that may be promoted by your return to your own country.  There I hope you will receive the honors and rewards you merit, and which may make the rest of your life easy and happy;  there too you will render precious services :  by promoting the science of your country, and blessing its future generations with the advantages that bestows.  Nor even there shall we lose all the benefits of your friendship ;  for this motive, as well as the love of your own country, will be an incitement to promote that intimate harmony between our two nations which is so much the interest of both.  Nothing is so important as that America shall separate herself from the systems of Europe, and establish one of her own.  Our circumstances, our pursuits, our interests, are distinct, the principles of our policy should be so also.  All entanglements with that quarter of the globe should be avoided if we mean that peace and justice shall be the polar stars of the American societies.  I had written a letter to a friend while you were here, in a part of which these sentiments were expressed, and I had made an extract from it to put into your hands, as containing my creed on that subject.  You had left us, however, in the morning earlier than I had been aware;  still I enclose it to you, because it would be a leading principle with me, had I longer to live.  During six and thirty years that I have been in situations to attend to the conduct and characters of foreign nations, I have found the government of Portugal the most just, inoffensive and unambitious of any one with which we had concern, without a single exception.  I am sure that this is the character of ours also.  Two such nations can never wish to quarrel with each other.  Subordinate officers may be negligent, may have their passions and partialities, and be criminally remiss in preventing the enterprises of the lawless banditti who are to be found in every seaport of every country.  The late piratical depredations which your commerce has suffered as well as ours, and that of other nations, seem to have been committed by renegado rovers of several nations, French, English, American, which they as well as we have not been careful enough to suppress.  I hope our Congress now about to meet will strengthen the measures of suppression.  Of their disposition to do it there can be no doubt ;  for all men of moral principle must be shocked at these atrocities.  I had repeated conversations on this subject with the President, while at his seat in this neighborhood.  No man can abhor these enormities more deeply.  I trust it will not have been in the power of abandoned rovers, nor yet of negligent functionaries, to disturb the harmony of two nations so much disposed to mutual friendship, and interested in it.  To this, my dear friend, you can be mainly instrumental, and I know your patriotism and philanthropy too well to doubt your best efforts to cement us.  In these I pray for your success, and that heaven may long preserve you in health and prosperity to do all the good to mankind to which your enlightened and benevolent mind disposes you.  Of the continuance of my affectionate friendship, with that of my life, and of its fervent wishes for your happiness, accept my sincere assurance.

To the Reverend Jared Sparks.
Monticello, November 4, 1820.


Your favor of September 18th is just received, with the book accompanying it.  Its delay was owing to that of the box of books from Mr. Guegan, in which it was packed.  Being just setting out on a journey I have time only to look over the summary of contents.  In this I see nothing in which I am likely to differ materially from you.  I hold the precepts of Jesus, as delivered by Himself, to be the most pure, benevolent, and sublime which have ever been preached to man.  I adhere to the principles of the first age;  and consider all subsequent innovations as corruptions of His religion, having no foundation in what came from Him.  The metaphysical insanities of Athanasius, of Loyola, and of Calvin, are, to my understanding, mere relapses into polytheism, differing from paganism only by being more unintelligible.  The religion of Jesus is founded in the Unity of God, and this principle chiefly, gave it triumph over the rabble of heathen gods then acknowledged.  Thinking men of all nations rallied readily to the doctrine of one only God, and embraced it with the pure morals which Jesus inculcated.  If the freedom of religion, guaranteed to us by law in theory, can ever rise in practice under the overbearing inquisition of public opinion, truth will prevail over fanaticism, and the genuine doctrines of Jesus, so long perverted by His pseudo priests, will again be restored to their original purity.  This reformation will advance with the other improvements of the human mind, but too late for me to witness it.  Accept my thanks for your book, in which I shall read with pleasure your developments of the subject, and with them the assurance of my high respect.

To Joseph C. Cabell.
Poplar Forest, November 28, 1820.

Dear Sir

I sent in due time the Report of the Visitors to the Governor, with a request that he would endeavor to convene the Literary Board in time to lay it before the legislature on the second day of their session.  It was enclosed in a letter which will explain itself to you.  If delivered before the crowd of other business presses on them, they may act on it immediately, and before there will have been time for unfriendly combinations and manoeuvres by the enemies of the institution.  I enclose you now a paper presenting some views which may be useful to you in conversations, to rebut exaggerated estimates of what our institution is to cost, and reproaches of deceptive estimates.  One hundred and sixty-two thousand three hundred and sixty-four dollars will be about the cost of the whole establishment, when completed.  Not an office at Washington has cost less.  The single building of the courthouse of Henrico has cost nearly that ;  and the massive walls of the millions of bricks of William and Mary could not now be built for a less sum.

Surely Governor Clinton’s display of the gigantic efforts of New York towards the education of her citizens, will stimulate the pride as well as the patriotism of our legislature, to look to the reputation and safety of their own country, to rescue it from the degradation of becoming the Barbary of the Union, and of falling into the ranks of our own negroes.  To that condition it is fast sinking.  We shall be in the hands of the other States, what our indigenous predecessors were when invaded by the science and arts of Europe.  The mass of education in Virginia, before the Revolution, placed her with the foremost of her sister colonies.  What is her education now ?  Where is it ?  The little we have we import, like beggars, from other States ;  or import their beggars to bestow on us their miserable crumbs.  And what is wanting to restore us to our station among our confederates ?  Not more money from the people.  Enough has been raised by them, and appropriated to this very object.  It is that it should be employed understandingly, and for their greatest good.  That good requires, that while they are instructed in general, competently to the common business of life, others should employ their genius with necessary information to the useful arts, to inventions for saving labor and increasing our comforts, to nourishing our health, to civil government, military science, etc.

Would it not have a good effect for the friends of this University to take the lead in proposing and effecting a practical scheme of elementary schools ?  To assume the character of the friends, rather than the opponents of that object.  The present plan has appropriated to the primary schools forty-five thousand dollars for three years, making one hundred and thirty-five thousand dollars.  I should be glad to know if this sum has educated one hundred and thirty-five poor children.  I doubt it much.  And if it has, they have cost us one thousand dollars a piece for what might have been done with thirty dollars.  Supposing the literary revenue to be sixty thousand dollars, I think it demonstrable, that this sum, equally divided between the two objects, would amply suffice for both.  One hundred counties, divided into about twelve wards each, on an average, and a school in each ward of perhaps ten children, would be one thousand and two hundred schools, distributed proportionably over the surface of the State.  The inhabitants of each ward, meeting together (as when they work on the roads), building good log-houses, for their school and teacher, and contributing for his provisions, rations of pork, beef, and corn, in the proportion each of his other taxes, would thus lodge and feed him without feeling it;  and those of them who are able, paying for the tuition of their own children, would leave no call on the public fund but for the tuition fee of, here and there, an accidental pauper, who would still be fed and lodged with his parents.  Suppose this fee ten dollars, and three hundred dollars apportioned to a county on an average, (more or less proportioned,) would there be thirty such paupers for every county ?  I think not.  The truth is, that the want of common education with us is not from our poverty, but from want of an orderly system.  More money is now paid for the education of a part, than would be paid for that of the whole, if systematically arranged.  Six thousand common schools in New York, fifty pupils in each, three hundred thousand in all;  one hundred and sixty thousand dollars annually paid to the masters ;  forty established academies, with two thousand two hundred and eighteen pupils ;  and five colleges, with seven hundred and eighteen students ;  to which last classes of institutions seven hundred and twenty thousand dollars have been given;  and the whole appropriations for education estimated at two and a half millions of dollars !  What a pigmy to this is Virginia become, with a population almost equal to that of New York !  And whence this difference ?  From the difference their rulers set on the value of knowledge, and the prosperity it produces.  But still, if a pigmy, let her do what a pigmy may do.  If among fifty children in each of the six thousand schools of New York, there are only paupers enough to employ twenty-five dollars of public money to each school, surely among the ten children of each of our one thousand and two hundred schools, the same sum of twenty-five dollars to each school will teach its paupers, (five times as much as to the same number in New York,) and will amount for the whole to thirty thousand dollars a year, the one-half only of our literary revenue.

Do then, dear Sir, think of this, and engage our friends to take in hand the whole subject.  It will reconcile the friends of the elementary schools, and none are more warmly so than myself, lighten the difficulties of the University, and promote in every order of men the degree of instruction proportioned to their condition, and to their views in life.  It will combine with the mass of our force, a wise direction of it, which will insure to our country its future prosperity and safety.  I had formerly thought that visitors of the school might be chosen by the county, and charged to provide teachers for every ward, and to superintend them.  I now think it would be better for every ward to choose its own resident visitor, whose business it would be to keep a teacher in the ward, to superintend the school, and to call meetings of the ward for all purposes relating to it;  their accounts to be settled, and wards laid off by the courts.  I think ward elections better for many reasons, one of which is sufficient, that it will keep elementary education out of the hands of fanaticising preachers, who, in county elections, would be universally chosen, and the predominant sect of the county would possess itself of all its schools.

A wrist stiffened by an ancient accident, now more so by the effect of age, renders writing a slow and irksome operation with me.  I cannot, therefore, present these views, by separate letters to each of our colleagues in the legislature, but must pray you to communicate them to Mr. Johnson and General Breckenridge, and to request them to consider this as equally meant for them.  Mr. Gordon being the local representative of the University, and among its most zealous friends, would be a more useful second to General Breckenridge in the House of Delegates, by a free communication of what concerns the University, with which he has had little opportunity of becoming acquainted.  So, also, would it be to Mr. Rives, who would be a friendly advocate.

Accept the assurances of my constant and affectionate esteem and respect.

To James Madison.
Poplar Forest, November 29, 1820.

Dear Sir

The enclosed letter from our ancient friend Tench Coxe, came unfortunately to Monticello after I had left it, and has had a dilatory passage to this place, where I received it yesterday, and obey its injunction of immediate transmission to you.  We should have recognized the style even without a signature, and although so written as to be much of it indecipherable.  This is a sample of the effects we may expect from the late mischievous law vacating every four years nearly all the executive offices of the government.  It saps the constitutional and salutary functions of the President, and introduces a principle of intrigue and corruption, which will soon leaven the mass, not only of Senators, but of citizens.  It is more baneful than the attempt which failed in the beginning of the government, to make all officers irremovable but with the consent of the Senate.  This places, every four years, all appointments under their power, and even obliges them to act on every one nomination.  It will keep in constant excitement all the hungry cormorants for office, render them, as well as those in place, sycophants to their Senators, engage these in eternal intrigue to turn out one and put in another, in cabals to swap work;  and make of them what all executive directories become, mere sinks of corruption and faction.  This must have been one of the midnight signatures of the President, when he had not time to consider, or even to read the law; and the more fatal as being irrepealable but with the consent of the Senate, which will never be obtained.

F. Gilmer has communicated to me Mr. Correa’s letter to him of adieux to his friends here, among whom he names most affectionately Mrs. Madison and yourself.  No foreigner, I believe, has ever carried with him more friendly regrets.  He was to sail the next day (November 10) in the British packet for England, and thence take his passage in January for Brazil.  His present views are of course liable to be affected by the events of Portugal, and the possible effects of their example on Brazil.  I expect to return to Monticello about the middle of the ensuing month, and salute you with constant affection and respect.

To Thomas Ritchie
Monticello, December 25, 1820

Dear Sir, — On my return home after a long absence, I find here your favor of November the 23d, with Colonel Taylor’s “Construction Construed,” which you have been so kind as to send me, in the name of the author as well as yourself.  Permit me, if you please, to use the same channel for conveying to him the thanks I render you also for this mark of attention.  I shall read it, I know, with edification, as I did his Inquiry, to which I acknowledge myself indebted for many valuable ideas, and for the correction of some errors of early opinion, never seen in a correct light until presented to me in that work.  That the present volume is equally orthodox, I know before reading it, because I know that Colonel Taylor and myself have rarely, if ever, differed in any political principle of importance.  Every act of his life, and every word he ever wrote, satisfies me of this.  So, also, as to the two Presidents, late and now in office, I know them both to be of principles as truly republican as any men living.  If there be anything amiss, therefore, in the present state of our affairs, as the formidable deficit lately unfolded to us indicates, I ascribe it to the inattention of Congress to their duties, to their unwise dissipation and waste of the public contributions.  They seemed, some little while ago, to be at a loss for objects whereon to throw away the supposed fathomless funds of the treasury.  I had feared the result, because I saw among them some of my old fellow laborers, of tried and known principles, yet often in their minorities.  I am aware that in one of their most ruinous vagaries, the people were themselves betrayed into the same phrenzy with their Representatives.  The deficit produced, and a heavy tax to supply it, will, I trust, bring both to their sober senses.

But it is not from this branch of government we have most to fear.  Taxes and short elections will keep them right.  The judiciary of the United States is the subtle corps of sappers and miners constantly working under ground to undermine the foundations of our confederated fabric.  They are construing our constitution from a co-ordination of a general and special government to a general and supreme one alone.  This will lay all things at their feet, and they are too well versed in English law to forget the maxim, “boni judicis est ampliare juris-dictionem."  We shall see if they are bold enough to take the daring stride their five lawyers have lately taken.  If they do, then, with the editor of our book, in his address to the public, I will say, that “against this every man should raise his voice,” and more, should uplift his arm.  Who wrote this admirable address?  Sound, luminous, strong, not a word too much, nor one which can be changed but for the worse.  That pen should go on, lay bare these wounds of our constitution, expose the decisions seriatim, and arouse, as it is able, the attention of the nation to these bold speculators on its patience.  Having found, from experience, that impeachment is an impracticable thing, a mere scare-crow, they consider themselves secure for life;  they sculk from responsibility to public opinion, the only remaining hold on them, under a practice first introduced into England by Lord Mansfield.  An opinion is huddled up in conclave, perhaps by a majority of one, delivered as if unanimous, and with the silent acquiescence of lazy or timid associates, by a crafty chief judge, who sophisticates the law to his mind, by the turn of his own reasoning.  A judiciary law was once reported by the Attorney General to Congress, requiring each judge to deliver his opinion seriatim and openly, and then to give it in writing to the clerk to be entered in the record.  A judiciary independent of a king or executive alone, is a good thing; but independence of the will of the nation is a solecism, at least in a republican government.

But to return to your letter;  you ask for my opinion of the work you send me, and to let it go out to the public.  This I have ever made a point of declining, (one or two instances only excepted.)  Complimentary thanks to writers who have sent me their works, have betrayed me sometimes before the public, without my consent having been asked.  But I am far from presuming to direct the reading of my fellow citizens, who are good enough judges themselves of what is worthy their reading.  I am, also, too desirous of quiet to place myself in the way of contention.  Against this I am admonished by bodily decay, which cannot be unaccompanied by corresponding wane of the mind.  Of this I am as yet sensible, sufficiently to be unwilling to trust myself before the public, and when I cease to be so, I hope that my friends will be too careful of me to draw me forth and present me, like a Priam in armor, as a spectacle for public compassion.  I hope our political bark will ride through all its dangers; but I can in future be but an inert passenger.

I salute you with sentiments of great friendship and respect.

To the Marquis de la Fayette.
Monticello, December 26, 1820.

It is long, indeed, my very dear friend, since I have been able to address a letter to you.  For more than two years my health has been so entirely prostrate, that I have, of necessity, intermitted all correspondence.  The dislocated wrist, too, which perhaps you may recollect, has now become so stiff from the effects of age, that writing is become a slow and painful operation, and scarcely ever undertaken but under the goad of imperious business.  In the meantime your country has been going on less well than I had hoped.  But it will go on.  The light which has been shed on the mind of man through the civilized world, has given it a new direction, from which no human power can divert it.  The sovereigns of Europe who are wise, or have wise counsellors, see this, and bend to the breeze which blows;  the unwise alone stiffen and meet its inevitable crush.  The volcanic rumblings in the bowels of Europe, from north to south, seem to threaten a general explosion, and the march of armies into Italy cannot end in a simple march.  The disease of liberty is catching ;  those armies will take it in the south, carry it thence to their own country, spread there the infection of revolution and representative government, and raise its people from the prone condition of brutes to the erect attitude of man.  Some fear our envelopment in the wars engendering from the unsettled state of our affairs with Spain, and therefore are anxious for a ratification of our treaty with her.  I fear no such thing, and hope that if ratified by Spain it will be rejected here.  We may justly say to Spain, “When this negotiation commenced, twenty years ago, your authority was acknowledged by those you are selling to us.  That authority is now renounced, and their right of self-disposal asserted.  In buying them from you, then, we buy but a war-title, a right to subdue them, which you can neither convey nor we acquire.  This is a family quarrel in which we have no right to meddle.  Settle it between yourselves, and we will then treat with the party whose right is acknowledged."  With whom that will be, no doubt can be entertained.  And why should we revolt them by purchasing them as cattle, rather than receiving them as fellow-men ?  Spain has held off until she sees they are lost to her, and now thinks it better to get something than nothing for them.  When she shall see South America equally desperate, she will be wise to sell that also.

With us things are going on well.  The boisterous sea of liberty indeed is never without a wave, and that from Missouri is now rolling towards us, but we shall ride over it as we have over all others.  It is not a moral question, but one merely of power.  Its object is to raise a geographical principle for the choice of a President, and the noise will be kept up till that is effected.  All know that permitting the slaves of the South to spread into the West will not add one being to that unfortunate condition, that it will increase the happiness of those existing, and by spreading them over a larger surface, will dilute the evil everywhere, and facilitate the means of getting finally rid of it, an event more anxiously wished by those on whom it presses than by the noisy pretenders to exclusive humanity.  In the meantime, it is a ladder for rivals climbing to power.

In a letter to Mr. Porrey, of March 18th, 1819, I informed him of the success of our application to Congress on his behalf.  I enclosed this letter to you, but hearing nothing from him, and as you say nothing of it in yours of July 20th, I am not without fear it may have miscarried.  In the present I enclose for him the Auditor’s certificate, and the letters of General Washington and myself, which he had forwarded to me with a request of their return.  Your kindness in delivering this will render unnecessary another letter from me, an effort which necessarily obliges me to spare myself.

If you shall hear from me more seldom than heretofore, ascribe it, my ever dear friend, to the heavy load of seventy-seven years and to waning health, but not to weakened affections ;  these will continue what they have ever been, and will ever be sincere and warm to the latest breath of yours devotedly.

To Albert Gallatin.
Monticello, December 26, 1820.

Dear Sir

‘It is said to be an ill wind which blows favorably to no one.’  My ill health has long suspended the too frequent troubles I have heretofore given you with my European correspondence.  To this is added a stiffening wrist, the effect of age on an antient dislocation, which renders writing slow and painful, and disables me nearly from all correspondence, and may very possibly make this the last trouble I shall give you in that way.

Looking from our quarter of the world over the horizon of yours we imagine we see storms gathering which may again desolate the face of that country.  So many revolutions going on, in different countries at the same time, such combinations of tyranny, and military preparations and movements to suppress them.  England & France unsafe from internal conflict, Germany, on the first favorable occasion, ripe for insurrection, such a state of things, we suppose, must end in war, which needs a kindling spark in one spot only to spread over the whole.  Your information can correct these views which are stated only to inform you of impressions here.

At home things are not well.  The flood of paper money, as you well know, had produced an exaggeration of nominal prices and at the same time a facility of obtaining money, which not only encouraged speculations on fictitious capital, but seduced those of real capital, even in private life, to contract debts too freely.  Had things continued in the same course, these might have been manageable.  But the operations of the U.S. bank for the demolition of the state banks, obliged these suddenly to call in more than half of their paper, crushed all fictitious and doubtful capital, and reduced the prices of property and produce suddenly to 1/3 of what they had been.  Wheat, for example, at the distance of two or three days from market, fell to and continues at from one third to half a dollar.  Should it be stationary at this for a while, a very general revolution of property must take place.  Something of the same character has taken place in our fiscal system.  A little while back Congress seemed at a loss for objects whereon to squander the supposed fathomless funds of our treasury.  This short frenzy has been arrested by a deficit of 5 millions the last year, and of 7. millions this year.  A loan was adopted for the former and is proposed for the latter, which threatens to saddle us with a perpetual debt.  I hope a tax will be preferred, because it will awaken the attention of the people, and make reformation & economy the principles of the next election.  The frequent recurrence of this chastening operation can alone restrain the propensity of governments to enlarge expence beyond income.  The steady tenor of the courts of the US. to break down the constitutional barrier between the coordinate powers of the States, and of the Union, and a formal opinion lately given by 5. lawyers of too much eminence to be neglected, give uneasiness.  But nothing has ever presented so threatening an aspect as what is called the Missouri question.  The Federalists compleatly put down, and despairing of ever rising again under the old division of whig and tory, devised a new one, of slave-holding, & non-slave-holding states, which, while it had a semblance of being Moral, was at the same time Geographical, and calculated to give them ascendancy by debauching their old opponents to a coalition with them.  Moral the question certainly is not, because the removal of slaves from one state to another, no more than their removal from one country to another, would never make a slave of one human being who would not be so without it.  Indeed if there were any morality in the question it is on the other side; because by spreading them over a larger surface, their happiness would be increased, & the burthen of their future liberation lightened by bringing a greater number of shoulders under it.  However it served to throw dust into the eyes of the people and to fanaticise them, while to the knowing ones it gave a geographical and preponderant line of the Patomac and Ohio, throwing 12. States to the North and East, & 10. to the South & West.  With these therefore it is merely a question of power:  but with this geographical minority it is a question of existence.  For if Congress once goes out of the Constitution to arrogate a right of regulating the conditions of the inhabitants of the States, its majority may, and probably will next declare that the condition of all men within the US. shall be that of freedom, in which case all the whites South of the Patomak and Ohio must evacuate their States; and most fortunate those who can do it first.  And so far this crisis seems to be advancing.  The Missouri constitution is recently rejected by the House of Representatives.  What will be their next step is yet to be seen.  If accepted on the condition that Missouri shall expunge from it the prohibition of free people of colour from emigration to their state, it will be expunged, and all will be quieted until the advance of some new state shall present the question again.  If rejected unconditionally, Missouri assumes independent self-government, and Congress, after pouting awhile, must recieve them on the footing of the original states.  Should the Representative propose force, 1. the Senate will not concur.  2. were they to concur, there would be a secession of the members South of the line, & probably of the three North Western states, who, however inclined to the other side, would scarcely separate from those who would hold the Misisipi from it’s mouth to it’s source.  What next ?  Conjecture itself is at a loss.  But whatever it shall be you will hear from others and from the newspapers.  And finally the whole will depend on Pensylvania.  While she and Virginia hold together, the Atlantic states can never separate.  Unfortunately in the present case she has become more fanaticised than any other state.  However useful where you are, I wish you were with them.  You might turn the scale there, which would turn it for the whole.  Should this scission take place, one of it’s most deplorable consequences would be it’s discouragement of the efforts of the European nations in the regeneration of their oppressive and Cannibal governments.

Amidst this prospect of evil, I am glad to see one good effect.  It has brought the necessity of some plan of general emancipation & deportation more home to the minds of our people than it has ever been before.  Insomuch, that our Governor has ventured to propose one to the legislature.  This will probably not be acted on at this time.  Nor would it be effectual;  for while it proposes to devote to that object one third of the revenue of the State, it would not reach one tenth of the annual increase.  My proposition would be that the holders should give up all born after a certain day, past, present, or to come, that these should be placed under the guardianship of the State, and sent at a proper age to S. Domingo.  There they are willing to recieve them, & the shortness of the passage brings the deportation within the possible means of taxation aided by charitable contributions.  In this I think Europe, which has forced this evil on us, and the Eastern states who have been it’s chief instruments of importation, would be bound to give largely.  But the proceeds of the land office, if appropriated, would be quite sufficient.

God bless you and preserve you multos años.

To William Roscoe.
Monticello, December 27, 1820.

Dear Sir

Your letter received more than a twelvemonth ago, with the two tracts on penal jurisprudence, and the literary institution of Liverpool, ought long since to have called for the thanks I now return, had it been in my power sooner to have tendered them.  But a long continuance of ill health has suspended all power of answering the kind attentions with which I have been honored during it ;  and it is only now that a state of slow and uncertain convalescence enables me to make acknowledgments which have been so long and painfully delayed.  The treatise on penal jurisprudence I read with great pleasure.  Beccaria had demonstrated general principles, but practical applications were difficult.  Our States are trying them with more or less success ;  and the great light you have thrown on the subject will, I am sure, be useful to our experiment.  For the thing, as yet, is but in experiment.  Your Liverpool institution will also aid us in the organization of our new University, an establishment now in progress in this State, and to which my remaining days and faculties will be devoted.  When ready for its professors, we shall apply for them chiefly to your island.  Were we content to remain stationary in science, we should take them from among ourselves;  but, desirous of advancing, we must seek them in countries already in advance;  and identity of language points to our best resource.  To furnish inducements, we provide for the professors separate buildings, in which themselves and their families may be handsomely and comfortably lodged, and to liberal salaries will be added lucrative perquisites.  This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind.  For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.

We are looking with wonder at what is passing among you.  It

“ Resembles ocean into tempest wrought,
To waft a feather, or to drown a fly.”

There must be something in these agitations more than meets the eye of a distant spectator.  Your queen must be used in this as a rallying point merely, around which are gathering the discontents of every quarter and character.  If these flowed from theories of government only, and if merely from the heads of speculative men, they would admit of parley, of negotiation, of management.  But I fear they are the workings of hungry bellies, which nothing but food will fill and quiet.  I sincerely wish you safely out of them.  Circumstances have nourished between our kindred countries angry dispositions which both ought long since to have banished from their bosoms.  I have ever considered a cordial affection as the first interest of both.  No nation on earth can hurt us so much as yours, none be more useful to you than ours.  The obstacle, we have believed, was in the obstinate and unforgiving temper of your late king, and a continuance of his prejudices kept up from habit, after he was withdrawn from power.  I hope I now see symptoms of sounder views in your government ;  in which I know it will be cordially met by ours, as it would have been by every administration which has existed under our present Constitution.  None desired it more cordially than myself, whatever different opinions were impressed on your government by a party who wishes to have its weight in their scale as its exclusive friends.

My ancient friend and classmate, James Maury, informs me by letter that he has sent me a bust which I shall receive with great pleasure and thankfulness, and shall arrange in honorable file with those of some cherished characters.  Will you permit me to place here my affectionate souvenirs of him, and accept for yourself the assurance of the highest consideration and esteem.