The Writings of
Thomas Jefferson

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

To Patrick K. Rodgers.
Monticello, January 29, 1824.

SIR, — I have duly received your favor of the 14th, with a copy of your mathematical principles of natural philosophy, which I have looked into with all the attention which the rust of age and long-continued avocations of a very different character permit me to exercise.  I think them entirely worthy of approbation, both as to matter and method, and for their brevity as a text-book;  and I remark particularly the clearness and precision with which the propositions are enounced, and, in the demonstrations, the easy form in which ideas are presented to the mind, so as to be almost intuitive and self-evident.  Of Cavallo’s book, which you say you are enjoined to teach, I have no knowledge, having never seen it;  but its character is, I think, that of mere mediocrity;  and, from my personal acquaintance with the man, I should expect no more.  He was heavy, capable enough of understanding what he read, and with memory to retain it, but without the talent of digestion or improvement.  But, indeed, the English generally have been very stationary in latter times, and the French on the contrary, so active and successful, particularly in preparing elementary books, in the mathematical and natural sciences, that those who wish for instruction, without caring from what nation they get it, resort universally to the latter language.  Besides the earlier and invaluable works of Euler and Bezont, we have latterly that of Lacroix in mathematics, of Legendre in geometry, Lavoisier in chemistry, the elementary works of Hauy in physics, Biot in experimental physics and physical astronomy, Dumeril in natural history, to say nothing of many detached essays of Monge and others and the transcendent labors of Laplace, and I am informed, by a highly instructed person recently from Cambridge, that the mathematicians of that institution, sensible of being in the rear of those of the continent, and ascribing the cause much to their too long-continued preference of the geometrical over the analytical methods, which the French have so much cultivated and improved, have now adopted the latter;  and that they have also given up the fluxionary, for the differential calculus.  To confine a school, therefore, to the obsolete work of Cavallo, is to shut out all advances in the physical sciences, which have been so great in latter times.  I am glad, however, to learn from your work, and to expect from those it promised in succession, which will doubtless be of equal grade, that so good a course of instruction is pursued in William and Mary.  It is very long since I have had any information of the state of education in that seminary, to which, as my alma mater, my attachment has been ever sincere, although not exclusive.  When that college was located at the middle plantation in 1693, Charles City was a frontier county, and there were no inhabitants above the falls of the rivers, sixty miles only higher up.  It was, therefore, a position, nearly central to the population, as it then was;  but when the frontier became extended to the Sandy river, three hundred miles west of Williamsburg, the public convenience called, first for a removal of the seat of government, and latterly, not for a removal of the college, but, for the establishment of a new one, in a more central and healthy situation;  not disturbing the old one in its possessions or functions, but leaving them unimpaired for the benefit of those to whom it is convenient.  And indeed, I do not foresee that the number of its students is likely to be much affected;  because I presume that, at present, its distance and autumnal climate prevent its receiving many students from above the tide-waters, and especially from above the mountains.  This is, therefore, one of the cases where the lawyers say there is damnum absque injuriâ;  and they instance, as in point, the settlement of a new schoolmaster in the neighborhood of an old one.  At any rate it is one of those cases wherein the public interest rightfully prevails, and the justice of which will be yielded to by none, I am sure, with more dutiful and candid acquiescence than the enlightened friends of our ancient and venerable institution.  The only rivalship, I hope, between the old and the new, will be in doing the most good possible in their respective sections of country.

As the diagrams of your book have not been engraved, I return you the MS. of them, which must be of value to yourself.  They furnish favorable specimens of the graphical talent of your former pupil.  Permit me to add, that I shall always be ready and happy to receive with particular welcome the visit of which you flatter me with the hope, and to avail myself of the occasion of assuring you personally of my great respect and esteem.




To Joseph C. Cabell.
Monticello, February 3, 1824.

Dear Sir, — I am favored with your two letters of January the 26th and 29th, and I am glad that yourself and the friends of the University are so well satisfied, that the provisos amendatory of the University Act are mere nullities.  I had not been able to put out of my head the Algebraical equation, which was among the first of my college lessons, that a—a=0.  Yet I cheerfully arrange myself to your opinions.  I did not suppose, nor do I now suppose it possible, that both Houses of the legislature should ever consent, for an additional fifteen thousand dollars of revenue, to set all the professors and students of the University adrift;  and if foreigners will have the same confidence which we have in our legislature, no harm will have been done by the provisos.

You recollect that we had agreed that the Visitors who are of the legislature should fix on a certain day of meeting, after the rising of the Assembly, to put into immediate motion the measures which this act was expected to call for.  You will of course remind the Governor that a re-appointment of Visitors is to be made on the day following Sunday, the 29th of this month;  and as he is to appoint the day of their first meeting, it would be well to recommend to him that which our brethren there shall fix on.  It may be designated by the Governor as the third, fourth, etc., day after the rising of the legislature, which will give it certainty enough.

You ask what sum would be desirable for the purchase of books and apparatus ?  Certainly the largest you can obtain.  Forty or fifty thousand dollars would enable us to purchase the most essential books of texts and reference for the schools, and such an apparatus for mathematics, astronomy and chemistry, as may enable us to set out with tolerable competence, if we can, through the banks and otherwise, anticipate the whole sum at once.

I remark what you say on the subject of committing ourselves to any one for the law appointment.  Your caution is perfectly just.  I hope, and am certain, that this will be the standing law of discretion and duty with every member of our board, in this and all cases.  You know we have all, from the beginning, considered the high qualifications of our professors, as the only means by which we could give to our institution splendor and pre-eminence over all its sister seminaries.  The only question, therefore, we can ever ask ourselves, as to any candidate, will be, is he the most highly qualified ?  The College of Philadelphia has lost its character of primacy by indulging motives of favoritism and nepotism, and by conferring the appointments as if the professorships were entrusted to them as provisions for their friends.  And even that of Edinburgh, you know, is also much lowered from the same cause.  We are next to observe, that a man is not qualified for a professor, knowing nothing but merely his own profession.  He should be otherwise well educated as to the sciences generally;  able to converse understandingly with the scientific men with whom he is associated, and to assist in the councils of the faculty on any subject of science on which they may have occasion to deliberate.  Without this, he will incur their contempt, and bring disreputation on the institution.  With respect to the professorship you mention, I scarcely know any of our judges personally;  but I will name, for example, the late Judge Roane, who, I believe, was generally admitted to be among the ablest of them.  His knowledge was confined to the common law chiefly, which does not constitute one-half of the qualification of a really learned lawyer, much less that of a professor of law for an University.  And as to any other branches of science, he must have stood mute in the presence of his literary associates, or of any learned strangers or others visiting the University.  Would this constitute the splendid stand we propose to take ?

In the course of the trusts I have exercised through life with powers of appointment, I can say with truth, and with unspeakable comfort, that I never did appoint a relation to office, and that merely because I never saw the case in which some one did not offer, or occur, better qualified;  and I have the most unlimited confidence, that in the appointment of Professors to our nursling institution, every individual of my associates will look with a single eye to the sublimation of its character, and adopt, as our sacred motto, “detur digniori.”  In this way it will honor us, and bless our country.

I perceive that I have permitted my reflections to run into generalities beyond the scope of the particular intimation in your letter.  I will let them go, however, as a general confession of faith, not belonging merely to the present case.

Name me affectionately to our brethren with you, and be assured yourself of my constant friendship and respect.




To Jared Sparks.
Monticello, February 4, 1824.

Dear Sir, — I duly received your favor of the 13th, and with it, the last number of the North American Review.  This has anticipated the one I should receive in course, but have not yet received, under my subscription to the new series.  The article on the African colonization of the people of color, to which you invite my attention, I have read with great consideration.  It is, indeed, a fine one, and will do much good.  I learn from it more, too, than I had before known, of the degree of success and promise of that colony.

In the disposition of these unfortunate people, there are two rational objects to be distinctly kept in view.  First.  The establishment of a colony on the coast of Africa, which may introduce among the aborigines the arts of cultivated life, and the blessings of civilization and science.  By doing this, we may make to them some retribution for the long course of injuries we have been committing on their population.  And considering that these blessings will descend to the “nati natorum, et qui nascentur ab illis,” we shall in the long run have rendered them perhaps more good than evil.  To fulfil this object, the colony of Sierra Leone promises well, and that of Mesurado adds to our prospect of success.  Under this view, the colonization society is to be considered as a missionary society, having in view, however, objects more humane, more justifiable, and less aggressive on the peace of other nations, than the others of that appellation.

The second object, and the most interesting to us, as coming home to our physical and moral characters, to our happiness and safety, is to provide an asylum to which we can, by degrees, send the whole of that population from among us, and establish them under our patronage and protection, as a separate, free and independent people, in some country and climate friendly to human life and happiness.  That any place on the coast of Africa should answer the latter purpose, I have ever deemed entirely impossible.  And without repeating the other arguments which have been urged by others, I will appeal to figures only, which admit no controversy.  I shall speak in round numbers, not absolutely accurate, yet not so wide from truth as to vary the result materially.  There are in the United States a million and a half of people of color in slavery.  To send off the whole of these at once, nobody conceives to be practicable for us, or expedient for them.  Let us take twenty-five years for its accomplishment, within which time they will be doubled.  Their estimated value as property, in the first place, (for actual property has been lawfully vested in that form, and who can lawfully take it from the possessors?) at an average of two hundred dollars each;  young and old, would amount to six hundred millions of dollars, which must be paid or lost by somebody.  To this, add the cost of their transportation by land and sea to Mesurado, a year’s provision of food and clothing, implements of husbandry and of their trades, which will amount to three hundred millions more, making thirty-six millions of dollars a year for twenty-five years, with insurance of peace all that time, and it is impossible to look at the question a second time.  I am aware that at the end of about sixteen years, a gradual detraction from this sum will commence, from the gradual diminution of breeders, and go on during the remaining nine years.  Calculate this deduction, and it is still impossible to look at the enterprise a second time.  I do not say this to induce an inference that the getting rid of them is forever impossible.  For that is neither my opinion nor my hope.  But only that it cannot be done in this way.  There is, I think, a way in which it can be done;  that is, by emancipating the afterborn, leaving them, on due compensation, with their mothers, until their services are worth their maintenance, and then putting them to industrious occupations, until a proper age for deportation.  This was the result of my reflections on the subject five and forty years ago, and I have never yet been able to conceive any other practicable plan.  It was sketched in the Notes on Virginia, under the fourteenth query.  The estimated value of the new-born infant is so low, (say twelve dollars and fifty cents,) that it would probably be yielded by the owner gratis, and would thus reduce the six hundred millions of dollars, the first head of expense, to thirty-seven millions and a half;  leaving only the expenses of nourishment while with the mother, and of transportation.  And from what fund are these expenses to be furnished ?  Why not from that of the lands which have been ceded by the very States now needing this relief ?  And ceded on no consideration, for the most part, but that of the general good of the whole.  These cessions already constitute one-fourth of the States of the Union.  It may be said that these lands have been sold;  are now the property of the citizens composing those States;  and the money long ago received and expended.  But an equivalent of lands in the territories since acquired, may be appropriated to that object, or so much, at least, as may be sufficient;  and the object, although more important to the slave States, is highly so to the others also, if they were serious in their arguments on the Missouri question.  The slave States, too, if more interested, would also contribute more by their gratuitous liberation, thus taking on themselves alone the first and heaviest item of expense.

In the plan sketched in the Notes on Virginia, no particular place of asylum was specified;  because it was thought possible, that in the revolutionary state of America, then commenced, events might open to us some one within practicable distance.  This has now happened.  St. Domingo has become independent, and with a population of that color only;  and if the public papers are to be credited, their Chief offers to pay their passage, to receive them as free citizens, and to provide them employment.  This leaves, then, for the general confederacy, no expense but of nurture with the mother a few years, and would call, of course, for a very moderate appropriation of the vacant lands.  Suppose the whole annual increase to be of sixty thousand effective births, fifty vessels, of four hundred tons burden each;  constantly employed in that short run, would carry off the increase of every year, and the old stock would die off in the ordinary course of nature, lessening from the commencement until its final disappearance.  In this way no violation of private right is proposed.  Voluntary surrenders would probably come in as fast as the means to be provided for their care would be competent to it.  Looking at my own State only, and I presume not to speak for the others, I verily believe that this surrender of property would not amount to more, annually, than half our present direct taxes, to be continued fully about twenty or twenty-five years, and then gradually diminishing for as many more until their final extinction;  and even this half tax would not be paid in cash, but by the delivery of an object which they have never yet known or counted as part of their property;  and those not possessing the object will be called on for nothing.  I do not go into all the details of the burdens and benefits of this operation.  And who could estimate its blessed effects ?  I leave this to those who will live to see their accomplishment, and to enjoy a beatitude forbidden to my age.  But I leave it with this admonition, to rise and be doing.  A million and a half are within their control;  but six millions, (which a majority of those now living will see them attain,) and one million of these fighting men will say, “we will not go.”

I am aware that this subject involves some constitutional scruples.  But a liberal construction, justified by the object, may go far, and an amendment of the Constitution, the whole length necessary.  The separation of infants from their mothers, too, would produce some scruples of humanity.  But this would be straining at a gnat, and swallowing a camel.

I am much pleased to see that you have taken up the subject of the duty on imported books.  I hope a crusade will be kept up against it, until those in power shall become sensible of this stain on our legislation, and shall wipe it from their code, and from the remembrance of man, if possible.

I salute you with assurances of high respect and esteem.




To Robert J. Garnett.
Monticello, February 14, 1824.

Dear Sir, — I have to thank you for the copy of Colonel Taylor’s New Views of the Constitution and shall read them with the satisfaction and edification which I have ever derived from whatever he has written.  But I fear it is the voice of one crying in the wilderness.  Those who formerly usurped the name of federalists, which, in fact, they never were, have now openly abandoned it, and are as openly marching by the road of construction, in a direct line to that consolidation which was always their real object.  They, almost to a man, are in possession of one branch of the government, and appear to be very strong in yours.  The three great questions of amendment now before you, will give the measure of their strength.  I mean, 1st, the limitation of the term of the Presidential service;  2d, the placing the choice of President effectually in the hands of the people;  3d, the giving to Congress the power of internal improvement, on condition that each State’s federal proportion of the moneys so expended, shall be employed within the State.  The friends of consolidation would rather take these powers by construction than accept them by direct investiture from the States.  Yet, as to internal improvement particularly, there is probably not a State in the Union which would not grant the power on the condition proposed, or which would grant it without that.

The best general key for the solution of questions of power between our governments, is the fact that “every foreign and federal power is given to the federal government, and to the States every power purely domestic.”  I recollect but one instance of control vested in the federal, over the State authorities, in a matter purely domestic, which is that of metallic tenders.  The federal is, in truth, our foreign government, which department alone is taken from the sovereignty of the separate States.

The real friends of the Constitution in its federal form, if they wish it to be immortal, should be attentive, by amendments, to make it keep pace with the advance of the age in science and experience.  Instead of this, the European governments have resisted reformation, until the people, seeing no other resource, undertake it themselves by force, their only weapon, and work it out through blood, desolation and long-continued anarchy.  Here it will be by large fragments breaking off, and refusing re-union but on condition of amendment, or perhaps permanently.  If I can see these three great amendments prevail, I shall consider it as a renewed extension of the term of our lease, shall live in more confidence, and die in more hope.  And I do trust that the republican mass, which Colonel Taylor justly says is the real federal one, is still strong enough to carry these truly federo-republican amendments.  With my prayers for the issue, accept my friendly and respectful salutations.




To Isaac Engelbrecht.
Monticello, February 25, 1824.

SIR, — The kindness of the motive which led to the request of your letter of the 14th instant, and which would give some value to an article from me, renders compliance a duty of gratitude;  knowing nothing more moral, more sublime, more worthy of your preservation than David’s description of the good man, in his 15th Psalm, I will here transcribe it from Brady and Tate’s version :

Lord, who’s the happy man that may to Thy blest courts repair,
Not stranger-like, to visit them, but to inhabit there ?
’Tis he whose every thought and deed by rules of virtue moves,
Whose generous tongue disdains to speak the thing his heart disproves.
Who never did a slander forge, his neighbor’s fame to wound,
Nor hearken to a false report, by malice whispered round.
Who vice, in all its pomp and power, can treat with just neglect;
And piety, though clothed in rags, religiously respect.
Who to his plighted vows and trust has ever firmly stood,
And though he promise to his loss, he makes his promise good.
Whose soul in usury disdains his treasure to employ,
Whom no rewards can ever bribe the guiltless to destroy.
The man who, by this steady course, has happiness ensur’d,
When earth’s foundations shake, shall stand, by Providence secur’d.

Accept this as a testimony of my respect for your request, an acknowledgment of a due sense of the favor of your opinion, and an assurance of my good will and best wishes.




To Judge Augustus B. Woodward.
Monticello, March 24, 1824.

I have to thank you, dear Sir, for the copy I have received of your System of Universal Science, for which, I presume, I am indebted to yourself.  It will be a monument of the learning of the author and of the analyzing powers of his mind.  Whether it may be adopted in general use is yet to be seen.  These analytical views indeed must always be ramified according to their object.  Yours is on the great scale of a methodical encyclopedia of all human sciences, taking for the basis of their distribution, matter, mind, and the union of both.  Lord Bacon founded his first great division on the faculties of the mind which have cognizance of these sciences.  It does not seem to have been observed by any one that the origination of this division was not with him.  It had been proposed by Charron more than twenty years before, in his book de la Sagesse, B. 1, c. 14, and an imperfect ascription of the sciences to these respective faculties was there attempted.  This excellent moral work was published in 1600.  Lord Bacon is said not to have entered on his great work until his retirement from public office in 1621.  Where sciences are to be arranged in accommodation to the schools of an university, they will be grouped to coincide with the kindred qualifications of Professors in ordinary.  For a library, which was my object, their divisions and subdivisions will be made such as to throw convenient masses of books under each separate head.  Thus, in the library of a physician, the books of that science, of which he has many, will be subdivided under many heads;  and those of law, of which he has few, will be placed under a single one.  The lawyer, again, will distribute his law books under many subdivisions, his medical under a single one.  Your idea of making the subject matter of the sciences the basis of their distribution, is certainly more reasonable than that of the faculties to which they are addressed.  The materialists will perhaps criticise a basis, one-half of which they will say is a non-existence;  adhering to the axiom of Aristotle, “nihil est in intellectu quod prius non fuerit in sensu,” and affirming that we can have no evidence of any existence which impresses no sense.  Of this opinion were most of the ancient philosophers, and several of the early and orthodox fathers of the Christian Church.  Indeed, Jesus Himself, the Founder of our religion, was unquestionably a Materialist as to man.  In all His doctrines of the resurrection, He teaches expressly that the body is to rise in substance.  In the Apostles’ Creed, we all declare that we believe in the “resurrection of the body.”  Jesus said that God is Spirit ----[greek text]---- without defining it.  Tertullian supplies the definition, “quis negabit Deum esse corpus, etsi Deus Spiritus? spiritus etiam corporis sui generis in sua effigie.”  And Origen, “----[greek text]---- accipi, docet, pro eo quod non est simile huic nostro crassiori et visibli corpori, sed quod est naturaliter subtile et velut aura tenue.”  The modern philosophers mostly consider thought as a function of our material organization;  and Locke particularly among them, charges with blasphemy those who deny that Omnipotence could give the faculty of thinking to certain combinations of matter.

Were I to re-compose my tabular view of the sciences, I should certainly transpose a particular branch.  The naturalists, you know, distribute the history of nature into three kingdoms or departments :  zoology, botany, mineralogy.  Ideology or mind, however, occupies so much space in the field of science, that we might perhaps erect it into a fourth kingdom or department.  But, inasmuch as it makes a part of the animal construction only, it would be more proper to subdivide zoology into physical and moral.  The latter including ideology, ethics, and mental science generally, in my catalogue, considering ethics, as well as religion, as supplements to law in the government of man, I had placed them in that sequence.  But certainly the faculty of thought belongs to animal history, is an important portion of it, and should there find its place.  But these are speculations in which I do not now permit myself to labor.  My mind unwillingly engages in severe investigations.  Its energies, indeed, are no longer equal to them.  Being to thank you for your book, its subject has run away with me into a labyrinth of ideas no longer familiar, and writing also has become a slow and irksome operation with me.  I have been obliged to avail myself of the pen of a granddaughter for this communication.  I will here, therefore, close my task of thinking, hers of writing, and yours of reading, with assurances of my constant and high respect and esteem.




To Edward Everett.
Monticello, March 27, 1824.

Dear Sir, — I have to thank you for your Greek Reader, which, for the use of schools, is evidently preferable to the Collectanea Graeca.  These have not arranged their selections so well in gradation from the easier to the more difficult styles.

On the subject of the Greek ablative, I dare say that your historical explanation is the true one.  In the early stages of languages, the distinctions of cases may well be supposed so few as to be readily effected by changes of termination.  The Greeks, in this way, seem to have formed five, the Latins six, and to have supplied their deficiences as they occurred in the progress of development, by prepositive words.  In later times, the Italians, Spaniards, and French, have depended on prepositions altogether, without any inflection of the primitive word to denote the change of case.  What is singular as to the English is, that in its early form of Anglo-Saxon, having distinguished several cases by changes of termination, at later periods it has dropped these, retains but that of the genitive, and supplies all the others by prepositions.  These subjects, with me, are neither favorites nor familiar;  and your letter has occasioned me to look more into the particular one in question than I had ever done before.  Turning, for satisfaction, to the work of Tracy, the most profound of our ideological writers, and to the volume particularly which treats of grammar, I find what I suppose to be the correct doctrine of the case.  Omitting unnecessary words to abridge writing, I copy what he says :  “Il y a des langues qui par certains changemens de desinence, appellés cas, indiquent quelques-uns des rapports des noms avec d’autres noms; mais beaucoup de langues n’ont point de cas; et celles qui en ont, n’en ont qu’un petit nombre, tandis que les divers rapports qu’une idée peut avoir avec une autre sont extrêmement multipliés: ainsi, les cas ne peuvent exprimer qu’en general, les principaux de ces rapports.  Aussi dans toutes les langues, meme dans celles qui ont des cas, on a senti le besoin de mots distincts, separes des autres, et expressement destinès à cet usage; ils ce qu’on appelle des prepositions.”  2 Tracy Elemens d’Ideologie, c. 3, º 5, p. 114, and he names the Basque and Peruvian languages, whose nouns have such various changes of termination as to express all the relations which other languages express by prepositions, and therefore having no prepositions.  On this ground, I suppose, then, we may rest the question of the Greek ablative.  It leaves with me a single difficulty only, to wit :  the instances where they have given the ablative signification to the dative termination, some of which I quoted in my former letter to you.

I have just received a letter from Coray, at Paris, of the 28th December, in which he confirms the late naval success of the Greeks, but expresses a melancholy fear for his nation, “qui a montre jusqu’a ce moment des prodiges de valeur, mais qui, delivree d’un joug de Cannibass, ne peut encore posseder ni les lecons d’instruction, ni celles de l’experience.”  I confess I have the same fears for our South American brethren;  the qualifications for self-government in society are not innate.  They are the result of habit and long training, and for these they will require time and probably much suffering.

I salute you with assurances of great esteem and respect.




To Edward Livingston.
Monticello, April 4, 1824.

Dear Sir, — It was with great pleasure I learned that the good people of New Orleans had restored you again to the councils of our country.  I did not doubt the aid it would bring to the remains of our old school in Congress, in which your early labors had been so useful.  You will find, I suppose, on revisiting our maritime States, the names of things more changed than the things themselves;  that though our old opponents have given up their appellation, they have not, in assuming ours, abandoned their views, and that they are as strong nearly as they ever were.  These cares, however, are no longer mine.  I resign myself cheerfully to the managers of the ship, and the more contentedly as I am near the end of my voyage.  I have learned to be less confident in the conclusions of human reason, and give more credit to the honesty of contrary opinions.  The radical idea of the character of the constitution of our government, which I have adopted as a key in cases of doubtful construction, is, that the whole field of government is divided into two departments, domestic and foreign, (the States in their mutual relations being of the latter;) that the former department is reserved exclusively to the respective States within their own limits, and the latter assigned to a separate set of functionaries, constituting what may be called the foreign branch, which, instead of a federal basis, is established as a distinct government quoad hoc, acting as the domestic branch does on the citizens directly and coercively;  that these departments have distinct directories, co-ordinate, and equally independent and supreme, each within its own sphere of action.  Whenever a doubt arises to which of these branches a power belongs, I try it by this test.  I recollect no case where a question simply between citizens of the same State, has been transferred to the foreign department, except that of inhibiting tenders but of metallic money, and ex post facto legislation.  The causes of these singularities are well remembered.

I thank you for the copy of your speech on the question of national improvement, which I have read with great pleasure, and recognize in it those powers of reasoning and persuasion of which I had formerly seen from you so many proofs.  Yet, in candor, I must say it has not removed, in my mind, all the difficulties of the question.  And I should really be alarmed at a difference of opinion with you, and suspicious of my own, were it not that I have, as companions in sentiments, the Madisons, the Monroes, the Randolphs, the Macons, all good men and true, of primitive principles.  In one sentiment of the speech I particularly concur.  “If we have a doubt relative to any power, we ought not to exercise it.”  When we consider the extensive and deep-seated opposition to this assumption, the conviction entertained by so many, that this deduction of powers by elaborate construction prostrates the rights reserved to the States, the difficulties with which it will rub along in the course of its exercise;  that changes of majorities will be changing the system backwards and forwards, so that no undertaking under it will be safe;  that there is not a State in the Union which would not give the power willingly, by way of amendment, with some little guard, perhaps, against abuse;  I cannot but think it would be the wisest course to ask an express grant of the power.  A government held together by the bands of reason only, requires much compromise of opinion;  that things even salutary should not be crammed down the throats of dissenting brethren, especially when they may be put into a form to be willingly swallowed, and that a great deal of indulgence is necessary to strengthen habits of harmony and fraternity.  In such a case, it seems to me it would be safer and wiser to ask an express grant of the power.  This would render its exercise smooth and acceptable to all, and insure to it all the facilities which the States could contribute, to prevent that kind of abuse which all will fear, because all know it is so much practised in public bodies, I mean the bartering of votes.  It would reconcile every one, if limited by the proviso, that the federal proportion of each State should be expended within the State.  With this single security against partiality and corrupt bargaining, I suppose there is not a State, perhaps not a man in the Union, who would not consent to add this to the powers of the General Government.  But age has weaned me from questions of this kind.  My delight is now in the passive occupation of reading;  and it is with great reluctance I permit my mind ever to encounter subjects of difficult investigation.  You have many years yet to come of vigorous activity, and I confidently trust they will be employed in cherishing every measure which may foster our brotherly union, and perpetuate a constitution of government destined to be the primitive and precious model of what is to change the condition of man over the globe.  With this confidence, equally strong in your powers and purposes, I pray you to accept the assurance of my cordial esteem and respect.




To John Hambden Pleasants.
Monticello, April 19, 1824.

Dear Sir, — I received in due time your favor of the 12th., requesting my opinion on the proposition to call a convention for amending the constitution of the State.  That this should not be perfect cannot be a subject of wonder, when it is considered that ours was not only the first of the American States, but the first nation in the world, at least within the records of history, which peaceably by its wise men, formed on free deliberation, a constitution of government for itself, and deposited it in writing, among their archives, always ready and open to the appeal of every citizen.  The other States, who successively formed constitutions for themselves also, had the benefit of our outline, and have made on it, doubtless, successive improvements.  One in the very outset, and which has been adopted in every subsequent constitution, was to lay its foundation in the authority of the nation.  To our convention no special authority had been delegated by the people to form a permanent constitution, over which their successors in legislation should have no powers of alteration.  They had been elected for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, and at a time when the establishment of a new government had not been proposed or contemplated.  Although, therefore, they gave to this act the title of a constitution, yet it could be no more than an act of legislation subject, as their other acts were, to alteration by their successors.  It has been said, indeed, that the acquiescence of the people supplied the want of original power.  But it is a dangerous lesson to say to them “whenever your functionaries exercise unlawful authority over you, if you do not go into actual resistance, it will be deemed acquiescence and confirmation.  “How long had we acquiesced under usurpations of the British Parliament ?  Had that confirmed them in right, arid made our Revolution a wrong ?  Besides, no authority has yet decided whether this resistance must be instantaneous;  when the right to resist ceases, or whether it has yet ceased ?  Of the twenty-four States now organized, twenty-three have disapproved our doctrine and example, and have deemed the authority of their people a necessary foundation for a constitution.

Another defect which has been corrected by most of the States is, that the basis of our constitution is in opposition to the principle of equal political rights, refusing to all but freeholders any participation in the natural right of self-government.  It is believed, for example, that a very great majority of the militia, on whom the burden of military duty was imposed in the late war, were men unrepresented in the legislation which imposed this burden on them.  However nature may by mental or physical disqualifications have marked infants and the weaker sex for the protection, rather than the direction of government, yet among the men who either pay or fight for their country, no line of right can be drawn.  The exclusion of a majority of our freemen from the right of representation is merely arbitrary, and an usurpation of the minority over the majority;  for it is believed that the non-freeholders compose the majority of our free and adult male citizens.

And even among our citizens who participate in the representative privilege, the equality of political rights is entirely prostrated by our constitution.  Upon which principle of right or reason can any one justify the giving to every citizen of Warwick as much weight in the government as to twenty-two equal citizens in Loudoun, and similar inequalities among the other counties ?  If these fundamental principles are of no importance in actual government, then no principles are important, and it is as well to rely on the dispositions of an administration, good or evil, as on the provisions of a constitution.

I shall not enter into the details of smaller defects, although others there doubtless are, the reformation of some of which might very much lessen the expenses of government, improve its organization, and add to the wisdom and purity of its administration in all its parts;  but these things I leave to others, not permitting myself to take sides in the political questions of the day.  I willingly acquiesce in the institutions of my country, perfect or imperfect;  and think it a duty to leave their modifications to those who are to live under them, and are to participate of the good or evil they may produce.  The present generation, has the same right of self-government which the past one has exercised for itself.  And those in the full vigor of body and mind are more able to judge for themselves than those who are sinking under the wane of both.  If the sense of our citizens on the question of a convention can be fairly and fully taken, its result will, I am sure, be wise and salutary;  and far from arrogating the office of advice, no one will more passively acquiesce in it than myself.  Retiring, therefore, to the tranquillity called for by increasing years and debility, I wish not to be understood as intermeddling in this question;  and to my prayers for the general good, I have only to add assurances to yourself of my great esteem.




To Mr. David Harding, President of the Jefferson Debating Society of Hingham.
Monticello, April 20, 1824.

SIR, — I have duly received your favor of the 6th instant, informing me of the institution of a debating society in Hingham, composed of adherents to the republican principles of the Revolution;  and I am justly sensible of the honor done my name by associating it with the title of the society.  The object of the society is laudable, and in a republican nation, whose citizens are to be led by reason and persuasion, and not by force, the art of reasoning becomes of first importance.  In this line antiquity has left us the finest models for imitation;  and he who studies and imitates them most nearly, will nearest approach the perfection of the art.  Among these I should consider the speeches of Livy, Sallust, and Tacitus, as pre-eminent specimens of logic, taste, and that sententious brevity which, using not a word to spare, leaves not a moment for inattention to the hearer.  Amplification is the vice of modern oratory.  It is an insult to an assembly of reasonable men, disgusting and revolting instead of persuading.  Speeches measured by the hour, die with the hour.  I will not, however, further indulge the disposition of the age to sermonize, and especially to those surrounded by so much better advice.  With my apologies, therefore, for hazarding even these observations, and my prayers for the success of your institution, be pleased to accept for the society and yourself the assurances of my high consideration.




To Richard Rush.
Monticello, April 26, 1824.

Dear Sir, — I have heretofore informed you that our legislature had undertaken the establishment of an University in Virginia;  that it was placed in my neighborhood, and under the direction of a board of seven Visitors, of whom I am one, Mr. Madison another, and others equally worthy of confidence.  We have been four or five years engaged in erecting our buildings, all of which are now ready to receive their tenants, one excepted, which the present season will put into a state for use.  The last session of our legislature had by new donations liberated the revenue of fifteen thousand dollars a year, with which they had before endowed the institution, and we propose to open it the beginning of the next year.  We require the intervening time for seeking out and engaging Professors.  As to these we have determined to receive no one who is not of the first order of science in his line;  and as such in every branch cannot be obtained with us, we propose to seek some of them at least in the countries ahead of us in science, and preferably in Great Britain, the land of our own language, habits, and manners.  But how to find out those who are of the first grade of science, of sober, correct habits and morals, harmonizing tempers, talents for communication, is the difficulty.  Our first step is to send a special agent to the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Edinburgh, to make the selection for us;  and the person appointed for this office is the gentleman who will hand you this letter, — Mr. Francis Walker Gilmer, — the best educated subject we have raised since the Revolution, highly qualified in all the important branches of science, professing particularly that of the law, which he has practised some years at our Supreme Court with good success and flattering prospects.  His morals, his amiable temper and discretion, will do justice to any confidence you may be willing to place in him, for I commit him to you as his mentor and guide in the business he goes on.  We do not certainly expect to obtain such known characters as were the Cullens, the Robertsons and Porsons of Great Britain, men of the first eminence established there in reputation and office, and with emoluments not to be bettered anywhere.  But we know that there is another race treading on their heels, preparing to take their places, and as well and sometimes better qualified to fill them.  These while unsettled, surrounded by a crowd of competitors, of equal claims and perhaps superior credit and interest, may prefer a comfortable certainty here for an uncertain hope there, and a lingering delay even of that.  From this description we expect we may draw professors equal to those of the highest name.  The difficulty is to distinguish them;  for we are told that so overcharged are all branches of business in that country, and such the difficulty of getting the means of living, that it is deemed allowable in ethics for even the most honorable minds to give highly exaggerated recommendations and certificates to enable a friend or protégé to get into a livelihood;  and that the moment our agent should be known to be on such a mission, he would be overwhelmed by applications from numerous pretenders, all of whom, worthy or unworthy, would be supported by such recommendations and such names as would confound all discrimination.  On this head our trust and hope is in you.  Your knowledge of the state of things, your means of finding out a character or two at each place, truly trustworthy, and into whose hands you can commit our agent with entire safety, for information., caution, and co-operation, induces me to request your patronage and aid in our endeavors to obtain such men, and such only as will fulfil our views.  An unlucky selection in the outset would forever blast our prospects.  From our information of the character of the different Universities, we expect we should go to Oxford for our classical professor, to Cambridge for those of Mathematics, Natural Philosophy and Natural History, and to Edinburgh for a professor of Anatomy, and the elements or outlines only of Medicine.  We have still our eye on Mr. Blaetterman for the professorship of modern languages, and Mr. Gilmer is instructed to engage him, if no very material objection to him may have arisen unknown to us.  We can place in Mr. Gilmer’s hands but a moderate sum at present for merely text-books to begin with, and for indispensable articles of apparatus, Mathematical, Astronomical, Physical, Chemical and Anatomical.  We are in the hope of a sum of $50,000, as soon as we can get a settlement passed through the public offices.  My experience in dealing with the bookseller Lackington, on your recommendation, has induced me to recommend him to Mr. Gilmer, and if we can engage his fidelity, we may put into his hands the larger supply of books when we are ready to call for it, and particularly what we shall propose to seek in England.

Although I have troubled you with many particulars, I yet leave abundance for verbal explanation with Mr. Gilmer, who possesses a full knowledge of everything, and our full confidence in everything.  He takes with him plans of our establishment, which we think it may be encouraging to show to the persons to whom he will make propositions, as well to let them see the comforts provided for themselves, as to show by the extensiveness and expense of the scale, that it is no ephemeral thing to which they are invited.

With my earnest solicitations that you will give us all your aid in an undertaking on which we rest the hopes and happiness of our country, accept the assurances of my sincere friendship, attachment and respect.




To Joseph C. Cabell.
Monticello, May 16, 1824.

Dear Sir, — Your favor of the 5th, from Williamsburg, has been duly received, and presents to us a case of pregnant character, admitting important issues, and requiring serious consideration and conduct;  yet I am more inclined to view it with hope than dismay.  It involves two questions :  First.  Shall the College of William and Mary be removed ?  Second.  To what place ?  As to the first, I never doubted the lawful authority of the legislature over the college, as being a public institution and endowed from the public property, by public agents for that function, and for public purposes.  Some have doubted this authority without a relinquishment of what they call a vested right by the body corporate.  But as their voluntary relinquishment is a circumstance of the case, it is relieved from that doubt.  I certainly never wished that my venerable alma mater should be disturbed.  I considered it as an actual possession of that ancient and earliest settlement of our forefathers, and was disposed to see it yielded as a courtesy, rather than taken as a right.  They, however, are free to renounce a benefit, and we to receive it.  Had we dissolved it on the principle of right, to give a direction to its funds more useful to the public, the professors, although their chartered tenure is during pleasure only, might have reasonably expected a vale of a year or two’s salary, as an intermediate support, until they could find other employment for their talents.  And notwithstanding that their abandonment is voluntary, this should still be given them.  On this first question I think we should be absolutely silent and passive, taking no part in it until the old institution is loosened from its foundation and fairly placed on its wheels.

2.  On the second question, to what place shall it be moved? we may take the field boldly.  Richmond, it seems, claims it, but on what ground of advantage to the public ?  When the professors their charter and funds shall be translated to Richmond, will they become more enlightened there than at the old place ?  Will they possess more science? be more capable of communicating it? or more competent to raise it from the dead, in a new sect, than to keep it alive in the ancient one ?  Or has Richmond any peculiarities more favorable for the communication of the sciences generally than the place which the legislature has preferred and fixed on for that purpose ?  This will not be pretended.  But it seems they possess advantages for a medical school.  Let us scan them.  Anatomy may be as competently taught at the University as at Richmond, the only subjects of discretion which either place can count on are equally acquirable at both.  And as to medicine, whatever can be learned from lectures or books, may be taught at the University of Virginia as well as at Richmond, or even at Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, or Boston, with the inestimable additional advantage of acquiring, at the same time, the kindred sciences by attending the other schools.  But Richmond thinks it can have a hospital which will furnish subjects for the clinical branch of medicine.  The classes of people which furnish subjects for the hospitals of Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston, do not exist at Richmond.  The shipping constantly present at those places, furnish many patients.  Is there a ship at Richmond ?  The class of white servants in those cities which is numerous and penniless, and whose regular resource in sickness is always the hospital, constitutes the great body of their patients;  this class does not exist at Richmond.  The servants there are slaves, whose masters are by law obliged to take care of them in sickness as in health, and who could not be admitted into a hospital.  These resources, then, being null, the free inhabitants alone remain for a hospital at Richmond.  And I will ask how many families in Richmond would send their husbands, wives, or children to a hospital, in sickness, to be attended by nurses hardened by habit against the feelings of pity, to lie in public rooms harassed by the cries and sufferings of disease under every form, alarmed by the groans of the dying, exposed as a corpse to be lectured over by a clinical professor, to be crowded and handled by his students to hear their case learnedly explained to them, its threatening symptoms developed, and its probable termination foreboded ?  In vindication of Richmond, I may surely answer that there is not in the place a family so heartless, as, relinquishing their own tender cares of a child or parent, to abandon them in sickness to this last resource of poverty;  for it is poverty alone which peoples hospitals, and those alone who are on the charities of their parish would go to their hospital.  Have they paupers enough to fill a hospital? and sickness enough among these ?  One reason alleged for the removal of the college to Richmond is that Williamsburg is sickly, is happily little apt for the situation of a hospital.  No, Sir, Richmond is no place to furnish subjects for clinical lectures.  I have always had Norfolk in view for this purpose.  The climate and pontine country around Norfolk render it truly sickly in itself.  It is, moreover, the rendezvous not only of the shipping of commerce, but of the vessels of the public navy.  The United States have there a hospital already established, and supplied with subjects from these local circumstances.  I had thought and have mentioned to yourself and our colleagues, that when our medical school has got well under way, we should propose to the federal government the association with that establishment, and at our own expense, of the clinical branch of our medical school, so that our students, after qualifying themselves with the other branches of the science here, might complete their course of preparation by attending clinical lectures for six or twelve months at Norfolk.

But Richmond has another claim, as being the seat of government.  The indisposition of Richmond towards our University has not been unfelt.  But would it not be wiser in them to rest satisfied with the government and their local academy ?  Can they afford, on the question of a change of the seat of government, by hostilizing the middle counties, to transfer them from the eastern to the western interest ?  To make it their interest to withdraw from the former that ground of claim, if used for adversary purposes ?  With things as they are, let both parties remain content and united.

If, then, William and Mary is to be removed, and not to Richmond, can there be two opinions how its funds are to be directed to the best advantage for the public ?  When it was found that that seminary was entirely ineffectual towards the object of public education, and that one on a better plan, and in a better situation, must be provided, what was so obvious as to employ for that purpose the funds of the one abandoned, with what more would be necessary, to raise the new establishment ?  And what so obvious as to do now what might reasonably have been done then, by consolidating together the institutions and their funds ?  The plan sanctioned by the legislature required for our University ten professors, but the funds appropriated will maintain but eight, and some of these are consequently overburdened with duties;  the hundred thousand dollars of principal which you say still remains to William and Mary, by its interest of six thousand dollars, would give us the two deficient professors, with an annual surplus for the purchase of books;  and certainly the legislature will see no public interest, after the expense incurred on the new establishment, in setting up a rival in the city of Richmond;  they cannot think it better to have two institutions crippling one another, than one of healthy powers, competent to that highest grade of instruction which neither, with a divided support, could expect to attain.

Another argument may eventually arise in favor of consolidation.  The contingent gift at the late session, of fifty thousand dollars, for books and apparatus, shows a sense in the legislature that those objects are still to be provided.  If we fail in obtaining that sum, they will feel an incumbency to provide it otherwise.  What so ready as the derelict capital of William and Mary, and the large library they uselessly possess ?  Should that college then be removed, I cannot doubt that the legislature, keeping in view its original object, will consolidate it with the University.

But it will not be removed.  Richmond is doubtless in earnest, but that the visitors should concur is impossible.  The professors are the prime movers, and do not mean exactly what they propose.  They hold up this raw-head and bloody-bones in terrorem to us, to force us to receive them into our institution.  Men who have degraded and foundered the vessel whose helm was entrusted to them, want now to force their incompetence on us.  I know none of them personally, but judge of them from the fact and the opinion I hear from every one acquainted with the case, that it has been destroyed by their incompetence and mismanagement.  Until the death of Bishop Madison, it kept at its usual stand of about eighty students.  It is now dwindled to about twenty, and the professors acknowledge that on opening our doors, theirs may be shut.  Their funds in that case, would certainly be acceptable and salutary to us.  But not with the incubus of their faculty.  When they find that their feint gives us no alarm, they will retract, will recall their grammar school, make their college useful as a sectional school of preparation for the University, and teach the languages, surveying, navigation, plane trigonometry, and such other elements of science as will be useful to many whose views do not call for a university education.

I will only add to this long letter an opinion that we had better say as little as we can on this whole subject;  give them no alarm;  let them petition for the removal;  let them get the old structure completely on wheels, and not till then put in our claim to its reception.  I shall communicate your letter, as you request, to Mr. Madison, and with it this answer.  Why can you not call on us on your way to Warminster, and make this a subject of conversation ?  With my devoted respects to Mrs. Cabell, assure her that she can be nowhere more cordially received than by the family of Monticello.  And the deviation from your direct road is too small to merit consideration.  Ever and affectionately your friend and servant.




To Martin van Buren.
Monticello, June 29, 1824.

Dear Sir, — I have to thank you for Mr. Pickering’s elaborate philippic against Mr. Adams, Gerry, Smith, and myself;  and I have delayed the acknowledgment until I could read it and make some observations on it.

I could not have believed, that for so many years, and to such a period of advanced age, he could have nourished passions so vehement and viperous.  It appears, that for thirty years past, he has been industriously collecting materials for vituperating the characters he had marked for his hatred;  some of whom, certainly, if enmities towards him had ever existed, had forgotten them all, or buried them in the grave with themselves.  As to myself, there never had been anything personal between us, nothing but the general opposition of party sentiment;  and our personal intercourse had been that of urbanity, as himself says.  But it seems he has been all this time brooding over an enmity which I had never felt, and that with respect to myself, as well as others, he has been writing far and near, and in every direction, to get hold of original letters, where he could, copies, where he could not, certificates and journals, catching at every gossiping story he could hear of in any quarter, supplying by suspicions what he could find nowhere else, and then arguing on this motley farrago, as if established on gospel evidence.  And while expressing his wonder, that “at the age of eighty-eight, the strong passions of Mr. Adams should not have cooled;”  that on the contrary they had acquired the mastery of his soul,” (p. 100;) that “where these were enlisted, no reliance could be placed on his statements,” (p. 104;) the facility and little truth with which he could represent facts and occurrences, concerning persons who were the objects of his hatred, (p. 3;) that “he is capable of making the grossest misrepresentations, and, from detached facts, and often from bare suspicions, or drawing unwarrantable inferences, if suited to his purpose at the instant,” (p. 174;) while making such charges, I say, on Mr. Adams, instead of his “ecce homo,” (p. 100;) how justly might we say to him, “mutato nomine, de te fabula narratur.”  For the assiduity and industry he has employed in his benevolent researches after matter of crimination against us, I refer to his pages 13, 14, 34, 36, 46, 71, 79, 90, bis. 92, 93, bis. 101, ter. 104, 116, 118, 141, 143, 146, 150, 151, 153, 168, 171, 172.  That Mr. Adams’ strictures on him, written and printed, should have excited some notice on his part, was not perhaps to be wondered at.  But the sufficiency of his motive for the large attack on me may be more questionable.  He says (p. 4), “of Mr. Jefferson I should have said nothing, but for his letter to Mr. Adams, of October the 12th, 1823.”  Now the object of that letter was to soothe the feelings of a friend, wounded by a publication which I thought an “outrage on private confidence.  Not a word or allusion in it respecting Mr. Pickering, nor was it suspected that it would draw forth his pen in justification of this infidelity, which he has, however undertaken in the course of his pamphlet, but more particularly in its conclusion.

He arraigns me on two grounds, my actions and my motives.  The very actions, however which he arraigns, have been such as the great majority of my fellow citizens have approved.  The approbation of Mr. Pickering, and of those who thought with him, I had no right to expect.  My motives he chooses to ascribe to hypocrisy, to ambition and a passion for popularity.  Of these the world must judge between us.  It is no office of his or mine.  To that tribunal I have ever submitted my actions and motives, without ransacking the Union for certificates, letters, journals, and gossiping tales, to justify my self and weary them.  Nor shall I do this on the present occasion, but leave still to them these antiquated party diatribes, now newly revamped and paraded, as if they had not been already a thousand times repeated, refuted, and adjudged against him, by the nation itself.  If no action is to be deemed virtuous for which malice can imagine a sinister motive, then there never was a virtuous action;  no, not even in the life of our Saviour Himself.  But He has taught us to judge the tree by its fruit, and to leave motives to Him who can alone see into them.

But whilst I leave to its fate the libel of Mr. Pickering, with the thousands of others like it, to which I have given no other answer than a steady course of similar action, there are two facts or fancies of his which I must set to rights.  The one respects Mr. Adams, the other myself.  He observes that my letter of October the 12th, 1823, acknowledges the receipt of one from Mr. Adams, of September the 18th, which, having been written a few days after Cunningham’s publication, he says was no doubt written to apologize to me for the pointed reproaches he had uttered against me in his confidential letters to Cunningham.  And thus having no “doubt” of his conjecture, he considers it as proven, goes on to suppose the contents of the letter, ( 19, 22, ) makes it place Mr. Adams at my feet suing for pardon, and continues to rant upon it, as an undoubted fact.  Now, I do most solemnly declare, that so far from being a letter of apology, as Mr. Pickering so undoubtedly assumes, there was not a word or allusion in it respecting Cunningham’s publication.

The other allegation respecting myself, is equally false.  In page 34, he quotes Doctor Stuart as having, twenty years ago, informed him that General Washington, “when he became a private citizen,” called me to account for expressions in a letter to Mazzei, requiring, in a tone of unusual severity, an explanation of that letter.  He adds of himself, “in what manner the latter humbled himself and appeased the just resentment of Washington, will never be made known, as some time after his death the correspondence was not to be found, and a diary for an important period of his Presidency was also missing.”  The diary being of transactions during his Presidency, the letter to Mazzei not known here until some time after he became a private citizen, and the pretended correspondence of course after that, I know not why this lost diary and supposed correspondence are brought together here, unless for insinuations worthy of the letter itself.  The correspondence could not be found, indeed, because it had never existed.  I do affirm that there never passed a word, written or verbal, directly or indirectly, between General Washington and myself on the subject of that letter.  He would never have degraded himself so far as to take to himself the imputation in that letter on the “Samsons in combat.”  The whole story is a fabrication, and I defy the framers of it, and all mankind, to produce a scrip of a pen between General Washington and myself on the subject, or any other evidence more worthy of credit than the suspicions, suppositions and presumptions of the two persons here quoting and quoted for it.  With Doctor Stuart I had not much acquaintance.  I supposed him to be an honest man, knew him to be a very weak one, and, like Mr. Pickering, very prone to antipathies, boiling with party passions, and under the dominion of these readily welcoming fancies for facts.  But come the story from whomsoever it might, it is an unqualified falsehood.

This letter to Mazzei has been a precious theme of crimination for federal malice.  It was a long letter of business, in which was inserted a single paragraph only of political information as to the state of our country.  In this information there was not one word which would not then have been, or would not now be approved by every republican in the United States, looking back to those times, as you will see by a faithful copy now enclosed of the whole of what that letter said on the subject of the United States, or of its government.  This paragraph, extracted and translated, got into a Paris paper at a time when the persons in power there were laboring under very general disfavor, and their friends were eager to catch even at straws to buoy them up.  To them, therefore, I have always imputed the interpolation of an entire paragraph additional to mine, which makes me charge my own country with ingratitude and injustice to France.  There was not a word in my letter respecting France, or any of the proceedings or relations between this country and that.  Yet this interpolated paragraph has been the burden of federal calumny, has been constantly quoted by them, made the subject of unceasing and virulent abuse, and is still quoted, as you see, by Mr. Pickering, page 33, as if it were genuine, and really written by me.  And even Judge Marshall makes history descend from its dignity, and the ermine from its sanctity, to exaggerate, to record, and to sanction this forgery.  In the very last note of his book, he says, “a letter from Mr. Jefferson to Mr. Mazzei, an Italian, was published in Florence, and re-published in the Moniteur, with very severe strictures on the conduct of the United States.”  And instead of the letter itself, he copies what he says are the remarks of the editor, which are an exaggerated commentary on the fabricated paragraph itself, and silently leaves to his reader to make the ready inference that these were the sentiments of the letter.  Proof is the duty of the affirmative side.  A negative cannot be positively proved.  But, in defect of impossible proof of what was not in the original letter, I have its press-copy still in my possession.  It has been shown to several, and is open to any one who wishes to see it.  I have presumed only, that the interpolation was done in Paris.  But I never saw the letter in either its Italian or French dress, and it may have been done here, with the commentary handed down to posterity by the Judge.  The genuine paragraph, re-translated through Italian and French into English, as it appeared here in a federal paper, besides the mutilated hue which these translations and retranslations of it produced generally, gave a mistranslation of a single word, which entirely perverted its meaning, and made it a pliant and fertile text of misrepresentation of my political principles.  The original, speaking of an Anglican, monarchical and aristocratical party, which had sprung up since he had left us, states their object to be “to draw over us the substance, as they had already done the forms of the British Government.”  Now the “forms” here meant, were the levees, birthdays, the pompous cavalcade to the State House on the meeting of Congress, the formal speech from the throne, the procession of Congress in a body to re-echo the speech in an answer, etc., etc.  But the translator here, by substituting form in the singular number, for forms in the plural, made it mean the frame or organization of our government, or its form of legislative, executive, and judiciary authorities, coordinate and independent;  to which form it was to be inferred that I was an enemy.  In this sense they always quoted it, and in this sense Mr. Pickering still quotes it, pages 34, 35, 38, and countenances the inference.  Now General Washington perfectly understood what I meant by these forms, as they were frequent subjects of conversation between us.  When, on my return from Europe, I joined the government in March, 1790, at New York, I was much astonished, indeed, at the mimicry I found established of royal forms and ceremonies, and more alarmed at the unexpected phenomenon, by the monarchical sentiments I heard expressed and openly maintained in every company, and among others by the high members of the government, executive and judiciary, (General Washington alone excepted,) and by a great part of the legislature, save only some members who had been of the old Congress, and a very few of recent introduction.  I took occasion, at various times, of expressing to General Washington my disappointment at these symptoms of a change of principle, and that I thought them encouraged by the forms and ceremonies which I found prevailing, not at all in character with the simplicity of republican government, and looking as if wishfully to those of European courts.  His general explanations to me were, that when he arrived at New York to enter on the executive administration of the new government, he observed to those who were to assist him, that placed as he was in an office entirely new to him, unacquainted with the forms and ceremonies of other governments, still less apprized of those which might be properly established here, and himself perfectly indifferent to all forms, he wished them to consider and prescribe what they should be;  and the task was assigned particularly to General Knox, a man of parade, and to Colonel Humphreys, who had resided some time at a foreign court.  They, he said, were the authors of the present regulations, and that others were proposed so highly strained that he absolutely rejected them.  Attentive to the difference of opinion prevailing on this subject, when the term of his second election arrived, he called the Heads of departments together, observed to them the situation in which he had been at the commencement of the government, the advice he had taken and the course he had observed in compliance with it;  that a proper occasion had now arrived of revising that course, of correcting it in any particulars not approved in experience;  and he desired us to consult together, agree on any changes we should think for the better, and that he should willingly conform to what we should advise.  We met at my office.  Hamilton and myself agreed at once that there was too much ceremony for the character of our government, and particularly, that the parade of the installation at New York ought not to be copied on the present occasion, that the President should desire the Chief Justice to attend him at his chambers, that he should administer the oath of office to him in the presence of the higher officers of the government, and that the certificate of the fact should be delivered to the Secretary of State to be recorded.  Randolph and Knox differed from us, the latter vehemently;  they thought it not advisable to change any of the established forms, and we authorized Randolph to report our opinions to the President.  As these opinions were divided, and no positive advice given as to any change, no change was made.  Thus the forms which I had censured in my letter to Mazzei were perfectly understood by General Washington, and were those which he himself but barely tolerated.  He had furnished me a proper occasion for proposing their reformation, and my opinion not prevailing, he knew I could not have meant any part of the censure for him.

Mr. Pickering quotes, too, (page 34) the expression in the letter, of “the men who were Samsons in the field, and Solomons in the council, but who had had their heads shorn by the harlot England;”  or, as expressed in their re-translation, “the men who were Solomons in council, and Samsons in combat, but whose hair had been cut off by the whore England.”  Now this expression also was perfectly understood by General Washington.  He knew that I meant it for the Cincinnati generally, and that from what had passed between us at the commencement of that institution, I could not mean to include him.  When the first meeting was called for its establishment, I was a member of the Congress then sitting at Annapolis.  General Washington wrote to me, asking my opinion on that proposition, and the course, if any, which I thought Congress would observe respecting it.  I wrote him frankly my own disapprobation of it;  that I found the members of Congress generally in the same sentiment;  that I thought they would take no express notice of it, but that in all appointments of trust, honor, or profit, they would silently pass by all candidates of that order, and give an uniform preference to others.  On his way to the first meeting in Philadelphia, which I think was in the spring of 1784, he called on me at Annapolis.  It was a little after candle-light, and he sat with me till after midnight, conversing, almost exclusively, on that subject.  While he was feelingly indulgent to the motives which might induce the officers to promote it, he concurred with me entirely in condemning it;  and when I expressed an idea that if the hereditary quality were suppressed, the institution might perhaps be indulged during the lives of the officers now living, and who had actually served;  “no,” he said, “not a fibre of it ought to be left, to be an eye-sore to the public, a ground of dissatisfaction, and a line of separation between them and their country;”  and he left me with a determination to use all his influence for its entire suppression.  On his return from the meeting he called on me again, and related to me the course the thing had taken.  He said that from the beginning, he had used every endeavor to prevail on the officers to renounce the project altogether, urging the many considerations which would render it odious to their fellow citizens, and disreputable and injurious to themselves;  that he had at length prevailed on most of the old officers to reject it, although with great and warm opposition from others, and especially the younger ones, among whom he named Colonel W.S. Smith as particularly intemperate.  But that in this state of things, when he thought the question safe, and the meeting drawing to a close, Major L’Enfant arrived from France, with a bundle of eagles, for which he had been sent there, with letters from the French officers who had served in America, praying for admission into the order, and a solemn act of .their king permitting them to wear its ensign.  This, he said, changed the face of matters at once, produced an entire revolution of sentiment, and turned the torrent so strongly in an opposite direction that it could be no longer withstood;  all he could then obtain was a suppression of the hereditary quality.  He added, that it was the French applications, and respect for the approbation of the king, which saved the establishment in its modified and temporary form.  Disapproving thus of the institution as much as I did, and conscious that I knew him to do so, he could never suppose that I meant to include him among the Samsons in the field, whose object was to draw over us the form, as they made the letter say, of the British government, and especially its aristocratic member, an hereditary House of Lords.  Add to this, that the letter saying “that two out of the three branches of legislature were against us,” was an obvious exception of him;  it being well known that the majorities in the two branches of Senate and Representatives, were the very instruments which carried, in opposition to the old and real republicans, the measures which were the subjects of condemnation in this letter.  General Washington, then, understanding perfectly what and whom I meant to designate, in both phrases, and that they could not have any application or view to himself, could find in neither any cause of offence to himself;  and therefore neither needed, nor ever asked any explanation of them from me.  Had it even been otherwise, they must know very little of General Washington, who should believe to be within the laws of his character what Doctor Stuart is said to have imputed to him.  Be this, however, as it may, the story is infamously false in every article of it.  My last parting with General Washington was at the inauguration of Mr. Adams, in March, 1797, and was warmly affectionate;  and I never had any reason to believe any change on his part, as there certainly was none on mine.  But one session of Congress intervened between that and his death, the year following, in my passage to and from which, as it happened to be not convenient to call on him, I never had another opportunity;  and as to the cessation of correspondence observed during that short interval, no particular circumstance occurred for epistolary communication, and both of us were too much oppressed with letter-writing, to trouble, either the other, with a letter about nothing.

The truth is, that the federalists, pretending to be the exclusive friends of General Washington, have ever done what they could to sink his character, by hanging theirs on it, and by representing as the enemy of republicans him, who, of all men, is best entitled to the appellation of the father of that republic which they were endeavoring to subvert, and the republicans to maintain.  They cannot deny, because the elections proclaimed the truth, that the great body of the nation approved the republican measures.  General Washington was himself sincerely a friend to the republican principles of our Constitution.  His faith, perhaps, in its duration, might not have been as confident as mine;  but he repeatedly declared to me, that he was determined it should have a fair chance for success, and that he would lose the last drop of his blood in its support, against any attempt which might be made to change it from its republican form.  He made these declarations the oftener, because he knew my suspicions that Hamilton had other views, and he wished to quiet my jealousies on this subject.  For Hamilton frankly avowed that he considered the British Constitution, with all the corruptions of its administration, as the most perfect model of government which had ever been devised by the wit of man;  professing however, at the same time, that the spirit of this country was so fundamentally republican, that it would be visionary to think of introducing monarchy here, and that, therefore, it was the duty of its administrators to conduct it on the principles their constituents had elected.

General Washington, after the retirement of his first Cabinet, and the composition of his second, entirely federal, and at the head of which was Mr. Pickering himself, had no;  opportunity of hearing both sides of any question.  His measures, consequently, took more the hue of the party in whose hands he was.  These measures were certainly not approved by the republicans;  yet were they not imputed to him, but to the counsellors around him;  and his prudence so far restrained their impassioned course and bias, that no act of strong mark, during the remainder of his administration, excited much dissatisfaction.  He lived too short a time after, and too much withdrawn from information, to correct the views into which he had been deluded;  and the continued assiduities of the party drew him into the vortex of their intemperate career;  separated him still farther from his real friends, and excited him to actions and expressions of dissatisfaction, which grieved them, but could not loosen their affections from him.  They would not suffer the temporary aberration to weigh against the immeasurable merits of his life;  and although they tumbled his seducers from their places, they preserved his memory embalmed in their hearts, with undiminished love and devotion;  and there it forever will remain embalmed, in entire oblivion of every temporary thing which might cloud the glories of his splendid life.  It is vain, then, for Mr. Pickering and his friends to endeavor to falsify his character, by representing him as an enemy to republicans and republican principles, and as exclusively the friend of those who were so;  and had he lived longer, he would have returned to his ancient and unbiased opinions, would have replaced his confidence in those whom the people approved and supported, and would have seen that they were only restoring and acting on the principles of his own first administration.

I find, my dear Sir, that I have written you a very long letter, or rather a history.  The civility of having sent me a copy of Mr. Pickering’s diatribe, would scarcely justify its address to you.  I do not publish these things, because my rule of life has been never to harass the public with fendings and provings of personal slanders;  and least of all would I descend into the arena of slander with such a champion as Mr. Pickering.  I have ever trusted to the justice and consideration of my fellow citizens, and have no reason to repent it, or to change my course.  At this time of life too, tranquillity is the summum bonum.  But although I decline all newspaper controversy, yet when falsehoods have been advanced, within the knowledge of no one so much as myself, I have sometimes deposited a contradiction in the hands of a friend, which, if worth preservation, may, when I am no more, nor those whom I might offend, throw light on history, and recall that into the path of truth.  And if of no other value, the present communication may amuse you with anecdotes not known to every one.

I had meant to have added some views on the amalgamation of parties, to which your favor of the 8th has some allusion;  an amalgamation of name, but not of principle.  Tories are Tories still, by whatever name they may be called.  But my letter is already too unmercifully long, and I close it here with assurances of my great esteem and respectful consideration.




To James Madison.
Monticello, July 14, 1824.

Dear Sir, — I have attentively read your letter to Mr. Wheaton on the question whether, at the date of the message to Congress recommending the embargo of 1807, we had knowledge of the order of council of November 11th;  and according to your request I have resorted to my papers, as well as my memory, for the testimony these might afford additional to yours.  There is no fact in the course of my life which I recollect more strongly, than that of my being at the date of the message in possession of an English newspaper containing a copy of the proclamation.  I am almost certain, too, that it was under the ordinary authentication of the government;  and between November 11th and December 17th, there was time enough (thirty-five days) to admit the receipt of such a paper, which I think came to me through a private channel, probably put on board some vessel about sailing, the moment it appeared.

Turning to my papers, I find that I had prepared a first draught of a message in which was this paragraph :  “The British regulations had before reduced us to a direct voyage, to a single port of their enemies, and it is now believed they will interdict all commerce whatever with them.  A proclamation, too, of that government of——(not officially indeed communicated to us, yet so given out to the public as to become a rule of action with them,) seems to have shut the door on all negotiation with us except as to the single aggression on the Chesapeake.”  You, however, suggested a substitute (which I have now before me, written with a pencil and) which, with some unimportant amendments, I preferred to my own, and was the one I sent to Congress.  It was in these words, “the communications now made, showing the great and increasing dangers with which seamen, etc., ports of the United States.”  This shows that we communicated to them papers of information on the subject;  and as it was our interest, and our duty, to give them the strongest information we possessed to justify our opinion and their action on it, there can be no doubt we sent them this identical paper.  For what stronger could we send them ?  I am the more strengthened in the belief that we did send it, from the fact, which the newspapers of the day will prove, that in the reprobations of the measure published in them by its enemies, they indulged themselves in severe criticisms on our having considered a newspaper as a proper document to lay before Congress, and a sufficient foundation for so serious a measure;  and considering this as no sufficient information of the fact, they continued perseveringly to deny that we had knowledge of the order of council when we recommended the embargo;  admitting, because they could not deny, the existence of the order, they insisted only on our supposed ignorance of it as furnishing them a ground of crimination.  But I had no idea that this gratuitous charge was believed by any one at this day.  In addition to our testimony, I am sure Mr. Gallatin, General Dearborn and Mr. Smith, will recollect that we possessed the newspaper, and acted on a view of the proclamation it contained.  If you think this statement can add anything in corroboration of yours, make what use you please of it, and accept assurances of my constant affection and respect.




To Lewis E. Beck.
Monticello, July 16, 1824.

I thank you, Sir, for your pamphlet on the climate of the West, and have read it with great satisfaction.  Although it does not yet establish a satisfactory theory, it is an additional step towards it.  Mine was perhaps the first attempt, not to form a theory, but to bring together the few facts then known, and suggest them to public attention.  They were written between forty and fifty years ago, before the close of the Revolutionary war, when the western country was a wilderness, untrodden but by the foot of the savage or the hunter.  It is now flourishing in population and science, and after a few years more of observation and collection of facts, they will doubtless furnish a theory of solid foundation.  Years are requisite for this, steady attention to the thermometer, to the plants growing there, the times of their leafing and flowering, its animal inhabitants, beasts, birds, reptiles and insects;  its prevalent winds, quantities of rain and snow, temperature of fountains, and other indexes of climate.  We want this indeed for all the States, and the work should be repeated once or twice in a century, to show the effect of clearing and culture towards changes of climate.  My Notes give a very imperfect idea of what our climate was, half a century ago, at this place, which being nearly central to the State may be taken for its medium.  Latterly, after seven years of close and exact observation, I have prepared an estimate of what it is now, which may some day be added to the former work;  and I hope something like this is doing in the other States, which, when all shall be brought together, may produce theories meriting confidence.  I trust that yourself will not be inattentive to this service, and that to that of the present epoch you may be able to add a second at the distance of another half century.  With this wish accept the assurance of my respectful consideration.




To Henry Lee.
Monticello, August 10, 1824.

Sir, — I have duly received your favor of the 14th, and with it the prospectus of a newspaper which it covered.  If the style and spirit of that should be maintained in the paper itself, it will be truly worthy of the public patronage.  As to myself, it is many years since I have ceased to read but a single paper.  I am no longer, therefore, a general subscriber for any other.  Yet, to encourage the hopeful in the outset, I have sometimes subscribed for the first year on condition of being discontinued at the end of it, without further warning.  I do the same now with pleasure for yours;  and unwilling to have outstanding accounts, which I am liable to forget, I now enclose the price of the tri-weekly paper.  I am no believer in the amalgamation of parties, nor do I consider it as either desirable or useful for the public;  but only that, like religious differences, a difference in politics should never be permitted to enter into social intercourse, or to disturb its friendships, its charities, or justice.  In that form, they are censors of the conduct of each other, and useful watchmen for the public.  Men by their constitutions are naturally divided into two parties :  1.  Those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes.  2. Those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, although not the most wise depository of the public interests.  In every country these two parties exist, and in every one where they are free to think, speak, and write, they will declare themselves.  Call them, therefore, Liberals and Serviles, Jacobins and Ultras, Whigs and Tories, Republicans and Federalists, Aristocrats and Democrats, or by whatever name you please, they are the same parties still, and pursue the same object.  The last appellation of Aristocrats and Democrats is the true one expressing the essence of all.  A paper which shall be governed by the spirit of Mr. Madison’s celebrated report, of which you express in your prospectus so just and high an approbation, cannot be false to the rights of all classes.  The grandfathers of the present generation of your family I knew well.  They were friends and fellow laborers with me in the same cause and principle.  Their descendants cannot follow better guides.  Accept the assurance of my best wishes and respectful consideration.




To William Ludlow.
Monticello, September 6, 1824.

SIR, — The idea which you present in your letter of July 30th, of the progress of society from its rudest state to that it has now attained, seems conformable to what may be probably conjectured.  Indeed, we have under our eyes tolerable proofs of it.  Let a philosophic observer commence a journey from the savages of the Rocky Mountains, eastwardly towards our seacoast.  These he would observe in the earliest stage of association living under no law but that of nature, subsisting and covering themselves with the flesh and skins of wild beasts.  He would next find those on our frontiers in the pastoral state, raising domestic animals to supply the defects of hunting.  Then succeed our own semi-barbarous citizens, the pioneers of the advance of civilization, and so in his progress he would meet the gradual shades of improving man until he would reach his, as yet, most improved state in our seaport towns.  This, in fact, is equivalent to a survey, in time, of the progress of man from the infancy of creation to the present day.  I am eighty-one years of age;  born where I now live, in the first range of mountains in the interior of our country.  And I have observed this march of civilization advancing from the seacoast, passing over us like a cloud of light, increasing our knowledge and improving our condition, insomuch as that we are at this time more advanced in civilization here than the seaports were when I was a boy.  And where this progress will stop no one can say.  Barbarism has, in the meantime, been receding before the steady step of amelioration;  and will in time, I trust, disappear from the earth.  You seem to think that this advance has brought on too complicated a state of society, and that we should gain in happiness by treading back our steps a little way.  I think, myself, that we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious.  I believe it might be much simplified to the relief of those who maintain it.  Your experiment seems to have this in view.  A society of seventy families, the number you name, may very possibly be governed as a single family, subsisting on their common industry, and holding all things in common.  Some regulators of the family you still must have, and it remains to be seen at what period of your increasing population your simple regulations will cease to be sufficient to preserve order, peace, and justice.  The experiment is interesting;  I shall not live to see its issue, but I wish it success equal to your hopes, and to yourself and society prosperity and happiness.




To the Marquis de la Fayette.
Monticello, October 9, 1824.

I have duly received, my dear friend and General, your letter of the 1st from Philadelphia, giving us the welcome assurance that you will visit the neighborhood which, during the march of our enemy near it, was covered by your shield from his robberies and ravages.  In passing the line of your former march you will experience pleasing recollections of the good you have done.  My neighbors, too, of our academical village, who well remember their obligations to you, have expressed to you, in a letter from a committee appointed for that purpose, their hope that you will accept manifestations of their feelings, simple indeed, but as cordial as any you will have received.  It will be an additional honor to the University of the State that you will have been its first guest.  Gratify them, then, by this assurance to their committee, if it has not been done.  But what recollections, dear friend, will this call up to you and me! What a history have we to run over from the evening that yourself, Mousnier, Bernau, and other patriots settled, in my house in Paris, the outlines of the constitution you wished! And to trace it through all the disastrous chapters of Robespierre, Barras, Bonaparte, and the Bourbons! These things, however, are for our meeting.  You mention the return of Miss Wright to America, accompanied by her sister;  but do not say what her stay is to be, nor what her course.  Should it lead her to a visit of our University, which, in its architecture only, is as yet an object, herself and her companion will nowhere find a welcome more hearty than with Mrs. Randolph, and all the inhabitants of Monticello.  This Athenaeum of our country, in embryo, is as yet but promise;  and not in a state to recall the recollections of Athens.  But everything has its beginning, its growth, and end;  and who knows with what future delicious morsels of philosophy, and by what future Miss Wright raked from its ruins, the world may, some day, be gratified and instructed ?  Your son George we shall be very happy indeed to see, and to renew in him the recollections of your very dear family;  and the Revolutionary merit of M. le Vasseur has that passport to the esteem of every American, and, to me, the additional one of having been your friend and co-operator, and he will, I hope, join you in making headquarters with us at Monticello.  But all these things à revoir in the meantime we are impatient that your ceremonies at York should be over, and give you to the embraces of friendship.


P.S.  Will you come by Mr. Madison’s, or let him or me know on what day he may meet you here, and join us in our greetings?




To Richard Rush.
Monticello, October 13, 1824.

Dear Sir, — I must again beg the protection of your cover for a letter to Mr. Gilmer, although a little doubtful whether he may not have left you.

You will have seen by our papers the delirium into which our citizens are thrown by a visit from General La Fayette.  He is making a triumphant progress through the States, from town to town, with acclamations of welcome, such as no crowned head ever received.  It will have a good effect in favor of the General with the people in Europe, but probably a different one with their sovereigns.  Its effect here, too, will be salutary as to ourselves, by rallying us together and strengthening the habit of considering our country as one and indivisible, and I hope we shall close it with something more solid for him than dinners and balls.  The eclat of this visit has almost merged the Presidential question, on which nothing scarcely is said in our papers.  That question will lie ultimately between Crawford and Adams;  but, at the same time, the vote of the people will be so distracted by subordinate candidates, that possibly they may make no election, and let it go to the House of Representatives.  There, it is thought, Crawford’s chance is best.  We have nothing else interesting before the public.  Of the two questions of the tariff and public improvements, the former, perhaps, is not yet at rest, and the latter will excite boisterous discussions.  It happens that both these measures fall in with the Western interests, and it is their secession from the agricultural States which gives such strength to the manufacturing and consolidating parties, on these two questions.  The latter is the most dreaded, because thought to amount to a determination in the federal government to assume all powers non-enumerated as well as enumerated in the Constitution, and by giving a loose to construction, make the text say whatever will relieve them from the bridle of the States.  These are difficulties for your day, I shall give them the slip.  Accept the assurance of my friendly attachment and great respect.




To Edward Everett.
Monticello, October 15, 1824.

Dear Sir, — I have yet to thank you for your C.K. oration, delivered in presence of General La Fayette.  It is all excellent, much of it sublimely so, well worthy of its author and his subject, of whom we may truly say, as was said of Germanicus, “fruitur famâ sui.”

Your letter of September the 10th gave me the first information that mine to Major Cartwright had got into the newspapers;  and the first notice, indeed, that he had received it.  I was a stranger to his person, but not to his respectable and patriotic character.  I received from him a long and interesting letter, and answered it with frankness, going without reserve into several subjects, to which his letter had led, but on which I did not suppose I was writing for the newspapers.  The publication of a letter in such a case, without the consent of the writer, is not a fair practice.

The part which you quote, may draw on me the host of judges and divines.  They may cavil, but cannot refute it.  Those who read Prisot’s opinion with a candid view to understand, and not to chicane it, cannot mistake its meaning.  The reports in the Year-books were taken very short.  The opinions of the judges were written down sententiously, as notes or memoranda, and not with all the development which they probably used in delivering them.  Prisot’s opinion, to be fully expressed, should be thus paraphrased :  “To such laws as those of holy church have recorded, and preserved in their ancient books and writings, it is proper for us to give credence;  for so is, or so says the common law, or law of the land, on which all manner of other laws rest for their authority, or are founded;  that is to say, the common law, or the law of the land common to us all, and established by the authority of us all, is that from which is derived the authority of all other special and subordinate branches of law, such as the canon law, law merchant, law maritime, law of Gavelkind, Borough English, corporation laws, local customs and usages, to all of which the common law requires its judges to permit authority in the special or local cases belonging to them.  The evidence of these laws is preserved in their ancient treatises, books and writings, in like manner as our own common law itself is known, the text of its original enactments having been long lost, and its substance only preserved in ancient and traditionary writings.  And if it appears, from their ancient books, writings, and records, that the bishop, in this case, according to the rules prescribed by these authorities, has done what an ordinary would have done in such case, then we should adjudge it good, otherwise not.”  To decide this question, they would have to turn to the ancient writings and records of the canon law, in which they would find evidence of the laws of advowsons, quare impedit, the duties of bishops and ordinaries, for which terms Prisot could never have meant to refer them to the Old or New Testament, les saincts scriptures, where surely they would not be found.  A license which should permit “ancien scripture” to be translated “holy scripture,” annihilates at once all the evidence of language.  With such a license, we might reverse the sixth commandment into “thou shalt not omit murder.”  It would be the more extraordinary in this case, where the mistranslation was to effect the adoption of the whole code of the Jewish and Christian laws into the text of our statutes, to convert religious offences into temporal crimes, to make the breach of every religious precept a subject of indictment, submit the question of idolatry, for example, to the trial of a jury, and to a court, its punishment, to the third and fourth generation of the offender.  Do we allow to our judges this lumping legislation?

The term “common law,” although it has more than one meaning, is perfectly definite, secundum subjectam materiem.  Its most probable origin was on the conquest of the Heptarchy by Alfred, and the amalgamation of their several codes of law into one, which became common to them all.  The authentic text of these enactments has not been preserved;  but their substance has been committed to many ancient books and writings, so faithfully as to have been deemed genuine from generation to generation, and obeyed as such by all.  We have some fragments of them collected by Lambard, Wilkins and others, but abounding with proofs of their spurious authenticity.  Magna Charta is the earliest statute, the text of which has come down to us in an authentic form, and thence downward we have them entire.  We do not know exactly when the common law and statute law, the lex scripta et non scripta, began to be contra-distinguished, so as to give a second acceptation to the former term;  whether before, or after Prisot’s day, at which time we know that nearly two centuries and a half of statutes were in preservation.  In later times, on the introduction of the chancery branch of law, the term common law began to be used in a third sense, as the correlative of chancery law.  This, however, having been long after Prisot’s time, could not have been the sense in which he used the term.  He must have meant the ancient lex non scripta, because, had he used it as inclusive of the lex scripta, he would have put his finger on the statute which had enjoined on the judges a deference to the laws of holy church.  But no such statute existing, he must have referred to the common law in the sense of a lex non scripta.  Whenever, then, the term common law is used in either of these senses, and it is never employed in any other, it is readily known in which of them, by the context and subject matter under consideration;  which, in the present case, leave no room for doubt.

I do not remember the occasion which led me to take up this subject, while a practitioner of the law.  But I know I went into it with all the research which a very copious law library enabled me to indulge;  and I fear not for the accuracy of any of my quotations.  The doctrine might be disproved by many other and different topics of reasoning;  but having satisfied myself of the origin of the forgery, and found how, like a rolling snow-ball, it had gathered volume, I leave its further pursuit to those who need further proof, and perhaps I have already gone further than the feeble doubt you expressed might require.

I salute you with great esteem and respect.




To ----.
Monticello, December 22, 1824.

Dear Sir, — The proposition to remove William and Mary College to Richmond with all its present funds, and to add to it a musical school, is nothing more nor less than to remove the University also to that place.  Because, if both remain, there will not be students enough to make either worthy the acceptance of men of the first order of science.  They must each fall down to the level of our present academies, under the direction of common teachers, and our state of education must stand exactly where it now is.  Few of the States have been able to maintain one university, none two.  Surely the legislature, after such an expense incurred for a real university, and just as it is prepared to go into action under hopeful auspices, will not consent to destroy it by this side-wind.  As to the best course to be taken with William and Mary, I am not so good a judge as our colleagues on the spot.  They have under their eyes the workings of the enemies of the University, masked and unmasked, and the intrigues of Richmond, which, after failing to obtain it in the first instance, endeavors to steal its location at this late hour.  And they can best see what measures are most likely to counteract these insidious designs.  On the question of the removal, I think our particular friends had better take no active part, but vote silently for or against it, according to their own judgment as to the public utility;  and if they divide on the question, so much the better perhaps.  I am glad the Visitors and professors have invoked the interference of the legislature, because it is an acknowledgment of its authority on behalf of the State to superintend and control it, of which I never had a doubt.  It is an institution established for the public good, and not for the personal emolument of the professors, endowed from the public lands and organized by the executive functionary whose legal office it was.  The acquiescence of both corporations under the authority of the legislature, removes what might otherwise have been a difficulty with some.  If the question of removal be decided affirmatively, the next is, how shall their funds be disposed of most advantageously for the State in general ?  These are about one hundred thousand dollars too much for a secondary or local institution.  The giving a part of them to a school at Winchester, and part to Hampden Sidney, is well, as far as it goes;  but does not go far enough.  Why should not every part of the State participate equally of the benefit of this reversion of right which accrues to the whole equally ?  This would be no more a violation of law than the giving it to a few.  You know that the Rockfish report proposed an intermediate grade of schools between the primary and the university.  In that report the objects of the middle schools are stated.  See page 10 of the copy I now enclose you.  In these schools should be taught Latin and Greek, to a good degree, French also, numerical arithmetic, the elements of geometry, surveying, navigation, geography, the use of the globes, the outlines of the solar system, and elements of natural philosophy.  Two professors would suffice for these, to wit :  one for languages, the other for so much of mathematics and natural philosophy as is here proposed.  This degree of education would be adapted to the circumstances of a very great number of our citizens, who, being intended for lives of business, would not aim at an university education.  It would give us a body of yeomanry, too, of substantial information, well prepared to become a firm and steady support to the government;  as schools of ancient languages, too, they would be preparatories for the University.

You have now a happy opportunity of carrying this intermediate establishment into execution without laying a cent of tax on the people, or taking one from the treasury.  Divide the State into college districts of about eighty miles square each.  There would be about eight such districts below the Alleghany, and two beyond it, which would be necessarily of larger extent because of the sparseness of their population.  The only advance these colleges would call for, would be for a dwelling-house for the teacher, of about one thousand two hundred dollars cost, and a boarding-house with four or five bedrooms, and a school-room for probably about twenty or thirty boys.  The whole should not cost more than five thousand dollars, but the funds of William and Mary would enable you to give them ten thousand dollars each.  The districts might be so laid off that the principal towns and the academies now existing might form convenient sites for their colleges;  as, for example, Williamsburgh, Richmond, Fredericksburg, Hampden Sidney, Lynchburg or Lexington, Staunton, Winchester, etc.  Thus, of William and Mary, you will make ten colleges, each as useful as she ever was, leaving one in Williamsburg by itself, placing as good a one within a day’s ride of every man in the State, and get our whole scheme of education completely established.

I have said that no advance is necessary but for the erection of the buildings for these schools.  Because the boys sent to them would be exclusively of a class of parents in competent circumstances to pay teachers for the education of their own children.  The ten thousand dollars given to each, would afford a surplus to maintain by its interest one or two persons duly selected for their genius, from the primary schools, of those too poor to proceed farther of their own means.  You will remember that of the three bills I originally gave you, one was for these district colleges, and going into the necessary details.  Will you not have every member in favor of this proposition, except those who are for gobbling up the whole funds themselves ?  The present professors might all be employed in the college of Richmond or Williamsburg, or any other they would prefer, with reasonable salaries in the meantime, until the system should get under way.  This occasion of completing our system of education is a Godsend which ought not to pass away neglected.  Many may be startled at the first idea.  But reflection on the justice and advantage of the measure will produce converts daily and hourly to it.  I certainly would not propose that the University should claim a cent of these funds in competition with the district colleges.

Would it not be better to say nothing about the last donation of fifty thousand dollars, and endeavor to get the money from Congress, and to press for it immediately.  I cannot doubt their allowing it, and it would be much better to get it from them than to revive the displeasure of our own legislature.

You are aware that we have yet two professors to appoint, to wit :  of natural history and moral philosophy, and that we have no time to lose.  I propose that such of our colleagues as are of the legislature, should name a day of meeting, convenient to themselves, and give notice of it by mail to Mr. Madison, General Cocke, and myself.  But it should not be till the arrival of the three professors expected at Norfolk.  On their arrival only can we publish the day of opening.  Our Richmond mail-stage arrives here on Sunday and departs on Wednesday, and arrives again on Thursday and departs on Sunday.  Each affording two spare intervening days, and requiring from here an absence of six days.

Mr. Long, professor of ancient languages, is located in his apartments at the University.  He drew, by lot, pavilion No. 5.  He appears to be a most amiable man, of fine understanding, well qualified for his department, and acquiring esteem as fast as he becomes known.  Indeed, I have great hope that the whole selection will fulfil our wishes.  Ever and affectionately yours.