The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Vol. VII.
(of 9), by Thomas Jefferson

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Title: The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Vol. VII. (of 9)
       Being His Autobiography, Correspondence, Reports, Messages,
              Addresses, and Other Writings, Official and Private

Author: Thomas Jefferson

Editor: H. A. Washington

Release Date: November 23, 2017 [EBook #56035]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by David Edwards, Melissa McDaniel, and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
file was produced from images generously made available
by The Internet Archive)

Transcriber's Note:

Inconsistent hyphenation and spelling in the original document have been preserved. Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

The [bracketed] footnotes are as in the original.

Inconsistent or incorrect accents and spelling in passages in French, Latin and Italian have been left unchanged.

ς (final form sigma) in the middle of a word has been normalized to σ. Greek diacritics were normalized to be all present or all missing, according to their preponderance in the quotation.

The paragraph starting "Page 2, column 2" has an unmatched quote.

The following possible inconsistencies/printer errors/archaic spellings/different names for different entities were identified but left as printed:

Vanderkemp and Vander Kemp

Potomac and Patomac

Postlethwayte and Postlethwaite

Mecklenburg and Mecklenberg

ascendancy and ascendency.

On page iii, the letter written to Hugh P. Taylor doesn't exist.

On page 33, Molliores Spsyke should possibly be Moliére's Psyché.

On page 52, multnomat should possibly be Multnomat.

On page 181, Universary should possibly be University.

On page 192, sculk should possibly be skulk.

On page 537, the price of the Algerine captives is stated as "$34,79,228,", which is probably a printer's error.

On page 546, termometer should possibly be thermometer.








Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1853, by
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the District of Columbia.



Part III.—Continued.—Letters written after his return to the United States down to the time of his death.—(1790-1826,)—3.

Adams, John, letters written to, 25, 37, 43, 54, 61, 81, 199, 217, 243, 254, 264, 274, 280, 307, 313, 337, 435.
Adams, Mrs. A., letter written to, 52.
Adams, J. Q., letter written to, 436.
Barry, Wm. T., letter written to, 255.
Blatchly, C. C., letter written to, 263.
Breckenridge, General, letters written to, 204, 237.
Cabell, Joseph C., letters written to, 201, 329, 350, 392.
Campbell, John, letter written to, 268.
Cartwright, Major John, letter written to, 355.
Cooper, Dr., letter written to, 266.
Corey, M., letter written to, 318.
Crawford, Wm. H., letter written to, 5.
Dearborne, General, letter written to, 214.
Delaplaine, Mr., letter written to, 20.
Denison, Hon. J. Evelyn, letter written to, 415.
Earle, Thomas, letter written to, 310.
Emmet, Dr., letters written to, 438, 441.
Engelbrecht, Isaac, letter written to, 337.
Eppes, Francis, letter written to, 197.
Everett, Edward, letters written to, 232, 270, 340, 380, 437.
Flower, George, letter written to, 83. iv
Gallatin, Albert, letter written to, 77.
Garnett, Robert J., letter written to, 336.
Giles, Wm. B., letters written to, 424, 426.
Gilmer, Francis W., letter written to, 3.
Gooch, Claiborne W., letter written to, 430.
Hammond, Mr. C., letter written to, 215.
Harding, David H., letter written to, 346.
Hopkins, George F., letter written to, 259.
Humboldt, Baron, letter written to, 74.
Humphreys, Dr. Thomas, letter written to, 57.
Johnson, Judge, letters written to, 276, 290.
Kerchival, Samuel, letters written to, 9, 35.
La Fayette, Marquis de, letters written to, 65, 324, 378.
Lee, H., letters written to, 376, 407.
Lee, Wm., letter written to, 56.
Livingston, Edward, letters written to, 342, 402.
Logan, Dr., letter written to, 19.
Ludlow, Wm., letter written to, 377.
Macon, Nathaniel, letter written to, 222.
Madison, James, letters written to, 304, 373, 422, 432.
Manners, Dr. John, letter written to, 72.
Mansfield, Jared, letter written to, 203.
Marbois, M. de, letter written to, 76.
Mease, Dr. James, letter written to, 410.
Megan, Mr., letter written to, 286.
Mellish, Mr., letter written to, 51.
Morse, Jedediah, letter written to, 233.
Nicholas, Mr., letter written to, 229.
Pickering, Timothy, letter written to, 210.
Pleasants, John Hampden, letter written to, 344.
Plumer, Governor, letter written to, 18.
President, The, letters written to, 287, 299, 315.
Ritchie & Gooch, letters written to, 239, 246.
Roane, Judge, letters written to, 211, 212.
Rodgers, Patrick K., letter written to, 327. v
Roscoe, Mr., letter written to, 195.
Rush Richard, letters written to, 347, 379.
Secretary of State, letter written to, 41.
Short, Wm., letters written to, 309, 389.
Sinclair, St. John, letter written to, 22.
Skidman, Thomas, letter written to, 258.
Smith, Mr. M. Harrison, letter written to, 27.
Smith, James, letter written to, 269.
Smith, General Samuel, letters written to, 284.
Smith, T. J., letter written to, 401.
Smyth, General Alexander, letter written to, 394.
Sparks, Jared, letter written to, 332.
Stuart, Josephus B., letter written to, 64.
Summers, George W., &c., letter written to, 230.
Taylor, John, letter written to, 17.
Taylor, Hugh P., letter written to, 2.
Terrel, Dabney, letter written to, 206.
Terril, Chiles, letter written to, 260.
Thweat, Archibald, letters written to, 198.
Tiffany, Isaac H., letter written to, 31.
Ticknor, George, letter written to, 300.
Van Buren, Martin, letter written to, 362.
Vaughan, John, letter written to, 409.
Waterhouse, Dr. Benjamin, letters written to, 252, 257.
Weightman, Mr., letter written to, 450.
Whittemore, Mr. Robert, letter written to, 245.
Wiss, Lewis M., letter written to, 419.
Woodward, Mr., letter written to, 338.
Woodward, Judge Augustus B., letter written to, 405.
Wright, Miss, letter written to, 408.
Address lost, letters written to, 220, 223, 383, 397, 411, 425, 431, 444.
Letters to Thomas Jefferson from John Adams, 29, 38, 47, 58, 68, 70, 85, 219, 261, 279, 302, 396.



PART III.—Continued.




Monticello, June 7, 1816.

Dear Sir,—I received a few days ago from Mr. Dupont the enclosed manuscript, with permission to read it, and a request, when read, to forward it to you, in expectation that you would translate it. It is well worthy of publication for the instruction of our citizens, being profound, sound, and short. Our legislators are not sufficiently apprized of the rightful limits of their power; that their true office is to declare and enforce only our natural rights and duties, and to take none of them from us. No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another; and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him; every man is under the natural duty of contributing to the necessities of the society; and this is all the laws should enforce on him; and, no man having a natural right to be the judge between himself and another, it is his natural duty to submit to the umpirage of an impartial third. When the laws have declared and enforced all this, they have fulfilled their functions, and the idea is quite unfounded, that on entering into society we give up any natural right. The trial of every law by one of these texts, would lessen much the labors of our legislators, and lighten equally our municipal codes. There is a work of the 4 first order of merit now in the press at Washington, by Destutt Tracy, on the subject of political economy, which he brings into the compass of three hundred pages, octavo. In a preliminary discourse on the origin of the right of property, he coincides much with the principles of the present manuscript; but is more developed, more demonstrative. He promises a future work on morals, in which I lament to see that he will adopt the principles of Hobbes, or humiliation to human nature; that the sense of justice and injustice is not derived from our natural organization, but founded on convention only. I lament this the more, as he is unquestionably the ablest writer living, on abstract subjects. Assuming the fact, that the earth has been created in time, and consequently the dogma of final causes, we yield, of course, to this short syllogism. Man was created for social intercourse; but social intercourse cannot be maintained without a sense of justice; then man must have been created with a sense of justice. There is an error into which most of the speculators on government have fallen, and which the well-known state of society of our Indians ought, before now, to have corrected. In their hypothesis of the origin of government, they suppose it to have commenced in the patriarchal or monarchical form. Our Indians are evidently in that state of nature which has passed the association of a single family; and not yet submitted to the authority of positive laws, or of any acknowledged magistrate. Every man, with them, is perfectly free to follow his own inclinations. But if, in doing this, he violates the rights of another, if the case be slight, he is punished by the disesteem of his society, or, as we say, by public opinion; if serious, he is tomahawked as a dangerous enemy. Their leaders conduct them by the influence of their character only; and they follow, or not, as they please, him of whose character for wisdom or war they have the highest opinion. Hence the origin of the parties among them adhering to different leaders, and governed by their advice, not by their command. The Cherokees, the only tribe I know to be contemplating the establishment of regular laws, magistrates, and government, propose a government of representatives, 5 elected from every town. But of all things, they least think of subjecting themselves to the will of one man. This, the only instance of actual fact within our knowledge, will be then a beginning by republican, and not by patriarchal or monarchical government, as speculative writers have generally conjectured.

We have to join in mutual congratulations on the appointment of our friend Correa, to be minister or envoy of Portugal, here. This, I hope, will give him to us for life. Nor will it at all interfere with his botanical rambles or journeys. The government of Portugal is so peaceable and inoffensive, that it has never any altercations with its friends. If their minister abroad writes them once a quarter that all is well, they desire no more. I learn, (though not from Correa himself,) that he thinks of paying us a visit as soon as he is through his course of lectures. Not to lose this happiness again by my absence, I have informed him I shall set out for Poplar Forest the 20th instant, and be back the first week of July. I wish you and he could concert your movements so us to meet here, and that you would make this your head quarters. It is a good central point from which to visit your connections; and you know our practice of placing our guests at their ease, by showing them we are so ourselves and that we follow our necessary vocations, instead of fatiguing them by hanging unremittingly on their shoulders. I salute you with affectionate esteem and respect.


Monticello, June 20, 1816.

Dear Sir,—I am about to sin against all discretion, and knowingly, by adding to the drudgery of your letter-reading, this acknowledgment of the receipt of your favor of May the 31st, with the papers it covered. I cannot, however, deny myself the gratification of expressing the satisfaction I have received, not only from the general statement of affairs at Paris, in yours of December 6 the 12th, 1814. (as a matter of history which I had not before received.) but most especially and superlatively, from the perusal of your letter of the 8th of the same month to Mr. Fisk, on the subject of draw-backs. This most heterogeneous principle was transplanted into ours from the British system, by a man whose mind was really powerful, but chained by native partialities to everything English; who had formed exaggerated ideas of the superior perfection of the English constitution, the superior wisdom of their government, and sincerely believed it for the good of this country to make them their model in everything; without considering that what might be wise and good for a nation essentially commercial, and entangled in complicated intercourse with numerous and powerful neighbors, might not be so for one essentially agricultural, and insulated by nature from the abusive governments of the old world.

The exercise, by our own citizens, of so much commerce as may suffice to exchange our superfluities for our wants, may be advantageous for the whole. But it does not follow, that with a territory so boundless, it is the interest of the whole to become a mere city of London, to carry on the business of one half the world at the expense of eternal war with the other half. The agricultural capacities of our country constitute its distinguishing feature; and the adapting our policy and pursuits to that, is more likely to make us a numerous and happy people, than the mimicry of an Amsterdam, a Hamburgh, or a city of London. Every society has a right to fix the fundamental principles of its association, and to say to all individuals, that, if they contemplate pursuits beyond the limits of these principles, and involving dangers which the society chooses to avoid, they must go somewhere else for their exercise; that we want no citizens, and still less ephemeral and pseudo-citizens, on such terms. We may exclude them from our territory, as we do persons infected with disease. Such is the situation of our country. We have most abundant resources of happiness within ourselves, which we may enjoy in peace and safety, without permitting a few citizens, infected with the mania of rambling and gambling, to bring danger on the 7 great mass engaged in innocent and safe pursuits at home. In your letter to Fisk, you have fairly stated the alternatives between which we are to choose: 1, licentious commerce and gambling speculations for a few, with eternal war for the many; or, 2, restricted commerce, peace, and steady occupations for all. If any State in the Union will declare that it prefers separation with the first alternative, to a continuance in union without it, I have no hesitation in saying, "let us separate." I would rather the States should withdraw, which are for unlimited commerce and war, and confederate with those alone which are for peace and agriculture. I know that every nation in Europe would join in sincere amity with the latter, and hold the former at arm's length, by jealousies, prohibitions, restrictions, vexations and war. No earthly consideration could induce my consent to contract such a debt as England has by her wars for commerce, to reduce our citizens by taxes to such wretchedness, as that laboring sixteen of the twenty-four hours, they are still unable to afford themselves bread, or barely to earn as much oatmeal or potatoes as will keep soul and body together. And all this to feed the avidity of a few millionary merchants, and to keep up one thousand ships of war for the protection of their commercial speculations. I returned from Europe after our government had got under way, and had adopted from the British code the law of draw-backs. I early saw its effects in the jealousies and vexations of Britain; and that, retaining it, we must become like her an essentially warring nation, and meet, in the end, the catastrophe impending over her. No one can doubt that this alone produced the orders of council, the depredations which preceded, and the war which followed them. Had we carried but our own produce, and brought back but our own wants, no nation would have troubled us. Our commercial dashers, then, have already cost us so many thousand lives, so many millions of dollars, more than their persons and all their commerce were worth. When war was declared, and especially after Massachusetts, who had produced it, took side with the enemy waging it, I pressed on some confidential friends in Congress to avail us of the happy opportunity 8 of repealing the draw-back; and I do rejoice to find that you are in that sentiment. You are young, and may be in the way of bringing it into effect. Perhaps time, even yet, and change of tone, (for there are symptoms of that in Massachusetts,) may not have obliterated altogether the sense of our late feelings and sufferings; may not have induced oblivion of the friends we have lost, the depredations and conflagrations we have suffered, and the debts we have incurred, and have to labor for through the lives of the present generation. The earlier the repeal is proposed, the more it will be befriended by all these recollections and considerations. This is one of three great measures necessary to insure us permanent prosperity. This preserves our peace. A second should enable us to meet any war, by adopting the report of the war department, for placing the force of the nation at effectual command; and a third should insure resources of money by the suppression of all paper circulation during peace, and licensing that of the nation alone during war. The metallic medium of which we should be possessed at the commencement of a war, would be a sufficient fund for all the loans we should need through its continuance; and if the national bills issued, be bottomed (as is indispensable) on pledges of specific taxes for their redemption within certain and moderate epochs, and be of proper denominations for circulation, no interest on them would be necessary or just, because they would answer to every one the purposes of the metallic money withdrawn and replaced by them.

But possibly these may be the dreams of an old man, or that the occasions of realizing them may have passed away without return. A government regulating itself by what is wise and just for the many, uninfluenced by the local and selfish views of the few who direct their affairs, has not been seen perhaps, on earth. Or if it existed, for a moment, at the birth of ours, it would not be easy to fix the term of its continuance. Still, I believe it does exist here in a greater degree than anywhere else; and for its growth and continuance, as well as for your personal health and happiness, I offer sincere prayers, with the homage of my respect and esteem. 9


Monticello, July 12, 1816.

Sir,—I duly received your favor of June the 13th, with the copy of the letters on the calling a convention, on which you are pleased to ask my opinion. I have not been in the habit of mysterious reserve on any subject, nor of buttoning up my opinions within my own doublet. On the contrary, while in public service especially, I thought the public entitled to frankness, and intimately to know whom they employed. But I am now retired: I resign myself, as a passenger, with confidence to those at present at the helm, and ask but for rest, peace and good will. The question you propose, on equal representation, has become a party one, in which I wish to take no public share. Yet, if it be asked for your own satisfaction only, and not to be quoted before the public, I have no motive to withhold it, and the less from you, as it coincides with your own. At the birth of our republic, I committed that opinion to the world, in the draught of a constitution annexed to the "Notes on Virginia," in which a provision was inserted for a representation permanently equal. The infancy of the subject at that moment, and our inexperience of self-government, occasioned gross departures in that draught from genuine republican canons. In truth, the abuses of monarchy had so much filled all the space of political contemplation, that we imagined everything republican which was not monarchy. We had not yet penetrated to the mother principle, that "governments are republican only in proportion as they embody the will of their people, and execute it." Hence, our first constitutions had really no leading principles in them. But experience and reflection have but more and more confirmed me in the particular importance of the equal representation then proposed. On that point, then, I am entirely in sentiment with your letters; and only lament that a copy-right of your pamphlet prevents their appearance in the newspapers, where alone they would be generally read, and produce general effect. The present vacancy too, 10 of other matter, would give them place in every paper, and bring the question home to every man's conscience.

But inequality of representation in both Houses of our legislature, is not the only republican heresy in this first essay of our revolutionary patriots at forming a constitution. For let it be agreed that a government is republican in proportion as every member composing it has his equal voice in the direction of its concerns, (not indeed in person, which would be impracticable beyond the limits of a city, or small township, but) by representatives chosen by himself, and responsible to him at short periods, and let us bring to the test of this canon every branch of our constitution.

In the legislature, the House of Representatives is chosen by less than half the people, and not at all in proportion to those who do choose. The Senate are still more disproportionate, and for long terms of irresponsibility. In the Executive, the Governor is entirely independent of the choice of the people, and of their control; his Council equally so, and at best but a fifth wheel to a wagon. In the Judiciary, the judges of the highest courts are dependent on none but themselves. In England, where judges were named and removable at the will of an hereditary executive, from which branch most misrule was feared, and has flowed, it was a great point gained, by fixing them for life, to make them independent of that executive. But in a government founded on the public will, this principle operates in an opposite direction, and against that will. There, too, they were still removable on a concurrence of the executive and legislative branches. But we have made them independent of the nation itself. They are irremovable, but by their own body, for any depravities of conduct, and even by their own body for the imbecilities of dotage. The justices of the inferior courts are self-chosen, are for life, and perpetuate their own body in succession forever, so that a faction once possessing themselves of the bench of a county, can never be broken up, but hold their county in chains, forever indissoluble. Yet these justices are the real executive as well as judiciary, in all our minor and most ordinary concerns. They tax 11 us at will; fill the office of sheriff, the most important of all the executive officers of the county; name nearly all our military leaders, which leaders, once named, are removable but by themselves. The juries, our judges of all fact, and of law when they choose it, are not selected by the people, nor amenable to them. They are chosen by an officer named by the court and executive. Chosen, did I say? Picked up by the sheriff from the loungings of the court yard, after everything respectable has retired from it. Where then is our republicanism to be found? Not in our constitution certainly, but merely in the spirit of our people. That would oblige even a despot to govern us republicanly. Owing to this spirit, and to nothing in the form of our constitution, all things have gone well. But this fact, so triumphantly misquoted by the enemies of reformation, is not the fruit of our constitution, but has prevailed in spite of it. Our functionaries have done well, because generally honest men. If any were not so, they feared to show it.

But it will be said, it is easier to find faults than to amend them. I do not think their amendment so difficult as is pretended. Only lay down true principles, and adhere to them inflexibly. Do not be frightened into their surrender by the alarms of the timid, or the croakings of wealth against the ascendency of the people. If experience be called for, appeal to that of our fifteen or twenty governments for forty years, and show me where the people have done half the mischief in these forty years, that a single despot would have done in a single year; or show half the riots and rebellions, the crimes and the punishments, which have taken place in any single nation, under kingly government, during the same period. The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen, in his person and property, and in their management. Try by this, as a tally, every provision of our constitution, and see if it hangs directly on the will of the people. Reduce your legislature to a convenient number for full, but orderly discussion. Let every man who fights or pays, exercise his just and equal right in their election. Submit them to approbation or rejection at short intervals. 12 Let the executive be chosen in the same way, and for the same term, by those whose agent he is to be; and leave no screen of a council behind which to skulk from responsibility. It has been thought that the people are not competent electors of judges learned in the law. But I do not know that this is true, and, if doubtful, we should follow principle. In this, as in many other elections, they would be guided by reputation, which would not err oftener, perhaps, than the present mode of appointment. In one State of the Union, at least, it has long been tried, and with the most satisfactory success. The judges of Connecticut have been chosen by the people every six months, for nearly two centuries, and I believe there has hardly ever been an instance of change; so powerful is the curb of incessant responsibility. If prejudice, however, derived from a monarchical institution, is still to prevail against the vital elective principle of our own, and if the existing example among ourselves of periodical election of judges by the people be still mistrusted, let us at least not adopt the evil, and reject the good, of the English precedent; let us retain amovability on the concurrence of the executive and legislative branches, and nomination by the executive alone. Nomination to office is an executive function. To give it to the legislature, as we do, is a violation of the principle of the separation of powers. It swerves the members from correctness, by temptations to intrigue for office themselves, and to a corrupt barter of votes; and destroys responsibility by dividing it among a multitude. By leaving nomination in its proper place, among executive functions, the principle of the distribution of power is preserved, and responsibility weighs with its heaviest force on a single head.

The organization of our county administrations may be thought more difficult. But follow principle, and the knot unties itself. Divide the counties into wards of such size as that every citizen can attend, when called on, and act in person. Ascribe to them the government of their wards in all things relating to themselves exclusively. A justice, chosen by themselves, in each, a constable, a military company, a patrol, a school, the care of their 13 own poor, their own portion of the public roads, the choice of one or more jurors to serve in some court, and the delivery, within their own wards, of their own votes for all elective officers of higher sphere, will relieve the county administration of nearly all its business, will have it better done, and by making every citizen an acting member of the government, and in the offices nearest and most interesting to him, will attach him by his strongest feelings to the independence of his country, and its republican constitution. The justices thus chosen by every ward, would constitute the county court, would do its judiciary business, direct roads and bridges, levy county and poor rates, and administer all the matters of common interest to the whole country. These wards, called townships in New England, are the vital principle of their governments, and have proved themselves the wisest invention ever devised by the wit of man for the perfect exercise of self-government, and for its preservation. We should thus marshal our government into, 1, the general federal republic, for all concerns foreign and federal; 2, that of the State, for what relates to our own citizens exclusively; 3, the county republics, for the duties and concerns of the county; and 4, the ward republics, for the small, and yet numerous and interesting concerns of the neighborhood; and in government, as well as in every other business of life, it is by division and subdivision of duties alone, that all matters, great and small, can be managed to perfection. And the whole is cemented by giving to every citizen, personally, a part in the administration of the public affairs.

The sum of these amendments is, 1. General suffrage. 2. Equal representation in the legislature. 3. An executive chosen by the people. 4. Judges elective or amovable. 5. Justices, jurors, and sheriffs elective. 6. Ward divisions. And 7. Periodical amendments of the constitution.

I have thrown out these as loose heads of amendment, for consideration and correction; and their object is to secure self-government by the republicanism of our constitution, as well as by the spirit of the people; and to nourish and perpetuate that 14 spirit. I am not among those who fear the people. They, and not the rich, are our dependence for continued freedom. And to preserve their independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude. If we run into such debts, as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessaries and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our callings and our creeds, as the people of England are, our people, like them, must come to labor sixteen hours in the twenty-four, give the earnings of fifteen of these to the government for their debts and daily expenses: and the sixteenth being insufficient to afford us bread, we must live, as they now do, on oatmeal and potatoes; have no time to think, no means of calling the mismanagers to account; but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow-sufferers. Our land-holders, too, like theirs, retaining indeed the title and stewardship of estates called theirs, but held really in trust for the treasury, must wander, like theirs, in foreign countries, and be contented with penury, obscurity, exile, and the glory of the nation. This example reads to us the salutary lesson, that private fortunes are destroyed by public as well as by private extravagance. And this is the tendency of all human governments. A departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for a second; that second for a third; and so on, till the bulk of the society is reduced to be mere automatons of misery, to have no sensibilities left but for sinning and suffering. Then begins, indeed, the bellum omnium in omnia, which some philosophers observing to be so general in this world, have mistaken it for the natural, instead of the abusive state of man. And the fore horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression.

Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the ark of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment. 15 I knew that age well; I belonged to it, and labored with it. It deserved well of its country. It was very like the present, but without the experience of the present; and forty years of experience in government is worth a century of book-reading; and this they would say themselves, were they to rise from the dead. I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors. It is this preposterous idea which has lately deluged Europe in blood. Their monarchs, instead of wisely yielding to the gradual change of circumstances, of favoring progressive accommodation to progressive improvement, have clung to old abuses, entrenched themselves behind steady habits, and obliged their subjects to seek through blood and violence rash and ruinous innovations, which, had they been referred to the peaceful deliberations and collected wisdom of the nation, would have been put into acceptable and salutary forms. Let us follow no such examples, nor weakly believe that one generation is not as capable as another of taking care of itself, and of ordering its own affairs. Let us, as our sister States have done, avail ourselves of our reason and experience, to correct the crude essays of our first and unexperienced, although wise, virtuous, and well-meaning councils. And lastly, let us provide in our constitution for its revision at stated periods. What these periods should be, nature herself indicates. By the European tables of mortality, of the adults living at any one moment of time, a majority will be dead in about nineteen years. At the 16 end of that period then, a new majority is come into place; or, in other words, a new generation. Each generation is as independent of the one preceding, as that was of all which had gone before. It has then, like them, a right to choose for itself the form of government it believes most promotive of its own happiness; consequently, to accommodate to the circumstances in which it finds itself, that received from its predecessors; and it is for the peace and good of mankind, that a solemn opportunity of doing this every nineteen or twenty years, should be provided by the constitution; so that it may be handed on, with periodical repairs, from generation to generation, to the end of time, if anything human can so long endure. It is now forty years since the constitution of Virginia was formed. The same tables inform us, that, within that period, two-thirds of the adults then living are now dead. Have then the remaining third, even if they had the wish, the right to hold in obedience to their will, and to laws heretofore made by them, the other two-thirds, who, with themselves, compose the present mass of adults? If they have not, who has? The dead? But the dead have no rights. They are nothing; and nothing cannot own something. Where there is no substance, there can be no accident. This corporeal globe, and everything upon it, belong to its present corporeal inhabitants, during their generation. They alone have a right to direct what is the concern of themselves alone, and to declare the law of that direction; and this declaration can only be made by their majority. That majority, then, has a right to depute representatives to a convention, and to make the constitution what they think will be the best for themselves. But how collect their voice? This is the real difficulty. If invited by private authority, or county or district meetings, these divisions are so large that few will attend; and their voice will be imperfectly, or falsely pronounced. Here, then, would be one of the advantages of the ward divisions I have proposed. The mayor of every ward, on a question like the present, would call his ward together, take the simple yea or nay of its members, convey these to the county court, who would hand on those of all its wards 17 to the proper general authority; and the voice of the whole people would be thus fairly, fully, and peaceably expressed, discussed, and decided by the common reason of the society. If this avenue be shut to the call of sufferance, it will make itself heard through that of force, and we shall go on, as other nations are doing, in the endless circle of oppression, rebellion, reformation; and oppression, rebellion, reformation, again; and so on forever.

These, Sir, are my opinions of the governments we see among men, and of the principles by which alone we may prevent our own from falling into the same dreadful track. I have given them at greater length than your letter called for. But I cannot say things by halves; and I confide them to your honor, so to use them as to preserve me from the gridiron of the public papers. If you shall approve and enforce them, as you have done that of equal representation, they may do some good. If not, keep them to yourself as the effusions of withered age and useless time. I shall, with not the less truth, assure you of my great respect and consideration.


Monticello, July 16, 1816.

Dear Sir,—Yours of the 10th is received, and I have to acknowledge a copious supply of the turnip seed requested. Besides taking care myself, I shall endeavor again to commit it to the depository of the neighborhood, generally found to be the best precaution against losing a good thing. I will add a word on the political part of our letters. I believe we do not differ on either of the points you suppose. On education certainly not; of which the proofs are my bill for the diffusion of knowledge, proposed near forty years ago, and my uniform endeavors, to this day, to get our counties divided into wards, one of the principal objects of which is, the establishment of a primary school in each. But education not being a branch of municipal government, but, like the other arts and sciences, an accident only, I did 18 not place it, with election, as a fundamental member in the structure of government. Nor, I believe, do we differ as to the county courts. I acknowledge the value of this institution; that it is in truth our principal executive and judiciary, and that it does much for little pecuniary reward. It is their self-appointment I wish to correct; to find some means of breaking up a cabal, when such a one gets possession of the bench. When this takes place, it becomes the most afflicting of tyrannies, because its powers are so various, and exercised on everything most immediately around us. And how many instances have you and I known of these monopolies of county administration? I knew a county in which a particular family (a numerous one) got possession of the bench, and for a whole generation never admitted a man on it who was not of its clan or connexion. I know a county now of one thousand and five hundred militia, of which sixty are federalists. Its court is of thirty members, of whom twenty are federalists, (every third man of the sect.) There are large and populous districts in it without a justice, because without a federalist for appointment; the militia are as disproportionably under federal officers. And there is no authority on earth which can break up this junto, short of a general convention. The remaining one thousand four hundred and forty, free, fighting, and paying citizens, are governed by men neither of their choice or confidence, and without a hope of relief. They are certainly excluded from the blessings of a free government for life, and indefinitely, for aught the constitution has provided. This solecism may be called anything but republican, and ought undoubtedly to be corrected. I salute you with constant friendship and respect.


Monticello, July 21, 1816.

I thank you, Sir, for the copy you have been so good as to send me, of your late speech to the Legislature of your State, which I have read a second time with great pleasure, as I had before 19 done in the public papers. It is replete with sound principles, and truly republican. Some articles, too, are worthy of peculiar notice. The idea that institutions established for the use of the nation cannot be touched nor modified, even to make them answer their end, because of rights gratuitously supposed in those employed to manage them in trust for the public, may perhaps be a salutary provision against the abuses of a monarch, but is most absurd against the nation itself. Yet our lawyers and priests generally inculcate this doctrine, and suppose that preceding generations held the earth more freely than we do; had a right to impose laws on us, unalterable by ourselves, and that we, in like manner, can make laws and impose burthens on future generations, which they will have no right to alter; in fine, that the earth belongs to the dead and not the living. I remark also the phenomenon of a chief magistrate recommending the reduction of his own compensation. This is a solecism of which the wisdom of our late Congress cannot be accused. I, however, place economy among the first and most important of republican virtues, and public debt as the greatest of the dangers to be feared. We see in England the consequences of the want of it, their laborers reduced to live on a penny in the shilling of their earnings, to give up bread, and resort to oatmeal and potatoes for food; and their landholders exiling themselves to live in penury and obscurity abroad, because at home the government must have all the clear profits of their land. In fact, they see the fee simple of the island transferred to the public creditors, all its profits going to them for the interest of their debts. Our laborers and landholders must come to this also, unless they severely adhere to the economy you recommend. I salute you with entire esteem and respect.


Monticello, July 23, 1816.

Dear Sir,—I have received and read with great pleasure the account you have been so kind as to send me of the interview 20 between the Emperor Alexander and Mr. Clarkson, which I now return, as it is in manuscript. It shows great condescension of character on the part of the Emperor, and power of mind also, to be able to abdicate the artificial distance between himself and other good, able men, and to converse as on equal ground. This conversation too, taken with his late Christian league, seems to bespeak in him something like a sectarian piety; his character is undoubtedly good, and the world, I think, may expect good effects from it. I have no doubt that his firmness in favor of France, after the deposition of Bonaparte, has saved that country from evils still more severe than she is suffering, and perhaps even from partition. I sincerely wish that the history of the secret proceedings at Vienna may become known, and may reconcile to our good opinion of him his participation in the demolition of ancient and independent States, transferring them and their inhabitants as farms and stocks of cattle at a market to other owners, and even taking a part of the spoil to himself. It is possible to suppose a case excusing this, and my partiality for his character encourages me to expect it, and to impute to others, known to have no moral scruples, the crimes of that conclave, who, under pretence of punishing the atrocities of Bonaparte, reached them themselves, and proved that with equal power they were equally flagitious. But let us turn with abhorrence from these sceptered Scelerats, and disregarding our own petty differences of opinion about men and measures, let us cling in mass to our country and to one another, and bid defiance, as we can if united, to the plundering combinations of the old world. Present me affectionately and respectfully to Mrs. Logan, and accept the assurance of my friendship and best wishes.


Monticello, July 26, 1816.

Dear Sir,—In compliance with the request of your letter of the 6th inst., with respect to Peyton Randolph, I have to observe 21 that the difference of age between him and myself admitted my knowing little of his early life, except what I accidentally caught from occasional conversations. I was a student at college when he was already Attorney General at the bar, and a man of established years; and I had no intimacy with him until I went to the bar myself, when, I suppose, he must have been upwards of forty; from that time, and especially after I became a member of the legislature, until his death, our intimacy was cordial, and I was with him when he died. Under these circumstances, I have committed to writing as many incidents of his life as memory enabled me to do, and to give faith to the many and excellent qualities he possessed, I have mentioned those minor ones which he did not possess; considering true history, in which all will be believed, as preferable to unqualified panegyric, in which nothing is believed. I avoided, too, the mention of trivial incidents, which, by not distinguishing, disparage a character; but I have not been able to state early dates. Before forwarding this paper to you, I received a letter from Peyton Randolph, his great nephew, repeating the request you had made. I therefore put the paper under a blank cover, addressed to you, unsealed, and sent it to Peyton Randolph, that he might see what dates as well as what incidents might be collected, supplementary to mine, and correct any which I had inexactly stated; circumstances may have been misremembered, but nothing, I think, of substance. This account of Peyton Randolph, therefore, you may expect to be forwarded by his nephew.

You requested me when here, to communicate to you the particulars of two transactions in which I was myself an agent, to wit: the coup de main of Arnold on Richmond, and Tarleton's on Charlottesville. I now enclose them, detailed with an exactness on which you may rely with an entire confidence. But, having an insuperable aversion to be drawn into controversy in the public papers, I must request not to be quoted either as to these or the account of Peyton Randolph. Accept the assurances of my esteem and respect. 22


Monticello, July 31, 1816.

Dear Sir,—Your favor of November 1st came but lately to my hand. It covered a prospectus of your code of health and longevity, a great and useful work, which I shall be happy to see brought to a conclusion. Like our good old Franklin, your labors and science go all to the utilities of human life.

I reciprocate congratulations with you sincerely on the restoration of peace between our two nations. And why should there have been war? for the party to which the blame is to be imputed, we appeal to the "Exposition of the causes and character of the war," a pamphlet which, we are told, has gone through some editions with you. If that does not justify us, then the blame is ours. But let all this be forgotten; and let both parties now count soberly the value of mutual friendship. I am satisfied both will find that no advantage either can derive from any act of injustice whatever, will be of equal value with those flowing from friendly intercourse. Both ought to wish for peace and cordial friendship; we, because you can do us more harm than any other nation; and you, because we can do you more good than any other. Our growth is now so well established by regular enumerations through a course of forty years, and the same grounds of continuance so likely to endure for a much longer period, that, speaking in round numbers, we may safely call ourselves twenty millions in twenty years, and forty millions in forty years. Many of the statesmen now living saw the commencement of the first term, and many now living will see the end of the second. It is not then a mere concern of posterity; a third of those now in life will see that day. Of what importance then to you must such a nation be, whether as friends or foes. But is their friendship, dear Sir, to be obtained by the irritating policy of fomenting among us party discord, and a teasing opposition; by bribing traitors, whose sale of themselves proves they would sell their purchasers also, if their treacheries were worth a price? How much cheaper would it be, how much easier, more honorable, more magnanimous 23 and secure, to gain the government itself, by a moral, a friendly, and respectful course of conduct, which is all they would ask for a cordial and faithful return. I know the difficulties arising from the irritation, the exasperation produced on both sides by the late war. It is great with you, as I judge from your newspapers; and greater with us, as I see myself. The reason lies in the different degrees in which the war has acted on us. To your people it has been a matter of distant history only, a mere war in the carnatic; with us it has reached the bosom of every man, woman and child. The maritime parts have felt it in the conflagration of their houses, and towns, and desolation of their farms; the borderers in the massacres and scalpings of their husbands, wives and children; and the middle parts in their personal labors and losses in defence of both frontiers, and the revolting scenes they have there witnessed. It is not wonderful then, if their irritations are extreme. Yet time and prudence on the part of the two governments may get over these. Manifestations of cordiality between them, friendly and kind offices made visible to the people on both sides, will mollify their feelings, and second the wishes of their functionaries to cultivate peace, and promote mutual interest. That these dispositions have been strong on our part, in every administration from the first to the present one, that we would at any time have gone our full half-way to meet them, if a single step in advance had been taken by the other party, I can affirm of my own intimate knowledge of the fact. During the first year of my own administration, I thought I discovered in the conduct of Mr. Addington some marks of comity towards us, and a willingness to extend to us the decencies and duties observed towards other nations. My desire to catch at this, and to improve it for the benefit of my own country, induced me, in addition to the official declarations from the Secretary of State, to write with my own hand to Mr. King, then our Minister Plenipotentiary at London, in the following words: "I avail myself of this occasion to assure you of my perfect satisfaction with the manner in which you have conducted the several matters committed to you by us; and to express 24 my hope that through your agency, we may be able to remove everything inauspicious to a cordial friendship between this country, and the one in which you are stationed; a friendship dictated by too many considerations not to be felt by the wise and the dispassionate of both nations. It is, therefore, with the sincerest pleasure I have observed on the part of the British government various manifestations of a just and friendly disposition towards us; we wish to cultivate peace and friendship with all nations, believing that course most conducive to the welfare of our own; it is natural that these friendships should bear some proportion to the common interests of the parties. The interesting relations between Great Britain and the United States are certainly of the first order, and as such are estimated, and will be faithfully cultivated by us. These sentiments have been communicated to you from time to time, in the official correspondence of the Secretary of State; but I have thought it might not be unacceptable to be assured that they perfectly concur with my own personal convictions, both in relation to yourself, and the country in which you are."

My expectation was that Mr. King would show this letter to Mr. Addington, and that it would be received by him as an overture towards a cordial understanding between the two countries. He left the ministry, however, and I never heard more of it, and certainly never perceived any good effect from it. I know that in the present temper, the boastful, the insolent, and the mendacious newspapers on both sides, will present serious impediments. Ours will be insulting your public authorities, and boasting of victories; and yours will not be sparing of provocations and abuses of us. But if those at our helms could not place themselves above these pitiful notices, and throwing aside all personal feelings, look only to the interests of their nations, they would be unequal to the trusts confided to them. I am equally confident, on our part, in the administration now in place, as in that which will succeed it; and that if friendship is not hereafter sincerely cultivated, it will not be their fault. I will not, however, disguise that the settlement of the practice of impressing our citizens 25 is a sine quâ non, a preliminary, without which treaties of peace are but truces. But it is impossible that reasonable dispositions on both parts should not remove this stumbling block, which unremoved, will be an eternal obstacle to peace, and lead finally to the deletion of the one or the other nation. The regulations necessary to keep your own seamen to yourselves are those which our interests would lead us to adopt, and that interest would be a guarantee of their observance; and the transfer of these questions from the cognizance of their naval commanders to the governments themselves, would be but an act of mutual as well as of self-respect.

I did not mean, when I began my letter, to have indulged my pen so far on subjects with which I have long ceased to have connection; but it may do good, and I will let it go, for although what I write is from no personal privity with the views or wishes of our government, yet believing them to be what they ought to be, and confident in their wisdom and integrity, I am sure I hazard no deception in what I have said of them, and I shall be happy indeed if some good shall result to both our countries, from this renewal of our correspondence and ancient friendship. I recall with great pleasure the days of our former intercourse, personal and epistolary, and can assure you with truth that in no instant of time has there been any abatement of my great esteem and respect for you.


Monticello, August 1, 1816.

Dear Sir,—Your two philosophical letters of May 4th and 6th have been too long in my carton of "letters to be answered." To the question, indeed, on the utility of grief, no answer remains to be given. You have exhausted the subject. I see that, with the other evils of life, it is destined to temper the cup we are to drink. 26

Two urns by Jove's high throne have ever stood,

The source of evil one, and one of good;

From thence the cup of mortal man he fills,

Blessings to these, to those distributes ills;

To most he mingles both.

Putting to myself your question, would I agree to live my seventy-three years over again forever? I hesitate to say. With Chew's limitations from twenty-five to sixty, I would say yes; and I might go further back, but not come lower down. For, at the latter period, with most of us, the powers of life are sensibly on the wane, sight becomes dim, hearing dull, memory constantly enlarging its frightful blank and parting with all we have ever seen or known, spirits evaporate, bodily debility creeps on palsying every limb, and so faculty after faculty quits us, and where then is life? If, in its full rigor, of good as well as evil, your friend Vassall could doubt its value, it must be purely a negative quantity when its evils alone remain. Yet I do not go into his opinion entirely. I do not agree that an age of pleasure is no compensation for a moment of pain. I think, with you, that life is a fair matter of account, and the balance often, nay generally, in its favor. It is not indeed easy, by calculation of intensity and time, to apply a common measure, or to fix the par between pleasure and pain; yet it exists, and is measurable. On the question, for example, whether to be cut for the stone? The young, with a longer prospect of years, think these overbalance the pain of the operation. Dr. Franklin, at the age of eighty, thought his residuum of life not worth that price. I should have thought with him, even taking the stone out of the scale. There is a ripeness of time for death, regarding others as well as ourselves, when it is reasonable we should drop off, and make room for another growth. When we have lived our generation out, we should not wish to encroach on another. I enjoy good health; I am happy in what is around me, yet I assure you I am ripe for leaving all, this year, this day, this hour. If it could be doubted whether we would go back to twenty-five, how can it be whether we would go forward from seventy-three? 27 Bodily decay is gloomy in prospect, but of all human contemplations the most abhorrent is body without mind. Perhaps, however, I might accept of time to read Grimm before I go. Fifteen volumes of anecdotes and incidents, within the compass of my own time and cognizance, written by a man of genius, of taste, of point, an acquaintance, the measure and traverses of whose mind I know, could not fail to turn the scale in favor of life during their perusal. I must write to Ticknor to add it to my catalogue, and hold on till it comes. There is a Mr. Vanderkemp of New York, a correspondent, I believe, of yours, with whom I have exchanged some letters without knowing who he is. Will you tell me? I know nothing of the history of the Jesuits you mention in four volumes. Is it a good one? I dislike, with you, their restoration, because it marks a retrograde step from light towards darkness. We shall have our follies without doubt. Some one or more of them will always be afloat. But ours will be the follies of enthusiasm, not of bigotry, not of Jesuitism. Bigotry is the disease of ignorance, of morbid minds; enthusiasm of the free and buoyant. Education and free discussion are the antidotes of both. We are destined to be a barrier against the returns of ignorance and barbarism. Old Europe will have to lean on our shoulders, and to hobble along by our side, under the monkish trammels of priests and kings, as she can. What a colossus shall we be when the southern continent comes up to our mark! What a stand will it secure as a ralliance for the reason and freedom of the globe! I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past,—so good night! I will dream on, always fancying that Mrs. Adams and yourself are by my side marking the progress and the obliquities of ages and countries.


Monticello, August 6, 1816.

I have received, dear Madam, your very friendly letter of July 21st, and assure you that I feel with deep sensibility its kind expressions 28 towards myself, and the more as from a person than whom no others could be more in sympathy with my own affections. I often call to mind the occasions of knowing your worth, which the societies of Washington furnished; and none more than those derived from your much valued visit to Monticello. I recognize the same motives of goodness in the solicitude you express on the rumor supposed to proceed from a letter of mine to Charles Thomson, on the subject of the Christian religion. It is true that, in writing to the translator of the Bible and Testament, that subject was mentioned; but equally so that no adherence to any particular mode of Christianity was there expressed, nor any change of opinions suggested. A change from what? the priests indeed have heretofore thought proper to ascribe to me religious, or rather anti-religious sentiments, of their own fabric, but such as soothed their resentments against the act of Virginia for establishing religious freedom. They wished him to be thought atheist, deist, or devil, who could advocate freedom from their religious dictations. But I have ever thought religion a concern purely between our God and our consciences, for which we were accountable to him, and not to the priests. I never told my own religion, nor scrutinized that of another. I never attempted to make a convert, nor wished to change another's creed. I have ever judged of the religion of others by their lives, and by this test, my dear Madam, I have been satisfied yours must be an excellent one, to have produced a life of such exemplary virtue and correctness. For it is in our lives, and not from our words, that our religion must be read. By the same test the world must judge me. But this does not satisfy the priesthood. They must have a positive, a declared assent to all their interested absurdities. My opinion is that there would never have been an infidel, if there had never been a priest. The artificial structures they have built on the purest of all moral systems, for the purpose of deriving from it pence and power, revolts those who think for themselves, and who read in that system only what is really there. These, therefore, they brand with such nick-names as their enmity choses gratuitously to impute. 29 I have left the world, in silence, to judge of causes from their effects; and I am consoled in this course, my dear friend, when I perceive the candor with which I am judged by your justice and discernment; and that, notwithstanding the slanders of the saints, my fellow citizens have thought me worthy of trusts. The imputations of irreligion having spent their force; they think an imputation of change might now be turned to account as a bolster for their duperies. I shall leave them, as heretofore, to grope on in the dark.

Our family at Monticello is all in good health; Ellen speaking of you with affection, and Mrs. Randolph always regretting the accident which so far deprived her of the happiness of your former visit. She still cherishes the hope of some future renewal of that kindness; in which we all join her, as in the assurances of affectionate attachment and respect.


Quincy, August 9, 1816.

Dear Sir,—The biography of Mr. Vander Kemp would require a volume which I could not write if a million were offered me as a reward for the work. After a learned and scientific education he entered the army in Holland, and served as captain, with reputation; but loving books more than arms he resigned his commission and became a preacher. My acquaintance with him commenced at Leyden in 1790. He was then minister of the Menonist congregation, the richest in Europe; in that city, where he was celebrated as the most elegant writer in the Dutch language, he was the intimate friend of Luzac and De Gysecaar. In 1788, when the King of Prussia threatened Holland with invasion, his party insisted on his taking a command in the army of defence, and he was appointed to the command of the most exposed and most important post in the seven provinces. He was soon surrounded by the Prussian forces; but he defended his fortress with a prudence, fortitude, patience, and perseverance, 30 which were admired by all Europe; till, abandoned by his nation, destitute of provisions and ammunition, still refusing to surrender, he was offered the most honorable capitulation. He accepted it; was offered very advantageous proposals; but despairing of the liberties of his country, he retired to Antwerp, determined to emigrate to New York; wrote to me in London, requesting letters of introduction. I sent him letters to Governor Clinton, and several others of our little great men. His history in this country is equally curious and affecting. He left property in Holland, which the revolutions there have annihilated; and I fear is now pinched with poverty. His head is deeply learned and his heart is pure. I scarcely know a more amiable character.

* * * * * * * *

He has written to me occasionally, and I have answered his letters in great haste. You may well suppose that such a man has not always been able to understand our American politics. Nor have I. Had he been as great a master of our language as he was of his own, he would have been at this day one of the most conspicuous characters in the United States.

So much for Vander Kemp; now for your letter of August 1st. Your poet, the Ionian I suppose, ought to have told us whether Jove, in the distribution of good and evil from his two urns, observes any rule of equity or not; whether he thunders out flames of eternal fire on the many, and power, and glory, and felicity on the few, without any consideration of justice?

Let us state a few questions sub rosâ.

1. Would you accept a life, if offered you, of equal pleasure and pain? For example. One million of moments of pleasure, and one million of moments of pain! (1,000,000 moments of pleasure = 1,000,000 moments of pain.) Suppose the pleasure as exquisite as any in life, and the pain as exquisite as any; for example, stone-gravel, gout, headache, earache, toothache, cholic, &c. I would not. I would rather be blotted out.

2. Would you accept a life of one year of incessant gout, headache, &c., for seventy-two years of such life as you have enjoyed? I would not. (One year of cholic = seventy-two of 31 Boule de Savon; pretty, but unsubstantial.) I had rather be extinguished. You may vary these Algebraical equations at pleasure and without end. All this ratiocination, calculation, call it what you will, is founded on the supposition of no future state. Promise me eternal life free from pain, although in all other respects no better than our present terrestrial existence, I know not how many thousand years of Smithfield fevers I would not endure to obtain it. In fine, without the supposition of a future state, mankind and this globe appear to me the most sublime and beautiful bubble, and bauble, that imagination can conceive.

Let us then wish for immortality at all hazards, and trust the Ruler with his skies. I do; and earnestly wish for his commands, which to the utmost of my power shall be implicitly and piously obeyed.

It is worth while to live to read Grimm, whom I have read; and La Harpe and Mademoiselle D'Espinasse the fair friend of D'Alembert, both of whom Grimm characterizes very distinguished, and are, I am told, in print. I have not seen them, but hope soon to have them.

My history of the Jesuits is not elegantly written, but is supported by unquestionable authorities, is very particular and very horrible. Their restoration is indeed a "step towards darkness," cruelty, perfidy, despotism, death and ——! I wish we were out of "danger of bigotry and Jesuitism"! May we be "a barrier against the returns of ignorance and barbarism"! "What a colossus shall we be"! But will it not be of brass, iron and clay? Your taste is judicious in liking better the dreams of the future, than the history of the past. Upon this principle I prophecy that you and I shall soon meet, and be better friends than ever. So wishes,

J. A.


Monticello, August 26, 1816.

Sir,—In answer to your inquiry as to the merits of Gillies' translation of the Politics of Aristotle, I can only say that it has 32 the reputation of being preferable to Ellis', the only rival translation into English. I have never seen it myself, and therefore do not speak of it from my own knowledge. But so different was the style of society then, and with those people, from what it is now and with us, that I think little edification can be obtained from their writings on the subject of government. They had just ideas of the value of personal liberty, but none at all of the structure of government best calculated to preserve it. They knew no medium between a democracy (the only pure republic, but impracticable beyond the limits of a town) and an abandonment of themselves to an aristocracy, or a tyranny independent of the people. It seems not to have occurred that where the citizens cannot meet to transact their business in person, they alone have the right to choose the agents who shall transact it; and that in this way a republican, or popular government, of the second grade of purity, may be exercised over any extent of country. The full experiment of a government democratical, but representative, was and is still reserved for us. The idea (taken, indeed, from the little specimen formerly existing in the English constitution, but now lost) has been carried by us, more or less, into all our legislative and executive departments; but it has not yet, by any of us, been pushed into all the ramifications of the system, so far as to leave no authority existing not responsible to the people; whose rights, however, to the exercise and fruits of their own industry, can never be protected against the selfishness of rulers not subject to their control at short periods. The introduction of this new principle of representative democracy has rendered useless almost everything written before on the structure of government; and, in a great measure, relieves our regret, if the political writings of Aristotle, or of any other ancient, have been lost, or are unfaithfully rendered or explained to us. My most earnest wish is to see the republican element of popular control pushed to the maximum of its practicable exercise. I shall then believe that our government may be pure and perpetual. Accept my respectful salutations. 33


Quincy, September 3, 1816.

Dear Sir,—Dr. James Freeman is a learned, ingenious, honest and benevolent man, who wishes to see President Jefferson, and requests me to introduce him. If you would introduce some of your friends to me, I could, with more confidence, introduce mine to you. He is a Christian, but not a Pythagorian, a Platonic, or a Philonic Christian. You will ken him, and he will ken you; but you may depend he will never betray, deceive, or injure you.

Without hinting to him anything which had passed between you and me, I asked him your question, "What are the uses of grief?" He stared, and said "The question was new to him." All he could say at present was, that he had known, in his own parish, more than one instance of ladies who had been thoughtless, modish, extravagant in a high degree, who, upon the death of a child, had become thoughtful, modest, humble; as prudent, amiable women as any he had known. Upon this I read to him your letters and mine upon this subject of grief, with which he seemed to be pleased. You see I was not afraid to trust him, and you need not be.

Since I am, accidentally, invited to write to you, I may add a few words upon pleasures and pains of life. Vassall thought, an hundred years, nay, an eternity of pleasure, was no compensation for one hour of bilious cholic. Read again Molliores Spsyke, act 2d, scene 1st, on the subject of grief. And read in another place, "on est payè de mille maux, par un heureux moment." Thus differently do men speak of pleasures and pains. Now, Sir, I will tease you with another question. What have been the abuses of grief?

In answer to this question, I doubt not you might write an hundred volumes. A few hints may convince you that the subject is ample.

1st. The death of Socrates excited a general sensibility of grief at Athens, in Attica, and in all Greece. Plato and Xenophon, 34 two of his disciples, took advantage of that sentiment, by employing their enchanting style to represent their master to be greater and better than he probably was; and what have been the effects of Socratic, Platonic, which were Pythagorian, which was Indian philosophy, in the world?

2d. The death of Cæsar, tyrant as he was, spread a general compassion, which always includes grief, among the Romans. The scoundrel Mark Antony availed himself of this momentary grief to destroy the republic, to establish the empire, and to proscribe Cicero.

3d. But to skip over all ages and nations for the present, and descend to our own times. The death of Washington diffused a general grief. The old tories, the hyperfederalists, the speculators, set up a general howl. Orations, prayers, sermons, mock funerals, were all employed, not that they loved Washington, but to keep in countenance the funding and banking system; and to cast into the background and the shade, all others who had been concerned in the service of their country in the Revolution.

4th. The death of Hamilton, under all its circumstances, produced a general grief. His most determined enemies did not like to get rid of him in that way. They pitied, too, his widow and children. His party seized the moment of public feeling to come forward with funeral orations, and printed panegyrics, reinforced with mock funerals and solemn grimaces, and all this by people who have buried Otis, Sam Adams, Hancock, and Gerry, in comparative obscurity. And why? Merely to disgrace the old Whigs, and keep the funds and banks in countenance.

5th. The death of Mr. Ames excited a general regret. His long consumption, his amiable character, and reputable talents, had attracted a general interest, and his death a general mourning. His party made the most of it, by processions, orations, and a mock funeral. And why? To glorify the Tories, to abash the Whigs, and maintain the reputation of funds, banks, and speculation. And all this was done in honor of that insignificant boy, by people who have let a Dance, a Gerry, and a Dexter, go to their graves without notice.

35 6th. I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved—The Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! With the rational respect which is due to it, knavish priests have added prostitutions of it, that fill, or might fill, the blackest and bloodiest pages of human history.

I am with ancient friendly sentiments,


Monticello, September 5, 1816.

Sir,—Your letter of August the 16th is just received. That which I wrote to you under the address of H. Tompkinson, was intended for the author of the pamphlet you were so kind as to send me, and therefore, in your hands, found its true destination. But I must beseech you, Sir, not to admit a possibility of its being published. Many good people will revolt from its doctrines, and my wish is to offend nobody; to leave to those who are to live under it, the settlement of their own constitution, and to pass in peace the remainder of my time. If those opinions are sound, they will occur to others, and will prevail by their own weight, without the aid of names, I am glad to see that the Staunton meeting has rejected the idea of a limited convention. The article, however, nearest my heart, is the division of counties into wards. These will be pure and elementary republics, the sum of all which, taken together, composes the State, and will make of the whole a true democracy as to the business of the wards, which is that of nearest and daily concern. The affairs of the larger sections, of counties, of States, and of the Union, not admitting personal transaction by the people, will be delegated to agents elected by themselves; and representation will thus be substituted, where personal action becomes impracticable. Yet, even over these representative organs, should they become corrupt and perverted, the division into wards constituting 36 the people, in their wards, a regularly organized power, enables them by that organization to crush, regularly and peaceably, the usurpations of their unfaithful agents, and rescues them from the dreadful necessity of doing it insurrectionally. In this way we shall be as republican as a large society can be; and secure the continuance of purity in our government, by the salutary, peaceable, and regular control of the people. No other depositories of power have ever yet been found, which did not end in converting to their own profit the earnings of those committed to their charge. George the III. in execution of the trust confided to him, has, within his own day, loaded the inhabitants of Great Britain with debts equal to the whole fee-simple value of their island, and under pretext of governing it, has alienated its whole soil to creditors who could lend money to be lavished on priests, pensions, plunder and perpetual war. This would not have been so, had the people retained organized means of acting on their agents. In this example then, let us read a lesson for ourselves, and not "go and do likewise."

Since writing my letter of July the 12th, I have been told, that on the question of equal representation, our fellow citizens in some sections of the State claim peremptorily a right of representation for their slaves. Principle will, in this, as in most other cases, open the way for us to correct conclusion. Were our State a pure democracy, in which all its inhabitants should meet together to transact all their business, there would yet be excluded from their deliberations, 1, infants, until arrived at years of discretion. 2. Women, who, to prevent depravation of morals and ambiguity of issue, could not mix promiscuously in the public meetings of men. 3. Slaves, from whom the unfortunate state of things with us takes away the rights of will and of property. Those then who have no will could be permitted to exercise none in the popular assembly; and of course, could delegate none to an agent in a representative assembly. The business, in the first case, would be done by qualified citizens only. It is true, that in the general constitution, our State is allowed a larger representation on account of its slaves. But every one knows, that that 37 constitution was a matter of compromise; a capitulation between conflicting interests and opinions. In truth, the condition of different descriptions of inhabitants in any country is a matter of municipal arrangement, of which no foreign country has a right to take notice. All its inhabitants are men as to them. Thus, in the New England States, none have the powers of citizens but those whom they call freemen; and none are freemen until admitted by a vote of the freemen of the town. Yet, in the General Government, these non-freemen are counted in their quantum of representation and of taxation. So, slaves with us have no powers as citizens; yet, in representation in the General Government, they count in the proportion of three to five; and so also in taxation. Whether this is equal, is not here the question. It is a capitulation of discordant sentiments and circumstances, and is obligatory on that ground. But this view shows there is no inconsistency in claiming representation for them for the other States, and refusing it within our own. Accept the renewal of assurances of my respect.


Monticello, October 14, 1816.

Your letter, dear Sir, of May the 6th, had already well explained the uses of grief. That of September the 3d, with equal truth, adduces instances of its abuse; and when we put into the same scale these abuses, with the afflictions of soul which even the uses of grief cost us, we may consider its value in the economy of the human being, as equivocal at least. Those afflictions cloud too great a portion of life to find a counterpoise in any benefits derived from its uses. For setting aside its paroxysms on the occasions of special bereavements, all the latter years of aged men are overshadowed with its gloom. Whither, for instance, can you and I look without seeing the graves of those we have known? And whom can we call up, of our early companions, who has not left us to regret his loss? This, indeed, 38 may be one of the salutary effects of grief; inasmuch as it prepares us to loose ourselves also without repugnance. Doctor Freeman's instances of female levity cured by grief, are certainly to the point, and constitute an item of credit in the account we examine. I was much mortified by the loss of the Doctor's visit, by my absence from home. To have shown how much I feel indebted to you for making good people known to me, would have been one pleasure; and to have enjoyed that of his conversation, and the benefits of his information, so favorably reported by my family, would have been another. I returned home on the third day after his departure. The loss of such visits is among the sacrifices which my divided residence costs me.

Your undertaking the twelve volumes of Dupuis, is a degree of heroism to which I could not have aspired even in my younger days. I have been contented with the humble achievement of reading the analysis of his work by Destutt Tracy, in two hundred pages octavo. I believe I should have ventured on his own abridgment of the work, in one octavo volume, had it ever come to my hands; but the marrow of it in Tracy has satisfied my appetite; and even in that, the preliminary discourse of the analyzer himself, and his conclusion, are worth more in my eye than the body of the work. For the object of that seems to be to smother all history under the mantle of allegory. If histories so unlike as those of Hercules and Jesus, can, by a fertile imagination and allegorical interpretations, be brought to the same tally, no line of distinction remains between fact and fancy. As this pithy morsel will not overburthen the mail in passing and repassing between Quincy and Monticello, I send it for your perusal. Perhaps it will satisfy you, as it has me; and may save you the labor of reading twenty-four times its volume. I have said to you that it was written by Tracy; and I had so entered it on the title page, as I usually do on anonymous works whose authors are known to me. But Tracy requested me not to betray his anonyme, for reasons which may not yet, perhaps, have ceased to weigh. I am bound, then, to make the same reserve with you. Destutt Tracy is, in my judgment, the ablest writer living on intellectual subjects, 39 or the operations of the understanding. His three octavo volumes on Ideology, which constitute the foundation of what he has since written, I have not entirely read; because I am not fond of reading what is merely abstract, and unapplied immediately to some useful science. Bonaparte, with his repeated derisions of Ideologists (squinting at this author), has by this time felt that true wisdom does not lie in mere practice without principle. The next work Tracy wrote was the Commentary on Montesquieu, never published in the original, because not safe; but translated and published in Philadelphia, yet without the author's name. He has since permitted his name to be mentioned. Although called a Commentary, it is, in truth, an elementary work on the principles of government, comprised in about three hundred pages octavo. He has lately published a third work, on Political Economy, comprising the whole subject within about the same compass; in which all its principles are demonstrated with the severity of Euclid, and, like him, without ever using a superfluous word. I have procured this to be translated, and have been four years endeavoring to get it printed; but as yet, without success. In the meantime, the author has published the original in France, which he thought unsafe while Bonaparte was in power. No printed copy, I believe, has yet reached this country. He has his fourth and last work now in the press at Paris, closing, as he conceives, the circle of metaphysical sciences. This work, which is on Ethics, I have not seen, but suspect I shall differ from it in its foundation, although not in its deductions. I gather from his other works that he adopts the principle of Hobbes, that justice is founded in contract solely, and does not result from the construction of man. I believe, on the contrary, that it is instinct and innate, that the moral sense is as much a part of our constitution as that of feeling, seeing, or hearing; as a wise creator must have seen to be necessary in an animal destined to live in society; that every human mind feels pleasure in doing good to another; that the non-existence of justice is not to be inferred from the fact that the same act is deemed virtuous and right in one society which is held vicious 40 and wrong in another; because, as the circumstances and opinions of different societies vary, so the acts which may do them right or wrong must vary also; for virtue does not consist in the act we do, but in the end it is to effect. If it is to effect the happiness of him to whom it is directed, it is virtuous, while in a society under different circumstances and opinions, the same act might produce pain, and would be vicious. The essence of virtue is in doing good to others, while what is good may be one thing in one society, and its contrary in another. Yet, however we may differ as to the foundation of morals, (and as many foundations have been assumed as there are writers on the subject nearly,) so correct a thinker as Tracy will give us a sound system of morals. And, indeed, it is remarkable, that so many writers, setting out from so many different premises, yet meet all in the same conclusions. This looks as if they were guided, unconsciously, by the unerring hand of instinct.

Your history of the Jesuits, by what name of the author or other description is it to be inquired for?

What do you think of the present situation of England? Is not this the great and fatal crush of their funding system, which, like death, has been foreseen by all, but its hour, like that of death, hidden from mortal prescience? It appears to me that all the circumstances now exist which render recovery desperate. The interest of the national debt is now equal to such a portion of the profits of all the land and the labor of the island, as not to leave enough for the subsistence of those who labor. Hence the owners of the land abandon it and retire to other countries, and the laborer has not enough of his earnings left to him to cover his back and to fill his belly. The local insurrections, now almost general, are of the hungry and the naked, who cannot be quieted but by food and raiment. But where are the means of feeding and clothing them? The landholder has nothing of his own to give; he is but the fiduciary of those who have lent him money; the lender is so taxed in his meat, drink and clothing, that he has but a bare subsistence left. The landholder, then, must give up his land, or the lender his debt, or they must compromise 41 by giving up each one-half. But will either consent, peaceably, to such an abandonment of property? Or must it not be settled by civil conflict? If peaceably compromised, will they agree to risk another ruin under the same government unreformed? I think not; but I would rather know what you think; because you have lived with John Bull, and know better than I do the character of his herd. I salute Mrs. Adams and yourself with every sentiment of affectionate cordiality and respect.


Monticello, October 16, 1816.

Dear Sir,—If it be proposed to place an inscription on the capitol, the lapidary style requires that essential facts only should be stated, and these with a brevity admitting no superfluous word. The essential facts in the two inscriptions proposed are these:


The reasons for this brevity are that the letters must be of extraordinary magnitude to be read from below; that little space is allowed them, being usually put into a pediment or in a frieze, or on a small tablet on the wall; and in our case, a third reason may be added, that no passion can be imputed to this inscription, every word being justifiable from the most classical examples.

But a question of more importance is whether there should be one at all? The barbarism of the conflagration will immortalize that of the nation. It will place them forever in degraded comparison with the execrated Bonaparte, who, in possession of almost every capitol in Europe, injured no one. Of this, history will take care, which all will read, while our inscription will be seen by few. Great Britain, in her pride and ascendency, has certainly hated and despised us beyond every earthly object. Her hatred may remain, but the hour of her contempt is passed and is succeeded by dread; not a present, but a distant and deep 42 one. It is the greater as she feels herself plunged into an abyss of ruin from which no human means point out an issue. We also have more reason to hate her than any nation on earth. But she is not now an object for hatred. She is falling from her transcendent sphere, which all men ought to have wished, but not that she should lose all place among nations. It is for the interest of all that she should be maintained, nearly on a par with other members of the republic of nations. Her power, absorbed into that of any other, would be an object of dread to all, and to us more than all, because we are accessible to her alone and through her alone. The armies of Bonaparte with the fleets of Britain, would change the aspect of our destinies. Under these prospects should we perpetuate hatred against her? Should we not, on the contrary, begin to open ourselves to other and more rational dispositions? It is not improbable that the circumstances of the war and her own circumstances may have brought her wise men to begin to view us with other and even with kindred eyes. Should not our wise men, then, lifted above the passions of the ordinary citizen, begin to contemplate what will be the interests of our country on so important a change among the elements which influence it? I think it would be better to give her time to show her present temper, and to prepare the minds of our citizens for a corresponding change of disposition, by acts of comity towards England rather than by commemoration of hatred. These views might be greatly extended. Perhaps, however, they are premature, and that I may see the ruin of England nearer than it really is. This will be matter of consideration with those to whose councils we have committed ourselves, and whose wisdom, I am sure, will conclude on what is best. Perhaps they may let it go off on the single and short consideration that the thing can do no good, and may do harm. Ever and affectionately yours. 43


Poplar Forest, November 25, 1816.

I receive here, dear Sir, your favor of the 4th, just as I am preparing my return to Monticello for winter quarters, and I hasten to answer to some of your inquiries. The Tracy I mentioned to you is the one connected by marriage with Lafayette's family. The mail which brought your letter, brought one also from him. He writes me that he is become blind, and so infirm that he is no longer able to compose anything. So that we are to consider his works as now closed. They are three volumes of Ideology, one on Political Economy, one on Ethics, and one containing his Commentary on Montesquieu, and a little tract on Education. Although his commentary explains his principles of government, he had intended to have substituted for it an elementary and regular treatise on the subject, but he is prevented by his infirmities. His Analyse de Dupuys he does not avow.

My books are all arrived, some at New York, some at Boston, and I am glad to hear that those for Harvard are safe also, and the Uranologia you mention without telling me what it is. It is something good, I am sure, from the name connected with it; and if you would add to it your fable of the bees, we should receive valuable instruction as to the Uranologia both of the father and son, more valuable than the Chinese will from our bible societies. These incendiaries, finding that the days of fire and fagot are over in the Atlantic hemisphere, are now preparing to put the torch to the Asiatic regions. What would they say were the Pope to send annually to this country, colonies of Jesuit priests with cargoes of their missal and translations of their Vulgate, to be put gratis into the hands of every one who would accept them? and to act thus nationally on us as a nation?

I proceed to the letter you were so good as to enclose me. It is an able letter, speaks volumes in few words, presents a profound view of awful truths, and lets us see truths more awful, which are still to follow. George the Third then, and his minister Pitt, and successors, have spent the fee simple of the 44 kingdom, under pretence of governing it; their sinecures, salaries, pensions, priests, prelates, princes and eternal wars, have mortgaged to its full value the last foot of their soil. They are reduced to the dilemma of a bankrupt spendthrift, who, having run through his whole fortune, now asks himself what he is to do? It is in vain he dismisses his coaches and horses, his grooms, liveries, cooks and butlers. This done, he still finds he has nothing to eat. What was his property is now that of his creditors; if still in his hands, it is only as their trustee. To them it belongs, and to them every farthing of its profits must go. The reformation of extravagances comes too late. All is gone. Nothing left for retrenchment or frugality to go on. The debts of England, however, being due from the whole nation to one half of it, being as much the debt of the creditor as debtor, if it could be referred to a court of equity, principles might be devised to adjust it peaceably. Dismiss their parasites, ship off their paupers to this country, let the landholders give half their lands to the money lenders, and these last relinquish one half of their debts. They would still have a fertile island, a sound and effective population to labor it, and would hold that station among political powers, to which their natural resources and faculties entitle them. They would no longer, indeed, be the lords of the ocean and paymasters of all the princes of the earth. They would no longer enjoy the luxuries of pirating and plundering everything by sea, and of bribing and corrupting everything by land; but they might enjoy the more safe and lasting luxury of living on terms of equality, justice and good neighborhood with all nations. As it is, their first efforts will probably be to quiet things awhile by the palliatives of reformation; to nibble a little at pensions and sinecures, to bite off a bit here, and a bite there to amuse the people; and to keep the government a going by encroachments on the interest of the public debt, one per cent. of which, for instance, withheld, gives them a spare revenue of ten millions for present subsistence, and spunges, in fact, two hundred millions of the debt. This remedy they may endeavor to administer in broken doses of a small pill at a time. The first 45 may not occasion more than a strong nausea in the money lenders; but the second will probably produce a revulsion of the stomach, borborisms, and spasmodic calls for fair settlement and compromise. But it is not in the character of man to come to any peaceable compromise of such a state of things. The princes and priests will hold to the flesh-pots, the empty bellies will seize on them, and these being the multitude, the issue is obvious, civil war, massacre, exile as in France, until the stage is cleaned of everything but the multitude, and the lands get into their hands by such processes as the revolution will engender. They will then want peace and a government, and what will it be? certainly not a renewal of that which has already ruined them. Their habits of law and order, their ideas almost innate of the vital elements of free government, of trial by jury, habeas corpus, freedom of the press, freedom of opinion, and representative government, make them, I think, capable of bearing a considerable portion of liberty. They will probably turn their eyes to us, and be disposed to tread in our footsteps, seeing how safely these have led us into port. There is no part of our model to which they seem unequal, unless perhaps the elective presidency; and even that might possibly be rescued from the tumult of elections, by subdividing the electoral assemblages into very small parts, such as of wards or townships, and making them simultaneous. But you know them so much better than I do, that it is presumption to offer my conjectures to you.

While it is much our interest to see this power reduced from its towering and borrowed height, to within the limits of its natural resources, it is by no means our interest that she should be brought below that, or lose her competent place among the nations of Europe. The present exhausted state of the continent will, I hope, permit them to go through their struggle without foreign interference, and to settle their new government according to their own will. I think it will be friendly to us, as the nation itself would be were it not artfully wrought up by the hatred their government bears us. And were they once under 46 a government which should treat us with justice and equity I should myself feel with great strength the ties which bind us together, of origin, language, laws and manners; and I am persuaded the two people would become in future, as it was with the ancient Greeks, among whom it was reproachful for Greek to be found fighting against Greek in a foreign army. The individuals of the nation I have ever honored and esteemed, the basis of their character being essentially worthy; but I consider their government as the most flagitious which has existed since the days of Philip of Macedon, whom they make their model. It is not only founded in corruption itself, but insinuates the same poison into the bowels of every other, corrupts its councils, nourishes factions, stirs up revolutions, and places its own happiness in fomenting commotions and civil wars among others, thus rendering itself truly the hostis humani generis. The effect is now coming home to itself. Its first operation will fall on the individuals who have been the chief instruments in its corruptions, and will eradicate the families which have from generation to generation been fattening on the blood of their brethren; and this scoria once thrown off, I am in hopes a purer nation will result, and a purer government be instituted, one which, instead of endeavoring to make us their natural enemies, will see in us, what we really are, their natural friends and brethren, and more interested in a fraternal connection with them than with any other nation on earth. I look, therefore, to their revolution with great interest. I wish it to be as moderate and bloodless as will effect the desired object of an honest government, one which will permit the world to live in peace, and under the bonds of friendship and good neighborhood.

In this tremendous tempest, the distinctions of whig and tory will disappear like chaff on a troubled ocean. Indeed, they have been disappearing from the day Hume first began to publish his history. This single book has done more to sap the free principles of the English constitution than the largest standing army of which their patriots have been so jealous. It is like the portraits of our countryman Wright, whose eye was so unhappy as 47 to seize all the ugly features of his subject, and to present them faithfully, while it was entirely insensible to every lineament of beauty. So Hume has concentrated, in his fascinating style, all the arbitrary proceedings of the English kings, as true evidences of the constitution, and glided over its whig principles as the unfounded pretensions of factious demagogues. He even boasts, in his life written by himself, that of the numerous alterations suggested by the readers of his work, he had never adopted one proposed by a whig.

But what, in this same tempest, will become of their colonies and their fleets? Will the former assume independence, and the latter resort to piracy for subsistence, taking possession of some island as a point d'appui? A pursuit of these would add too much to the speculations on the situation and prospects of England, into which I have been led by the pithy text of the letter you so kindly sent me, and which I now return. It is worthy the pen of Tacitus. I add, therefore, only my affectionate and respectful souvenirs to Mrs. Adams and yourself.


Quincy, December 16, 1816.

Your letter, dear Sir, of November 25th, from Poplar Forest, was sent to me from the post-office the next day after I had sent "The Analysis," with my thanks to you.

"Three vols. of Idiology!" Pray explain to me this Neological title! What does it mean? When Bonaparte used it, I was delighted with it, upon the common principle of delight in everything we cannot understand. Does it mean Idiotism? The science of non compos mentuism? The science of Lunacy? The theory of delirium? or does it mean the science of self-love? Of amour propre? or the elements of vanity?

Were I in France at this time, I could profess blindness and infirmity, and prove it too. I suppose he does not avow the analysis, as Hume did not avow his essay on human nature. That 48 analysis, however, does not show a man of excessive mediocrity. Had I known any of these things two years ago, I would have written him a letter. Of all things, I wish to see his Idiology upon Montesquieu. If you, with all your influence, have not been able to get your own translation of it, with your own notes upon it, published in four years, where and what is the freedom of the American press? Mr. Taylor of Hazelwood, Port Royal, can have his voluminous and luminous works published with ease and despatch.

The Uranologia, as I am told, is a collection of plates, stamps, charts of the Heavens upon a large scale, representing all the constellations. The work of some Professor in Sweden. It is said to be the most perfect that ever has appeared. I have not seen it. Why should I ride fifteen miles to see it, when I can see the original every clear evening; and especially as Dupuis has almost made me afraid to inquire after anything more of it than I can see with my naked eye in a star-light night?

That the Pope will send Jesuits to this country, I doubt not; and the church of England, missionaries too. And the Methodists, and the Quakers, and the Moravians, and the Swedenburgers, and the Menonists, and the Scottish Kirkers, and the Jacobites, and the Jacobins, and the Democrats, and the Aristocrats, and the Monarchists, and the Despotists of all denominations: and every emissary of every one of these sects will find a party here already formed, to give him a cordial reception. No power or intelligence less than Raphael's moderator, can reduce this chaos to order.

I am charmed with the fluency and rapidity of your reasoning on the state of Great Britain. I can deny none of your premises; but I doubt your conclusion. After all the convulsions that you foresee, they will return to that constitution which you say has ruined them, and I say has been the source of all their power and importance. They have, as you say, too much sense and knowledge of liberty, ever to submit to simple monarchy, or absolute despotism, on the one hand; and too much of the devil in them ever to be governed by popular elections of Presidents, Senators, and Representatives in Congress. Instead of "turning their eyes 49 to us," their innate feelings will turn them from us. They have been taught from their cradles to despise, scorn, insult, and abuse us. They hate us more vigorously than they do the French. They would sooner adopt the simple monarchy of France, than our republican institutions. You compliment me with more knowledge of them than I can assume or pretend. If I should write you a volume of observations I made in England, you would pronounce it a satire. Suppose the "Refrain," as the French call it, or the Burthen of the Song, as the English express it, should be, the Religion, the Government, the Commerce, the Manufactures, the Army and Navy of Great Britain, are all reduced to the science of pounds, shillings and pence. Elections appeared to me a mere commercial traffic; mere bargain and sale. I have been told by sober, steady freeholders, that "they never had been, and never would go to the poll, without being paid for their time, travel and expenses." Now, suppose an election for a President of the British empire. There must be a nomination of candidates by a national convention, Congress, or caucus—in which would be two parties—Whigs and Tories. Of course two candidates at least would be nominated. The empire is instantly divided into two parties at least. Every man must be paid for his vote by the candidate of his party. The only question would be, which party has the deepest purse. The same reasoning will apply to elections of Senators and Representatives too. A revolution might destroy the Burroughs and the Inequalities of representation, and might produce more toleration; and these acquisitions might be worth all they would cost; but I dread the experiment.

Britain will never be our friend till we are her master.

This will happen in less time than you and I have been struggling with her power; provided we remain united. Aye! there's the rub! I fear there will be greater difficulties to preserve our Union, than you and I, our fathers, brothers, friends, disciples and sons have had, to form it. Towards Great Britain, I would adopt their own maxim. An English jockey says, "If I have a wild horse to break, I begin by convincing him I am his master; 50 and then I will convince him that I am his friend." I am well assured that nothing will restrain Great Britain from injuring us, but fear.

You think that "in a revolution the distinction of Whig and Tory would disappear." I cannot believe this. That distinction arises from nature and society; is now, and ever will be, time without end, among Negroes, Indians, and Tartars, as well as federalists and republicans. Instead of "disappearing since Hume published his history," that history has only increased the Tories and diminished the Whigs. That history has been the bane of Great Britain. It has destroyed many of the best effects of the revolution of 1688. Style has governed the empire. Swift, Pope and Hume, have disgraced all the honest historians. Rapin and Burnet, Oldmixen and Coke, contain more honest truth than Hume and Clarendon, and all their disciples and imitators. But who reads any of them at this day? Every one of the fine arts from the earliest times has been enlisted in the service of superstition and despotism. The whole world at this day gazes with astonishment at the grossest fictions, because they have been immortalized by the most exquisite artists—Homer and Milton, Phideas and Raphael. The rabble of the classic skies, and the hosts of Roman Catholic saints and angels, are still adored in paint, and marble, and verse. Raphael has sketched the actors and scenes in all Apuleus's Amours of Psyche and Cupid. Nothing is too offensive to morals, delicacy, or decency, for this painter. Raphael has painted in one of the most ostentatious churches in Italy—the Creation—and with what genius? God Almighty is represented as leaping into chaos, and boxing it about with his fists, and kicking it about with his feet, till he tumbles it into order!

Nothing is too impious or profane for this great master, who has painted so many inimitable virgins and children.

To help me on in my career of improvement, I have now read four volumes of La Harpe's correspondence with Paul and a Russian minister. Philosophers! Never again think of annulling superstition per Saltum. Testine cente. 51


Monticello, December 31, 1816.

Sir,—Your favor of November 23d, after a very long passage, is received, and with it the map which you have been so kind as to send me, for which I return you many thanks. It is handsomely executed, and on a well-chosen scale; giving a luminous view of the comparative possessions of different powers in our America. It is on account of the value I set on it, that I will make some suggestions. By the charter of Louis XIV. all the country comprehending the waters which flow into the Mississippi, was made a part of Louisiana. Consequently its northern boundary was the summit of the highlands in which its northern waters rise. But by the Xth Art. of the Treaty of Utrecht, France and England agreed to appoint commissioners to settle the boundary between their possessions in that quarter, and those commissioners settled it at the 49th degree of latitude. See Hutchinson's Topographical Description of Louisiana, p. 7. This it was which induced the British Commissioners, in settling the boundary with us, to follow the northern water line to the Lake of the Woods, at the latitude of 49°, and then go off on that parallel. This, then, is the true northern boundary of Louisiana.

The western boundary of Louisiana is, rightfully, the Rio Bravo, (its main stream,) from its mouth to its source, and thence along the highlands and mountains dividing the waters of the Mississippi from those of the Pacific. The usurpations of Spain on the east side of that river, have induced geographers to suppose the Puerco or Salado to be the boundary. The line along the highlands stands on the charter of Louis XIV. that of the Rio Bravo, on the circumstance that, when La Salle took possession of the Bay of St. Bernard, Panuco was the nearest possession of Spain, and the Rio Bravo the natural half-way boundary between them.

On the waters of the Pacific, we can found no claim in right of Louisiana. If we claim that country at all, it must be on Astor's settlement near the mouth of the Columbia, and the principle 52 of the jus gentium of America, that when a civilized nation takes possession of the mouth of a river in a new country, that possession is considered as including all its waters.

The line of latitude of the southern source of the multnomat might be claimed as appurtenant to Astoria. For its northern boundary, I believe an understanding has been come to between our government and Russia, which might be known from some of its members. I do not know it.

Although the irksomeness of writing, which you may perceive from the present letter, and its labor, oblige me now to withdraw from letter writing, yet the wish that your map should set to rights the ideas of our own countrymen, as well as foreign nations, as to our correct boundaries, has induced me to make these suggestions, that you may bestow on them whatever inquiry they may merit. I salute you with esteem and respect.


Monticello, January 11, 1817.

I owe you, dear Madam, a thousand thanks for the letters communicated in your favor of December 15th, and now returned. They give me more information than I possessed before, of the family of Mr. Tracy. But what is infinitely interesting, is the scene of the exchange of Louis XVIII. for Bonaparte. What lessons of wisdom Mr. Adams must have read in that short space of time! More than fall to the lot of others in the course of a long life. Man, and the man of Paris, under those circumstances, must have been a subject of profound speculation! It would be a singular addition to that spectacle, to see the same beast in the cage of St. Helena, like a lion in the tower. That is probably the closing verse of the chapter of his crimes. But not so with Louis. He has other vicissitudes to go through.

I communicated the letters, according to your permission, to my grand-daughter, Ellen Randolph, who read them with pleasure and edification. She is justly sensible of, and flattered by 53 your kind notice of her; and additionally so, by the favorable recollections of our northern visiting friends. If Monticello has anything which has merited their remembrance, it gives it a value the more in our estimation; and could I, in the spirit of your wish, count backwards a score of years, it would not be long before Ellen and myself would pay our homage personally to Quincy. But those twenty years! Alas! where are they? With those beyond the flood. Our next meeting must then be in the country to which they have flown,—a country for us not now very distant. For this journey we shall need neither gold nor silver in our purse, nor scrip, nor coats, nor staves. Nor is the provision for it more easy than the preparation has been kind. Nothing proves more than this, that the Being who presides over the world is essentially benevolent. Stealing from us, one by one, the faculties of enjoyment, searing our sensibilities, leading us, like the horse in his mill, round and round the same beaten circle,

——To see what we have seen,

To taste the tasted, and at each return

Less tasteful; o'er our palates to decant

Another vintage—

Until satiated and fatigued with this leaden iteration, we ask our own congé. I heard once a very old friend, who had troubled himself with neither poets nor philosophers, say the same thing in plain prose, that he was tired of pulling off his shoes and stockings at night, and putting them on again in the morning. The wish to stay here is thus gradually extinguished; but not so easily that of returning once, in awhile, to see how things have gone on. Perhaps, however, one of the elements of future felicity is to be a constant and unimpassioned view of what is passing here. If so, this may well supply the wish of occasional visits. Mercier has given us a vision of the year 2440; but prophecy is one thing, and history another. On the whole, however, perhaps it is wise and well to be contented with the good things which the master of the feast places before us, and to be thankful for what we have, rather than thoughtful about what 54 we have not. You and I, dear Madam, have already had more than an ordinary portion of life, and more, too, of health than the general measure. On this score I owe boundless thankfulness. Your health was, some time ago, not so good as it has been; and I perceive in the letters communicated, some complaints still. I hope it is restored; and that life and health may be continued to you as many years as yourself shall wish, is the sincere prayer of your affectionate and respectful friend.


Monticello, January 11, 1817.

Dear Sir,—Forty-three volumes read in one year, and twelve of them quarto! Dear Sir, how I envy you! Half a dozen octavos in that space of time, are as much as I am allowed. I can read by candlelight only, and stealing long hours from my rest; nor would that time be indulged to me, could I by that light see to write. From sunrise to one or two o'clock, and often from dinner to dark, I am drudging at the writing table. And all this to answer letters into which neither interest nor inclination on my part enters; and often from persons whose names I have never before heard. Yet, writing civilly, it is hard to refuse them civil answers. This is the burthen of my life, a very grievous one indeed, and one which I must get rid of. Delaplaine lately requested me to give him a line on the subject of his book; meaning, as I well knew, to publish it. This I constantly refuse; but in this instance yielded, that in saying a word for him, I might say two for myself. I expressed in it freely my sufferings from this source; hoping it would have the effect of an indirect appeal to the discretion of those, strangers and others, who, in the most friendly dispositions, oppress me with their concerns, their pursuits, their projects, inventions and speculations, political, moral, religious, mechanical, mathematical, historical, &c., &c., &c. I hope the appeal will bring me relief, and that I shall be left to exercise and enjoy correspondence with 55 the friends I love, and on subjects which they, or my own inclinations present. In that case, your letters shall not be so long on my files unanswered, as sometimes they have been, to my great mortification.

To advert now to the subjects of those of December the 12th and 16th. Tracy's Commentaries on Montesquieu have never been published in the original. Duane printed a translation from the original manuscript a few years ago. It sold, I believe, readily, and whether a copy can now be had, I doubt. If it can, you will receive it from my bookseller in Philadelphia, to whom I now write for that purpose. Tracy comprehends, under the word "Ideology," all the subjects which the French term Morale, as the correlative to Physique. His works on Logic, Government, Political Economy and Morality, he considers as making up the circle of ideological subjects, or of those which are within the scope of the understanding, and not of the senses. His Logic occupies exactly the ground of Locke's work on the Understanding. The translation of that on Political Economy is now printing; but it is no translation of mine. I have only had the correction of it, which was, indeed, very laborious. Le premier jet having been by some one who understood neither French or English, it was impossible to make it more than faithful. But it is a valuable work.

The result of your fifty or sixty years of religious reading, in the four words, "Be just and good," is that in which all our inquiries must end; as the riddles of all the priesthoods end in four more, "ubi panis, ibi deus." What all agree in, is probably right. What no two agree in, most probably wrong. One of our fan-coloring biographers, who paints small men as very great, inquired of me lately, with real affection too, whether he might consider as authentic, the change in my religion much spoken of in some circles. Now this supposed that they knew what had been my religion before, taking for it the word of their priests, whom I certainly never made the confidants of my creed. My answer was, "say nothing of my religion. It is known to my God and myself alone. Its evidence before the world is to 56 be sought in my life; if that has been honest and dutiful to society, the religion which has regulated it cannot be a bad one." Affectionately adieu.


Monticello, January 16, 1817.

Dear Sir,—I received, three days ago, a letter from M. Martin, 2d Vice President, and M. Parmantier, Secretary of "the French Agricultural and Manufacturing Society," dated at Philadelphia the 5th instant. It covered resolutions proposing to apply to Congress for a grant of two hundred and fifty thousand acres of land on the Tombigbee, and stating some of the general principles on which the society was to be founded; and their letter requested me to trace for them the basis of a social pact for the local regulations of their society, and to address the answer to yourself, their 1st Vice President at Washington. No one can be more sensible than I am of the honor of their confidence in me, so flatteringly manifested in this resolution; and certainly no one can feel stronger dispositions than myself to be useful to them, as well in return for this great mark of their respect, as from feelings for the situation of strangers, forced by the misfortunes of their native country to seek another by adoption, so distant and so different from that in all its circumstances. I commiserate the hardships they have to encounter, and equally applaud the resolution with which they meet them, as well as the principles proposed for their government. That their emigration may be for the happiness of their descendants, I can believe; but from the knowledge I have of the country they have left, and its state of social intercourse and comfort, their own personal happiness will undergo severe trial here. The laws, however, which must effect this must flow from their own habits, their own feelings, and the resources of their own minds. No stranger to these could possibly propose regulations adapted to them. Every people have their own particular habits, ways of thinking, manners, &c., which have grown up with them from 57 their infancy are become a part of their nature, and to which the regulations which are to make them happy must be accommodated. No member of a foreign country can have a sufficient sympathy with these. The institutions of Lycurgus, for example, would not have suited Athens, nor those of Solon, Lacedæmon. The organizations of Locke were impracticable for Carolina, and those of Rousseau and Mably for Poland. Turning inwardly on myself from these eminent illustrations of the truth of my observation, I feel all the presumption it would manifest, should I undertake to do what this respectable society is alone qualified to do suitably for itself. There are some preliminary questions, too, which are particularly for their own consideration. Is it proposed that this shall be a separate State? or a county of a State? or a mere voluntary association, as those of the Quakers, Dunkars, Menonists? A separate State it cannot be, because from the tract it asks it would not be more than twenty miles square; and in establishing new States, regard is had to a certain degree of equality in size. If it is to be a county of a State, it cannot be governed by its own laws, but must be subject to those of the State of which it is a part. If merely a voluntary association, the submission of its members will be merely voluntary also; as no act of coercion would be permitted by the general law. These considerations must control the society, and themselves alone can modify their own intentions and wishes to them. With this apology for declining a task to which I am so unequal, I pray them to be assured of my sincere wishes for their success and happiness, and yourself particularly of my high consideration and esteem.


Monticello, February 8, 1817.

Dear Sir,—Your favor of January 2d did not come to my hands until the 5th instant. I concur entirely in your leading principles of gradual emancipation, of establishment on the coast 58 of Africa, and the patronage of our nation until the emigrants shall be able to protect themselves. The subordinate details might be easily arranged. But the bare proposition of purchase by the United States generally, would excite infinite indignation in all the States north of Maryland. The sacrifice must fall on the States alone which hold them; and the difficult question will be how to lessen this so as to reconcile our fellow citizens to it. Personally I am ready and desirous to make any sacrifice which shall ensure their gradual but complete retirement from the State, and effectually, at the same time, establish them elsewhere in freedom and safety. But I have not perceived the growth of this disposition in the rising generation, of which I once had sanguine hopes. No symptoms inform me that it will take place in my day. I leave it, therefore, to time, and not at all without hope that the day will come, equally desirable and welcome to us as to them. Perhaps the proposition now on the carpet at Washington to provide an establishment on the coast of Africa for voluntary emigrations of people of color, may be the corner stone of this future edifice. Praying for its completion as early as may most promote the good of all, I salute you with great esteem and respect.


Quincy, April 19, 1817.

Dear Sir,—My loving and beloved friend Pickering, has been pleased to inform the world that I have "few friends." I wanted to whip the rogue, and I had it in my power, if it had been in my will to do it, till the blood came. But all my real friends, as I thought then, with Dexter and Gray at their head, insisted "that I should not say a word; that nothing that such a person could write would do me the least injury; that it would betray the constitution and the government, if a President, out or in, should enter into a newspaper controversy with one of his ministers, whom he had removed from his office, in justification of 59 himself for that removal, or anything else;" and they talked a great deal about the Dignity of the office of President, which I do not find that any other person, public or private regards very much.

Nevertheless, I fear that Mr. Pickering's information is too true. It is impossible that any man should run such a gauntlet as I have been driven through, and have many friends at last. This "all who know me know," though I cannot say; who love me, tell.

I have, however, either friends who wish to amuse and solace my old age, or enemies who mean to heap coals of fire on my head, and kill me with kindness; for they overwhelm me with books from all quarters, enough to obfuscate all eyes, and smother and stifle all human understanding. Chateaubriand, Grimm, Tucker, Dupuis, La Harpe, Sismondi, Eustace, a new translation of Herodotus, by Bedloe, with more notes than text. What should I do with all this lumber? I make my "woman-kind," as the antiquary expresses it, read to me all the English, but as they will not read the French, I am obliged to excruciate my eyes to read it myself; and all to what purpose? I verily believe I was as wise and good, seventy years ago, as I am now. At that period Lemuel Bryant was my parish priest, and Joseph Cleverly my Latin schoolmaster. Lemuel was a jolly, jocular, and liberal scholar and divine. Joseph a scholar and a gentleman; but a bigoted Episcopalian, of the school of Bishop Saunders, and Dr. Hicks,—a downright conscientious, passive obedience man, in Church and State. The parson and the pedagogue lived much together, but were eternally disputing about government and religion. One day, when the schoolmaster had been more than commonly fanatical, and declared "if he were a monarch, he would have but one religion in his dominions;" the parson coolly replied, "Cleverly! you would be the best man in the world if you had no religion."

Twenty times in the course of my late reading have I been on the point of breaking out, "This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!!!" But in this 60 exclamation I should have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite society, I mean hell. So far from believing in the total and universal depravity of human nature, I believe there is no individual totally depraved. The most abandoned scoundrel that ever existed, never yet wholly extinguished his conscience, and while conscience remains there is some religion. Popes, Jesuits, and Sorbonists, and Inquisitors, have some conscience and some religion. So had Marius and Sylla, Cæsar, Catiline and Antony; and Augustus had not much more, let Virgil and Horace say what they will.

What shall we think of Virgil and Horace, Sallust, Quintilian, Pliny, and even Tacitus? and even Cicero, Brutus and Seneca? Pompey I leave out of the question, as a mere politician and soldier. Every one of the great creatures has left indelible marks of conscience, and consequently of religion, though every one of them has left abundant proofs of profligate violations of their consciences by their little and great passions and paltry interests.

The vast prospect of mankind, which these books have passed in review before me, from the most ancient records, histories, traditions and fables, that remain to us to the present day, has sickened my very soul, and almost reconciled me to Swift's travels among the Yahoos; yet I never can be a misanthrope—Homo sum. I must hate myself before I can hate my fellow men; and that I cannot, and will not do. No! I will not hate any of them, base, brutal, and devilish as some of them have been to me.

From the bottom of my soul, I pity my fellow men. Fears and terrors appear to have produced an universal credulity. Fears of calamities in life, and punishments after death, seem to have possessed the souls of all men. But fear of pain and death, here, do not seem to have been so unconquerable, as fear of what is to come hereafter. Priests, Hierophants, Popes, Despots, Emperors, Kings, Princes, Nobles, have been as credulous as shoe-blacks, boots and kitchen scullions. The former seem to have believed in their divine rights as sincerely as the latter.

61 Auto de feés, in Spain and Portugal, have been celebrated with as good faith as excommunications have been practised in Connecticut, or as baptisms have been refused in Philadelphia.

How is it possible that mankind should submit to be governed, as they have been, is to me an inscrutable mystery. How they could bear to be taxed to build the temple of Diana at Ephesus, the pyramids of Egypt, Saint Peter's at Rome, Notre Dame at Paris, St. Paul's in London, with a million et ceteras, when my navy yards and my quasi army made such a popular clamor, I know not. Yet all my peccadillos never excited such a rage as the late compensation law!

I congratulate you on the late election in Connecticut. It is a kind of epocha. Several causes have conspired. One which you would not suspect. Some one, no doubt instigated by the devil, has taken it into his head to print a new edition of the "Independent Whig," even in Connecticut, and has scattered the volumes through the State. These volumes, it is said, have produced a burst of indignation against priestcraft, bigotry and intolerance, and in conjunction with other causes, have produced the late election.

When writing to you I never know when to subscribe,

J. A.


Monticello, May 5, 1817.

Dear Sir,—Absences and avocations had prevented my acknowledging your favor of February the 2d, when that of April the 19th arrived. I had not the pleasure of receiving the former by the hands of Mr. Lyman. His business probably carried him in another direction; for I am far inland, and distant from the great line of communication between the trading cities. Your recommendations are always welcome, for indeed, the subjects of them always merit that welcome, and some of them in an extraordinary degree. They make us acquainted with what there is excellent in our ancient sister State of Massachusetts, once 62 venerated and beloved, and still hanging on our hopes, for what need we despair of after the resurrection of Connecticut to light and liberality. I had believed that the last retreat of monkish darkness, bigotry, and abhorrence of those advances of the mind which had carried the other States a century ahead of them. They seemed still to be exactly where their forefathers were when they schismatized from the covenant of works, and to consider as dangerous heresies all innovations good or bad. I join you, therefore, in sincere congratulations that this den of the priesthood is at length broken up, and that a Protestant Popedom is no longer to disgrace the American history and character. If by religion we are to understand sectarian dogmas, in which no two of them agree, then your exclamation on that hypothesis is just, "that this would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it." But if the moral precepts, innate in man, and made a part of his physical constitution, as necessary for a social being, if the sublime doctrines of philanthropism and deism taught us by Jesus of Nazareth, in which all agree, constitute true religion, then, without it, this would be, as you again say, "something not fit to be named, even indeed, a hell."

You certainly acted wisely in taking no notice of what the malice of Pickering could say of you. Were such things to be answered, our lives would be wasted in the filth of fendings and provings, instead of being employed in promoting the happiness and prosperity of our fellow citizens. The tenor of your life is the proper and sufficient answer. It is fortunate for those in public trust, that posterity will judge them by their works, and not by the malignant vituperations and invectives of the Pickerings and Gardiners of their age. After all, men of energy of character must have enemies; because there are two sides to every question, and taking one with decision, and acting on it with effect, those who take the other will of course be hostile in proportion as they feel that effect. Thus, in the revolution, Hancock and the Adamses were the raw-head and bloody bones of tories and traitors who yet knew nothing of you personally but what was good. I do not entertain your apprehensions for the 63 happiness of our brother Madison in a state of retirement. Such a mind as his, fraught with information and with matter for reflection, can never know ennui. Besides, there will always be work enough cut out for him to continue his active usefulness to his country. For example, he and Monroe (the President) are now here on the work of a collegiate institution to be established in our neighborhood, of which they and myself are three of six visitors. This, if it succeeds, will raise up children for Mr. Madison to employ his attention through life. I say if it succeeds; for we have two very essential wants in our way, first, means to compass our views; and, second, men qualified to fulfil them. And these, you will agree, are essential wants indeed.

I am glad to find you have a copy of Sismondi, because his is a field familiar to you, and on which you can judge him. His work is highly praised, but I have not yet read it. I have been occupied and delighted with reading another work, the title of which did not promise much useful information or amusement, "l'Italia avanti il dominio dei Romani dal Micali." It has often, you know, been a subject of regret, that Carthage had no writer to give her side of her own history, while her wealth, power and splendor, prove she must have had a very distinguished policy and government. Micali has given the counterpart of the Roman history, for the nations over which they extended their dominion. For this he has gleaned up matter from every quarter, and furnished materials for reflection and digestion to those who, thinking as they read, have perceived that there was a great deal of matter behind the curtain, could that be fully withdrawn. He certainly gives new views of a nation whose splendor has masked and palliated their barbarous ambition. I am now reading Botta's history of our own Revolution. Bating the ancient practice which he has adopted, of putting speeches into mouths which never made them, and fancying motives of action which we never felt, he has given that history with more detail, precision and candor, than any writer I have yet met with. It is, to be sure, compiled from those writers; but it is a good secretion 64 of their matter, the pure from the impure, and presented in a just sense of right, in opposition to usurpation.

Accept assurances for Mrs. Adams and yourself of my affectionate esteem and respect.


Monticello, May 10, 1817.

Dear Sir,—Your favor of April 2d is duly received. I am very sensible of the partiality with which you are so good as to review the course I have held in public life, and I have also to be thankful to my fellow-citizens for a like indulgence generally shown to my endeavors to be useful to them. They give quite as much credit as is merited to the difficulties supposed to attend the public administration. There are no mysteries in it. Difficulties indeed sometimes arise; but common sense and honest intentions will generally steer through them, and, where they cannot be surmounted, I have ever seen the well-intentioned part of our fellow citizens sufficiently disposed not to look for impossibilities. We all know that a farm, however large, is not more difficult to direct than a garden, and does not call for more attention or skill.

I hope with you that the policy of our country will settle down with as much navigation and commerce only as our own exchanges will require, and that the disadvantage will be seen of our undertaking to carry on that of other nations. This, indeed, may bring gain to a few individuals, and enable them to call off from our farms more laborers to be converted into lackeys and grooms for them, but it will bring nothing to our country but wars, debt, and dilapidation. This has been the course of England, and her examples have fearful influence on us. In copying her we do not seem to consider that like premises induce like consequences. The bank mania is one of the most threatening of these imitations. It is raising up a monied aristocracy in our country which has already set the government at defiance, and although forced at length to yield a little on this first essay of 65 their strength, their principles are unyielded and unyielding. These have taken deep root in the hearts of that class from which our legislators are drawn, and the sop to Cerberus from fable has become history. Their principles lay hold of the good, their pelf of the bad, and thus those whom the constitution had placed as guards to its portals, are sophisticated or suborned from their duties. That paper money has some advantages, is admitted. But that its abuses also are inevitable, and, by breaking up the measure of value, makes a lottery of all private property, cannot be denied. Shall we ever be able to put a constitutional veto on it?

You say I must go to writing history. While in public life I had not time, and now that I am retired, I am past the time. To write history requires a whole life of observation, of inquiry, of labor and correction. Its materials are not to be found among the ruins of a decayed memory. At this day I should begin where I ought to have left off. The "solve senes centem equum," is a precept we learn in youth but for the practice of age; and were I to disregard it, it would be but a proof the more of its soundness. If anything has ever merited to me the respect of my fellow citizens, themselves, I hope, would wish me not to lose it by exposing the decay of faculties of which it was the reward. I must then, dear Sir, leave to yourself and your brethren of the rising generation, to arraign at your tribunal the actions of your predecessors, and to pronounce the sentence they may have merited or incurred. If the sacrifices of that age have resulted in the good of this, then all is well, and we shall be rewarded by their approbation, and shall be authorized to say, "go ye and do likewise." To yourself I tender personally the assurance of my great esteem and respect.


Monticello, May 14, 1817.

Although, dear Sir, much retired from the world, and meddling little in its concerns, yet I think it almost a religious duty to 66 salute at times my old friends, were it only to say and to know that "all's well." Our hobby has been politics; but all here is so quiet, and with you so desperate, that little matter is furnished us for active attention. With you too, it has long been forbidden ground, and therefore imprudent for a foreign friend to tread, in writing to you. But although our speculations might be intrusive, our prayers cannot but be acceptable, and mine are sincerely offered for the well-being of France. What government she can bear, depends not on the state of science, however exalted, in a select band of enlightened men, but on the condition of the general mind. That, I am sure, is advanced and will advance; and the last change of government was fortunate, inasmuch as the new will be less obstructive to the effects of that advancement. For I consider your foreign military oppressions as an ephemeral obstacle only.

Here all is quiet. The British war has left us in debt; but that is a cheap price for the good it has done us. The establishment of the necessary manufactures among ourselves, the proof that our government is solid, can stand the shock of war, and is superior even to civil schism, are precious facts for us; and of these the strongest proofs were furnished, when, with four eastern States tied to us, as dead to living bodies, all doubt was removed as to the achievements of the war, had it continued. But its best effect has been the complete suppression of party. The federalists who were truly American, and their great mass was so, have separated from their brethren who were mere Anglomen, and are received with cordiality into the republican ranks. Even Connecticut, as a State, and the last one expected to yield its steady habits (which were essentially bigoted in politics as well as religion), has chosen a republican governor, and republican legislature. Massachusetts indeed still lags; because most deeply involved in the parricide crimes and treasons of the war. But her gangrene is contracting, the sound flesh advancing on it, and all there will be well. I mentioned Connecticut as the most hopeless of our States. Little Delaware had escaped my attention. That is essentially a Quaker State, the fragment of a religious 67 sect which, there, in the other States, in England, are a homogeneous mass, acting with one mind, and that directed by the mother society in England. Dispersed, as the Jews, they still form, as those do, one nation, foreign to the land they live in. They are Protestant Jesuits, implicitly devoted to the will of their superior, and forgetting all duties to their country in the execution of the policy of their order. When war is proposed with England, they have religious scruples; but when with France, these are laid by, and they become clamorous for it. They are, however, silent, passive, and give no other trouble than of whipping them along. Nor is the election of Monroe an inefficient circumstance in our felicities. Four and twenty years, which he will accomplish, of administration in republican forms and principles, will so consecrate them in the eyes of the people as to secure them against the danger of change. The evanition of party dissensions has harmonized intercourse, and sweetened society beyond imagination. The war then has done us all this good, and the further one of assuring the world, that although attached to peace from a sense of its blessings, we will meet war when it is made necessary.

I wish I could give better hopes of our southern brethren. The achievement of their independence of Spain is no longer a question. But it is a very serious one, what will then become of them? Ignorance and bigotry, like other insanities, are incapable of self-government. They will fall under military despotism, and become the murderous tools of the ambition of their respective Bonapartes; and whether this will be for their greater happiness, the rule of one only has taught you to judge. No one, I hope, can doubt my wish to see them and all mankind exercising self-government, and capable of exercising it. But the question is not what we wish, but what is practicable? As their sincere friend and brother then, I do believe the best thing for them, would be for themselves to come to an accord with Spain, under the guarantee of France, Russia, Holland, and the United States, allowing to Spain a nominal supremacy, with authority only to keep the peace among them, leaving them otherwise all 68 the powers of self-government, until their experience in them, their emancipation from their priests, and advancement in information, shall prepare them for complete independence. I exclude England from this confederacy, because her selfish principles render her incapable of honorable patronage or disinterested co-operation; unless, indeed, what seems now probable, a revolution should restore to her an honest government, one which will permit the world to live in peace. Portugal grasping at an extension of her dominion in the south, has lost her great northern province of Pernambuco, and I shall not wonder if Brazil should revolt in mass, and send their royal family back to Portugal. Brazil is more populous, more wealthy, more energetic, and as wise as Portugal. I have been insensibly led, my dear friend, while writing to you, to indulge in that line of sentiment in which we have been always associated, forgetting that these are matters not belonging to my time. Not so with you, who have still many years to be a spectator of these events. That these years may indeed be many and happy, is the sincere prayer of your affectionate friend.


Quincy, May 18, 1817.

Dear Sir,—Lyman was mortified that he could not visit Monticello. He is gone to Europe a second time. I regret that he did not see you, he would have executed any commission for you in the literary line, at any pain or any expense. I have many apprehensions for his health, which is very delicate and precarious, but he is seized with the mania of all our young clerical spirits for foreign travel; I fear they will lose more than they acquire, they will lose that unadulterated enthusiasm for their native country, which has produced the greatest characters among us.

Oh! Lord! Do you think that Protestant Popedom is annihilated in America? Do you recollect, or have you ever attended 69 to the ecclesiastical strifes in Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, and every part of New England? What a mercy it is that these people cannot whip, and crop, and pillory, and roast, as yet in the United States! If they could, they would. Do you know the General of the Jesuits, and consequently all his host, have their eyes on this country? Do you know that the Church of England is employing more means and more art, to propagate their demi-popery among us, than ever? Quakers, Anabaptists, Moravians, Swedenborgians, Methodists, Unitarians, Nothingarians in all Europe are employing underhand means to propagate their sectarian system in these States.

The multitude and diversity of them, you will say, is our security against them all. God grant it. But if we consider that the Presbyterians and Methodists are far the most numerous and the most likely to unite, let a George Whitefield arise, with a military cast, like Mahomet or Loyola, and what will become of all the other sects who can never unite?

My friends or enemies continue to overwhelm me with books. Whatever may be their intention, charitable or otherwise, they certainly contribute to continue me to vegetate, much as I have done for the sixteen years last past.

Sir John Malcolm's history of Persia, and Sir William Jones' works, are now poured out upon me, and a little cargo is coming from Europe. What can I do with all this learned lumber? Is it necessary to salvation to investigate all these Cosmogonies and Mythologies? Are Bryant, Gebelin, Dupuis, or Sir William Jones, right? What a frown upon mankind was the premature death of Sir William Jones! Why could not Jones and Dupuis have conversed or corresponded with each other? Had Jones read Dupuis, or Dupuis Jones, the works of both would be immensely improved, though each would probably have adhered to his system.

I should admire to see a counsel composed of Gebelin, Bryant, Jones and Dupuis. Let them live together and compare notes. The human race ought to contribute to furnish them with all the books in the Universe, and the means of subsistence.

70 I am not expert enough in Italian to read Botta, and I know not that he has been translated. Indeed, I have been so little satisfied with histories of the American revolution, that I have long since ceased to read them. The truth is lost, in adulatory panegyrics, and in vituperary insolence. I wish you, Mr. Madison, and Mr. Monroe, success in your collegiate institution. And I wish that superstition in religion, exciting superstition in politics, and both united in directing military force, alias glory, may never blow up all your benevolent and philanthropic lucubrations. But the history of all ages is against you.

It is said that no effort in favor of virtue is ever lost. I doubt whether it was ever true; whether it is now true; but hope it will be true. In the moral government of the world, no doubt it was, is, and ever will be true; but it has not yet appeared to be true on this earth.

I am, Sir, sincerely your friend.

P. S. Have you seen the Philosophy of Human Nature, and the History of the War in the western States, from Kentucky? How vigorously science and literature spring up, as well as patriotism and heroism, in transalleganian regions? Have you seen Wilkinson's history? &c., &c.


Quincy, May 26, 1817.

Dear Sir,—Mr. Leslie Combes of Kentucky has sent me a history of the late war, in the western country, by Mr. Robert B. M'Siffee, and the Philosophy of Human Nature, by Joseph Buchanan. The history I am glad to see, because it will preserve facts to the honor and immortal glory of the western people. Indeed, I am not sorry that the Philosophy has been published, because it has been a maxim with me for sixty years at least, never to be afraid of a book.

Nevertheless, I cannot foresee much utility in reviewing, in 71 this country, the controversy between the Spiritualists and the Materialists. Why should time be wasted in disputing about two substances, when both parties agree that neither knows anything about either.

If spirit is an abstraction, a conjecture, a chimera; matter is an abstraction, a conjecture, a chimera; for we know as much, or rather as little, about one as the other. We may read Cudworth, Le Clerc, Leibnitz, Berkley, Hume, Bolingbroke and Priestley, and a million other volumes in all ages, and be obliged at last to confess that we have learned nothing. Spirit and matter still remain riddles. Define the terms, however, and the controversy is soon settled. If spirit is an active something, and matter an inactive something, it is certain that one is not the other. We can no more conceive that extension, or solidity, can think, or feel, or see, or hear, or taste, or smell; than we can conceive that perception, memory, imagination, or reason, can remove a mountain, or blow a rock. This enigma has puzzled mankind from the beginning, and probably will to the end. Economy of time requires that we should waste no more in so idle an amusement.

In the eleventh discourse of Sir William Jones, before the Asiatic Society, vol. iii., page 229, of his works, we find that Materialists and Immaterialists existed in India, and that they accused each other of atheism, before Berkley, or Priestley, or Dupuis, or Plato, or Pythagoras, were born.

Indeed, Newton himself appears to have discovered nothing that was not known to the ancient Indians. He has only furnished more complete demonstrations of the doctrines they taught. Sir John Malcolm agrees with Jones and Dupuis, in the Astrological origin of heathen mythologies. Vain man! mind your own business! Do no wrong;—do all the good you can! Eat your canvas-back ducks! Drink your Burgundy! Sleep your siesta when necessary, and TRUST IN GOD!

What a mighty bubble, what a tremendous waterspout, has Napoleon been, according to his life, written by himself! He says he was the creature of the principles and manners of the 72 age; by which, no doubt, he means the age of Reason; the progress of Manilius' Ratio, of Plato's Logos, &c. I believe him. A whirlwind raised him, and a whirlwind blowed him away to St. Helena. He is very confident that the age of Reason is not past, and so am I; but I hope that Reason will never again rashly and hastily create such creatures as him. Liberty, equality, fraternity, and humanity, will never again, I hope, blindly surrender themselves to an unbounded ambition for national conquests, nor implicitly commit themselves to the custody and guardianship of arms and heroes. If they do, they will again end in St. Helena, Inquisitions, Jesuits, and sacre liques.

Poor Laureate Southey is writhing in torments under the laugh of the three kingdoms, all Europe, and America, upon the publication of his "Wat Tyler." I wonder whether he or Bonaparte suffers most. I congratulate you, and Madison, and Monroe, on your noble employment in founding a university. From such a noble Triumvirate, the world will expect something very great and very new; but if it contains anything quite original, and very excellent, I fear the prejudices are too deeply rooted to suffer it to last long, though it may be accepted at first. It will not always have three such colossal reputations to support it.

The Pernambuco Ambassador, his Secretary of legation, and private Secretary, respectable people, have made me a visit. Having been some year or two in a similar situation, I could not but sympathize with him. As Bonaparte says, the age of Reason is not ended. Nothing can totally extinguish, or eclipse the light which has been shed abroad by the press.

I am, Sir, with hearty wishes for your health and happiness, your friend and humble servant.


Monticello, June 12, 1817.

Sir,—Your favor of May 20th has been received some time since, but the increasing inertness of age renders me slow in 73 obeying the calls of the writing-table, and less equal than I have been to its labors.

My opinion on the right of Expatriation has been, so long ago as the year 1776, consigned to record in the act of the Virginia code, drawn by myself, recognizing the right expressly, and prescribing the mode of exercising it. The evidence of this natural right, like that of our right to life, liberty, the use of our faculties, the pursuit of happiness, is not left to the feeble and sophistical investigations of reason, but is impressed on the sense of every man. We do not claim these under the charters of kings or legislators, but under the King of kings. If he has made it a law in the nature of man to pursue his own happiness, he has left him free in the choice of place as well as mode; and we may safely call on the whole body of English jurists to produce the map on which Nature has traced, for each individual, the geographical line which she forbids him to cross in pursuit of happiness. It certainly does not exist in his mind. Where, then, is it? I believe, too, I might safely affirm, that there is not another nation, civilized or savage, which has ever denied this natural right. I doubt if there is another which refuses its exercise. I know it is allowed in some of the most respectable countries of continental Europe, nor have I ever heard of one in which it was not. How it is among our savage neighbors, who have no law but that of Nature, we all know.

Though long estranged from legal reading and reasoning, and little familiar with the decisions of particular judges, I have considered that respecting the obligation of the common law in this country as a very plain one, and merely a question of document. If we are under that law, the document which made us so can surely be produced; and as far as this can be produced, so far we are subject to it, and farther we are not. Most of the States did, I believe, at an early period of their legislation, adopt the English law, common and statute, more or less in a body, as far as localities admitted of their application. In these States, then, the common law, so far as adopted, is the lex-loci. Then comes the law of Congress, declaring that what is law in any State, shall 74 be the rule of decision in their courts, as to matters arising within that State, except when controlled by their own statutes. But this law of Congress has been considered as extending to civil cases only; and that no such provision has been made for criminal ones. A similar provision, then, for criminal offences, would, in like manner, be an adoption of more or less of the common law, as part of the lex-loci, where the offence is committed; and would cover the whole field of legislation for the general government. I have turned to the passage you refer to in Judge Cooper's Justinian, and should suppose the general expressions there used would admit of modifications conformable to this doctrine. It would alarm me indeed, in any case, to find myself entertaining an opinion different from that of a judgment so accurately organized as his. But I am quite persuaded that, whenever Judge Cooper shall be led to consider that question simply and nakedly, it is so much within his course of thinking, as liberal as logical, that, rejecting all blind and undefined obligation, he will hold to the positive and explicit precepts of the law alone. Accept these hasty sentiments on the subjects you propose, as hazarded in proof of my great esteem and respect.


Monticello, June 13, 1817.

Dear Sir,—The receipt of your Distributio Geographica Plantarum, with the duty of thanking you for a work which sheds so much new and valuable light on botanical science, excites the desire, also, of presenting myself to your recollection, and of expressing to you those sentiments of high admiration and esteem, which, although long silent, have never slept. The physical information you have given us of a country hitherto so shamefully unknown, has come exactly in time to guide our understandings in the great political revolution now bringing it into prominence on the stage of the world. The issue of its struggles, as they respect Spain, is no longer matter of doubt. As it 75 respects their own liberty, peace and happiness, we cannot be quite so certain. Whether the blinds of bigotry, the shackles of the priesthood, and the fascinating glare of rank and wealth, give fair play to the common sense of the mass of their people, so far as to qualify them for self-government, is what we do not know. Perhaps our wishes may be stronger than our hopes. The first principle of republicanism is, that the lex-majoris partis is the fundamental law of every society of individuals of equal rights; to consider the will of the society enounced by the majority of a single vote, as sacred as if unanimous, is the first of all lessons in importance, yet the last which is thoroughly learnt. This law once disregarded, no other remains but that of force, which ends necessarily in military despotism. This has been the history of the French revolution, and I wish the understanding of our Southern brethren may be sufficiently enlarged and firm to see that their fate depends on its sacred observance.

In our America we are turning to public improvements. Schools, roads, and canals, are everywhere either in operation or contemplation. The most gigantic undertaking yet proposed, is that of New York, for drawing the waters of Lake Erie into the Hudson. The distance is 353 miles, and the height to be surmounted 661 feet. The expense will be great, but its effect incalculably powerful in favor of the Atlantic States. Internal navigation by steamboats is rapidly spreading through all our States, and that by sails and oars will ere long be looked back to as among the curiosities of antiquity. We count much, too, on its efficacy for harbor defence; and it will soon be tried for navigation by sea. We consider the employment of the contributions which our citizens can spare, after feeding, and clothing, and lodging themselves comfortably, as more useful, more moral, and even more splendid, than that preferred by Europe, of destroying human life, labor and happiness.

I write this letter without knowing where it will find you. But wherever that may be, I am sure it will find you engaged in something instructive for man. If at Paris, you are of course in habits of society with Mr. Gallatin, our worthy, our able, and excellent 76 minister, who will give you, from time to time, the details of the progress of a country in whose prosperity you are so good as to feel an interest, and in which your name is revered among those of the great worthies of the world. God bless you, and preserve you long to enjoy the gratitude of your fellow men, and to be blessed with honors, health and happiness.


Monticello, June 14, 1817.

I thank you, dear Sir, for the copy of the interesting narrative of the Complet d'Arnold, which you have been so kind as to send me. It throws light on that incident of history which we did not possess before. An incident which merits to be known, as a lesson to mankind, in all its details. This mark of your attention recalls to my mind the earlier period of life at which I had the pleasure of your personal acquaintance, and renews the sentiments of high respect and esteem with which that acquaintance inspired me. I had not failed to accompany your personal sufferings during the civil convulsions of your country, and had sincerely sympathized with them. An awful period, indeed, has passed in Europe since our first acquaintance. When I left France at the close of '89, your revolution was, as I thought, under the direction of able and honest men. But the madness of some of their successors, the vices of others, the malicious intrigues of an envious and corrupting neighbor, the tracasserie of the Directory, the usurpations, the havoc, and devastations of your Attila, and the equal usurpations, depredations and oppressions of your hypocritical deliverers, will form a mournful period in the history of man, a period of which the last chapter will not be seen in your day or mine, and one which I still fear is to be written in characters of blood. Had Bonaparte reflected that such is the moral construction of the world, that no national crime passes unpunished in the long run, he would not now be in the cage of St. Helena; and were your present oppressors to 77 reflect on the same truth, they would spare to their own countries the penalties on their present wrongs which will be inflicted on them on future times. The seeds of hatred and revenge which they are now sowing with a large hand, will not fail to produce their fruits in time. Like their brother robbers on the highway, they suppose the escape of the moment a final escape, and deem infamy and future risk countervailed by present gain. Our lot has been happier. When you witnessed our first struggles in the war of independence, you little calculated, more than we did, on the rapid growth and prosperity of this country; on the practical demonstration it was about to exhibit, of the happy truth that man is capable of self-government, and only rendered otherwise by the moral degradation designedly superinduced on him by the wicked acts of his tyrants.

I have much confidence that we shall proceed successfully for ages to come, and that, contrary to the principle of Montesquieu, it will be seen that the larger the extent of country, the more firm its republican structure, if founded, not on conquest, but in principles of compact and equality. My hope of its duration is built much on the enlargement of the resources of life going hand in hand with the enlargement of territory, and the belief that men are disposed to live honestly, if the means of doing so are open to them. With the consolation of this belief in the future result of our labors, I have that of other prophets who foretell distant events, that I shall not live to see it falsified. My theory has always been, that if we are to dream, the flatteries of hope are as cheap, and pleasanter than the gloom of despair. I wish to yourself a long life of honors, health and happiness.


Monticello, June 16, 1817.

Dear Sir,—The importance that the enclosed letters should safely reach their destination, impels me to avail myself of the protection of your cover. This is an inconvenience to which 78 your situation exposes you, while it adds to the opportunities of exercising yourself in works of charity.

According to the opinion I hazarded to you a little before your departure, we have had almost an entire change in the body of Congress. The unpopularity of the compensation law was completed, by the manner of repealing it as to all the world except themselves. In some States, it is said, every member is changed; in all, many. What opposition there was to the original law, was chiefly from southern members. Yet many of those have been left out, because they received the advanced wages. I have never known so unanimous a sentiment of disapprobation; and what is remarkable is, that it was spontaneous. The newspapers were almost entirely silent, and the people not only unled by their leaders, but in opposition to them. I confess I was highly pleased with this proof of the innate good sense, the vigilance, and the determination of the people to act for themselves.

Among the laws of the late Congress, some were of note; a navigation act, particularly, applicable to those nations only who have navigation acts; pinching one of them especially, not only in the general way, but in the intercourse with her foreign possessions. This part may re-act on us, and it remains for trial which may bear longest. A law respecting our conduct as a neutral between Spain and her contending colonies, was passed by a majority of one only, I believe, and against the very general sentiment of our country. It is thought to strain our complaisance to Spain beyond her right or merit, and almost against the right of the other party, and certainly against the claims they have to our good wishes and neighborly relations. That we should wish to see the people of other countries free, is as natural, and at least as justifiable, as that one King should wish to see the Kings of other countries maintained in their despotism. Right to both parties, innocent favor to the juster cause, is our proper sentiment.

You will have learned that an act for internal improvement, after passing both Houses, was negatived by the President. The 79 act was founded, avowedly, on the principle that the phrase in the constitution which authorizes Congress "to lay taxes, to pay the debts and provide for the general welfare," was an extension of the powers specifically enumerated to whatever would promote the general welfare; and this, you know, was the federal doctrine. Whereas, our tenet ever was, and, indeed, it is almost the only landmark which now divides the federalists from the republicans, that Congress had not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but were restrained to those specifically enumerated; and that, as it was never meant they should provide for that welfare but by the exercise of the enumerated powers, so it could not have been meant they should raise money for purposes which the enumeration did not place under their action; consequently, that the specification of powers is a limitation of the purposes for which they may raise money. I think the passage and rejection of this bill a fortunate incident. Every State will certainly concede the power; and this will be a national confirmation of the grounds of appeal to them, and will settle forever the meaning of this phrase, which, by a mere grammatical quibble, has countenanced the General Government in a claim of universal power. For in the phrase, "to lay taxes, to pay the debts and provide for the general welfare," it is a mere question of syntax, whether the two last infinitives are governed by the first or are distinct and co-ordinate powers; a question unequivocally decided by the exact definition of powers immediately following. It is fortunate for another reason, as the States, in conceding the power, will modify it, either by requiring the federal ratio of expense in each State, or otherwise, so as to secure us against its partial exercise. Without this caution, intrigue, negotiation, and the barter of votes might become as habitual in Congress, as they are in those legislatures which have the appointment of officers, and which, with us, is called "logging," the term of the farmers for their exchanges of aid in rolling together the logs of their newly-cleared grounds. Three of our papers have presented us the copy of an act of the legislature of New York, which, if it has really passed, will carry us back 80 to the times of the darkest bigotry and barbarism, to find a parallel. Its purport is, that all those who shall hereafter join in communion with the religious sect of Shaking Quakers, shall be deemed civilly dead, their marriages dissolved, and all their children and property taken out of their hands. This act being published nakedly in the papers, without the usual signatures, or any history of the circumstances of its passage, I am not without a hope it may have been a mere abortive attempt. It contrasts singularly with a cotemporary vote of the Pennsylvania legislature, who, on a proposition to make the belief in God a necessary qualification for office, rejected it by a great majority, although assuredly there was not a single atheist in their body. And you remember to have heard, that when the act for religious freedom was before the Virginia Assembly, a motion to insert the name of Jesus Christ before the phrase, "the author of our holy religion," which stood in the bill, was rejected, although that was the creed of a great majority of them.

I have been charmed to see that a Presidential election now produces scarcely any agitation. On Mr. Madison's election there was little, on Monroe's all but none. In Mr. Adams' time and mine, parties were so nearly balanced as to make the struggle fearful for our peace. But since the decided ascendency of the republican body, federalism has looked on with silent but unresisting anguish. In the middle, southern and western States, it is as low as it ever can be; for nature has made some men monarchists and tories by their constitution, and some, of course, there always will be.

* * * * * * * *

We have had a remarkably cold winter. At Hallowell, in Maine, the mercury was at thirty-four degrees below zero, of Fahrenheit, which is sixteen degrees lower than it was in Paris in 1788-9. Here it was at six degrees above zero, which is our greatest degree of cold.

Present me respectfully to Mrs. Gallatin, and be assured of my constant and affectionate friendship. 81


Poplar Forest, September 8, 1817.

Dear Sir,—A month's absence from Monticello has added to the delay of acknowledging your last letters, and indeed for a month before I left it, our projected college gave me constant employment; for, being the only visitor in its immediate neighborhood, all its administrative business falls on me, and that, where building is going on, is not a little. In yours of July 15th, you express a wish to see our plan, but the present visitors have sanctioned no plan as yet. Our predecessors, the first trustees, had desired me to propose one to them, and it was on that occasion I asked and received the benefit of your ideas on the subject. Digesting these with such other schemes as I had been able to collect, I made out a prospectus, the looser and less satisfactory from the uncertain amount of the funds to which it was to be adapted. This I addressed, in the form of a letter, to their President, Peter Carr, which, going before the legislature when a change in the constitution of the college was asked, got into the public papers, and, among others, I think you will find it in Niles' Register, in the early part of 1815. This, however, is to be considered but as a premiere ebauche, for the consideration and amendment of the present visitors, and to be accommodated to one of two conditions of things. If the institution is to depend on private donations alone, we shall be forced to accumulate on the shoulders of four professors a mass of sciences which, if the legislature adopts it, should be distributed among ten. We shall be ready for a professor of languages in April next, for two others the following year, and a fourth a year after. How happy should we be if we could have a Ticknor for our first. A critical classic is scarcely to be found in the United States. To this professor, a fixed salary of five hundred dollars, with liberal tuition fees from the pupils, will probably give two thousand dollars a year. We are now on the look-out for a professor, meaning to accept of none but of the very first order.

You ask if I have seen Buchanan's, McAfee's, or Wilkinson's 82 books? I have seen none of them, but have lately read, with great pleasure, Reid & Eaton's life of Jackson, if life may be called what is merely a history of his campaign of 1814. Reid's part is well written. Eaton's continuation is better for its matter than style. The whole, however, is valuable.

I have lately received a pamphlet of extreme interest from France. It is De Pradt's Historical Recital of the first return of Louis XVIII. to Paris. It is precious for the minutiæ of the proceedings which it details, and for their authenticity, as from an eye-witness. Being but a pamphlet I enclose it for your perusal, assured, if you have not seen it, that it will give you pleasure. I will ask its return, because I value it as a morsel of genuine history, a thing so rare as to be always valuable. I have received some information from an eye-witness also of what passed on the occasion of the second return of Louis XVIII. The Emperor Alexander, it seems, was solidly opposed to this. In the consultation of the allied sovereigns and their representatives with the executive council at Paris, he insisted that the Bourbons were too incapable and unworthy of being placed at the head of the nation; declared he would support any other choice they should freely make, and continued to urge most strenuously that some other choice should be made. The debates ran high and warm, and broke off after midnight, every one retaining his own opinion. He lodged, as you know, at Talleyrand's. When they returned into council the next day, his host had overcome his firmness. Louis XVIII. was accepted, and through the management of Talleyrand, accepted without any capitulation, although the sovereigns would have consented that he should be first required to subscribe and swear to the constitution prepared, before permission to enter the kingdom. It would seem as if Talleyrand had been afraid to admit the smallest interval of time, lest a change of mind would bring back Bonaparte on them. But I observe that the friends of a limited monarchy there consider the popular representation as much improved by the late alteration, and confident it will in the end produce a fixed government in 83 which an elective body, fairly representative of the people, will be an efficient element.

I congratulate Mrs. Adams and yourself on the return of your excellent and distinguished son, and our country still more on such a minister of their foreign affairs; and I renew to both the assurance of my high and friendly respect and esteem.


Poplar Forest, September 12, 1817.

Dear Sir,—Your favor of August 12th was yesterday received at this place, and I learn from it with pleasure that you have found a tract of country which will suit you for settlement. To us your first purchase would have been more gratifying, by adding yourself and your friends to our society; but the overruling consideration, with us as with you, is your own advantage, and as it would doubtless be a great comfort to you to have your ancient neighbors and friends settled around you. I sincerely wish that your proposition to "purchase a tract of land in the Illinois on favorable terms, for introducing a colony of English farmers," may encounter no difficulties from the established rules of our land department. The general law prescribes an open sale, where all citizens may compete on an equal footing for any lot of land which attracts their choice. To dispense with this in any particular case, requires a special law of Congress, and to special legislation we are generally averse, lest a principle of favoritism should creep in and pervert that of equal rights. It has, however, been done on some occasions where a special national advantage has been expected to overweigh that of adherence to the general rule. The promised introduction of the culture of the vine procured a special law in favor of the Swiss settlement on the Ohio. That of the culture of oil, wine and other southern productions, did the same lately for the French settlement on the Tombigbee. It remains to be tried whether that of an improved system of farming, interesting to so great a proportion 84 of our citizens, may not also be thought worth a dispensation with the general rule. This I suppose is the principal ground on which your proposition will be questioned. For although as to other foreigners it is thought better to discourage their settling together in large masses, wherein, as in our German settlements, they preserve for a long time their own languages, habits, and principles of government, and that they should distribute themselves sparsely among the natives for quicker amalgamation. Yet English emigrants are without this inconvenience. They differ from us little but in their principles of government, and most of those (merchants excepted) who come here, are sufficiently disposed to adopt ours. What the issue, however, of your proposition may probably be, I am less able to advise you than many others; for during the last eight or ten years I have no knowledge of the administration of the land office or the principles of its government. Even the persons on whom it will depend are all changed within that interval, so as to leave me small means of being useful to you. Whatever they may be, however, they shall be freely exercised for your advantage, and that, not on the selfish principle of increasing our own population at the expense of other nations, for the additions to that from emigration are but as a drop in a bucket to those by natural procreation, but to consecrate a sanctuary for those whom the misrule of Europe may compel to seek happiness in other climes. This refuge once known will produce reaction on the happiness even of those who remain there, by warning their task-masters that when the evils of Egyptian oppression become heavier than those of the abandonment of country, another Canaan is open where their subjects will be received as brothers, and secured against like oppressions by a participation in the right of self-government. If additional motives could be wanting with us to the maintenance of this right, they would be found in the animating consideration that a single good government becomes thus a blessing to the whole earth, its welcome to the oppressed restraining within certain limits the measure of their oppressions. But should even this be counteracted by violence on the right of expatriation, 85 the other branch of our example then presents itself for imitation, to rise on their rulers and do as we have done. You have set to your own country a good example, by showing them a peaceable mode of reducing their rulers to the necessity of becoming more wise, more moderate, and more honest, and I sincerely pray that the example may work for the benefit of those who cannot follow it, as it will for your own.

With Mr. Burckbeck, the associate of your late explanatory journeying, I have not the happiness of personal acquaintance; but I know him through his narrative of your journeyings together through France. The impressions received from that, give me confidence that a participation with yourself in assurances of the esteem and respect of a stranger will not be unacceptable to him, and the less when given through you and associated with those to yourself.


Quincy, October 10, 1817.

Dear Sir,—I thank you for your kind congratulations on the return of my little family from Europe. To receive them all in fine health and good spirits, after so long an absence, was a greater blessing than at my time of life when they went away, I had any right to hope, or reason to expect.

If the Secretary of State can give satisfaction to his fellow-citizens in his new office, it will be a source of consolation to me while I live; although it is not probable that I shall long be a witness of his good success, or ill success. I shall soon be obliged to say to him, and to you, and to your country and mine, God bless you all! Fare-thee-well! Indeed, I need not wait a moment. I can say all that now, with as good a will, and as clear a conscience, as at any time past, or future.

I thank you, also, for the loan of De Pradt's narration of the intrigues, at the second restoration of the Bourbons. In this, as in many other instances, is seen the influence of a single subtle 86 mind, and a trifling accident, in deciding the fate of mankind for ages. De Pradt and Talleyrand were well associated.

I have ventured to send the pamphlet to Washington with a charge to return it to you. The French have a King, a chamber of Peers, and a chamber of Deputies. Voila! les ossimens of a constitution of a limited monarchy; and of a good one, provided the bones are united by good joints, and knitted together by strong tendons. But where does the sovereignty reside? Are the three branches sufficiently defined? A fair representation of the body of the people by elections, sufficiently frequent, is essential to a free government; but if the Commons cannot make themselves respected by the Peers, and the King, they can do no good, nor prevent any evil.

Can any organization of government secure public and private liberty without a general or universal freedom, without license, or licentiousness of thinking, speaking, and writing. Have the French such freedom? Will their religion, or policy, allow it?

When I think of liberty, and a free government, in an ancient, opulent, populous, and commercial empire, I fear I shall always recollect a fable of Plato.

Love is a son of the god of riches, and the goddess of poverty. He inherits from his father the intrepidity of his courage, the enthusiasm of his thoughts, his generosity, his prodigality, his confidence in himself, the opinion of his own merit, the impatience to have always the preference; but he derives from his mother that indigence which makes him always a beggar; that importunity with which he demands everything; that timidity which sometimes hinders him from daring to ask anything; that disposition which he has to servitude, and that dread of being despised, which he can never overcome.

Such is Love according to Plato. Who calls him a demon? And such is liberty in France, and England, and all other great, rich, old, corrupted commercial nations. The opposite qualities of the father and mother are perpetually tearing to pieces himself and his friends as well as his enemies.

Mr. Monroe has got the universal character among all our common 87 people of "A very smart man." And verily I am of the same mind. I know not another who could have executed so great a plan so cleverly.

I wish him the same happy success through his whole administration.

I am, Sir, with respect and friendship, yours,

J. A.


Monticello, November 1, 1817.

Dear Sir,—Yours of the 4th of October was not received here until the 20th, having been sixteen days on its passage; since which unavoidable avocations have made this the first moment it has been in my power to acknowledge its receipt. Of the character of M. de Pradt his political writings furnish a tolerable estimate, but not so full as you have favored me with. He is eloquent, and his pamphlet on colonies shows him ingenious. I was gratified by his Recit Historique, because, pretending, as all men do, to some character, and he to one of some distinction, I supposed he would not place before the world facts of glaring falsehood, on which so many living and distinguished witnesses could convict him. We, too, who are retired from the business of the world, are glad to catch a glimpse of truth, here and there as we can, to guide our path through the boundless field of fable in which we are bewildered by public prints, and even by those calling themselves histories. A word of truth to us is like the drop of water supplicated from the tip of Lazarus' finger. It is as an observation of latitude and longitude to the mariner long enveloped in clouds, for correcting the ship's way.

On the subject of weights and measures, you will have, at its threshold, to encounter the question on which Solon and Lycurgus acted differently. Shall we mould our citizens to the law, or the law to our citizens? And in solving this question their peculiar character is an element not to be neglected. Of the two only things in nature which can furnish an invariable 88 standard, to wit, the dimensions of the globe itself, and the time of its diurnal revolution on its axis, it is not perhaps of much importance which we adopt. That of the dimensions of the globe, preferred ultimately by the French, after first adopting the other, has been objected to from the difficulty, not to say impracticability, of the verification of their admeasurement by other nations. Except the portion of a meridian which they adopted for their operation, there is not another on the globe which fulfils the requisite conditions, to wit, of so considerable length, that length too divided, not very unequally, by the 45th degree of latitude, and terminating at each end in the ocean. Now, this singular line lies wholly in France and Spain. Besides the immensity of expense and time which a verification would always require, it cannot be undertaken by any nation without the joint consent of these two powers. France having once performed the work, and refusing, as she may, to let any other nation re-examine it, she makes herself the sole depository of the original standard for all nations; and all must send to her to obtain, and from time to time to prove their standards. To this, indeed, it may be answered, that there can be no reason to doubt that the mensuration has been as accurately performed as the intervention of numerous waters, and of high ridges of craggy mountains, would admit; that all the calculations have been free of error, their coincidences faithfully reported, and that, whether in peace or war, to foes as well as friends, free access to the original will at all times be admitted. In favor of the standard to be taken from the time employed in a revolution of the earth on its axis, it may be urged that this revolution is a matter of fact present to all the world, that its division into seconds of time is known and received by all the world, that the length of a pendulum vibrating seconds in the different circles of latitude is already known to all, and can at any time and in any place be ascertained by any nation or individual, and inferred by known laws from their own to the medium latitude of 45°, whenever any doubt may make this desirable; and that this is the particular standard which has at different 89 times been contemplated and desired[1] by the philosophers of every nation, and even by those of France, except at the particular moment when this change was suddenly proposed and adopted, and under circumstances peculiar to the history of the moment. But the cogent reason which will decide the fate of whatever you report is, that England has lately adopted the reference of its measures to the pendulum. It is the mercantile part of our community which will have most to do in this innovation; it is that which having command of all the presses can make the loudest outcry, and you know their identification with English regulations, practices, and prejudices. It is from this identification alone you can hope to be permitted to adopt even the English reference to a pendulum. But the English proposition goes only to say what proportion their measures bear to the second pendulum of their own latitude, and not at all to change their unit, or to reduce into any simple order the chaos of their weights and measures. That would be innovation, and innovation there is heresy and treason. Whether the Senate meant more than this I do not know; and much doubt if more can be effected. However, in endeavors to improve our situation, we should never despair; and I sincerely wish you may be able to rally us to either standard, and to give us an unit, the aliquot part of something invariable which may be applied simply and conveniently to our measures, weights, and coins, and most especially that the decimal divisions may pervade the whole. The convenience of this in our monied system has been approved by all, and France has followed the example. The volume of tracts which you have noted in the library of Congress, contains everything which I had then been able to collect on this subject. You will find some details which may be of use in two thin 4to vols., Nos. 399, 400, of chapter xxiv.; the latter being a collection of sheets selected from the "Encyclopedie Methodique," 90 on the weights, measures and coins of all nations, bound up together and alone; and the former a supplement by Beyerlé. Cooper's Emporium too, for May 1812, and August 1813, may offer something. The reports of the Committees of Parliament of 1758-9, I think you will find in Postlethwaite's Dictionary, which is also in the library, chapter 20, No. 10. That of Mechain and Delambre I have not, nor do I know who has it.

I have lately seen a book which your office ought to possess, if it has it not already, entitled "Memoire sur la Louisiane, par M. le Comte de Vergennes, 8vo, Paris, chez Lepetit, Jeune, 1802." It contains more in detail the proofs of the extent of Louisiana as far as the Rio Grande than I have ever before seen, and its author gives it authenticity. It has been executed with great industry and research into the French records. This reminds me of a MS. which Governor Claiborne found in a private family in Louisiana, being a journal kept (I forget by whom, but) by a confidential officer of the government, proving exactly by what connivance between the agents of the compagnie d'occident and the Spaniards these last smuggled settlements into Louisiana as far as Assinais, Adais, &c., for the purpose of covering the contraband trade of the company. Claiborne being afraid to trust the original by mail without keeping a copy, sent it on. It arrived safe, and was deposited in the office of State. He then sent me the copy on the destruction of the office at Washington by the British, apprehending the original might be involved in that destruction. I sent the copy to Colonel Monroe, then Secretary of State, with a request to return it if the original was safe, and to keep it if not. I have heard no more of it; but will now request of you to have search made for the original, and if safe, to return me the copy. I propose to deposit it with the historical committee of the Philosophical Society at Philadelphia, for safe keeping. I have no use nor wish for such a thing myself, but think it will be safer in two deposits than one. My recommendation to Colonel Monroe, was to have it printed. I have barely left myself room to express my satisfaction at your call to the important office you hold, and to tender you the assurance of my great esteem and respect. 91


Monticello, November 7, 1817.

Dear Sir,—A part of the information of which the expedition of Lewis and Clarke was the object, has been communicated to the world by the publication of their journal; but much and valuable matter yet remains uncommunicated. The correction of the longitudes of their map is essential to its value; to which purpose their observations of the lunar distances are to be calculated and applied. The new subjects they discovered in the vegetable, animal, and mineral departments, are to be digested and made known. The numerous vocabularies they obtained of the Indian languages are to be collated and published. Although the whole expense of the expedition was furnished by the public, and the information to be derived from it was theirs also, yet on the return of Messrs. Lewis and Clarke, the government thought it just to leave to them any pecuniary benefit which might result from a publication of the papers, and supposed, indeed, that this would secure the best form of publication. But the property in these papers still remained in the government for the benefit of their constituents. With the measures taken by Governor Lewis for their publication, I was never acquainted. After his death, Governor Clarke put them, in the first instance, into the hands of the late Doctor Barton, from whom some of them passed to Mr. Biddle, and some again, I believe, from him to Mr. Allen. While the MS. books of journals were in the hands of Dr. Barton, I wrote to him, on behalf of Governor Lewis' family, requesting earnestly, that, as soon as these should be published, the originals might be returned, as the family wished to have them preserved. He promised in his answer that it should be faithfully done. After his death, I obtained, through the kind agency of Mr. Correa, from Mrs. Barton, three of these books, of which I knew there had been ten or twelve, having myself read them. These were all she could find. The rest, therefore, I presume, are in the hands of the other gentlemen. After the agency I had had in effecting this expedition, I thought myself 92 authorized, and, indeed, that it would be expected of me, that I should follow up the subject, and endeavor to obtain its fruits for the public. I wrote to General Clarke, therefore, for authority to receive the original papers. He gave it in the letters to Mr. Biddle and to myself, which I now enclose. As the custody of these papers belonged properly to the War-Office, and that was vacant at the time, I have waited several months for its being filled. But the office still remaining vacant, and my distance rendering any effectual measures, by myself, impracticable, I ask the agency of your committee, within whose province I propose to place the matter, by making it the depository of the papers generally. I therefore now forward the three volumes of MS. journals in my possession, and authorize them, under General Clarke's letters, to inquire for and to receive the rest. So also the astronomical and geographical papers, those relating to zoological, botanical, and mineral subjects, with the Indian vocabularies, and statistical tables relative to the Indians. Of the astronomical and geographical papers, if the committee will be so good as to give me a statement, I will, as soon as a Secretary at War is appointed, propose to him to have made, at the public expense, the requisite calculations, to have the map corrected in its longitudes and latitudes, engraved and published on a proper scale; and I will ask from General Clarke the one he offers, with his corrections. With respect to the zoological and mineralogical papers and subjects, it would perhaps be agreeable to the Philosophical Society, to have a digest of them made, and published in their transactions or otherwise. And if it should be within the views of the historical committee to have the Indian vocabularies digested and published, I would add to them the remains of my collection. I had through the course of my life availed myself of every opportunity of procuring vocabularies of the languages of every tribe which either myself or my friends could have access to. They amounted to about forty, more or less perfect. But in their passage from Washington to this place, the trunk in which they were was stolen and plundered, and some fragments only of the vocabularies were recovered. Still, 93 however, they were such as would be worth incorporation with a larger work, and shall be at the service of the historical committee, if they can make any use of them. Permit me to request the return of General Clarke's letter, and to add assurances of my respect and esteem.

P. S. With the volumes of MS. journal, Mrs. Barton delivered one by mistake I suppose, which seems to have been the journal of some botanist. I presume it was the property of Dr. Barton, and therefore forward it to you to be returned to Mrs. Barton.


Poplar Forest, November 25, 1817.

Dear Sir,—I am highly gratified by the interest you take in our Central College, and the more so as it may possibly become an inducement to pass more of your time with us. It is even said you had thought of engaging a house in its neighborhood. But why another house? Is not one enough? and especially one whose inhabitants are made so happy by your becoming their inmate? When you shall have a wife and family wishing to be to themselves, then the question of another house may be taken ad referendum. I wish Dr. Cooper could have the same partialities. He seems to have misunderstood my last letter; in the former I had spoken of opening our Physical School in the spring of '19, but learning that that delay might render his engagement uncertain, the visitors determined to force their preparations so as to receive him by midsummer next, and so my letter stated. In one I now write, I recall his attention to that circumstance. But his decision will no doubt be governed by the result of the proposition, to permit the medical students of Philadelphia to attend him. I can never regret any circumstance which may add to his well-being, for I most sincerely wish him well. That himself and Mrs. Cooper will be happier in the society of Philadelphia, cannot be doubted. It would be flattering 94 enough to us to be his second choice. I find from his information that we are not to expect to obtain in this country either a classical or mathematical professor of the first order: and as our institution cannot be raised above the common herd of academies, colleges, &c., already scattered over our country, but by super-eminent professors, we have determined to accept of no mediocrity, and to seek in Europe for what is eminent. We shall go to Edinburgh in preference, because of the advantage to students of receiving communications in their native tongue, and because peculiar and personal circumstances will enable us to interest Dugald Stewart and Professor Leslie, of that College, in procuring us subjects of real worth and eminence. I put off writing to them for a classical and mathematical professor only until I see what our legislature, which meets on Monday next, is disposed to do, either on the question singly of adopting our college for their university, or on that of entering at once on a general system of instruction, for which they have, for some time been preparing. For this last purpose I have sketched, and put into the hands of a member a bill, delineating a practicable plan, entirely within the means they already have on hand, destined to this object. My bill proposes, 1. Elementary schools in every county, which shall place every householder within three miles of a school. 2. District colleges, which shall place every father within a day's ride of a college where he may dispose of his son. 3. An university in a healthy and central situation, with the offer of the lands, buildings, and funds of the Central College, if they will accept that place for their establishment. In the 1st will be taught reading, writing, common arithmetic, and general notions of geography. In the 2d, ancient and modern languages, geography fully, a higher degree of numerical arithmetic, mensuration, and the elementary principles of navigation. In the 3d, all the useful sciences in their highest degree. To all of which is added a selection from the elementary schools of subjects of the most promising genius, whose parents are too poor to give them further education, to be carried at the public expense through the colleges and university. The object is to 95 bring into action that mass of talents which lies buried in poverty in every country, for want of the means of development, and thus give activity to a mass of mind, which, in proportion to our population, shall be the double or treble of what it is in most countries. The expense of the elementary schools for every county, is proposed to be levied on the wealth of the county, and all children rich and poor to be educated at these three years gratis. The expense of the colleges and university, admitting two professors to each of the former, and ten to the latter, can be completely and permanently established with a sum of five hundred thousand dollars, in addition to the present funds of our Central College. Our literary fund has already on hand, and appropriated to these purposes, a sum of seven hundred thousand dollars, and that increasing yearly. This is in fact and substance the plan I proposed in a bill forty years ago, but accommodated to the circumstances of this, instead of that day. I derive my present hopes that it may now be adopted, from the fact that the House of Representatives, at their last session, passed a bill, less practicable and boundlessly expensive, and therefore alone rejected by the Senate, and printed for public consideration and amendment. Mine, after all, may be an Utopian dream, but being innocent, I have thought I might indulge in it till I go to the land of dreams, and sleep there with the dreamers of all past and future times.

I have taken measures to obtain the crested turkey, and will endeavor to perpetuate that beautiful and singular characteristic, and shall be not less earnest in endeavors to raise the Moronnier. God bless you, and preserve you long in life and health, until wearied with delighting your kindred spirits here, you may wish to encounter the great problem, untried by the living, unreported by the dead. 96


Monticello, December 30, 1817.

Dear Sir,—An absence of six weeks has occasioned your letters of the 5th and 11th inst., to lie thus long unacknowledged. After I had sent off the two other Westover MSS. I received a third of the same journal. On perusing it I am not sensible by memory, of anything not contained in the former, except eight pages of a preliminary account of the abridgment of our limits by successive charters to other colonies. I suppose this to be a copy of the largest of the other two, entered fair in a folio volume, with other documents relating to the government of Virginia. It is bound in vellum, and, by the arms pasted in it, seems to have been intended for the shelves of the author's library. As this journal is complete it might enable us to supply the hiatuses of the other copies.

I now send you the remains of my Indian vocabularies, some of which are perfect. I send with them the fragments of my digest of them, which were gathered up on the banks of the river where they had been strewed by the plunderers of the trunk in which they were. Those will merely show the arrangement I had given the vocabularies, according to their affinities and degrees of resemblance or dissimilitude.

If you can recover Capt. Lewis' collection, they will make an important addition, for there was no part of his instructions which he executed more fully or carefully, never meeting with a single Indian of a new tribe, without making his vocabulary the first object. What Professor Adelung mentions of the Empress Catharine's having procured many vocabularies of our Indians, is correct. She applied to M. de La Fayette, who, through the aid of General Washington, obtained several; but I never learnt of what particular tribes. The great works of Pallas being rare, I will mention that there are two editions of it, the one in two volumes, the other in four volumes 4to, in the library I ceded to Congress, which maybe consulted. But the Professor's account of the supposed Mexican MS. is quite erroneous, nor can 97 I conceive through whom he can have received his information. It has probably been founded on an imperfect knowledge of the following fact: Soon after the acquisition of Louisiana, Governor Claiborne found, in a private family there, a MS. journal kept, (I forget by whom,) but by a confidential officer of the French government, proving exactly by what connivance between the agents of the compagnie d'occident, and the Spaniards, these last smuggled settlements into Louisiana, as far as Assinais, Adais, &c., for the purpose of covering the contraband trade of the company. Claiborne, being afraid to trust the original by mail, without keeping a copy, sent it on after being copied. It arrived safe, and was deposited by me in the office of State. He then sent me the copy, on the destruction of the office at Washington by the British; apprehending the original might be involved in that destruction, I sent the copy to Colonel Monroe, then Secretary of State, with a request to return it, if the original was safe, and to keep it, if not. I have heard no more of it. My intention was, and is, if it is returned to me, to deposit it with your committee for safe keeping or publication. While on the subject of Louisiana, I have thought I had better commit to you also an historical memoir of my own respecting the important question of its limits. When we first made the purchase we knew little of its extent, having never before been interested to inquire into it. Possessing, then, in my library, everything respecting America which I had been able to collect by unremitting researches, during my residence in Europe, particularly and generally through my life, I availed myself of the leisure of my succeeding autumnal recess from Washington, to bring together everything which my collection furnished on the subject of its boundary. The result was the memoir I now send you, copies of which were furnished to our ministers at Paris and Madrid, for their information as to the extent of territory claimed under our purchase. The New Orleans MS. afterwards discovered, furnished some valuable supplementary proofs of title.

I defer writing to the Secretary at War respecting the observations of longitude and latitude by Capt. Lewis, until I learn from 98 you whether they are recovered, and whether they are so complete as to be susceptible of satisfactory calculation. I salute you with great respect and esteem.


Monticello, January 5, 1818.

I have first to thank you, dear Sir, for the copy of your late work which you have been so kind as to send me, and then to render you double congratulations, first, on the general applause it has so justly received, and next on the public testimony of esteem for its author, manifested by your late call to the executive councils of the nation. All this I do heartily, and then proceed to a case of business on which you will have to advise the government on the threshold of your office. You have seen the death of General Kosciusko announced in the papers in such a way as not to be doubted. He had in the funds of the United States a very considerable sum of money, on the interest of which he depended for subsistence. On his leaving the United States, in 1798, he placed it under my direction by a power of attorney, which I executed entirely through Mr. Barnes, who regularly remitted his interest. But he left also in my hands an autograph will, disposing of his funds in a particular course of charity, and making me his executor. The question the government will ask of you, and which I therefore ask, is in what court must this will be proved, and my qualification as executor be received, to justify the United States in placing these funds under the trust? This is to be executed wholly in this State, and will occupy so long a course of time beyond what I can expect to live, that I think to propose to place it under the Court of Chancery. The place of probate generally follows the residence of the testator. That was in a foreign country in the present case. Sometimes the bona notabilia. The evidences or representations of these (the certificates) are in my hands. The things represented (the money) in those of the United States. But where 99 are the United States? Everywhere, I suppose, where they have government or property liable to the demand on payment. That is to say, in every State of the Union, in this, for example, as well as any other, strengthened by the circumstances of the deposit of the will, the residence of the executor, and the place where the trust is to be executed. In no instance, I believe, does the mere habitation of the debtor draw to it the place of probate, and if it did, the United States are omnipresent by their functionaries, as well as property in every State of the Union. I am led by these considerations to suppose our district or general court competent to the object; but you know best, and by your advice, sanctioned by the Secretary of the Treasury, I shall act. I write to the Secretary on this subject. If our district court will do, I can attend it personally; if the general court only be competent, I am in hopes it will find means of dispensing with my personal attendance. I salute you with affectionate esteem and respect.


Monticello, March 3, 1818.

Dear Sir,—I have just received your favor of February 20th, in which you observe that Mr. Wirt, on page 47 of his Life of Patrick Henry, quotes me as saying that "Mr. Henry certainly gave the first impulse to the ball of revolution." I well recollect to have used some such expression in a letter to him, and am tolerably certain that our own State being the subject under contemplation, I must have used it with respect to that only. Whether he has given it a more general aspect I cannot say, as the passage is not in the page you quote, nor, after thumbing over much of the book, have I been able to find it.[2] In page 417 there is something like it, but not the exact expression, and even there it may be doubted whether Mr. Wirt had his eye on Virginia alone, or on all the colonies. But the question, who commenced the revolution? is as difficult as that of the first inventors of a thousand 100 good things. For example, who first discovered the principle of gravity? Not Newton; for Galileo, who died the year that Newton was born, had measured its force in the descent of gravid bodies. Who invented the Lavoiserian chemistry? The English say Dr. Black, by the preparatory discovery of latent heat. Who invented the steamboat? Was it Gerbert, the Marquis of Worcester, Newcomen, Savary, Papin, Fitch, Fulton? The fact is, that one new idea leads to another, that to a third, and so on through a course of time until some one, with whom no one of these ideas was original, combines all together, and produces what is justly called a new invention. I suppose it would be as difficult to trace our revolution to its first embryo. We do not know how long it was hatching in the British cabinet before they ventured to make the first of the experiments which were to develop it in the end and to produce complete parliamentary supremacy. Those you mention in Massachusetts as preceding the stamp act, might be the first visible symptoms of that design. The proposition of that act in 1764, was the first here. Your opposition, therefore, preceded ours, as occasion was sooner given there than here, and the truth, I suppose, is, that the opposition in every colony began whenever the encroachment was presented to it. This question of priority is as the inquiry would be who first, of the three hundred Spartans, offered his name to Leonidas? I shall be happy to see justice done to the merits of all, by the unexceptionable umpirage of date and facts, and especially from the pen which is proposed to be employed in it.

I rejoice, indeed, to learn from you that Mr. Adams retains the strength of his memory, his faculties, his cheerfulness, and even his epistolary industry. This last is gone from me. The aversion has been growing on me for a considerable time, and now, near the close of seventy-five, is become almost insuperable. I am much debilitated in body, and my memory sensibly on the wane. Still, however, I enjoy good health and spirits, and am as industrious a reader as when a student at college. Not of newspapers. These I have discarded. I relinquish, as I ought to do, all intermeddling with public affairs, committing myself 101 cheerfully to the watch and care of those for whom, in my turn, I have watched and cared. When I contemplate the immense advances in science and discoveries in the arts which have been made within the period of my life, I look forward with confidence to equal advances by the present generation, and have no doubt they will consequently be as much wiser than we have been as we than our fathers were, and they than the burners of witches. Even the metaphysical contest, which you so pleasantly described to me in a former letter, will probably end in improvement, by clearing the mind of Platonic mysticism and unintelligible jargon. Although age is taking from me the power of communicating by letter with my friends as industriously as heretofore, I shall still claim with them the same place they will ever hold in my affections, and on this ground I, with sincerity and pleasure, assure you of my great esteem and respect.


Monticello, March 14, 1818.

Dear Sir,—Your letter of February 17th found me suffering under an attack of rheumatism, which has but now left me at sufficient ease to attend to the letters I have received. A plan of female education has never been a subject of systematic contemplation with me. It has occupied my attention so far only as the education of my own daughters occasionally required. Considering that they would be placed in a country situation, where little aid could be obtained from abroad, I thought it essential to give them a solid education, which might enable them, when become mothers, to educate their own daughters, and even to direct the course for sons, should their fathers be lost, or incapable, or inattentive. My surviving daughter accordingly, the mother of many daughters as well as sons, has made their education the object of her life, and being a better judge of the practical part than myself, it is with her aid and that of one of her elevès, that 102 I shall subjoin a catalogue of the books for such a course of reading as we have practiced.

A great obstacle to good education is the inordinate passion prevalent for novels, and the time lost in that reading which should be instructively employed. When this poison infects the mind, it destroys its tone and revolts it against wholesome reading. Reason and fact, plain and unadorned, are rejected. Nothing can engage attention unless dressed in all the figments of fancy, and nothing so bedecked comes amiss. The result is a bloated imagination, sickly judgment, and disgust towards all the real businesses of life. This mass of trash, however, is not without some distinction; some few modelling their narratives, although fictitious, on the incidents of real life, have been able to make them interesting and useful vehicles of a sound morality. Such, I think, are Marmontel's new moral tales, but not his old ones, which are really immoral. Such are the writings of Miss Edgeworth, and some of those of Madame Genlis. For a like reason, too, much poetry should not be indulged. Some is useful for forming style and taste. Pope, Dryden, Thompson, Shakspeare, and of the French, Molière, Racine, the Corneilles, may be read with pleasure and improvement.

The French language, become that of the general intercourse of nations, and from their extraordinary advances, now the depository of all science, is an indispensable part of education for both sexes. In the subjoined catalogue, therefore, I have placed the books of both languages indifferently, according as the one or the other offers what is best.

The ornaments too, and the amusements of life, are entitled to their portion of attention. These, for a female, are dancing, drawing, and music. The first is a healthy exercise, elegant and very attractive for young people. Every affectionate parent would be pleased to see his daughter qualified to participate with her companions, and without awkwardness at least, in the circles of festivity, of which she occasionally becomes a part. It is a necessary accomplishment, therefore, although of short use; for the French rule is wise, that no lady dances after marriage. This 103 is founded in solid physical reasons, gestation and nursing leaving little time to a married lady when this exercise can be either safe or innocent. Drawing is thought less of in this country than in Europe. It is an innocent and engaging amusement, often useful, and a qualification not to be neglected in one who is to become a mother and an instructor. Music is invaluable where a person has an ear. Where they have not, it should not be attempted. It furnishes a delightful recreation for the hours of respite from the cares of the day, and lasts us through life. The taste of this country, too, calls for this accomplishment more strongly than for either of the others.

I need say nothing of household economy, in which the mothers of our country are generally skilled, and generally careful to instruct their daughters. We all know its value, and that diligence and dexterity in all its processes are inestimable treasures. The order and economy of a house are as honorable to the mistress as those of the farm to the master, and if either be neglected, ruin follows, and children destitute of the means of living.

This, Sir, is offered as a summary sketch on a subject on which I have not thought much. It probably contains nothing but what has already occurred to yourself, and claims your acceptance on no other ground than as a testimony of my respect for your wishes, and of my great esteem and respect.


Monticello, May 17, 1818.

Dear Sir,—I was so unfortunate as not to receive from Mr. Holly's own hand your favor of January the 28th, being then at my other home. He dined only with my family, and left them with an impression which has filled me with regret that I did not partake of the pleasure his visit gave them. I am glad he is gone to Kentucky. Rational Christianity will thrive more rapidly there than here. They are freer from prejudices than we are, and bolder in grasping at truth. The time is not distant, though 104 neither you nor I shall see it, when we shall be but a secondary people to them. Our greediness for wealth, and fantastical expense, have degraded, and will degrade, the minds of our maritime citizens. These are the peculiar vices of commerce.

I had been long without hearing from you, but I had heard of you through a letter from Doctor Waterhouse. He wrote to reclaim against an expression of Mr. Wirt's, as to the commencement of motion in the revolutionary ball. The lawyers say that words are always to be expounded secundum subjectam materiem, which, in Mr. Wirt's case, was Virginia. It would, moreover, be as difficult to say at what moment the Revolution began, and what incident set it in motion, as to fix the moment that the embryo becomes an animal, or the act which gives him a beginning. But the most agreeable part of his letter was that which informed me of your health, your activity, and strength of memory; and the most wonderful, that which assured me that you retained your industry and promptness in epistolary correspondence. Here you have entire advantage over me. My repugnance to the writing table becomes daily and hourly more deadly and insurmountable. In place of this has come on a canine appetite for reading. And I indulge it, because I see in it a relief against the tædium senectutis; a lamp to lighten my path through the dreary wilderness of time before me, whose bourne I see not. Losing daily all interest in the things around us, something else is necessary to fill the void. With me it is reading, which occupies the mind without the labor of producing ideas from my own stock.

I enter into all your doubts as to the event of the revolution of South America. They will succeed against Spain. But the dangerous enemy is within their own breasts. Ignorance and superstition will chain their minds and bodies under religious and military despotism. I do believe it would be better for them to obtain freedom by degrees only; because that would by degrees bring on light and information, and qualify them to take charge of themselves understandingly; with more certainty, if in the meantime, under so much control as may keep them at peace 105 with one another. Surely, it is our duty to wish them independence and self-government, because they wish it themselves, and they have the right, and we none, to choose for themselves; and I wish, moreover, that our ideas may be erroneous, and theirs prove well founded. But these are speculations, my friend, which we may as well deliver over to those who are to see their development. We shall only be lookers on, from the clouds above, as now we look down on the labors, the hurry and bustle of the ants and bees. Perhaps in that super-mundane region, we may be amused with seeing the fallacy of our own guesses, and even the nothingness of those labors which have filled and agitated our own time here.

En attendant, with sincere affections to Mrs. Adams and yourself, I salute you both cordially.


Monticello, July 23, 1818.

Sir,—Your favor of March 30th, 1817, came to my hands on the 1st of March, 1818. While the statement it contained of the many instances of your attention in sending to me your different writings was truly flattering, it was equally mortifying to perceive that two only of the eight it enumerates, had ever come to my hands; and that both of my acknowledgments of these had miscarried also. Your first favor of November 5th, 1809, was received by me on the 6th of May, 1810, and was answered on the 15th of July of the same year, with an acknowledgment of the receipt of your "Essai general d'education physique morale, et intellectuelle," and of the high sense I entertained of its utility. I do not recollect through what channel I sent this answer, but have little doubt that it was through the office of our Secretary of State, and our minister then at the court of France.

In a letter from Mr. E. I. Dupont of August 11, 1817, I received the favor of your 106 "Esquisse d'un ouvrage sur l'education comparée," which he said had been received by his father a few days before his death; and on the 9th of September, 1817, I answered his letter, in which was the following paragraph: "I duly received the pamphlet of M. Jullien on Education, to whom I had been indebted some years before for a valuable work on the same subject. Of this I expressed to him my high estimation in a letter of thanks, which I trust he received. The present pamphlet is an additional proof of his useful assiduities on this interesting subject, which, if the condition of man is to be progressively ameliorated, as we fondly hope and believe, is to be the chief instrument in effecting it." I hoped that Mr. E. I. Dupont, in acknowledging to you the receipt of your letter to his father, would be the channel of conveying to you my thanks, as he was to me of the work for which they were rendered. Be assured, Sir, that not another scrip, either written or printed, ever came to me from you; and that I was incapable of omitting the acknowledgments they called for, and of the neglect which you have had so much reason to impute to me. I know well the uncertainty of transmissions across the Atlantic, but never before experienced such a train of them as has taken place in your favors and my acknowledgments of them. You will perceive that the letter I am now answering was eleven months on its passage to me.

The distance between the scenes of action of General Kosciusko and myself, during our revolutionary war,—his in the military, mine in the civil department,—was such, that I could give no particulars of the part he acted in that war. But immediately on the receipt of your letter, I wrote to General Armstrong, who had been his companion in arms, and an aid to General Gates, with whom General Kosciusko mostly served, and requested him to give me all the details within his knowledge; informing him for whom, and for what purpose they were asked. I received, two days ago only, the paper of which the enclosed is a copy, and copied by myself, because the original is in such a handwriting as I am confident no foreigner could ever decypher. However heavily pressed by the hand of age, and unequal to the 107 duties of punctual correspondence, of which my friends generally would have a right to complain, if the cause depended on myself, I am happy to find that in that with yourself there has been no ground of reproach. Least of all things could I have omitted any researches within my power which might do justice to the memory of General Kosciusko, the brave auxiliary of my country in its struggle for liberty, and, from the year 1797, when our particular acquaintance began, my most intimate and much beloved friend. On his last departure from the United States in 1798, he left in my hands an instrument appropriating after his death all the property he had in our public funds, the price of his military services here, to the education and emancipation of as many of the children of bondage in this country as it should be adequate to. I am now too old to undertake a business de si longue haleine; but I am taking measures to place it in such hands as will ensure a faithful discharge of the philanthropic intentions of the donor. I learn with pleasure your continued efforts for the instruction of the future generations of men, and, believing it the only means of effectuating their rights, I wish them all possible success, and to yourself the eternal gratitude of those who will feel their benefits, and beg leave to add the assurance of my high esteem and respect.


Monticello, November 13, 1818.

The public papers, my dear friend, announce the fatal event of which your letter of October the 20th had given me ominous foreboding. Tried myself in the school of affliction, by the loss of every form of connection which can rive the human heart, I know well, and feel what you have lost, what you have suffered, are suffering, and have yet to endure. The same trials have taught me that for ills so immeasurable, time and silence are the only medicine. I will not, therefore, by useless condolences, open afresh the sluices of your grief, nor, although mingling sincerely 108 my tears with yours, will I say a word more where words are vain, but that it is of some comfort to us both, that the term is not very distant, at which we are to deposit in the same cerement, our sorrows and suffering bodies, and to ascend in essence to an ecstatic meeting with the friends we have loved and lost, and whom we shall still love and never lose again. God bless you and support you under your heavy affliction.


Monticello, December 4, 1818.

Dear Sir,—Yours of November the 8th has been some time received; but it is in my power to give little satisfaction as to its inquiries. Dr. Franklin had many political enemies, as every character must, which, with decision enough to have opinions, has energy and talent to give them effect on the feelings of the adversary opinion. These enmities were chiefly in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. In the former, they were merely of the proprietary party. In the latter, they did not commence till the Revolution, and then sprung chiefly from personal animosities, which spreading by little and little, became at length of some extent. Dr. Lee was his principal calumniator, a man of much malignity, who, besides enlisting his whole family in the same hostility, was enabled, as the agent of Massachusetts with the British government, to infuse it into that State with considerable effect. Mr. Izard, the Doctor's enemy also, but from a pecuniary transaction, never countenanced these charges against him. Mr. Jay, Silas Deane, Mr. Laurens, his colleagues also, ever maintained towards him unlimited confidence and respect. That he would have waived the formal recognition of our independence, I never heard on any authority worthy notice. As to the fisheries, England was urgent to retain them exclusively, France neutral, and I believe, that had they been ultimately made a sine quâ non, our commissioners (Mr. Adams excepted) would have relinquished them, rather than have broken off the treaty. 109 To Mr. Adams' perseverance alone, on that point, I have always understood we were indebted for their reservation. As to the charge of subservience to France, besides the evidence of his friendly colleagues before named, two years of my own service with him at Paris, daily visits, and the most friendly and confidential conversation, convince me it had not a shadow of foundation. He possessed the confidence of that government in the highest degree, insomuch, that it may truly be said, that they were more under his influence, than he under theirs. The fact is, that his temper was so amiable and conciliatory, his conduct so rational, never urging impossibilities, or even things unreasonably inconvenient to them, in short, so moderate and attentive to their difficulties, as well as our own, that what his enemies called subserviency, I saw was only that reasonable disposition, which, sensible that advantages are not all to be on one side, yielding what is just and liberal, is the more certain of obtaining liberality and justice. Mutual confidence produces, of course, mutual influence, and this was all which subsisted between Dr. Franklin and the government of France.

I state a few anecdotes of Dr. Franklin, within my own knowledge, too much in detail for the scale of Delaplaine's work, but which may find a cadre in some of the more particular views you contemplate. My health is in a great measure restored, and our family join with me in affectionate recollections and assurances of respect.


Monticello, December 13, 1818.

I thank your Excellency for the notice with which your letters favor me, of the liberation of France from the occupation of the allied powers. To no one, not a native, will it give more pleasure. In the desolation of Europe, to gratify the atrocious caprices of Bonaparte, France sinned much; but she has suffered more than retaliation. Once relieved from the incubus of her 110 late oppression, she will rise like a giant from her slumbers. Her soil and climate, her arts and eminent sciences, her central position and free constitution, will soon make her greater than she ever was. And I am a false prophet, if she does not at some future day, remind of her sufferings those who have inflicted them the most eagerly. I hope, however, she will be quiet for the present, and risk no new troubles. Her constitution, as now amended, gives as much of self-government as perhaps she can yet bear, and will give more, when the habits of order shall have prepared her to receive more. Besides the gratitude which every American owes her, as our sole ally during the war of independence, I am additionally affectioned by the friendships I contracted there, by the good dispositions I witnessed, and by the courtesies I received.

I rejoice, as a moralist, at the prospect of a reduction of the duties on wine, by our national legislature. It is an error to view a tax on that liquor as merely a tax on the rich. It is a prohibition of its use to the middling class of our citizens, and a condemnation of them to the poison of whiskey, which is desolating their houses. No nation is drunken where wine is cheap; and none sober, where the dearness of wine substitutes ardent spirits as the common beverage. It is, in truth, the only antidote to the bane of whiskey. Fix but the duty at the rate of other merchandise, and we can drink wine here as cheap as we do grog; and who will not prefer it? Its extended use will carry health and comfort to a much enlarged circle. Every one in easy circumstances (as the bulk of our citizens are) will prefer it to the poison to which they are now driven by their government. And the treasury itself will find that a penny a piece from a dozen, is more than a groat from a single one. This reformation, however, will require time. Our merchants know nothing of the infinite variety of cheap and good wines to be had in Europe; and particularly in France, in Italy, and the Græcian islands; as they know little also, of the variety of excellent manufactures and comforts to be had anywhere out of England. Nor will these things be known, nor of course called for here, until the 111 native merchants of those countries, to whom they are known, shall bring them forward, exhibit and vend them at the moderate profits they can afford. This alone will procure them familiarity with us, and the preference they merit in competition with corresponding articles now in use.

Our family renew with pleasure their recollections of your kind visit to Monticello, and join me in tendering sincere assurances of the gratification it afforded us, and of our great esteem and respectful consideration.


Monticello, January 12, 1819.

Dear Sir,—The problem you had wished to propose to me was one which I could not have solved; for I knew nothing of the facts. I read no newspaper now but Ritchie's, and in that chiefly the advertisements, for they contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper. I feel a much greater interest in knowing what has passed two or three thousand years ago, than in what is now passing. I read nothing, therefore, but of the heroes of Troy, of the wars of Lacedæmon and Athens, of Pompey and Cæsar, and of Augustus too, the Bonaparte and parricide scoundrel of that day. I have had, and still have, such entire confidence in the late and present Presidents, that I willingly put both soul and body into their pockets. While such men as yourself and your worthy colleagues of the legislature, and such characters as compose the executive administration, are watching for us all, I slumber without fear, and review in my dreams the visions of antiquity. There is, indeed, one evil which awakens me at times, because it jostles me at every turn. It is that we have now no measure of value. I am asked eighteen dollars for a yard of broadcloth, which, when we had dollars, I used to get for eighteen shillings; from this I can only understand that a dollar is now worth but two inches of broadcloth, but broadcloth is no standard of measure or value. I do not know, therefore, 112 whereabouts I stand in the scale of property, nor what to ask, or what to give for it. I saw, indeed, the like machinery in action in the years '80 and '81, and without dissatisfaction; because in wearing out, it was working out our salvation. But I see nothing in this renewal of the game of "Robin's alive" but a general demoralization of the nation, a filching from industry its honest earnings, wherewith to build up palaces, and raise gambling stock for swindlers and shavers, who are too close to their career of piracies by fraudulent bankruptcies. My dependence for a remedy, however, is with the wisdom which grows with time and suffering. Whether the succeeding generation is to be more virtuous than their predecessors, I cannot say; but I am sure they will have more worldly wisdom, and enough, I hope, to know that honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom. I have made a great exertion to write you thus much; my antipathy to taking up a pen being so intense that I have never given you a stronger proof, than in the effort of writing a letter, how much I value you, and of the superlative respect and friendship with which I salute you.


Monticello, March 21, 1819.

Dear Sir,—I am indebted to you for Mr. Bowditch's very learned mathematical papers, the calculations of which are not for every reader, although their results are readily enough understood. One of these impairs the confidence I had reposed in La Place's demonstration, that the eccentricities of the planets of our system could oscillate only within narrow limits, and therefore could authorize no inference that the system must, by its own laws, come one day to an end. This would have left the question one of infinitude, at both ends of the line of time, clear of physical authority.

Mr. Pickering's pamphlet on the pronunciation of the Greek, for which I am indebted to you also, I have read with great pleasure. Early in life, the idea occurred to me that the people 113 now inhabiting the ancient seats of the Greeks and Romans, although their languages in the intermediate ages had suffered great changes, and especially in the declension of their nouns, and in the terminations of their words generally, yet having preserved the body of the word radically the same, so they would preserve more of its pronunciation. That at least it was probable that a pronunciation, handed down by tradition, would retain, as the words themselves do, more of the original than that of any other people whose language has no affinity to that original. For this reason I learnt, and have used the Italian pronunciation of the Latin. But that of the modern Greeks I had no opportunity of learning until I went to Paris. There I became acquainted with two learned Greeks, Count Carberri and Mr. Paradise, and with a lady, a native Greek, the daughter of Baron de Tott, who did not understand the ancient language. Carberri and Paradise spoke it. From these instructors I learnt the modern pronunciation, and in general trusted to its orthodoxy. I say, in general, because sound being more fugitive than the written letter, we must, after such a lapse of time, presume in it some degeneracies, as we see there are in the written words. We may not, indeed, be able to put our finger on them confidently, yet neither are they entirely beyond the reach of all indication. For example, in a language so remarkable for the euphony of its sounds, if that euphony is preserved in particular combinations of its letters, by an adherence to the powers ordinarily ascribed to them, and is destroyed by a change of these powers, and the sound of the word thereby rendered harsh, inharmonious, and inidiomatical, here we may presume some degeneracy has taken place. While, therefore, I gave in to the modern pronunciation generally, I have presumed, as an instance of degeneracy, their ascribing the same sound to the six letters, or combinations of letters, ε, ι, υ, ει, οι, υι, to all of which they give the sound of our double e in the word meet. This useless equivalence of three vowels and three diphthongs, did not probably exist among the ancient Greeks; and the less probably as, while this single sound, ee, is overcharged by so many different representative 114 characters, the sounds we usually give to these characters and combinations would be left without any representative signs. This would imply either that they had not these sounds in their language, or no signs for their expression. Probability appears to me, therefore, against the practice of the modern Greeks of giving the same sound to all these different representatives, and to be in favor of that of foreign nations, who, adopting the Roman characters, have assimilated to them, in a considerable degree, the powers of the corresponding Greek letters. I have, accordingly, excepted this in my adoption of the modern pronunciation. I have been more doubtful in the use of the αυ, ευ, ηυ, ωυ, sounding the υ, upsilon, as our f or v, because I find traces of that power of υ, or of v, in some modern languages. To go no further than our own, we have it in laugh, cough, trough, enough. The county of Louisa, adjacent to that in which I live, was, when I was a boy, universally pronounced Lovisa. That it is not the gh which gives the sound of f or v, in these words, is proved by the orthography of plough, trough, thought, fraught, caught. The modern Greeks themselves, too, giving up υ, upsilon, in ordinary, the sound of our ee, strengthens the presumption that its anomalous sound of f or v, is a corruption. The same may be inferred from the cacophony of ελαφνε (elavne) for ελαυνε, (elawne,) Αχιλλεφς (Achillefs) for Αχιλλευς, (Achilleise,) εφς (eves) for εϋς, (eeuse,) οφκ (ovk) for ouk, (ouk,) ωφτος (ovetos) for ωϋτος, (o-u-tos,) Ζεφς (zevs) for Ζευς (zese,) of which all nations have made their Jupiter; and the uselessness of the υ in ευφωνια which would otherwise have been spelt εφωνια. I therefore except this also from what I consider as approvable pronunciation.

Against reading Greek by accent, instead of quantity, as Mr. Ciceitira proposes, I raise both my hands. What becomes of the sublime measure of Homer, the full sounding rhythm of Demosthenes, if, abandoning quantity, you chop it up by accent? What ear can hesitate in its choice between the two following rhythms?

"Τὸν, δ' απαμειβὸμενος προσεφὴ πόδας ωκὺς Αχιλλευς,


Τον, δ' απαμειβομενός προσεφὴ ποδας ώκυς Αχίλλευς,"

115 the latter noted according to prosody, the former by accent, and dislocating our teeth in its utterance; every syllable of it, except the first and last, being pronounced against quantity. And what becomes of the art of prosody? Is that perfect coincidence of its rules with the structure of their verse, merely accidental? or was it of design, and yet for no use.

On the whole, I rejoice that this subject is taken up among us, and that it is in so able hands as those of Mr. Pickering. Should he ultimately establish the modern pronunciation of the letters without any exception, I shall think it a great step gained, and giving up my exceptions, shall willingly rally to him; and as he has promised us another paper on the question whether we shall read by quantity or by accent, I can confidently trust it to the correctness of his learning and judgment. Of the origin of accentuation, I have never seen satisfactory proofs. But I have generally supposed the accents were intended to direct the inflections and modulations of the voice; but not to affect the quantity of the syllables. You did not expect, I am sure, to draw on yourself so long a disquisition on letters and sounds, nor did I intend it, but the subject run before me, and yet I have dropped much of it by the way.

I am delighted with your high approbation of Mr. Tracy's book. The evils of this deluge of paper money are not to be removed, until our citizens are generally and radically instructed in their cause and consequences, and silence by their authority the interested clamors and sophistry of speculating, shaving, and banking institutions. Till then we must be content to return, quod hoc, to the savage state, to recur to barter in the exchange of our property, for want of a stable, common measure of value, that now in use being less fixed than the beads and wampum of the Indian, and to deliver up our citizens, their property and their labor, passive victims to the swindling tricks of bankers and mountebankers. If I had your permission to put your letter into the hands of the editor, (Milligan,) with or without any verbal alterations you might choose, it would ensure the general circulation, which my prospectus and prefatory letter will less effectually recommend. 116 There is nothing in the book of mine but these two articles, and the note on taxation in page 202. I never knew who the translator was; but I thought him some one who understood neither French nor English; and probably a Caledonian, from the number of Scotticisms I found in his MS. The innumerable corrections in that, cost me more labor than would have done a translation of the whole de novo; and made at last but an inelegant although faithful version of the sense of the author. Dios guarde á V. S. muchos años.


Monticello, March 21, 1819.

Sir,—Your letter of February the 18th came to hand on the 1st instant; and the request of the history of my physical habits would have puzzled me not a little, had it not been for the model with which you accompanied it, of Doctor Rush's answer to a similar inquiry. I live so much like other people, that I might refer to ordinary life as the history of my own. Like my friend the Doctor, I have lived temperately, eating little animal food, and that not as an aliment, so much as a condiment for the vegetables, which constitute my principal diet. I double, however, the Doctor's glass and a half of wine, and even treble it with a friend; but halve its effects by drinking the weak wines only. The ardent wines I cannot drink, nor do I use ardent spirits in any form. Malt liquors and cider are my table drinks, and my breakfast, like that also of my friend, is of tea and coffee. I have been blest with organs of digestion which accept and concoct, without ever murmuring, whatever the palate chooses to consign to them, and I have not yet lost a tooth by age. I was a hard student until I entered on the business of life, the duties of which leave no idle time to those disposed to fulfil them; and now, retired, and at the age of seventy-six, I am again a hard student. Indeed, my fondness for reading and study revolts me from the drudgery of letter writing. And a stiff wrist, the consequence 117 of an early dislocation, makes writing both slow and painful. I am not so regular in my sleep as the Doctor says he was, devoting to it from five to eight hours, according as my company or the book I am reading interests me; and I never go to bed without an hour, or half hour's previous reading of something moral, whereon to ruminate in the intervals of sleep. But whether I retire to bed early or late, I rise with the sun. I use spectacles at night, but not necessarily in the day, unless in reading small print. My hearing is distinct in particular conversation, but confused when several voices cross each other, which unfits me for the society of the table. I have been more fortunate than my friend in the article of health. So free from catarrhs that I have not had one, (in the breast, I mean) on an average of eight or ten years through life. I ascribe this exemption partly to the habit of bathing my feet in cold water every morning, for sixty years past. A fever of more than twenty-four hours I have not had above two or three times in my life. A periodical headache has afflicted me occasionally, once, perhaps, in six or eight years, for two or three weeks at a time, which seems now to have left me; and except on a late occasion of indisposition, I enjoy good health; too feeble, indeed, to walk much, but riding without fatigue six or eight miles a day, and sometimes thirty or forty. I may end these egotisms, therefore, as I began, by saying that my life has been so much like that of other people, that I might say with Horace, to every one "nomine mutato, narratur fabula de te." I must not end, however, without due thanks for the kind sentiments of regard you are so good as to express towards myself; and with my acknowledgments for these, be pleased to accept the assurances of my respect and esteem.


Monticello, May 11, 1819.

Dear Sir,—The interest on the late derangement of my health which was so kindly expressed by many, could not but be gratifying 118 to me, as much as it manifested a sentiment that I had not been merely an useless cypher of society. Yet a decline of health at the age of 76, was naturally to be expected, and is a warning of an event which cannot be distant, and whose approach I contemplate with little concern; for indeed, in no circumstance has nature been kinder to us, than in the soft gradations by which she prepares us to part willingly with what we are not destined always to retain. First one faculty is withdrawn and then another, sight, hearing, memory, affections, and friends, filched one by one, till we are left among strangers, the mere monuments of times, facts, and specimens of antiquity for the observation of the curious.

To your request of materials for writing my life, I know not what to say, although I have been obliged to say something to several preceding applications of the same kind. One answer indeed is obvious, that I am by decay of memory, aversion to labor, and cares more suited to my situation, unequal to such a task. Of the public transactions in which I have borne a part, I have kept no narrative with a view of history. A life of constant action leaves no time for recording. Always thinking of what is next to be done, what has been done is dismissed, and soon obliterated from the memory. I cannot be insensible to the partiality which has induced several persons to think my life worthy of remembrance. And towards none more than yourself, who give me so much credit more than I am entitled to, as to what has been effected for the safeguard of our republican constitution. Numerous and able coadjutors have participated in these efforts, and merit equal notice. My life, in fact, has been so much like that of others, that their history is my history, with a mere difference of feature. The only valuable materials for history which I possessed, were the pamphlets of the day, carefully collected and preserved; but these past on to Congress with my library, and are to be found in their depository. Except the Notes on Virginia, I never wrote anything but acts of office, of which I rarely kept a copy. These will all be found in the journals and gazettes of the times. There was a book published 119 in England about 1801, or soon after, entitled "Public Characters," in which was given a sketch of my history to that period. I never knew, nor could conjecture by whom this was written; but certainly by some one pretty intimately acquainted with myself and my connections. There were a few inconsiderable errors in it, but in general it was correct. Delaplaine, in his Repository, has also given some outlines on the same subject; he sets out indeed with an error as to the county of my birth. Chesterfield, which he states as such, was the residence of my grandfather and remoter ancestors, but Albemarle was that of my father, and of my own birth and residence. Excepting this error, I remark no other but in his ascriptions of more merit than I have deserved. Girardin's History of Virginia, too, gives many particulars on the same subject, which are correct. These publications furnish all the details of facts and dates which can interest anybody, and more than I could now furnish myself from a decayed memory, or any notes I retain. While, therefore, I feel just acknowledgments for the partial selection of a subject for your employment, I am persuaded you will perceive there is too little new and worthy of public notice to devote to it a time which may be so much more usefully employed; and with a due sense of the partiality of your friendship, I salute you with assurances of the greatest esteem and respect.


Monticello, May 12, 1819.

Sir,—An absence of some time at an occasional and distant residence must apologize for the delay in acknowledging the receipt of your favor of April 12th. And candor obliges me to add that it has been somewhat extended by an aversion to writing, as well as to calls on my memory for facts so much obliterated from it by time as to lessen my confidence in the traces which seem to remain. One of the inquiries in your letter, however, may be answered without an appeal to the memory. It is that 120 respecting the question whether committees of correspondence originated in Virginia or Massachusetts? On which you suppose me to have claimed it for Virginia. But certainly I have never made such a claim. The idea, I suppose, has been taken up from what is said in Wirt's history of Mr. Henry, p. 87, and from an inexact attention to its precise terms. It is there said "this house [of burgesses of Virginia] had the merit of originating that powerful engine of resistance, corresponding committees between the legislatures of the different colonies." That the fact as here expressed is true, your letter bears witness when it says that the resolutions of Virginia for this purpose were transmitted to the speakers of the different Assemblies, and by that of Massachusetts was laid at the next session before that body, who appointed a committee for the specified object: adding, "thus in Massachusetts there were two committees of correspondence, one chosen by the people, the other appointed by the House of Assembly; in the former, Massachusetts preceded Virginia; in the latter, Virginia preceded Massachusetts." To the origination of committees for the interior correspondence between the counties and towns of a State, I know of no claim on the part of Virginia; but certainly none was ever made by myself. I perceive, however, one error into which memory had led me. Our committee for national correspondence was appointed in March, '73, and I well remember that going to Williamsburg in the month of June following, Peyton Randolph, our chairman, told me that messengers, bearing despatches between the two States, had crossed each other by the way; that of Virginia carrying our propositions for a committee of national correspondence, and that of Massachusetts bringing, as my memory suggested, a similar proposition. But here I must have misremembered; and the resolutions brought us from Massachusetts were probably those you mention of the town meeting of Boston, on the motion of Mr. Samuel Adams, appointing a committee "to state the rights of the colonists, and of that province in particular, and the infringements of them, to communicate them to the several towns, as the sense of the town of Boston, and to request of each town a free communication 121 of its sentiments on this subject"? I suppose, therefore, that these resolutions were not received, as you think, while the House of Burgesses was in session in March, 1773; but a few days after we rose, and were probably what was sent by the messenger who crossed ours by the way. They may, however, have been still different. I must therefore have been mistaken in supposing and stating to Mr. Wirt, that the proposition of a committee for national correspondence was nearly simultaneous in Virginia and Massachusetts.

A similar misapprehension of another passage in Mr. Wirt's book, for which I am also quoted, has produced a similar reclamation of the part of Massachusetts by some of her most distinguished and estimable citizens. I had been applied to by Mr. Wirt for such facts respecting Mr. Henry, as my intimacy with him, and participation in the transactions of the day, might have placed within my knowledge. I accordingly committed them to paper, and Virginia being the theatre of his action, was the only subject within my contemplation, while speaking of him. Of the resolutions and measures here, in which he had the acknowledged lead, I used the expression that "Mr. Henry certainly gave the first impulse to the ball of revolution." [Wirt, p. 41.] The expression is indeed general, and in all its extension would comprehend all the sister States. But indulgent construction would restrain it, as was really meant, to the subject matter under contemplation, which was Virginia alone; according to the rule of the lawyers, and a fair canon of general criticism, that every expression should be construed secundum subjectam materiem. Where the first attack was made, there must have been of course, the first act of resistance, and that was of Massachusetts. Our first overt act of war was Mr. Henry's embodying a force of militia from several counties, regularly armed and organized, marching them in military array, and making reprisal on the King's treasury at the seat of government for the public powder taken away by his Governor. This was on the last days of April, 1775. Your formal battle of Lexington was ten or twelve days before that, which greatly overshadowed in importance, 122 as it preceded in time our little affray, which merely amounted to a levying of arms against the King, and very possibly you had had military affrays before the regular battle of Lexington.

These explanations will, I hope, assure you, Sir, that so far as either facts or opinions have been truly quoted from me, they have never been meant to intercept the just fame of Massachusetts, for the promptitude and perseverance of her early resistance. We willingly cede to her the laud of having been (although not exclusively) "the cradle of sound principles," and if some of us believe she has deflected from them in her course, we retain full confidence in her ultimate return to them.

I will now proceed to your quotation from Mr. Galloway's statements of what passed in Congress on their declaration of independence, in which statement there is not one word of truth, and where, bearing some resemblance to truth, it is an entire perversion of it. I do not charge this on Mr. Galloway himself; his desertion having taken place long before these measures, he doubtless received his information from some of the loyal friends whom he left behind him. But as yourself, as well as others, appear embarrassed by inconsistent accounts of the proceedings on that memorable occasion, and as those who have endeavored to restore the truth have themselves committed some errors, I will give you some extracts from a written document on that subject, for the truth of which I pledge myself to heaven and earth; having, while the question of independence was under consideration before Congress, taken written notes, in my seat, of what was passing, and reduced them to form on the final conclusion. I have now before me that paper, from which the following are extracts:

"On Friday the 7th of June, 1776, the delegates from Virginia moved, in obedience to instructions from their constituents, that the Congress should declare that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be totally dissolved; that measures should be 123 immediately taken for procuring the assistance of foreign powers, and a confederation be formed to bind the colonies more closely together. The house being obliged to attend at that time to some other business, the proposition was referred to the next day, when the members were ordered to attend punctually at ten o'clock. Saturday, June 8th, they proceeded to take it into consideration, and referred it to a committee of the whole, into which they immediately resolved themselves, and passed that day and Monday the 10th in debating on the subject.

"It appearing in the course of these debates, that the colonies of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and South Carolina were not yet matured for falling from the parent stem, but that they were fast advancing to that state, it was thought most prudent to wait awhile for them, and to postpone the final decision to July 1st. But that this might occasion as little delay as possible, a committee was appointed to prepare a Declaration of Independence. The committee were J. Adams, Dr. Franklin, Roger Sherman, Robert R. Livingston and myself. This was reported to the House on Friday the 28th of June, when it was read and ordered to lie on the table. On Monday the 1st of July the House resolved itself into a committee of the whole, and resumed the consideration of the original motion made by the delegates of Virginia, which being again debated through the day, was carried in the affirmative by the votes of New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia. South Carolina and Pennsylvania] voted against it. Delaware having but two members present, they were divided. The delegates for New York declared they were for it themselves, and were assured their constituents were for it; but that their instructions having been drawn near a twelvemonth before, when reconciliation was still the general object, they were enjoined by them to do nothing which should impede that object. They therefore thought themselves not justifiable in voting on either side, and asked leave to withdraw from the question, which was given them. The Committee rose and reported their resolution to the 124 House. Mr. Rutledge of South Carolina, then requested the determination might be put off to the next day, as he believed his colleagues, though they disapproved of the resolution, would then join in it for the sake of unanimity. The ultimate question whether the House would agree to the resolution of the committee was accordingly postponed to the next day, when it was again moved, and South Carolina concurred in voting for it; in the meantime a third member had come post from the Delaware counties, and turned the vote of that colony in favor of the resolution. Members of a different sentiment attending that morning from Pennsylvania also, their vote was changed; so that the whole twelve colonies, who were authorized to vote at all, gave their votes for it; and within a few days, [July 9th,] the convention of New York approved of it, and thus supplied the void occasioned by the withdrawing of their delegates from the vote." [Be careful to observe that this vacillation and vote was on the original motion of the 7th of June by the Virginia delegates, that Congress should declare the colonies independent.]

"Congress proceeded the same day to consider the Declaration of Independence, which has been reported and laid on the table the Friday preceding, and on Monday referred to a committee of the whole. The pusillanimous idea that we had friends in England worth keeping terms with, still haunted the minds of many. For this reason those passages which conveyed censures on the people of England were struck out, lest they give them offence. The debates having taken up the greater parts of the 2d, 3d and 4th days of July, were, in the evening of the last, closed. The declaration was reported by the committee, agreed to by the House, and signed by every member present except Mr. Dickinson." So far my notes.

Governor McKean, in his letter to McCorkle of July 16th, 1817, has thrown some lights on the transactions of that day, but trusting to his memory chiefly at an age when our memories are not to be trusted, he has confounded two questions, and ascribed proceedings to one which belonged to the other. These two questions were, 1. The Virginia motion of June 7th to declare independence, 125 and 2. The actual declaration, its matter and form. Thus he states the question on the declaration itself as decided on the 1st of July. But it was the Virginia motion which was voted on that day in committee of the whole; South Carolina, as well as Pennsylvania, then voting against it. But the ultimate decision in the House on the report of the committee being by request postponed to the next morning, all the States voted for it, except New York, whose vote was delayed for the reason before stated. It was not till the 2d of July that the declaration itself was taken up, nor till the 4th that it was decided; and it was signed by every member present, except Mr. Dickinson.

The subsequent signatures of members who were not then present, and some of them not yet in office, is easily explained, if we observe who they were; to wit, that they were of New York and Pennsylvania. New York did not sign till the 15th, because it was not till the 9th, (five days after the general signature,) that their convention authorized them to do so. The convention of Pennsylvania, learning that it had been signed by a minority only of their delegates, named a new delegation on the 20th, leaving out Mr. Dickinson, who had refused to sign. Willing and Humphreys who had withdrawn, reappointing the three members who had signed, Morris who had not been present, and five new ones, to wit, Rush, Clymer, Smith, Taylor and Ross; and Morris and the five new members were permitted to sign, because it manifested the assent of their full delegation, and the express will of their convention, which might have been doubted on the former signature of a minority only. Why the signature of Thornton of New Hampshire was permitted so late as the 4th of November, I cannot now say; but undoubtedly for some particular reason which we should find to have been good, had it been expressed. These were the only post-signers, and you see, Sir, that there were solid reasons for receiving those of New York and Pennsylvania, and that this circumstance in no wise affects the faith of this declaratory charter of our rights, and of the rights of man.

With a view to correct errors of fact before they become inveterate 126 by repetition, I have stated what I find essentially material in my papers; but with that brevity which the labor of writing constrains me to use.

On the fourth particular articles of inquiry in your letter, respecting your grandfather, the venerable Samuel Adams, neither memory nor memorandums enable me to give any information. I can say that he was truly a great man, wise in council, fertile in resources, immovable in his purposes, and had, I think, a greater share than any other member, in advising and directing our measures, in the northern war especially. As a speaker he could not be compared with his living colleague and namesake, whose deep conceptions, nervous style, and undaunted firmness, made him truly our bulwark in debate. But Mr. Samuel Adams, although not of fluent elocution, was so rigorously logical, so clear in his views, abundant in good sense, and master always of his subject, that he commanded the most profound attention whenever he rose in an assembly by which the froth of declamation was heard with the most sovereign contempt. I sincerely rejoice that the record of his worth is to be undertaken by one so much disposed as you will be to hand him down fairly to that posterity for whose liberty and happiness he was so zealous a laborer.

With sentiments of sincere veneration for his memory, accept yourself this tribute to it with the assurances of my great respect.

P. S. August 6th, 1822, since the date of this letter, to wit, this day, August 6th, '22, I received the new publication of the secret Journals of Congress, wherein is stated a resolution, July 19th, 1776, that the declaration passed on the 4th be fairly engrossed on parchment, and when engrossed, be signed by every member; and another of August 2d, that being engrossed and compared at the table, was signed by the members. That is to say the copy engrossed on parchment (for durability) was signed by the members after being compared at the table with the original one, signed on paper as before stated. I add this P. S. to the 127 copy of my letter to Mr. Wells, to prevent confounding the signature of the original with that of the copy engrossed on parchment.


Monticello, June 25, 1819.

Your favor, Sir, of the 14th, has been duly received, and with it the book you were so kind as to forward to me. For this mark of attention, be pleased to accept my thanks. The science of the human mind is curious, but is one on which I have not indulged myself in much speculation. The times in which I have lived, and the scenes in which I have been engaged, have required me to keep the mind too much in action to have leisure to study minutely its laws of action. I am therefore little qualified to give an opinion on the comparative worth of books on that subject, and little disposed to do it on any book. Yours has brought the science within a small compass, and that is the merit of the first order; and especially with one to whom the drudgery of letter writing often denies the leisure of reading a single page in a week. On looking over the summary of the contents of your book, it does not seem likely to bring into collision any of those sectarian differences which you suppose may exist between us. In that branch of religion which regards the moralities of life, and the duties of a social being, which teaches us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to do good to all men, I am sure that you and I do not differ. We probably differ in the dogmas of theology, the foundation of all sectarianism, and on which no two sects dream alike; for if they did they would then be of the same. You say you are a Calvinist. I am not. I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know. I am not a Jew, and therefore do not adopt their theology, which supposes the God of infinite justice to punish the sins of the fathers upon their children, unto the third and fourth generation; and the benevolent and sublime reformer of that religion has told us only that God is good and perfect, but has not defined him. I am, therefore, 128 of his theology, believing that we have neither words nor ideas adequate to that definition. And if we could all, after this example, leave the subject as undefinable, we should all be of one sect, doers of good, and eschewers of evil. No doctrines of his lead to schism. It is the speculations of crazy theologists which have made a Babel of a religion the most moral and sublime ever preached to man, and calculated to heal, and not to create differences. These religious animosities I impute to those who call themselves his ministers, and who engraft their casuistries on the stock of his simple precepts. I am sometimes more angry with them than is authorized by the blessed charities which he preaches. To yourself I pray the acceptance of my great respect.


Monticello, July 9, 1819.

Dear Sir,—I am in debt to you for your letters of May the 21st, 27th, and June the 22d. The first, delivered me by Mr. Greenwood, gave me the gratification of his acquaintance; and a gratification it always is, to be made acquainted with gentlemen of candor, worth, and information, as I found Mr. Greenwood to be. That, on the subject of Mr. Samuel Adams Wells, shall not be forgotten in time and place, when it can be used to his advantage.

But what has attracted my peculiar notice, is the paper from Mecklenburg county, of North Carolina, published in the Essex Register, which you were so kind as to enclose in your last, of June the 22d. And you seem to think it genuine. I believe it spurious. I deem it to be a very unjustifiable quiz, like that of the volcano, so minutely related to us as having broken out in North Carolina, some half a dozen years ago, in that part of the country, and perhaps in that very county of Mecklenburg, for I do not remember its precise locality. If this paper be really taken from the Raleigh Register, as quoted, I wonder it should have escaped Ritchie, who culls what is good from every paper, as the bee from every flower; and the National Intelligencer, too, 129 which is edited by a North Carolinian; and that the fire should blaze out all at once in Essex, one thousand miles from where the spark is said to have fallen. But if really taken from the Raleigh Register, who is the narrator, and is the name subscribed real, or is it as fictitious as the paper itself? It appeals, too, to an original book, which is burnt, to Mr. Alexander, who is dead, to a joint letter from Caswell, Hughes, and Hooper, all dead, to a copy sent to the dead Caswell, and another sent to Doctor Williamson, now probably dead, whose memory did not recollect, in the history he has written of North Carolina, this gigantic step of its county of Mecklenberg. Horry, too, is silent in his history of Marion, whose scene of action was the country bordering on Mecklenburg. Ramsay, Marshall, Jones, Girardin, Wirt, historians of the adjacent States, all silent. When Mr. Henry's resolutions, far short of independence, flew like lightning through every paper, and kindled both sides of the Atlantic, this flaming declaration of the same date, of the independence of Mecklenburg county, of North Carolina, absolving it from the British allegiance, and abjuring all political connection with that nation, although sent to Congress too, is never heard of. It is not known even a twelvemonth after, when a similar proposition is first made in that body. Armed with this bold example, would not you have addressed our timid brethren in peals of thunder on their tardy fears? Would not every advocate of independence have rung the glories of Mecklenberg county in North Carolina, in the ears of the doubting Dickinson and others, who hung so heavily on us? Yet the example of independent Mecklenberg county, in North Carolina, was never once quoted. The paper speaks, too, of the continued exertions of their delegation (Caswell, Hooper, Hughes) "in the cause of liberty and independence." Now you remember as well as I do, that we had not a greater tory in Congress than Hooper; that Hughes was very wavering, sometimes firm, sometimes feeble, according as the day was clear or cloudy; that Caswell, indeed, was a good whig, and kept these gentlemen to the notch, while he was present; but that he left us soon, and their line of conduct became then uncertain 130 until Penn came, who fixed Hughes and the vote of the State. I must not be understood as suggesting any doubtfulness in the State of North Carolina. No State was more fixed or forward. Nor do I affirm, positively, that this paper is a fabrication; because the proof of a negative can only be presumptive. But I shall believe it such until positive and solemn proof of its authenticity be produced. And if the name of McKnitt be real, and not a part of the fabrication, it needs a vindication by the production of such proof. For the present, I must be an unbeliever in the apocryphal gospel.

I am glad to learn that Mr. Ticknor has safely returned to his friends; but should have been much more pleased had he accepted the Professorship in our University, which we should have offered him in form. Mr. Bowditch, too, refuses us; so fascinating is the vinculum of the dulce natale solum. Our wish is to procure natives, where they can be found, like these gentlemen, of the first order of requirement in their respective lines; but preferring foreigners of the first order to natives of the second, we shall certainly have to go for several of our Professors, to countries more advanced in science than we are.

I set out within three or four days for my other home, the distance of which, and its cross mails, are great impediments to epistolary communications. I shall remain there about two months; and there, here, and everywhere, I am and shall always be, affectionately and respectfully yours.


Poplar Forest, August 24, 1819.

Sir,—The acknowledgment of your favor of July 15th, and thanks for the Review which it covered of Mr. Pickering's Memoir on the Modern Greek, have been delayed by a visit to an occasional but distant residence from Monticello, and to an attack here of rheumatism which is just now moderating. I had 131 been much pleased with the memoir, and was much also with your review of it. I have little hope indeed of the recovery of the ancient pronunciation of that finest of human languages, but still I rejoice at the attention the subject seems to excite with you, because it is an evidence that our country begins to have a taste for something more than merely as much Greek as will pass a candidate for clerical ordination.

You ask my opinion on the extent to which classical learning should be carried in our country. A sickly condition permits me to think, and a rheumatic hand to write too briefly on this litigated question. The utilities we derive from the remains of the Greek and Latin languages are, first, as models of pure taste in writing. To these we are certainly indebted for the national and chaste style of modern composition which so much distinguishes the nations to whom these languages are familiar. Without these models we should probably have continued the inflated style of our northern ancestors, or the hyperbolical and vague one of the east. Second. Among the values of classical learning, I estimate the luxury of reading the Greek and Roman authors in all the beauties of their originals. And why should not this innocent and elegant luxury take its preëminent stand ahead of all those addressed merely to the senses? I think myself more indebted to my father for this than for all the other luxuries his cares and affections have placed within my reach; and more now than when younger, and more susceptible of delights from other sources. When the decays of age have enfeebled the useful energies of the mind, the classic pages fill up the vacuum of ennui, and become sweet composers to that rest of the grave into which we are all sooner or later to descend. Third. A third value is in the stores of real science deposited and transmitted us in these languages, to-wit: in history, ethics, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, natural history, &c.

But to whom are these things useful? Certainly not to all men. There are conditions of life to which they must be forever estranged, and there are epochs of life too, after which the endeavor to attain them would be a great misemployment of 132 time. Their acquisition should be the occupation of our early years only, when the memory is susceptible of deep and lasting impressions, and reason and judgment not yet strong enough for abstract speculations. To the moralist they are valuable, because they furnish ethical writings highly and justly esteemed: although in my own opinion, the moderns are far advanced beyond them in this line of science, the divine finds in the Greek language a translation of his primary code, of more importance to him than the original because better understood; and, in the same language, the newer code, with the doctrines of the earliest fathers, who lived and wrote before the simple precepts of the founder of this most benign and pure of all systems of morality became frittered into subtleties and mysteries, and hidden under jargons incomprehensible to the human mind. To these original sources he must now, therefore, return, to recover the virgin purity of his religion. The lawyer finds in the Latin language the system of civil law most conformable with the principles of justice of any which has ever yet been established among men, and from which much has been incorporated into our own. The physician as good a code of his art as has been given us to this day. Theories and systems of medicine, indeed, have been in perpetual change from the days of the good Hippocrates to the days of the good Rush, but which of them is the true one? the present, to be sure, as long as it is the present, but to yield its place in turn to the next novelty, which is then to become the true system, and is to mark the vast advance of medicine since the days of Hippocrates. Our situation is certainly benefited by the discovery of some new and very valuable medicines; and substituting those for some of his with the treasure of facts, and of sound observations recorded by him (mixed to be sure with anilities of his day) and we shall have nearly the present sum of the healing art. The statesman will find in these languages history, politics, mathematics, ethics, eloquence, love of country, to which he must add the sciences of his own day, for which of them should be unknown to him? And all the sciences must recur to the classical languages for the etymon, and sound understanding 133 of their fundamental terms. For the merchant I should not say that the languages are a necessary. Ethics, mathematics, geography, political economy, history, seem to constitute the immediate foundations of his calling. The agriculturist needs ethics, mathematics, chemistry and natural philosophy. The mechanic the same. To them the languages are but ornament and comfort. I know it is often said there have been shining examples of men of great abilities in all the businesses of life, without any other science than what they had gathered from conversations and intercourse with the world. But who can say what these men would not have been had they started in the science on the shoulders of a Demosthenes or Cicero, of a Locke or Bacon, or a Newton? To sum the whole, therefore, it may truly be said that the classical languages are a solid basis for most, and an ornament to all the sciences.

I am warned by my aching fingers to close this hasty sketch, and to place here my last and fondest wishes for the advancement of our country in the useful sciences and arts, and my assurances of respect and esteem for the Reviewer of the Memoir on modern Greek.


Poplar Forest, September 6, 1819.

Dear Sir,—I had read in the Enquirer, and with great approbation, the pieces signed Hampden, and have read them again with redoubled approbation, in the copies you have been so kind as to send me. I subscribe to every title of them. They contain the true principles of the revolution of 1800, for that was as real a revolution in the principles of our government as that of 1776 was in its form; not effected indeed by the sword, as that, but by the rational and peaceable instrument of reform, the suffrage of the people. The nation declared its will by dismissing functionaries of one principle, and electing those of another, in the two branches, executive and legislative, submitted to their 134 election. Over the judiciary department, the constitution had deprived them of their control. That, therefore, has continued the reprobated system, and although new matter has been occasionally incorporated into the old, yet the leaven of the old mass seems to assimilate to itself the new, and after twenty years' confirmation of the federated system by the voice of the nation, declared through the medium of elections, we find the judiciary on every occasion, still driving us into consolidation.

In denying the right they usurp of exclusively explaining the constitution, I go further than you do, if I understand rightly your quotation from the Federalist, of an opinion that "the judiciary is the last resort in relation to the other departments of the government, but not in relation to the rights of the parties to the compact under which the judiciary is derived." If this opinion be sound, then indeed is our constitution a complete felo de se. For intending to establish three departments, co-ordinate and independent, that they might check and balance one another, it has given, according to this opinion, to one of them alone, the right to prescribe rules for the government of the others, and to that one too, which is unelected by, and independent of the nation. For experience has already shown that the impeachment it has provided is not even a scare-crow; that such opinions as the one you combat, sent cautiously out, as you observe also, by detachment, not belonging to the case often, but sought for out of it, as if to rally the public opinion beforehand to their views, and to indicate the line they are to walk in, have been so quietly passed over as never to have excited animadversion, even in a speech of any one of the body entrusted with impeachment. The constitution, on this hypothesis, is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please. It should be remembered, as an axiom of eternal truth in politics, that whatever power in any government is independent, is absolute also; in theory only, at first, while the spirit of the people is up, but in practice, as fast as that relaxes. Independence can be trusted nowhere but with the people in mass. They are inherently independent of all but moral law. 135 My construction of the constitution is very different from that you quote. It is that each department is truly independent of the others, and has an equal right to decide for itself what is the meaning of the constitution in the cases submitted to its action; and especially, where it is to act ultimately and without appeal. I will explain myself by examples, which, having occurred while I was in office, are better known to me, and the principles which governed them.

A legislature had passed the sedition law. The federal courts had subjected certain individuals to its penalties of fine and imprisonment. On coming into office, I released these individuals by the power of pardon committed to executive discretion, which could never be more properly exercised than where citizens were suffering without the authority of law, or, which was equivalent, under a law unauthorized by the constitution, and therefore null. In the case of Marbury and Madison, the federal judges declared that commissions, signed and sealed by the President, were valid, although not delivered. I deemed delivery essential to complete a deed, which, as long as it remains in the hands of the party, is as yet no need, it is in posse only, but not in esse, and I withheld delivery of the commissions. They cannot issue a mandamus to the President or legislature, or to any of their officers.[3] When the British treaty of —— arrived, without any provision against the impressment of our seamen, I determined not to ratify it. The Senate thought I should ask their advice. I thought that would be a mockery of them, when I was predetermined against following it, should they advise its ratification. The constitution had made their advice necessary to confirm a treaty, but not to reject it. This has been blamed by some; but I have never doubted its soundness. In the cases of two persons, antenati, under exactly similar circumstances, the federal court had determined that one of them (Duane) was not a citizen; the House of Representatives nevertheless determined that the other (Smith, of South Carolina) was a citizen, and admitted him to his seat in their body. Duane was a republican, and Smith a 136 federalist, and these decisions were made during the federal ascendancy.

These are examples of my position, that each of the three departments has equally the right to decide for itself what is its duty under the constitution, without any regard to what the others may have decided for themselves under a similar question. But you intimate a wish that my opinion should be known on this subject. No, dear Sir, I withdraw from all contests of opinion, and resign everything cheerfully to the generation now in place. They are wiser than we were, and their successors will be wiser than they, from the progressive advance of science. Tranquillity is the summum bonum of age. I wish, therefore, to offend no man's opinion, nor to draw disquieting animadversions on my own. While duty required it, I met opposition with a firm and fearless step. But loving mankind in my individual relations with them, I pray to be permitted to depart in their peace; and like the superannuated soldier, "quadragenis stipendiis emeritis," to hang my arms on the post. I have unwisely, I fear, embarked in an enterprise of great public concern, but not to be accomplished within my term, without their liberal and prompt support. A severe illness the last year, and another from which I am just emerged, admonish me that repetitions may be expected, against which a declining frame cannot long bear up. I am anxious, therefore, to get our University so far advanced as may encourage the public to persevere to its final accomplishment. That secured, I shall sing my nunc demittas. I hope your labors will be long continued in the spirit in which they have always been exercised, in maintenance of those principles on which I verily believe the future happiness of our country essentially depends. I salute you with affectionate and great respect. 137


Monticello, September 22, 1819.

I thank you, Sir, for the remarks on the pronunciation of the Greek language which you have been so kind as to send me. I have read them with pleasure, as I had the pamphlet of Mr. Pickering on the same subject. This question has occupied long and learned inquiry, and cannot, as I apprehend, be ever positively decided. Very early in my classical days, I took up the idea that the ancient Greek language having been changed by degrees into the modern, and the present race of that people having received it by tradition, they had of course better pretensions to the ancient pronunciation also, than any foreign nation could have. When at Paris, I became acquainted with some learned Greeks, from whom I took pains to learn the modern pronunciation. But I could not receive it as genuine in toto. I could not believe that the ancient Greeks had provided six different notations for the simple sound of ι, iota, and left the five other sounds which we give to η, υ, ει, οι, υι, without any characters of notation at all. I could not acknowledge the υ, upsillon, as an equivalent to our v, as in Αχιλλευς, which they pronounce Achillevs, nor the γ gamma, to our y, as in αλγε', which they pronounce alye. I concluded, therefore, that as experience proves to us that the pronunciation of all languages changes, in their descent through time, that of the Greek must have done so also in some degree; and the more probably, as the body of the words themselves had substantially changed, and I presumed that the instances above mentioned might be classed with the degeneracies of time; a presumption strengthened by their remarkable cacophony. As to all the other letters, I have supposed we might yield to their traditionary claim of a more orthodox pronunciation. Indeed, they sound most of them as we do, and, where they differ, as in the β, δ, χ, their sounds do not revolt us, nor impair the beauty of the language.

If we adhere to the Erasmian pronunciation, we must go to Italy for it, as we must do for the most probably correct pronunciation 138 of the language of the Romans, because rejecting the modern, we must argue that the ancient pronunciation was probably brought from Greece, with the language itself; and, as Italy was the country to which it was brought, and from which it emanated to other nations, we must presume it better preserved there than with the nations copying from them, who would be apt to affect its pronunciation with some of their own national peculiarities. And in fact, we find that no two nations pronounce it alike, although all pretend to the Erasmian pronunciation. But the whole subject is conjectural, and allows therefore full and lawful scope to the vagaries of the human mind. I am glad, however, to see the question stirred here; because it may excite among our young countrymen a spirit of inquiry and criticism, and lead them to more attention to this most beautiful of all languages. And wishing that the salutary example you have set may have this good effect, I salute you with great respect and consideration.


Monticello, October 31, 1819.

Dear Sir,—Your favor of the 21st is received. My late illness, in which you are so kind as to feel an interest, was produced by a spasmodic stricture of the ilium, which came upon me on the 7th inst. The crisis was short, passed over favorably on the fourth day, and I should soon have been well but that a dose of calomel and jalap, in which were only eight or nine grains of the former, brought on a salivation. Of this, however, nothing now remains but a little soreness of the mouth. I have been able to get on horseback for three or four days past.

As you say of yourself, I too am an Epicurian. I consider the genuine (not the imputed) doctrines of Epicurus as containing everything rational in moral philosophy which Greece and Rome have left us. Epictetus indeed, has given us what was good of the stoics; all beyond, of their dogmas, being hypocrisy and grimace. Their great crime was in their calumnies of Epicurus 139 and misrepresentations of his doctrines; in which we lament to see the candid character of Cicero engaging as an accomplice. Diffuse, vapid, rhetorical, but enchanting. His prototype Plato, eloquent as himself, dealing out mysticisms incomprehensible to the human mind, has been deified by certain sects usurping the name of Christians; because, in his foggy conceptions, they found a basis of impenetrable darkness whereon to rear fabrications as delirious, of their own invention. These they fathered blasphemously on him whom they claimed as their founder, but who would disclaim them with the indignation which their caricatures of his religion so justly excite. Of Socrates we have nothing genuine but in the Memorabilia of Xenophon; for Plato makes him one of his Collocutors merely to cover his own whimsies under the mantle of his name; a liberty of which we are told Socrates himself complained. Seneca is indeed a fine moralist, disfiguring his work at times with some Stoicisms, and affecting too much of antithesis and point, yet giving us on the whole a great deal of sound and practical morality. But the greatest of all the reformers of the depraved religion of his own country, was Jesus of Nazareth. Abstracting what is really his from the rubbish in which it is buried, easily distinguished by its lustre from the dross of his biographers, and as separable from that as the diamond from the dunghill, we have the outlines of a system of the most sublime morality which has ever fallen from the lips of man; outlines which it is lamentable he did not live to fill up. Epictetus and Epicurus give laws for governing ourselves, Jesus a supplement of the duties and charities we owe to others. The establishment of the innocent and genuine character of this benevolent moralist, and the rescuing it from the imputation of imposture, which has resulted from artificial systems,[4] invented by ultra-Christian sects, unauthorized by a single word ever uttered by him, is a most desirable object, and one to which 140 Priestley has successfully devoted his labors and learning. It would in time, it is to be hoped, effect a quiet euthanasia of the heresies of bigotry and fanaticism which have so long triumphed over human reason, and so generally and deeply afflicted mankind; but this work is to be begun by winnowing the grain from the chaff of the historians of his life. I have sometimes thought of translating Epictetus (for he has never been tolerably translated into English) by adding the genuine doctrines of Epicurus from the Syntagma of Gassendi, and an abstract from the Evangelists of whatever has the stamp of the eloquence and fine imagination of Jesus. The last I attempted too hastily some twelve or fifteen years ago. It was the work of two or three nights only, at Washington, after getting through the evening task of reading the letters and papers of the day. But with one foot in the grave, these are now idle projects for me. My business is to beguile the wearisomeness of declining life, as I endeavor to do, by the delights of classical reading and of mathematical truths, and by the consolations of a sound philosophy, equally indifferent to hope and fear.

I take the liberty of observing that you are not a true disciple of our master Epicurus, in indulging the indolence to which you say you are yielding. One of his canons, you know, was that "that indulgence which presents a greater pleasure, or produces a greater pain, is to be avoided." Your love of repose will lead, in its progress, to a suspension of healthy exercise, a relaxation of mind, an indifference to everything around you, and finally to a debility of body, and hebetude of mind, the farthest of all things from the happiness which the well-regulated indulgences of Epicurus ensure; fortitude, you know, is one of his four cardinal virtues. That teaches us to meet and surmount difficulties; not to fly from them, like cowards; and to fly, too, in vain, for they will meet and arrest us at every turn of our road. Weigh this matter well; brace yourself up; take a seat with Correa, and come and see the finest portion of your country, which, if you have not forgotten, you still do not know, because it is no longer the same as when you knew it. It will add much to the happiness 141 of my recovery to be able to receive Correa and yourself, and prove the estimation in which I hold you both. Come, too, and see our incipient University, which has advanced with great activity this year. By the end of the next, we shall have elegant accommodations for seven professors, and the year following the professors themselves. No secondary character will be received among them. Either the ablest which America or Europe can furnish, or none at all. They will give us the selected society of a great city separated from the dissipations and levities of its ephemeral insects.

I am glad the bust of Condorcet has been saved and so well placed. His genius should be before us; while the lamentable, but singular act of ingratitude which tarnished his latter days, may be thrown behind us.

I will place under this a syllabus of the doctrines of Epicurus, somewhat in the lapidary style, which I wrote some twenty years ago, a like one of the philosophy of Jesus, of nearly the same age, is too long to be copied. Vale, et tibi persuade carissimum te esse mihi.

Syllabus of the doctrines of Epicurus.

Physical.—The Universe eternal.

Its parts, great and small, interchangeable.

Matter and Void alone.

Motion inherent in matter which is weighty and declining.

Eternal circulation of the elements of bodies.

Gods, an order of beings next superior to man, enjoying in their sphere, their own felicities; but not meddling with the concerns of the scale of beings below them.

Moral.—Happiness the aim of life.

Virtue the foundation of happiness.

Utility the test of virtue.

Pleasure active and In-do-lent.

In-do-lence is the absence of pain, the true felicity.

Active, consists in agreeable motion; it is not happiness, but the means to produce it.

142 Thus the absence of hunger is an article of felicity; eating the means to obtain it.

The summum bonum is to be not pained in body, nor troubled in mind.

i. e. In-do-lence of body, tranquillity of mind.

To procure tranquillity of mind we must avoid desire and fear, the two principal diseases of the mind.

Man is a free agent.

Virtue consists in 1. Prudence. 2. Temperance. 3. Fortitude. 4. Justice.

To which are opposed, 1. Folly. 2. Desire. 3. Fear. 4. Deceit.


Monticello, November 7, 1819.

Dear Sir,—Three long and dangerous illnesses within the last twelve months, must apologize for my long silence towards you.

The paper bubble is then burst. This is what you and I, and every reasoning man, seduced by no obliquity of mind or interest, have long foreseen; yet its disastrous effects are not the less for having been foreseen. We were laboring under a dropsical fulness of circulating medium. Nearly all of it is now called in by the banks, who have the regulation of the safety-valves of our fortunes, and who condense and explode them at their will. Lands in this State cannot now be sold for a year's rent; and unless our Legislature have wisdom enough to effect a remedy by a gradual diminution only of the medium, there will be a general revolution of property in this State. Over our own paper and that of other States coming among us, they have competent powers; over that of the bank of the United States there is doubt, not here, but elsewhere. That bank will probably conform voluntarily to such regulations as the Legislature may prescribe for the others. If they do not, we must shut their doors, and join the other States which deny the right of Congress to establish banks, and solicit them to agree to some mode of settling this 143 constitutional question. They have themselves twice decided against their right, and twice for it. Many of the States have been uniform in denying it, and between such parties the Constitution has provided no umpire. I do not know particularly the extent of this distress in the other States; but southwardly and westwardly I believe all are involved in it. God bless you, and preserve you many years.


Monticello, November 10, 1819.

Sir,—Your letter, and the draught of a memorial proposed to be presented to the Legislature, are duly received. With respect to impressions from any differences of political opinion, whether major or minor, alluded to in your letter, I have none. I left them all behind me on quitting Washington, where alone the state of things had, till then, required some attention to them. Nor was that the lightest part of the load I was there disburthened of; and could I permit myself to believe that with the change of circumstances a corresponding change had taken place in the minds of those who differed from me, and that I now stand in the peace and good will of my fellow-citizens generally, it would indeed be a sweetening ingredient in the last dregs of my life. It is not then from that source that my testimony may be scanty, but from a decaying memory, illy retaining things of recent transaction, and scarcely with any distinctness those of forty years back, the period to which your memorial refers: general impressions of them remain, but details are mostly obliterated.

Of the transfer of your corps from the general to the State line, and the other facts in the memorial preceding my entrance on the administration of the State government, June 2, 1779, I, of course, have no knowledge; but public documents, as well as living witnesses, will probably supply this. In 1780, I remember your appointment to a command in the militia sent under General Stevens to the aid of the Carolinas, of which fact the 144 commission signed by myself is sufficient proof. But I have no particular recollections which respect yourself personally in that service. Of what took place during Arnold's invasion in the subsequent winter I have more knowledge, because so much passed under my own eye, and I have the benefit of some notes to aid my memory. In the short interval of fifty-seven hours between our knowing they had entered James river and their actual debarkation at Westover, we could get together but a small body of militia, (my notes say of three hundred men only,) chiefly from the city and its immediate vicinities. You were placed in the command of these, and ordered to proceed to the neighborhood of the enemy, not with any view to face them directly with so small a force, but to hang on their skirts, and to check their march as much as could be done, to give time for the more distant militia to assemble. The enemy were not to be delayed, however, and were in Richmond in twenty-four hours from their being formed on shore at Westover. The day before their arrival at Richmond, I had sent my family to Tuckahoe, as the memorial states, at which place I joined them about 1 o'clock of that night, having attended late at Westham, to have the public stores and papers thrown across the river. You came up to us at Tuckahoe the next morning, and accompanied me, I think, to Britton's opposite Westham, to see about the further safety of the arms and other property. Whether you stayed there to look after them, or went with me to the heights of Manchester, and returned thence to Britton's, I do not recollect. The enemy evacuated Richmond at noon of the 5th of January, having remained there but twenty-three hours. I returned to it in the morning of the 8th, they being still encamped at Westover and Berkley, and yourself and corps at the Forest. They re-embarked at 1 o'clock of the 10th. The particulars of your movements down the river, to oppose their re-landing at different points, I do not specifically recollect, but, as stated in the memorial, they are so much in agreement with my general impressions, that I have no doubt of their correctness, and know that your conduct from the first advance of the enemy to his departure, 145 was approved by myself and by others generally. The rendezvous of the militia at the Tuckahoe bridge, and your having the command of them, I think I also remember, but nothing of their subsequent movements. The legislature had adjourned to meet at Charlottesville, where, at the expiration of my second year, I declined a re-election in the belief that a military man would be more likely to render services adequate to the exigencies of the times. Of the subsequent facts, therefore, stated in the memorial, I have no knowledge.

This, Sir, is the sum of the information I am able to give on the subjects of your memorial, and if it may contribute to the purposes of justice in your case, I shall be happy that in bearing testimony to the truth, I shall have rendered you a just service. I return the memorial and commission, as requested, and pray you to accept my respectful salutations.


Monticello, November 28, 1819.

Dear Sir,—The distresses of our country, produced first by the flood, then by the ebb of bank paper, are such as cannot fail to engage the interposition of the legislature. Many propositions will, of course, be offered, from all of which something may probably be culled to make a good whole. I explained to you my project, when I had the pleasure of possessing you here; and I now send its outline in writing, as I believe I promised you. Although preferable things will I hope be offered, yet some twig of this may perhaps be thought worthy of being engrafted on a better stock. But I send it with no particular object or request, but to use it as you please. Suppress it, suggest it, sound opinions, or anything else, at will, only keeping my name unmentioned, for which purpose it is copied in another hand, being ever solicitous to avoid all offence which is heavily felt, when retired from the bustle and contentions of the world. If we suffer the moral of the present lesson to pass away without improvement 146 by the eternal suppression of bank paper, then indeed is the condition of our country desperate, until the slow advance of public instruction shall give to our functionaries the wisdom of their station. Vale, et tibi persuade carissimum te mihi esse.

Plan for reducing the circulating medium.

The plethory of circulating medium which raised the prices of everything to several times their ordinary and standard value, in which state of things many and heavy debts were contracted; and the sudden withdrawing too great a proportion of that medium, and reduction of prices far below that standard, constitute the disease under which we are now laboring, and which must end in a general revolution of property, if some remedy is not applied. That remedy is clearly a gradual reduction of the medium to its standard level, that is to say, to the level which a metallic medium will always find for itself, so as to be in equilibrio with that of the nations with which we have commerce.

To effect this,

Let the whole of the present paper medium be suspended in its circulation after a certain and not distant day.

Ascertain by proper inquiry the greatest sum of it which has at any one time been in actual circulation.

Take a certain term of years for its gradual reduction, suppose it to be five years; then let the solvent banks issue ⅚ of that amount in new notes, to be attested by a public officer, as a security that neither more or less is issued, and to be given out in exchange for the suspended notes, and the surplus in discount.

Let ⅕th of these notes bear on their face that the bank will discharge them with specie at the end of one year; another 5th at the end of two years; a third 5th at the end of three years; and so of the 4th and 5th. They will be sure to be brought in at their respective periods of redemption.

Make it a high offence to receive or pass within this State a note of any other.

There is little doubt that our banks will agree readily to this operation; if they refuse, declare their charters forfeited by their 147 former irregularities, and give summary process against them for the suspended notes.

The Bank of the United States will probably concur also; if not, shut their doors and join the other States in respectful, but firm applications to Congress, to concur in constituting a tribunal (a special convention, e. g.) for settling amicably the question of their right to institute a bank, and that also of the States to do the same.

A stay-law for the suspension of executions, and their discharge at five annual instalments, should be accommodated to these measures.

Interdict forever, to both the State and national governments, the power of establishing any paper bank; for without this interdiction, we shall have the same ebbs and flows of medium, and the same revolutions of property to go through every twenty or thirty years.

In this way the value of property, keeping pace nearly with the sum of circulating medium, will descend gradually to its proper level, at the rate of about ⅕ every year, the sacrifices of what shall be sold for payment of the first instalments of debts will be moderate, and time will be given for economy and industry to come in aid of those subsequent. Certainly no nation ever before abandoned to the avarice and jugglings of private individuals to regulate, according to their own interests, the quantum of circulating medium for the nation, to inflate, by deluges of paper, the nominal prices of property, and then to buy up that property at 1s. in the pound, having first withdrawn the floating medium which might endanger a competition in purchase. Yet this is what has been done, and will be done, unless stayed by the protecting hand of the legislature. The evil has been produced by the error of their sanction of this ruinous machinery of banks; and justice, wisdom, duty, all require that they should interpose and arrest it before the schemes of plunder and spoliation desolate the country. It is believed that Harpies are already hoarding their money to commence these scenes on the separation of the legislature; and we know that lands have been already sold under the hammer for less than a year's rent. 148


Monticello, December 10, 1819.

Dear Sir,—I have to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of November the 23d. The banks, bankrupt law, manufactures, Spanish treaty, are nothing. These are occurrences which, like waves in a storm, will pass under the ship. But the Missouri question is a breaker on which we lose the Missouri country by revolt, and what more, God only knows. From the battle of Bunker's Hill to the treaty of Paris, we never had so ominous a question. It even damps the joy with which I hear of your high health, and welcomes to me the consequences of my want of it. I thank God that I shall not live to witness its issue. Sed hæc hactenus.

I have been amusing myself latterly with reading the voluminous letters of Cicero. They certainly breathe the purest effusions of an exalted patriot, while the parricide Cæsar is lost in odious contrast. When the enthusiasm, however, kindled by Cicero's pen and principles, subsides into cool reflection, I ask myself, what was that government which the virtues of Cicero were so zealous to restore, and the ambition of Cæsar to subvert? And if Cæsar had been as virtuous as he was daring and sagacious, what could he, even in the plenitude of his usurped power, have done to lead his fellow citizens into good government? I do not say to restore it, because they never had it, from the rape of the Sabines to the ravages of the Cæsars. If their people indeed had been, like ourselves, enlightened, peaceable, and really free, the answer would be obvious. "Restore independence to all your foreign conquests, relieve Italy from the government of the rabble of Rome, consult it as a nation entitled to self-government, and do its will." But steeped in corruption, vice and venality, as the whole nation was, (and nobody had done more than Cæsar to corrupt it,) what could even Cicero, Cato, Brutus have done, had it been referred to them to establish a good government for their country? They had no ideas of government themselves, but of their degenerate Senate, nor the 149 people of liberty, but of the factious opposition of their Tribunes. They had afterwards their Tituses, their Trajans and Antoninuses, who had the will to make them happy, and the power to mould their government into a good and permanent form. But it would seem as if they could not see their way clearly to do it. No government can continue good, but under the control of the people; and their people were so demoralized and depraved, as to be incapable of exercising a wholesome control. Their reformation then was to be taken up ab incunabulis. Their minds were to be informed by education what is right and what wrong; to be encouraged in habits of virtue, and deterred from those of vice by the dread of punishments, proportioned indeed, but irremissible; in all cases, to follow truth as the only safe guide, and to eschew error, which bewilders us in one false consequence after another, in endless succession. These are the inculcations necessary to render the people a sure basis for the structure of order and good government. But this would have been an operation of a generation or two, at least, within which period would have succeeded many Neros and Commoduses, who would have quashed the whole process. I confess then, I can neither see what Cicero, Cato, and Brutus, united and uncontrolled, could have devised to lead their people into good government, nor how this enigma can be solved, nor how further shown why it has been the fate of that delightful country never to have known, to this day, and through a course of five and twenty hundred years, the history of which we possess, one single day of free and rational government. Your intimacy with their history, ancient, middle and modern, your familiarity with the improvements in the science of government at this time, will enable you, if any body, to go back with our principles and opinions to the times of Cicero, Cato and Brutus, and tell us by what process these great and virtuous men could have led so unenlightened and vitiated a people into freedom and good government, et eris mihi magnus Apollo. Cura ut valeas, et tibi persuadeas carissimum te mihi esse. 150


Montezillo, December 21, 1819.

Dear Sir,—I must answer your great question of the 10th in the words of Dalembert to his correspondent, who asked him what is matter—"Je vous avoue je ne sçais rien." In some part of my life I record a great work of a Scotchman on the court of Augustus, in which, with much learning, hard study, and fatiguing labor, he undertook to prove that had Brutus and Cassius been conqueror, they would have restored virtue and liberty to Rome.

Mais je n'en crois rien. Have you ever found in history one single example of a nation, thoroughly corrupted, that was afterwards restored to virtue, and without virtue there can be no political liberty.

If I were a Calvinist, I might pray that God by a miracle of divine grace would instantaneously convert a whole contaminated nation from turpitude to purity; but even in this I should be inconsistent, for the fatalism of Mahometanism, Materialists, Atheists, Pantheists, and Calvinists, and church of England articles, appear to me to render all prayer futile and absurd. The French and the Dutch, in our day, have attempted reforms and revolutions. We know the results, and I fear the English reformers will have no better success.

Will you tell me how to prevent riches from becoming the effects of temperance and industry. Will you tell me how to prevent riches from producing luxury. Will you tell me how to prevent luxury from producing effeminacy, intoxication, extravagance, vice and folly? When you will answer me these questions, I hope I may venture to answer yours; yet all these ought not to discourage us from exertion, for with my friend Jeb, I believe no effort in favor of virtue is lost, and all good men ought to struggle both by their council and example.

The Missouri question, I hope, will follow the other waves under the ship, and do no harm. I know it is high treason to express a doubt of the perpetual duration of our vast American 151 empire, and our free institution; and I say as devoutly as father Paul, estor perpetua, but I am sometimes Cassandra enough to dream that another Hamilton, and another Burr, might rend this mighty fabric in twain, or perhaps into a leash; and a few more choice spirits of the same stamp, might produce as many nations in North America as there are in Europe.

To return to the Romans. I never could discover that they possessed much virtue, or real liberty. Their Patricians were in general griping usurers, and tyrannical creditors in all ages. Pride, strength, and courage, were all the virtues that composed their national characters; a few of their nobles effecting simplicity, frugality, and piety, perhaps really possessing them, acquired popularity amongst the plebeians, and extended the power and dominions of the republic, and advanced in glory till riches and luxury come in, sat like an incubus on the Republic, victam que ulcissitur orbem.

Our winter sets in a fortnight earlier than usual, and is pretty severe. I hope you have fairer skies, and milder air. Wishing your health may last as long as your life, and your life as long as you desire it, I am, dear Sir, respectfully and affectionately,


Monticello, March 12, 1820.

I thank you, dear Sir, for the information in your favor of the 4th instant, of the settlement, for the present, of the Missouri question. I am so completely withdrawn from all attention to public matters, that nothing less could arouse me than the definition of a geographical line, which on an abstract principle is to become the line of separation of these States, and to render desperate the hope that man can ever enjoy the two blessings of peace and self-government. The question sleeps for the present, but is not dead. This State is in a condition of unparalleled distress. The sudden reduction of the circulating medium from a plethory to all but annihilation is producing an entire revolution 152 of fortune. In other places I have known lands sold by the sheriff for one year's rent; beyond the mountain we hear of good slaves selling for one hundred dollars, good horses for five dollars, and the sheriffs generally the purchasers. Our produce is now selling at market for one-third of its price, before this commercial catastrophe, say flour at three and a quarter and three and a half dollars the barrel. We should have less right to expect relief from our legislators if they had been the establishers of the unwise system of banks. A remedy to a certain degree was practicable, that of reducing the quantum of circulation gradually to a level with that of the countries with which we have commerce, and an eternal abjuration of paper. But they have adjourned without doing anything. I fear local insurrections against these horrible sacrifices of property. In every condition of trouble or tranquillity be assured of my constant esteem and respect.


Monticello, March 14, 1820.

Dear Sir,—A continuation of poor health makes me an irregular correspondent. I am, therefore, your debtor for the two letters of January 20th and February 21st. It was after you left Europe that Dugald Stuart, concerning whom you inquire, and Lord Dare, second son of the Marquis of Lansdown, came to Paris. They brought me a letter from Lord Wycombe, whom you knew. I became immediately intimate with Stuart, calling mutually on each other and almost daily, during their stay at Paris, which was of some months. Lord Dare was a young man of imagination, with occasional flashes indicating deep penetration, but of much caprice, and little judgment. He has been long dead, and the family title is now, I believe, in the third son, who has shown in Parliament talents of a superior order. Stuart is a great man, and among the most honest living. I have heard nothing of his dying at top, as you suppose. Mr. Tickner, however, can give you the best information on that subject, as he 153 must have heard particularly of him when in Edinburgh, although I believe he did not see him. I have understood he was then in London superintending the publication of a new work. I consider him and Tracy as the ablest metaphysicians living; by which I mean investigators of the thinking faculty of man. Stuart seems to have given its natural history from facts and observations; Tracy its modes of action and deduction, which he calls Logic, and Ideology; and Cabanis, in his Physique et Morale de l'Homme, has investigated anatomically, and most ingeniously, the particular organs in the human structure which may most probably exercise that faculty. And they ask why may not the mode of action called thought, have been given to a material organ of peculiar structure, as that of magnetism is to the needle, or of elasticity to the spring by a particular manipulation of the steel. They observe that on ignition of the needle or spring, their magnetism and elasticity cease. So on dissolution of the material organ by death, its action of thought may cease also, and that nobody supposes that the magnetism or elasticity retire to hold a substantive and distinct existence. These were qualities only of particular conformations of matter; change the conformation, and its qualities change also. Mr. Locke, you know, and other materialists, have charged with blasphemy the spiritualists who have denied the Creator the power of endowing certain forms of matter with the faculty of thought. These, however, are speculations and subtleties in which, for my own part, I have little indulged myself. When I meet with a proposition beyond finite comprehension, I abandon it as I do a weight which human strength cannot lift, and I think ignorance, in these cases, is truly the softest pillow on which I can lay my head. Were it necessary, however, to form an opinion, I confess I should, with Mr. Locke, prefer swallowing one incomprehensibility rather than two. It requires one effort only to admit the single incomprehensibility of matter endowed with thought, and two to believe, first that of an existence called spirit, of which we have neither evidence nor idea, and then secondly how that spirit, which has neither extension nor solidity, can put material 154 organs into motion. Those are things which you and I may perhaps know ere long. We have so lived as to fear neither horn of the dilemma. We have, willingly, done injury to no man; and have done for our country the good which has fallen in our way, so far as commensurate with the faculties given us. That we have not done more than we could, cannot be imputed to us as a crime before any tribunal. I look, therefore, to the crisis, as I am sure you also do, as one "qui summum nec metuit diem nec optat." In the meantime be our last as cordial as were our first affections.


Monticello, April 5, 1820.

Sir,—A near relation of my late friend Governor Langdon, needs no apology for addressing a letter to me, that relationship giving sufficient title to all my respect. We were fellow laborers from the beginning of the first to the accomplishment of the second revolution in our government, of the same zeal and the same sentiments, and I shall honor his memory while memory remains to me. The letter you mention is proof of my friendship and unreserved confidence in him; it was written in warm times, and is therefore too warmly expressed for the more reconciled temper of the present day. I must pray you, therefore, not to let it get before the public, lest it rekindle a flame which burnt too long and too fiercely against me. It was my lot to be placed at the head of the column which made the first breach in the ramparts of federalism, and to be charged, on that event, with the duty of changing the course of the government from what we deemed a monarchical, to its republican tack. This made me the mark for every shaft which calumny and falsehood could point against me. I bore them with resignation, as one of the duties imposed on me by my post. But I assure you it was among the most painful duties from which I hoped to find relief in retirement. Tranquillity is the summum bonum of old age and ill health, and nothing could so much disturb this with me 155 as to awaken angry feelings from the slumber in which I wish them ever to remain. I beseech you then, good Sir, in the name of my departed friend, not to bring on me a contention which neither duty nor public good require me to encounter.

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


Monticello, April 13, 1820.

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

But while this syllabus is meant to place the character of Jesus in its true and high light, as no impostor himself, but a great reformer of the Hebrew code of religion, it is not to be understood 156 that I am with him in all his doctrines. I am a Materialist; he takes the side of Spiritualism; he preaches the efficacy of repentance towards forgiveness of sin; I require a counterpoise of good works to redeem it, &c., &c. It is the innocence of his character, the purity and sublimity of his moral precepts, the eloquence of his inculcations, the beauty of the apologues in which he conveys them, that I so much admire; sometimes, indeed, needing indulgence to eastern hyperbolism. My eulogies, too, may be founded on a postulate which all may not be ready to grant. Among the sayings and discourses imputed to him by his biographers, I find many passages of fine imagination, correct morality, and of the most lovely benevolence; and others, again, of so much ignorance, so much absurdity, so much untruth, charlatanism and imposture, as to pronounce it impossible that such contradictions should have proceeded from the same being. I separate, therefore, the gold from the dross; restore to him the former, and leave the latter to the stupidity of some, and roguery of others of his disciples. Of this band of dupes and impostors, Paul was the great Coryphæus, and first corruptor of the doctrines of Jesus. These palpable interpolations and falsifications of his doctrines, led me to try to sift them apart. I found the work obvious and easy, and that his part composed the most beautiful morsel of morality which has been given to us by man. The syllabus is therefore of his doctrines, not all of mine. I read them as I do those of other ancient and modern moralists, with a mixture of approbation and dissent.

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

The history of our University you know so far. Seven of the ten pavilions destined for the professors, and about thirty dormitories, will be completed this year, and three other, with six hotels for boarding, and seventy other dormitories, will be completed the next year, and the whole be in readiness then to receive 157 those who are to occupy them. But means to bring these into place, and to set the machine into motion, must come from the legislature. An opposition, in the meantime, has been got up. That of our alma mater, William and Mary, is not of much weight. She must descend into the secondary rank of academies of preparation for the University. The serious enemies are the priests of the different religious sects, to whose spells on the human mind its improvement is ominous. Their pulpits are now resounding with denunciations against the appointment of Doctor Cooper, whom they charge as a monotheist in opposition to their tritheism. Hostile as these sects are, in every other point, to one another, they unite in maintaining their mystical theogony against those who believe there is one God only. The Presbyterian clergy are loudest; the most intolerant of all sects, the most tyrannical and ambitious; ready at the word of the lawgiver, if such a word could be now obtained, to put the torch to the pile, and to rekindle in this virgin hemisphere, the flames in which their oracle Calvin consumed the poor Servetus, because he could not find in his Euclid the proposition which has demonstrated that three are one and one is three, nor subscribe to that of Calvin, that magistrates have a right to exterminate all heretics to Calvinistic Creed. They pant to re-establish, by law, that holy inquisition, which they can now only infuse into public opinion. We have most unwisely committed to the hierophants of our particular superstition, the direction of public opinion, that lord of the universe. We have given them stated and privileged days to collect and catechise us, opportunities of delivering their oracles to the people in mass, and of moulding their minds as wax in the hollow of their hands. But in despite of their fulminations against endeavors to enlighten the general mind, to improve the reason of the people, and encourage them in the use of it, the liberality of this State will support this institution, and give fair play to the cultivation of reason. Can you ever find a more eligible occasion of visiting once more your native country, than that of accompanying Mr. Correa, and of seeing with him this beautiful and hopeful institution in ovo?

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

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

I salute you with constant and affectionate friendship and respect. 159


Monticello, April 22, 1820.

I thank you, dear Sir, for the copy you have been so kind as to send me of the letter to your constituents on the Missouri question. It is a perfect justification to them. I had for a long time ceased to read newspapers, or pay any attention to public affairs, confident they were in good hands, and content to be a passenger in our bark to the shore from which I am not distant. But this momentous question, like a fire bell in the night, awakened and filled me with terror. I considered it at once as the knell of the Union. It is hushed, indeed, for the moment. But this is a reprieve only, not a final sentence. A geographical line, coinciding with a marked principle, moral and political, once conceived and held up to the angry passions of men, will never be obliterated; and every new irritation will mark it deeper and deeper. I can say, with conscious truth, that there is not a man on earth who would sacrifice more than I would to relieve us from this heavy reproach, in any practicable way. The cession of that kind of property, for so it is misnamed, is a bagatelle which would not cost me a second thought, if, in that way, a general emancipation and expatriation could be effected; and gradually, and with due sacrifices, I think it might be. But as it is, we have the wolf by the ears, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other. Of one thing I am certain, that as the passage of slaves from one State to another, would not make a slave of a single human being who would not be so without it, so their diffusion over a greater surface would make them individually happier, and proportionally facilitate the accomplishment of their emancipation, by dividing the burthen on a greater number of coadjutors. An abstinence too, from this act of power, would remove the jealousy excited by the undertaking of Congress to regulate the condition of the different descriptions of men composing a State. This certainly is the exclusive right of every State, which nothing in the constitution has taken 160 from them and given to the General Government. Could Congress, for example, say, that the non-freemen of Connecticut shall be freemen, or that they shall not emigrate into any other State?

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


Monticello, May 14, 1820.

Dear Sir,—Your favor of the 3d is received, and always with welcome. These texts of truth relieve me from the floating falsehoods of the public papers. I confess to you I am not sorry for the non-ratification of the Spanish treaty. Our assent to it has proved our desire to be on friendly terms with Spain; their dissent, the imbecility and malignity of their government towards us, have placed them in the wrong in the eyes of the world, and that is well; but to us the province of Techas will be the richest State of our Union, without any exception. Its southern part will make more sugar than we can consume, and the Red river, on its north, is the most luxuriant country on earth. Florida, moreover, is ours. Every nation in Europe considers it such a right. We need not care for its occupation in time of peace, and, in war, the first cannon makes it ours without offence to anybody. The friendly advisements, too, of Russia and France, as well as the change of government in Spain, now ensured, require a further 161 and respectful forbearance. While their request will rebut the plea of proscriptive possession, it will give us a right to their approbation when taken in the maturity of circumstances. I really think, too, that neither the state of our finances, the condition of our country, nor the public opinion, urges us to precipitation into war. The treaty has had the valuable effect of strengthening our title to the Techas, because the cession of the Floridas in exchange for Techas imports an acknowledgment of our right to it. This province moreover, the Floridas and possibly Cuba, will join us on the acknowledgment of their independence, a measure to which their new government will probably accede voluntarily. But why should I be saying all this to you, whose mind all the circumstances of this affair have had possession for years? I shall rejoice to see you here; and were I to live to see you here finally, it would be a day of jubilee. But our days are all numbered, and mine are not many. God bless you and preserve you muchos años


Monticello, May 16, 1820.

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

You know the sanction of the legislature to our borrowing $60,000 on the pledge of our annuity of $15,000. The Literary Board offered us $40,000 on that pledge, to be repaid at five instalments, commencing at the end of the third year from the date of the loan, and interest to be regularly paid in the meantime. We endeavored to obtain permission to draw for only $15,000 at first, and for $2,000 monthly afterwards, to avoid the payment of dead interest. This they declined, as bound themselves to keep the whole of their capital always in a course of 162 fructification. We then requested a postponement of the instalments to the fourth instead of the third year, with an additional loan of the further sum of $20,000, authorized by the law. To the postponement they acceded, and we are assured they will to the further loan. To explain to them the urgency of this additional year's postponement, a paper was laid before them of which I enclose you a copy, and on which you are now acting. Should the legislature not help us to the $93,600 there noted, the result will be that at the end of the next year all the buildings will be completed, (the library excepted,) and will then remain unoccupied five years longer, until our funds shall be free for the engagements of professors. Should they, on the other hand, give this aid, our funds will be free, at the beginning of the next year, and will enable us to take measures for procuring professors in the course of that summer, and to open the University. We were all of opinion that we ought to complete the buildings for the ten professors contemplated, as well as accommodations for the students, before opening the institution; for were we to stop at any point short of the full establishment, and open partially, as our funds would thenceforward be absorbed by the professors' salaries, we should never be able to advance a step further, nor to cover the whole field of science contemplated by the law, and made the object of our care and duty. We thought it better, therefore, to risk a delay of eight years for a perfect establishment, than to begin earlier and go on forever with a defective one; and we suppose it impossible that either the legislature, or their constituents, should not consider an immediate commencement as worth the sum necessary to procure it. You will observe that in the estimate enclosed, no account is taken of our subscription monies. They are, in fact, too uncertain in their collection to found any necessary contracts; and we thought it better therefore to reserve them as a contingent fund, and a resource to cover miscalculations and accidents.

Another subject on this, as on former occasions, gave us embarrassment. You may have heard of the hue and cry raised from the different pulpits on our appointment of Dr. Cooper, 163 whom they charge with Unitarianism as boldly as if they knew the fact, and as presumptuously as if it were a crime, and one for which, like Servetus, he should be burned; and perhaps you may have seen the particular attack made on him in the Evangelical magazine. For myself I was not disposed to regard the denunciations of these satellites of religious inquisition; but our colleagues, better judges of popular feeling, thought that they were not to be altogether neglected; and that it might be better to relieve Dr. Cooper, ourselves and the institution from this crusade. I had received a letter from him expressing his uneasiness, not only for himself, but lest this persecution should become embarrassing to the visitors, and injurious to the institution; with an offer to resign, if we had the same apprehensions. The Visitors, therefore, desired the committee of Superintendence to place him at freedom on this subject, and to arrange with him a suitable indemnification. I wrote accordingly in answer to his, and a meeting of trustees of the college at Columbia happening to take place soon after his receipt of my letter, they resolved unanimously that it should be proposed to, and urged on their legislature, to establish a professorship of Geology and Mineralogy, or a professorship of law, with a salary of $1,000 a year to be given him, in addition to that of chemistry, which is $2,000 a year, and to purchase his collection of minerals; and they have no doubt of the legislature's compliance. On the subject of indemnification, he is contented with the balance of the $1,500 we had before agreed to give him, and which he says will not more than cover his actual losses of time and expense; he adds, "it is right I should acknowledge the liberality of your board with thanks. I regret the storm that has been raised on my account; for it has separated me from many fond hopes and wishes. Whatever my religious creed may be, and perhaps I do not exactly know it myself, it is pleasure to reflect that my conduct has not brought, and is not likely to bring, discredit to my friends. Wherever I have been, it has been my good fortune to meet with, or to make ardent and affectionate friends. I feel persuaded I should have met with the same lot in Virginia had it 164 been my chance to have settled there, as I had hoped and expected, for I think my course of conduct is sufficiently habitual to count on its effects."

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

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


Monticello, August 4, 1820.

Dear Sir,—I owe you a letter for your favor of June the 29th, which was received in due time; and there being no subject of the day, of particular interest, I will make this a supplement to mine of April the 13th. My aim in that was, to justify the character of Jesus against the fictions of his pseudo-followers, which have exposed him to the inference of being an impostor. For if we could believe that he really countenanced the follies, the falsehoods, and the charlatanisms which his biographers father on him, and admit the misconstructions, interpolations, and theorizations of the fathers of the early, and fanatics of the latter ages, the conclusion would be irresistible by every sound mind, that he was an impostor. I give no credit to their falsifications of his actions and doctrines, and to rescue his character, the postulate in my letter asked only what is granted in reading every 165 other historian. When Livy and Siculus, for example, tell us things which coincide with our experience of the order of nature, we credit them on their word, and place their narrations among the records of credible history. But when they tell us of calves speaking, of statues sweating blood, and other things against the course of nature, we reject these as fables not belonging to history. In like manner, when an historian, speaking of a character well known and established on satisfactory testimony, imputes to it things incompatible with that character, we reject them without hesitation, and assent to that only of which we have better evidence. Had Plutarch informed us that Cæsar and Cicero passed their whole lives in religious exercises, and abstinence from the affairs of the world, we should reject what was so inconsistent with their established characters, still crediting what he relates in conformity with our ideas of them. So again, the superlative wisdom of Socrates is testified by all antiquity, and placed on ground not to be questioned. When, therefore, Plato puts into his mouth such paralogisms, such quibbles on words, and sophisms as a school boy would be ashamed of, we conclude they were the whimsies of Plato's own foggy brain, and acquit Socrates of puerilities so unlike his character. (Speaking of Plato, I will add, that no writer, ancient or modern, has bewildered the world with more ignus fatui, than this renowned philosopher, in Ethics, in Politics, and Physics. In the latter, to specify a single example, compare his views of the animal economy, in his Timæus, with those of Mrs. Bryan in her Conversations on Chemistry, and weigh the science of the canonized philosopher against the good sense of the unassuming lady. But Plato's visions have furnished a basis for endless systems of mystical theology, and he is therefore all but adopted as a Christian saint. It is surely time for men to think for themselves, and to throw off the authority of names so artificially magnified. But to return from this parenthesis.) I say, that this free exercise of reason is all I ask for the vindication of the character of Jesus. We find in the writings of his biographers matter of two distinct descriptions. First, a groundwork of vulgar ignorance, of things 166 impossible, of superstitions, fanaticisms, and fabrications. Intermixed with these, again, are sublime ideas of the Supreme Being, aphorisms, and precepts of the purest morality and benevolence, sanctioned by a life of humility, innocence and simplicity of manners, neglect of riches, absence of worldly ambition and honors, with an eloquence and persuasiveness which have not been surpassed. These could not be inventions of the grovelling authors who relate them. They are far beyond the powers of their feeble minds. They show that there was a character, the subject of their history, whose splendid conceptions were above all suspicion of being interpolations from their hands. Can we be at a loss in separating such materials, and ascribing each to its genuine author? The difference is obvious to the eye and to the understanding, and we may read as we run to each his part; and I will venture to affirm, that he who, as I have done, will undertake to winnow this grain from the chaff, will find it not to require a moment's consideration. The parts fall asunder of themselves, as would those of an image of metal and clay.

There are, I acknowledge, passages not free from objection, which we may, with probability, ascribe to Jesus himself; but claiming indulgence from the circumstances under which he acted. His object was the reformation of some articles in the religion of the Jews, as taught by Moses. That sect had presented for the object of their worship, a being of terrific character, cruel, vindictive, capricious, and unjust. Jesus, taking for his type the best qualities of the human head and heart, wisdom, justice, goodness, and adding to them power, ascribed all of these, but in infinite perfection, to the Supreme Being, and formed him really worthy of their adoration. Moses had either not believed in a future state of existence, or had not thought it essential to be explicitly taught to his people. Jesus inculcated that doctrine with emphasis and precision. Moses had bound the Jews to many idle ceremonies, mummeries, and observances, of no effect towards producing the social utilities which constitute the essence of virtue; Jesus exposed their futility and insignificance. The one instilled into his people the most anti-social 167 spirit toward other nations; the other preached philanthropy and universal charity and benevolence. The office of reformer of the superstitions of a nation, is ever dangerous. Jesus had to walk on the perilous confines of reason and religion; and a step to right or left might place him within the grasp of the priests of the superstition, a blood-thirsty race, as cruel and remorseless as the being whom they represented as the family God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, and the local God of Israel. They were constantly laying snares, too, to entangle him in the web of the law. He was justifiable, therefore, in avoiding these by evasions, by sophisms, by misconstructions and misapplications of scraps of the prophets, and in defending himself with these their own weapons, as sufficient, ad homines, at least. That Jesus did not mean to impose himself on mankind as the son of God, physically speaking, I have been convinced by the writings of men more learned than myself in that lore. But that he might conscientiously believe himself inspired from above, is very possible. The whole religion of the Jew, inculcated on him from his infancy, was founded in the belief of divine inspiration. The fumes of the most disordered imaginations were recorded in their religious code, as special communications of the Deity; and as it could not but happen that, in the course of ages, events would now and then turn up to which some of these vague rhapsodies might be accommodated by the aid of allegories, figures, types, and other tricks upon words, they have not only preserved their credit with the Jews of all subsequent times, but are the foundation of much of the religions of those who have schismatised from them. Elevated by the enthusiasm of a warm and pure heart, conscious of the high strains of an eloquence which had not been taught him, he might readily mistake the coruscations of his own fine genius for inspirations of an higher order. This belief carried, therefore, no more personal imputation, than the belief of Socrates, that himself was under the care and admonitions of a guardian Dæmon. And how many of our wisest men still believe in the reality of these inspirations, while perfectly sane on all other subjects. Excusing, 168 therefore, on these considerations, those passages in the gospels which seem to bear marks of weakness in Jesus, ascribing to him what alone is consistent with the great and pure character of which the same writings furnish proofs, and to their proper authors their own trivialities and imbecilities. I think myself authorized to conclude the purity and distinction of his character, in opposition to the impostures which those authors would fix upon him; and that the postulate of my former letter is no more than is granted in all other historical works.

Mr. Correa is here, on his farewell visit to us. He has been much pleased with the plan and progress of our University, and has given some valuable hints to its botanical branch. He goes to do, I hope, much good in his new country; the public instruction there, as I understand, being within the department destined for him. He is not without dissatisfaction, and reasonable dissatisfaction too, with the piracies of Baltimore; but his justice and friendly dispositions will, I am sure, distinguish between the iniquities of a few plunderers, and the sound principles of our country at large, and of our government especially. From many conversations with him, I hope he sees, and will promote in his new situation, the advantages of a cordial fraternization among all the American nations, and the importance of their coalescing in an American system of policy, totally independent of and unconnected with that of Europe. The day is not distant, when we may formally require a meridian of partition through the ocean which separates the two hemispheres, on the hither side of which no European gun shall ever be heard, nor an American on the other; and when, during the rage of the eternal wars of Europe, the lion and the lamb, within our regions, shall lie down together in peace. The excess of population in Europe, and want of room, render war, in their opinion, necessary to keep down that excess of numbers. Here, room is abundant, population scanty, and peace the necessary means for producing men, to whom the redundant soil is offering the means of life and happiness. The principles of society there and here, then, are radically different, and I hope no American patriot will 169 ever lose sight of the essential policy of interdicting in the seas and territories of both Americas, the ferocious and sanguinary contests of Europe. I wish to see this coalition begun. I am earnest for an agreement with the maritime powers of Europe, assigning them the task of keeping down the piracies of their seas and the cannibalisms of the African coasts, and to us, the suppression of the same enormities within our seas; and for this purpose, I should rejoice to see the fleets of Brazil and the United States riding together as brethren of the same family, and pursuing the same object. And indeed it would be of happy augury to begin at once this concert of action here, on the invitation of either to the other government, while the way might be preparing for withdrawing our cruisers from Europe, and preventing naval collisions there which daily endanger our peace.

* * * * * * * *

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


Monticello, August 14, 1820.

Dear Sir,—Yours of the 24th ult. was received in due time, and I shall rejoice indeed if Mr. Elliot and Mr. Nulty are joined to you in the institution at Columbia, which now becomes of immediate interest to me. Mr. Stack has given notice to his first class that he shall dismiss them on the 10th of the next month, and his mathematical assistant also at the same time, being determined to take only small boys in future. My grandson, Eppes, is of the first class; and I have proposed to his father to send him to Columbia, rather than anywhere northwardly. I am obliged, therefore, to ask of you by what day he ought to be there, so as to be at the commencement of what they call a session, and to be so good as to do this by the first mail, as I shall set out to Bedford within about a fortnight. He is so far advanced in Greek and Latin that he will be able to pursue them by himself hereafter; and being between eighteen and nineteen 170 years of age he has no time to lose. I propose that he shall commence immediately with the mathematics and natural philosophy, to be followed by astronomy, chemistry, mineralogy, botany, natural history. It would be time lost for him to attend professors of ethics, metaphysics, logic, &c. The first of these may be as well acquired in the closet as from living lectures; and supposing the two last to mean the science of mind, the simple reading of Locke, Tracy, and Stewart, will give him as much in that branch as is real science. A relation of his (Mr. Baker) and classmate will go with him.

I hope and believe you are mistaken in supposing the reign of fanaticism to be on the advance. I think it certainly declining. It was first excited artificially by the sovereigns of Europe as an engine of opposition to Bonaparte and to France. It rose to a great height there, and became indeed a powerful engine of loyalism, and of support to their governments. But that loyalism is giving way to very different dispositions, and its prompter fanaticism, is vanishing with it. In the meantime it had been wafted across the Atlantic, and chiefly from England, with their other fashions, but it is here also on the wane. The ambitious sect of Presbyterians indeed, the Loyalists of our country, spare no pains to keep it up. But their views of ascendency over all other sects in the United States seem to excite alarm in all, and to unite them as against a common and threatening enemy. And although the Unitarianism they impute to you is heterodoxy with all of them, I suspect the other sects will admit it to their alliance in order to strengthen the phalanx of opposition against the enterprises of their more aspiring antagonists. Although spiritualism is most prevalent with all these sects, yet with none of them, I presume, is materialism declared heretical. Mr. Locke, on whose authority they often plume themselves, openly maintained the materialism of the soul; and charged with blasphemy those who denied that it was in the power of an Almighty Creator to endow with the faculty of thought any composition of matter he might think fit. The fathers of the church of the three first centuries generally, if not universally, were materialists, 171 extending it even to the Creator himself; nor indeed do I know exactly[5] in what age of the christian church the heresy of spiritualism was introduced. Huet, in his commentaries on Origen,[6] says, "Deus igitur, cui anima similis est, juxta Origenem, reapse corporalis est, sed graviorum tantum ratione corporum incorporeus."[7] St. Macari,[8] as speaking of angels says, "quam vis enim subtilia sint, tamen in substantia, forma, et figura, secundum tenuitatem naturæ eorum corpora sunt tenuia, quemadmodum et hoc corpus in substantia sua crassum et solidum est."[9] St. Justin martyr says expressly "το θειον φαμεν ειναι ασωματον, ουκ δε εστιν ασωματον."

Tertullian's words are, "quid enim Deus nisi corpus?" and again, "quis autem negabit Deum esse corpus? et si deus spiritus, spiritus etiam corpus est sui generis, in suâ effigie," and that the soul is matter he adduces the following tangible proof: "in ipso ultimo voluptatis aestu, quo genitale virus expellitur, nonne aliquid de animâ sentimus exire?"[10] The holy father thus asserting, and, as it would seem, from his own feelings, that the sperm infused into the female matrix deposits there the matter and germ of both soul and body, conjunctim, of the new fœtus. Although I do not pretend to be familiar with these fathers, and give the preceding quotations at second hand, yet I learn from authors whom I respect, that not only those I have named, but St. Augustin,[11] St. Basil, Lactantius, Tatian, Athenagoras, and others, concurred in the materiality of the soul. Our modern doctors would hardly venture or wish to condemn their fathers as heretics, the main pillars of their fabric resting on their shoulders.

In the consultations of the visitors of the university on the subject of releasing you from your engagement with us, although one or two members seemed alarmed at this cry of "fire" from the Presbyterian pulpits, yet the real ground of our decision was that our funds were in fact hypotheticated for five or six years to redeem the loan we had reluctantly made; and although we 172 hoped and trusted that the ensuing legislature would remit the debt and liberate our funds, yet it was not just, on this possibility, to stand in the way of your looking out for a more certain provision. The completing all our buildings for professors and students by the autumn of the ensuing year, is now secured by sufficient contracts, and our confidence is most strong that neither the State nor their legislature will bear to see those buildings shut up for five or six years, when they have the money in hand, and actually appropriated to the object of education, which would open their doors at once for the reception of their sons, now waiting and calling aloud for that institution. The legislature meets on the 1st Monday of December, and before Christmas we shall know what are their intentions. If such as we expect, we shall then immediately take measures to engage our professors and bring them into place the ensuing autumn or early winter. My hope is that you will be able and willing to keep yourself uncommitted, to take your place among them about that time; and I can assure you there is not a voice among us which will not be cordially given for it. I think, too, I may add, that if the Presbyterian opposition should not die by that time, it will be directed at once against the whole institution, and not amuse itself with nibbling at a single object. It did that only because there was no other, and they might think it politic to mask their designs on the body of the fortress, under the —— of a battery against a single bastion. I will not despair then of the avail of your services in an establishment which I contemplate as the future bulwark of the human mind in this hemisphere. God bless you and preserve you multos annos.


Monticello, August 15, 1820.

I am a great defaulter, my dear Sir, in our correspondence, but prostrate health rarely permits me to write; and when it does, matters of business imperiously press their claims. I am 173 getting better however, slowly, swelled legs being now the only serious symptom, and these, I believe, proceed from extreme debility. I can walk but little; but I ride six or eight miles a day without fatigue; and within a few days, I shall endeavor to visit my other home, after a twelvemonth's absence from it. Our University, four miles distant, gives me frequent exercise, and the oftener, as I direct its architecture. Its plan is unique, and it is becoming an object of curiosity for the traveller. I have lately had an opportunity of reading a critique on this institution in your North American Review of January last, having been not without anxiety to see what that able work would say of us; and I was relieved on finding in it much coincidence of opinion, and even where criticisms were indulged, I found they would have been obviated had the developments of our plan been fuller. But these were restrained by the character of the paper reviewed, being merely a report of outlines, not a detailed treatise, and addressed to a legislative body, not to a learned academy. For example, as an inducement to introduce the Anglo-Saxon into our plan, it was said that it would reward amply the few weeks of attention which alone would be requisite for its attainment; leaving both term and degree under an indefinite expression, because I know that not much time is necessary to attain it to an useful degree, sufficient to give such instruction in the etymologies of our language as may satisfy ordinary students, while more time would be requisite for those who should propose to attain a critical knowledge of it. In a letter which I had occasion to write to Mr. Crofts, who sent you, I believe, as well as myself, a copy of his treatise on the English and German languages, as preliminary to an etymological dictionary he meditated, I went into explanations with him of an easy process for simplifying the study of the Anglo-Saxon, and lessening the terrors and difficulties presented by its rude alphabet, and unformed orthography. But this is a subject beyond the bounds of a letter, as it was beyond the bounds of a report to the legislature. Mr. Crofts died, I believe, before any progress was made in the work he had projected.

174 The reviewer expresses doubt, rather than decision, on our placing military and naval architecture in the department of pure mathematics. Military architecture embraces fortification and fieldworks, which, with their bastions, curtains, hornworks, redoubts, &c., are based on a technical combination of lines and angles. These are adapted to offence and defence, with and against the effects of bombs, balls, escalades, &c. But lines and angles make the sum of elementary geometry, a branch of pure mathematics; and the direction of the bombs, balls, and other projectiles, the necessary appendages of military works, although no part of their architecture, belong to the conic sections, a branch of transcendental geometry. Diderot and D'Alembert, therefore, in their Arbor scientiæ, have placed military architecture in the department of elementary geometry. Naval architecture teaches the best form and construction of vessels; for which best form it has recourse to the question of the solid of least resistance; a problem of transcendental geometry. And its appurtenant projectiles belong to the same branch, as in the preceding case. It is true, that so far as respects the action of the water on the rudder and oars, and of the wind on the sails, it may be placed in the department of mechanics, as Diderot and D'Alembert have done; but belonging quite as much to geometry, and allied in its military character to military architecture, it simplified our plan to place both under the same head. These views are so obvious, that I am sure they would have required but a second thought, to reconcile the reviewer to their location under the head of pure mathematics. For this word location, see Bailey, Johnson, Sheridan, Walker, &c. But if dictionaries are to be the arbiters of language, in which of them shall we find neologism. No matter. It is a good word, well sounding, obvious, and expresses an idea, which would otherwise require circumlocution. The reviewer was justifiable, therefore, in using it; although he noted at the same time, as unauthoritative, centrality, grade, sparse; all which have been long used in common speech and writing. I am a friend to neology. It is the only way to give to a language copiousness and euphony. Without 175 it we should still be held to the vocabulary of Alfred or of Ulphilas; and held to their state of science also: for I am sure they had no words which could have conveyed the ideas of oxygen, cotyledons, zoophytes, magnetism, electricity, hyaline, and thousands of others expressing ideas not then existing, nor of possible communication in the state of their language. What a language has the French become since the date of their revolution, by the free introduction of new words! The most copious and eloquent in the living world; and equal to the Greek, had not that been regularly modifiable almost ad infinitum. Their rule was, that whenever their language furnished or adopted a root, all its branches, in every part of speech, were legitimated by giving them their appropriate terminations. Αδελφος, αδελφη, αδελφιδιον, αδελφοτης, αδελφιξις, αδελφιδους, αδελφικος, αδελφιζω, αδελφικως. And this should be the law of every language. Thus, having adopted the adjective fraternal, it is a root which should legitimate fraternity, fraternation, fraternisation, fraternism, to fraternate, fraternise, fraternally. And give the word neologism to our language, as a root, and it should give us its fellow substantives, neology, neologist, neologisation; its adjectives, neologous, neological, neologistical; its verb, neologise; and adverb, neologically. Dictionaries are but the depositories of words already legitimated by usage. Society is the workshop in which new ones are elaborated. When an individual uses a new word, if ill formed, it is rejected in society; if well formed, adopted, and after due time, laid up in the depository of dictionaries. And if, in this process of sound neologisation, our trans-Atlantic brethren shall not choose to accompany us, we may furnish, after the Ionians, a second example of a colonial dialect improving on its primitive.

But enough of criticism: let me turn to your puzzling letter of May the 12th, on matter, spirit, motion, &c. Its crowd of scepticisms kept me from sleep. I read it, and laid it down; read it, and laid it down, again and again; and to give rest to my mind, I was obliged to recur ultimately to my habitual anodyne, "I feel, therefore I exist." I feel bodies which are not myself: there are other existences then. I call them matter. I feel them changing 176 place. This gives me motion. Where there is an absence of matter, I call it void, or nothing, or immaterial space. On the basis of sensation, of matter and motion, we may erect the fabric of all the certainties we can have or need. I can conceive thought to be an action of a particular organization of matter, formed for that purpose by its creator, as well as that attraction is an action of matter, or magnetism of loadstone. When he who denies to the Creator the power of endowing matter with the mode of action called thinking, shall show how he could endow the sun with the mode of action called attraction, which reins the planets in the track of their orbits, or how an absence of matter can have a will, and by that will put matter into motion, then the Materialist may be lawfully required to explain the process by which matter exercises the faculty of thinking. When once we quit the basis of sensation, all is in the wind. To talk of immaterial existences, is to talk of nothings. To say that the human soul, angels, God, are immaterial, is to say, they are nothings, or that there is no God, no angels, no soul. I cannot reason otherwise: but I believe I am supported in my creed of materialism by the Lockes, the Tracys, and the Stewarts. At what age[12] of the Christian church this heresy of immaterialism, or masked atheism, crept in, I do not exactly know. But a heresy it certainly is. Jesus taught nothing of it. He told us, indeed, that "God is a spirit," but he has not defined what a spirit is, nor said that it is not matter. And the ancient fathers generally, of the three first centuries, held it to be matter, light and thin indeed, an etherial gas; but still matter. Origen says, "Deus se ipse corporalis est; sed graviorum tantum corporum ratione, incorporeus." Tertullian, "quid enim deus nisi corpus?" And again, "quis negabit deum esse corpus? Etsi deus spiritus, spiritus etiam corpus est, sui generis in sua effigie." St. Justin Martyr, "το θειον φαμεν ειναι ασωματον· ουχ 'οτι ασωματον'—επειδη δε το μη κρατεισθαι ὑπο τινος του κρατεισθαι τιμιωτερον εστι δια τουτο καλουμεν αυτον ασωματον." And St. Macarius, speaking of angels, says, "quamvis enim subtilia sint, tamen in substantia, forma et figurâ, secundum tenuitatem naturæ eorum, corpora sunt tenuia." 177 And St. Austin, St. Basil, Lactantius, Tatian, Athenagoras and others, with whose writings I pretend not a familiarity, are said by those who are better acquainted with them, to deliver the same doctrine. (Enfield x. 3, 1.) Turn to your Ocellus d'Argens, 97, 105, and to his Timæus 17, for these quotations. In England, these Immaterialists might have been burnt until the 29 Car. 2, when the writ de hæretico comburendo was abolished; and here until the Revolution, that statute not having extended to us. All heresies being now done away with us, these schismatists are merely atheists, differing from the material atheist only in their belief, that "nothing made something," and from the material deist, who believes that matter alone can operate on matter.

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


Monticello, September 28, 1820.

I thank you, Sir, for the copy of your Republican which you have been so kind as to send me, and I should have acknowledged it sooner but that I am just returned home after a long absence. I have not yet had time to read it seriously, but in 178 looking over it cursorily I see much in it to approve, and shall be glad if it shall lead our youth to the practice of thinking on such subjects and for themselves. That it will have this tendency may be expected, and for that reason I feel an urgency to note what I deem an error in it, the more requiring notice as your opinion is strengthened by that of many others. You seem, in pages 84 and 148, to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions; a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men, and not more so. They have, with others, the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps. Their maxim is "boni judicis est ampliare jurisdictionem," and their power the more dangerous as they are in office for life, and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. The constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots. It has more wisely made all the departments co-equal and co-sovereign within themselves. If the legislature fails to pass laws for a census, for paying the judges and other officers of government, for establishing a militia, for naturalization as prescribed by the constitution, or if they fail to meet in congress, the judges cannot issue their mandamus to them; if the President fails to supply the place of a judge, to appoint other civil or military officers, to issue requisite commissions, the judges cannot force him. They can issue their mandamus or distringas to no executive or legislative officer to enforce the fulfilment of their official duties, any more than the president or legislature may issue orders to the judges or their officers. Betrayed by English example, and unaware, as it should seem, of the control of our constitution in this particular, they have at times overstepped their limit by undertaking to command executive officers in the discharge of their executive duties; but the constitution, in keeping three departments distinct and independent, restrains the authority of the judges to judiciary organs, as it does the executive and legislative to executive and legislative 179 organs. The judges certainly have more frequent occasion to act on constitutional questions, because the laws of meum and tuum and of criminal action, forming the great mass of the system of law, constitute their particular department. When the legislative or executive functionaries act unconstitutionally, they are responsible to the people in their elective capacity. The exemption of the judges from that is quite dangerous enough. I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power. Pardon me, Sir, for this difference of opinion. My personal interest in such questions is entirely extinct, but not my wishes for the longest possible continuance of our government on its pure principles; if the three powers maintain their mutual independence on each other it may last long, but not so if either can assume the authorities of the other. I ask your candid re-consideration of this subject, and am sufficiently sure you will form a candid conclusion. Accept the assurance of my great respect.


Monticello, September 30, 1820.

Dear Sir,—An absence of some time from home has occasioned me to be thus late in acknowledging the receipt of your favor of the 6th, and I see in it with pleasure evidences of your continued health and application to business. It is now, I believe, about twenty years since I had the pleasure of seeing you, and we are apt, in such cases, to lose sight of time, and to conceive that our friends remain stationary at the same point of health and vigor as when we last saw them. So I perceive by your letter you think with respect to myself, but twenty years added to fifty-seven make quite a different man. To threescore and seventeen add two years of prostrate health, and you have the old, 180 infirm, and nerveless body I now am, unable to write but with pain, and unwilling to think without necessity. In this state I leave the world and its affairs to the young and energetic, and resign myself to their care, of whom I have endeavored to take care when young. I read but one newspaper and that of my own State, and more for its advertisements than its news. I have not read a speech in Congress for some years. I have heard, indeed, of the questions of the tariff and Missouri, and formed primâ facie opinions on them, but without investigation. As to the tariff, I should say put down all banks, admit none but a metallic circulation, that will take its proper level with the like circulation in other countries, and then our manufacturers may work in fair competition with those of other countries, and the import duties which the government may lay for the purposes of revenue will so far place them above equal competition. The Missouri question is a mere party trick. The leaders of federalism, defeated in their schemes of obtaining power by rallying partisans to the principle of monarchism, a principle of personal not of local division, have changed their tack, and thrown out another barrel to the whale. They are taking advantage of the virtuous feelings of the people to effect a division of parties by a geographical line; they expect that this will ensure them, on local principles, the majority they could never obtain on principles of federalism; but they are still putting their shoulder to the wrong wheel; they are wasting Jeremiads on the miseries of slavery, as if we were advocates for it. Sincerity in their declamations should direct their efforts to the true point of difficulty, and unite their counsels with ours in devising some reasonable and practicable plan of getting rid of it. Some of these leaders, if they could attain the power, their ambition would rather use it to keep the Union together, but others have ever had in view its separation. If they push it to that, they will find the line of separation very different from their 36° of latitude, and as manufacturing and navigating States, they will have quarrelled with their bread and butter, and I fear not that after a little trial they will think better of it, and return to the embraces of their natural 181 and best friends. But this scheme of party I leave to those who are to live under its consequences. We who have gone before have performed an honest duty, by putting in the power of our successors a state of happiness which no nation ever before had within their choice. If that choice is to throw it away, the dead will have neither the power nor the right to control them. I must hope, nevertheless, that the mass of our honest and well-meaning brethren of the other States, will discover the use which designing leaders are making of their best feelings, and will see the precipice to which they are lead, before they take the fatal leap. God grant it, and to you health and happiness.


Monticello, October 20, 1820.

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

I send this letter open to my correspondent in Richmond, Captain Bernard Peyton, with a request that he will put into it a bill of exchange on London of £40 sterling, which of course, therefore, I cannot describe to you by naming drawer and drawee. He will also forward, by other conveyance, the duplicate and triplicate as usual. This sum would more than cover the cost of the books written for, according to their prices stated in printed catalogues; but as books have risen with other things in price, 182 I have enlarged the printed amount by about 15 per cent. to cover any rise. Still, should it be insufficient, the bookseller is requested to dock the catalogue to the amount of the remittance.

I have no news to give you; for I have none but from the newspapers, and believing little of that myself, it would be an unworthy present to my friends. But the important news lies now on your side of the Atlantic. England, in throes from a trifle, as it would seem, but that trifle the symptom of an irremediable disease proceeding from a long course of exhaustion by efforts and burthens beyond her natural strength; France agonizing between royalists and constitutionalists; the other States of Europe pressing on to revolution and the rights of man, and the colossal powers of Russia and Austria marshalled against them. These are more than specks of hurricane in the horizon of the world. You, who are young, may live to see its issue; the beginning only is for my time. Nor is our side of the water entirely untroubled, the boisterous sea of liberty is never without a wave. A hideous evil, the magnitude of which is seen, and at a distance only, by the one party, and more sorely felt and sincerely deplored by the other, from the difficulty of the cure, divides us at this moment too angrily. The attempt by one party to prohibit willing States from sharing the evil, is thought by the other to render desperate, by accumulation, the hope of its final eradication. If a little time, however, is given to both parties to cool, and to dispel their visionary fears, they will see that concurring in sentiment as to the evil, moral and political, the duty and interest of both is to concur also in divining a practicable process of cure. Should time not be given, and the schism be pushed to separation, it will be for a short term only; two or three years trial will bring them back, like quarrelling lovers to renewed embraces, and increased affections. The experiment of separation would soon prove to both that they had mutually miscalculated their best interests. And even were the parties in Congress to secede in a passion, the soberer people would call a convention and cement again the severance attempted by the insanity of their functionaries. With 183 this consoling view, my greatest grief would be for the fatal effect of such an event on the hopes and happiness of the world. We exist, and are quoted, as standing proofs that a government, so modelled as to rest continually on the will of the whole society, is a practicable government. Were we to break to pieces, it would damp the hopes and the efforts of the good, and give triumph to those of the bad through the whole enslaved world. As members, therefore, of the universal society of mankind, and standing in high and responsible relation with them, it is our sacred duty to suppress passion among ourselves, and not to blast the confidence we have inspired of proof that a government of reason is better than one of force. This letter is not of facts but of opinions, as you will observe; and although the converse is generally the most acceptable, I do not know that, in your situation, the opinions of your countrymen may not be as desirable to be known to you as facts. They constitute, indeed, moral facts, as important as physical ones to the attention of the public functionary. Wishing you a long career to the services you may render your country, and that it may be a career of happiness and prosperity to yourself, I salute you with affectionate attachment and respect.


Monticello, October 24, 1820.

Your kind letter, dear Sir, of October 12th, was handed to me by Dr. Cooper, and was the first correction of an erroneous belief that you had long since left our shores. Such had been Colonel Randolph's opinion, and his had governed mine. I received your adieu with feelings of sincere regret at the loss we were to sustain, and particularly of those friendly visits by which you had made me so happy. I shall feel, too, the want of your counsel and approbation in what we are doing and have yet to do in our University, the last of my mortal cares, and the last service I can render my country. But turning from myself, throwing egotism behind me, and looking to your happiness, it 184 is a duty and consolation of friendship to consider that that may be promoted by your return to your own country. There I hope you will receive the honors and rewards you merit, and which may make the rest of your life easy and happy; there too you will render precious services by promoting the science of your country, and blessing its future generations with the advantages that bestows. Nor even there shall we lose all the benefits of your friendship; for this motive, as well as the love of your own country, will be an incitement to promote that intimate harmony between our two nations which is so much the interest of both. Nothing is so important as that America shall separate herself from the systems of Europe, and establish one of her own. Our circumstances, our pursuits, our interests, are distinct, the principles of our policy should be so also. All entanglements with that quarter of the globe should be avoided if we mean that peace and justice shall be the polar stars of the American societies. I had written a letter to a friend while you were here, in a part of which these sentiments were expressed, and I had made an extract from it to put into your hands, as containing my creed on that subject. You had left us, however, in the morning earlier than I had been aware; still I enclose it to you, because it would be a leading principle with me, had I longer to live. During six and thirty years that I have been in situations to attend to the conduct and characters of foreign nations, I have found the government of Portugal the most just, inoffensive and unambitious of any one with which we had concern, without a single exception. I am sure that this is the character of ours also. Two such nations can never wish to quarrel with each other. Subordinate officers may be negligent, may have their passions and partialities, and be criminally remiss in preventing the enterprises of the lawless banditti who are to be found in every seaport of every country. The late piratical depredations which your commerce has suffered as well as ours, and that of other nations, seem to have been committed by renegado rovers of several nations, French, English, American, which they as well as we have not been careful enough to suppress. I hope our Congress 185 now about to meet will strengthen the measures of suppression. Of their disposition to do it there can be no doubt; for all men of moral principle must be shocked at these atrocities. I had repeated conversations on this subject with the President while at his seat in this neighborhood. No man can abhor these enormities more deeply. I trust it will not have been in the power of abandoned rovers, nor yet of negligent functionaries, to disturb the harmony of two nations so much disposed to mutual friendship, and interested in it. To this, my dear friend, you can be mainly instrumental, and I know your patriotism and philanthropy too well to doubt your best efforts to cement us. In these I pray for your success, and that heaven may long preserve you in health and prosperity to do all the good to mankind to which your enlightened and benevolent mind disposes you. Of the continuance of my affectionate friendship, with that of my life, and of its fervent wishes for your happiness, accept my sincere assurance.


Monticello, November 4, 1820.

Sir,—Your favor of September 18th is just received, with the book accompanying it. Its delay was owing to that of the box of books from Mr. Guegan, in which it was packed. Being just setting out on a journey I have time only to look over the summary of contents. In this I see nothing in which I am likely to differ materially from you. I hold the precepts of Jesus, as delivered by himself, to be the most pure, benevolent, and sublime which have ever been preached to man. I adhere to the principles of the first age; and consider all subsequent innovations as corruptions of his religion, having no foundation in what came from him. The metaphysical insanities of Athanasius, of Loyola, and of Calvin, are, to my understanding, mere relapses into polytheism, differing from paganism only by being more unintelligible. The religion of Jesus is founded in the 186 Unity of God, and this principle chiefly, gave it triumph over the rabble of heathen gods then acknowledged. Thinking men of all nations rallied readily to the doctrine of one only God, and embraced it with the pure morals which Jesus inculcated. If the freedom of religion, guaranteed to us by law in theory, can ever rise in practice under the overbearing inquisition of public opinion, truth will prevail over fanaticism, and the genuine doctrines of Jesus, so long perverted by his pseudo-priests, will again be restored to their original purity. This reformation will advance with the other improvements of the human mind, but too late for me to witness it. Accept my thanks for your book, in which I shall read with pleasure your developments of the subject, and with them the assurance of my high respect.


Poplar Forest, November 28, 1820.

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

Surely Governor Clinton's display of the gigantic efforts of 187 New York towards the education of her citizens, will stimulate the pride as well as the patriotism of our legislature, to look to the reputation and safety of their own country, to rescue it from the degradation of becoming the Barbary of the Union, and of falling into the ranks of our own negroes. To that condition it is fast sinking. We shall be in the hands of the other States, what our indigenous predecessors were when invaded by the science and arts of Europe. The mass of education in Virginia, before the Revolution, placed her with the foremost of her sister colonies. What is her education now? Where is it? The little we have we import, like beggars, from other States; or import their beggars to bestow on us their miserable crumbs. And what is wanting to restore us to our station among our confederates? Not more money from the people. Enough has been raised by them, and appropriated to this very object. It is that it should be employed understandingly, and for their greatest good. That good requires, that while they are instructed in general, competently to the common business of life, others should employ their genius with necessary information to the useful arts, to inventions for saving labor and increasing our comforts, to nourishing our health, to civil government, military science, &c.

Would it not have a good effect for the friends of this University to take the lead in proposing and effecting a practical scheme of elementary schools? To assume the character of the friends, rather than the opponents of that object. The present plan has appropriated to the primary schools forty-five thousand dollars for three years, making one hundred and thirty-five thousand dollars. I should be glad to know if this sum has educated one hundred and thirty-five poor children? I doubt it much. And if it has, they have cost us one thousand dollars a piece for what might have been done with thirty dollars. Supposing the literary revenue to be sixty thousand dollars, I think it demonstrable, that this sum, equally divided between the two objects, would amply suffice for both. One hundred counties, divided into about twelve wards each, on an average, and a school in 188 each ward of perhaps ten children, would be one thousand and two hundred schools, distributed proportionably over the surface of the State. The inhabitants of each ward, meeting together (as when they work on the roads), building good log houses for their school and teacher, and contributing for his provisions, rations of pork, beef, and corn, in the proportion each of his other taxes, would thus lodge and feed him without feeling it; and those of them who are able, paying for the tuition of their own children, would leave no call on the public fund but for the tuition fee of, here and there, an accidental pauper, who would still be fed and lodged with his parents. Suppose this fee ten dollars, and three hundred dollars apportioned to a county on an average, (more or less proportioned,) would there be thirty such paupers for every county? I think not. The truth is, that the want of common education with us is not from our poverty, but from want of an orderly system. More money is now paid for the education of a part, than would be paid for that of the whole, if systematically arranged. Six thousand common schools in New York, fifty pupils in each, three hundred thousand in all; one hundred and sixty thousand dollars annually paid to the masters; forty established academies, with two thousand two hundred and eighteen pupils; and five colleges, with seven hundred and eighteen students; to which last classes of institutions seven hundred and twenty thousand dollars have been given; and the whole appropriations for education estimated at two and a half millions of dollars! What a pigmy to this is Virginia become, with a population almost equal to that of New York! And whence this difference? From the difference their rulers set on the value of knowledge, and the prosperity it produces. But still, if a pigmy, let her do what a pigmy may do. If among fifty children in each of the six thousand schools of New York, there are only paupers enough to employ twenty-five dollars of public money to each school, surely among the ten children of each of our one thousand and two hundred schools, the same sum of twenty-five dollars to each school will teach its paupers, (five times as much as to the same number in New York,) and 189 will amount for the whole to thirty thousand dollars a year, the one-half only of our literary revenue.

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

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

Accept the assurances of my constant and affectionate esteem and respect. 190


Poplar Forest, November 29, 1820.

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

F. Gilmer has communicated to me Mr. Correa's letter to him of adieux to his friends here, among whom he names most affectionately Mrs. Madison and yourself. No foreigner, I believe, has ever carried with him more friendly regrets. He was to sail the next day (November 10) in the British packet for England, and thence take his passage in January for Brazil. His present views are of course liable to be affected by the events of Portugal, and 191 the possible effects of their example on Brazil. I expect to return to Monticello about the middle of the ensuing month, and salute you with constant affection and respect.


Monticello, December 25, 1820.

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

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

But to return to your letter; you ask for my opinion of the work you send me, and to let it go out to the public. This I have ever made a point of declining, (one or two instances only 193 excepted.) Complimentary thanks to writers who have sent me their works, have betrayed me sometimes before the public, without my consent having been asked. But I am far from presuming to direct the reading of my fellow citizens, who are good enough judges themselves of what is worthy their reading. I am, also, too desirous of quiet to place myself in the way of contention. Against this I am admonished by bodily decay, which cannot be unaccompanied by corresponding wane of the mind. Of this I am as yet sensible, sufficiently to be unwilling to trust myself before the public, and when I cease to be so, I hope that my friends will be too careful of me to draw me forth and present me, like a Priam in armor, as a spectacle for public compassion. I hope our political bark will ride through all its dangers; but I can in future be but an inert passenger.

I salute you with sentiments of great friendship and respect.


Monticello, December 26, 1820.

It is long, indeed, my very dear friend, since I have been able to address a letter to you. For more than two years my health has been so entirely prostrate, that I have, of necessity, intermitted all correspondence. The dislocated wrist, too, which perhaps you may recollect, has now become so stiff from the effects of age, that writing is become a slow and painful operation, and scarcely ever undertaken but under the goad of imperious business. In the meantime your country has been going on less well than I had hoped. But it will go on. The light which has been shed on the mind of man through the civilized world, has given it a new direction, from which no human power can divert it. The sovereigns of Europe who are wise, or have wise counsellors, see this, and bend to the breeze which blows; the unwise alone stiffen and meet its inevitable crush. The volcanic rumblings in the bowels of Europe, from north to south, seem to 194 threaten a general explosion, and the march of armies into Italy cannot end in a simple march. The disease of liberty is catching; those armies will take it in the south, carry it thence to their own country, spread there the infection of revolution and representative government, and raise its people from the prone condition of brutes to the erect altitude of man. Some fear our envelopment in the wars engendering from the unsettled state of our affairs with Spain, and therefore are anxious for a ratification of our treaty with her. I fear no such thing, and hope that if ratified by Spain it will be rejected here. We may justly say to Spain, "when this negotiation commenced, twenty years ago, your authority was acknowledged by those you are selling to us. That authority is now renounced, and their right of self-disposal asserted. In buying them from you, then, we buy but a war-title, a right to subdue them, which you can neither convey nor we acquire. This is a family quarrel in which we have no right to meddle. Settle it between yourselves, and we will then treat with the party whose right is acknowledged." With whom that will be, no doubt can be entertained. And why should we revolt them by purchasing them as cattle, rather than receiving them as fellow-men? Spain has held off until she sees they are lost to her, and now thinks it better to get something than nothing for them. When she shall see South America equally desperate, she will be wise to sell that also.

With us things are going on well. The boisterous sea of liberty indeed is never without a wave, and that from Missouri is now rolling towards us, but we shall ride over it as we have over all others. It is not a moral question, but one merely of power. Its object is to raise a geographical principle for the choice of a president, and the noise will be kept up till that is effected. All know that permitting the slaves of the south to spread into the west will not add one being to that unfortunate condition, that it will increase the happiness of those existing, and by spreading them over a larger surface, will dilute the evil everywhere, and facilitate the means of getting finally rid of it, an event more anxiously wished by those on whom it presses than by the noisy 195 pretenders to exclusive humanity. In the meantime, it is a ladder for rivals climbing to power.

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

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


Monticello, December 27, 1820.

Dear Sir,—Your letter received more than a twelvemonth ago, with the two tracts on penal jurisprudence, and the literary institution of Liverpool, ought long since to have called for the thanks I now return, had it been in my power sooner to have tendered them. But a long continuance of ill health has suspended all power of answering the kind attentions with which I have been honored during it; and it is only now that a state of slow and uncertain convalescence enables me to make acknowledgments which have been so long and painfully delayed. The treatise on penal jurisprudence I read with great pleasure. Beccaria had demonstrated general principles, but practical applications were difficult. Our States are trying them with more or less success; and the great light you have thrown on the subject will, I am sure, be useful to our experiment. For the thing, as 196 yet, is but in experiment. Your Liverpool institution will also aid us in the organization of our new University, an establishment now in progress in this State, and to which my remaining days and faculties will be devoted. When ready for its Professors, we shall apply for them chiefly to your island. Were we content to remain stationary in science, we should take them from among ourselves; but, desirous of advancing, we must seek them in countries already in advance; and identity of language points to our best resource. To furnish inducements, we provide for the Professors separate buildings, in which themselves and their families may be handsomely and comfortably lodged, and to liberal salaries will be added lucrative perquisites. This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.

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

"Resembles ocean into tempest wrought,

To waft a feather, or to drown a fly."

There must be something in these agitations more than meets the eye of a distant spectator. Your queen must be used in this as a rallying point merely, around which are gathering the discontents of every quarter and character. If these flowed from theories of government only, and if merely from the heads of speculative men, they would admit of parley, of negotiation, of management. But I fear they are the workings of hungry bellies, which nothing but food will fill and quiet. I sincerely wish you safely out of them. Circumstances have nourished between our kindred countries angry dispositions which both ought long since to have banished from their bosoms. I have ever considered a cordial affection as the first interest of both. No nation on earth can hurt us so much as yours, none be more useful to you than ours. The obstacle, we have believed, was in the obstinate and unforgiving temper of your late king, and a continuance 197 of his prejudices kept up from habit, after he was with drawn from power. I hope I now see symptoms of sounder views in your government; in which I know it will be cordially met by ours, as it would have been by every administration which has existed under our present constitution. None desired it more cordially than myself, whatever different opinions were impressed on your government by a party who wishes to have its weight in their scale as its exclusive friends.

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


Monticello, January 19, 1821.

Dear Francis,—Your letter of the 1st came safely to hand. I am sorry you have lost Mr. Elliot, however the kindness of Dr. Cooper will be able to keep you in the track of what is worthy of your time.

You ask my opinion of Lord Bolingbroke and Thomas Paine. They were alike in making bitter enemies of the priests and pharisees of their day. Both were honest men; both advocates for human liberty. Paine wrote for a country which permitted him to push his reasoning to whatever length it would go. Lord Bolingbroke in one restrained by a constitution, and by public opinion. He was called indeed a tory; but his writings prove him a stronger advocate for liberty than any of his countrymen, the whigs of the present day. Irritated by his exile, he committed one act unworthy of him, in connecting himself momentarily with a prince rejected by his country. But he redeemed that single act by his establishment of the principles which proved it to be wrong. These two persons differed remarkably in the 198 style of their writing, each leaving a model of what is most perfect in both extremes of the simple and the sublime. No writer has exceeded Paine in ease and familiarity of style, in perspicuity of expression, happiness of elucidation, and in simple and unassuming language. In this he may be compared with Dr. Franklin; and indeed his Common Sense was, for awhile, believed to have been written by Dr. Franklin, and published under the borrowed name of Paine, who had come over with him from England. Lord Bolingbroke's, on the other hand, is a style of the highest order. The lofty, rhythmical, full-flowing eloquence of Cicero. Periods of just measure, their members proportioned, their close full and round. His conceptions, too, are bold and strong, his diction copious, polished and commanding as his subject. His writings are certainly the finest samples in the English language, of the eloquence proper for the Senate. His political tracts are safe reading for the most timid religionist, his philosophical, for those who are not afraid to trust their reason with discussions of right and wrong.

You have asked my opinion of these persons, and, to you, I have given it freely. But, remember, that I am old, that I wish not to make new enemies, nor to give offence to those who would consider a difference of opinion as sufficient ground for unfriendly dispositions. God bless you, and make you what I wish you to be.


Monticello, January 19, 1821.

Dear Sir,—I duly received your favor of the 11th, covering Judge Roane's letter, which I now return. Of the kindness of his sentiments expressed towards myself I am highly sensible; and could I believe that my public services had merited the approbation he so indulgently bestows, the satisfaction I should derive from it would be reward enough to his wish that I would take a part in the transactions of the present day. I am sensible 199 of my incompetence. For first, I know little about them, having long withdrawn my attention from public affairs, and resigned myself with folded arms to the care of those who are to care for us all. And, next, the hand of time pressing heavily on me, in mind as well as body, leaves to neither sufficient energy to engage in public contentions. I am sensible of the inroads daily making by the federal, into the jurisdiction of its co-ordinate associates, the State governments. The legislative and executive branches may sometimes err, but elections and dependence will bring them to rights. The judiciary branch is the instrument which, working like gravity, without intermission, is to press us at last into one consolidated mass. Against this I know no one who, equally with Judge Roane himself, possesses the power and the courage to make resistance; and to him I look, and have long looked, as our strongest bulwark. If Congress fails to shield the States from dangers so palpable and so imminent, the States must shield themselves, and meet the invader foot to foot. This is already half done by Colonel Taylor's book; because a conviction that we are right accomplishes half the difficulty of correcting wrong. This book is the most effectual retraction of our government to its original principles which has ever yet been sent by heaven to our aid. Every State in the Union should give a copy to every member they elect, as a standing instruction, and ours should set the example. Accept with Mrs. Thweat the assurance of my affectionate and respectful attachment.


Monticello, January 22, 1821.

I was quite rejoiced, dear Sir, to see that you had health and spirits enough to take part in the late convention of your State, for revising its constitution, and to bear your share in its debates and labors. The amendments of which we have as yet heard, prove the advance of liberalism in the intervening period; and 200 encourage a hope that the human mind will some day get back to the freedom it enjoyed two thousand years ago. This country, which has given to the world the example of physical liberty, owes to it that of moral emancipation also, for as yet it is but nominal with us. The inquisition of public opinion overwhelms in practice, the freedom asserted by the laws in theory.

Our anxieties in this quarter are all concentrated in the question, what does the Holy Alliance in and out of Congress mean to do with us on the Missouri question? And this, by-the-bye, is but the name of the case, it is only the John Doe or Richard Roe of the ejectment. The real question, as seen in the States afflicted with this unfortunate population, is, are our slaves to be presented with freedom and a dagger? For if Congress has the power to regulate the conditions of the inhabitants of the States, within the States, it will be but another exercise of that power, to declare that all shall be free. Are we then to see again Athenian and Lacedemonian confederacies? To wage another Peloponnesian war to settle the ascendency between them? Or is this the tocsin of merely a servile war? That remains to be seen; but not, I hope, by you or me. Surely, they will parley awhile, and give us time to get out of the way. What a Bedlamite is man? But let us turn from our own uneasiness to the miseries of our southern friends. Bolivar and Morillo, it seems, have come to the parley, with dispositions at length to stop the useless effusion of human blood in that quarter. I feared from the beginning, that these people were not yet sufficiently enlightened for self-government; and that after wading through blood and slaughter, they would end in military tyrannies, more or less numerous. Yet as they wished to try the experiment, I wished them success in it; they have now tried it, and will possibly find that their safest road will be an accommodation with the mother country, which shall hold them together by the single link of the same chief magistrate, leaving to him power enough to keep them in peace with one another, and to themselves the essential power of self-government and self-improvement, until they shall be sufficiently trained by education and habits of freedom, to 201 walk safely by themselves. Representative government, native functionaries, a qualified negative on their laws, with a previous security by compact for freedom of commerce, freedom of the press, habeas corpus and trial by jury, would make a good beginning. This last would be the school in which their people might begin to learn the exercise of civic duties as well as rights. For freedom of religion they are not yet prepared. The scales of bigotry have not sufficiently fallen from their eyes, to accept it for themselves individually, much less to trust others with it. But that will come in time, as well as a general ripeness to break entirely from the parent stem. You see, my dear Sir, how easily we prescribe for others a cure for their difficulties, while we cannot cure our own. We must leave both, I believe, to heaven, and wrap ourselves up in the mantle of resignation, and of that friendship of which I tender to you the most sincere assurances.


Monticello, January 31, 1821.

Dear Sir,—Your favors of the 18th and 25th came together, three days ago. They fill me with gloom as to the dispositions of our legislature towards the University. I perceive that I am not to live to see it opened. As to what had better be done within the limits of their will, I trust with entire confidence to what yourself, Gen. Breckenridge and Mr. Johnson shall think best. You will see what is practicable, and give it such shape as you think best. If a loan is to be resorted to, I think sixty thousand dollars will be necessary, including the library. Its instalments cannot begin until those of the former loan are accomplished; and they should not begin later, nor be less than thirteen thousand dollars a year. (I think it safe to retain two thousand dollars a year for care of the buildings, improvement of the grounds, and unavoidable contingencies.) To extinguish this second loan, will require between five and six instalments, which will carry us to the end of 1833, or thirteen years from 202 this time. My individual opinion is, that we had better not open the institution until the buildings, library, and all, are finished, and our funds cleared of incumbrance. Those buildings once erected, will secure the full object infallibly at the end of thirteen years, and as much earlier as the legislature shall choose. And if we were to begin sooner, with half funds only, it would satisfy the common mind, prevent their aid beyond that point, and our institution remaining at that forever, would be no more than the paltry academies we now have. Even with the whole funds we shall be reduced to six professors. While Harvard will still prime it over us with her twenty professors. How many of our youths she now has, learning the lessons of anti-Missourianism, I know not; but a gentleman lately from Princeton, told me he saw there the list of the students at that place, and that more than half were Virginians. These will return home, no doubt, deeply impressed with the sacred principles of our Holy Alliance of restrictionists.

But the gloomiest of all prospects, is in the desertion of the best friends of the institution, for desertion I must call it. I know not the necessities which may force this on you. General Cocke, you say, will explain them to me; but I cannot conceive them, nor persuade myself they are uncontrollable. I have ever hoped, that yourself, Gen. Breckenridge and Mr. Johnson would stand at your posts in the legislature, until everything was effected, and the institution opened. If it is so difficult to get along with all the energy and influence of our present colleagues in the legislature, how can we expect to proceed at all, reducing our moving power? I know well your devotion to your country, and your foresight of the awful scenes coming on her, sooner or later. With this foresight, what service can we ever render her equal to this? What object of our lives can we propose so important? What interest of our own which ought not to be postponed to this? Health, time, labor, on what in the single life which nature has given us, can these be better bestowed than on this immortal boon to our country? The exertions and the mortifications are temporary; the benefit eternal. If any member of 203 our college of visitors could justifiably withdraw from this sacred duty, it would be myself, who, quadragenis stipendiis jamdudum peractis, have neither vigor of body nor mind left to keep the field; but I will die in the last ditch, and so I hope you will, my friend, as well as our firm-breasted brothers and colleagues, Mr. Johnson and Gen. Breckenridge. Nature will not give you a second life wherein to atone for the omissions of this. Pray then, dear and very dear Sir, do not think of deserting us, but view the sacrifices which seem to stand in your way, as the lesser duties, and such as ought to be postponed to this, the greatest of all. Continue with us in these holy labors, until having seen their accomplishment, we may say with old Simeon, "nunc dimittas, Domine." Under all circumstances, however, of praise or blame, I shall be affectionately yours.


Monticello, February 13, 1821.

I am favored, Sir, with your letter of January 26th, and am duly sensible of the honor proposed of giving to my portrait a place among the benefactors of our nation, and of the establishment of West Point in particular. I have ever considered that establishment as of major importance to our country, and in whatever I could do for it, I viewed myself as performing a duty only. This is certainly more than requited by the kind sentiments expressed in your letter. The real debt of the institution is to its able and zealous professors. Mr. Sully, I fear, however, will consider the trouble of his journey, and the employment of his fine pencil, as illy bestowed on an ottamy of 78. Voltaire, when requested by a female friend to sit for his bust by the sculptor Pigalle, answered, "J'ai soixante seize ans; et M. Pigalle doit, dit-on venir modeler mon visage. Mais, Madame, il faudrait que j'eusse un visage. On n'en devinerait à peine la place mes yeux sont enfonces de trois pouces; mes joues sont de vieux parchemin mal collés sur des os qui ne tiennent à rien. Le peu 204 de dents que j'avais est parti." I will conclude, however, with him, that what remains is at your service, and that of the pencil of Mr. Sully. I shall be at home till the middle of April, when I shall go for some time to an occasional and distant residence. Within this term Mr. Sully will be pleased to consult his own convenience, in which the state of the roads will of course have great weight. Every day of it will be equal with me.

I pray you, Sir, to convey to the brethren of your institution, and to accept for yourself also, the assurance of my high consideration and regard.


Monticello, February 15, 1821.

Dear Sir,—I learn, with deep affliction, that nothing is likely to be done for our University this year. So near as it is to the shore that one shove more would land it there, I had hoped that would be given; and that we should open with the next year an institution on which the fortunes of our country may depend more than may meet the general eye. The reflections that the boys of this age are to be the men of the next; that they should be prepared to receive the holy charge which we are cherishing to deliver over to them; that in establishing an institution of wisdom for them, we secure it to all our future generations; that in fulfilling this duty, we bring home to our own bosoms the sweet consolation of seeing our sons rising under a luminous tuition, to destinies of high promise; these are considerations which will occur to all; but all, I fear, do not see the speck in our horizon which is to burst on us as a tornado, sooner or later. The line of division lately marked out between different portions of our confederacy, is such as will never, I fear, be obliterated, and we are now trusting to those who are against us in position and principle, to fashion to their own form the minds and affections of our youth. If, as has been estimated, we send three hundred thousand dollars a year to the northern seminaries, for the instruction 205 of our own sons, then we must have there five hundred of our sons, imbibing opinions and principles in discord with those of their own country. This canker is eating on the vitals of our existence, and if not arrested at once, will be beyond remedy. We are now certainly furnishing recruits to their school. If it be asked what are we to do, or said we cannot give the last lift to the University without stopping our primary schools, and these we think most important; I answer, I know their importance. Nobody can doubt my zeal for the general instruction of the people. Who first started that idea? I may surely say, myself. Turn to the bill in the revised code, which I drew more than forty years ago, and before which the idea of a plan for the education of the people, generally, had never been suggested in this State. There you will see developed the first rudiments of the whole system of general education we are now urging and acting on; and it is well known to those with whom I have acted on this subject, that I never have proposed a sacrifice of the primary to the ultimate grade of instruction. Let us keep our eye steadily on the whole system. If we cannot do everything at once, let us do one at a time. The primary schools need no preliminary expense; the ultimate grade requires a considerable expenditure in advance. A suspension of proceeding for a year or two on the primary schools, and an application of the whole income, during that time, to the completion of the buildings necessary for the University, would enable us then to start both institutions at the same time. The intermediate branch, of colleges, academies and private classical schools, for the middle grade, may hereafter receive any necessary aids when the funds shall become competent. In the meantime, they are going on sufficiently, as they have ever yet gone on, at the private expense of those who use them, and who in numbers and means are competent to their own exigencies. The experience of three years has, I presume, left no doubt that the present plan of primary schools, of putting money into the hands of twelve hundred persons acting for nothing, and under no responsibility, is entirely inefficient. Some other must be thought of; and during this pause, if it be only for 206 a year, the whole revenue of that year, with that of the last three years which has not been already thrown away, would place our University in readiness to start with a better organization of primary schools, and both may then go on, hand in hand, forever. No diminution of the capital will in this way have been incurred; a principle which ought to be deemed sacred. A relinquishment of interest on the late loan of sixty thousand dollars, would so far, also, forward the University without lessening the capital.

But what may be best done I leave with entire confidence to yourself and your colleagues in legislation, who know better than I do the conditions of the literary fund and its wisest application; and I shall acquiesce with perfect resignation to their will. I have brooded, perhaps with fondness, over this establishment, as it held up to me the hope of continuing to be useful while I continued to live. I had believed that the course and circumstances of my life had placed within my power some services favorable to the outset of the institution. But this may be egotism; pardonable, perhaps, when I express a consciousness that my colleagues and successors will do as well, whatever the legislature shall enable them to do.

I have thus, my dear Sir, opened my bosom, with all its anxieties, freely to you. I blame nobody for seeing things in a different light. I am sure that all act conscientiously, and that all will be done honestly and wisely which can be done. I yield the concerns of the world with cheerfulness to those who are appointed in the order of nature to succeed to them; and for yourself, for our colleagues, and for all in charge of our country's future fame and fortune, I offer up sincere prayers.


Monticello, February 26, 1821.

Dear Sir,—While you were in this neighborhood, you mentioned to me your intention of studying the law, and asked my opinion as to the sufficient course of reading. I gave it to you, ore tenus, 207 and with so little consideration that I do not remember what it was; but I have since recollected that I once wrote a letter to Dr. Cooper,[13] on good consideration of the subject. He was then law-lecturer, I believe, at Carlisle. My stiffening wrist makes writing now a slow and painful operation, but my granddaughter Ellen undertakes to copy the letter, which I shall enclose herein.

I notice in that letter four distinct epochs at which the English laws have been reviewed, and their whole body, as existing at each epoch, well digested into a code. These digests were by Bracton, Coke, Matthew Bacon and Blackstone. Bracton having written about the commencement of the extant statutes, may be considered as having given a digest of the laws then in being, written and unwritten, and forming, therefore, the textual code of what is called the common law, just at the period too when it begins to be altered by statutes to which we can appeal. But so much of his matter is become obsolete by change of circumstances or altered by statute, that the student may omit him for the present, and

1st. Begin with [14]Coke's four Institutes. These give a complete body of the law as it stood in the reign of the first James, an epoch the more interesting to us, as we separated at that point from English legislation, and acknowledge no subsequent statutory alterations.

208 2. Then passing over (for occasional reading as hereafter proposed) all the reports and treatises to the time of Matthew Bacon, read his abridgment, compiled about one hundred years after Coke's, in which they are all embodied. This gives numerous applications of the old principles to new cases, and gives the general state of the English law at that period.

Here, too, the student should take up the chancery branch of the law, by reading the first and second abridgments of the cases in Equity. The second is by the same Matthew Bacon, the first having been published some time before. The alphabetical order adopted by Bacon, is certainly not as satisfactory as the systematic. But the arrangement is under very general and leading heads, and these, indeed, with very little difficulty, might be systematically instead of alphabetically arranged and read.

3. Passing now in like manner over all intervening reports and tracts, the student may take up Blackstone's Commentaries, published about twenty-five years later than Bacon's abridgment, and giving the substance of these new reports and tracts. This review is not so full as that of Bacon, by any means, but better digested. Here, too, Wooddeson should be read as supplementary to Blackstone, under heads too shortly treated by him. Fonblanque's edition of Francis' Maxims of Equity, and Bridgman's digested Index, into which the latter cases are incorporated, are also supplementary in the chancery branch, in which Blackstone is very short.

This course comprehends about twenty-six 8vo volumes, and reading four or five hours a day would employ about two years.

After these, the best of the reporters since Blackstone should be read for the new cases which have occurred since his time. Which they are I know not, as all of them are since my time.

By way of change and relief for another hour or two in the day, should be read the law-tracts of merit which are many, and among them all those of Baron Gilbert are of the first order. In these hours, too, may be read Bracton, (now translated,) and Justinian's Institute. The method of these two last works is very much the same, and their language often quite so. Justinian is 209 very illustrative of the doctrines of equity, and is often appealed to, and Cooper's edition is the best on account of the analogies and contrasts he has given of the Roman and English law. After Bracton, Reeves' History of the English Law may be read to advantage. During this same hour or two of lighter law reading, select and leading cases of the reporters may be successively read, which the several digests will have pointed out and referred to.

* * * * * * * *

I have here sketched the reading in common law and chancery which I suppose necessary for a reputable practitioner in those courts. But there are other branches of law in which, although it is not expected he should be an adept, yet when it occurs to speak of them, it should be understandingly to a decent degree. There are the Admiralty law, Ecclesiastical law, and the Law of Nations. I would name as elementary books in these branches, Molloy de Jure Maritimo. Brown's Compend. of the Civil and Admiralty Law, 2 vols. 8vo. The Jura Ecclesiastica, 2 vols. 8vo. And Les Institutions du droit de la Nature et des Gens de Reyneval, 1 vol. 8vo.

Besides these six hours of law reading, light and heavy, and those necessary for the repasts of the day, for exercise and sleep, which suppose to be ten or twelve, there will still be six or eight hours for reading history, politics, ethics, physics, oratory, poetry, criticism, &c., as necessary as law to form an accomplished lawyer.

The letter to Dr. Cooper, with this as a supplement, will give you those ideas on a sufficient course of law reading which I ought to have done with more consideration at the moment of your first request. Accept them now as a testimony of my esteem, and of sincere wishes for your success; and the family, unâ voce, desires me to convey theirs with my own affectionate salutations. 210


Monticello, February 27, 1821.

I have received, Sir, your favor of the 12th, and I assure you I received it with pleasure. It is true, as you say, that we have differed in political opinions; but I can say with equal truth, that I never suffered a political to become a personal difference. I have been left on this ground by some friends whom I dearly loved, but I was never the first to separate. With some others, of politics different from mine, I have continued in the warmest friendship to this day, and to all, and to yourself particularly, I have ever done moral justice.

I thank you for Mr. Channing's discourse, which you have been so kind as to forward me. It is not yet at hand, but is doubtless on its way. I had received it through another channel, and read it with high satisfaction. No one sees with greater pleasure than myself the progress of reason in its advances towards rational Christianity. When we shall have done away the incomprehensible jargon of the Trinitarian arithmetic, that three are one, and one is three; when we shall have knocked down the artificial scaffolding, reared to mask from view the simple structure of Jesus; when, in short, we shall have unlearned everything which has been taught since his day, and got back to the pure and simple doctrines he inculcated, we shall then be truly and worthily his disciples; and my opinion is that if nothing had ever been added to what flowed purely from his lips, the whole world would at this day have been Christian. I know that the case you cite, of Dr. Drake, has been a common one. The religion-builders have so distorted and deformed the doctrines of Jesus, so muffled them in mysticisms, fancies and falsehoods, have caricatured them into forms so monstrous and inconceivable, as to shock reasonable thinkers, to revolt them against the whole, and drive them rashly to pronounce its founder an impostor. Had there never been a commentator, there never would have been an infidel. In the present advance of truth, which we both approve, I do not know that you and I may think alike on all 211 points. As the Creator has made no two faces alike, so no two minds, and probably no two creeds. We well know that among Unitarians themselves there are strong shades of difference, as between Doctors Price and Priestley, for example. So there may be peculiarities in your creed and in mine. They are honestly formed without doubt. I do not wish to trouble the world with mine, nor to be troubled for them. These accounts are to be settled only with him who made us; and to him we leave it, with charity for all others, of whom, also, he is the only rightful and competent judge. I have little doubt that the whole of our country will soon be rallied to the unity of the Creator, and, I hope, to the pure doctrines of Jesus also.

In saying to you so much, and without reserve, on a subject on which I never permit myself to go before the public, I know that I am safe against the infidelities which have so often betrayed my letters to the strictures of those for whom they were not written, and to whom I never meant to commit my peace. To yourself I wish every happiness, and will conclude, as you have done, in the same simple style of antiquity, da operam ut valeas; hoc mihi gratius facere nihil potes.


Monticello, March 9, 1821.

Dear Sir,—I am indebted for your favor of February 25th, and especially for your friendly indulgence to my excuses for retiring from the polemical world. I should not shrink from the post of duty, had not the decays of nature withdrawn me from the list of combatants. Great decline in the energies of the body import naturally a corresponding wane of the mind, and a longing after tranquillity as the last and sweetest asylum of age. It is a law of nature that the generations of men should give way, one to another, and I hope that the one now on the stage will preserve for their sons the political blessings delivered into their hands by their fathers. Time indeed changes manners and notions, and so far we must expect institutions to bend to them. 212 But time produces also corruption of principles, and against this it is the duty of good citizens to be ever on the watch, and if the gangrene is to prevail at last, let the day be kept off as long as possible. We see already germs of this, as might be expected. But we are not the less bound to press against them. The multiplication of public offices, increase of expense beyond income, growth and entailment of a public debt, are indications soliciting the employment of the pruning-knife; and I doubt not it will be employed; good principles being as yet prevalent enough for that.

The great object of my fear is the federal judiciary. That body, like gravity, ever acting, with noiseless foot, and unalarming advance, gaining ground step by step, and holding what it gains, is ingulphing insidiously the special governments into the jaws of that which feeds them. The recent recall to first principles, however, by Colonel Taylor, by yourself, and now by Alexander Smith, will, I hope, be heard and obeyed, and that a temporary check will be effected. Yet be not weary of well doing. Let the eye of vigilance never be closed.

Last and most portentous of all is the Missouri question. It is smeared over for the present; but its geographical demarcation is indelible. What it is to become, I see not; and leave to those who will live to see it. The University will give employment to my remaining years, and quite enough for my senile faculties. It is the last act of usefulness I can render, and could I see it open I would not ask an hour more of life. To you I hope many will still be given; and, certain they will all be employed for the good of our beloved country, I salute you with sentiments of especial friendship and respect.


Monticello, June 27, 1821.

Dear Sir,—I have received through the hands of the Governor, Colonel Taylor's letter to you. It is with extreme reluctance 213 that I permit myself to usurp the office of an adviser of the public, what books they should read, and what not. I yield, however, on this occasion to your wish and that of Colonel Taylor, and do what (with a single exception only) I never did before, on the many similar applications made to me. On reviewing my letters to Colonel Taylor and to Mr. Thweat, neither appeared exactly proper. Each contained matter which might give offence to the judges, without adding strength to the opinion. I have, therefore, out of the two, cooked up what may be called "an extract of a letter from Th: J. to ——;" but without saying it is published with my consent. That would forever deprive me of the ground of declining the office of a Reviewer of books in future cases. I sincerely wish the attention of the public may be drawn to the doctrines of the book; and if this self-styled extract may contribute to it, I shall be gratified. I salute you with constant friendship and respect.


I have read Colonel Taylor's book of "Constructions Construed," with great satisfaction, and, I will say, with edification; for I acknowledge it corrected some errors of opinion into which I had slidden without sufficient examination. It is the most logical retraction of our governments to the original and true principles of the constitution creating them, which has appeared since the adoption of that instrument. I may not perhaps concur in all its opinions, great and small; for no two men ever thought alike on so many points. But on all its important questions, it contains the true political faith, to which every catholic republican should steadfastly hold. It should be put into the hands of all our functionaries, authoritatively, as a standing instruction, and true exposition of our Constitution, as understood at the time we agreed to it. It is a fatal heresy to suppose that either our State governments are superior to the federal, or the federal to the States. The people, to whom all authority belongs, have divided the powers of government into two distinct departments, the leading characters of which are foreign and domestic; and 214 they have appointed for each a distinct set of functionaries. These they have made co-ordinate, checking and balancing each other, like the three cardinal departments in the individual States: each equally supreme as to the powers delegated to itself, and neither authorized ultimately to decide what belongs to itself, or to its coparcenor in government. As independent, in fact, as different nations, a spirit of forbearance and compromise, therefore, and not of encroachment and usurpation, is the healing balm of such a constitution; and each party should prudently shrink from all approach to the line of demarcation, instead of rashly overleaping it, or throwing grapples ahead to haul to hereafter. But, finally, the peculiar happiness of our blessed system is, that in differences of opinion between these different sets of servants, the appeal is to neither, but to their employers peaceably assembled by their representatives in Convention. This is more rational than the jus fortioris, or the cannon's mouth, the ultima et sola ratio regum.


Monticello, August 17, 1821.

Dear Sir,—Your favor of the 8th came to hand yesterday evening. I hope you will never suppose your letters to be among those which are troublesome to me. They are always welcome, and it is among my great comforts to hear from my ancient colleagues, and to know that they are well. The affectionate recollection of Mrs. Dearborne, cherished by our family, will ever render her health and happiness interesting to them. You are so far astern of Mr. Adams and myself, that you must not yet talk of old age. I am happy to hear of his good health. I think he will outlive us all, I mean the Declaration-men, although our senior since the death of Colonel Floyd. It is a race in which I have no ambition to win. Man, like the fruit he eats, has his period of ripeness. Like that, too, if he continues longer hanging to the stem, it is but an useless and unsightly appendage. I 215 rejoice, with you that the State of Missouri is at length a member of our Union. Whether the question it excited is dead, or only sleepeth, I do not know. I see only that it has given resurrection to the Hartford convention men. They have had the address, by playing on the honest feelings of our former friends, to seduce them from their kindred spirits, and to borrow their weight into the federal scale. Desperate of regaining power under political distinctions, they have adroitly wriggled into its seat under the auspices of morality, and are again in the ascendency from which their sins had hurled them. It is indeed of little consequence who governs us, if they sincerely and zealously cherish the principles of union and republicanism.

I still believe that the Western extension of our confederacy will ensure its duration, by overruling local factions, which might shake a smaller association. But whatever may be the merit or demerit of that acquisition, I divide it with my colleagues, to whose councils I was indebted for a course of administration which, notwithstanding this late coalition of clay and brass, will, I hope, continue to receive the approbation of our country.

The portrait by Stewart was received in due time and good order, and claims, for this difficult acquisition, the thanks of the family, who join me in affectionate souvenirs of Mrs. Dearborne and yourself. My particular salutations to both flow, as ever, from the heart, continual and warm.


Monticello, August 18, 1821.

Sir,—Your favor of the 7th is just now received. The letter to which it refers was written by me with the sole view of recommending to the study of my fellow citizens a book which I considered as containing more genuine doctrines on the subject of our government, and carrying us back more truly to its fundamental principles, than any one which had been written since the adoption of our constitution. As confined to this object, I thought, 216 and still think, its language as plain and intelligible as I can make it. But when we see inspired writings made to speak whatever opposite controversialists wish them to say, we cannot ourselves expect to find language incapable of similar distortion. My expressions were general; their perversion is in their misapplication to a particular case. To test them truly, they should turn to the book with whose opinion they profess to coincide. If the book establishes that a State has no right to tax the monied property within its limits, or that it can be called, as a party, to the bar of the federal judiciary, then they may infer that these are my opinions. If no such doctrines are there, my letter does not authorize their imputation to me.

It has long, however, been my opinion, and I have never shrunk from its expression, (although I do not choose to put it into a newspaper, nor, like a Priam in armor, offer myself its champion,) that the germ of dissolution of our federal government is in the constitution of the federal judiciary; an irresponsible body, (for impeachment is scarcely a scare-crow,) working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little to-day and a little to-morrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be usurped from the States, and the government of all be consolidated into one. To this I am opposed; because, when all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the centre of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another, and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated. It will be as in Europe, where every man must be either pike or gudgeon, hammer or anvil. Our functionaries and theirs are wares from the same work-shop; made of the same materials, and by the same hand. If the States look with apathy on this silent descent of their government into the gulf which is to swallow all, we have only to weep over the human character formed uncontrollable but by a rod of iron, and the blasphemers of man, as incapable of self-government, become his true historians.

217 But let me beseech you, Sir, not to let this letter get into a newspaper. Tranquillity, at my age, is the supreme good of life. I think it a duty, and it is my earnest wish, to take no further part in public affairs; to leave them to the existing generation to whose turn they have fallen, and to resign the remains of a decaying body and mind to their protection. The abuse of confidence by publishing my letters has cost me more than all other pains, and make me afraid to put pen to paper in a letter of sentiment. If I have done it frankly in answer to your letter, it is in full trust that I shall not be thrown by you into the arena of a newspaper. I salute you with great respect.


Monticello, September 12, 1821.

Dear Sir,—I am just returned from my other home, and shall within a week go back to it for the rest of the autumn. I find here your favor of August 20th, and was before in arrear for that of May 19th. I cannot answer, but join in, your question of May 19th. Are we to surrender the pleasing hopes of seeing improvement in the moral and intellectual condition of man? The events of Naples and Piedmont cast a gloomy cloud over that hope, and Spain and Portugal are not beyond jeopardy. And what are we to think of this northern triumvirate, arming their nations to dictate despotisms to the rest of the world? And the evident connivance of England, as the price of secret stipulations for continental armies, if her own should take side with her malcontent and pulverized people? And what of the poor Greeks, and their small chance of amelioration even if the hypocritical Autocrat should take them under the iron cover of his Ukazes. Would this be lighter or safer than that of the Turk? These, my dear friend, are speculations for the new generation, as, before they will be resolved, you and I must join our deceased brother Floyd. Yet I will not believe our labors are lost. I shall not die without a hope that light and liberty are on steady 218 advance. We have seen, indeed, once within the records of history, a complete eclipse of the human mind continuing for centuries. And this, too, by swarms of the same northern barbarians, conquering and taking possession of the countries and governments of the civilized world. Should this be again attempted, should the same northern hordes, allured again by the corn, wine, and oil of the south, be able again to settle their swarms in the countries of their growth, the art of printing alone, and the vast dissemination of books, will maintain the mind where it is, and raise the conquering ruffians to the level of the conquered, instead of degrading these to that of their conquerors. And even should the cloud of barbarism and despotism again obscure the science and liberties of Europe, this country remains to preserve and restore light and liberty to them. In short, the flames kindled on the 4th of July, 1776, have spread over too much of the globe to be extinguished by the feeble engines of despotism; on the contrary, they will consume these engines and all who work them.

I think with you that there should be a school of instruction for our navy as well as artillery; and I do not see why the same establishment might not suffice for both. Both require the same basis of general mathematics, adding projectiles and fortifications for the artillery exclusively, and astronomy and theory of navigation exclusively for the naval students. Berout conducted both schools in France, and has left us the best book extant for their joint and separate instruction. It ought not to require a separate professor.

A 4th of July oration delivered in the town of Milford, in your State, gives to Samuel Chase the credit of having "first started the cry of independence in the ears of his countrymen." Do you remember anything of this? I do not. I have no doubt it was uttered in Massachusetts even before it was by Thomas Paine. But certainly I never considered Samuel Chase as foremost, or even forward in that hallowed cry. I know that Maryland hung heavily on our backs, and that Chase, although first named, was not most in unison with us of that delegation, either in politics or morals, et c'est ainsi que l'on ecrit l'histoire!

219 Your doubt of the legitimacy of the word gloriola, is resolved by Cicero, who, in his letter to Lucceius expresses a wish "ut nos metipsi vivi gloriola nostra perfruamur." Affectionately adieu.


Montezillo, September 24, 1821.

Dear Sir,—I thank you for your favor of the 12th instant. Hope springs eternal. Eight millions of Jews hope for a Messiah more powerful and glorious than Moses, David, or Solomon; who is to make them as powerful as he pleases. Some hundreds of millions of Musslemen expect another prophet more powerful than Mahomet, who is to spread Islamism over the whole earth. Hundreds of millions of Christians expect and hope for a millennium in which Jesus is to reign for a thousand years over the whole world before it is burnt up. The Hindoos expect another and final incarnation of Vishnu, who is to do great and wonderful things, I know not what. All these hopes are founded on real or pretended revelation. The modern Greeks, too, it seems, hope for a deliverer who is to produce them—the Themistocleses and Demostheneses—the Platos and Aristotles—the Solons and Lycurguses. On what prophecies they found their belief, I know not. You and I hope for splendid improvements in human society, and vast amelioration in the condition of mankind. Our faith may be supposed by more rational arguments than any of the former, I own that I am very sanguine in the belief of them, as I hope and believe you are, and your reasoning in your letter confirmed me in them.

As Brother Floyd has gone, I am now the oldest of the little Congressional group that remain. I may therefore rationally hope to be the first to depart; and as you are the youngest and most energetic in mind and body, you may therefore rationally hope to be the last to take your flight, and to rake up the fire as father Sherman, who always staid to the last, and commonly two days afterwards, used to say, "that it was his office to sit up 220 and rake the ashes over the coals." And much satisfaction may you have in your office.

The cholera morbus has done wonders in St. Helena and in London. We shall soon hear of a negotiation for a second wife. Whether in the body, or out of the body, I shall always be your friend.

The anecdote of Mr. Chase, contained in the oration delivered at Milford, must be an idle rumor, for neither the State of Maryland, nor of their delegates, were very early in their conviction of the necessity of independence, nor very forward in promoting it. The old speaker Tilghman, Johnson, Chase, and Paca, were steady in promoting resistance, but after some of them, Maryland sent one, at least, of the most turbulent Tories that ever came to Congress.

TO ——.

Monticello, September 28, 1821.

Sir,—The government of the United States, at a very early period, when establishing its tariff on foreign importations, were very much guided in their selection of objects by a desire to encourage manufactures within ourselves. Among other articles then selected were books, on the importation of which a duty of fifteen per cent, was imposed, which, by ordinary custom house charges, amount to about eighteen per cent., and adding the importing booksellers profit on this, becomes about twenty-seven per cent. This was useful at first, perhaps, towards exciting our printers to make a beginning in that business here. But it is found in experience that the home demand is not sufficient to justify the re-printing any but the most popular English works, and cheap editions of a few of the classics for schools. For the editions of value, enriched by notes, commentaries, &c., and for books in foreign living languages, the demand here is too small and sparse to reimburse the expense of re-printing them. None of these, therefore, are printed here, and the duty on them becomes consequently not a protecting, but really a prohibitory one. 221 It makes a very serious addition to the price of the book, and falls chiefly on a description of persons little able to meet it. Students who are destined for professional callings, as most of our scholars are, are barely able for the most part to meet the expenses of tuition. The addition of eighteen or twenty-seven per cent. on the books necessary for their instruction, amounts often to a prohibition as to them. For want of these aids, which are open to the students of all other nations but our own, they enter on their course on a very unequal footing with those of the same professions in foreign countries, and our citizens at large, too, who employ them, do not derive from that employment all the benefit which higher qualifications would give them. It is true that no duty is required on books imported for seminaries of learning, but these, locked up in libraries, can be of no avail to the practical man when he wishes a recurrence to them for the uses of life. Of many important books of reference there is not perhaps a single copy in the United States; of others but a few, and these too distant often to be accessible to scholars generally. It is believed, therefore, that if the attention of Congress could be drawn to this article, they would, in their wisdom, see its impolicy. Science is more important in a republican than in any other government. And in an infant country like ours, we must much depend for improvement on the science of other countries, longer established, possessing better means, and more advanced than we are. To prohibit us from the benefit of foreign light, is to consign us to long darkness.

The northern seminaries following with parental solicitude the interests of their elevès in the course for which they have prepared them, propose to petition Congress on this subject, and wish for the coöperation of those of the south and west, and I have been requested, as more convenient in position than they are, to solicit that coöperation. Having no personal acquaintance with those who are charged with the direction of the college of —— ——, I do not know how more effectually to communicate these views to them, than by availing myself of the knowledge I have of your zeal for the happiness and improvement of 222 our country. I take the liberty, therefore, of requesting you to place the subject before the proper authorities of that institution, and if they approve the measure, to solicit a concurrent proceeding on their part to carry it into effect. Besides petitioning Congress, I would propose that they address in their corporate capacity, a letter to their delegates and senators in Congress, soliciting their best endeavors to obtain the repeal of the duty on imported books. I cannot but suppose that such an application will be respected by them, and will engage their votes and endeavors to effect an object so reasonable. A conviction that science is important to the preservation of our republican government, and that it is also essential to its protection against foreign power, induces me, on this occasion, to step beyond the limits of that retirement to which age and inclination equally dispose me, and I am without a doubt that the same considerations will induce you to excuse the trouble I propose to you, and that you will kindly accept the assurance of my high respect and esteem.


Monticello, November 23, 1821.

Dear Sir,—Absence at an occasional but distant residence, prevented my receiving your friendly letter of October 20th till three days ago. A line from my good old friends is like balm to my soul. You ask me what you are to do with my letter of September 19th? I wrote it, my dear Sir, with no other view than to pour my thoughts into your bosom. I knew they would be safe there, and I believed they would be welcome. But if you think, as you say, that "good may be done by showing it to a few well-tried friends," I have no objection to that, but ultimately you cannot do better than to throw it into the fire.

My confidence, as you kindly observed, has been often abused by the publication of my letters for the purposes of interest or vanity, and it has been to me the source of much pain to be exhibited before the public in forms not meant for them. I receive 223 letters expressed in the most friendly and even affectionate terms, sometimes, perhaps, asking my opinion on some subject. I cannot refuse to answer such letters, nor can I do it dryly and suspiciously. Among a score or two of such correspondents, one perhaps betrays me. I feel it mortifyingly, but conclude I had better incur one treachery than offend a score or two of good people. I sometimes expressly desire that my letter may not be published; but this is so like requesting a man not to steal or cheat, that I am ashamed of it after I have done it.

Our government is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction, to-wit: by consolidation first, and then corruption, its necessary consequence. The engine of consolidation will be the federal judiciary; the two other branches, the corrupting and corrupted instruments. I fear an explosion in our State Legislature. I wish they may restrain themselves to a strong but temperate protestation. Virginia is not at present in favor with her co-States. An opposition headed by her would determine all the anti-Missouri States to take the contrary side. She had better lie by, therefore, till the shoe shall pinch an eastern State. Let the cry be first raised from that quarter, and we may fall into it with effect. But I fear our eastern associates wish for consolidation, in which they would be joined by the smaller States generally. But, with one foot in the grave, I have no right to meddle with these things. Ever and affectionately yours.

TO ——.

Monticello, November 29, 1821.

Dear Sir,—You have often gratified me by your astronomical communications, and I am now about to amuse you with one of mine. But I must first explain the circumstances which have drawn me into a speculation so foreign to the path of life which the times in which I have lived, more than my own inclinations have led me to pursue.

224 I had long deemed it incumbent on the authorities of our country, to have the great western wilderness beyond the Mississippi, explored, to make known its geography, its natural productions, its general character and inhabitants. Two attempts which I had myself made formerly, before the country was ours, the one from west to east, the other from east to west, had both proved abortive. When called to the administration of the general government, I made this an object of early attention, and proposed it to Congress. They voted a sum of five thousand dollars for its execution, and I placed Captain Lewis at the head of the enterprise. No man within the range of my acquaintance, united so many of the qualifications necessary for its successful direction. But he had not received such an astronomical education as might enable him to give us the geography of the country with the precision desired. The Missouri and Columbia, which were to constitute the tract of his journey, were rivers which varied little in their progressive latitudes, but changed their longitudes rapidly and at every step. To qualify him for making these observations, so important to the value of the enterprise, I encouraged him to apply himself to this particular object, and gave him letters to Doctor Patterson and Mr. Ellicott, requesting them to instruct him in the necessary processes. Those for the longitude would of course be founded on the lunar distances. But as these require essentially the aid of a time-keeper, it occurred to me that during a journey of two, three, or four years, exposed to so many accidents as himself and the instrument would be, we might expect with certainty that it would become deranged, and in a desert country where it could not be repaired. I thought it then highly important that some means of observation should be furnished him, if any could be, which should be practicable and competent to ascertain his longitudes in that event. The equatorial occurred to myself as the most promising substitute. I observed only that Ramsden, in his explanation of its uses, and particularly that of finding the longitude at land, still required his observer to have the aid of a time-keeper. But this cannot be necessary, for the margin of the equatorial circle of this instrument 225 being divided into time by hours, minutes, and seconds, supplies the main functions of the time-keeper, and for measuring merely the interval of the observations, is such as not to be neglected. A portable pendulum, for counting, by an assistant, would fully answer that purpose. I suggested my fears to several of our best astronomical friends, and my wishes that other processes should be furnished him, if any could be, which might guard us ultimately from disappointment. Several other methods were proposed, but all requiring the use of a time-keeper. That of the equatorial being recommended by none, and other duties refusing me time for protracted consultations, I relinquished the idea for that occasion. But, if a sound one, it should not be abandoned. Those deserts are yet to be explored, and their geography given to the world and ourselves with a correctness worthy of the science of the age. The acquisition of the country before Captain Lewis' departure facilitated our enterprise, but his time-keeper failed early in his journey. His dependence, then, was on the compass and log-line, with the correction of latitudes only; and the true longitudes of the different points of the Missouri, of the Stony Mountains, the Columbia and Pacific, at its mouth, remain yet to be obtained by future enterprise.

The circumstance which occasions a recurrence of the subject to my mind at this time particularly is this: our legislature, some time ago, came to a determination that an accurate map should be made of our State. The late John Wood was employed on it. Its first elements are prepared by maps of the several counties. But these have been made by chain and compass only, which suppose the surface of the earth to be a plane. To fit them together, they must be accommodated to its real spherical surface; and this can be done only by observations of latitude and longitude, taken at different points of the area to which they are to be reduced. It is true that in the lower and more populous parts of the State, the method of lunar distances by the circle or sextant, and time-keeper, may be used; because those parts furnish means of repairing or replacing a deranged time-keeper. But the deserts beyond the Alleghany are as destitute 226 of resource in that case, as those of the Missouri. The question then recurs whether the equatorial, without the auxiliary of a time-keeper, is not competent to the ascertainment of longitudes at land, where a fixed meridian can always be obtained? and whether indeed it may not everywhere at land, be a readier and preferable instrument for that purpose? To these questions I ask your attentions; and to show the grounds on which I entertain the opinion myself, I will briefly explain the principles of the process, and the peculiarities of the instrument which give it the competence I ascribe to it. And should you concur in the opinion, I will further ask you to notice any particular circumstances claiming attention in the process, and the corrections which the observations may necessarily require. As to myself, I am an astronomer of theory only, little versed in practical observations, and the minute attentions and corrections they require. I proceed now to the explanation.

A method of finding the longitude of a place at land, without a time-keeper.

If two persons, at different points of the same hemisphere, (as Greenwich and Washington, for example,) observe the same celestial phenomenon, at the same instant of time, the difference of the times marked by their respective clocks is the difference of their longitudes, or the distance between their meridians. To catch with precision the same instant of time for these simultaneous observations, the moon's motion in her orbit is the best element; her change of place (about a half second of space in a second of time) is rapid enough to be ascertained by a good instrument with sufficient precision for the object. But suppose the observer at Washington, or in a desert, to be without a time-keeper; the equatorial is the instrument to be used in that case. Again, we have supposed a contemporaneous observer at Greenwich. But his functions may be supplied by the nautical almanac, adapted to that place, and enabling us to calculate for any instant of time the meridian distances there of the heavenly bodies necessary to be observed for this purpose.

The observer at Washington, choosing the time when their 227 position is suitable, is to adjust his equatorial to his meridian, to his latitude, and to the plane of his horizon; or if he is in a desert where neither meridian nor latitude is yet ascertained, the advantages of this noble instrument are, that it enables him to find both in the course of a few hours. Thus prepared, let him ascertain by observation the right ascension of the moon from that of a known star, or their horary distance; and, at the same instant, her horary distance from his meridian. Her right ascension at the instant thus ascertained, enter with that of the nautical almanac, and calculate, by its tables, what was her horary distance from the meridian of Greenwich at the instant she had attained that point of right ascension, or that horary distance from the same star. The addition of these meridian distances, if the moon was between the two meridians, or the subtraction of the lesser from the greater, if she was on the same side of both, is the differences of their longitudes.

This general theory admits different cases, of which the observer may avail himself, according to the particular position of the heavenly bodies at the moment of observation.

Case 1st. When the moon is on his meridian, or on that of Greenwich.

Second. When the star is on either meridian.

Third. When the moon and star are on the same side of his meridian.

Fourth. When they are on different sides.

For instantaneousness of observation, the equatorial has great advantage over the circle or sextant; for being truly placed in the meridian beforehand, the telescope may be directed sufficiently in advance of the moon's motion, for time to note its place on the equatorial circle, before she attains that point. Then observe, until her limb touches the cross-hairs; and in that instant direct the telescope to the star; that completes the observation, and the place of the star may be read at leisure. The apparatus for correcting the effects of refraction and parallax, which is fixed on the eye-tube of the telescope, saves time by rendering 228 the notation of altitudes unnecessary, and dispenses with the use of either a time-keeper or portable pendulum.

I have observed that, if placed in a desert where neither meridian nor latitude is yet ascertained, the equatorial enables the observer to find both in a few hours. For the latitude, adjust by the cross-levels the azimuth plane of the instrument to the horizon of the place. Bring down the equatorial plane to an exact parallelism with it, its pole then becoming vertical. By the nut and pinion commanding it, and by that of the semi-circle of declination, direct the telescope to the sun. Follow its path with the telescope by the combined use of these two pinions, and when it has attained its greatest altitude, calculate the latitude as when taken by a sextant.

For finding the meridian, set the azimuth circle to the horizon, elevate the equatorial circle to the complement of the latitude, and fix it by the clamp and tightening screw of the two brass segments of arches below. By the declination semicircle set the telescope to the sun's declination of the moment. Turn the instrument towards the meridian by guess, and by the combined movement of the equatorial and azimuth circles direct the telescope to the sun, then by the pinion of the equatorial alone, follow the path of the sun with the telescope. If it swerves from that path, turn the azimuth circle until it shall follow the sun accurately. A distant stake or tree should mark the meridian, to guard against its loss by any accidental jostle of the instrument. The 12 o'clock line will then be in the true meridian, and the axis of the equatorial circle will be parallel with that of the earth. The instrument is then in its true position for the observations of the night. To the competence and the advantages of this method, I will only add that these instruments are high-priced. Mine cost thirty-five guineas in Ramsden's shop, a little before the Revolution. I will lengthen my letter, already too long, only by assurances of my great esteem and respect. 229


Monticello, December 11, 1821.

Dear Sir,—Your letter of December the 19th places me under a dilemma, which I cannot solve but by an exposition of the naked truth. I would have wished this rather to have remained as hitherto, without inquiry; but your inquiries have a right to be answered. I will do it as exactly as the great lapse of time and a waning memory will enable me. I may misremember indifferent circumstances, but can be right in substance.

At the time when the republicans of our country were so much alarmed at the proceedings of the federal ascendency in Congress, in the executive and the judiciary departments, it became a matter of serious consideration how head could be made against their enterprises on the constitution. The leading republicans in Congress found themselves of no use there, brow-beaten, as they were, by a bold and overwhelming majority. They concluded to retire from that field, take a stand in the State legislatures, and endeavor there to arrest their progress. The alien and sedition laws furnished the particular occasion. The sympathy between Virginia and Kentucky was more cordial, and more intimately confidential, than between any other two States of republican policy. Mr. Madison came into the Virginia legislature. I was then in the Vice-Presidency, and could not leave my station. But your father, Colonel W. C. Nicholas, and myself happening to be together, the engaging the co-operation of Kentucky in an energetic protestation against the constitutionality of those laws, became a subject of consultation. Those gentlemen pressed me strongly to sketch resolutions for that purpose, your father undertaking to introduce them to that legislature, with a solemn assurance, which I strictly required, that it should not be known from what quarter they came. I drew and delivered them to him, and in keeping their origin secret, he fulfilled his pledge of honor. Some years after this, Colonel Nicholas asked me if I would have any objection to its being known that I had drawn them. I pointedly enjoined that it should not. Whether he had 230 unguardedly intimated it before to any one, I know not; but I afterwards observed in the papers repeated imputations of them to me; on which, as has been my practice on all occasions of imputation, I have observed entire silence. The question, indeed, has never before been put to me, nor should I answer it to any other than yourself; seeing no good end to be proposed by it, and the desire of tranquillity inducing with me a wish to be withdrawn from public notice. Your father's zeal and talents were too well known, to derive any additional distinction from the penning these resolutions. That circumstance, surely, was of far less merit than the proposing and carrying them through the legislature of his State. The only fact in this statement, on which my memory is not distinct, is the time and occasion of the consultation with your father and Colonel Nicholas. It took place here I know; but whether any other person was present, or communicated with, is my doubt. I think Mr. Madison was either with us, or consulted, but my memory is uncertain as to minute details.

I fear, dear Sir, we are now in such another crisis, with this difference only, that the judiciary branch is alone and single handed in the present assaults on the constitution. But its assaults are more sure and deadly, as from an agent seemingly passive and unassuming. May you and your cotemporaries meet them with the same determination and effect, as your father and his did the alien and sedition laws, and preserve inviolate a constitution, which, cherished in all its chastity and purity, will prove in the end a blessing to all the nations of the earth. With these prayers, accept those for your own happiness and prosperity.


Monticello, February 27, 1822.

Gentlemen,—I have received your favor of the 18th, and am duly sensible of the honor done my name by its association with the institution formed in your college for improvement in the art 231 of speaking. The efforts of the members will, I trust, give a just reputation to the society and reflect on its name the honor which it cannot derive from it. In a country and government like ours, eloquence is a powerful instrument, well worthy of the special pursuit of our youth. Models, indeed, of chaste and classical oratory are truly too rare with us; nor do I recollect any remarkable in England. Among the ancients the most perfect specimens are perhaps to be found in Livy, Sallust and Tacitus. Their pith and brevity constitute perfection itself for an audience of sages, on whom froth and fancy would be lost in air. But in ordinary cases, and with us particularly, more development is necessary. For senatorial eloquence, Demosthenes is the finest model; for the bar, Cicero. The former had more logic, the latter more imagination.

Of the eloquence of the pen we have fine samples in English. Robertson, Sterne, Addison, are of the first merit in the different characters of composition. Hume, in the circumstance of style is equal to any; but his tory principles spread a cloud over his many and great excellencies. The charms of his style and matter have made tories of all England, and doubtful republicans here.

You say that any advice which I could give you would be acceptable. But, for this, you cannot be in better hands than of the worthy professors of your own college. Their counsels would, I am sure, embrace everything I could offer. It will not, however, be a work of mere supereorgation if it will gratify you, and will furnish a stronger proof of my desire to encourage you in your laudable dispositions. Some thirty-six or thirty-seven years ago, I had a nephew, the late Peter Carr, whose education I directed, and had much at heart his future fortunes. Residing abroad at the time in public service, my counsels to him were necessarily communicated by letters. Searching among my papers I find a letter written to him, and conveying such advice as I thought suitable to the particular period of his age and education. He was then about fifteen, and had made some progress in classical reading. As your present situation may be somewhat 232 similar, you may find in that letter some things worth remembering. I enclose you a copy therefore. It was written in haste, under the pressure of official labors, and with no view of being ever seen but by himself. It might otherwise have been made more correct in style and matter. But such as it is, I place it at your service, and pray you to receive it merely as a compliance with your own request, and as a proof of my good will and of my best wishes for your success in the career of life for which you are so worthily and laudably preparing yourselves.


Monticello, March 2, 1822.

I am thankful to you, Sir, for the very edifying view of Europe which you have been so kind as to send me. Tossed at random by the newspapers on an ocean of uncertainties and falsehoods, it is joyful at times to catch the glimmering of a beacon which shows us truly where we are. De Pradt's Europe had some effect in this way; but the less as the author was less known in character. The views presented by your brother unite our confidence with the soundness of his observation and information. I have read the work with great avidity and profit, and have found my ideas of Europe in general, rallied by it to points of good satisfaction. In the single chapter on England only, where his theories are new, if we cannot suddenly give up all our old notions, he furnishes us abundant matter for reflection and a revisal of them. I have long considered the present crisis of England, and the origin of the evils which are lowering over her, as produced by enormous excess of her expenditures beyond her income. To pay even the interest of the debt contracted, she is obliged to take from the industrious so much of their earnings, as not to leave enough for their backs and bellies. They are daily, therefore, passing over to the pauper-list, to subsist on the declining means of those still holding up, and when these also shall be exhausted, what next? Reformation cannot remedy 233 this. It could only prevent its recurrence when once relieved from the debt. To effect that relief I see but one possible and just course. Considering the funded and real property as equal, and the debt as much of the one as the other, for the holder of property to give up one-half to those of the funds, and the latter to the nation the whole of what it owes them. But this the nature of man forbids us to expect without blows, and blows will decide it by a promiscuous sacrifice of life and property. The debt thus, or otherwise, extinguished, a real representation introduced into the government of either property or people, or of both, renouncing eternal war, restraining future expenses to future income, and breaking up forever the consuming circle of extravagance, debt, insolvency, and revolution, the island would then again be in the degree of force which nature has measured out to it, of respectable station in the scale of nations, but not at their head. I sincerely wish she could peaceably get into this state of being, as the present prospects of southern Europe seem to need the acquisition of new weights in their balance, rather than the loss of old ones. I set additional value on this volume, inasmuch as it has procured me the occasion of expressing to you my high estimation of your character, the interest with which I look to it as an American, and the great esteem and respect with which I beg leave to salute you.


Monticello, March 6, 1822.

Sir,—I have duly received your letter of February the 16th, and have now to express my sense of the honorable station proposed to my ex-brethren and myself, in the constitution of the society for the civilization and improvement of the Indian tribes. The object too expressed, as that of the association, is one which I have ever had much at heart, and never omitted an occasion of promoting while I have been in situations to do it with effect, and nothing, even now, in the calm of age and retirement, would 234 excite in me a more lively interest than an approvable plan of raising that respectable and unfortunate people from the state of physical and moral abjection, to which they have been reduced by circumstances foreign to them. That the plan now proposed is entitled to unmixed approbation, I am not prepared to say, after mature consideration, and with all the partialities which its professed object would rightfully claim from me.

I shall not undertake to draw the line of demarcation between private associations of laudable views and unimposing numbers, and those whose magnitude may rivalize and jeopardize the march of regular government. Yet such a line does exist. I have seen the days, they were those which preceded the revolution, when even this last and perilous engine became necessary; but they were days which no man would wish to see a second time. That was the case where the regular authorities of the government had combined against the rights of the people, and no means of correction remained to them but to organize a collateral power, which, with their support, might rescue and secure their violated rights. But such is not the case with our government. We need hazard no collateral power, which, by a change of its original views, and assumption of others we know not how virtuous or how mischievous, would be ready organized and in force sufficient to shake the established foundations of society, and endanger its peace and the principles on which it is based. Is not the machine now proposed of this gigantic stature? It is to consist of the ex-Presidents of the United States, the Vice President, the Heads of all the executive departments, the members of the supreme judiciary, the Governors of the several States and territories, all the members of both Houses of Congress, all the general officers of the army, the commissioners of the navy, all Presidents and Professors of colleges and theological seminaries, all the clergy of the United States, the Presidents and Secretaries of all associations having relation to Indians, all commanding officers within or near Indian territories, all Indian superintendents and agents; all these ex officio; and as many private individuals as will pay a certain price for membership. Observe, 235 too, that the clergy will constitute[15] nineteen twentieths of this association, and, by the law of the majority, may command the twentieth part, which, composed of all the high authorities of the United States, civil and military, may be outvoted and wielded by the nineteen parts with uncontrollable power, both as to purpose and process. Can this formidable array be reviewed without dismay? It will be said, that in this association will be all the confidential officers of the government; the choice of the people themselves. No man on earth has more implicit confidence than myself in the integrity and discretion of this chosen band of servants. But is confidence or discretion, or is strict limit, the principle of our constitution? It will comprehend, indeed, all the functionaries of the government; but seceded from their constitutional stations as guardians of the nation, and acting not by the laws of their station, but by those of a voluntary society, having no limit to their purposes but the same will which constitutes their existence. It will be the authorities of the people and all influential characters from among them, arrayed on one side, and on the other, the people themselves deserted by their leaders. It is a fearful array. It will be said that these are imaginary fears. I know they are so at present. I know it is as impossible for these agents of our choice and unbounded confidence, to harbor machinations against the adored principles of our constitution, as for gravity to change its direction, and gravid bodies to mount upwards. The fears are indeed imaginary, but the example is real. Under its authority, as a precedent, future associations will arise with objects at which we should shudder at this time. The society of Jacobins, in another country, was instituted on principles and views as virtuous as ever kindled the hearts of patriots. It was the pure patriotism of their purposes which extended their association to the limits of the nation, and rendered their power within it boundless; and it was this power which degenerated their principles and practices to such enormities 236 as never before could have been imagined. Yet these were men, and we and our descendants will be no more. The present is a case where, if ever, we are to guard against ourselves; not against ourselves as we are, but as we may be; for who can now imagine what we may become under circumstances not now imaginable? The object of this institution, seems to require so hazardous an example as little as any which could be proposed. The government is, at this time, going on with the process of civilizing the Indians, on a plan probably as promising as any one of us is able to devise, and with resources more competent than we could expect to command by voluntary taxation. Is it that the new characters called into association with those of the government, are wiser than these? Is it that a plan originated by a meeting of private individuals is better than that prepared by the concentrated wisdom of the nation, of men not self-chosen, but clothed with the full confidence of the people? Is it that there is no danger that a new authority, marching, independently, along side of the government, in the same line and to the same object, may not produce collision, may not thwart and obstruct the operations of the government, or wrest the object entirely from their hands? Might we not as well appoint a committee for each department of the government, to counsel and direct its head separately, as volunteer ourselves to counsel and direct the whole, in mass? And might we not do it as well for their foreign, their fiscal, and their military, as for their Indian affairs? And how many societies, auxiliary to the government, may we expect to see spring up, in imitation of this, offering to associate themselves in this and that of its functions? In a word, why not take the government out of its constitutional hands, associate them indeed with us, to preserve a semblance that the acts are theirs, but insuring them to be our own by allowing them a minor vote only.

These considerations have impressed my mind with a force so irresistible, that (in duty bound to answer your polite letter, without which I should not have obtruded an opinion) I have not been able to withhold the expression of them. Not knowing 237 the individuals who have proposed this plan, I cannot be conceived as entertaining personal disrespect for them. On the contrary, I see in the printed list persons for whom I cherish sentiments of sincere friendship, and others, for whose opinions and purity of purpose I have the highest respect. Yet thinking as I do, that this association is unnecessary; that the government is proceeding to the same object under control of the law; that they are competent to it in wisdom, in means, and inclination; that this association, this wheel within a wheel, is more likely to produce collision than aid; and that it is, in its magnitude, of dangerous example; I am bound to say, that, as a dutiful citizen, I cannot in conscience become a member of this society, possessing as it does my entire confidence in the integrity of its views. I feel with awe the weight of opinion to which I may be opposed, and that, for myself, I have need to ask the indulgence of a belief that the opinion I have given is the best result I can deduce from my own reason and experience, and that it is sincerely conscientious. Repeating, therefore, my just acknowledgments for the honor proposed to me, I beg leave to add the assurances to the society and yourself of my highest confidence and consideration.


Monticello, April 9, 1822.

Dear General,—Your favor of March 28th was received on the 7th instant. We failed in having a quorum on the 1st. Mr. Johnson and General Taylor were laboring for Lithgow in Richmond, and Mr. Madison was unwell. On the score of business it was immaterial, as there was not a single measure to be proposed. The loss was of the gratification of meeting in society with those whom we esteem. This is the valuable effect of our semi-annual meetings, jubilees, in fact, for feasting the mind and fostering the best affections of the heart towards those who merit them.

The four rows of buildings of accommodation are so nearly 238 completed, that they are certain of being entirely so in the course of the summer; and our funds, as you have seen stated in our last Report, are sufficient to meet the expense, except that the delays in collecting the arrears of subscriptions oblige us to borrow temporarily from this year's annuity, which, according to that Report, had another destination. These buildings done, we are to rest on our oars, and passively await the will of the legislature. Our future course is a plain one. We have proceeded from the beginning on the sound determination to finish the buildings before opening the institution; because, once opened, all its funds will be absorbed by professors' salaries, &c., and nothing remain ever to finish the buildings. And we have thought it better to begin two or three years later, in the full extent proposed, than to open, and go on forever, with a half-way establishment. Of the wisdom of this proceeding, and of its greater good to the public finally, I cannot a moment doubt. Our part then is to pursue with steadiness what is right, turning neither to right nor left for the intrigues or popular delusions of the day, assured that the public approbation will in the end be with us. The councils of the legislature, at their late session, were poisoned unfortunately by the question of the seat of government, and the consequent jealousies of our views in erecting the large building still wanting. This lost us some friends who feel a sincere interest in favor of the University, but a stronger one in the question respecting the seat of government. They seem not to have considered that the seat of the government, and that of the University, are incompatible with one another; that if the former were to come here, the latter must be removed. Even Oxford and Cambridge placed in the middle of London, they would be deserted as seats of learning, and as proper places for training youth. These groundless jealousies, it is to be hoped, will be dissipated by sober reflection, during the separation of the members; and they will perceive, before their next meeting, that the large building, without which the institution cannot proceed, has nothing to do with the question of the seat of government. If, however, the ensuing session should still refuse their patronage, 239 a second or a third will think better, and result finally in fulfilling the object of our aim, the securing to our country a full and perpetual institution for all the useful sciences; one which will restore us to our former station in the confederacy. It may be a year or two later indeed; but it will replace us in full grade, and not leave us among the mere subalterns of the league. Patience and steady perseverance on our part will secure the blessed end. If we shrink, it is gone forever. Our autumnal meeting will be interesting. The question will be whether we shall relinquish the scale of a real University, the rallying centre of the South and the West, or let it sink to that of a common academy. I hope you will be with us, and give us the benefit of your firm and enlarged views. I am not at all disheartened with what has passed, nor disposed to give up the ship. We have only to lie still, to do and say nothing, and firmly avoid opening. The public opinion is advancing. It is coming to our aid, and will force the institution on to consummation. The numbers are great, and many from great distances, who visit it daily as an object of curiosity. They become strengthened if friends, converted if enemies, and all loud and zealous advocates, and will shortly give full tone to the public voice. Our motto should be "be not wearied with well-doing." Accept the assurance of my affectionate friendship and respect.


Monticello, May 13, 1822.

Messrs. Ritchie and Gooch,—I am thankful to you for the paper you have been so kind as to send me, containing the arraignment of the Presidents of the United States generally, as peculators or accessories to peculation, by an informer who masks himself under the signature of "a Native Virginian." What relates to myself in this paper, (being his No. VI., and the only No. I have seen) I had before read in the "Federal Republican" of Baltimore, of August 28th, which was sent to me by a 240 friend, with the real name of the author. It was published there during the ferment of a warmly-contested election. I considered it, therefore, as an electioneering manœuvre merely, and did not even think it required the trouble of recollecting, after a lapse of thirty-three years, the circumstances of the case in which he charges me with having purloined from the treasury of the United States the sum of $1,148. But as he has thought it worth repeating in his Roll of informations against your Presidents nominally, I shall give the truths of the case, which he has omitted, perhaps because he did not know them, and ventured too inconsiderately to supply them from his own conjectures.

On the return from my mission to France, and joining the government here, in the spring of 1790, I had a long and heavy account to settle with the United States, of the administration of their pecuniary affairs in Europe, of which the superintendence had been confided to me while there. I gave in my account early, but the pressure of other business did not permit the accounting officers to attend to it till October 10th, 1792, when we settled, and a balance of $888 67 appearing to be due from me, (but erroneously as will be shown,) I paid the money the same day, delivered up my vouchers, and received a certificate of it. But still the articles of my draughts on the bankers could be only provisionally past; until their accounts also should be received to be confronted with mine. And it was not till the 24th of June, 1804, that I received a letter from Mr. Richard Harrison the auditor, informing me "that my accounts, as Minister to France, had been adjusted and closed," adding, "the bill drawn and credited by you under date of the 21st of October, 1789, for banco florins 2,800, having never yet appeared in any account of the Dutch bankers, stand at your debit only as a provisional charge. If it should hereafter turn out, as I incline to think it will, that this bill has never been negotiated or used by Mr. Grand, you will have a just claim on the public for its value." This was the first intimation to me that I had too hastily charged myself with that draught. I determined, however, as I had allowed it in my account, and paid up the balance 241 it had produced against me, to let it remain awhile, as there was a possibility that the draught might still be presented by the holder to the bankers; and so it remained till I was near leaving Washington, on my final retirement from the administration in 1809. I then received from the auditor, Mr. Harrison, the following note: "Mr. Jefferson, in his accounts as late Minister to France, credited among other sums, a bill drawn by him on the 21st October, 1789, to the order of Grand & Co., on the bankers of the United States at Amsterdam, f. Banco f. 2,800, equal with agio to current florins 2,870, and which was charged to him provisionally in the official statement made at the Treasury, in the month of October, 1804. But as this bill has not yet been noticed in any account rendered by the bankers, the presumption is strong that it was never negotiated or presented for payment, and Mr. Jefferson, therefore, appears justly entitled to receive the value of it, which, at forty cents the gilder, (the rate at which it was estimated in the above-mentioned statement,) amounts to $1,148. Auditor's office, January 24th, 1809."

Desirous of leaving nothing unsettled behind me, I drew the money from the treasury, but without any interest, although I had let it lie there twenty years, and had actually on that error paid $888 67, an apparent balance against me, when the true balance was in my favor $259 33. The question then is, how has this happened? I have examined minutely and can state it clearly.

Turning to my pocket diary I find that on the 21st day of October, 1789, the date of this bill, I was at Cowes in England, on my return to the United States. The entry in my diary is in these words: "1789, October 21st. Sent to Grand & Co., letter of credit on Willinks, Van Staphorsts and Hubbard, for 2,800 florins Banco." And I immediately credited it in my account with the United States in the following words: "1789, October 21. By my bill on Willinks, Van Staphorsts and Hubbard, in favor of Grand & Co., for 2,800 florins, equal to 6,250 livres 18 sous." My account having been kept in livres and sous of France, the auditor settled this sum at the current exchange, making it 242 $1,148. This bill, drawn at Cowes in England, had to pass through London to Paris by the English and French mails, in which passage it was lost, by some unknown accident, to which it was the more exposed in the French mail, by the confusion then prevailing; for it was exactly at the time that martial law was proclaimed at Paris, the country all up in arms, and executions by the mobs were daily perpetrating through town and country. However this may have been, the bill never got to the hands of Grand & Co., was never, of course, forwarded by them to the bankers of Amsterdam, nor anything more ever heard of it. The auditor's first conjecture then was the true one, that it never was negotiated, nor therefore charged to the United States in any of the bankers' accounts. I have now under my eye a duplicate furnished me by Grand of his account of that date against the United States, and his private account against myself, and I affirm that he has not noticed this bill in either of these accounts, and the auditor assures us the Dutch bankers had never charged it. The sum of the whole then is, that I drew a bill on the United States bankers, charged myself with it on the presumption it would be paid, that it never was paid however, either by the bankers of the United States, or anybody else. It was surely just then to return me the money I had paid for it. Yet "the Native Virginian" thinks that this act of receiving back the money I had thus through error overpaid, "was a palpable and manifest art of moral turpitude, about which no two honest, impartial men can possibly differ." I ascribe these hard expressions to the ardor of his zeal for the public good, and as they contain neither argument nor proof, I pass them over without observation. Indeed, I have not been in the habit of noticing these morbid ejections of spleen either with or without the names of those venting them. But I have thought it a duty on the present occasion to relieve my fellow citizens and my country from the degradation in the eyes of the world to which this informer is endeavoring to reduce it by representing it as governed hitherto by a succession of swindlers and peculators. Nor shall I notice any further endeavors to prove or to palliate this 243 palpable misinformation. I am too old and inert to undertake minute investigations of intricate transactions of the last century; and I am not afraid to trust to the justice and good sense of my fellow-citizens on future, as on former attempts to lessen me in their esteem.

I ask of you, gentlemen, the insertion of this letter in your paper; and I trust that the printers who have hazarded the publication of the libel, on anonymous authority, will think that of the answer a moderate retribution of the wrong to which they have been accessory.


Monticello, June 1, 1822.

It is very long, my dear Sir, since I have written to you. My dislocated wrist is now become so stiff that I write slow and with pain, and therefore write as little as I can. Yet it is due to mutual friendship to ask once in awhile how we do? The papers tell us that General Starke is off at the age of 93. Charles Thomson still lives at about the same age, cheerful, slender as a grasshopper, and so much without memory that he scarcely recognizes the members of his household. An intimate friend of his called on him not long since; it was difficult to make him recollect who he was, and, sitting one hour, he told him the same story four times over. Is this life?

"With lab'ring step

To tread our former footsteps? pace the round

Eternal?—to beat and beat

The beaten track? to see what we have seen,

To taste the tasted? o'er our palates to decant

Another vintage?"

It is at most but the life of a cabbage; surely not worth a wish. When all our faculties have left, or are leaving us, one by one, sight, hearing, memory, every avenue of pleasing sensation is closed, and athumy, debility and malaise left in their places, when 244 friends of our youth are all gone, and a generation is risen around us whom we know not, is death an evil?

When one by one our ties are torn,

And friend from friend is snatched forlorn,

When man is left alone to mourn,

Oh! then how sweet it is to die!

When trembling limbs refuse their weight,

And films slow gathering dim the sight,

When clouds obscure the mental light

'Tis nature's kindest boon to die!

I really think so. I have ever dreaded a doting old age; and my health has been generally so good, and is now so good, that I dread it still. The rapid decline of my strength during the last winter has made me hope sometimes that I see land. During summer I enjoy its temperature, but I shudder at the approach of winter, and wish I could sleep through it with the Dormouse, and only wake with him in spring, if ever. They say that Starke could walk about his room. I am told you walk well and firmly. I can only reach my garden, and that with sensible fatigue. I ride, however, daily. But reading is my delight. I should wish never to put pen to paper; and the more because of the treacherous practice some people have of publishing one's letters without leave. Lord Mansfield declared it a breach of trust, and punishable at law. I think it should be a penitentiary felony; yet you will have seen that they have drawn me out into the arena of the newspapers; although I know it is too late for me to buckle on the armor of youth, yet my indignation would not permit me passively to receive the kick of an ass.

To turn to the news of the day, it seems that the Cannibals of Europe are going to eating one another again. A war between Russia and Turkey is like the battle of the kite and snake. Whichever destroys the other, leaves a destroyer the less for the world. This pugnacious humor of mankind seems to be the law of his nature, one of the obstacles to too great multiplication provided in the mechanism of the Universe. The cocks of the henyard kill one another up. Bears, bulls, rams, do 245 the same. And the horse, in his wild state, kills all the young males, until worn down with age and war, some vigorous youth kills him, and takes to himself the Harem of females. I hope we shall prove how much happier for man the Quaker policy is, and that the life of the feeder, is better than that of the fighter; and it is some consolation that the desolation by these maniacs of one part of the earth is the means of improving it in other parts. Let the latter be our office, and let us milk the cow, while the Russian holds her by the horns, and the Turk by the tail. God bless you, and give you health, strength, and good spirits, and as much of life as you think worth having.


Monticello, June 5, 1822.

I thank you, Sir, for the pamphlets you have been so kind as to send me, and am happy to learn that the doctrine of Jesus that there is but one God, is advancing prosperously among our fellow citizens. Had his doctrines, pure as they came from himself, been never sophisticated for unworthy purposes, the whole civilized world would at this day have formed but a single sect. You ask my opinion on the items of doctrine in your catechism. I have never permitted myself to meditate a specified creed. These formulas have been the bane and ruin of the Christian church, its own fatal invention, which, through so many ages, made of Christendom a slaughter-house, and at this day divides it into casts of inextinguishable hatred to one another. Witness the present internecine rage of all other sects against the Unitarian. The religions of antiquity had no particular formulas of creed. Those of the modern world none, except those of the religionists calling themselves Christians, and even among these the Quakers have none. And hence, alone, the harmony, the quiet, the brotherly affections, the exemplary and unschismatising society of the Friends, and I hope the Unitarians, will follow their happy example. With these sentiments of the mischiefs of 246 creeds and confessions of faith, I am sure you will excuse my not giving opinions on the items of any particular one; and that you will accept, at the same time, the assurance of the high respect and consideration which I bear to its author.


Monticello, June 10, 1822.

Messrs. Ritchie and Gooch,—In my letter to you of May 13th, in answer to a charge by a person signing himself "A Native Virginian," that on a bill drawn by me for a sum equivalent to $1,148, the treasury of the United States had made double payment, I supposed I had done as much as would be required when I showed they had only returned to me money which I had previously paid into the treasury on the presumption that such a bill had been paid for me, but that this bill being lost or destroyed on the way, had never been presented, consequently never paid by the United States, and that the money was therefore returned to me. This being too plain for controversy, the pseudo Native of Virginia, in his reply, No. 32, in the Federal Republican of May 24th, reduces himself ultimately to the ground of a double receipt of the money by me, first on sale or negotiation of the bill in Europe, and a second time from the treasury. But the bill was never sold or negotiated anywhere. It was not drawn to raise money in the market. I sold it to nobody, received no money on it, but enclosed it to Grand & Co. for some purpose of account, for what particular purpose neither my memory, after a lapse of thirty-three years, nor my papers enable me to say. Had I preserved a copy of my letter to Grand enclosing the bill, that would doubtless have explained the purpose. But it was drawn on the eve of my embarkation with my family from Cowes for America, and probably the hurry of preparation for that did not allow me time to take a copy. I presume this because I find no such letter among my papers. Nor does any subsequent correspondence with Grand explain it, because I had no 247 private account with him; my account as minister being kept with the treasury directly, so that he, receiving no intimation of this bill, could never give me notice of its miscarriage. But, however satisfactory might have been an explanation of the purpose of the bill, it is unnecessary at least; the material fact being established that it never got to hand, nor was ever paid by the United States.

And how does the Native Virginian maintain his charge that I received the cash when I drew the bill? by unceremoniously inserting into the entry of that article in my account, words of his own, making me say in direct terms that I did receive the cash for the bill. In my account rendered to the treasury, it is entered in these words: "1789, Oct. 1. By my bill on Willincks, Van Staphorsts & Hubbard in favor of Grand & Co. for 2,800 florins, equal to 6,230 livres 18 sous," but he quotes it as stated in my account rendered to and settled at the treasury, and yet remaining, as it is to be presumed, among the archives of that department, "By cash received of Grand for bill on Willincks, &c." Now the words "cash received of Grand" constitute "the very point, the pivot, on which the matter turns," as himself says, and not finding, he has furnished them. Although the interpolation of them is sufficiently refuted by the fact that Grand was, at the time, in France, and myself in England, yet wishing that conviction of the interpolation should be founded on official document, I wrote to the auditor, Mr. Harrison, requesting an official certificate of the very words in which that article stood in my autograph account deposited in the office. I received yesterday his answer of the 3d, in which he says, "I am unable to furnish the extract you require, as the original account rendered by you of your pecuniary transactions of a public nature in Europe, together with the vouchers and documents connected with it, were all destroyed in the Register's office in the memorable conflagration of 1814. With respect, therefore, to the sum of $1,148 in question, I can only say that, after full and repeated examinations, I considered you as most righteously and justly entitled to receive it. Otherwise, it will, I trust, be believed that 248 I could not have consented to the re-payment." Considering the intimacy which the Native Virginian shows with the treasury affairs, we might be justified in suspecting that he knew this fact of the destruction of the original by fire when he ventured to misquote. But certainly we may call on him to say, and to show, from what original he copied these words: "cash received from Grand"? I say, most assuredly, from none, for none such ever existed. Although the original be lost, which would have convicted him officially, it happens that when I made from my rough draft a fair copy of my account for the treasury, I took also, with a copying-machine, a press-copy of every page, which I kept for my own use. It is known that copies by this well-known machine are taken by impression on damp paper laid on the face of the written page while fresh, and passed between rollers as copper plates are. They must therefore be true fac similies. This press-copy now lies before me, has been shown to several persons, and will be shown to as many as wish or are willing to examine it; and this article of my account is entered in it in these words: "1789, Oct. 1. By my bill on Willincks, Van Staphorsts & Hubbard for 2,800 florins, equal to 6,230 livres 18 sous." An inspection of the account, too, shows that whenever I received cash for a bill, it is uniformly entered "by cash received of such an one, &c;" but where a bill was drawn to constitute an item of account only, the entry is "by my bill on, &c." Now to these very words "cash received of Grand," not in my original but interpolated by himself, he constantly appeals as proofs of an acknowledgment under my own hand that I received the cash. In proof of this, I must request patience to read the following quotations from his denunciations as standing in the Federal Republican of May 24:

Page 2, column 2, 1. 48 to 29 from the bottom, "he [Mr. J.] admits in his account rendered in 1790 and settled in 1792, that he had received the 'cash,' [placing the word cash between inverted commas to have it marked particularly as a quotation] that he had received the 'cash' for the bill in question, and he does not directly deny it now. Will he, can he, in the face of his own declaration in writing 249 to the contrary, publicly say that he did not receive the money for this bill in Europe? This is the point on which the whole matter rests, the pivot on which the arguments turn. If he did receive the money in Europe, (no matter whether at Cowes or at Paris,) he certainly had no right to receive it a second time from the public treasury of the United States. This is admitted I believe on all sides. Now, that he did receive the money in Europe on this bill, is proved by the acknowledgment of the receiver himself, who credits the amount in his account as settled at the treasury thus: "cash received of Grand for bill on Willincks, Van Staphorsts, 2,876 gilders, 1,148 dollars."

Col. 3, 1. 28 to 21 from bottom. There is a plain difference in the phraseology of the account, from which an extract is given by Mr. J. as above, and that which he rendered to the Treasury. In the former he gives the credit thus, "By my bills on Willincks," &c. In the latter he states, "By cash received of Grand for bill on Willincks, &c." There is a difference, indeed, as he states it, but it is made solely by his own interpolation.

Col. 3, 1. 8, from bottom. "That Mr. Jefferson should, in the very teeth of the facts of the evidence before us, and in his own breast, gravely say that he had paid the money for this bill, and that therefore it was but just to return him the amount of it, when he had, by his own acknowledgment, sent it to Grand & Co., and received the money for it, is, I confess, not only matter of utter astonishment but regret." I spare myself the qualifications which these paragraphs may merit, leaving them to be applied by every reader according to the feelings they may excite in his own breast.

He proceeds: "And now to place this case beyond the reach of cavil or doubt, and to show most conclusively that he had negotiated this bill in Europe, and received the cash for it there, and that such was the understanding of the matter at the treasury in 1809, when he received the money." These are his own words. Col. 4, he brings forward the overwhelming fact "not hitherto made public but stated from the most creditable and authentic 250 source, that one of the accounting officers of the treasury suggested in writing the propriety of taking bond and security from Mr. J., for indemnification of the United States against any future claim on this bill. But it seems the bond was not taken, and the government is now liable in law, and in good faith for the payment of this bill to the rightful owner." How this suggestion of taking bond at the treasury, so solemnly paraded, is more conclusive proof than his own interpolation, that the cash was received, I am so dull as not to perceive; but I say, that had the suggestion been made to me, it would have been instantly complied with. But I deny his law. Were the bill now to be presented to the treasury, the answer would and should be the same as a merchant would give: "You have held up this bill three and thirty years without notice; we have settled in the meantime with the drawer, and have no effects of his left in our hands. Apply to him for payment." On his application to me, I should first inquire into the history of the bill; where it had been lurking for three and thirty years? how came he by it? by interception? by trover? by assignment from Grand? by purchase? from whom, when and where? And according to his answers I should either institute criminal process against him, or if he showed that all was fair and honest, I should pay him the money, and look for reimbursement to the quarter appearing liable. The law deems seven years' absence of a man, without being heard of, such presumptive evidence of his death, as to distribute his estate, and to allow his wife to marry again. The Auditor thought that twenty years non-appearance of a bill which had been risked through the post-offices of two nations, was sufficient presumption of its loss. But this self-styled native of Virginia thinks that the thirty-three years now elapsed are not sufficient. Be it so. If the accounting officers of the treasury have any uneasiness on that subject, I am ready to give a bond of indemnification to the United States in any sum the officers will name, and with the security which themselves shall approve. Will this satisfy the native Virginian? or will he now try to pick some other hole in this transaction, to shield 251 himself from a candid acknowledgment, that in making up his case, he supplied by gratuitous conjectures, the facts which were not within his knowledge, and that thus he has sinned against truth in his declarations before the public? Be this as it may, I have so much confidence in the discernment and candor of my fellow-citizens, as to leave to their judgment, and dismiss from my own notice any future torture of words or circumstances which this writer may devise for their deception. Indeed, could such a denunciation, and on such proof, bereave me of that confidence and consolation, I should, through the remainder of life, brood over the afflicting belief that I had lived and labored in vain.


Monticello, June 13, 1822.

Sir,—I thank you for the volume of American Jurisprudence, which you have been so kind as to send me. I am now too old to read books solidly, unless they promise present amusement or future benefit. To me books of law offer neither. But I read your 6th chapter with interest and satisfaction, on the question whether the common law (of England) makes a part of the laws of our general government? That it makes more or less a part of the laws of the States is, I suppose, an unquestionable fact. Not by birthright, a conceit as inexplicable as the trinity, but by adoption. But, as to the general government, the Virginia Report on the alien and sedition laws, has so completely pulverized this pretension that nothing new can be said on it. Still, seeing that judges of the Supreme Court, (I recollect, for example, Elsworth and Story) had been found capable of such paralogism, I was glad to see that the Supreme Court had given it up. In the case of Libel in the United States district Court of Connecticut, the rejection of it was certainly sound; because no law of the general government had made it an offence. But such a case might, I suppose, be sustained in the State Courts which have state laws against libels. Because as to the portions of power 252 within each State assigned to the general government, the President is as much the Executive of the State, as their particular governor is in relation to State powers. These, however, are speculations with which I no longer trouble myself; and therefore, to my thanks, I will only add assurances of my great respect.


Monticello, June 26, 1822.

Dear Sir,—I have received and read with thankfulness and pleasure your denunciation of the abuses of tobacco and wine. Yet, however sound in its principles, I expect it will be but a sermon to the wind. You will find it is as difficult to inculcate these sanative precepts on the sensualities of the present day, as to convince an Athanasian that there is but one God. I wish success to both attempts, and am happy to learn from you that the latter, at least, is making progress, and the more rapidly in proportion as our Platonizing Christians make more stir and noise about it. The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend all to the happiness of man.

1. That there is one only God, and he all perfect.

2. That there is a future state of rewards and punishments.

3. That to love God with all thy heart and thy neighbor as thyself, is the sum of religion. These are the great points on which he endeavored to reform the religion of the Jews. But compare with these the demoralizing dogmas of Calvin.

1. That there are three Gods.

2. That good works, or the love of our neighbour, are nothing.

3. That faith is every thing, and the more incomprehensible the proposition, the more merit in its faith.

4. That reason in religion is of unlawful use.

5. That God, from the beginning, elected certain individuals to be saved, and certain others to be damned; and that no crimes of the former can damn them; no virtues of the latter save.

Now, which of these is the true and charitable Christian? He 253 who believes and acts on the simple doctrines of Jesus? Or the impious dogmatists, as Athanasius and Calvin? Verily I say these are the false shepherds foretold as to enter not by the door into the sheepfold, but to climb up some other way. They are mere usurpers of the Christian name, teaching a counter-religion made up of the deliria of crazy imaginations, as foreign from Christianity as is that of Mahomet. Their blasphemies have driven thinking men into infidelity, who have too hastily rejected the supposed author himself, with the horrors so falsely imputed to him. Had the doctrines of Jesus been preached always as pure as they came from his lips, the whole civilized world would now have been Christian. I rejoice that in this blessed country of free inquiry and belief, which has surrendered its creed and conscience to neither Kings nor priests, the genuine doctrine of one only God is reviving, and I trust that there is not a young man now living in the United States who will not die an Unitarian.

But much I fear, that when this great truth shall be re-established, its votaries will fall into the fatal error of fabricating formulas of creed and confessions of faith, the engines which so soon destroyed the religion of Jesus, and made of Christendom a mere Aceldama; that they will give up morals for mysteries, and Jesus for Plato. How much wiser are the Quakers, who, agreeing in the fundamental doctrines of the gospel, schismatize about no mysteries, and, keeping within the pale of common sense, suffer no speculative differences of opinion, any more than of feature, to impair the love of their brethren. Be this the wisdom of Unitarians, this the holy mantle which shall cover within its charitable circumference all who believe in one God, and who love their neighbor! I conclude my sermon with sincere assurances of my friendly esteem and respect. 254


Monticello, June 27, 1822.

Dear Sir,—Your kind letter of the 11th has given me great satisfaction. For although I could not doubt but that the hand of age was pressing heavily on you, as on myself, yet we like to know the particulars and the degree of that pressure. Much reflection too, has been produced by your suggestion of lending my letter of the 1st, to a printer. I have generally great aversion to the insertion of my letters in the public papers; because of my passion for quiet retirement, and never to be exhibited in scenes on the public stage. Nor am I unmindful of the precept of Horace, "solvere senescentem, mature sanus equum, ne peccet ad extremum ridendus." In the present case, however, I see a possibility that this might aid in producing the very quiet after which I pant. I do not know how far you may suffer, as I do, under the persecution of letters, of which every mail brings a fresh load. They are letters of inquiry, for the most part, always of good will, sometimes from friends whom I esteem, but much oftener from persons whose names are unknown to me, but written kindly and civilly, and to which, therefore, civility requires answers. Perhaps, the better known failure of your hand in its function of writing, may shield you in greater degree from this distress, and so far qualify the misfortune of its disability. I happened to turn to my letter-list some time ago, and a curiosity was excited to count those received in a single year. It was the year before the last. I found the number to be one thousand two hundred and sixty-seven, many of them requiring answers of elaborate research, and all to be answered with due attention and consideration. Take an average of this number for a week or a day, and I will repeat the question suggested by other considerations in mine of the 1st. Is this life? At best it is but the life of a mill-horse, who sees no end to his circle but in death. To such a life, that of a cabbage is paradise. It occurs then, that my condition of existence, truly stated in that letter, if better known, might check the kind indiscretions which 255 are so heavily oppressing the departing hours of life. Such a relief would, to me, be an ineffable blessing. But yours of the 11th, equally interesting and affecting, should accompany that to which it is an answer. The two, taken together, would excite a joint interest, and place before our fellow-citizens the present condition of two ancient servants, who having faithfully performed their forty or fifty campaigns, stipendiis omnibus expletis, have a reasonable claim to repose from all disturbance in the sanctuary of invalids and superannuates. But some device should be thought of for their getting before the public otherwise than by our own publication. Your printer, perhaps, could frame something plausible. * * * * *'s name should be left blank, as his picture, should it meet his eye, might give him pain. I consign, however, the whole subject to your consideration, to do in it whatever your own judgment shall approve, and repeat always, with truth, the assurance of my constant and affectionate friendship and respect.


Monticello, July 2, 1822.

Sir,—Your favor of the 15th of June is received, and I am very thankful for the kindness of its expressions respecting myself. But it ascribes to me merits which I do not claim. I was only of a band devoted to the cause of independence, all of whom exerted equally their best endeavors for its success, and have a common right to the merits of its acquisition. So also is the civil revolution of 1801. Very many and very meritorious were the worthy patriots who assisted in bringing back our government to its republican tack. To preserve it in that, will require unremitting vigilance. Whether the surrender of our opponents, their reception into our camp, their assumption of our name, and apparent accession to our objects, may strengthen or weaken the genuine principles of republicanism, may be a good or an evil, is yet to be seen. I consider the party division of whig and tory 256 the most wholesome which can exist in any government, and well worthy of being nourished, to keep out those of a more dangerous character. We already see the power, installed for life, responsible to no authority, (for impeachment is not even a scare-crow,) advancing with a noiseless and steady pace to the great object of consolidation. The foundations are already deeply laid by their decisions, for the annihilation of constitutional State rights, and the removal of every check, every counterpoise to the ingulphing power of which themselves are to make a sovereign part. If ever this vast country is brought under a single government, it will be one of the most extensive corruption, indifferent and incapable of a wholesome care over so wide a spread of surface. This will not be borne, and you will have to choose between reformation and revolution. If I know the spirit of this country, the one or the other is inevitable. Before the canker is become inveterate, before its venom has reached so much of the body politic as to get beyond control, remedy should be applied. Let the future appointments of judges be for four or six years, and renewable by the President and Senate. This will bring their conduct, at regular periods, under revision and probation, and may keep them in equipoise between the general and special governments. We have erred in this point, by copying England, where certainly it is a good thing to have the judges independent of the King. But we have omitted to copy their caution also, which makes a judge removable on the address of both legislative Houses. That there should be public functionaries independent of the nation, whatever may be their demerit, is a solecism in a republic, of the first order of absurdity and inconsistency.

To the printed inquiries respecting our schools, it is not in my power to give an answer. Age, debility, an ancient dislocated, and now stiffened wrist, render writing so slow and painful, that I am obliged to decline everything possible requiring writing. An act of our legislature will inform you of our plan of primary schools, and the annual reports show that it is becoming completely abortive, and must be abandoned very shortly, after costing us to this day one hundred and eighty thousand dollars, and 257 yet to cost us forty-five thousand dollars a year more until it shall be discontinued; and if a single boy has received the elements of common education, it must be in some part of the country not known to me. Experience has but too fully confirmed the early predictions of its fate. But on this subject I must refer you to others more able than I am to go into the necessary details; and I conclude with the assurances of my great esteem and respect.


Monticello, July 19, 1822.

Dear Sir,—An anciently dislocated, and now stiffening wrist, makes writing an operation so slow and painful to me, that I should not so soon have troubled you with an acknowledgment of your favor of the 8th, but for the request it contained of my consent to the publication of my letter of June the 26th. No, my dear Sir, not for the world. Into what a nest of hornets would it thrust my head! the genus irritable vatum, on whom argument is lost, and reason is, by themselves, disclaimed in matters of religion. Don Quixote undertook to redress the bodily wrongs of the world, but the redressment of mental vagaries would be an enterprise more than Quixotic. I should as soon undertake to bring the crazy skulls of Bedlam to sound understanding, as inculcate reason into that of an Athanasian. I am old, and tranquility is now my summum bonum. Keep me, therefore, from the fire and faggots of Calvin and his victim Servetus. Happy in the prospect of a restoration of primitive Christianity, I must leave to younger athletes to encounter and lop off the false branches which have been engrafted into it by the mythologists of the middle and modern ages. I am not aware of the peculiar resistance to Unitarianism, which you ascribe to Pennsylvania. When I lived in Philadelphia, there was a respectable congregation of that sect, with a meeting-house and regular service which I attended, and in which Doctor Priestley 258 officiated to numerous audiences. Baltimore has one or two churches, and their pastor, author of an inestimable book on this subject, was elected chaplain to the late Congress. That doctrine has not yet been preached to us: but the breeze begins to be felt which precedes the storm; and fanaticism is all in a bustle, shutting its doors and windows to keep it out. But it will come, and drive before it the foggy mists of Platonism which have so long obscured our atmosphere. I am in hopes that some of the disciples of your institution will become missionaries to us, of these doctrines truly evangelical, and open our eyes to what has been so long hidden from them. A bold and eloquent preacher would be nowhere listened to with more freedom than in this State, nor with more firmness of mind. They might need a preparatory discourse on the text of "prove all things, hold fast that which is good," in order to unlearn the lesson that reason is an unlawful guide in religion. They might startle on being first awaked from the dreams of the night, but they would rub their eyes at once, and look the spectres boldly in the face. The preacher might be excluded by our hierophants from their churches and meeting-houses, but would be attended in the fields by whole acres of hearers and thinkers. Missionaries from Cambridge would soon be greeted with more welcome, than from the tritheistical school of Andover. Such are my wishes, such would be my welcomes, warm and cordial as the assurances of my esteem and respect for you.


Monticello, August 29, 1822.

You must be so good, Sir, as to excuse me from entering into the optical investigation which your letter of the 18th proposes. The hand of age presses heavily on me. I have long withdrawn my mind from speculations of that kind; my memory is on the wane. I am averse even to close thinking, and writing is become slow, laborious and painful. I will make then but a single 259 suggestion on the subject of your proposition, to show my respect to your request.

To distinct vision it is necessary not only that the visual angle should be sufficient for the powers of the human eye, but that there should be sufficient light also on the object of observation. In microscopic observations, the enlargement of the angle of vision may be more indulged, because auxiliary light may be concentrated on the object by concave mirrors. But in the case of the heavenly bodies, we can have no such aid. The moon, for example, receives from the sun but a fixed quantity of light. In proportion as you magnify her surface, you spread that fixed quantity over a greater space, dilute it more, and render the object more dim. If you increase her magnitude infinitely, you dim her face infinitely also, and she becomes invisible. When under total eclipse, all the direct rays of the sun being intercepted, she is seen but faintly, and would not be seen at all but for the refraction of the solar rays in their passage through our atmosphere. In a night of extreme darkness, a house or a mountain is not seen, as not having light enough to impress the limited sensibility of our eye. I do suppose in fact that Herschel has availed himself of the properties of the parabolic mirror to the point beyond which its effect would be countervailed by the diminution of light on the object. I barely suggest this element, not presented to view in your letter, as one which must enter into the estimate of the improved telescope you propose. You will receive from the professional mathematicians whom you have consulted, remarks more elaborate and profound, and must be so good as to accept mine merely as testimonies of my respect.


Monticello, September 5, 1822.

Sir,—Your letter of August —, was received a few days ago. Of all the departments of science no one seems to have been less advanced for the last hundred years than that of meteorology. 260 The new chemistry indeed has given us a new principle of the generation of rain, by proving water to be a composition of different gases, and has aided our theory of meteoric lights. Electricity stands where Dr. Franklin's early discoveries placed it, except with its new modification of galvanism. But the phenomena of snow, hail, halo, aurora borealis, haze, looming, &c., are as yet very imperfectly understood. I am myself an empiric in natural philosophy, suffering my faith to go no further than my facts. I am pleased, however, to see the efforts of hypothetical speculation, because by the collisions of different hypotheses, truth may be elicited and science advanced in the end. This sceptical disposition does not permit me to say whether your hypothesis for looming and the floating volumes of warm air occasionally perceived, may or may not be confirmed by future observations. More facts are yet wanting to furnish a solution on which we may rest with confidence. I even doubt as yet whether the looming at sea and at land are governed by the same laws. In this state of uncertainty, I cannot presume either to advise or discourage the publication of your essay. This must depend on circumstances of which you must be abler to judge yourself, and therefore I return the paper as requested, with assurances of my great respect.


Monticello, September 25, 1822.

Sir,—I received on the 20th, your letter of the 13th, on the question what is an east and west line? which, you say, has been a subject of discussion in the newspapers. I presume, however, it must have been a mere question of definition, and that the parties have differed only in applying the same appellation to different things. The one defines an east and west line to be on a great circle of the earth, passing through the point of departure, its nadir point, and the centre of the earth, its plane rectangular, to that of the meridian of departure. The other considers an 261 east and west line to be a line on the surface of the earth, bounding a plane at right-angles with its axis, or a circle of latitude passing through the point of departure, or in other words, a line which, from the point of departure, passes every meridian at a right-angle. Each party, therefore, defining the line he means, may be permitted to call it an east and west one, or at least it becomes no longer a mathematical but a philological question of the meaning of the words east and west. The last is what was meant probably by the east and west line in the treaty of Ghent. The same has been the understanding in running the numerous east and west lines which divide our different States. They have been run by observations of latitude at very short intervals, uniting the points of observation by short direct lines, and thus constituting in fact part of a polygon of very short sides.

But, Sir, I do not pretend to be an arbiter of these learned questions; age has weaned me from such speculations, and rendered me as incompetent as unwilling to puzzle myself with them. Your claim on me as a quondam neighbor has induced me to hazard thus much, not indeed for the newspapers, a vehicle to which I am never willingly committed, but to prove my attention to your wishes, and to convey to you the assurances of my respect.


Montezillo, October 15, 1822.

Dear Sir,—I have long entertained scruples about writing this letter, upon a subject of some delicacy. But old age has overcome them at last.

You remember the four ships ordered by Congress to be built, and the four captains appointed by Washington, Talbot, and Truxton, and Barry, &c., to carry an ambassador to Algiers, and protect our commerce in the Mediterranean. I have always imputed this measure to you, for several reasons. First, because you frequently proposed it to me while we were at Paris, negotiating together for peace with the Barbary powers. Secondly, 262 because I knew that Washington and Hamilton were not only indifferent about a navy, but averse to it. There was no Secretary of the Navy; only four Heads of department. You were Secretary of State; Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury; Knox, Secretary of War; and I believe Bradford was Attorney General. I have always suspected that you and Knox were in favor of a navy. If Bradford was so, the majority was clear. But Washington, I am confident, was against it in his judgment. But his attachment to Knox, and his deference to your opinion, for I know he had a great regard for you, might induce him to decide in favor of you and Knox, even though Bradford united with Hamilton in opposition to you. That Hamilton was averse to the measure, I have personal evidence; for while it was pending, he came in a hurry and a fit of impatience, to make a visit to me. He said he was likely to be called upon for a large sum of money to build ships of war, to fight the Algerines, and he asked my opinion of the measure. I answered him that I was clearly in favor of it. For I had always been of opinion, from the commencement of the revolution, that a navy was the most powerful, the safest and the cheapest national defence for this country. My advice, therefore, was, that as much of the revenue as could possibly be spared, should be applied to the building and equipping of ships. The conversation was of some length, but it was manifest in his looks and in his air, that he was disgusted at the measure, as well as at the opinion that I had expressed.

Mrs. Knox not long since wrote a letter to Doctor Waterhouse, requesting him to procure a commission for her son, in the navy; that navy, says her ladyship, of which his father was the parent. "For," says she, "I have frequently heard General Washington say to my husband, the navy was your child." I have always believed it to be Jefferson's child, though Knox may have assisted in ushering it into the world. Hamilton's hobby was the army. That Washington was averse to a navy, I had full proof from his own lips, in many different conversations, some of them of length, in which he always insisted that it was only building 263 and arming ships for the English. "Si quid novisti rectius istis candidus imperti; si non, his utere mecum."

If I am in error in any particular, pray correct your humble servant.


Monticello, October 21, 1822.

Sir,—I return thanks for the pamphlet you have been so kind as to send me on the subject of commonwealths. Its moral principles merit entire approbation, its philanthropy especially, and its views of the equal rights of man. That, on the principle of a communion of property, small societies may exist in habits of virtue, order, industry, and peace, and consequently in a state of as much happiness as heaven has been pleased to deal out to imperfect humanity, I can readily conceive, and indeed, have seen its proofs in various small societies which have been constituted on that principle. But I do not feel authorized to conclude from these that an extended society, like that of the United States, or of an individual State, could be governed happily on the same principle. I look to the diffusion of light and education as the resource most to be relied on for ameliorating the condition, promoting the virtue, and advancing the happiness of man. That every man shall be made virtuous, by any process whatever, is, indeed, no more to be expected, than that every tree shall be made to bear fruit, and every plant nourishment. The brier and bramble can never become the vine and olive; but their asperities may be softened by culture, and their properties improved to usefulness in the order and economy of the world. And I do hope that, in the present spirit of extending to the great mass of mankind the blessings of instruction, I see a prospect of great advancement in the happiness of the human race; and that this may proceed to an indefinite, although not to an infinite degree. Wishing every success to the views of your society which their hopes can promise, and thanking you most particularly for the 264 kind expressions of your letter towards myself, I salute you with assurances of great esteem and respect.


Monticello, November 1, 1822.

Dear Sir,—I have racked my memory and ransacked my papers, to enable myself to answer the inquiries of your favor of October the 15th; but to little purpose. My papers furnish me nothing, my memory, generalities only. I know that while I was in Europe, and anxious about the fate of our seafaring men, for some of whom, then in captivity in Algiers, we were treating, and all were in like danger, I formed, undoubtingly, the opinion that our government, as soon as practicable, should provide a naval force sufficient to keep the Barbary States in order; and on this subject we communicated together, as you observe. When I returned to the United States and took part in the administration under General Washington, I constantly maintained that opinion; and in December, 1790, took advantage of a reference to me from the first Congress which met after I was in office, to report in favor of a force sufficient for the protection of our Mediterranean commerce; and I laid before them an accurate statement of the whole Barbary force, public and private. I think General Washington approved of building vessels of war to that extent. General Knox, I know, did. But what was Colonel Hamilton's opinion, I do not in the least remember. Your recollections on that subject are certainly corroborated by his known anxieties for a close connection with Great Britain, to which he might apprehend danger from collisions between their vessels and ours. Randolph was then Attorney General; but his opinion on the question I also entirely forget. Some vessels of war were accordingly built and sent into the Mediterranean. The additions to these in your time, I need not note to you, who are well known to have ever been an advocate for the wooden walls of Themistocles. Some of those you added, were sold under an act of Congress passed while you were in office. I thought, 265 afterwards, that the public safety might require some additional vessels of strength, to be prepared and in readiness for the first moment of a war, provided they could be preserved against the decay which is unavoidable if kept in the water, and clear of the expense of officers and men. With this view I proposed that they should be built in dry docks, above the level of the tide waters, and covered with roofs. I further advised, that places for these docks should be selected where there was a command of water on a high level, as that of the Tyber at Washington, by which the vessels might be floated out, on the principle of a lock. But the majority of the legislature was against any addition to the navy, and the minority, although for it in judgment, voted against it on a principle of opposition. We are now, I understand, building vessels to remain on the stocks, under shelter, until wanted, when they will be launched and finished. On my plan they could be in service at an hour's notice. On this, the finishing, after launching, will be a work of time.

This is all I recollect about the origin and progress of our navy. That of the late war, certainly raised our rank and character among nations. Yet a navy is a very expensive engine. It is admitted, that in ten or twelve years a vessel goes to entire decay; or, if kept in repair, costs as much as would build a new one; and that a nation who could count on twelve or fifteen years of peace, would gain by burning its navy and building a new one in time. Its extent, therefore, must be governed by circumstances. Since my proposition for a force adequate to the piracies of the Mediterranean, a similar necessity has arisen in our own seas for considerable addition to that force. Indeed, I wish we could have a convention with the naval powers of Europe, for them to keep down the pirates of the Mediterranean, and the slave ships on the coast of Africa, and for us to perform the same duties for the society of nations in our seas. In this way, those collisions would be avoided between the vessels of war of different nations, which beget wars and constitute the weightiest objection to navies. I salute you with constant affection and respect. 266


Monticello, November 2, 1822.

Dear Sir,—Your favor of October the 18th came to hand yesterday. The atmosphere of our country is unquestionably charged with a threatening cloud of fanaticism, lighter in some parts, denser in others, but too heavy in all. I had no idea, however, that in Pennsylvania, the cradle of toleration and freedom of religion, it could have arisen to the height you describe. This must be owing to the growth of Presbyterianism. The blasphemy and absurdity of the five points of Calvin, and the impossibility of defending them, render their advocates impatient of reasoning, irritable, and prone to denunciation. In Boston, however, and its neighborhood, Unitarianism has advanced to so great strength, as now to humble this haughtiest of all religious sects; insomuch, that they condescend to interchange with them and the other sects, the civilities of preaching freely and frequently in each others' meeting houses. In Rhode Island, on the other hand, no sectarian preacher will permit an Unitarian to pollute his desk. In our Richmond there is much fanaticism, but chiefly among the women. They have their night meetings and praying parties, where, attended by their priests, and sometimes by a hen-pecked husband, they pour forth the effusions of their love to Jesus, in terms as amatory and carnal, as their modesty would permit them to use to a mere earthly lover. In our village of Charlottesville, there is a good degree of religion, with a small spice only of fanaticism. We have four sects, but without either church or meeting-house. The court-house is the common temple, one Sunday in the month to each. Here, Episcopalian and Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist, meet together, join in hymning their Maker, listen with attention and devotion to each others' preachers, and all mix in society with perfect harmony. It is not so in the districts where Presbyterianism prevails undividedly. Their ambition and tyranny would tolerate no rival if they had power. Systematical in grasping at an ascendency over all other sects, they aim, like the Jesuits, at engrossing the education 267 of the country, are hostile to every institution which they do not direct, and jealous at seeing others begin to attend at all to that object. The diffusion of instruction, to which there is now so growing an attention, will be the remote remedy to this fever of fanaticism; while the more proximate one will be the progress of Unitarianism. That this will, ere long, be the religion of the majority from north to south, I have no doubt.

In our university you know there is no Professorship of Divinity. A handle has been made of this, to disseminate an idea that this is an institution, not merely of no religion, but against all religion. Occasion was taken at the last meeting of the Visitors, to bring forward an idea that might silence this calumny, which weighed in the minds of some honest friends to the institution. In our annual report to the legislature, after stating the constitutional reasons against a public establishment of any religious instruction, we suggest the expediency of encouraging the different religious sects to establish, each for itself, a professorship of their own tenets, on the confines of the university, so near as that their students may attend the lectures there, and have the free use of our library, and every other accommodation we can give them; preserving, however, their independence of us and of each other. This fills the chasm objected to ours, as a defect in an institution professing to give instruction in all useful sciences. I think the invitation will be accepted, by some sects from candid intentions, and by others from jealousy and rivalship. And by bringing the sects together, and mixing them with the mass of other students, we shall soften their asperities, liberalize and neutralize their prejudices, and make the general religion a religion of peace, reason, and morality.

The time of opening our university is still as uncertain as ever. All the pavilions, boarding houses, and dormitories are done. Nothing is now wanting but the central building for a library and other general purposes. For this we have no funds, and the last legislature refused all aid. We have better hopes of the next. But all is uncertain. I have heard with regret of disturbances on the part of the students in your seminary. The 268 article of discipline is the most difficult in American education. Premature ideas of independence, too little repressed by parents beget a spirit of insubordination, which is the great obstacle to science with us, and a principal cause of its decay since the revolution. I look to it with dismay in our institution, as a breaker ahead, which I am far from being confident we shall be able to weather. The advance of age, and tardy pace of the public patronage, may probably spare me the pain of witnessing consequences.

I salute you with constant friendship and respect.


Monticello, November 10, 1822.

Sir,—I have to acknowledge your favor of the 4th instant, which gives me the first information I had ever received that the laurels which Colonel Campbell so honorably won in the battle of King's Mountain, had ever been brought into question by any one. To him has been ever ascribed so much of the success of that brilliant action as the valor and conduct of an able commander might justly claim. This lessens nothing the merits of his companions in arms, officers and soldiers, who, all and every one, acted well their parts in their respective stations. I have no papers on this subject in my possession, all such received at that day having belonged to the records of the council, but I remember well the deep and grateful impression made on the mind of every one by that memorable victory. It was the joyful annunciation of that turn of the tide of success which terminated the revolutionary war with the seal of our independence. The slighting expression complained of, as hazarded by the venerable Shelby, might seem inexcusable in a younger man, but he was then old, and I can assure you, dear Sir, from mortifying experience, that the lapses of memory of an old man are innocent subjects of compassion more than of blame. The descendants of Colonel Campbell may rest their heads quietly on the pillow of 269 his renown. History has consecrated, and will forever preserve it in the faithful annals of a grateful country. With the expressions of the high sense I entertain of his character, accept the assurance to yourself of my great esteem and respect.

P. S. I received at the same time with your letter, one from Mr. William C. Preston, on the same subject. Writing is so slow and painful to me, that I must pray you to make for me my acknowledgments to him, and my request that he will consider this as an answer to his as well as your favor.


Monticello, December 8, 1822.

Sir,—I have to thank you for your pamphlets on the subject of Unitarianism, and to express my gratification with your efforts for the revival of primitive Christianity in your quarter. No historical fact is better established, than that the doctrine of one God, pure and uncompounded, was that of the early ages of Christianity; and was among the efficacious doctrines which gave it triumph over the polytheism of the ancients, sickened with the absurdities of their own theology. Nor was the unity of the Supreme Being ousted from the Christian creed by the force of reason, but by the sword of civil government, wielded at the will of the fanatic Athanasius. The hocus-pocus phantasm of a God like another Cerberus, with one body and three heads, had its birth and growth in the blood of thousands and thousands of martyrs. And a strong proof of the solidity of the primitive faith, is its restoration, as soon as a nation arises which vindicates to itself the freedom of religious opinion, and its external divorce from the civil authority. The pure and simple unity of the Creator of the universe, is now all but ascendant in the eastern States; it is dawning in the west, and advancing towards the south; and I confidently expect that the present generation will see Unitarianism become the general religion of the 270 United States. The eastern presses are giving us many excellent pieces on the subject, and Priestley's learned writings on it are, or should be, in every hand. In fact, the Athanasian paradox that one is three, and three but one, is so incomprehensible to the human mind, that no candid man can say he has any idea of it, and how can he believe what presents no idea? He who thinks he does, only deceives himself. He proves, also, that man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind. With such persons, gullability, which they call faith, takes the helm from the hand of reason, and the mind becomes a wreck.

I write with freedom, because, while I claim a right to believe in one God, if so my reason tells me, I yield as freely to others that of believing in three. Both religions, I find, make honest men, and that is the only point society has any right to look to. Although this mutual freedom should produce mutual indulgence, yet I wish not to be brought in question before the public on this or any other subject, and I pray you to consider me as writing under that trust. I take no part in controversies, religious or political. At the age of eighty, tranquillity is the greatest good of life, and the strongest of our desires that of dying in the good will of all mankind. And with the assurance of all my good will to Unitarian and Trinitarian, to Whig and Tory, accept for yourself that of my entire respect.


Monticello, February 24, 1823.

Dear Sir,—I have read with much satisfaction the reply of Mr. Everett, your brother, to the criticisms on his work on the state of Europe, and concur with him generally in the doctrines of the reply. Certainly provisions are not allowed, by the consent of nations, to be contraband but where everything is so, as in the ease of a blockaded town, with which all intercourse is 271 forbidden. On the question whether the principle of "free bottoms making free goods, and enemy bottoms enemy goods," is now to be considered as established in the law of nations, I will state to you a fact within my own knowledge, which may lessen the weight of our authority as having acted in the war of France and England on the ancient principle "that the goods of an enemy in the bottom of a friend are lawful prize; while those of a friend in an enemy bottom are not so." England became a party in the general war against France on the 1st of February, 1793. We took immediately the stand of neutrality. We were aware that our great intercourse with these two maritime nations would subject us to harassment by multiplied questions on the duties of neutrality, and that an important and early one would be which of the two principles above stated should be the law of action with us? We wished to act on the new one of "free bottoms free goods;" and we had established it in our treaties with other nations, but not with England. We determined therefore to avoid, if possible, committing ourselves on this question until we could negotiate with England her acquiescence in the new principle. Although the cases occurring were numerous, and the ministers, Genet and Hammond, eagerly on the watch, we were able to avoid any declaration until the massacre of St. Domingo. The whites, on that occasion, took refuge on board our ships, then in their harbor, with all the property they could find room for; and on their passage to the United States, many of them were taken by British cruisers, and their cargoes seized as lawful prize. The inflammable temper of Genet kindled at once, and he wrote, with his usual passion, a letter reclaiming an observance of the principle of "free bottoms free goods," as if already an acknowledged law of neutrality. I pressed him in conversation not to urge this point; that although it had been acted on by convention, by the armed neutrality, it was not yet become a principle of universal admission; that we wished indeed to strengthen it by our adoption, and were negotiating an acquiescence on the part of Great Britain: but if forced to decide prematurely, we must justify ourselves by a 272 declaration of the ancient principle, and that no general consent of nations had as yet changed it. He was immoveable, and on the 25th of July wrote a letter, so insulting, that nothing but a determined system of justice and moderation would have prevented his being shipped home in the first vessel. I had the day before answered his of the 9th, in which I had been obliged in our own justification, to declare that the ancient was the established principle, still existing and authoritative. Our denial, therefore, of the new principle, and action on the old one, were forced upon us by the precipitation and intemperance of Genet, against our wishes, and against our aim; and our involuntary practice, therefore, is of less authority against the new rule.

I owe you particular thanks for the copy of your translation of Buttman's Greek Grammar, which you have been so kind as to send me. A cursory view of it promises me a rich mine of valuable criticism. I observe he goes with the herd of grammarians in denying an Ablative case to the Greek language. I cannot concur with him in that, but think with the Messrs. of Port Royal who admit an Ablative. And why exclude it? Is it because the Dative and Ablative in Greek are always of the same form? Then there is no Ablative to the Latin plurals, because in them as in Greek, these cases are always in the same form. The Greeks recognized the Ablative under the appellation of the πτωσις αφαιρετικη, which I have met with and noted from some of the scholiasts, without recollecting where. Stephens, Scapula, Hederic acknowledge it as one of the significations of the word αφαιρεματικος. That the Greeks used it cannot be denied. For one of multiplied examples which maybe produced take the following from the Hippolytus of Euripides: "ειπε τῳ τροπῳ, δικης Επαισεν αυτον ροπτρον," "dic quo modo justitiæ clava percussit eum," "quo modo" are Ablatives, then why not τω τροπῳ? And translating it into English, should we use the [16]Dative or Ablative preposition? It is not perhaps easy to define very critically 273 what constitutes a case in the declension of nouns. All agree as to the Nominative that it is simply the name of the thing. If we admit that a distinct case is constituted by any accident or modification which changes the relation which that bears to the actors or action of the sentence, we must agree to the six cases at least; because, for example, to a thing, and from a thing are very different accidents to the thing. It may be said that if every distinct accident or change of relation constitutes a different case, then there are in every language as many cases as there are prepositions; for this is the peculiar office of the preposition. But because we do not designate by special names all the cases to which a noun is liable, is that a reason why we should throw away half of those we have, as is done by those grammarians who reject all cases, but the Nominative, Genitive, and Accusative, and in a less degree by those also who reject the Ablative alone? as pushing the discrimination of all the possible cases to extremities leads us to nothing useful or practicable, I am contented with the old six cases, familiar to every cultivated language, ancient and modern, and well understood by all. I acknowledge myself at the same time not an adept in the metaphysical speculations of Grammar. By analyzing too minutely we often reduce our subject to atoms, of which the mind loses its hold. Nor am I a friend to a scrupulous purism of style. I readily sacrifice the niceties of syntax to euphony and strength. It is by boldly neglecting the rigorisms of grammar, that Tacitus has made himself the strongest writer in the world. The Hyperesitics call him barbarous; but I should be sorry to exchange his barbarisms for their wise-drawn purisms. Some of his sentences are as strong as language can make them. Had he scrupulously filled up the whole of their syntax, they would have been merely common. To explain my meaning by an English example, I will quote the motto of one, I believe, of the regicides of Charles I., "Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God." Correct its syntax, "Rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God," it has lost all the strength and beauty of the antithesis. However, dear Sir, I profess again my want of familiarity with 274 these speculations; I hazard them without confidence, and offer them submissively to your consideration and more practised judgment.

Although writing, with both hands crippled, is slow and painful, and therefore nearly laid aside from necessity, I have been decoyed by my subjects into a very long letter. What would therefore have been a good excuse for ending with the first page, cannot be a bad one for concluding in the fourth, with the assurance of my great esteem and respect.


Monticello, February 25, 1823.

Dear Sir,—I received, in due time, your two favors of December the 2d and February the 10th, and have to acknowledge for the ladies of my native State their obligations to you for the encomiums which you are so kind as to bestow on them. They certainly claim no advantages over those of their sister States, and are sensible of more favorable circumstances existing with many of them, and happily availed, which our situation does not offer. But the paper respecting Monticello, to which you allude, was not written by a Virginian, but a visitant from another State; and written by memory at least a dozen years after the visit. This has occasioned some lapses of recollection, and a confusion of some things in the mind of our friend, and particularly as to the volume of slanders supposed to have been cut out of newspapers and preserved. It would not, indeed, have been a single volume, but an encyclopedia in bulk. But I never had such a volume; indeed, I rarely thought those libels worth reading, much less preserving and remembering. At the end of every year, I generally sorted all my pamphlets, and had them bound according to their subjects. One of these volumes consisted of personal altercations between individuals, and calumnies on each other. This was lettered on the back, "Personalities," and is now in the library of Congress. I was in the habit, 275 also, while living apart from my family, of cutting out of the newspapers such morsels of poetry, or tales, as I thought would please, and of sending them to my grandchildren, who pasted them on leaves of blank paper and formed them into a book. These two volumes have been confounded into one in the recollection of our friend. Her poetical imagination, too, has heightened the scenes she visited, as well as the merits of the inhabitants, to whom her society was a delightful gratification.

I have just finished reading O'Meara's Bonaparte. It places him in a higher scale of understanding than I had allotted him. I had thought him the greatest of all military captains, but an indifferent statesman, and misled by unworthy passions. The flashes, however, which escaped from him in these conversations with O'Meara, prove a mind of great expansion, although not of distinct development and reasoning. He seizes results with rapidity and penetration, but never explains logically the process of reasoning by which he arrives at them. This book, too, makes us forget his atrocities for a moment, in commiseration of his sufferings. I will not say that the authorities of the world, charged with the care of their country and people, had not a right to confine him for life, as a lion or tiger, on the principle of self-preservation. There was no safety to nations while he was permitted to roam at large. But the putting him to death in cold blood, by lingering tortures of mind, by vexations, insults and deprivations, was a degree of inhumanity to which the poisonings and assassinations of the school of Borgia and the den of Marat never attained. The book proves, also, that nature had denied him the moral sense, the first excellence of well-organized man. If he could seriously and repeatedly affirm that he had raised himself to power without ever having committed a crime, it proves that he wanted totally the sense of right and wrong. If he could consider the millions of human lives which he had destroyed or caused to be destroyed, the desolations of countries by plunderings, burnings, and famine, the destitutions of lawful rulers of the world without the consent of their constituents, to place his brothers and sisters on their thrones, the cutting up of 276 established societies of men and jumbling them discordantly together again at his caprice, the demolition of the fairest hopes of mankind for the recovery of their rights and amelioration of their condition, and all the numberless train of his other enormities; the man, I say, who could consider all these as no crimes, must have been a moral monster, against whom every hand should have been lifted to slay him.

You are so kind as to inquire after my health. The bone of my arm is well knitted, but my hand and fingers are in a discouraging condition, kept entirely useless by an œdematous swelling of slow amendment.

God bless you and continue your good health of body and mind.


Monticello, March 4, 1823.

Dear Sir,—I delayed some time the acknowledgment of your welcome letter of December 10th, on the common lazy principle of never doing to-day what we can put off to to-morrow, until it became doubtful whether a letter would find you at Charleston. Learning now that you are at Washington, I will reply to some particulars which seem to require it.

The North American Review is a work I do not take, and which is little known in this State, consequently I have never seen its observations on your inestimable history, but a reviewer can never let a work pass uncensured. He must always make himself wiser than his author. He would otherwise think it an abdication of his office of censor. On this occasion, he seems to have had more sensibility for Virginia than she has for herself; for, on reading the work, I saw nothing to touch our pride or jealousy, but every expression of respect and good will which truth could justify. The family of enemies, whose buzz you apprehend, are now nothing. You may learn this at Washington; and their military relation has long ago had the full-voiced condemnation of his own State. Do not fear, therefore, these insects. 277 What you write will be far above their grovelling sphere. Let me, then, implore you, dear Sir, to finish your history of parties, leaving the time of publication to the state of things you may deem proper, but taking especial care that we do not lose it altogether. We have been too careless of our future reputation, while our tories will omit nothing to place us in the wrong. Besides the five-volumed libel which represents us as struggling for office, and not at all to prevent our government from being administered into a monarchy, the life of Hamilton is in the hands of a man who, to the bitterness of the priest, adds the rancor of the fiercest federalism. Mr. Adams' papers, too, and his biography, will descend of course to his son, whose pen, you know, is pointed, and his prejudices not in our favor. And doubtless other things are in preparation, unknown to us. On our part we are depending on truth to make itself known, while history is taking a contrary set which may become too inveterate for correction. Mr. Madison will probably leave something, but I believe, only particular passages of our history, and these chiefly confined to the period between the dissolution of the old and commencement of the new government, which is peculiarly within his knowledge. After he joined me in the administration, he had no leisure to write. This, too, was my case. But although I had not time to prepare anything express, my letters, (all preserved) will furnish the daily occurrences and views from my return from Europe in 1790, till I retired finally from office. These will command more conviction than anything I could have written after my retirement; no day having ever passed during that period without a letter to somebody, written too in the moment, and in the warmth and freshness of fact and feeling, they will carry internal evidence that what they breathe is genuine. Selections from these, after my death, may come out successively as the maturity of circumstances may render their appearance seasonable. But multiplied testimony, multiplied views will be necessary to give solid establishment to truth. Much is known to one which is not known to another, and no one knows everything. It is the sum of individual knowledge which is to make 278 up the whole truth, and to give its correct current through future time. Then do not, dear Sir, withhold your stock of information; and I would moreover recommend that you trust it not to a single copy, nor to a single depository. Leave it not in the power of any one person, under the distempered view of an unlucky moment, to deprive us of the weight of your testimony, and to purchase, by its destruction, the favor of any party or person, as happened with a paper of Dr. Franklin's.

I cannot lay down my pen without recurring to one of the subjects of my former letter, for in truth there is no danger I apprehend so much as the consolidation of our government by the noiseless, and therefore unalarming, instrumentality of the supreme court. This is the form in which federalism now arrays itself, and consolidation is the present principle of distinction between republicans and the pseudo-republicans but real federalists. I must comfort myself with the hope that the judges will see the importance and the duty of giving their country the only evidence they can give of fidelity to its constitution and integrity in the administration of its laws; that is to say, by every one's giving his opinion seriatim and publicly on the cases he decides. Let him prove by his reasoning that he has read the papers, that he has considered the case, that in the application of the law to it, he uses his own judgment independently and unbiased by party views and personal favor or disfavor. Throw himself in every case on God and his country; both will excuse him for error and value him for his honesty. The very idea of cooking up opinions in conclave, begets suspicions that something passes which fears the public ear, and this, spreading by degrees, must produce at some time abridgment of tenure, facility of removal, or some other modification which may promise a remedy. For in truth there is at this time more hostility to the federal judiciary, than to any other organ of the government.

I should greatly prefer, as you do, four judges to any greater number. Great lawyers are not over abundant, and the multiplication of judges only enable the weak to out-vote the wise, and 279 three concurrent opinions out of four gives a strong presumption of right.

I cannot better prove my entire confidence in your candor, than by the frankness with which I commit myself to you, and to this I add with truth, assurances of the sincerity of my great esteem and respect.


Quincy, March 10, 1823.

Dear Sir,—The sight of your well known hand writing in your favor of 25th February last, gave me great pleasure, as it proved your arm to be restored, and your pen still manageable. May it continue till you shall become as perfect a Calvinist as I am in one particular. Poor Calvin's infirmities, his rheumatism, his gouts and sciatics, made him frequently cry out, Mon dieu, jusqu'à quand. Lord, how long! Prat, once chief justice of New York, always tormented with infirmities, dreamt that he was situated on a single rock in the midst of the Atlantic Ocean. He heard a voice:

"Why mourns the bard, Apollo bids thee rise,

Renounce the dust, and claim thy native skies."

The ladies' visit to Monticello has put my readers in requisition to read to me Simons' travels in Switzerland. I thought I had some knowledge of that country before, but I find I had no idea of it. How degenerated are the Swiss. They might defend their country against France, Austria, and Russia; neither of whom ought to be suffered to march armies over their mountains. Those powers have practiced as much tyranny, and immorality, as even the emperor Napoleon did over them, or over the royalists of Germany or Italy.

Neither France, Austria, or Spain, ought to have a foot of land in Italy. All conquerors are alike. Every one of them. Jura negat sibi lati, nihil non arrogat armis. We have nothing but 280 fables concerning Theseus, Bacchus, and Hercules, and even Sesostris; but I dare say that every one of them was as tyrannical and immoral as Napoleon. Nebuchadnezzar is the first great conqueror of whom we have anything like history, and he was as great as any of them. Alexander and Cæsar were more immoral than Napoleon. Zingis Khan was as great a conqueror as any of them, and destroyed as many millions of lives, and thought he had a right to the whole globe, if he could subdue it.

What are we to think of the crusades in which three millions of lives at least were probably sacrificed. And what right had St. Louis and Richard Cœur de Lion to Palestine and Syria more than Alexander to India, or Napoleon to Egypt and Italy? Right and justice have hard fare in this world, but there is a power above who is capable and willing to put all things right in the end; et pour mettre chacun à sa place dans l'universe, and I doubt not he will.

Mr. English, a Bostonian, has published a volume of his expedition with Ishmael Pashaw, up the river Nile. He advanced above the third cataract, and opens a prospect of a resurrection from the dead of those vast and ancient countries of Abyssinia and Ethiopia; a free communication with India, and the river Niger, and the city of Tombuctoo. This, however, is conjecture and speculation rather than certainty; but a free communication by land between Europe and India will ere long be opened. A few American steamboats, and our Quincy stone-cutters would soon make the Nile as navigable as our Hudson, Potomac, or Mississippi. You see as my reason and intellect fails, my imagination grows more wild and ungovernable, but my friendship remains the same. Adieu.


Monticello, April 11, 1823.

Dear Sir,—The wishes expressed in your last favor, that I may continue in life and health until I become a Calvinist, at least in his exclamation of, "Mon Dieu! jusqu'à quand!" would 281 make me immortal. I can never join Calvin in addressing his God. He was indeed an atheist, which I can never be; or rather his religion was dæmonism. If ever man worshipped a false God, he did. The being described in his five points, is not the God whom you and I acknowledge and adore, the creator and benevolent governor of the world; but a dæmon of malignant spirit. It would be more pardonable to believe in no God at all, than to blaspheme him by the atrocious attributes of Calvin. Indeed, I think that every Christian sect gives a great handle to atheism by their general dogma, that, without a revelation, there would not be sufficient proof of the being of a God. Now one-sixth of mankind only are supposed to be Christians; the other five-sixths then, who do not believe in the Jewish and Christian revelation, are without a knowledge of the existence of a God! This gives completely a gain de cause to the disciples of Ocellus, Timæus, Spinosa, Diderot and D'Holbach. The argument which they rest on as triumphant and unanswerable is, that in every hypothesis of cosmogony, you must admit an eternal pre-existence of something; and according to the rule of sound philosophy, you are never to employ two principles to solve a difficulty when one will suffice. They say then, that it is more simple to believe at once in the eternal pre-existence of the world, as it is now going on, and may forever go on by the principle of reproduction which we see and witness, than to believe in the eternal pre-existence of an ulterior cause, or creator of the world, a being whom we see not and know not, of whose form, substance and mode, or place of existence, or of action, no sense informs us, no power of the mind enables us to delineate or comprehend. On the contrary, I hold, (without appeal to revelation) that when we take a view of the universe, in its parts, general or particular, it is impossible for the human mind not to perceive and feel a conviction of design, consummate skill, and indefinite power in every atom of its composition. The movements of the heavenly bodies, so exactly held in their course by the balance of centrifugal and centripetal forces; the structure of our earth itself, with its distribution of lands, waters and atmosphere; animal 282 and vegetable bodies, examined in all their minutest particles; insects, mere atoms of life, yet as perfectly organized as man or mammoth; the mineral substances, their generation and uses; it is impossible, I say, for the human mind not to believe, that there is in all this, design, cause and effect, up to an ultimate cause, a fabricator of all things from matter and motion, their preserver and regulator while permitted to exist in their present forms, and their regeneration into new and other forms. We see, too, evident proofs of the necessity of a superintending power, to maintain the universe in its course and order. Stars, well known, have disappeared, new ones have come into view; comets, in their incalculable courses, may run foul of suns and planets, and require renovation under other laws; certain races of animals are become extinct; and were there no restoring power, all existences might extinguish successively, one by one, until all should be reduced to a shapeless chaos. So irresistible are these evidences of an intelligent and powerful agent, that, of the infinite numbers of men who have existed through all time, they have believed, in the proportion of a million at least to unit, in the hypothesis of an eternal pre-existence of a creator, rather than in that of a self-existent universe. Surely this unanimous sentiment renders this more probable, than that of the few in the other hypothesis. Some early Christians, indeed, have believed in the co-eternal pre-existence of both the creator and the world, without changing their relation of cause and effect. That this was the opinion of St. Thomas, we are informed by Cardinal Toleta, in these words: "Deus ab æterno fuit jam omnipotens, sicut cum produxit mundum. Ab æterno potuit producere mundum. Si sol ab æterno esset, lumen ab æterno esset; et si pes, similiter vestigium. At lumen et vestigium effectus sunt efficientis solis et pedis; potuit ergo cum causa æterna effectus co-æterna esse. Cujus sententia est S. Thomas theologorum primus."—Cardinal Toleta.

Of the nature of this being we know nothing. Jesus tells us, that "God is a spirit." 4. John 24. But without defining what a spirit is: πνευμα ὁ θεος Down to the third century, we know it was still deemed material; but of a lighter, subtler matter 283 than our gross bodies. So says Origen, "Deus igitur, cui anima similis est, juxta originem, reapte corporalis est; sed graviorum tantum ratione corporum incorporeus." These are the words of Huet in his commentary on Origen. Origen himself says, "appellatio ασωματου apud nostros scriptores est inusitata et incognita." So also Tertullian; "quis autem negabit deum esse corpus etsi deus spiritus? Spiritus etiam corporis sui generis, in sua effigie."—Tertullian. These two fathers were of the third century. Calvin's character of this Supreme Being seems chiefly copied from that of the Jews. But the reformation of these blasphemous attributes, and substitution of those more worthy, pure, and sublime, seems to have been the chief object of Jesus in his discourses to the Jews; and his doctrine of the cosmogony of the world is very clearly laid down in the three first verses of the first chapter of John, in these words: "Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν Θεὸν, καὶ Θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος. Οὗτος ἦν ἐν ἀρχῇ πρὸς τὸν Θεόν. Πάντα δι' αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο· καὶ χωρὶς αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο οὐδὲ ἓν, ὃ γέγονεν." Which truly translated means, "In the beginning God existed, and reason [or mind] was with God, and that mind was God. This was in the beginning with God. All things were created by it, and without it was made not one thing which was made." Yet this text, so plainly declaring the doctrine of Jesus, that the world was created by the supreme, intelligent being, has been perverted by modern Christians to build up a second person of their tritheism, by a mistranslation of the word λογος. One of its legitimate meanings, indeed, is "a word." But in that sense it makes an unmeaning jargon; while the other meaning, "reason," equally legitimate, explains rationally the eternal pre-existence of God, and his creation of the world. Knowing how incomprehensible it was that "a word," the mere action or articulation of the organs of speech could create a world, they undertook to make of this articulation a second pre-existing being, and ascribe to him, and not to God, the creation of the universe. The atheist here plumes himself on the uselessness of such a God, and the simpler hypothesis of a self-existent universe. The truth is, that the greatest enemies to the doctrines of Jesus are those, calling themselves 284 the expositors of them, who have perverted them for the structure of a system of fancy absolutely incomprehensible, and without any foundation in his genuine words. And the day will come, when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason, and freedom of thought in these United States, will do away all this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this the most venerated reformer of human errors.

So much for your quotation of Calvin's "mon Dieu! jusqu'à quand!" in which, when addressed to the God of Jesus, and our God, I join you cordially, and await his time and will with more readiness than reluctance. May we meet there again, in Congress, with our ancient colleagues, and receive with them the seal of approbation, "well done, good and faithful servants."


Monticello, May 3, 1823.

Dear General,—I duly received your favor of the 24th ult. But I am rendered a slow correspondent by the loss of the use, totally of the one, and almost totally of the other wrist, which renders writing scarcely and painfully practicable. I learn with great satisfaction that wholesome economies have been found, sufficient to relieve us from the ruinous necessity of adding annually to our debt by new loans. The deviser of so salutary a relief deserves truly well of his country. I shall be glad, too, if an additional tax of one-fourth of a dollar a gallon on whiskey shall enable us to meet all our engagements with punctuality. Viewing that tax as an article in a system of excise, I was once glad to see it fall with the rest of the system, which I considered as prematurely and unnecessarily introduced. It was evident that our existing taxes were then equal to our existing debts. It was clearly foreseen also that the surplus from excise would 285 only become aliment for useless offices, and would be swallowed in idleness by those whom it would withdraw from useful industry. Considering it only as a fiscal measure, this was right. But the prostration of body and mind which the cheapness of this liquor is spreading through the mass of our citizens, now calls the attention of the legislator on a very different principle. One of his important duties is as guardian of those who from causes susceptible of precise definition, cannot take care of themselves. Such are infants, maniacs, gamblers, drunkards. The last, as much as the maniac, requires restrictive measures to save him from the fatal infatuation under which he is destroying his health, his morals, his family, and his usefulness to society. One powerful obstacle to his ruinous self-indulgence would be a price beyond his competence. As a sanatory measure, therefore, it becomes one of duty in the public guardians. Yet I do not think it follows necessarily that imported spirits should be subjected to similar enhancement, until they become as cheap as those made at home. A tax on whiskey is to discourage its consumption; a tax on foreign spirits encourages whiskey by removing its rival from competition. The price and present duty throw foreign spirits already out of competition with whiskey, and accordingly they are used but to a salutary extent. You see no persons besotting themselves with imported spirits, wines, liquors, cordials, &c. Whiskey claims to itself alone the exclusive office of sot-making. Foreign spirits, wines, teas, coffee, segars, salt, are articles of as innocent consumption as broadcloths and silks and ought, like them, to pay but the average ad valorem duty of other imported comforts. All of them are ingredients in our happiness, and the government which steps out of the ranks of the ordinary articles of consumption to select and lay under disproportionate burthens a particular one, because it is a comfort, pleasing to the taste, or necessary to health, and will therefore be bought, is, in that particular, a tyranny. Taxes on consumption like those on capital or income, to be just, must be uniform. I do not mean to say that it may not be for the general interest to foster for awhile certain infant manufactures, until they are 286 strong enough to stand against foreign rivals; but when evident that they will never be so, it is against right, to make the other branches of industry support them. When it was found that France could not make sugar under 6 h. a lb., was it not tyranny to restrain her citizens from importing at 1 h.? or would it not have been so to have laid a duty of 5 h. on the imported? The permitting an exchange of industries with other nations is a direct encouragement of your own, which without that, would bring you nothing for your comfort, and would of course cease to be produced.

On the question of the next Presidential election, I am a mere looker on. I never permit myself to express an opinion, or to feel a wish on the subject. I indulge a single hope only, that the choice may fall on one who will be a friend of peace, of economy, of the republican principles of our constitution, and of the salutary distribution of powers made by that between the general and the local governments, to this, I ever add sincere prayers for your happiness and prosperity.


Monticello, May 29, 1823.

I thank you, Sir, for the copy of the letters of Paul and Amicus, which you have been so kind as to send me, and shall learn from them with satisfaction the peculiar tenets of the Friends, and particularly their opinions on the incomprehensibilities (otherwise called the mysteries) of the trinity. I think with them on many points, and especially on missionary and Bible societies. While we have so many around us, within the same social pale, who need instruction and assistance, why carry to a distance, and to strangers what our own neighbors need? It is a duty certainly to give our sparings to those who want; but to see also that they are faithfully distributed, and duly apportioned to the respective wants of those receivers. And why give through agents whom we know not, to persons whom we know not, and 287 in countries from which we get no account, when we can do it at short hand, to objects under our eye, through agents we know, and to supply wants we see? I do not know that it is a duty to disturb by missionaries the religion and peace of other countries, who may think themselves bound to extinguish by fire and fagot the heresies to which we give the name of conversions, and quote our own example for it. Were the Pope, or his holy allies, to send in mission to us some thousands of Jesuit priests to convert us to their orthodoxy, I suspect that we should deem and treat it as a national aggression on our peace and faith. I salute you in the spirit of peace and good will.


Monticello, June 11, 1823.

Dear Sir,—Considering that I had not been to Bedford for a twelvemonth before, I thought myself singularly unfortunate in so timing my journey, as to have been absent exactly at the moment of your late visit to our neighborhood. The loss, indeed, was all my own; for in these short interviews with you, I generally get my political compass rectified, learn from you whereabouts we are, and correct my course again. In exchange for this, I can give you but newspaper ideas, and little indeed of these, for I read but a single paper, and that hastily. I find Horace and Tacitus so much better writers than the champions of the gazettes, that I lay those down to take up these with great reluctance. And on the question you propose, whether we can, in any form, take a bolder attitude than formerly in favor of liberty, I can give you but commonplace ideas. They will be but the widow's mite, and offered only because requested. The matter which now embroils Europe, the presumption of dictating to an independent nation the form of its government, is so arrogant, so atrocious, that indignation, as well as moral sentiment, enlists all our partialities and prayers in favor of one, and our equal execrations against the other. I do not know, 288 indeed, whether all nations do not owe to one another a bold and open declaration of their sympathies with the one party, and their detestation of the conduct of the other. But farther than this we are not bound to go; and indeed, for the sake of the world, we ought not to increase the jealousies, or draw on ourselves the power of this formidable confederacy. I have ever deemed it fundamental for the United States, never to take active part in the quarrels of Europe. Their political interests are entirely distinct from ours. Their mutual jealousies, their balance of power, their complicated alliances, their forms and principles of government, are all foreign to us. They are nations of eternal war. All their energies are expended in the destruction of the labor, property and lives of their people. On our part, never had a people so favorable a chance of trying the opposite system, of peace and fraternity with mankind, and the direction of all our means and faculties to the purposes of improvement instead of destruction. With Europe we have few occasions of collision, and these, with a little prudence and forbearance, may be generally accommodated. Of the brethren of our own hemisphere, none are yet, or for an age to come will be, in a shape, condition, or disposition to war against us. And the foothold which the nations of Europe had in either America, is slipping from under them, so that we shall soon be rid of their neighborhood. Cuba alone seems at present to hold up a speck of war to us. Its possession by Great Britain would indeed be a great calamity to us. Could we induce her to join us in guaranteeing its independence against all the world, except Spain, it would be nearly as valuable to us as if it were our own. But should she take it, I would not immediately go to war for it; because the first war on other accounts will give it to us; or the island will give itself to us, when able to do so. While no duty, therefore, calls on us to take part in the present war of Europe, and a golden harvest offers itself in reward for doing nothing, peace and neutrality seem to be our duty and interest. We may gratify ourselves, indeed, with a neutrality as partial to Spain as would be justifiable without giving cause of war to her adversary; 289 we might and ought to avail ourselves of the happy occasion of procuring and cementing a cordial reconciliation with her, by giving assurance of every friendly office which neutrality admits, and especially, against all apprehension of our intermeddling in the quarrel with her colonies. And I expect daily and confidently to hear of a spark kindled in France, which will employ her at home, and relieve Spain from all further apprehensions of danger.

That England is playing false with Spain cannot be doubted. Her government is looking one way and rowing another. It is curious to look back a little on past events. During the ascendancy of Bonaparte, the word among the herd of kings, was "sauve qui peut." Each shifted for himself, and left his brethren to squander and do the same as they could. After the battle of Waterloo, and the military possession of France, they rallied and combined in common cause, to maintain each other against any similar and future danger. And in this alliance, Louis, now avowedly, and George, secretly but solidly, were of the contracting parties; and there can be no doubt that the allies are bound by treaty to aid England with their armies, should insurrection take place among her people. The coquetry she is now playing off between her people and her allies is perfectly understood by the latter, and accordingly gives no apprehensions to France, to whom it is all explained. The diplomatic correspondence she is now displaying, these double papers fabricated merely for exhibition, in which she makes herself talk of morals and principle, as if her qualms of conscience would not permit her to go all lengths with her Holy Allies, are all to gull her own people. It is a theatrical farce, in which the five powers are the actors, England the Tartuffe, and her people the dupes. Playing thus so dextrously into each others' hands, and their own persons seeming secured, they are now looking to their privileged orders. These faithful auxiliaries, or accomplices, must be saved. This war is evidently that of the general body of the aristocracy, in which England is also acting her part. "Save but the Nobles and there shall be no war," says she, masking her measures at 290 the same time under the form of friendship and mediation, and hypocritically, while a party, offering herself as a judge, to betray those whom she is not permitted openly to oppose. A fraudulent neutrality, if neutrality at all, is all Spain will get from her. And Spain, probably, perceives this, and willingly winks at it rather than have her weight thrown openly into the other scale.

But I am going beyond my text, and sinning against the adage of carrying coals to Newcastle. In hazarding to you my crude and uninformed notions of things beyond my cognizance, only be so good as to remember that it is at your request, and with as little confidence on my part as profit on yours. You will do what is right, leaving the people of Europe to act their follies and crimes among themselves, while we pursue in good faith the paths of peace and prosperity. To your judgment we are willingly resigned, with sincere assurances of affectionate esteem and respect.


Monticello, June 12, 1823.

Dear Sir,—Our correspondence is of that accommodating character, which admits of suspension at the convenience of either party, without inconvenience to the other. Hence this tardy acknowledgment of your favor of April the 11th. I learn from that with great pleasure, that you have resolved on continuing your history of parties. Our opponents are far ahead of us in preparations for placing their cause favorably before posterity. Yet I hope even from some of them the escape of precious truths, in angry explosions or effusions of vanity, which will betray the genuine monarchism of their principles. They do not themselves believe what they endeavor to inculcate, that we were an opposition party, not on principle, but merely seeking for office. The fact is, that at the formation of our government, many had formed their political opinions on European writings and practices, believing the experience of old countries, and especially of England, abusive as it was, to be a safer guide than 291 mere theory. The doctrines of Europe were, that men in numerous associations cannot be restrained within the limits of order and justice, but by forces physical and moral, wielded over them by authorities independent of their will. Hence their organization of kings, hereditary nobles, and priests. Still further to constrain the brute force of the people, they deem it necessary to keep them down by hard labor, poverty and ignorance, and to take from them, as from bees, so much of their earnings, as that unremitting labor shall be necessary to obtain a sufficient surplus barely to sustain a scanty and miserable life. And these earnings they apply to maintain their privileged orders in splendor and idleness, to fascinate the eyes of the people, and excite in them an humble adoration and submission, as to an order of superior beings. Although few among us had gone all these lengths of opinion, yet many had advanced, some more, some less, on the way. And in the convention which formed our government, they endeavored to draw the cords of power as tight as they could obtain them, to lessen the dependence of the general functionaries on their constituents, to subject to them those of the States, and to weaken their means of maintaining the steady equilibrium which the majority of the convention had deemed salutary for both branches, general and local. To recover, therefore, in practice the powers which the nation had refused, and to warp to their own wishes those actually given, was the steady object of the federal party. Ours, on the contrary, was to maintain the will of the majority of the convention, and of the people themselves. We believed, with them, that man was a rational animal, endowed by nature with rights, and with an innate sense of justice; and that he could be restrained from wrong and protected in right, by moderate powers, confided to persons of his own choice, and held to their duties by dependence on his own will. We believed that the complicated organization of kings, nobles, and priests, was not the wisest nor best to effect the happiness of associated man; that wisdom and virtue were not hereditary; that the trappings of such a machinery, consumed by their expense, those earnings of 292 industry, they were meant to protect, and, by the inequalities they produced, exposed liberty to sufferance. We believed that men, enjoying in ease and security the full fruits of their own industry, enlisted by all their interests on the side of law and order, habituated to think for themselves, and to follow their reason as their guide, would be more easily and safely governed, than with minds nourished in error, and vitiated and debased, as in Europe, by ignorance, indigence and oppression. The cherishment of the people then was our principle, the fear and distrust of them, that of the other party. Composed, as we were, of the landed and laboring interests of the country, we could not be less anxious for a government of law and order than were the inhabitants of the cities, the strongholds of federalism. And whether our efforts to save the principles and form of our constitution have not been salutary, let the present republican freedom, order and prosperity of our country determine. History may distort truth, and will distort it for a time, by the superior efforts at justification of those who are conscious of needing it most. Nor will the opening scenes of our present government be seen in their true aspect, until the letters of the day, now held in private hoards, shall be broken up and laid open to public view. What a treasure will be found in General Washington's cabinet, when it shall pass into the hands of as candid a friend to truth as he was himself! When no longer, like Cæsar's notes and memorandums in the hands of Anthony, it shall be open to the high priests of federalism only, and garbled to say so much, and no more, as suits their views!

With respect to his farewell address, to the authorship of which, it seems, there are conflicting claims, I can state to you some facts. He had determined to decline a re-election at the end of his first term, and so far determined, that he had requested Mr. Madison to prepare for him something valedictory, to be addressed to his constituents on his retirement. This was done, but he was finally persuaded to acquiesce in a second election, to which no one more strenuously pressed him than myself, from a conviction of the importance of strengthening, by longer habit, 293 the respect necessary for that office, which the weight of his character only could effect. When, at the end of this second term, his Valedictory came out, Mr. Madison recognized in it several passages of his draught, several others, we were both satisfied, were from the pen of Hamilton, and others from that of the President himself. These he probably put into the hands of Hamilton to form into a whole, and hence it may all appear in Hamilton's hand-writing, as if it were all of his composition.

I have stated above, that the original objects of the federalists were, 1st, to warp our government more to the form and principles of monarchy, and, 2d, to weaken the barriers of the State governments as coördinate powers. In the first they have been so completely foiled by the universal spirit of the nation, that they have abandoned the enterprise, shrunk from the odium of their old appellation, taken to themselves a participation of ours, and under the pseudo-republican mask, are now aiming at their second object, and strengthened by unsuspecting or apostate recruits from our ranks, are advancing fast towards an ascendancy. I have been blamed for saying, that a prevalence of the doctrines of consolidation would one day call for reformation or revolution. I answer by asking if a single State of the Union would have agreed to the constitution, had it given all powers to the General Government? If the whole opposition to it did not proceed from the jealousy and fear of every State, of being subjected to the other States in matters merely its own? And if there is any reason to believe the States more disposed now than then, to acquiesce in this general surrender of all their rights and powers to a consolidated government, one and undivided?

You request me confidentially, to examine the question, whether the Supreme Court has advanced beyond its constitutional limits, and trespassed on those of the State authorities? I do not undertake it, my dear Sir, because I am unable. Age and the wane of mind consequent on it, have disqualified me from investigations so severe, and researches so laborious. And it is the less necessary in this case, as having been already done by 294 others with a logic and learning to which I could add nothing. On the decision of the case of Cohens vs. The State of Virginia, in the Supreme Court of the United States, in March, 1821, Judge Roane, under the signature of Algernon Sidney, wrote for the Enquirer a series of papers on the law of that case. I considered these papers maturely as they came out, and confess that they appeared to me to pulverize every word which had been delivered by Judge Marshall, of the extra-judicial part of his opinion; and all was extra-judicial, except the decision that the act of Congress had not purported to give to the corporation of Washington the authority claimed by their lottery law, of controlling the laws of the States within the States themselves. But unable to claim that case, he could not let it go entirely, but went on gratuitously to prove, that notwithstanding the eleventh amendment of the constitution, a State could be brought as a defendant, to the bar of his court; and again, that Congress might authorize a corporation of its territory to exercise legislation within a State, and paramount to the laws of that State. I cite the sum and result only of his doctrines, according to the impression made on my mind at the time, and still remaining. If not strictly accurate in circumstance, it is so in substance. This doctrine was so completely refuted by Roane, that if he can be answered, I surrender human reason as a vain and useless faculty, given to bewilder, and not to guide us. And I mention this particular case as one only of several, because it gave occasion to that thorough examination of the constitutional limits between the General and State jurisdictions, which you have asked for. There were two other writers in the same paper, under the signatures of Fletcher of Saltoun, and Somers, who, in a few essays, presented some very luminous and striking views of the question. And there was a particular paper which recapitulated all the cases in which it was thought the federal court had usurped on the State jurisdictions. These essays will be found in the Enquirers of 1821, from May the 10th to July the 13th. It is not in my present power to send them to you, but if Ritchie can furnish them, I will procure and forward them. If they 295 had been read in the other States, as they were here, I think they would have left, there as here, no dissentients from their doctrine. The subject was taken up by our legislature of 1821-'22, and two draughts of remonstrances were prepared and discussed. As well as I remember, there was no difference of opinion as to the matter of right; but there was as to the expediency of a remonstrance at that time, the general mind of the States being then under extraordinary excitement by the Missouri question; and it was dropped on that consideration. But this case is not dead, it only sleepeth. The Indian Chief said he did not go to war for every petty injury by itself, but put it into his pouch, and when that was full, he then made war. Thank Heaven, we have provided a more peaceable and rational mode of redress.

This practice of Judge Marshall, of travelling out of his case to prescribe what the law would be in a moot case not before the court, is very irregular and very censurable. I recollect another instance, and the more particularly, perhaps, because it in some measure bore on myself. Among the midnight appointments of Mr. Adams, were commissions to some federal justices of the peace for Alexandria. These were signed and sealed by him, but not delivered. I found them on the table of the department of State, on my entrance into office, and I forbade their delivery. Marbury, named in one of them, applied to the Supreme Court for a mandamus to the Secretary of State, (Mr. Madison) to deliver the commission intended for him. The Court determined at once, that being an original process, they had no cognizance of it; and therefore the question before them was ended. But the Chief Justice went on to lay down what the law would be, had they jurisdiction of the case, to-wit: that they should command the delivery. The object was clearly to instruct any other court having the jurisdiction, what they should do if Marbury should apply to them. Besides the impropriety of this gratuitous interference, could anything exceed the perversion of law? For if there is any principle of law never yet contradicted, it is that delivery is one of the essentials to the validity 296 of a deed. Although signed and sealed, yet as long as it remains in the hands of the party himself, it is in fieri only, it is not a deed, and can be made so only by its delivery. In the hands of a third person it may be made an escrow. But whatever is in the executive offices is certainly deemed to be in the hands of the President; and in this case, was actually in my hands, because, when I countermanded them, there was as yet no Secretary of State. Yet this case of Marbury and Madison is continually cited by bench and bar, as if it were settled law, without any animadversion on its being merely an obiter dissertation of the Chief Justice.

It may be impracticable to lay down any general formula of words which shall decide at once, and with precision, in every case, this limit of jurisdiction. But there are two canons which will guide us safely in most of the cases. 1st. The capital and leading object of the constitution was to leave with the States all authorities which respected their own citizens only, and to transfer to the United States those which respected citizens of foreign or other States: to make us several as to ourselves, but one as to all others. In the latter case, then, constructions should lean to the general jurisdiction, if the words will bear it; and in favor of the States in the former, if possible to be so construed. And indeed, between citizens and citizens of the same State, and under their own laws, I know but a single case in which a jurisdiction is given to the General Government. That is, where anything but gold or silver is made a lawful tender, or the obligation of contracts is any otherwise impaired. The separate legislatures had so often abused that power, that the citizens themselves chose to trust it to the general, rather than to their own special authorities. 2d. On every question of construction, carry ourselves back to the time when the constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed. Let us try Cohen's case by these canons only, referring always, however, for full argument, to the essays before cited.

297 1. It was between a citizen and his own State, and under a law of his State. It was a domestic case, therefore, and not a foreign one.

2. Can it be believed, that under the jealousies prevailing against the General Government, at the adoption of the constitution, the States meant to surrender the authority of preserving order, of enforcing moral duties and restraining vice, within their own territory? And this is the present case, that of Cohen being under the ancient and general law of gaming. Can any good be effected by taking from the States the moral rule of their citizens, and subordinating it to the general authority, or to one of their corporations, which may justify forcing the meaning of words, hunting after possible constructions, and hanging inference on inference, from heaven to earth, like Jacob's ladder? Such an intention was impossible, and such a licentiousness of construction and inference, if exercised by both governments, as may be done with equal right, would equally authorize both to claim all power, general and particular, and break up the foundations of the Union. Laws are made for men of ordinary understanding, and should, therefore, be construed by the ordinary rules of common sense. Their meaning is not to be sought for in metaphysical subtleties, which may make anything mean everything or nothing, at pleasure. It should be left to the sophisms of advocates, whose trade it is, to prove that a defendant is a plaintiff, though dragged into court, torto collo, like Bonaparte's volunteers, into the field in chains, or that a power has been given, because it ought to have been given, et alia talia. The States supposed that by their tenth amendment, they had secured themselves against constructive powers. They were not lessoned yet by Cohen's case, nor aware of the slipperiness of the eels of the law. I ask for no straining of words against the General Government, nor yet against the States. I believe the States can best govern our home concerns, and the General Government our foreign ones. I wish, therefore, to see maintained that wholesome distribution of powers established by the constitution for the limitation of both; and never to see all offices transferred to 298 Washington, where, further withdrawn from the eyes of the people, they may more secretly he bought and sold as at market.

But the Chief Justice says, "there must be an ultimate arbiter somewhere." True, there must; but does that prove it is either party? The ultimate arbiter is the people of the Union, assembled by their deputies in convention, at the call of Congress, or of two-thirds of the States. Let them decide to which they mean to give an authority claimed by two of their organs. And it has been the peculiar wisdom and felicity of our constitution, to have provided this peaceable appeal, where that of other nations is at once to force.

I rejoice in the example you set of seriatim opinions. I have heard it often noticed, and always with high approbation. Some of your brethren will be encouraged to follow it occasionally, and in time, it may be felt by all as a duty, and the sound practice of the primitive court be again restored. Why should not every judge be asked his opinion, and give it from the bench, if only by yea or nay? Besides ascertaining the fact of his opinion, which the public have a right to know, in order to judge whether it is impeachable or not, it would show whether the opinions were unanimous or not, and thus settle more exactly the weight of their authority.

The close of my second sheet warns me that it is time now to relieve you from this letter of unmerciful length. Indeed, I wonder how I have accomplished it, with two crippled wrists, the one scarcely able to move my pen, the other to hold my paper. But I am hurried sometimes beyond the sense of pain, when unbosoming myself to friends who harmonize with me in principle. You and I may differ occasionally in details of minor consequence, as no two minds, more than two faces, are the same in every feature. But our general objects are the same, to preserve the republican form and principles of our constitution and cleave to the salutary distribution of powers which that has established. These are the two sheet anchors of our Union. If driven from either, we shall be in danger of foundering. To my prayers for its safety and perpetuity, I add those for the continuation of your health, happiness, and usefulness to your country. 299


Monticello, June 23, 1823.

Dear Sir,—I have been lately visited by a Mr. Miralla, a native of Buenos Ayres, but resident in Cuba for the last seven or eight years; a person of intelligence, of much information, and frankly communicative. I believe, indeed, he is known to you. I availed myself of the opportunity of learning what was the state of public sentiment in Cuba as to their future course. He says they would be satisfied to remain as they are; but all are sensible that that cannot be; that whenever circumstances shall render a separation from Spain necessary, a perfect independence would be their choice, provided they could see a certainty of protection; but that, without that prospect, they would be divided in opinion between an incorporation with Mexico, and with the United States.—Columbia being too remote for prompt support. The considerations in favor of Mexico are that the Havana would be the emporium for all the produce of that immense and wealthy country, and of course, the medium of all its commerce; that having no ports on its eastern coast, Cuba would become the depôt of its naval stores and strength, and, in effect, would, in a great measure, have the sinews of the government in its hands. That in favor of the United States is the fact that three-fourths of the exportations from Havana come to the United States, that they are a settled government, the power which can most promptly succor them, rising to an eminence promising future security; and of which they would make a member of the sovereignty, while as to England, they would be only a colony, subordinated to her interest, and that there is not a man in the island who would not resist her to the bitterest extremity. Of this last sentiment I had not the least idea at the date of my late letters to you. I had supposed an English interest there quite as strong as that of the United States, and therefore, that, to avoid war, and keep the island open to our own commerce, it would be best to join that power in mutually guaranteeing its independence. But if there is no danger of its falling into the possession 300 of England, I must retract an opinion founded on an error of fact. We are surely under no obligation to give her, gratis, an interest which she has not; and the whole inhabitants being averse to her, and the climate mortal to strangers, its continued military occupation by her would be impracticable. It is better then to lie still in readiness to receive that interesting incorporation when solicited by herself. For, certainly, her addition to our confederacy is exactly what is wanting to round our power as a nation to the point of its utmost interest.

I have thought it my duty to acknowledge my error on this occasion, and to repeat a truth before acknowledged, that, retired as I am, I know too little of the affairs of the world to form opinions of them worthy of any attention; and I resign myself with reason, and perfect confidence to the care and guidance of those to whom the helm is committed. With this assurance, accept that of my constant and affectionate friendship and respect.


Monticello, July 16, 1823.

Dear Sir,—I received in due time your favor of June 16th, and with it your Syllabus of lectures on Spanish literature. I have considered this with great interest and satisfaction, as it gives me a model of course I wish to see pursued in the different branches of instruction in our University, i. e. a methodical, critical, and profound explanation by way of protection of every science we propose to teach. I am not fully informed of the practices at Harvard, but there is one from which we shall certainly vary, although it has been copied, I believe, by nearly every college and academy in the United States. That is, the holding the students all to one prescribed course of reading, and disallowing exclusive application to those branches only which are to qualify them for the particular vocations to which they are destined. We shall, on the contrary, allow them uncontrolled choice in the lectures they shall choose to attend, and require 301 elementary qualification only, and sufficient age. Our institution will proceed on the principle of doing all the good it can without consulting its own pride or ambition; of letting every one come and listen to whatever he thinks may improve the condition of his mind. The rock which I most dread is the discipline of the institution, and it is that on which most of our public schools labor. The insubordination of our youth is now the greatest obstacle to their education. We may lessen the difficulty, perhaps, by avoiding too much government, by requiring no useless observances, none which shall merely multiply occasions for dissatisfaction, disobedience and revolt by referring to the more discreet of themselves the minor discipline, the graver to the civil magistrates, as in Edinburg. On this head I am anxious for information of the practices of other places, having myself had little experience of the government of youth. I presume there are printed codes of the rules of Harvard, and if so, you would oblige me by sending me a copy, and of those of any other academy which you think can furnish anything useful. You flatter me with a visit "as soon as you learn that the University is fairly opened." A visit from you at any time will be the most welcome possible to all our family, who remember with peculiar satisfaction the pleasure they received from your former one. But were I allowed to name the time, it should not be deferred beyond the autumn of the ensuing year. Our last building, and that which will be the principal ornament and keystone, giving unity to the whole, will then be nearly finished, and afford you a gratification compensating the trouble of the journey. We shall then, also, be engaged in our code of regulations preparatory to our opening, which may, perhaps, take place in the beginning of 1825. There is no person from whose information of the European institutions, and especially their discipline, I should expect so much aid in that difficult work. Come, then, dear Sir, at that, or any earlier epoch, and give to our institution the benefit of your counsel. I know that you scout, as I do, the idea of any rivalship. Our views are Catholic for the improvement of our country by science, and indeed, it is better 302 even for your own University to have its yoke natè at this distance, rather than to force a nearer one from the increasing necessity for it. And how long before we may expect others in the southern, western, and middle regions of this vast country?

I send you by mail a print of the ground-plan of our institution; it may give you some idea of its distribution and conveniences, but not of its architecture, which being chastely classical, constitutes one of its distinguishing characters. I am much indebted for your kind attentions to Mr. Harrison; he is a youth of promise. I could not deny myself the gratification of communicating to his father the part of your letter respecting him.

Our family all join me in assurances of our friendly esteem and great respect.


Quincy, August 15, 1823.

Watchman, what of the night? Is darkness that may be felt, to prevail over the whole world? or can you perceive any rays of a returning dawn? Is the devil to be the "Lord's anointed" over the whole globe? or do you foresee the fulfilment of the prophecies according to Dr. Priestley's interpretation of them? I know not, but I have in some of my familiar, and frivolous letters to you, told the story four times over; but if I have, I never applied it so well as now.

Not long after the denouement of the tragedy of Louis XVI, when I was Vice-President, my friend the Doctor came to breakfast with me alone; he was very sociable, very learned and eloquent, on the subject of the French revolution. It was opening a new era in the world, and presenting a near view of the millennium. I listened; I heard with great attention and perfect sang froid. At last I asked the Doctor. Do you really believe the French will establish a free democratical government in France? He answered: I do firmly believe it. Will you give me leave to ask you upon what grounds you entertain this 303 opinion? Is it from anything you ever read in history? Is there any instance of a Roman Catholic monarchy of five and twenty millions at once converted into a free and national people? No. I know of no instance like it. Is there anything in your knowledge of human nature, derived from books, or experience, that any nation, ancient or modern, consisting of such multitudes of ignorant people, ever were, or ever can be converted suddenly into materials capable of conducting a free government, especially a democratical republic? No—I know nothing of the kind. Well then, Sir, what is the ground of your opinion? The answer was, my opinion is founded altogether upon revelation, and the prophecies. I take it that the ten horns of the great beast in revelations, mean the ten crowned heads of Europe; and that the execution of the King of France, is the falling off of the first of those horns; and the nine monarchies of Europe will fall one after another in the same way. Such was the enthusiasm of that great man, that reasoning machine. After all, however, he did recollect himself so far as to say: There is, however, a possibility of doubt; for I read yesterday a book put into my hands, by a gentleman, a volume of travels written by a French gentleman in 1659; in which he says he had been travelling a whole year in England; into every part of it, and conversed freely with all ranks of people; he found the whole nation earnestly engaged in discussing and contriving a form of government for their future regulations; there was but one point in which they all agreed, and in that they were unanimous: that monarchy, nobility, and prelacy never would exist in England again. The Doctor paused; and said: Yet, in the very next year, the whole nation called in the King and run mad with nobility, monarchy, and prelacy. I am no King killer; merely because they are Kings. Poor creatures; they know no better; they believe sincerely and conscientiously that God made them to rule the world. I would not, therefore, behead them, or send them to St. Helena, to be treated as Bonaparte was; but I would shut them up like the man in the iron mask; feed them well, give them as much finery as they pleased, until they could be converted to right reason and 304 common sense. I have nothing to communicate from this part of the country, except that you must not be surprised if you hear something wonderful in Boston before long. With my profound respects for your family, and half a century's affection for yourself, I am your humble servant.


Monticello, August 30, 1823.

Dear Sir,—I received the enclosed letters from the President with a request, that after perusal I would forward them to you for perusal by yourself also, and to be returned then to him.

You have doubtless seen Timothy Pickerings' fourth of July observations on the Declaration of Independence. If his principles and prejudices, personal and political, gave us no reason to doubt whether he had truly quoted the information he alleges to have received from Mr. Adams, I should then say, that in some of the particulars, Mr. Adams' memory has led him into unquestionable error. At the age of eighty-eight, and forty-seven years after the transactions of Independence, this is not wonderful. Nor should I, at the age of eighty, on the small advantage of that difference only, venture to oppose my memory to his, were it not supported by written notes, taken by myself at the moment and on the spot. He says, "the committee of five, to wit, Dr. Franklin, Sherman, Livingston, and ourselves, met, discussed the subject, and then appointed him and myself to make the draught; that we, as a sub-committee, met, and after the urgencies of each on the other, I consented to undertake the task; that the draught being made, we, the sub-committee, met, and conned the paper over, and he does not remember that he made or suggested a single alteration." Now these details are quite incorrect. The committee of five met; no such thing as a sub-committee was proposed, but they unanimously pressed on myself alone to undertake the draught. I consented; I drew it; but before I reported it to the committee, I communicated it separately 305 to Dr. Franklin and Mr. Adams, requesting their corrections, because they were the two members of whose judgments and amendments I wished most to have the benefit, before presenting it to the committee; and you have seen the original paper now in my hands, with the corrections of Dr. Franklin and Mr. Adams interlined in their own hand writings. Their alterations were two or three only, and merely verbal. I then wrote a fair copy, reported it to the committee, and from them, unaltered, to Congress. This personal communication and consultation with Mr. Adams, he has misremembered into the actings of a sub-committee. Pickering's observations, and Mr. Adams' in addition, "that it contained no new ideas, that it is a common-place compilation, its sentiments hackneyed in Congress for two years before, and its essence contained in Otis' pamphlet," may all be true. Of that I am not to be the judge. Richard Henry Lee charged it as copied from Locke's treatise on government. Otis' pamphlet I never saw, and whether I had gathered my ideas from reading or reflection I do not know. I know only that I turned to neither book nor pamphlet while writing it. I did not consider it as any part of my charge to invent new ideas altogether, and to offer no sentiment which had ever been expressed before. Had Mr. Adams been so restrained, Congress would have lost the benefit of his bold and impressive advocations of the rights of Revolution. For no man's confident and fervid addresses, more than Mr. Adams', encouraged and supported us through the difficulties surrounding us, which, like the ceaseless action of gravity weighed on us by night and by day. Yet, on the same ground, we may ask what of these elevated thoughts was new, or can be affirmed never before to have entered the conceptions of man?

Whether, also, the sentiments of Independence, and the reasons for declaring it, which make so great a portion of the instrument, had been hackneyed in Congress for two years before the 4th of July, '76, or this dictum also of Mr. Adams be another slip of memory, let history say. This, however, I will say for Mr. Adams, that he supported the Declaration with zeal and ability, fighting fearlessly for every word of it. As to myself, I thought it a duty 306 to be, on that occasion, a passive auditor of the opinions of others, more impartial judges than I could be, of its merits or demerits. During the debate I was sitting by Doctor Franklin, and he observed that I was writhing a little under the acrimonious criticisms on some of its parts; and it was on that occasion, that by way of comfort, he told me the story of John Thompson, the hatter, and his new sign.

Timothy thinks the instrument the better for having a fourth of it expunged. He would have thought it still better, had the other three-fourths gone out also, all but the single sentiment (the only one he approves), which recommends friendship to his dear England, whenever she is willing to be at peace with us. His insinuations are, that although "the high tone of the instrument was in unison with the warm feelings of the times, this sentiment of habitual friendship to England should never be forgotten, and that the duties it enjoins should especially be borne in mind on every celebration of this anniversary." In other words, that the Declaration, as being a libel on the government of England, composed in times of passion, should now be buried in utter oblivion, to spare the feelings of our English friends and Angloman fellow-citizens. But it is not to wound them that we wish to keep it in mind; but to cherish the principles of the instrument in the bosoms of our own citizens: and it is a heavenly comfort to see that these principles are yet so strongly felt, as to render a circumstance so trifling as this little lapse of memory of Mr. Adams', worthy of being solemnly announced and supported at an anniversary assemblage of the nation on its birthday. In opposition, however, to Mr. Pickering, I pray God that these principles may be eternal, and close the prayer with my affectionate wishes for yourself of long life, health and happiness. 307


Monticello, September 4, 1823.

Dear Sir,—Your letter of August the 15th was received in due time, and with the welcome of everything which comes from you. With its opinions on the difficulties of revolutions from despotism to freedom, I very much concur. The generation which commences a revolution rarely completes it. Habituated from their infancy to passive submission of body and mind to their kings and priests, they are not qualified when called on to think and provide for themselves; and their inexperience, their ignorance and bigotry make them instruments often, in the hands of the Bonapartes and Iturbides, to defeat their own rights and purposes. This is the present situation of Europe and Spanish America. But it is not desperate. The light which has been shed on mankind by the art of printing, has eminently changed the condition of the world. As yet, that light has dawned on the middling classes only of the men in Europe. The kings and the rabble, of equal ignorance, have not yet received its rays; but it continues to spread, and while printing is preserved, it can no more recede than the sun return on his course. A first attempt to recover the right of self-government may fail, so may a second, a third, &c. But as a younger and more instructed race comes on, the sentiment becomes more and more intuitive, and a fourth, a fifth, or some subsequent one of the ever renewed attempts will ultimately succeed. In France, the first effort was defeated by Robespierre, the second by Bonaparte, the third by Louis XVIII. and his holy allies: another is yet to come, and all Europe, Russia excepted, has caught the spirit; and all will attain representative government, more or less perfect. This is now well understood to be a necessary check on kings, whom they will probably think it more prudent to chain and tame, than to exterminate. To attain all this, however, rivers of blood must yet flow, and years of desolation pass over; yet the object is worth rivers of blood, and years of desolation. For what inheritance so valuable, can man leave to 308 his posterity? The spirit of the Spaniard, and his deadly and eternal hatred to a Frenchman, give me much confidence that he will never submit, but finally defeat this atrocious violation of the laws of God and man, under which he is suffering; and the wisdom and firmness of the Cortes, afford reasonable hope, that that nation will settle down in a temperate representative government, with an executive properly subordinated to that. Portugal, Italy, Prussia, Germany, Greece, will follow suit. You and I shall look down from another world on these glorious achievements to man, which will add to the joys even of heaven.

I observe your toast of Mr. Jay on the 4th of July, wherein you say that the omission of his signature to the Declaration of Independence was by accident. Our impressions as to this fact being different, I shall be glad to have mine corrected, if wrong. Jay, you know, had been in constant opposition to our laboring majority. Our estimate at the time was, that he, Dickinson and Johnson of Maryland, by their ingenuity, perseverance and partiality to our English connection, had constantly kept us a year behind where we ought to have been in our preparations and proceedings. From about the date of the Virginia instructions of May the 15th, 1776, to declare Independence, Mr. Jay absented himself from Congress, and never came there again until December, 1778. Of course, he had no part in the discussions or decision of that question. The instructions to their Delegates by the Convention of New York, then sitting, to sign the Declaration, were presented to Congress on the 15th of July only, and on that day the journals show the absence of Mr. Jay, by a letter received from him, as they had done as early as the 29th of May by another letter. And I think he had been omitted by the convention on a new election of Delegates, when they changed their instructions. Of this last fact, however, having no evidence but an ancient impression, I shall not affirm it. But whether so or not, no agency of accident appears in the case. This error of fact, however, whether yours or mine, is of little 309 consequence to the public. But truth being as cheap as error, it is as well to rectify it for our own satisfaction.

I have had a fever of about three weeks, during the last and preceding month, from which I am entirely recovered except as to strength.


Monticello, September 8, 1823.

Dear Sir,—Your favor of July 28th, from Avon, came to hand on the 10th of August, and I have delayed answering it on the presumption of your continued absence, but the approach of the season of frost in that region has probably before this time turned you about to the south. I readily conceive that by the time of your return to Philadelphia, you will have had travelling enough for the present, and therefore acquiesce in your proposition to give us the next season. Your own convenience is a sufficient reason, and an auxiliary one is that we shall then have more for you to see and approve. By that time, our rotunda, (the walls of which will be finished this month) will have received its roof, and will show itself externally to some advantage. Its columns only will be wanting, as they must await their capitals from Italy. We have just received from thence, and are now putting up, the marble capitals of the buildings we have already erected, which completes our whole system, except the rotunda and its adjacent gymnasia. All are now ready to receive their occupants, and should the legislature, at their next session, liberate our funds as is hoped, we shall ask but one year more to procure our professors, for most of whom we must go to Europe. In your substitution of Monticello instead of your annual visit to Black Rock, I will engage you equal health, and a more genial and pleasant climate; but instead of the flitting, flirting, and gay assemblage of that place, you must be contented with the plain and sober family and neighborly society, with the assurance that you shall hear no wrangling about the next president, although the excitement on that subject will then be at its 310 acme. Numerous have been the attempts to entangle me in that imbroglio. But at the age of eighty, I seek quiet and abjure contention. I read but a single newspaper, Ritchie's Enquirer, the best that is published or ever has been published in America. Yon should read it also, to keep yourself au fait of your own State, for we still claim you as belonging to us. A city life offers you indeed more means of dissipating time, but more frequent, also, and more painful objects of vice and wretchedness. New York, for example, like London, seems to be a Cloacina of all the depravities of human nature. Philadelphia doubtless has its share. Here, on the contrary, crime is scarcely heard of, breaches of order rare, and our societies, if not refined, are rational, moral, and affectionate at least. Our only blot is becoming less offensive by the great improvement in the condition and civilization of that race, who can now more advantageously compare their situation with that of the laborers of Europe. Still it is a hideous blot, as well from the heteromorph peculiarities of the race, as that, with them, physical compulsion to action must be substituted for the moral necessity which constrains the free laborers to work equally hard. We feel and deplore it morally and politically, and we look without entire despair to some redeeming means not yet specifically foreseen. I am happy in believing that the conviction of the necessity of removing this evil gains ground with time. Their emigration to the westward lightens the difficulty by dividing it, and renders it more practicable on the whole. And the neighborhood of a government of their color promises a more accessible asylum than that from whence they came. Ever and affectionately yours.


Monticello, September 24, 1823.

Sir,—Your letter of August 28th, with the pamphlet accompanying it, was not received until the 18th instant.

That our Creator made the earth for the use of the living and 311 not of the dead; that those who exist not can have no use nor right in it, no authority or power over it; that one generation of men cannot foreclose or burthen its use to another, which comes to it in its own right and by the same divine beneficence; that a preceding generation cannot bind a succeeding one by its laws or contracts; these deriving their obligation from the will of the existing majority, and that majority being removed by death, another comes in its place with a will equally free to make its own laws and contracts; these are axioms so self-evident that no explanation can make them plainer; for he is not to be reasoned with who says that non-existence can control existence, or that nothing can move something. They are axioms also pregnant with salutary consequences. The laws of civil society indeed for the encouragement of industry, give the property of the parent to his family on his death, and in most civilized countries permit him even to give it, by testament, to whom he pleases. And it is also found more convenient to suffer the laws of our predecessors to stand on our implied assent, as if positively re-enacted, until the existing majority positively repeals them. But this does not lessen the right of that majority to repeal whenever a change of circumstances or of will calls for it. Habit alone confounds what is civil practice with natural right.

On the merits of the pamphlet I say nothing of course; having found it necessary to decline giving opinions on books even when desired. For the functions of a reviewer, I have neither time, talent, nor inclination, and I trust that on reflection your indulgence will not think unreasonable my unwillingness to embark in an office of so little enticement. With my thanks for the pamphlet, be pleased to accept the assurance of my great respect.


Monticello, October 4, 1823.

Sir,—You must, I think, have somewhat misunderstood what I may have said to you as to manuscripts in my possession relating 312 to the antiquities, and particularly the Indian antiquities of our country. The only manuscripts I now possess are some folio volumes, two of these are the proceedings of the Virginia Company in England; the remaining four are of the Records of the Council of Virginia from 1622 to 1700. The account of the two first volumes you will see in the preface to Stith's History of Virginia. They contain the records of the Virginia company, copied from the originals, under the eye, if I recollect rightly, of the Earl of Southampton, a member of the company, bought at the sale of his library by Doctor Byrd, of Westover, and sold with that library to Isaac Zane. These volumes happened at the time of the sale, to have been borrowed by Colonel R. Bland, whose library I bought, and with this, they were sent to me. I gave notice of it to Mr. Zane, but he never reclaimed them. I shall deposit them in the library of the university, where they will be most likely to be preserved with care. The other four volumes, I am confident, are the original office records of the council. My conjectures are that when Sr. John Randolph was about to begin the History of Virginia which he meant to write, he borrowed these volumes from the council office, to collect from them materials for his work. He died before he had made any progress in that work, and they remained in his library, probably unobserved, during the whole life of the late Peyton Randolph, his son; from his executors I purchased his library in a lump, and these volumes were sent to me as a part of it. I found the leaves so rotten as often to crumble into dust on being handled; I bound them, therefore, together, that they might not be unnecessarily opened, and have thus preserved them forty-seven years. If my conjectures are right, they must have been out of the public office about eighty years. I shall deposit them also with the others in the same library of the university, where they will be safer from injury than in a public office. I have promised, however, to trust them to Mr. Hening, if he will copy and publish them when he shall have finished his collection of the laws. For this he is peculiarly qualified, as well by his diligence as by his familiarity with our ancient manuscript 313 characters, a familiarity very necessary for decyphering these volumes.

I agree with you that it is the duty of every good citizen to use all the opportunities which occur to him, for preserving documents relating to the history of our country. That I have not been remiss in this while I had youth, health, and opportunity, is proved otherwise, as well as by the materials I furnished towards Mr. Hening's invaluable collection of the laws of our country; but there is a time, and that time is come with me, when these duties are no more, when age and the wane of mind and memory, and the feebleness of the powers of life pass them over as a legacy to younger hands. I write now slowly, laboriously, painfully. I am obliged, therefore, to decline all correspondence which some moral duty does not urgently call on me to answer. I always trust that those who write them will read their answer in my age and silence, and see in these a manifestation that I am done with writing letters. I am sorry, therefore, that I am not able to give any aid to the work you contemplate, other than my best wishes for its success, and to these I add the assurance of my great respect.


Monticello, October 12, 1823.

Dear Sir,—I do not write with the ease which your letter of September the 18th supposes. Crippled wrists and fingers make writing slow and laborious. But while writing to you, I lose the sense of these things in the recollection of ancient times, when youth and health made happiness out of everything. I forget for a while the hoary winter of age, when we can think of nothing but how to keep ourselves warm, and how to get rid of our heavy hours until the friendly hand of death shall rid us of all at once. Against this tedium vitæ, however, I am fortunately mounted on a hobby, which, indeed, I should have better managed some thirty or forty years ago; but whose easy amble 314 is still sufficient to give exercise and amusement to an octogenary rider. This is the establishment of a University, on a scale more comprehensive, and in a country more healthy and central than our old William and Mary, which these obstacles have long kept in a state of languor and inefficiency. But the tardiness with which such works proceed, may render it doubtful whether I shall live to see it go into action.

Putting aside these things, however, for the present, I write this letter as due to a friendship coeval with our government, and now attempted to be poisoned, when too late in life to be replaced by new affections. I had for sometime observed in the public papers, dark hints and mysterious innuendos of a correspondence of yours with a friend, to whom you had opened your bosom without reserve, and which was to be made public by that friend or his representative. And now it is said to be actually published. It has not yet reached us, but extracts have been given, and such as seemed most likely to draw a curtain of separation between you and myself. Were there no other motive than that of indignation against the author of this outrage on private confidence, whose shaft seems to have been aimed at yourself more particularly, this would make it the duty of every honorable mind to disappoint that aim, by opposing to its impression a seven-fold shield of apathy and insensibility. With me, however, no such armor is needed. The circumstances of the times in which we have happened to live, and the partiality of our friends at a particular period, placed us in a state of apparent opposition, which some might suppose to be personal also; and there might not be wanting those who wished to make it so, by filling our ears with malignant falsehoods, by dressing up hideous phantoms of their own creation, presenting them to you under my name, to me under yours, and endeavoring to instil into our minds things concerning each other the most destitute of truth. And if there had been, at any time, a moment when we were off our guard, and in a temper to let the whispers of these people make us forget what we had known of each other for so many years, and years of so much trial, yet all men 315 who have attended to the workings of the human mind, who have seen the false colors under which passion sometimes dresses the actions and motives of others, have seen also those passions subsiding with time and reflection, dissipating like mists before the rising sun, and restoring to us the sight of all things in their true shape and colors. It would be strange indeed, if, at our years, we were to go back an age to hunt up imaginary or forgotten facts, to disturb the repose of affections so sweetening to the evening of our lives. Be assured, my dear Sir, that I am incapable of receiving the slightest impression from the effort now made to plant thorns on the pillow of age, worth and wisdom, and to sow tares between friends who have been such for near half a century. Beseeching you then, not to suffer your mind to be disquieted by this wicked attempt to poison its peace, and praying you to throw it by among the things which have never happened, I add sincere assurances of my unabated and constant attachment, friendship and respect.


Monticello, October 24, 1823.

Dear Sir,—The question presented by the letters you have sent me, is the most momentous which has ever been offered to my contemplation since that of Independence. That made us a nation, this sets our compass and points the course which we are to steer through the ocean of time opening on us. And never could we embark on it under circumstances more auspicious. Our first and fundamental maxim should be, never to entangle ourselves in the broils of Europe. Our second, never to suffer Europe to intermeddle with Cis-Atlantic affairs. America, North and South, has a set of interests distinct from those of Europe, and peculiarly her own. She should therefore have a system of her own, separate and apart from that of Europe. While the last is laboring to become the domicil of despotism, our endeavor should surely be, to make our hemisphere that of freedom. One 316 nation, most of all, could disturb us in this pursuit; she now offers to lead, aid, and accompany us in it. By acceding to her proposition, we detach her from the bands, bring her mighty weight into the scale of free government, and emancipate a continent at one stroke, which might otherwise linger long in doubt and difficulty. Great Britain is the nation which can do us the most harm of any one, or all on earth; and with her on our side we need not fear the whole world. With her then, we should most sedulously cherish a cordial friendship; and nothing would tend more to knit our affections than to be fighting once more, side by side, in the same cause. Not that I would purchase even her amity at the price of taking part in her wars. But the war in which the present proposition might engage us, should that be its consequence, is not her war, but ours. Its object is to introduce and establish the American system, of keeping out of our land all foreign powers, of never permitting those of Europe to intermeddle with the affairs of our nations. It is to maintain our own principle, not to depart from it. And if, to facilitate this, we can effect a division in the body of the European powers, and draw over to our side its most powerful member, surely we should do it. But I am clearly of Mr. Canning's opinion, that it will prevent instead of provoking war. With Great Britain withdrawn from their scale and shifted into that of our two continents, all Europe combined would not undertake such a war. For how would they propose to get at either enemy without superior fleets? Nor is the occasion to be slighted which this proposition offers, of declaring our protest against the atrocious violations of the rights of nations, by the interference of any one in the internal affairs of another, so flagitiously begun by Bonaparte, and now continued by the equally lawless Alliance, calling itself Holy.

But we have first to ask ourselves a question. Do we wish to acquire to our own confederacy any one or more of the Spanish provinces? I candidly confess, that I have ever looked on Cuba as the most interesting addition which could ever be made to our system of States. The control which, with Florida Point, this 317 island would give us over the Gulf of Mexico, and the countries and isthmus bordering on it, as well as all those whose waters flow into it, would fill up the measure of our political well-being. Yet, as I am sensible that this can never be obtained, even with her own consent, but by war; and its independence, which is our second interest, (and especially its independence of England,) can be secured without it, I have no hesitation in abandoning my first wish to future chances, and accepting its independence, with peace and the friendship of England, rather than its association, at the expense of war and her enmity.

I could honestly, therefore, join in the declaration proposed, that we aim not at the acquisition of any of those possessions, that we will not stand in the way of any amicable arrangement between them and the mother country; but that we will oppose, with all our means, the forcible interposition of any other power, as auxiliary, stipendiary, or under any other form or pretext, and most especially, their transfer to any power by conquest, cession, or acquisition in any other way. I should think it, therefore, advisable, that the Executive should encourage the British government to a continuance in the dispositions expressed in these letters, by an assurance of his concurrence with them as far as his authority goes; and that as it may lead to war, the declaration of which requires an act of Congress, the case shall be laid before them for consideration at their first meeting, and under the reasonable aspect in which it is seen by himself.

I have been so long weaned from political subjects, and have so long ceased to take any interest in them, that I am sensible I am not qualified to offer opinions on them worthy of any attention. But the question now proposed involves consequences so lasting, and effects so decisive of our future destinies, as to rekindle all the interest I have heretofore felt on such occasions, and to induce me to the hazard of opinions, which will prove only my wish to contribute still my mite towards anything which may be useful to our country. And praying you to accept it at only what it is worth, I add the assurance of my constant and affectionate friendship and respect. 318


Monticello, October 31, 1823.

Dear Sir,—Your favor of July 10th is lately received. I recollect with pleasure the short opportunity of acquaintance with you afforded me in Paris, by the kindness of Mr. Paradise, and the fine editions of the classical writers of Greece which have been announced by you from time to time, have never permitted me to lose the recollection. Until those of Aristotle's Ethics, and the Strategicos of Onesander, with which you have now favored me, and for which I pray you to accept my thanks, I had seen only your Lives of Plutarch. These I had read, and profited much by your valuable Scholia, and the aid of a few words from a modern Greek dictionary would, I believe, have enabled me to read your patriotic addresses to your countrymen.

You have certainly begun at the right end towards preparing them for the great object they are now contending for, by improving their minds and qualifying them for self-government. For this they will owe you lasting honors. Nothing is more likely to forward this object than a study of the fine models of science left by their ancestors, to whom we also are all indebted for the lights which originally led ourselves out of Gothic darkness.

No people sympathize more feelingly than ours with the sufferings of your countrymen, none offer more sincere and ardent prayers to heaven for their success. And nothing indeed but the fundamental principle of our government, never to entangle us with the broils of Europe, could restrain our generous youth from taking some part in this holy cause. Possessing ourselves the combined blessing of liberty and order, we wish the same to other countries, and to none more than yours, which, the first of civilized nations, presented examples of what man should be. Not, indeed, that the forms of government adapted to their age and country are practicable or to be imitated in our day, although prejudices in their favor would be natural enough to your people. The circumstances of the world are too much changed for that. 319 The government of Athens, for example, was that of the people of one city making laws for the whole country subjected to them. That of Lacedæmon was the rule of military monks over the laboring class of the people, reduced to abject slavery. These are not the doctrines of the present age. The equal rights of man, and the happiness of every individual, are now acknowledged to be the only legitimate objects of government. Modern times have the signal advantage, too, of having discovered the only device by which these rights can be secured, to-wit: government by the people, acting not in person, but by representatives chosen by themselves, that is to say, by every man of ripe years and sane mind, who either contributes by his purse or person to the support of his country. The small and imperfect mixture of representative government in England, impeded as it is by other branches, aristocratical and hereditary, shows yet the power of the representative principle towards improving the condition of man. With us, all the branches of the government are elective by the people themselves, except the Judiciary, of whose science and qualifications they are not competent judges. Yet, even in that department, we call in a jury of the people to decide all controverted matters of fact, because to that investigation they are entirely competent, leaving thus as little as possible, merely the law of the case, to the decision of the judges. And true it is that the people, especially when moderately instructed, are the only safe, because the only honest, depositories of the public rights, and should therefore be introduced into the administration of them in every function to which they are sufficient; they will err sometimes and accidentally, but never designedly, and with a systematic and persevering purpose of overthrowing the free principles of the government. Hereditary bodies, on the contrary, always existing, always on the watch for their own aggrandizement, profit of every opportunity of advancing the privileges of their order, and encroaching on the rights of the people.

The public papers tell us that your nation has established a government of some kind without informing us what it is. This 320 is certainly necessary for the direction of the war, but I presume it is intended to be temporary only, as a permanent constitution must be the work of quiet, leisure, much inquiry, and great deliberation. The extent of our country was so great, and its former division into distinct States so established, that we thought it better to confederate as to foreign affairs only. Every State retained its self-government in domestic matters, as better qualified to direct them to the good and satisfaction of their citizens, than a general government so distant from its remoter citizens, and so little familiar with the local peculiarities of the different parts. But I presume that the extent of country with you, which may liberate itself from the Turks, is not too large to be associated under a single government, and that the particular constitutions of our several States, therefore, and not that of our federal government, will furnish the basis best adapted to your situation. There are now twenty-four of these distinct States, none smaller perhaps than your Morea, several larger than all Greece. Each of these has a constitution framed by itself and for itself, but militating in nothing with the powers of the general government in its appropriate department of war and foreign affairs. These constitutions being in print and in every hand, I shall only make brief observations on them, and on those provisions particularly which have not fulfilled expectations, or which, being varied in different States, leave a choice to be made of that which is best. You will find much good in all of them, and no one which would be approved in all its parts. Such indeed are the different circumstances, prejudices, and habits of different nations, that the constitution of no one would be reconcilable to any other in every point. A judicious selection of the parts of each suitable to any other, is all which prudence should attempt; this will appear from a review of some parts of our constitutions.

Our executives are elected by the people for terms of one, two, three, or four years, under the names of governors or presidents, and are reëligible a second time, or after a certain term, if approved by the people. May your Ethnarch be elective also? or does your position among the warring powers of Europe need an 321 office more permanent, and a leader more stable? Surely you will make him single. For if experience has ever taught a truth, it is that a plurality in the supreme executive will forever split into discordant factions, distract the nation, annihilate its energies, and force the nation to rally under a single head, generally an usurper. We have, I think, fallen on the happiest of all modes of constituting the executive, that of easing and aiding our President, by permitting him to choose Secretaries of State, of finance, of war, and of the navy, with whom he may advise, either separately or all together, and remedy their divisions by adopting or controlling their opinions at his discretion; this saves the nation from the evils of a divided will, and secures to it a steady march in the systematic course which the president may have adopted for that of his administration.

Our legislatures are composed of two houses, the senate and representatives, elected in different modes, and for different periods, and in some States, with a qualified veto in the executive chief. But to avoid all temptation to superior pretensions of the one over the other house, and the possibility of either erecting itself into a privileged order, might it not be better to choose at the same time and in the same mode, a body sufficiently numerous to be divided by lot into two separate houses, acting as independently as the two houses in England, or in our governments, and to shuffle their names together and re-distribute them by lot, once a week for a fortnight? This would equally give the benefit of time and separate deliberation, guard against an absolute passage by acclamation, derange cabals, intrigues, and the count of noses, disarm the ascendency which a popular demagogue might at anytime obtain over either house, and render impossible all disputes between the two houses, which often form such obstacles to business.

Our different States have differently modified their several judiciaries as to the tenure of office. Some appoint their judges for a given term of time; some continue them during good behavior, and that to be determined on by the concurring vote of two-thirds of each legislative house. In England they are removable 322 by a majority only of each house. The last is a practicable remedy; the second is not. The combination of the friends and associates of the accused, the action of personal and party passions, and the sympathies of the human heart, will forever find means of influencing one-third of either the one or the other house, will thus secure their impunity, and establish them in fact for life. The first remedy is the best, that of appointing for a term of years only, with a capacity of re-appointment if their conduct has been approved. At the establishment of our constitutions, the judiciary bodies were supposed to be the most helpless and harmless members of the government. Experience, however, soon showed in what way they were to become the most dangerous; that the insufficiency of the means provided for their removal gave them a freehold and irresponsibility in office; that their decisions, seeming to concern individual suitors only, pass silent and unheeded by the public at large; that these decisions, nevertheless, become law by precedent, sapping, by little and little, the foundations of the constitution, and working its change by construction, before any one has perceived that that invisible and helpless worm has been busily employed in consuming its substance. In truth, man is not made to be trusted for life, if secured against all liability to account.

The constitutions of some of our States have made it a duty of their government to provide with due care for the public education. This we divide into three grades. 1. Primary schools, in which are taught reading, writing, and common arithmetic, to every infant of the State, male and female. 2. Intermediate schools, in which an education is given proper for artificers and the middle vocations of life; in grammar, for example, general history, logarithms, arithmetic, plain trigonometry, mensuration, the use of the globes, navigation, the mechanical principles, the elements of natural philosophy, and, as a preparation for the University, the Greek and Latin languages. 3. An University, in which these and all other useful sciences shall be taught in their highest degree; the expenses of these institutions are defrayed partly by the public, and partly by the individuals profiting of them.

323 But, whatever be the constitution, great care must be taken to provide a mode of amendment, when experience or change of circumstances shall have manifested that any part of it is unadapted to the good of the nation. In some of our States it requires a new authority from the whole people, acting by their representatives, chosen for this express purpose, and assembled in convention. This is found too difficult for remedying the imperfections which experience develops from time to time in an organization of the first impression. A greater facility of amendment is certainly requisite to maintain it in a course of action accommodated to the times and changes through which we are ever passing. In England the constitution may be altered by a single act of the legislature, which amounts to the having no constitution at all. In some of our States, an act passed by two different legislatures, chosen by the people, at different and successive elections, is sufficient to make a change in the constitution. As this mode may be rendered more or less easy, by requiring the approbation of fewer or more successive legislatures, according to the degree of difficulty thought sufficient, and yet safe, it is evidently the best principle which can be adopted for constitutional amendments.

I have stated that the constitutions of our several States vary more or less in some particulars. But there are certain principles in which all agree, and which all cherish as vitally essential to the protection of the life, liberty, property, and safety of the citizen.

1. Freedom of religion, restricted only from acts of trespass on that of others.

2. Freedom of person, securing every one from imprisonment, or other bodily restraint, but by the laws of the land. This is effected by the well-known law of habeas corpus.

3. Trial by jury, the best of all safe-guards for the person, the property, and the fame of every individual.

4. The exclusive right of legislation and taxation in the representatives of the people.

5. Freedom of the press, subject only to liability for personal 324 injuries. This formidable censor of the public functionaries, by arraigning them at the tribunal of public opinion, produces reform peaceably, which must otherwise be done by revolution. It is also the best instrument for enlightening the mind of man, and improving him as a rational, moral, and social being.

I have thus, dear Sir, according to your request, given you some thoughts on the subject of national government. They are the result of the observations and reflections of an octogenary, who has passed fifty years of trial and trouble in the various grades of his country's service. They are yet but outlines which you will better fill up, and accommodate to the habits and circumstances of your countrymen. Should they furnish a single idea which may be useful to them, I shall fancy it a tribute rendered to the manes of your Homer, your Demosthenes, and the splendid constellation of sages and heroes, whose blood is still flowing in your veins, and whose merits are still resting, as a heavy debt, on the shoulders of the living, and the future races of men. While we offer to heaven the warmest supplications for the restoration of your countrymen to the freedom and science of their ancestors, permit me to assure yourself of the cordial esteem and high respect which I bear and cherish towards yourself personally.


Monticello, November 4, 1823.

My Dear Friend,—Two dislocated wrists and crippled fingers have rendered writing so slow and laborious, as to oblige me to withdraw from nearly all correspondence; not however, from yours, while I can make a stroke with a pen. We have gone through too many trying scenes together, to forget the sympathies and affections they nourished.

Your trials have indeed been long and severe. When they will end, is yet unknown, but where they will end, cannot be doubted. Alliances, Holy or Hellish, may be formed, and retard 325 the epoch of deliverance, may swell the rivers of blood which are yet to flow, but their own will close the scene, and leave to mankind the right of self-government. I trust that Spain will prove, that a nation cannot be conquered which determines not to be so, and that her success will be the turning of the tide of liberty, no more to be arrested by human efforts. Whether the state of society in Europe can bear a republican government, I doubted, you know, when with you, and I do now. A hereditary chief, strictly limited, the right of war vested in the legislative body, a rigid economy of the public contributions, and absolute interdiction of all useless expenses, will go far towards keeping the government honest and unoppressive. But the only security of all, is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted, when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure.

We are all, for example, in agitation even in our peaceful country. For in peace as well as in war, the mind must be kept in motion. Who is to be the next President, is the topic here of every conversation. My opinion on that subject is what I expressed to you in my last letter. The question will be ultimately reduced to the northernmost and southernmost candidate. The former will get every federal vote in the Union, and many republicans; the latter, all of those denominated of the old school; for you are not to believe that these two parties are amalgamated, that the lion and the lamb are lying down together. The Hartford Convention, the victory of Orleans, the peace of Ghent, prostrated the name of federalism. Its votaries abandoned it through shame and mortification; and now call themselves republicans. But the name alone is changed, the principles are the same. For in truth, the parties of Whig and Tory, are those of nature. They exist in all countries, whether called by these names, or by those of Aristocrats and Democrats, Coté Droite and Coté Gauche, Ultras and Radicals, Serviles, and Liberals. The sickly, weakly, timid man, fears the people, and is a tory by nature. The healthy, strong and bold, cherishes them, and is 326 formed a whig by nature. On the eclipse of federalism with us, although not its extinction, its leaders got up the Missouri question, under the false front of lessening the measure of slavery, but with the real view of producing a geographical division of parties, which might insure them the next President. The people of the north went blindfold into the snare, followed their leaders for awhile with a zeal truly moral and laudable, until they became sensible that they were injuring instead of aiding the real interests of the slaves, that they had been used merely as tools for electioneering purposes; and that trick of hypocrisy then fell as quickly as it had been got up. To that is now succeeding a distinction, which, like that of republican and federal, or whig and tory, being equally intermixed through every State, threatens none of those geographical schisms which go immediately to a separation. The line of division now, is the preservation of State rights as reserved in the constitution, or by strained constructions of that instrument, to merge all into a consolidated government. The tories are for strengthening the executive and general Government; the whigs cherish the representative branch, and the rights reserved by the States, as the bulwark against consolidation, which must immediately generate monarchy. And although this division excites, as yet, no warmth, yet it exists, is well understood, and will be a principle of voting at the ensuing election, with the reflecting men of both parties.

I thank you much for the two books you were so kind as to send me by Mr. Gallatin. Miss Wright had before favored me with the first edition of her American work; but her "Few days in Athens," was entirely new, and has been a treat to me of the highest order. The matter and manner of the dialogue is strictly ancient; and the principles of the sects are beautifully and candidly explained and contrasted; and the scenery and portraiture of the interlocutors are of higher finish than anything in that line left us by the ancients; and like Ossian, if not ancient, it is equal to the best morsels of antiquity. I augur, from this instance, that Herculaneum is likely to furnish better specimens 327 of modern than of ancient genius; and may we not hope more from the same pen?

After much sickness, and the accident of a broken and disabled arm, I am again in tolerable health, but extremely debilitated, so as to be scarcely able to walk into my garden. The hebetude of age, too, and extinguishment of interest in the things around me, are weaning me from them, and dispose me with cheerfulness to resign them to the existing generation, satisfied that the daily advance of science will enable them to administer the commonwealth with increased wisdom. You have still many valuable years to give to your country, and with my prayers that they may be years of health and happiness, and especially that they may see the establishment of the principles of government which you have cherished through life, accept the assurance of my affectionate and constant friendship and respect.


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 328 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 Haüy 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 329 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.


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 330 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, &c., 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 331 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. 332


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 333 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 after-born, 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, 334 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 burthen 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 335 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 burthens 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. 336


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 monies 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 337 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.


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 & 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 ensured,

When earth's foundation shakes, shall stand by providence secured.

338 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.


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 these 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 339 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 criticize 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 [πνευμα] without defining it. Tertullian supplies the definition, "quis negabit Deum esse corpus, etsi Deus Spiritus? spiritus etiam corporis sui generis in suâ effigie." And Origen, "ασωματον 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 340 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 hook, 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.


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 Græca. 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 deficiencies 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 341 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 quelquesuns 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 out des cas, on a senti le besoin de mots distincts, separés des autres, et expressement destinés à cet usage; ils ce qu'on appelle des prepositions." 2 Tracy Elemens d'Ideologie, c. 3, § 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 montré jusqu'á ce moment des prodiges de valeur, mais qui, delivrée d'un joug de Cannibass, ne peut encore posseder ni les leçons d'instruction, ni celles de l'expérience." 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. 342


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 343 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 344 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.


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, 345 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, and 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 burthen of military duty was imposed in the late war, were men unrepresented in the legislation which imposed this burthen 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 346 can any one justify the giving to every citizen of Warwick as much weight in the government as to twenty-two equal citizens in Loudon, 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.


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; 347 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.


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 M. D. a year, with which they had before endowed the institution, and we propose to open it the beginning 348 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 349 highly exaggerated recommendations and certificates to enable a friend or protegé 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, 350 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.


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 351 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 352 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.

353 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 over-burthened 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 354 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 mis-management. 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, 355 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.


Monticello, June 5, 1824.

Dear and Venerable Sir,—I am much indebted for your kind letter of February the 29th, and for your valuable volume on the English constitution. I have read this with pleasure and much approbation, and think it has deduced the constitution of the English nation from its rightful root, the Anglo-Saxon. It is really wonderful, that so many able and learned men should have failed in their attempts to define it with correctness. No wonder then, that Paine, who thought more than he read, should have credited the great authorities who have declared, that the will of parliament is the constitution of England. So Marbois, before the French revolution, observed to me, that the Almanac Royal was the constitution of France. Your derivation of it from the Anglo-Saxons, seems to be made on legitimate principles. Having driven out the former inhabitants of that part of the island called England, they became aborigines as to you, and your lineal ancestors. They doubtless had a constitution; and although they have not left it in a written formula, to the precise text of which you may always appeal, yet they have left fragments of their history and laws, from which it may be inferred with considerable certainty. Whatever their history and laws show to have been practised with approbation, we may presume was permitted by their constitution; whatever was not so practiced, was not permitted. And although this constitution was violated and set at naught by Norman force, yet force cannot change right. A perpetual claim was kept up by the nation, by their perpetual demand of a restoration of their Saxon laws, which shows they were never relinquished by the will of the 356 nation. In the pullings and haulings for these ancient rights, between the nation, and its kings of the races of Plantagenets, Tudors and Stuarts, there was sometimes gain, and sometimes loss, until the final re-conquest of their rights from the Stuarts. The destitution and expulsion of this race broke the thread of pretended inheritance, extinguished all regal usurpations, and the nation re-entered into all its rights; and although in their bill of rights they specifically reclaimed some only, yet the omission of the others was no renunciation of the right to assume their exercise also, whenever occasion should occur. The new King received no rights or powers, but those expressly granted to him. It has ever appeared to me, that the difference between the whig and the tory of England is, that the whig deduces his rights from the Anglo-Saxon source, and the tory from the Norman. And Hume, the great apostle of toryism, says, in so many words, note AA to chapter 42, that, in the reign of the Stuarts, "it was the people who encroached upon the sovereign, not the sovereign who attempted, as is pretended, to usurp upon the people." This supposes the Norman usurpations to be rights in his successors. And again, C, 159, "the commons established a principle, which is noble in itself, and seems specious, but is belied by all history and experience, that the people are the origin of all just power." And where else will this degenerate son of science, this traitor to his fellow men, find the origin of just powers, if not in the majority of the society? Will it be in the minority? Or in an individual of that minority?

Our Revolution commenced on more favorable ground. It presented us an album on which we were free to write what we pleased. We had no occasion to search into musty records, to hunt up royal parchments, or to investigate the laws and institutions of a semi-barbarous ancestry. We appealed to those of nature, and found them engraved on our hearts. Yet we did not avail ourselves of all the advantages of our position. We had never been permitted to exercise self-government. When forced to assume it, we were novices in its science. Its principles and forms had entered little into our former education. We established 357 however some, although not all its important principles. The constitutions of most of our States assert, that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves, in all cases to which they think themselves competent, (as in electing their functionaries executive and legislative, and deciding by a jury of themselves, in all judiciary cases in which any fact is involved,) or they may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed; that they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of the press. In the structure of our legislatures, we think experience has proved the benefit of subjecting questions to two separate bodies of deliberants; but in constituting these, natural right has been mistaken, some making one of these bodies, and some both, the representatives of property instead of persons; whereas the double deliberation might be as well obtained without any violation of true principle, either by requiring a greater age in one of the bodies, or by electing a proper number of representatives of persons, dividing them by lots into two chambers, and renewing the division at frequent intervals, in order to break up all cabals. Virginia, of which I am myself a native and resident, was not only the first of the States, but, I believe I may say, the first of the nations of the earth, which assembled its wise men peaceably together to form a fundamental constitution, to commit it to writing, and place it among their archives, where every one should be free to appeal to its text. But this act was very imperfect. The other States, as they proceeded successively to the same work, made successive improvements; and several of them, still further corrected by experience, have, by conventions, still further amended their first forms. My own State has gone on so far with its premiere ebauche; but it is now proposing to call a convention for amendment. Among other improvements, I hope they will adopt the subdivision of our counties into wards. The former may be estimated at an average of twenty-four miles square; the latter should be about six miles square each, and would answer to the hundreds of your Saxon Alfred. In each 358 of these might be, 1st. An elementary school; 2d. A company of militia, with its officers; 3d. A justice of the peace and constable; 4th. Each ward should take care of their own poor; 5th. Their own roads; 6th. Their own police; 7th. Elect within themselves one or more jurors to attend the courts of justice; and 8th. Give in at their Folk-house, their votes for all functionaries reserved to their election. Each ward would thus be a small republic within itself, and every man in the State would thus become an acting member of the common government, transacting in person a great portion of its rights and duties, subordinate indeed, yet important, and entirely within his competence. The wit of man cannot devise a more solid basis for a free, durable and well-administered republic.

With respect to our State and federal governments, I do not think their relations correctly understood by foreigners. They generally suppose the former subordinate to the latter. But this is not the case. They are co-ordinate departments of one simple and integral whole. To the State governments are reserved all legislation and administration, in affairs which concern their own citizens only, and to the federal government is given whatever concerns foreigners, or the citizens of other States; these functions alone being made federal. The one is the domestic, the other the foreign branch of the same government; neither having control over the other, but within its own department. There are one or two exceptions only to this partition of power. But, you may ask, if the two departments should claim each the same subject of power, where is the common umpire to decide ultimately between them? In cases of little importance or urgency, the prudence of both parties will keep them aloof from the questionable ground; but if it can neither be avoided nor compromised, a convention of the States must be called, to ascribe the doubtful power to that department which they may think best. You will perceive by these details, that we have not yet so far perfected our constitutions as to venture to make them unchangeable. But still, in their present state, we consider them not otherwise changeable than by the authority of the people, 359 on a special election of representatives for that purpose expressly: they are until then the lex legum.

But can they be made unchangeable? Can one generation bind another, and all others, in succession forever? I think not. The Creator has made the earth for the living, not the dead. Rights and powers can only belong to persons, not to things, not to mere matter, unendowed with will. The dead are not even things. The particles of matter which composed their bodies, make part now of the bodies of other animals, vegetables, or minerals, of a thousand forms. To what then are attached the rights and powers they held while in the form of men? A generation may bind itself as long as its majority continues in life; when that has disappeared, another majority is in place, holds all the rights and powers their predecessors once held, and may change their laws and institutions to suit themselves. Nothing then is unchangeable but the inherent and unalienable rights of man.

I was glad to find in your book a formal contradiction, at length, of the judiciary usurpation of legislative powers; for such the judges have usurped in their repeated decisions, that Christianity is a part of the common law. The proof of the contrary, which you have adduced, is incontrovertible; to wit, that the common law existed while the Anglo-Saxons were yet Pagans, at a time when they had never yet heard the name of Christ pronounced, or knew that such a character had ever existed. But it may amuse you, to show when, and by what means, they stole this law in upon us. In a case of quare impedit in the Year-book 34, II, 6, folio 38, (anno 1458,) a question was made, how far the ecclesiastical law was to be respected in a common law court? And Prisot, Chief Justice, gives his opinion in these words: "A tiel leis qu'ils de seint eglise ont en ancien scripture, covient à nous à donner credence; car ceo common ley sur quels touts manners leis sont fondés. Et auxy, Sir, nous sumus oblègés de conustre lour ley de saint eglise; et semblablement ils sont obligés de consustre nostre ley. Et, Sir, si poit apperer or à nous que l'evesque ad fait come un ordinary fera en tiel cas, adong nous devons cee adjuger bon, ou auterment nemy," &c. See S. 360 C. Fitzh. Abr. Qu. imp. 89, Bro. Abr. Qu. imp. 12. Finch in his first book, c. 3, is the first afterwards who quotes this case and mistakes it thus: "To such laws of the church as have warrant in holy scripture, our law giveth credence." And cites Prisot; mistranslating "ancien scripture," into "holy scripture." Whereas Prisot palpably says, "to such laws as those of holy church have in ancient writing, it is proper for us to give credence," to wit, to their ancient written laws. This was in 1613, a century and a half after the dictum of Prisot. Wingate, in 1658, erects this false translation into a maxim of the common law, copying the words of Finch, but citing Prisot, Wing. Max. 3. And Sheppard, title, "Religion," in 1675, copies the same mistranslation, quoting the Y. B. Finch and Wingate. Hale expresses it in these words: "Christianity is parcel of the laws of England." 1 Ventr. 293, 3 Keb. 607. But he quotes no authority. By these echoings and re-echoings from one to another, it had become so established in 1728, that in the case of the King vs. Woolston, 2 Stra. 834, the court would not suffer it to be debated, whether to write against Christianity was punishable in the temporal court at common law? Wood, therefore, 409, ventures still to vary the phrase, and say, that all blasphemy and profaneness are offences by the common law; and cites 2 Stra. Then Blackstone, in 1763, IV. 59, repeats the words of Hale, that "Christianity is part of the laws of England," citing Ventris and Strange. And finally, Lord Mansfield, with a little qualification, in Evans' case, in 1767, says, that "the essential principles of revealed religion are part of the common law." Thus ingulphing Bible, Testament and all into the common law, without citing any authority. And thus we find this chain of authorities hanging link by link, one upon another, and all ultimately on one and the same hook, and that a mistranslation of the words "ancien scripture," used by Prisot. Finch quotes Prisot; Wingate does the same. Sheppard quotes Prisot, Finch and Wingate. Hale cites nobody. The court in Woolston's case, cites Hale. Wood cites Woolston's case. Blackstone quotes Woolston's case and Hale. And Lord Mansfield, like Hale, ventures 361 it on his own authority. Here I might defy the best-read lawyer to produce another scrip of authority for this judiciary forgery; and I might go on further to show, how some of the Anglo-Saxon priests interpolated into the text of Alfred's laws, the 20th, 21st, 22d, and 23d chapters of Exodus, and the 15th of the Acts of the Apostles, from the 23d to the 29th verses. But this would lead my pen and your patience too far. What a conspiracy this, between Church and State! Sing Tantarara, rogues all, rogues all, Sing Tantarara, rogues all!

I must still add to this long and rambling letter, my acknowledgments for your good wishes to the University we are now establishing in this State. There are some novelties in it. Of that of a professorship of the principles of government, you express your approbation. They will be founded in the rights of man. That of agriculture, I am sure, you will approve; and that also of Anglo-Saxon. As the histories and laws left us in that type and dialect, must be the text books of the reading of the learners, they will imbibe with the language their free principles of government. The volumes you have been so kind as to send, shall be placed in the library of the University. Having at this time in England a person sent for the purpose of selecting some Professors, a Mr. Gilmer of my neighborhood, I cannot but recommend him to your patronage, counsel and guardianship, against imposition, misinformation, and the deceptions of partial and false recommendations, in the selection of characters. He is a gentleman of great worth and correctness, my particular friend, well educated in various branches of science, and worthy of entire confidence.

Your age of eighty-four and mine of eighty-one years, insure us a speedy meeting. We may then commune at leisure, and more fully, on the good and evil which, in the course of our long lives, we have both witnessed; and in the meantime, I pray you to accept assurances of my high veneration and esteem for your person and character. 362


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, of drawing unwarrantable inferences, if suited to his purpose at the instant," (p. 171;) while making such charges, I say, on Mr. Adams, instead of his "ecce 363 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 myself 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 364 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, 365 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 burthen 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 366 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 re-translations 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, &c., &c. 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, coördinate and independent; to which form it was 367 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 368 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 369 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 370 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 371 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 372 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 373 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.


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 374 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, &c.,——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 Dearborne 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. 375


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. 376


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, 377 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.


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 sea-coast. These he would observe in the earliest stage of association living under no law but that of nature, subscribing 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 sea coast, 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 378 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.


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 379 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 Athenæum 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 head-quarters 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?


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.

380 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.


Monticello, October 15, 1824.

Dear Sir,—I have yet to thank for your Φ. Β. Κ. oration, delivered in presence of General La Fayette. It is all excellent, 381 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, 382 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 shall 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 383 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 384 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 385 accrues to the whole equally? This would be no more a violation of law than the giving it to a few. Yon 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 an 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 bed rooms, 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, 386 Staunton, Winchester, &c. Thus, of William and Mary, you will make ten colleges, each as useful as she over 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 God-send 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 387 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.


Monticello, January 8, 1825.

Dear Sir,—It is long since I have written to you. This proceeds from the difficulty of writing with my crippled wrist, and from an unwillingness to add to your inconveniences of either reading by the eyes, or writing by the hands of others. The account I receive of your physical situation afflicts me sincerely; but if body or mind was one of them to give way, it is a great comfort that it is the mind which remains whole, and that its vigor, and that of memory continues firm. Your hearing, too, is good, as I am told. In this you have the advantage of me. The dulness of mine makes me lose much of the conversation of the world, and much a stranger to what is passing in it. Acquiescence is the only pillow, although not always a soft one. I have had one advantage of you. This Presidential election has given me few anxieties. With you this must have been impossible, independently of the question, whether we are at last to end our days under a civil or a military government. I am comforted and protected from other solicitudes by the cares of our University. 388 In some departments of science we believe Europe to be in advance before us, and that it would advance ourselves were we to draw from thence instructors in these branches, and thus to improve our science, as we have done our manufactures, by borrowed skill. I have been much squibbed for this, perhaps by disappointed applicants for professorships, to which they were deemed incompetent. We wait only the arrival of three of the professors engaged in England, to open our University.

I have lately been reading the most extraordinary of all books, and at the same time the most demonstrative by numerous and unequivocal facts. It is Flourens's experiments on the functions of the nervous system, in vertebrated animals. He takes out the cerebrum completely, leaving the cerebellum and other parts of the system uninjured. The animal loses all its senses of hearing, seeing, feeling, smelling, tasting, is totally deprived of will, intelligence, memory, perception, &c. Yet lives for months in perfect health, with all its powers of motion, but without moving but on external excitement, starving even on a pile of grain, unless crammed down its throat; in short, in a state of the most absolute stupidity. He takes the cerebellum out of others, leaving the cerebrum untouched. The animal retains all its senses, faculties, and understanding, but loses the power of regulated motion, and exhibits all the symptoms of drunkenness. While he makes incisions in the cerebrum and cerebellum, lengthwise and crosswise, which heal and get well, a puncture in the medulla elongata is instant death; and many other most interesting things too long for a letter. Cabanis had proved by the anatomical structure of certain portions of the human frame, that they might be capable of receiving from the hand of the Creator the faculty of thinking; Flourens proves that they have received it; that the cerebrum is the thinking organ; and that life and health may continue, and the animal be entirely without thought, if deprived of that organ. I wish to see what the spiritualists will say to this. Whether in this state the soul remains in the body, deprived of its essence of thought? or whether it leaves it, as in death, and where it goes? His memoirs and experiments have 389 been reported on with approbation by a committee of the institute, composed of Cuvier, Bertholet, Dumaril, Portal and Pinel. But all this, you and I shall know better when we meet again, in another place, and at no distant period. In the meantime, that the revived powers of your frame, and the anodyne of philosophy may preserve you from all suffering, is my sincere and affectionate prayer.


Monticello, January 8, 1825.

Dear Sir,—I returned the first volume of Hall by a mail of a week ago, and by this, shall return the second. We have kept them long, but every member of the family wished to read his book, in which case, you know, it had a long gauntlet to run. It is impossible to read thoroughly such writings as those of Harper and Otis, who take a page to say what requires but a sentence, or rather, who give you whole pages of what is nothing to the purpose. A cursory race over the ground is as much as they can claim. It is easy for them, at this day, to endeavor to whitewash their party, when the greater part are dead of those who witnessed what passed, others old and become indifferent to the subject, and others indisposed to take the trouble of answering them. As to Otis, his attempt is to prove that the sun does not shine at mid-day; that that is not a fact which every one saw. He merits no notice. It is well known that Harper had little scruple about facts where detection was not obvious. By placing in false lights whatever admits it, and passing over in silence what does not, a plausible aspect may be presented of anything. He takes great pains to prove, for instance, that Hamilton was no monarchist, by exaggerating his own intimacy with him, and the impossibility, if he was so, that he should not, at some time, have betrayed it to him. This may pass with uninformed readers, but not with those who have had it from Hamilton's own mouth. I am one of those, and but one of many. At 390 my own table, in presence of Mr. Adams, Knox, Randolph, and myself, in a dispute between Mr. Adams and himself, he avowed his preference of monarchy over every other government, and his opinion that the English was the most perfect model of government ever devised by the wit of man, Mr. Adams agreeing "if its corruptions were done away." While Hamilton insisted that "with these corruptions it was perfect, and without them it would be an impracticable government." Can any one read Mr. Adams' defence of the American constitutions without seeing that he was a monarchist? And J. Q. Adams, the son, was more explicit than the father, in his answer to Paine's rights of man. So much for leaders. Their followers were divided. Some went the same lengths, others, and I believe the greater part, only wished a stronger Executive. When I arrived at New York in 1790, to take a part in the administration, being fresh from the French revolution, while in its first and pure stage, and consequently somewhat whetted up in my own republican principles, I found a state of things, in the general society of the place, which I could not have supposed possible. Being a stranger there, I was feasted from table to table, at large set dinners, the parties generally from twenty to thirty. The revolution I had left, and that we had just gone through in the recent change of our own government, being the common topics of conversation, I was astonished to find the general prevalence of monarchical sentiments, insomuch that in maintaining those of republicanism, I had always the whole company on my hands, never scarcely finding among them a single co-advocate in that argument, unless some old member of Congress happened to be present. The furthest that any one would go, in support of the republican features of our new government, would be to say, "the present constitution is well as a beginning, and may be allowed a fair trial; but it is, in fact, only a stepping stone to something better." Among their writers, Denny, the editor of the Portfolio, who was a kind of oracle with them, and styled the Addison of America, openly avowed his preference of monarchy over all other forms of government, prided himself on the avowal, and maintained it by argument 391 freely and without reserve, in his publications. I do not, myself, know that the Essex junto of Boston were monarchists, but I have always heard it so said, and never doubted.

These, my dear Sir, are but detached items from a great mass of proofs then fully before the public. They are unknown to you, because you were absent in Europe, and they are now disavowed by the party. But, had it not been for the firm and determined stand then made by a counter-party, no man can say what our government would have been at this day. Monarchy, to be sure, is now defeated, and they wish it should be forgotten that it was ever advocated. They see that it is desperate, and treat its imputation to them as a calumny; and I verily believe that none of them have it now in direct aim. Yet the spirit is not done away. The same party takes now what they deem the next best ground, the consolidation of the government; the giving to the federal member of the government, by unlimited constructions of the constitution, a control over all the functions of the States, and the concentration of all power ultimately at Washington.

The true history of that conflict of parties will never be in possession of the public, until, by the death of the actors in it, the hoards of their letters shall be broken up and given to the world. I should not fear to appeal to those of Harper himself, if he has kept copies of them, for abundant proof that he was himself a monarchist. I shall not live to see these unrevealed proofs, nor probably you; for time will be requisite. But time will, in the end, produce the truth. And, after all, it is but a truth which exists in every country, where not suppressed by the rod of despotism. Men, according to their constitutions, and the circumstances in which they are placed, differ honestly in opinion. Some are whigs, liberals, democrats, call them what you please. Others are tories, serviles, aristocrats, &c. The latter fear the people, and wish to transfer all power to the higher classes of society; the former consider the people as the safest depository of power in the last resort; they cherish them therefore, and wish to leave in them all the powers to the exercise of which 392 they are competent. This is the division of sentiment now existing in the United States. It is the common division of whig and tory, or according to our denominations of republican and federal; and is the most salutary of all divisions, and ought, therefore, to be fostered, instead of being amalgamated. For, take away this, and some more dangerous principle of division will take its place. But there is really no amalgamation. The parties exist now as heretofore. The one, indeed, has thrown off its old name, and has not yet assumed a new one, although obviously consolidationists. And among those in the offices of every denomination I believe it to be a bare minority.

I have gone into these facts to show how one-sided a view of this case Harper has presented. I do not recall these recollections with pleasure, but rather wish to forget them, nor did I ever permit them to affect social intercourse. And now, least of all, am disposed to do so. Peace and good will with all mankind is my sincere wish. I willingly leave to the present generation to conduct their affairs as they please. And in my general affection to the whole human family, and my particular devotion to my friends, be assured of the high and special estimation in which yourself is cordially held.


Monticello, January 11, 1825.

Dear Sir,—We are dreadfully nonplussed here by the non-arrival of our three Professors. We apprehend that the idea of our opening on the 1st of February prevails so much abroad, (although we have always mentioned it doubtfully,) as that the students will assemble on that day without awaiting the further notice which was promised. To send them away will be discouraging, and to open an University without Mathematics or Natural Philosophy would bring on us ridicule and disgrace. We therefore publish an advertisement, stating that on the arrival 393 of these Professors, notice will be given of the day of opening the institution.

Governor Barbour writes me hopefully of getting our fifty thousand dollars from Congress. The proposition has been originated in the House of Representatives, referred to the committee of claims, the chairman of which has prepared a very favorable report, and a bill conformable, assuming the repayment of all interest which the State has actually paid. The legislature will certainly owe to us the recovery of this money; for had they not given it in some measure the reverenced character of a donation for the promotion of learning, it would never have been paid. It is to be hoped, therefore, that the displeasure incurred by wringing it from them at the last session, will now give way to a contrary feeling, and even place us on a ground of some merit. Should this sentiment take place, and the arrival of our Professors, and filling our dormitories with students on the 1st of February, encourage them to look more favorably towards us, perhaps it might dispose them to enlarge somewhat their order on the same fund. You observe the Proctor has stated in a letter accompanying our Report, that it will take about twenty-five thousand dollars more than we have to finish the Rotunda. Besides this, an Anatomical theatre (costing about as much as one of our hotels, say about five thousand dollars,) is indispensable to the school of Anatomy. There cannot be a single dissection until a proper theatre is prepared, giving an advantageous view of the operation to those within, and effectually excluding observation from without. Either the additional sums, therefore, of twenty-five thousand and five thousand dollars will be wanting, or we must be permitted to appropriate a part of the fifty thousand to a theatre, leaving the Rotunda unfinished for the present. Yet I should think neither of these objects an equivalent for renewing the displeasure of the legislature. Unless we can carry their hearty patronage with us, the institution can never flourish. I would not, therefore, hint at this additional aid, unless it were agreeable to our friends generally, and tolerably sure of being carried without irritation.

394 In your letter of December the 31st, you say my "hand-writing and my letters have great effect there," i. e. at Richmond. I am sensible, my dear Sir, of the kindness with which this encouragement is held up to me. But my views of their effect are very different. When I retired from the administration of public affairs, I thought I saw some evidence that I retired with a good degree of public favor, and that my conduct in office had been considered, by the one party at least, with approbation, and with acquiescence by the other. But the attempt in which I have embarked so earnestly, to procure an improvement in the moral condition of my native State, although, perhaps, in other States it may have strengthened good dispositions, it has assuredly weakened them within our own. The attempt ran foul of so many local interests, of so many personal views, and so much ignorance, and I have been considered as so particularly its promoter, that I see evidently a great change of sentiment towards myself. I cannot doubt its having dissatisfied with myself a respectable minority, if not a majority of the House of Delegates. I feel it deeply, and very discouragingly. Yet I shall not give way. I have ever found in my progress through life, that, acting for the public, if we do always what is right, the approbation denied in the beginning will surely follow us in the end. It is from posterity we are to expect remuneration for the sacrifices we are making for their service, of time, quiet and good will. And I fear not the appeal. The multitude of fine young men whom we shall redeem from ignorance, who will feel that they owe to us the elevation of mind, of character and station they will be able to attain from the result of our efforts, will insure their remembering us with gratitude. We will not, then, be "weary in well-doing." Usque ad aras amicus tuus.


Monticello, January 17, 1825.

Dear Sir,—I have duly received four proof sheets of your explanation of the Apocalypse, with your letters of December 29th 395 and January 8th; in the last of which you request that, so soon as I shall be of opinion that the explanation you have given is correct, I would express it in a letter to you. From this you must be so good as to excuse me, because I make it an invariable rule to decline ever giving opinions on new publications in any case whatever. No man on earth has less taste or talent for criticism than myself, and least and last of all should I undertake to criticize works on the Apocalypse. It is between fifty and sixty years since I read it, and I then considered it as merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams. I was, therefore, well pleased to see, in your first proof sheet, that it was said to be not the production of St. John, but of Cerinthus, a century after the death of that apostle. Yet the change of the author's name does not lessen the extravagances of the composition; and come they from whomsoever they may, I cannot so far respect them as to consider them as an allegorical narrative of events, past or subsequent. There is not coherence enough in them to countenance any suite of rational ideas. You will judge, therefore, from this how impossible I think it that either your explanation, or that of any man in "the heavens above, or on the earth beneath," can be a correct one. What has no meaning admits no explanation; and pardon me if I say, with the candor of friendship, that I think your time too valuable, and your understanding of too high an order, to be wasted on these paralogisms. You will perceive, I hope, also, that I do not consider them as revelations of the Supreme Being, whom I would not so far blaspheme as to impute to him a pretension of revelation, couched at the same time in terms which, he would know, were never to be understood by those to whom they were addressed. In the candor of these observations, I hope you will see proofs of the confidence, esteem and respect which I truly entertain for you. 396


Quincy, January 23, 1825.

My Dear Sir,—We think ourselves possessed, or at least we boast that we are so, of liberty of conscience on all subjects and of the right of free inquiry and private judgment in all cases, and yet how far are we from these exalted privileges in fact. There exists, I believe, throughout the whole Christian world, a law which makes it blasphemy to deny, or to doubt the divine inspiration of all the books of the Old and New Testaments, from Genesis to Revelations. In most countries of Europe it is punished by fire at the stake, or the rack, or the wheel. In England itself, it is punished by boring through the tongue with a red-hot poker. In America it is not much better; even in our Massachusetts, which, I believe, upon the whole, is as temperate and moderate in religious zeal as most of the States, a law was made in the latter end of the last century, repealing the cruel punishments of the former laws, but substituting fine and imprisonment upon all those blasphemies upon any book of the Old Testament or New. Now, what free inquiry, when a writer must surely encounter the risk of fine or imprisonment for adducing any arguments for investigation into the divine authority of those books? Who would run the risk of translating Volney's Recherches Nouvelles? Who would run the risk of translating Dapin's? But I cannot enlarge upon this subject, though I have it much at heart. I think such laws a great embarrassment, great obstructions to the improvement of the human mind. Books that cannot bear examination, certainly ought not to be established as divine inspiration by penal laws. It is true, few persons appear desirous to put such laws in execution, and it is also true that some few persons are hardy enough to venture to depart from them; but as long as they continue in force as laws, the human mind must make an awkward and clumsy progress in its investigations. I wish they were repealed. The substance and essence of Christianity, as I understand it, is eternal and unchangeable, and will bear examination forever; but it has been 397 mixed with extraneous ingredients, which, I think, will not bear examination, and they ought to be separated. Adieu.

TO ——.[17]

Monticello, February 3, 1825.

Dear Sir,—Although our Professors were, on the 5th of December, still in an English port, that they were safe raises me from the dead, for I was almost ready to give up the ship. That was eight weeks ago; they may therefore be daily expected.

In most public seminaries text-books are prescribed to each of the several schools, as the norma docendi in that school; and this is generally done by authority of the trustees. I should not propose this generally in our University, because I believe none of us are so much at the heights of science in the several branches, as to undertake this, and therefore that it will be better left to the Professors until occasion of interference shall be given. But there is one branch in which we are the best judges, in which heresies may be taught, of so interesting a character to our own State and to the United States, as to make it a duty in us to lay down the principles which are to be taught. It is that of government. Mr. Gilmer being withdrawn, we know not who his successor may be. He may be a Richmond lawyer, or one of that school of quondam federalism, now consolidation. It is our duty to guard against such principles being disseminated among our youth, and the diffusion of that poison, by a previous prescription of the texts to be followed in their discourses. I therefore enclose you a resolution which I think of proposing at our next meeting, strictly confiding it to your own knowledge alone, and to that of Mr. Loyall, to whom you may communicate it, as I am sure it will harmonize with his principles. I wish it kept to ourselves, because I have always found that the less such things are spoken of beforehand, the less obstruction is contrived to be thrown in their way. I have communicated it to Mr. Madison.

Should the bill for district colleges pass in the end, our scheme 398 of education will be complete. But the branch of primary schools may need attention, and should be brought, like the rest, to the forum of the legislature. The Governor, in his annual message, gives a favorable account of them in the lump. But this is not sufficient. We should know the operation of the law establishing these schools more in detail. We should know how much money is furnished to each county every year, and how much education it distributes every year, and such a statement should be laid before the legislature every year. The sum of education rendered in each county in each year should be estimated by adding together the number of months which each scholar attended, and stating the sum total of the months which all of them together attended, e. g., in any county one scholar attended two months, three others four months each, eight others six months each, then the sum of these added together will make sixty-two months of schooling afforded in the county that year; and the number of sixty-two months entered in a table opposite to the name of the county, gives a satisfactory idea of the sum or quantum of education it rendered in that year. This will enable us to take many interesting and important views of the sufficiency of the plan established, and of the amendments necessary to produce the greatest effect. I enclose a form of the table which would be required, in which you will of course be sensible that the numbers entered are at hap-hazard, and exempli gratia, as I know nothing of the sums furnished or quantum of education rendered in each or any county. I send also the form of such a resolution as should be passed by the one or the other house, perhaps better in the lower one, and moved by some member nowise connected with us, for the less we appear before the house, the less we shall excite dissatisfaction.

I mentioned to you formerly our want of an anatomical hall for dissection. But if we get the fifty thousand dollars from Congress, we can charge to that, as the library fund, the six thousand dollars of the building fund which we have advanced for it in books and apparatus, and repaying from the former the six thousand dollars due to the latter, apply so much of it as is necessary 399 for the anatomical building. No application on the subject need therefore be made to our legislature. But I hear nothing of our prospects before Congress. Yours affectionately.

Resolved, That the Governor be requested to have prepared and laid before the legislature, at their next session, a statement in detail of the sum of education which, under the law establishing primary schools, has been rendered in the schools of each county respectively; that it be stated in a tabular form, in the first column of which table shall be the names of the counties alphabetically arranged, and then, for every year, two other columns, in the first of which shall be entered, opposite to the name of each county, the sum of money furnished it in that year, and in the second shall be stated the sum of education rendered in the same county and year; which sum is to be estimated by adding together the number of months of schooling which the several individuals attending received. And that henceforward a similar statement be prepared and laid before the legislature every year for that year.

Accomac $400 216 months schooling.
Albemarle 500 234 months schooling.
Amelia 250 183 months schooling.
Amherst 400 210 months schooling.
Augusta 800 461 months schooling.

TO ——.[18]

Monticello, February 20, 1825.

Dear Sir,—I thank you for the copy of your Cherokee grammar, which I have gone over with attention and satisfaction. We generally learn languages for the benefit of reading the books written in them. But here our reward must be the addition made to the philosophy of language. In this point of view your 400 analysis of the Cherokee adds valuable matter for reflection, and strengthens our desire to see more of these languages as scientifically elucidated. Their grammatical devices for the modification of their words by a syllable prefixed to, or inserted in the middle, or added to its end, and by other combinations so different from ours, prove that if man came from one stock, his languages did not. A late grammarian has said that all words were originally monosyllables. The Indian languages disprove this. I should conjecture that the Cherokees, for example, have formed their language not by single words, but by phrases. I have known some children learn to speak, not by a word at a time, but by whole phrases. Thus the Cherokee has no name for father in the abstract, but only as combined with some one of his relations. A complex idea being a fasciculus of simple ideas bundled together, it is rare that different languages make up their bundles alike, and hence the difficulty of translating from one language to another. European nations have so long had intercourse with one another, as to have approximated their complex expressions much towards one another. But I believe we shall find it impossible to translate our language into any of the Indian, or any of theirs into ours. I hope you will pursue your undertaking, and that others will follow your example with other of their languages. It will open a wide field for reflection on the grammatical organization of languages, their structure and character. I am persuaded that among the tribes on our two continents a great number of languages, radically different, will be found. It will be curious to consider how so many so radically different will be found. It will be curious to consider how so many so radically different have been preserved by such small tribes in coterminous settlements of moderate extent. I had once collected about thirty vocabularies formed of the same English words, expressive of such simple objects only as must be present and familiar to every one under these circumstances. They wore unfortunately lost. But I remember that on a trial to arrange them into families or dialects, I found in one instance that about half a 401 dozen might be so classed, in another perhaps three or four. Bot I am sure that a third at least, if not more, were perfectly insulation from each other. Yet this is the only index by which we can trace their filiation.

I had received your observations on the changes proposed in Harvard College, without knowing from whom they came to me, and had been so much pleased with them as to have put them by for preservation. These observations, with the report and documents to which they relate, are a treasure of information to us; they give to our infant institution the experience of your ancient and eminent establishment. I hope that we shall be like cordial colleagues in office, acting in harmony and affection for the same object. Our European professors, five in number, are at length arrived, and excite strong presumptions that they have been judiciously selected. We have announced our opening on the 7th of the ensuing month of March. With sincere wishes for the prosperity of yours, as well as ours, I pray you to accept assurances of my high esteem and respect.


Monticello, February 21, 1825.

This letter will, to you, be as one from the dead. The writer will be in the grave before you can weigh its counsels. Your affectionate and excellent father has requested that I would address to you something which might possibly have a favorable influence on the course of life you have to run, and I too, as a namesake, feel an interest in that course. Few words will be necessary, with good dispositions on your part. Adore God. Reverence and cherish your parents. Love your neighbor as yourself, and your country more than yourself. Be just. Be true. Murmur not at the ways of Providence. So shall the life into which you have entered, be the portal to one of eternal and ineffable bliss. And if to the dead it is permitted to care for the 402 things of this world, every action of your life will be under my regard. Farewell.

The portrait of a good man by the most sublime of poets, for your imitation.

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 rage, 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 insur'd,

When earth's foundations shake, shall stand, by Providence secur'd.

A Decalogue of Canons for observation in practical life.

1. Never put off till to-morrow what you can do to-day.

2. Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.

3. Never spend your money before you have it.

4. Never buy what you do not want, because it is cheap; it will be dear to you.

5. Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst and cold.

6. We never repent of having eaten too little.

7. Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.

8. How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened.

9. Take things always by their smooth handle.

10. When angry, count ten, before you speak; if very angry, an hundred.


Monticello, March 25, 1825.

Dear Sir,—I know how apt we are to consider those whom we knew long ago, and have not since seen, to be exactly still 403 what they were when we knew them; and to have been stationary in body and mind as they have been in our recollections. Have you not been under that illusion with respect to myself? When I had the pleasure of being a fellow-laborer with you in the public service, age had ripened, but not yet impaired whatever of mind I had at any time possessed. But five-and-twenty chilling winters have since rolled over my head, and whitened every hair of it. Worn down by time in bodily strength, unable to walk even into my garden without too much fatigue, I cannot doubt that the mind has also suffered its portion of decay. If reason and experience had not taught me this law of nature, my own consciousness is a sufficient monitor, and warns me to keep in mind the golden precept of Horace,

"Solve senescentem, maturé sanus, equum, ne

Peccet ad extremum ridendus."

I am not equal, dear Sir, to the task you have proposed to me. To examine a code of laws newly reduced to system and text, to weigh their bearings on each other in all their parts, their harmony with reason and nature, and their adaptation to the habits and sentiments of those for whom they are prepared, and whom, in this case, I do not know, is a task far above what I am now, or perhaps ever was. I have attended to so much of your work as has been heretofore laid before the public, and have looked, with some attention also, into what you have now sent me. It will certainly arrange your name with the sages of antiquity. Time and changes in the condition and constitution of society may require occasional and corresponding modifications. One single object, if your provision attains it, will entitle you to the endless gratitude of society; that of restraining judges from usurping legislation. And with no body of men is this restraint more wanting than with the judges of what is commonly called our general government, but what I call our foreign department. They are practising on the constitution by inferences, analogies, and sophisms, as they would on an ordinary law. They do not seem aware that it is not even a constitution, formed by a single authority, 404 and subject to a single superintendence and control; but that it is a compact of many independent powers, every single one of which claims an equal right to understand it, and to require its observance. However strong the cord of compact may be, there is a point of tension at which it will break. A few such doctrinal decisions, as barefaced as that of the Cohens, happening to bear immediately on two or three of the large States, may induce them to join in arresting the march of government, and in arousing the co-States to pay some attention to what is passing, to bring back the compact to its original principles, or to modify it legitimately by the express consent of the parties themselves, and not by the usurpation of their created agents. They imagine they can lead us into a consolidate government, while their road leads directly to its dissolution. This member of the government was at first considered as the most harmless and helpless of all its organs. But it has proved that the power of declaring what the law is, ad libitum, by sapping and mining, slily, and without alarm, the foundations of the constitution, can do what open force would not dare to attempt. I have not observed whether, in your code, you have provided against caucussing judicial decisions, and for requiring judges to give their opinions seriatim, every man for himself, with his reasons and authorities at large, to be entered of record in his own words. A regard for reputation, and the judgment of the world, may sometimes be felt where conscience is dormant, or indolence inexcitable. Experience has proved that impeachment in our forms is completely inefficient.

I am pleased with the style and diction of your laws. Plain and intelligible as the ordinary writings of common sense, I hope it will produce imitation. Of all the countries on earth of which I have any knowledge, the style of the Acts of the British parliament is the most barbarous, uncouth, and unintelligible. It can be understood by those alone who are in the daily habit of studying such tautologous, involved and parenthetical jargon. Where they found their model, I know not. Neither ancient 405 nor modern codes, nor even their own early statutes, furnish any such example. And, like faithful apes, we copy it faithfully.

In declining the undertaking you so flatteringly propose to me, I trust you will see but an approvable caution for the age of four score and two, to avoid exposing itself before the public. The misfortune of a weakened mind is an insensibility of its weakness. Seven years ago, indeed, I embarked in an enterprise, the establishment of an University, which placed and keeps me still under the public eye. The call was imperious, the necessity most urgent, and the hazard of titubation less, by those seven years, than it now is. The institution is at length happily advanced to completion, and has commenced under auspices as favorable as I could expect. I hope it will prove a blessing to my own State, and not unuseful perhaps to some others. At all hazards, and secured by the aid of my able coadjutors, I shall continue, while I am in being, to contribute to it whatever my weakened and weakening powers can. But assuredly it is the last object for which I shall obtrude myself on the public observation.

Wishing anxiously that your great work may obtain complete success, and become an example for the imitation and improvement of other States, I pray you to be assured of my unabated friendship and respect.


Monticello, April 3, 1825.

Dear Sir,—Your favor of March 25th has been duly received. The fact is unquestionable, that the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution of Virginia, were drawn originally by George Mason, one of our really great men, and of the first order of greatness. The history of the Preamble to the latter is this: I was then at Philadelphia with Congress; and knowing that the Convention of Virginia was engaged in forming a plan of government, I turned my mind to the same subject, and drew a sketch or outline 406 of a Constitution, with a preamble, which I sent to Mr. Pendleton, president of the convention, on the mere possibility that it might suggest something worth incorporation into that before the convention. He informed me afterwards by letter, that he received it on the day on which the Committee of the Whole had reported to the House the plan they had agreed to; that that had been so long in hand, so disputed inch by inch, and the subject of so much altercation and debate; that they were worried with the contentions it had produced, and could not from mere lassitude, have been induced to open the instrument again; but that, being pleased with the Preamble to mine, they adopted it in the House, by way of amendment to the Report of the Committee; and thus my Preamble became tacked to the work of George Mason. The Constitution, with the Preamble, was passed on the 29th of June, and the Committee of Congress had only the day before that reported to that body the draught of the Declaration of Independence. The fact is, that that Preamble was prior in composition to the Declaration; and both having the same object, of justifying our separation from Great Britain, they used necessarily the same materials of justification, and hence their similitude.

Withdrawn by age from all other public services and attentions to public things, I am closing the last scenes of life by fashioning and fostering an establishment for the instruction of those who are to come after us. I hope its influence on their virtue, freedom, fame and happiness, will be salutary and permanent. The form and distributions of its structure are original and unique, the architecture chaste and classical, and the whole well worthy of attracting the curiosity of a visit. Should it so prove to yourself at any time, it will be a great gratification to me to see you once more at Monticello; and I pray you to be assured of my continued and high respect and esteem. 407


Monticello, May 8, 1825.

Dear Sir,— * * * * *

That George Mason was author of the bill of rights, and of the constitution founded on it, the evidence of the day established fully in my mind. Of the paper you mention, purporting to be instructions to the Virginia delegation in Congress, I have no recollection. If it were anything more than a project of some private hand, that is to say, had any such instructions been ever given by the convention, they would appear in the journals, which we possess entire. But with respect to our rights, and the acts of the British government contravening those rights, there was but one opinion on this side of the water. All American whigs thought alike on these subjects. When forced, therefore, to resort to arms for redress, an appeal to the tribunal of the world was deemed proper for our justification. This was the object of the Declaration of Independence. Not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before: but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take. Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion. All its authority rests then on the harmonizing sentiments of the day, whether expressed in conversation, in letters, printed essays, or in the elementary books of public right, as Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, &c. The historical documents which you mention as in your possession, ought all to be found, and I am persuaded you will find, to be corroborative of the facts and principles advanced in that Declaration. Be pleased to accept assurances of my great esteem and respect. 408


Monticello, August 7, 1825.

I have duly received; dear Madam, your letter of July 26th, and learn from it with much regret, that Miss Wright, your sister, is so much indisposed as to be obliged to visit our medicinal springs. I wish she may be fortunate in finding those which may be adapted to her case. We have taken too little pains to ascertain the properties of our different mineral waters, the cases in which they are respectively remedial, the proper process in their use, and other circumstances necessary to give us their full value. My own health is very low, not having been able to leave the house for three months, and suffering much at times. In this state of body and mind, your letter could not have found a more inefficient counsellor, one scarcely able to think or to write. At the age of eighty-two, with one foot in the grave, and the other uplifted to follow it, I do not permit myself to take part in any new enterprises, even for bettering the condition of man, not even in the great one which is the subject of your letter, and which has been through life that of my greatest anxieties. The march of events has not been such as to render its completion practicable within the limits of time allotted to me; and I leave its accomplishment as the work of another generation. And I am cheered when I see that on which it is devolved, taking it up with so much good will, and such minds engaged in its encouragement. The abolition of the evil is not impossible; it ought never therefore to be despaired of. Every plan should be adopted, every experiment tried, which may do something towards the ultimate object. That which you propose is well worthy of trial. It has succeeded with certain portions of our white brethren, under the care of a Rapp and an Owen; and why may it not succeed with the man of color? An opinion is hazarded by some, but proved by none, that moral urgencies are not sufficient to induce him to labor; that nothing can do this but physical coercion. But this is a problem which the present age alone is prepared to solve by experiment. It 409 would be a solecism to suppose a race of animals created, without sufficient foresight and energy to preserve their own existence. It is disproved, too, by the fact that they exist, and have existed through all the ages of history. We are not sufficiently acquainted with all the nations of Africa, to say that there may not be some in which habits of industry are established, and the arts practised which are necessary to render life comfortable. The experiment now in progress in St. Domingo, those of Sierra Leone and Cape Mesurado, are but beginning. Your proposition has its aspects of promise also; and should it not answer fully to calculations in figures, it may yet, in its developments, lead to happy results. These, however, I must leave to another generation. The enterprise of a different, but yet important character, in which I have embarked too late in life, I find more than sufficient to occupy the enfeebled energies remaining to me, and that to divert them to other objects, would be a desertion of these. You are young, dear Madam, and have powers of mind which may do much in exciting others in this arduous task. I am confident they will be so exerted, and I pray to heaven for their success, and that you may be rewarded with the blessings which such efforts merit.


Monticello, September 16, 1825.

Dear Sir,—I am not able to give you any particular account of the paper handed you by Mr. Lee, as being either the original or a copy of the Declaration of Independence, sent by myself to his grandfather. The draught, when completed by myself, with a few verbal amendments by Dr. Franklin and Mr. Adams, two members of the committee, in their own hand-writing, is now in my own possession, and a fair copy of this was reported to the committee, passed by them without amendment, and then reported to Congress. This letter should be among the records of the old Congress; and whether this or the one from which it 410 was copied and now in my hands, is to be called the original, is a question of definition. To that in my hands, if worth preserving, my relations with our University gives irresistible claims. Whenever, in the course of the composition, a copy became overcharged, and difficult to be read with amendments, I copied it fair, and when that also was crowded with other amendments, another fair copy was made, &c. These rough draughts I sent to distant friends who were anxious to know what was passing. But how many, and to whom, I do not recollect. One sent to Mazzei was given by him to the Countess de Tessie (aunt of Madame de Lafayette) as the original, and is probably now in the hands of her family. Whether the paper sent to R. H. Lee was one of these, or whether, after the passage of the instrument, I made a copy for him, with the amendments of Congress, may, I think, be known from the face of the paper. The documents Mr. Lee has given you must be of great value, and until all these private hoards are made public, the real history of the revolution will not be known.


Monticello, September 26, 1825.

Dear Sir,—It is not for me to estimate the importance of the circumstances concerning which your letter of the 8th makes inquiry. They prove, even in their minuteness, the sacred attachments of our fellow citizens to the event of which the paper of July 4th, 1776, was but the declaration, the genuine effusion of the soul of our country at that time. Small things may, perhaps, like the relics of saints, help to nourish our devotion to this holy bond of our Union, and keep it longer alive and warm in our affections. This effect may give importance to circumstances, however small. At the time of writing that instrument, I lodged in the house of a Mr. Graaf, a new brick house, three stories high, of which I rented the second floor consisting of a parlor and bed-room, ready furnished. In that parlor 411 I wrote habitually, and in it wrote this paper, particularly. So far I state from written proofs in my possession. The proprietor, Graaf, was a young man, son of a German, and then newly married. I think he was a bricklayer, and that his house was on the south side of Market street, probably between Seventh and Eighth streets, and if not the only house on that part of the street, I am sure there were few others near it. I have some idea that it was a corner house, but no other recollections throwing light on the question, or worth communication. I am ill, therefore only add assurance of my great respect and esteem.

TO ——.

Monticello, October 25, 1825.

Dear Sir,—I know not whether the professors to whom ancient and modern history are assigned in the University, have yet decided on the course of historical reading which they will recommend to their schools. If they have, I wish this letter to be considered as not written, as their course, the result of mature consideration, will be preferable to anything I could recommend. Under this uncertainty, and the rather as you are of neither of these schools, I may hazard some general ideas, to be corrected by what they may recommend hereafter.

In all cases I prefer original authors to compilers. For a course of ancient history, therefore, of Greece and Rome especially, I should advise the usual suite of Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, Diodorus, Livy, Cæsar, Suetonius, Tacitus, and Dion, in their originals if understood, and in translations if not. For its continuation to the final destruction of the empire we must then be content with Gibbons, a compiler, and with Segur, for a judicious recapitulation of the whole. After this general course, there are a number of particular histories filling up the chasms, which may be read at leisure in the progress of life. Such is Arrian, 2 Curtius, Polybius, Sallust, Plutarch, Dionysius, Halicarnassus, Micasi, &c. The ancient universal history should be 412 on our shelves as a book of general reference, the most learned and most faithful perhaps that ever was written. Its style is very plain but perspicuous.

In modern history, there are but two nations with whose course it is interesting to us to be intimately acquainted, to wit: France and England. For the former, Millot's General History of France may be sufficient to the period when 1 Davila commences. He should be followed by Perefixe, Sully, Voltaire's Louis XIV. and XV., la Cretelles siècle, Marmontel's Regence, Foulongion's French Revolution, and Madame de Stael's, making up by a succession of particular history, the general one which they want.

Of England there is as yet no general history so faithful as Rapin's. He maybe followed by Ludlow, Fox, Belsham, Hume and Brodie. Hume's, were it faithful, would be the finest piece of history which has ever been written by man. Its unfortunate bias may be partly ascribed to the accident of his having written backwards. His maiden work was the History of the Stuarts. It was a first essay to try his strength before the public. And whether as a Scotchman he had really a partiality for that family, or thought that the lower their degradation, the more fame he should acquire by raising them up to some favor, the object of his work was an apology for them. He spared nothing, therefore, to wash them white, and to palliate their misgovernment. For this purpose he suppressed truths, advanced falsehoods, forged authorities, and falsified records. All this is proved on him unanswerably by Brodie. But so bewitching was his style and manner, that his readers were unwilling to doubt anything, swallowed everything, and all England became tories by the magic of his art. His pen revolutionized the public sentiment of that country more completely than the standing armies could ever have done, which were so much dreaded and deprecated by the patriots of that day.

Having succeeded so eminently in the acquisition of fortune and fame by this work, he undertook the history of the two preceding dynasties, the Plantagenets and Tudors. It was all-important 413 in this second work, to maintain the thesis of the first, that "it was the people who encroached on the sovereign, not the sovereign who usurped on the rights of the people." And, again, chapter 53d, "the grievances under which the English labored [to wit: whipping, pillorying, cropping, imprisoning, fining, &c.,] when considered in themselves, without regard to the constitution, scarcely deserve the name, nor were they either burthensome on the people's properties, or anywise shocking to the natural humanity of mankind." During the constant wars, civil and foreign, which prevailed while these two families occupied the throne, it was not difficult to find abundant instances of practices the most despotic, as are wont to occur in times of violence. To make this second epoch support the third, therefore, required but a little garbling of authorities. And it then remained, by a third work, to make of the whole a complete history of England, on the principles on which he had advocated that of the Stuarts. This would comprehend the Saxon and Norman conquests, the former exhibiting the genuine form and political principles of the people constituting the nation, and founded in the rights of man; the latter built on conquest and physical force, not at all affecting moral rights, nor even assented to by the free will of the vanquished. The battle of Hastings, indeed, was lost, but the natural rights of the nation were not staked on the event of a single battle. Their will to recover the Saxon constitution continued unabated, and was at the bottom of all the unsuccessful insurrections which succeeded in subsequent times. The victors and vanquished continued in a state of living hostility, and the nation may still say, after losing the battle of Hastings,

"What though the field is lost?

All is not lost; the unconquerable will

And study of revenge, immortal hate

And courage never to submit or yield."

The government of a nation may be usurped by the forcible intrusion of an individual into the throne. But to conquer its will, 414 so as to rest the right on that, the only legitimate basis, requires long acquiescence and cessation of all opposition. The whig historians of England, therefore, have always gone back to the Saxon period for the true principles of their constitution, while the tories and Hume, their Coryphæus, date it from the Norman conquest, and hence conclude that the continual claim by the nation of the good old Saxon laws, and the struggles to recover them, were "encroachments of the people on the crown, and not usurpations of the crown on the people." Hume, with Brodie, should be the last histories of England to be read. If first read, Hume makes an English tory, from whence it is an easy step to American toryism. But there is a history, by Baxter, in which, abridging somewhat by leaving out some entire incidents as less interesting now than when Hume wrote, he has given the rest in the identical words of Hume, except that when he comes to a fact falsified, he states it truly, and when to a suppression of truth, he supplies it, never otherwise changing a word. It is, in fact, an editic expurgation of Hume. Those who shrink from the volume of Rapin, may read this first, and from this lay a first foundation in a basis of truth.

For modern continental history, a very general idea may be first aimed at, leaving for future and occasional reading the particular histories of such countries as may excite curiosity at the time. This may be obtained from Mollet's Northern Antiquities, Vol. Esprit et Mœurs des Nations, Millot's Modern History, Russel's Modern Europe, Hallam's Middle Ages, and Robertson's Charles V.

You ask what book I would recommend to be first read in law. I am very glad to find from a conversation with Mr. Gilmer, that he considers Coke Littleton, as methodized by Thomas, as unquestionably the best elementary work, and the one which will be the text book of his school. It is now as agreeable reading as Blackstone, and much more profound. I pray you to consider this hasty and imperfect sketch as intended merely to prove my wish to be useful to you, and that with it you will accept the assurance of my esteem and respect. 415


Monticello, November 9, 1825.

Dear Sir,—Your favor of July 30th was duly received, and we have now at hand the books you have been so kind as to send to our University. They are truly acceptable in themselves, for we might have been years not knowing of their existence; but give the greater pleasure as evidence of the interest you have taken in our infant institution. It is going on as successfully as we could have expected; and I have no reason to regret the measure taken of procuring Professors from abroad where science is so much ahead of us. You witnessed some of the puny squibs of which I was the butt on that account. They were probably from disappointed candidates, whose unworthiness had occasioned their applications to be passed over. The measure has been generally approved in the South and West; and by all liberal minds in the North. It has been peculiarly fortunate, too, that the Professors brought from abroad were as happy selections as could have been hoped, as well for their qualifications in science as correctness and amiableness of character. I think the example will be followed, and that it cannot fail to be one of the efficacious means of promoting that cordial good will, which it is so much the interest of both nations to cherish. These teachers can never utter an unfriendly sentiment towards their native country; and those into whom their instructions will be infused, are not of ordinary significance only: they are exactly the persons who are to succeed to the government of our country, and to rule its future enmities, its friendships and fortunes. As it is our interest to receive instruction through this channel, so I think it is yours to furnish it; for these two nations holding cordially together, have nothing to fear from the united world. They will be the models for regenerating the condition of man, the sources from which representative government is to flow over the whole earth.

I learn from you with great pleasure, that a taste is reviving in England for the recovery of the Anglo-Saxon dialect of our 416 language; for a mere dialect it is, as much as those of Piers Plowman, Gower, Douglas, Chaucer, Spenser, Shakspeare, Milton, for even much of Milton is already antiquated. The Anglo-Saxon is only the earliest we possess of the many shades of mutation by which the language has tapered down to its modern form. Vocabularies we need for each of these stages from Somner to Bailey, but not grammars for each or any of them. The grammar has changed so little, in the descent from the earliest, to the present form, that a little observation suffices to understand its variations. We are greatly indebted to the worthies who have preserved the Anglo-Saxon form, from Doctor Hickes down to Mr. Bosworth. Had they not given to the public what we possess through the press, that dialect would by this time have been irrecoverably lost. I think it, however, a misfortune that they have endeavored to give it too much of a learned form, to mount it on all the scaffolding of the Greek and Latin, to load it with their genders, numbers, cases, declensions, conjugations, &c. Strip it of these embarrassments, vest it in the Roman type which we have adopted instead of our English black letter, reform its uncouth orthography, and assimilate its pronunciation, as much as may be, to the present English, just as we do in reading Piers Plowman or Chaucer, and with the cotemporary vocabulary for the few lost words, we understand it as we do them. For example, the Anglo-Saxon text of the Lord's prayer, as given us 6th Matthew, ix., is spelt and written thus, in the equivalent Roman type: "Faeder ure thee the eart in heafenum, si thin nama ychalgod. To becume thin rice. Gerrurthe thin willa on eartham, swa swa on heofenum. Ume doeghw amli can hlaf syle us to dœg. And forgyfus ure gyltas, swa swa we forgifath urum gyltendum. And ne ge-lœdde thu us on costnunge, ae alys us of yfele." I should spell and pronounce thus: "Father our, thou tha art in heavenum, si thine name y-hallowed. Come thin ric-y-wurth thine will on eartham, so so on heavenum: ourn daynhamlican loaf sell us to-day, and forgive us our guilts so so we forgiveth ourum guiltendum. And no y-lead thou us on costnunge, ac a-lease us of evil." And here it 417 is to be observed by-the-bye, that there is but the single word "temptation" in our present version of this prayer that is not Anglo-Saxon; for the word "trespasses" taken from the French, (οφειληματα in the original) might as well have been translated by the Anglo-Saxon "guilts."

The learned apparatus in which Dr. Hickes and his successors have muffled our Anglo-Saxon, is what has frightened us from encountering it. The simplification I propose may, on the contrary, make it a regular part of our common English education.

So little reading and writing was there among our Anglo-Saxon ancestors of that day, that they had no fixed orthography. To produce a given sound, every one jumbled the letters together, according to his unlettered notion of their power, and all jumbled them differently, just as would be done at this day, were a dozen peasants, who have learnt the alphabet, but have never read, desired to write the Lord's prayer. Hence the varied modes of spelling by which the Anglo-Saxons meant to express the same sound. The word many, for example, was spelt in twenty different ways; yet we cannot suppose they were twenty different words, or that they had twenty different ways of pronouncing the same word. The Anglo-Saxon orthography, then, is not an exact representation of the sounds meant to be conveyed. We must drop in pronunciation the superfluous consonants, and give to the remaining letters their present English sound; because, not knowing the true one, the present enunciation is as likely to be right as any other, and indeed more so, and facilitates the acquisition of the language.

It is much to be wished that the publication of the present county dialects of England should go on. It will restore to us our language in all its shades of variation. It will incorporate into the present one all the riches of our ancient dialects; and what a store this will be, may be seen by running the eye over the county glossaries, and observing the words we have lost by abandonment and disuse, which in sound and sense are inferior to nothing we have retained. When these local vocabularies are published and digested together into a single one, it is probable we shall find that there is not a word in Shakspeare which is not now in use in some of the counties in England, from whence we may obtain its true sense. And what an exchange will their recovery be for the volumes of idle commentaries and conjectures with which that divine poet has been masked and metamorphosed. 418 We shall find in him new sublimities which we had never tasted before, and find beauties in our ancient poets which are lost to us now. It is not that I am merely an enthusiast for Palæology. I set equal value on the beautiful engraftments we have borrowed from Greece and Rome, and I am equally a friend to the encouragement of a judicious neology: a language cannot be too rich. The more copious, the more susceptible of embellishment it will become. There are several things wanting to promote this improvement. To reprint the Saxon books in modern type; reform their orthography; publish in the same way the treasures still existing in manuscript. And, more than all things, we want, a dictionary on the plan of Stephens or Scapula, in which the Saxon root, placed alphabetically, shall be followed by all its cognate modifications of nouns, verbs, &c., whether Anglo-Saxon, or found in the dialects of subsequent ages. We want, too, an elaborate history of the English language. In time our country may be able to co-operate with you in these labors, of common advantage, but as yet it is too much a blank, calling for other and more pressing attentions. We have too much to do in the improvements of which it is susceptible, and which are deemed more immediately useful. Literature is not yet a distinct profession with us. Now and then a strong mind arises, and at its intervals of leisure from business, emits a flash of light. But the first object of young societies is bread and covering; science is but secondary and subsequent.

I owe apology for this long letter. It must be found in the circumstance of its subject having made an interesting part in the tenor of your letter, and in my attachment to it. It is a hobby which too often runs away with me where I meant not to give up the rein. Our youth seem disposed to mount it with me, and to begin their course where mine is ending.

419 Our family recollects with pleasure the visit with which you favored us; and join me in assuring you of our friendly and respectful recollections, and of the gratification it will ever be to us to hear of your health and welfare.


Monticello, November 27, 1825.

Sir,—Disqualified by age and ill health from undertaking minute investigations, I find it will be easier for me to state to you my proposition of a lock-dock, for laying up vessels, high and dry, than to investigate yours. You will then judge for yourself whether any part of mine has anticipated any part of yours.

While I was at Washington, in the administration of the government, Congress was much divided in opinion on the subject of a navy, a part of them wishing to go extensively into preparation of a fleet, another part opposed to it, on the objection that the repairs and preservation of a ship, even idle in harbor, in ten or twelve years, amount to her original cost. It has been estimated in England, that if they could be sure of peace a dozen years it would be cheaper for them to burn their fleet, and build a new one when wanting, than to keep the old one in repair during that term. I learnt that, in Venice, there were then ships, lying on their original stocks, ready for launching at any moment, which had been so for eighty years, and were still in a state of perfect preservation; and that this was effected by disposing of them in docks pumped dry, and kept so by constant pumping. It occurred to me that this expense of constant pumping might be saved by combining a lock with the common wet dock, wherever there was a running stream of water, the bed of which, within a reasonable distance, was of a sufficient height above the high-water level of the harbor. This was the case at the navy-yard, on the eastern branch at Washington, the high-water line of which was seventy-eight feet lower than the ground 420 on which the Capitol stands, and to which it was found that the water of the Tyber creek could be brought for watering the city. My proposition then was as follows: Let a b be the high-water level of the harbor, and the vessel to be laid up draw eighteen feet water. Make a chamber A twenty feet deep below high water and twenty feet high above it, as c d e f, and at the upper end make another chamber, B,

Proposed Lock

the bottom of which should be in the high-water level, and the tops twenty feet above that. g h is the water of the Tyber. When the vessel is to be introduced, open the gate at c b a. The tide water rises in the chamber A to the level b i, and floats the vessel in with it. Shut the gate c b d and open that of f i. The water of the Tyber fills both chambers to the level c f g, and the vessel floats into the chamber B; then opening both gates c b d and f i, the water flows out, and the vessel settles down on the stays previously prepared at the bottom i h to receive her. The gate at g h must of course be closed, and the water of the feeding stream be diverted elsewhere. The chamber B is to have a roof over it of the construction of that over the meal market at Paris, except that that is hemispherical, this semi-cylindrical. For this construction see Delenne's architecture, whose invention it was. The diameter of the dome of the meal market is considerably over one hundred feet.

It will be seen at once, that instead of making the chamber B of sufficient width and length for a single vessel only, it may be widened to whatever span the semi-circular framing of the roof can be trusted, and to whatever length you please, so as to admit two or more vessels in breadth, and as many in length as the localities render expedient.

I had a model of this lock-dock made and exhibited in the 421 President's house, during the session of Congress at which it was proposed. But the advocates for a navy did not fancy it, and those opposed to the building of ships altogether, were equally indisposed to provide protection for them. Ridicule was also resorted to, the ordinary substitute for reason, when that fails, and the proposition was past over. I then thought and still think the measure wise, to have a proper number of vessels always ready to be launched, with nothing unfinished about them, except the planting their masts, which must of necessity be omitted, to be brought under a roof. Having no view in this proposition but to combine for the public a provision for defence, with economy in its preservation, I have thought no more of it since. And if any of my ideas anticipated yours, you are welcome to appropriate them to yourself, without objection on my part, and, with this assurance, I pray you to accept that of my best wishes and respects.

To ——.[19]

Monticello. December 18, 1825.

Dear Sir,—Your letters are always welcome, the last more than all others, its subject being one of the dearest to my heart. To my grand-daughter your commendations cannot fail to be an object of high ambition, as a certain passport to the good opinion of the world. If she does not cultivate them with assiduity and affection, she will illy fulfil my parting injunctions. I trust she will merit a continuance of your favor, and find in her new situation the general esteem she so happily possessed in the society she left. You tell me she repeated to you an expression of mine, that I should be willing to go again over the scenes of past life. I should not be unwilling, without, however, wishing it; and why not? I have enjoyed a greater share of health than falls to the lot of most men; my spirits have never failed me except under those paroxysms of grief which you, as well as myself, have experienced in every form, and with good health and good spirits, the pleasures surely outweigh the pains of life. 422 Why not, then, taste them again, fat and lean together? Were I indeed permitted to cut off from the train the last seven years, the balance would be much in favor of treading the ground over again. Being at that period in the neighborhood of our warm springs, and well in health, I wished to be better, and tried them. They destroyed, in a great degree, my internal organism, and I have never since had a moment of perfect health. I have now been eight months confined almost constantly to the house, with now and then intervals of a few days on which I could get on horseback.

I presume you have received a copy of the life of Richard H. Lee, from his grandson of the same name, author of the work. You and I know that he merited much during the revolution. Eloquent, bold, and ever watchful at his post, of which his biographer omits no proof. I am not certain whether the friends of George Mason, of Patrick Henry, yourself, and even of General Washington, may not reclaim some feathers of the plumage given him, noble as was his proper and original coat. But on this subject I will anticipate your own judgment.

I learn with sincere pleasure that you have experienced lately a great renovation of your health. That it may continue to the ultimate period of your wishes is the sincere prayer of usque ad eras amicissimi tui.


Monticello, December 24, 1825.

Dear Sir,—I have for some time considered the question of internal improvement as desperate. The torrent of general opinion sets so strongly in favor of it as to be irresistible. And I suppose that even the opposition in Congress will hereafter be feeble and formal, unless something can be done which may give a gleam of encouragement to our friends, or alarm their opponents in their fancied security. I learn from Richmond that those who think with us there are in a state of perfect dismay, 423 not knowing what to do or what to propose. Mr. Gordon, our representative, particularly, has written to me in very desponding terms, not disposed to yield indeed, but pressing for opinions and advice on the subject. I have no doubt you are pressed in the same way, and I hope you have devised and recommended something to them. If you have, stop here and read no more, but consider all that follows as non-avenue. I shall be better satisfied to adopt implicitly anything which you may have advised, than anything occurring to myself. For I have long ceased to think on subjects of this kind, and pay little attention to public proceedings. But if you have done nothing in it, then I risk for your consideration what has occurred to me, and is expressed in the enclosed paper.[20] Bailey's propositions, which came to hand since I wrote the paper, and which I suppose to have come from the President himself, show a little hesitation in the purposes of his party; and in that state of mind, a bolt shot critically may decide the contest by its effect on the less bold. The olive branch held out to them at this moment may be accepted, and the constitution thus saved at a moderate sacrifice. I say nothing of the paper, which will explain itself. The following heads of consideration, or some of them, may weigh in its favor:

It may intimidate the wavering. It may break the western coalition, by offering the same thing in a different form. It will be viewed with favor in contrast with the Georgia opposition and fear of strengthening that. It will be an example of a temperate mode of opposition in future and similar cases. It will delay the measure a year at least. It will give us the chance of better times and of intervening accidents; and in no way place us in a worse than our present situation. I do not dwell on these topics; your mind will develop them.

The first question is, whether you approve of doing anything of the kind. If not, send it back to me, and it shall be suppressed; for I would not hazard so important a measure against 424 your opinion, nor even without its support. If you think it may be a canvass on which to put something good, make what alterations you please, and I will forward it to Gordon, under the most sacred injunctions that it shall be so used as that not a shadow of suspicion shall fall on you or myself, that it has come from either of us. But what you do, do as promptly as your convenience will admit, lest it should be anticipated by something worse.

Ever and affectionately yours.


Monticello, December 25, 1825.

Dear Sir,—Your favor of the 15th was received four days ago. It found me engaged in what I could not lay aside till this day.

Far advanced in my eighty-third year, worn down with infirmities which have confined me almost entirely to the house for seven or eight months past, it afflicts me much to receive appeals to my memory for transactions so far back as that which is the subject of your letter. My memory is indeed become almost a blank, of which no better proof can probably be given you than by my solemn protestation, that I have not the least recollection of your intervention between Mr. John Q. Adams and myself, in what passed on the subject of the embargo. Not the slightest trace of it remains in my mind. Yet I have no doubt of the exactitude of the statement in your letter. And the less, as I recollect the interview with Mr. Adams, to which the previous communications which had passed between him and yourself were probably and naturally the preliminary. That interview I remember well; not indeed in the very words which passed between us, but in their substance, which was of a character too awful, too deeply engraved in my mind, and influencing too materially the course I had to pursue, ever to be forgotten. Mr. Adams called on me pending the embargo, and while endeavors were making to obtain its repeal. He made some apologies for the call, on the ground of our not being then in the habit of confidential communications, but that that which he had 425 then to make, involved too seriously the interest of our country not to overrule all other considerations with him, and make it his duty to reveal it to myself particularly. I assured him there was no occasion for any apology for his visit; that, on the contrary, his communications would be thankfully received, and would add a confirmation the more to my entire confidence in the rectitude and patriotism of his conduct and principles. He spoke then of the dissatisfaction of the eastern portion of our confederacy with the restraints of the embargo then existing, and their restlessness under it. That there was nothing which might not be attempted, to rid themselves of it. That he had information of the most unquestionable certainty, that certain citizens of the eastern States (I think he named Massachusetts particularly) were in negotiation with agents of the British government, the object of which was an agreement that the New England States should take no further part in the war then going on; that, without formally declaring their separation from the Union of the States, they should withdraw from all aid and obedience to them; that their navigation and commerce should be free from restraint and interruption by the British; that they should be considered and treated by them as neutrals, and as such might conduct themselves towards both parties; and, at the close of the war, be at liberty to rejoin the confederacy. He assured me that there was eminent danger that the convention would take place; that the temptations were such as might debauch many from their fidelity to the Union; and that, to enable its friends to make head against it, the repeal of the embargo was absolutely necessary. I expressed a just sense of the merit of this information, and of the importance of the disclosure to the safety and even the salvation of our country; and however reluctant I was to abandon the measure, (a measure which persevered in a little longer, we had subsequent and satisfactory assurance would have effected its object completely,) from that moment, and influenced by that information, I saw the necessity of abandoning it, and instead of effecting our purpose by this peaceful weapon, we must fight it out, or break the Union. I then 426 recommended to yield to the necessity of a repeal of the embargo, and to endeavor to supply its place by the best substitute, in which they could procure a general concurrence.

I cannot too often repeat, that this statement is not pretended to be in the very words which passed; that it only gives faithfully the impression remaining on my mind. The very words of a conversation are too transient and fugitive to be so long retained in remembrance. But the substance was too important to be forgotten, not only from the revolution of measures it obliged me to adopt, but also from the renewals of it in my memory on the frequent occasions I have had of doing justice to Mr. Adams, by repeating this proof of his fidelity to his country, and of his superiority over all ordinary considerations when the safety of that was brought into question.

With this best exertion of a waning memory which I can command, accept assurances of my constant and affectionate friendship and respect.


Monticello, December 26, 1825.

Dear Sir,—I wrote you a letter yesterday, of which you will be free to make what use you please. This will contain matters not intended for the public eye. I see, as you do, and with the deepest affliction, the rapid strides with which the federal branch of our government is advancing towards the usurpation of all the rights reserved to the States, and the consolidation in itself of all powers, foreign and domestic; and that too, by constructions which, if legitimate, leave no limits to their power. Take together the decisions of the federal court, the doctrines of the President, and the misconstructions of the constitutional compact acted on by the legislature of the federal branch, and it is but too evident, that the three ruling branches of that department are in combination to strip their colleagues, the State authorities, of the powers reserved by them, and to exercise themselves all functions 427 foreign and domestic. Under the power to regulate commerce, they assume indefinitely that also over agriculture and manufactures, and call it regulation to take the earnings of one of these branches of industry, and that too the most depressed, and put them into the pockets of the other, the most flourishing of all. Under the authority to establish post roads, they claim that of cutting down mountains for the construction of roads, of digging canals, and aided by a little sophistry on the words "general welfare," a right to do, not only the acts to effect that, which are specifically enumerated and permitted, but whatsoever they shall think, or pretend will be for the general welfare. And what is our resource for the preservation of the constitution? Reason and argument? You might as well reason and argue with the marble columns encircling them. The representatives chosen by ourselves? They are joined in the combination, some from incorrect views of government, some from corrupt ones, sufficient voting together to out-number the sound parts; and with majorities only of one, two, or three, bold enough to go forward in defiance. Are we then to stand to our arms, with the hot-headed Georgian? No. That must be the last resource, not to be thought of until much longer and greater sufferings. If every infraction of a compact of so many parties is to be resisted at once, as a dissolution of it, none can ever be formed which would last one year. We must have patience and longer endurance then with our brethren while under delusion; give them time for reflection and experience of consequences; keep ourselves in a situation to profit by the chapter of accidents; and separate from our companions only when the sole alternatives left, are the dissolution of our Union with them, or submission to a government without limitation of powers. Between these two evils, when we must make a choice, there can be no hesitation. But in the meanwhile, the States should be watchful to note every material usurpation on their rights; to denounce them as they occur in the most peremptory terms; to protest against them as wrongs to which our present submission shall be considered, not as acknowledgments or precedents of right, but as a 428 temporary yielding to the lesser evil, until their accumulation shall overweigh that of separation. I would go still further, and give to the federal member, by a regular amendment of the constitution, a right to make roads and canals of intercommunication between the States, providing sufficiently against corrupt practices in Congress, (log-rolling, &c.,) by declaring that the federal proportion of each State of the moneys so employed, shall be in works within the State, or elsewhere with its consent, and with a due salvo of jurisdiction. This is the course which I think safest and best as yet.

You ask my opinion of the propriety of giving publicity to what is stated in your letter, as having passed between Mr. John Q. Adams and yourself. Of this no one can judge but yourself. It is one of those questions which belong to the forum of feeling. This alone can decide on the degree of confidence implied in the disclosure; whether under no circumstances it was to be communicated to others? It does not seem to be of that character, or at all to wear that aspect. They are historical facts which belong to the present, as well as future times. I doubt whether a single fact, known to the world, will carry as clear conviction to it, of the correctness of our knowledge of the treasonable views of the federal party of that day, as that disclosed by this, the most nefarious and daring attempt to dissever the Union, of which the Hartford convention was a subsequent chapter; and both of these having failed, consolidation becomes the fourth chapter of the next book of their history. But this opens with a vast accession of strength from their younger recruits, who, having nothing in them of the feelings or principles of '76, now look to a single and splendid government of an aristocracy, founded on banking institutions, and moneyed incorporations under the guise and cloak of their favored branches of manufactures, commerce and navigation, riding and ruling over the plundered ploughman and beggared yeomanry. This will be to them a next best blessing to the monarchy of their first aim, and perhaps the surest stepping-stone to it.

I learn with great satisfaction that your school is thriving well, 429 and that you have at its head a truly classical scholar. He is one of three or four whom I can hear of in the State. We were obliged the last year to receive shameful Latinists into the classical school of the University, such as we will certainly refuse as soon as we can get from better schools a sufficiency of those properly instructed to form a class. We must get rid of this Connecticut Latin, of this barbarous confusion of long and short syllables, which renders doubtful whether we are listening to a reader of Cherokee, Shawnee, Iroquois, or what. Our University has been most fortunate in the five professors procured from England. A finer selection could not have been made. Besides their being of a grade of science which has left little superior behind, the correctness of their moral character, their accommodating dispositions, and zeal for the prosperity of the institution, leave us nothing more to wish. I verily believe that as high a degree of education can now be obtained here, as in the country they left. And a finer set of youths I never saw assembled for instruction. They committed some irregularities at first, until they learned the lawful length of their tether; since which it has never been transgressed in the smallest degree. A great proportion of them are severely devoted to study, and I fear not to say that within twelve or fifteen years from this time, a majority of the rulers of our State will have been educated here. They shall carry hence the correct principles of our day, and you may count assuredly that they will exhibit their country in a degree of sound respectability it has never known, either in our days, or those of our forefathers. I cannot live to see it. My joy must only be that of anticipation. But that you may see it in full fruition, is the probable consequence of the twenty years I am ahead of you in time, and is the sincere prayer of your affectionate and constant friend. 430


Monticello, January 9, 1826.

Dear Sir,—I have duly received your favor of December the 31st, and fear, with you, all the evils which the present lowering aspect of our political horizon so ominously portends. That at some future day, which I hoped to be very distant, the free principles of our government might change with the change of circumstances was to be expected. But I certainly did not expect that they would not over-live the generation which established them. And what I still less expected was, that my favorite western country was to be made the instrument of change. I had ever and fondly cherished the interests of that country, relying on it as a barrier against the degeneracy of public opinion from our original and free principles. But the bait of local interests, artfully prepared for their palate, has decoyed them from their kindred attachments, to alliances alien to them. Yet although I have little hope that the torrent of consolidation can be withstood, I should not be for giving up the ship without efforts to save her. She lived well through the first squall, and may weather the present one. But, dear Sir, I am not the champion called for by our present dangers. "Non tali auxilio, nee defensoribus istis, tempus eget." A waning body, a waning mind, and waning memory, with habitual ill health, warn me to withdraw and relinquish the arena to younger and abler athletes. I am sensible myself, if others are not, that this is my duty. If my distant friends know it not, those around me can inform them that they should not, in friendship, wish to call me into conflicts, exposing only the decays which nature has inscribed among her unalterable laws, and injuring the common cause by a senile and puny defence.

I will, however, say one word on the subject. The South Carolina resolutions, Van Buren's motion, and above all Bayley's propositions, show that other States are coming forward on the subject, and better for any one to take the lead than Virginia, where opposition is considered as common-place, and a mere 431 matter of form and habit. We shall see what our co-States propose, and before the close of the session we may shape our own course more understandingly.

Accept the assurance of my great esteem and respect.


Monticello, January 21, 1826.

Dear Sir,—Your favor of January 15th is received, and I am entirely sensible of the kindness of the motives which suggested the caution it recommended. But I believe what I have done is the only thing I could have done with honor or conscience. Mr. Giles requested me to state a fact which he knew himself, and of which he knew me to be possessed. What use he intended to make of it I knew not, nor had I a right to inquire, or to indicate any suspicion that he would make an unfair one. That was his concern, not mine, and his character was sufficient to sustain the responsibility for it. I knew, too, that if an uncandid use should be made of it, there would be found those who would so prove it. Independent of the terms of intimate friendship in which Mr. Giles and myself have ever lived together, the world's respect entitled him to the justice of my testimony to any truth he might call for; and how that testimony should connect me with whatever he may do or write hereafter, and with his whole career, as you apprehend, is not understood by me. With his personal controversies I have nothing to do. I never took any part in them, or in those of any other person. Add to this, that the statement I have given him on the subject of Mr. Adams, is entirely honorable to him in every sentiment and fact it contains. There is not a word in it which I would wish to recall. It is one which Mr. Adams himself might willingly quote, did he need to quote anything. It was simply that during the continuance of the embargo, Mr. Adams informed me of a combination (without naming any one concerned in it,) which had for its object a severance 432 of the Union, for a time at least. That Mr. Adams and myself not being then in the habit of mutual consultation and confidence, I considered it as the stronger proof of the purity of his patriotism, which was able to lift him above all party passions when the safety of his country was endangered. Nor have I kept this honorable fact to myself. During the late canvas, particularly, I had more than one occasion to quote it to persons who were expressing opinions respecting him, of which this was a direct corrective. I have never entertained for Mr. Adams any but sentiments of esteem and respect; and if we have not thought alike on political subjects, I yet never doubted the honesty of his opinions, of which the letter in question, if published, will be an additional proof. Still, I recognize your friendship in suggesting a review of it, and am glad of this, as of every other occasion of repeating to you the assurance of my constant attachment and respect.


Monticello, February 17, 1826.

Dear Sir,— * * * * *

Immediately on seeing the overwhelming vote of the House of Representatives against giving us another dollar, I rode to the University and desired Mr. Brockenbrough to engage in nothing new, to stop everything on hand which could be done without, and to employ all his force and funds in finishing the circular room for the hooks, and the anatomical theatre. These cannot be done without: and for these and all our debts we have funds enough. But I think it prudent then to clear the decks thoroughly, to see how we shall stand, and what we may accomplish further. In the meantime, there have arrived for us in different ports of the United States, ten boxes of books from Paris, seven from London, and from Germany I know not how many; in all, perhaps, about twenty-five boxes. Not one of these can be opened until the book-room is completely finished, 433 and all the shelves ready to receive their charge directly from the boxes as they shall be opened. This cannot be till May. I hear nothing definitive of the three thousand dollars duty of which we are asking the remission from Congress. In the selection of our Law Professor, we must be rigorously attentive to his political principles. You will recollect that before the revolution, Coke Littleton was the universal elementary book of law students, and a sounder whig never wrote, nor of profounder learning in the orthodox doctrines of the British constitution, or in what were called English liberties. You remember also that our lawyers were then all whigs. But when his black-letter text, and uncouth but cunning learning got out of fashion, and the honied Mansfieldism of Blackstone became the students' hornbook, from that moment, that profession (the nursery of our Congress) began to slide into toryism, and nearly all the young brood of lawyers now are of that hue. They suppose themselves, indeed, to be whigs, because they no longer know what whigism or republicanism means. It is in our seminary that that vestal flame is to be kept alive; it is thence it is to spread anew over our own and the sister States. If we are true and vigilant in our trust, within a dozen or twenty years a majority of our own legislature will be from one school, and many disciples will have carried its doctrines home with them to their several States, and will have leavened thus the whole mass. New York has taken strong ground in vindication of the constitution; South Carolina had already done the same. Although I was against our leading, I am equally against omitting to follow in the same line, and backing them firmly; and I hope that yourself or some other will mark out the track to be pursued by us.

You will have seen in the newspapers some proceedings in the legislature, which have cost me much mortification. My own debts had become considerable, but not beyond the effect of some lopping of property, which would have been little felt, when our friend * * * * * gave me the coup de grace. Ever since that I have been paying twelve hundred dollars a year interest on his debt, which, with my own, was absorbing so much of 434 my annual income, as that the maintenance of my family was making deep and rapid inroads on my capital, and had already done it. Still, sales at a fair price would leave me competently provided. Had crops and prices for several years been such as to maintain a steady competition of substantial bidders at market, all would have been safe. But the long succession of years of stunted crops, of reduced prices, the general prostration of the farming business, under levies for the support of manufacturers, &c., with the calamitous fluctuations of value in our paper medium, have kept agriculture in a state of abject depression, which has peopled the western States by silently breaking up those on the Atlantic, and glutted the land market, while it drew off its bidders. In such a state of things, property has lost its character of being a resource for debts. Highland in Bedford, which, in the days of our plethory, sold readily for from fifty to one hundred dollars the acre, (and such sales were many then,) would not now sell for more than from ten to twenty dollars, or one-quarter or one-fifth of its former price. Reflecting on these things, the practice occurred to me, of selling, on fair valuation, and by way of lottery, often resorted to before the Revolution to effect large sales, and still in constant usage in every State for individual as well as corporation purposes. If it is permitted in my case, my lands here alone, with the mills, &c., will pay every thing, and leave me Monticello and a farm free. If refused, I must sell everything here, perhaps considerably in Bedford, move thither with my family, where I have not even a log hut to put my head into, and whether ground for burial, will depend on the depredations which, under the form of sales, shall have been committed on my property. The question then with me was ultrum horum? But why afflict you with these details? Indeed, I cannot tell, unless pains are lessened by communication with a friend. The friendship which has subsisted between us, now half a century, and the harmony of our political principles and pursuits, have been sources of constant happiness to me through that long period. And if I remove beyond the reach of attentions to the University, or beyond the bourne of life itself, as I soon 435 must, it is a comfort to leave that institution under your care, and an assurance that it will not be wanting. It has also been a great solace to me, to believe that you are engaged in vindicating to posterity the course we have pursued for preserving to them, in all their purity, the blessings of self-government, which we had assisted too in acquiring for them. If ever the earth has beheld a system of administration conducted with a single and steadfast eye to the general interest and happiness of those committed to it, one which, protected by truth, can never know reproach, it is that to which our lives have been devoted. To myself you have been a pillar of support through life. Take care of me when dead, and be assured that I shall leave with you my last affections.


Monticello, March 25, 1826.

Dear Sir,—My grandson, Thomas J. Randolph, the bearer of this letter, being on a visit to Boston, would think he had seen nothing were he to leave without seeing you. Although I truly sympathize with you in the trouble these interruptions give, yet I must ask for him permission to pay to you his personal respects. Like other young people, he wishes to be able in the winter nights of old age, to recount to those around him, what he has heard and learnt of the heroic age preceding his birth, and which of the Argonauts individually he was in time to have seen.

It was the lot of our early years to witness nothing but the dull monotony of a colonial subservience; and of our riper years, to breast the labors and perils of working out of it. Theirs are the Halcyon calms succeeding the storm which our Argosy had so stoutly weathered. Gratify his ambition then, by receiving his best bow; and my solicitude for your health, by enabling him to bring me a favorable account of it. Mine is but indifferent, but not so my friendship and respect for you. 436


Monticello, March 30, 1826.

Dear Sir,—I am thankful for the very interesting message and documents of which you have been so kind as to send me a copy, and will state my recollections as to the particular passage of the message to which you ask my attention. On the conclusion of peace, Congress, sensible of their right to assume independence, would not condescend to ask its acknowledgment from other nations, yet were willing, by some of the ordinary international transactions, to receive what would imply that acknowledgment. They appointed commissioners, therefore, to propose treaties of commerce to the principal nations of Europe. I was then a member of Congress, was of the committee appointed to prepare instructions for the commissioners, was, as you suppose, the draughtsman of those actually agreed to, and was joined with your father and Dr. Franklin, to carry them into execution. But the stipulations making part of these instructions, which respected privateering, blockades, contraband, and freedom of the fisheries, were not original conceptions of mine. They had before been suggested by Dr. Franklin, in some of his papers in possession of the public, and had, I think, been recommended in some letter of his to Congress. I happen only to have been the inserter of them in the first public act which gave the formal sanction of a public authority. We accordingly proposed our treaties, containing these stipulations, to the principal governments of Europe. But we were then just emerged from a subordinate condition; the nations had as yet known nothing of us, and had not yet reflected on the relations which it might be their interest to establish with us. Most of them, therefore, listened to our propositions with coyness and reserve; old Frederic alone closing with us without hesitation. The negotiator of Portugal, indeed, signed a treaty with us, which his government did not ratify, and Tuscany was near a final agreement. Becoming sensible, however, ourselves, that we should do nothing with the greater powers, we thought it better not to hamper our country 437 with engagements to those of less significance, and suffered our powers to expire without closing any other negotiations. Austria soon after became desirous of a treaty with us, and her ambassador pressed it often on me; but our commerce with her being no object, I evaded her repeated invitations. Had these governments been then apprized of the station we should so soon occupy among nations, all, I believe, would have met us promptly and with frankness. These principles would then have been established with all, and from being the conventional law with us alone, would have slid into their engagements with one another, and become general. These are the facts within my recollection. They have not yet got into written history; but their adoption by our southern brethren will bring them into observance, and make them, what they should be, a part of the law of the world, and of the reformation of principles for which they will be indebted to us. I pray you to accept the homage of my friendly and high consideration.


Monticello, April 8, 1826.

Dear Sir,—I thank you for the very able and eloquent speech you have been so kind as to send me on the amendment of the constitution, proposed by Mr. McDuffie. I have read it with pleasure and satisfaction, and concur with much of its contents. On the question of the lawfulness of slavery, that is of the right of one man to appropriate to himself the faculties of another without his consent, I certainly retain my early opinions. On that, however, of third persons to interfere between the parties, and the effect of conventional modifications of that pretension, we are probably nearer together. I think with you, also, that the constitution of the United States is a compact of independent nations subject to the rules acknowledged in similar cases, as well that of amendment provided within itself, as, in case of abuse, the justly dreaded hut unavoidable ultimo ratio gentium. 438 The report on the Panama question mentioned in your letter has as I suppose, got separated by the way. It will probably come by another mail. In some of the letters you have been kind enough to write me, I have been made to hope the favor of a visit from Washington. It would be received with sincere welcome, and unwillingly relinquished if no circumstance should render it inconvenient to yourself. I repeat always with pleasure the assurances of my great esteem and respect.


Monticello, April 27, 1826.

Dear Sir,—It is time to think of the introduction of the school of Botany into our institution. Not that I suppose the lectures can be begun in the present year, but that we may this year make the preparations necessary for commencing them the next. For that branch, I presume, can be taught advantageously only during the short season while nature is in general bloom, say during a certain portion of the months of April and May, when, suspending the other branches of your department, that of Botany may claim your exclusive attention. Of this, however, you are to be the judge, as well as of what I may now propose on the subject of preparation. I will do this in writing, while sitting at my table, and at ease, because I can rally there, for your consideration, with more composure than in extempore conversation, my thoughts on what we have to do in the present season.

I suppose you were well acquainted, by character, if not personally, with the late Abbé Correa, who past some time among us, first as a distinguished savant of Europe, and afterwards as ambassador of Portugal, resident with our government. Profoundly learned in several other branches of science, he was so, above all others, in that of Botany; in which he preferred an amalgamation of the methods of Linnæus and of Jussieu, to either 439 of them exclusively. Our institution being then on hand, in which that was of course to be one of the subjects of instruction, I availed myself of his presence and friendship to obtain from him a general idea of the extent of ground we should employ, and the number and character of the plants we should introduce into it. He accordingly sketched for me a mere outline of the scale he would recommend, restrained altogether to objects of use, and indulging not at all in things of mere curiosity, and especially not yet thinking of a hot-house, or even of a green-house. I enclose you a copy of his paper, which was the more satisfactory to me, as it coincided with the moderate views to which our endowments as yet confine us. I am still the more satisfied, as it seemed to be confirmed by your own way of thinking, as I understood it in our conversation of the other day. To your judgment altogether his ideas will be submitted, as well as my own, now to be suggested as to the operations of the present year, preparatory to the commencement of the school in the next.

1. Our first operation must be the selection of a piece of ground of proper soil and site, suppose of about six acres, as M. Correa proposes. In choosing this we are to regard the circumstances of soil, water, and distance. I have diligently examined all our grounds with this view, and think that that on the public road, at the upper corner of our possessions, where the stream issues from them, has more of the requisite qualities than any other spot we possess.[22] 170 yards square, taken at that angle, would make the six acres we want. But the angle at the road is acute, and the form of the ground will be trapezoid, not square. I would take, therefore, for its breadth, all the ground between the road and the dam of the brick ponds, extending eastwardly up the hill, as far and as wide as our quantity would require. The bottom ground would suit for the garden plants; the hill sides for the trees.

440 2. Operation. Enclose the ground with a serpentine brick wall seven feet high. This would take about 80,000 bricks, and cost $800, and it must depend on our finances whether they will afford that immediately, or allow us, for awhile, but enclosure of posts and rails.

3. Operation. Form all the hill sides into level terrasses of convenient breadth, curving with the hill, and the level ground into beds and alleys.

4. Operation. Make out a list of the plants thought necessary and sufficient for botanical purposes, and of the trees we propose to introduce, and take measures in time for procuring them.

As to the seeds of plants, much may be obtained from the gardeners of our own country. I have, moreover, a special resource. For three-and-twenty years of the last twenty-five, my good old friend Thonin, superintendent of the garden of plants at Paris, has regularly sent me a box of seeds, of such exotics, as to us, as would suit our climate, and containing nothing indigenous to our country. These I regularly sent to the public and private gardens of the other States, having as yet no employment for them here. But during the last two years this envoi has been intermitted. I know not why. I will immediately write and request a re-commencement of that kind office, on the ground that we can now employ them ourselves. They can be here in early spring.

The trees I should propose would be exotics of distinguished usefulness, and accommodated to our climate; such as the Larch, Cedar of Libanus, Cork, Oak, the Maronnier, Mahogany? the Catachu or Indian rubber tree of Napul, (30°) Teak tree, or Indian oak of Burman, (23°) the various woods of Brazil, &c.

The seed of the Larch can be obtained from a tree at Monticello. Cones of the Cedar of Libanus are in most of our seed shops, but may be had fresh from the trees in the English gardens. The Maronnier and Cork-oak, I can obtain from France. There is a Maronnier at Mount Vernon, but it is a seedling, and not therefore select. The others maybe got through the means of our ministers and consuls in the countries where they grow, 441 or from the seed shops of England, where they may very possibly be found. Lastly, a gardener of sufficient skill must be obtained.

This, dear Sir, is the sum of what occurs to me at present; think of it, and let us at once enter on the operations.

Accept my friendly and respectful salutations.


Monticello, May 2, 1826.

Dear Sir,—The difficulties suggested in your favor of the 28th ult., are those which must occur at the commencement of every undertaking. A full view of the subject however will, I think, solve them. In every meditated enterprise, the means we can employ are to be estimated, and to these must be proportioned our expectations of effect. If, for example, to the cultivation of a given field we can devote but one hundred dollars, we are not to expect the product which $1,000 would extract from it. Applying this principle to the present subject of education, from a revenue of $15,000, and with eight Professors, we cannot expect to obtain that grade of instruction to our youth, which 15,000 guineas and thirty or forty instructors would give. Reviewing, then, the branches of science in which we wish our youth to obtain some instruction, we must distribute them into so many groups as we can employ Professors, and as equally too as practicable. We must take into account also the time which our youths can generally afford to the whole circle of education, and proportion the extent of instruction in each branch to the quota of that time, and of the Professor's attention which may fall to its share. In the smallest of our academies, two Professors alone can be afforded,—one of languages, another of sciences, or of Philosophy, as he is generally styled. The degree of instruction which can be given in each branch, at these schools, must be very moderate. Yet there are youths whose means can afford no more, and who nevertheless are glad even of that. The most 442 highly endowed of our Seminaries has a revenue of perhaps $25,000 or $30,000. They consequently may subdivide the sciences into twelve or fifteen schools, and give a proportionably more minute degree of instruction in each. It has enabled them, for example, to have five or six Professors of Theology. In Europe, some of their literary institutions can afford to employ twenty, thirty, or forty Professors. Our legislature, contemplating their means, took their stand at a revenue of $15,000, meant for an establishment of ten Professors, but equal in fact to eight only. Accommodating ourselves, therefore, to their views, we had to distribute into eight groups those sciences in which we wished our youth should receive instruction, and to content ourselves with the portion which that number could give. On the Professors it would of course devolve to form their lectures on such a scale of extension only, as to give to each of the sciences allotted them its due share of their time.

But another material question is, what is the whole term of time which the students can give to the whole course of instruction? I should say that three years should be allowed to general education, and two, or rather three, to the particular profession for which they are destined. We receive our students at the age of sixteen, expected to be previously so far qualified in the languages, ancient and modern, as that one year in our schools shall suffice for their last polish. A student then with us may give his first year here to languages and Mathematics; his second to Mathematics and Physics; his third to Physics and Chemistry, with the other objects of that school. I particularize this distribution merely for illustration, and not as that which either is, or perhaps ought to be established. This would ascribe one year to Languages, two to Mathematics, two to Physics, and one to Chemistry and its associates. Let us see next how the items of your school may be accommodated to this scale; but by way of illustration only, as before. The allotments to your school are Botany, Zoology, Mineralogy, Chemistry, Geology and Rural Economy. This last, however, need not be considered as a distinct branch, but as one which may be sufficiently treated 443 by seasonable alliances with the kindred subjects of Chemistry, Botany and Zoology. Suppose then you give twelve dozen lectures a year; say two dozen to Botany and Zoology, two dozen to Mineralogy and Geology, and eight dozen to Chemistry. Or I should think that Mineralogy, Geology and Chemistry might be advantageously blended in the same course. Then your year would be formed into two grand divisions; one-third to Botany and Zoology, and two-thirds to Chemistry and its associates, Mineralogy and Geology. To the last, indeed, I would give the least possible time. To learn, as far as observation has informed us, the ordinary arrangement of the different strata of minerals in the earth, to know from their habitual collocations and proximities, where we find one mineral, whether another, for which we are seeking, may be expected to be in its neighborhood, is useful. But the dreams about the modes of creation, inquiries whether our globe has been formed by the agency of fire or water, how many millions of years it has cost Vulcan or Neptune to produce what the fiat of the Creator would effect by a single act of will, is too idle to be worth a single hour of any man's life. You will say that two-thirds of a year, or any better estimated partition of it, can give but an inadequate knowledge of the whole science of Chemistry. But consider that we do not expect our schools to turn out their alumni already enthroned on the pinnacles of their respective sciences; but only so far advanced in each as to be able to pursue them by themselves, and to become Newtons and La Places by energies and perseverances to be continued through life. I have said that our original plan comprehended ten Professors, and we hope to be able ere long to supply the other two. One should relieve the Medical Professor from Anatomy and Surgery, and a school for the other would be made up of the surcharges of yours, and that of Physics.

From these views of the subject, dear Sir, your only difficulty appears to be so to proportion the time you can give to the different branches committed to you, as to bring, within the compass of a year, for example, that degree of instruction in each which 444 the year will afford. This may require some experience, and continued efforts at condensation. But, once effected, it will place your mind at ease, and give to our country a result proportioned to the means it furnishes, and which ought to satisfy, and will satisfy, all reasonable men. I am certain it will those to whom the charge and direction of this institution have been particularly confided, and to none assuredly more than to him from whom your doubts have drawn this unauthoritative exposition of the public expectations. And, with this assurance, be pleased to accept that of my sincerely friendly esteem and respect.

Dear Sir,—After sealing the enclosed letter, it occurred to me that being on a general subject, and one equally applicable to the cases of your colleagues, the other Professors, I should wish it to be read by them also. It may produce an union of views, and harmony of action, which may be useful to the Institution. Yours affectionately.

TO ——.

Monticello, May 15, 1826.

Dear Sir,—The sentiments of justice which have dictated your letters of the 3d and 9th inst., are worthy of all praise, and merit and meet my thankful acknowledgments. Were your father now living and proposing, as you are, to publish a second edition of his memoirs, I am satisfied he would give a very different aspect to the pages of that work which respect Arnold's invasion and surprise of Richmond, in the winter of 1780-81. He was then, I believe, in South Carolina, too distant from the scene of those transactions to relate them on his own knowledge, or even to sift them from the chaff of the rumors then afloat, rumors which vanished soon before the real truth, as vapors before the sun, obliterated by their notoriety, from every candid mind, and by the voice of the many who, as actors or spectators knew what had truly past. The facts shall speak for themselves.

445 General Washington had just given notice to all the Governors on the sea-board, north and south, that an embarcation was taking place at New York, destined for the southward, as was given out there; and on Sunday the 31st of December, 1780, we received information that a fleet had entered our capes. It happened fortunately that our legislature was at that moment in session, and within two days of their rising, so that, during these two days, we had the benefit of their presence, and of the counsel and information of the members individually. On Monday the 1st of January, we were in suspense as to the destination of this fleet, whether up the bay, or up our river. On Tuesday at 10 o'clock, however, we received information that they had entered James river; and, on general advice, we instantly prepared orders for calling in the militia, one-half from the nearer counties, and a fourth from the more remote, which would constitute a force of between four and five thousand men, of which orders the members of the legislature, which adjourned that day, took charge, each to his respective county; and we began the removal of everything from Richmond. The wind being fair and strong, the enemy ascended the river as rapidly almost as the expresses could ride, who were dispatched to us from time to time, to notify their progress. At 5 P. M. on Thursday, we learnt that they had then been three hours landed at Westover. The whole militia of the adjacent counties were now called for, and to come on individually, without waiting any regular array. At 1 P. M. the next day, (Friday,) they entered Richmond, and on Saturday, after twenty-four hours possession, burning some houses, destroying property, &c., they retreated, encamped that evening ten miles below, and reached their shipping at Westover the next day, (Sunday.)

By this time had assembled three hundred militia under Colonel Nicholas, six miles above Westover, and two hundred under General Nelson, at Charles city Court House, eight miles below. Two or three hundred at Petersburg had put themselves under General Smallwood, of Maryland, accidentally there on his passage through the State; and Baron Steuben with eight hundred, 446 and Colonel Gibson with one thousand, were also on the south side of James river, aiming to reach Hood's before the enemy should have passed it, where they hoped they could arrest them. But the wind, having shifted, carried them down as prosperously as it had brought them up the river. Within the first five days, therefore, about twenty-five hundred men had collected at three or four different points, ready for junction. I was absent myself from Richmond (but always within observing distance of the enemy) three days only, during which I was never off my horse but to take food or rest, and was everywhere where my presence could be of any service; and I may with confidence challenge any one to put his finger on the point of time when I was in a state of remissness from any duty of my station. But I was not with the army! true; for first, where was it? second, I was engaged in the more important function of taking measures to collect an army; and, without military education myself, instead of jeopardizing the public safety by pretending to take its command, of which I knew nothing, I had committed it to persons of the art, men who knew how to make the best use of it, to Steuben for instance, to Nelson and others, possessing that military skill and experience, of which I had none.

Let our condition, too, at that time be duly considered. Without arms, without money of effect, without a regular soldier in the State, or a regular officer, except Steuben, a militia scattered over the country, and called at a moment's warning to leave their families and firesides, in the dead of winter, to meet an enemy ready marshalled, and prepared at all points to receive them. Yet had time been given them by the hasty retreat of that enemy, I have no doubt but the rush to arms, and to the protection of their country, would have been as rapid and universal as in the invasion during our late war, when, at the first moment of notice, our citizens rose in mass, from every part of the State, and without waiting to be marshalled by their officers, armed themselves, and marched off by ones and by twos, as quickly as they could equip themselves. Of the individuals of the same house one would start in the morning, a second at noon, a third 447 in the evening, no one waiting an hour for the company of another. This I saw myself on the late occasion, and should have seen on the former had wind, and tide, and a Howe, instead of an Arnold, slackened their pace ever so little.

And is the surprise of an open and unarmed place, although called a city, and even a capital, so unprecedented as to be a matter of indelible reproach? Which of our own capitals during the same war, was not in possession of the same enemy, not merely by surprise and for a day only, but permanently? That of Georgia? of South Carolina? North Carolina? Pennsylvania? New York? Connecticut? Rhode Island? Massachusetts? And if others were not, it was because the enemy saw no object in taking possession of them. Add to the list in the late war, Washington, the metropolis of the Union, covered by a fort, with troops and a dense population. And what capital on the continent of Europe, (St. Petersburg and its regions of ice excepted,) did not Bonaparte take and hold at his pleasure? Is it then just that Richmond and its authorities alone should be placed under the reproach of history, because, in a moment of peculiar denudation of resources, by the coup de main of an enemy, led on by the hand of fortune directing the winds and weather to their wishes, it was surprised and held for twenty-four hours? Or strange that that enemy with such advantages, should be enabled then to get off, without risking the honors he had achieved by burnings and destructions of property peculiar to his principles of warfare? We, at least, may leave these glories to their own trumpet.

During this crisis of trial I was left alone, unassisted by the co-operation of a single public functionary. For, with the legislature, every member of the council had departed to take care of his own family. Unaided even in my bodily labors, but by my horse, and he, exhausted at length by fatigue, sunk under me in the public road, where I had to leave him, and with my saddle and bridle on my shoulders, to walk afoot to the nearest farm, where I borrowed an unbroken colt, and proceeded 448 to Manchester, opposite to Richmond, which the enemy had evacuated a few hours before.

Without further pursuing these minute details, I will here ask the favor of you to turn to Girardin's History of Virginia, where such of them as are worthy the notice of history, are related in that scale of extension which its objects admit. That work was written at Milton, within two or three miles of Monticello; and at the request of the author, I communicated to him every paper I possessed on the subject, of which he made the use he thought proper for his work. [See his pages 453, 460, and the appendix xi.-xv.] I can assure you of the truth of every fact he has drawn from these papers, and of the genuineness of such as he has taken the trouble of copying. It happened that during those eight days of incessant labor, for the benefit of my own memory, I carefully noted every circumstance worth it. These memorandums were often written on horseback, and on scraps of paper taken out of my pocket at the moment, fortunately preserved to this day, and now lying before me. I wish you could see them. But my papers of that period are stitched together in large masses, and so tattered and tender as not to admit removal further than from their shelves to a reading table. They bear an internal evidence of fidelity which must carry conviction to every one who sees them. We have nothing in our neighborhood which could compensate the trouble of a visit to it, unless perhaps our University, which I believe you have not seen, and I can assure you is worth seeing. Should you think so, I would ask as much of your time at Monticello as would enable you to examine these papers at your ease. Many others too are interspersed among them, which have relation to your object, many letters from Generals Gates, Greene, Stephens and others engaged in the Southern war, and in the North also. All should be laid open to you without reserve, for there is not a truth existing which I fear, or would wish unknown to the whole world. During the invasions of Arnold, Phillips and Cornwallis, until my time of office had expired, I made it a point, once a week, by letters to the President of Congress, and 449 to General Washington, to give them an exact narrative of the transactions of the week. These letters should still be in the office of state in Washington, and in the presses at Mount Vernon. Or, if the former were destroyed by the conflagrations of the British, the latter are surely safe, and may be appealed to in corroboration of what I have now written.

There is another transaction, very erroneously stated in the same work, which although not concerning myself, is within my own knowledge, and I think it a duty to communicate it to you. I am sorry that not being in possession of a copy of the memoirs, I am not able to quote the page, and still less the facts themselves, verbatim from the text. But of the substance, as recollected, I am certain. It is said there that, about the time of Tarleton's expedition up the north branch of James river to Charlottesville and Monticello, Simcoe was detached up the southern branch, and penetrated as far as New London, in Bedford, where he destroyed a depôt of arms, &c., &c. I was with my family, at the time, at a possession I have within three miles of New London, and I can assure you of my own knowledge that he did not advance to within fifty miles of New London. Having reached the lower end of Buckingham, as I have understood, he heard of a deposit of arms, and a party of new recruits under Baron Steuben, somewhere in Prince Edward; he left the Buckingham road immediately, at or near Francisco's, pushed directly south at this new object, was disappointed, and returned to and down James river to head quarters. I had then returned to Monticello myself, and from thence saw the smokes of his conflagration of houses and property on that river, as they successively arose in the horizon at a distance of twenty-five or thirty miles. I must repeat that his excursion from Francisco's is not from my own knowledge, but as I have heard it from the inhabitants on the Buckingham road, which for many years I travelled six or eight times a year. The particulars of that, therefore, may need inquiry and correction.

These are all the recollections within the scope of your request, which I can state with precision and certainty; and of 450 these you are free to make what use you think proper in the new edition of your father's work; and with which I pray you to accept the assurances of my great esteem and respect.


Monticello, June 24, 1826.

Respected Sir,—The kind invitation I receive from you, on the part of the citizens of the city of Washington, to be present with them at their celebration on the fiftieth anniversary of American Independence, as one of the surviving signers of an instrument pregnant with our own, and the fate of the world, is most flattering to myself, and heightened by the honorable accompaniment proposed for the comfort of such a journey. It adds sensibly to the sufferings of sickness, to be deprived by it of a personal participation in the rejoicings of that day. But acquiescence is a duty, under circumstances not placed among those we are permitted to control. I should, indeed, with peculiar delight, have me