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the British," &c., making me express hostility to the form of our government, that is to say, to the Constitution itself. For this is really the difference of the word form, used in the singular or plural, in that phrase, in the English language. Now it would be impossible for me to explain this publicly, without bringing on a personal difference between General Washington and myself, which nothing before the publication of this letter has ever done It would embroil me also with all those with whom his character is still popular, that is to say, nine tenths of the people of the United States; and what good would be obtained by avowing the letter with the necessary explanations ? Very little indeed, in my opinion, to counterbalance a good deal of harm. From my silence in this instance, it cannot be inferred that I am afraid to own the general sentiments of the letter. If I am subject to either imputation, it is to that of avowing such sentiments too frankly both in private and public, often when there is no necessity for it, merely because I disdain everything like duplicity. Still, however, I am open to conviction. Think for me on the occasion, and advise me what to do, and confer with Colonel Monroe on the subject.
Let me entreat you again to come with him ; there are other important things to consult on. One will be his affair. Another is the subject of the petition now enclosed you, to be proposed to our district, on the late presentment of our representative by the grand jury: the idea it brings forward is still confined to my own breast. It has never been mentioned to any mortal, because I first wish your opinion on the expediency of the measure. If you approve it, I shall propose to
or some other,* to father it, and to present it to the counties at their general muster. This will be in time for our Assembly. The presentment going in the public papers just at the moment when Congress was together, produced a great effect both on its friends and foes in that body, very much to the disheartening and mortification of the latter. I wish this petition, if approved, to arrive there under the same circumstances, to produce the counter effect so wanting for their, gratification. I could have wished to receive it from you again
The places in this letter where the asterisks are inserted, are blanks in the original.
at our court on Monday, because * * and * be there, and might also be consulted, and commence measures for putting it into motion. If you can return it then, with
your opinion, it will be of importance. Present me affectionately to Mrs. Madison, and convey to her my entreaties to interpose her good offices and persuasives with you to bring her here, and before we uncover our house, which will yet be some weeks.
Salutations and adieu.
TO COL. JOHN STUART.
MonticELLO, August 15, 1797. Dear Sir, -With great pleasure I forward to you the Diploma of the American Philosophical Society, adopting you into their body. The attention on your part, to which they are indebted for the knowledge that such an animal has existed as the Megalonyx, as we have named him, gives them reason to hope that the same attention continued will enrich us with other objects of science, which your part of the country may yet, we hope, furnish. On my arrival at Philadelphia, I met with an account published in Spain of the skeleton of an enormous animal from Paraguay, of the clawed kind, but not of the lion class at all; indeed, it is classed with the sloth, ant-eater, &c., which are not of the carnivorous kinds; it was dug up 100 feet below the surface, near the river La Plata. The skeleton is now mounted at Madrid, is 12 feet long and 6 feet high. There are several circumstances which lead to a supposition that our megalonyx may have been the same animal with this. There are others which still induce us to class him with the lion. Since this discovery has led to questioning the Indians as to this animal, we have received some of their traditions which confirm his classification with the lion. As soon as our 4th volume of transactions, now in the press, shall be printed, I will furnish you with the account given in to the Society. I take for granted that you
have little hope of recovering any more of the bones. Those sent me are delivered to the society. I am, with great esteem, dear Sir, your most obedient servant.
TO ST. GEORGE TUCKER.
MONTICELLO, August 28, 1797. Dear Sir, I have to acknowledge the receipt of your two favors of the 2d and 22d instant, and to thank you for the pamphlet covered by the former. You know my subscription to its doctrines ; and as to the mode of emancipation, I am satisfied that that must be a matter of compromise between the passions, the prejudices, and the real difficulties which will each have their weight in that operation. Perhaps the first chapter of this history, which has begun in St. Domingo, and the next succeeding ones, which will recount how all the whites were driven from all the other islands, may prepare our minds for a peaceable accommodation between justice, policy and necessity; and furnish an answer to the difficult question, whither shall the colored emigrants go? and the sooner we put some plan under way, the greater hope there is that it may be permitted to proceed peaceably to its ultimate effect. But if something is not done, and soon done, we shall be the murderers of our own children. The “murmura venturos nautis prudentia ventos" has already reached us; the revolutionary storm, now sweeping the globe, will be upon us, and happy if we make timely provision to give it an easy passage over our land. From the present state of things in Europe and America, the day which begins our combustion must be near at hand; and only a single spark is wanting to make that day to-morrow. If we had begun sooner, we might probably have been allowed a lengthier operation to clear ourselves, but every day's delay lessens the time we may take for emancipation. Some people derive hope from the aid of the confederated States. But this is a delusion. There is but one State in the Union which will aid us sincerely, if an
insurrection begins, and that one may, perhaps, have its own fire to quench at the same time. The facts stated in yours of the 22d, were not identically known to me, but others like them
From the General Government no interference need be expected. Even the merchant and navigator, the immediate sufferers, are prevented by various motives from wishing to be redressed. I see nothing but a State procedure which can vindicate us from the insult. It is in the power of any single magistrate, or of the Attorney for the Commonwealth, to lay hold of the commanding officer, whenever he comes ashore, for the breach of the peace, and to proceed against him by indictment. This is so plain an operation, that no power can prevent its being carried through with effect, but the want of will in the officers of the State. I think that the matter of finances, which has set the people of Europe to thinking, is now advanced to that point with us, that the next step, and it is an unavoidable one, a land tax, will awaken our constituents, and call for inspection into past proceedings. I am, with great esteem, dear Sir, your friend and servant.
TO COLONEL ARTHUR CAMPBELL.
MONTICELLO, September 1, 1797. DEAR SIR,—I have to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of July the 4th, and to recognize in it the sentiments you have ever held, and worthy of the day on which it is dated. It is true that a party has risen up among us, or rather has come among us, which is endeavoring to separate us from all friendly connection with France, to unite our destinies with those of Great Britain, and to assimilate our government to theirs. Our leurity in permitting the return of the old tories, gave the first body to this party; they have been increased by large importations of British merchants and factors, by American merchants dealing on British capital, and by stock dealers and banking companies, who, by the aid of a paper system, are enriching themselves to the ruin of our country, and swaying the government by their possession of the printing presses, which their wealth commands, and by other means, not always honorable to the character of our countrymen. Hitherto, their influence and their system have been irresistible, and they have raised up an executive power which is too strong for the Legislature. But I flatter myself they have passed their zenith. The people, while these things were doing, were lulled into rest and security from a cause which no longer exists. No prepossessions now will shut their ears to truth. They begin to see to what port their leaders were steering during their slumbers, and there is yet time to haul in, if we can avoid a war with France.
All can be done peaceably, by the people confining their choice of Representatives and Senators to persons attached to republican government and the principles of 1776, not office-hunters, but farmers, whose interests are entirely agricultural. Such men are the true representatives of the great American interest, and are alone to be relied on for expressing the proper American sentiments. We owe gratitude to France, justice to England, good will to all, and subservience to none. All this must be brought about by the people, using their elective rights with prudence and self-possession, and not suffering themselves to be duped by treacherous emissaries. It was by the sober sense of our citizens that we were safely and steadily conducted from monarchy to republicanism, and it is by the same agency alone we can be kept from falling back. I am happy in this occasion of reviving the memory of old things, and of assuring you of the continuance of the esteem and respect of, dear Sir, your friend and servant.
TO JOHN F. MERCER, ESQ.
MONTICELLO, September 5, 1797. DEAR SIR,—We have now with us our friend Monroe. He is engaged in stating his conduct for the information of the public. As yet, however, he has done little, being too much occu