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have been heard. Livingston, however, attempted to speak. But after a few sentences, the Speaker called him to order, and told him what he was saying was not to the question. It was impossible to proceed. The question was taken and carried in favor of the report, fifty-two to forty-eight; the real strength of the two parties is fifty-six to fifty. But two of the latter have not attended this session. I send you the report of their committee. I still expect to leave this on the 1st, and be with you on the 7th of March. But it is possible I may not set out till the 4th, and then shall not be with you till the 10th. Affectionately adieu.
TO BISHOP MADISON.
PHILADELPHIA, February 27, 1799. DEAR SIR,— Your favor of February 10th came safely to hand. We were for a moment flattered with the hope of a friendly accommodation of our differences with France, by the President's nomination of Mr. Murray our Minister at the Hague to proceed to Paris for that purpose. But our hopes have been entirely dashed by his revoking that and naming Mr. Ellsworth, Mr. Patrick Henry and Murray; the two former not to embark from America till they shall receive assurances from the French Government, that they will be received with the respect due to their character by the law of nations; and this too after the French Government had already given assurances that whatever Minister the President should send should be received with the respect due to the representative of a great, free and independent nation. The effect of the new nomination is completely to parry the advances made by France towards a reconciliation. A great change is taking place in the public mind in these Middle States, and they are rapidly resuming the Republican ground which they had for a moment relinquished. The tables of Congress are loaded with petitions proving this. Thirteen of the twentytwo counties of this State have already petitioned against the
proceedings of the late Congress. Many also from New York and New Jersey, and before the summer is over, these three States will be in unison with the Southern and Western. I take the liberty of putting under your cover a letter for a young gentleman known to you, and to whom I know not how otherwise to direct it. I am, with great esteem, dear Sir, your friend and servant.
TO T. LOMAX.
MONTICELLO, March 12, 1799. DEAR SIR,-Your welcome favor of last month came to my hands in Philadelphia. So long a time has elapsed since we have been separated by events, that it was like a letter from the dead, and recalled to my memory very dear recollections. My subsequent journey through life has offered nothing which, in comparison with those, is not cheerless and dreary. It is a rich comfort sometimes to look back on them.
I take the liberty of enclosing a letter to Mr. Baylor, open, because I solicit your perusal of it. It will, at the same time, furnish the apology for my not answering you from Philadelphia. You ask for any communication I may be able to make, which may administer comfort to you. I can give that which is solid. The spirit of 1776 is not dead. It has only been slumbering. The body of the American people is substantially republican. But their virtuous feelings have been played on by some fact with more fiction; they have been the dupes of artful maneuvres, and made for a moment to be willing instruments in forging chains for themselves. But time and truth have d ssipated the delusion, and opened their eyes. They see now that France has sincerely wished peace, and their seducers have wished war, as well for the loaves and fishes which arise out of war expenses, as for the chance of changing the Constitution, while the people should have time to contemplate nothing but the levies of men and money. Pennsylvania, Jersey and New York are coming majestically round to the true principles. In Pennsylvania, thirteen out of twenty-two counties had already petitioned on the alien and sedition laws. Jersey and New York had begun the same movement, and though the rising of Congress stops that channel for the expression of their sentiment, the sentiment is going on rapidly, and before their next meeting those three States will be solidly embodied in sentiment with the six southern and western ones.
The atrocious proceedings of France towards this country, had well nigh destroyed its liberties. The Anglomen and monocrats had so artfully confounded the cause of France with that of freedom, that both went down in the same scale. I sincerely join you in abjuring all political connection with every foreign power; and though I cordially wish well to the progress of liberty in all nations, and would forever give it the weight of our countenance, yet they are not to be touched without contamination from their other bad principles. Commerce with all nations, alliance with none, should be our motto.
Accept assurances of the constant and unaltered affection of, dear Sir, your sincere friend and servant.
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.
MONTICELLO, August 18, 1799. DEAR SIR-I received only two days ago your favor of the 12th, and as it was on the eve of the return of our post, it was not possible to make so prompt a despatch of the answer. Of all the doctrines which have ever been broached by the federal government, the novel one, of the common law being in force and cognizable as an existing law in their courts, is to me the most formidable. All their other assumptions of un-given powers have been in the detail. The bank law, the treaty doctrine, the
, sedition act, alien act, the undertaking to change the State laws of evidence in the State courts by certain parts of the stamp act, &c., &c., have been solitary, unconsequential, timid things, in comparison with the audacious, barefaced and sweeping pretension to a system of law for the United States, without the adoption of their Legislature, and so infinitively beyond their power to adopt. If this assumption be yielded to, the State courts may
. be shut up, as there will then be nothing to hinder citizens of the same State suing each other in the federal courts in every case, as on a bond for instance, because the common law obliges payment of it, and the common law they say is their law. I am happy you have taken up the subject; and I have carefully perused and considered the notes you enclosed, and find but a single paragraph which I do not approve. It is that wherein (page two) you say, that laws being emanations from the legislative department, and, when once enacted, continuing in force from a presumption that their will so continues, that that presumption fails and the laws of course fall, on the destruction of that legislative department. I do not think this is the true bottom on which laws and the administering them rest. The whole body of the nation is the sovereign legislative, judiciary and executive power for itself. The inconvenience of meeting to exercise these powers in person, and their inaptitude to exercise them, induce them to appoint special organs to declare their legislative will, to judge and to execute it. It is the will of the nation which makes the law obligatory; it is their will which creates or annihilates the organ which is to declare and announce it. They may do it by a single person, as an Emperor of Russia, (constituting his declarations evidence of their will,) or by a few persons, as the aristocracy of Venice, or by a complication of councils, as in our former regal government, or our present republican one. The law being law because it is the will of the nation, is not changed by their changing the organ through which they choose to announce their future will; no more than the acts I have done by one attorney lose their obligation by my changing or discontinuing that attorney. This doctrine has been, in a certain degree, sanctioned by the federal executive. For it is precisely that on which the continuance of obligation
from our treaty with France was established, and the doctrine was particularly developed in a letter to Gouverneur Morris, written with the approbation of President Washington and his cabinet. Mercer once prevailed on the Virginia Assembly to declare a different doctrine in some resolutions. These met universal disapprobation in this, as well as the other States, and if I mistake not, a subsequent Assembly did something to do away the authority of their former unguarded resolutions. In this case, as in all others, the true principle will be quite as effectual to establish the just deductions. Before the revolution, the nation of Virginia had, by the organs they then thought proper to constitute, established a system of laws, which they divided into three denominations of 1, common law ; 2, statute law ; 3, chancery: or if you please, into two only, of 1, common law ; 2, chancery. When, by the Declaration of Independence, they chose to abolish their former organs of declaring their will, the acts of will already formally and constitutionally declared, remained untouched. For the nation was not dissolved, was not annihilated; its will, therefore, remained in full vigor; and on the establishing the new organs, first of a convention, and afterwards a more complicated legislature, the old acts of national will continued in force, until the nation should, by its new organs, declare its will changed. The common law, therefore, which was not in force when we landed here, nor till we had formed ourselves into a nation, and had manifested by the organs we constituted that the common law was to be our law, continued to be our law, because the nation continued in being, and because though it changed the organs for the future declarations of its will, yet it did not change its former declarations that the common law was its law. Apply these principles to the present
Before the revolution there existed no such nation as the United States; they then first associated as a nation, but for special purposes only. They had all their laws to make, as Virginia had on her first establishment as a nation. But they did not, , as Virginia had done, proceed to adopt a whole system of laws ready made to their hand. As their association as a nation was