Page images

their body entire and unbroken to act in phalanx on such ground of opposition as they shall hereafter be able to conjure up. Their vote showed what they had decided on, and is considered as a declaration of perpetual war; but their conduct has completely left them without support. Our information from all quarters is that the whole body of federalists concurred with the republicans in the last elections, and with equal anxiety. They had been made to interest themselves so warmly for the very choice, which while before the people they opposed, that when obtained it came as a thing of their own wishes, and they find themselves embodied with the republicans, and their quondam leaders separated from them, and I verily believe they will remain embodied with us, so that this conduct of the minority has done in one week what very probably could hardly have been effected by years of mild and impartial administration. A letter from Mr. Eppes informs me that Maria is in a situation which induces them not to risk a journey to Monticello, so we shall not have the pleasure of meeting them here. I begin to hope I may be able to leave this place by the middle of March. My tenderest love to my ever dear Martha, and kisses to the little ones. Accept yourself sincere and affectionate salutation. Adieu.


WASHINGTON, Feb. 20, 1801. DEAR SIR,—The liberality of the conversation you honored me with yesterday evening has given me great satisfaction, and demands my sincere thanks. It is certain that those of the Cabinet Council of the President should be of his bosom confidence. Our geographical position has been an impediment to that, while I can with candor declare that the imperfect opportunities I have had of acquaintance with you, have inspired an entire esteem for your character, and that you will carry with you that esteem and sincere wish to be useful to you. The accommodation you have been so kind as to offer as to the particular date of retiring from office, is thankfully accepted, and shall be the subject of a particular letter to you, as soon as circumstances shall enable me to speak with certainty. In the meantime accept assurances of my high respect and consideration.

[ocr errors]


WASHINGTON, Feb. 21, 1801. Sir.—Your favor of the 18th did not get to my hand till yesterday. I thank you for the accommodation in point of time therein offered. Circumstances may render it a convenience; in which case I will avail myself of it, without too far encroaching on your wishes.

At this instant it is not in my power to say anything certain on the subject of time. The declarations of support to the administration of our government are such as were to be expected from your character and attachment to our Constitution. I wish support from no quarter longer than my object candidly scanned, shall merit it; and especially, not longer than I shall rigorously adhere to the Constitution. I am with respect, Sir, your most obedient humble servant.


Washington, Feb. 24, 1801. DEAR SIR,—It has occurred to me that possibly you might be willing to undertake the mission as Minister Plenipotentiary to France. If so, I shall most gladly avail the public of your services in that office. Though I am sensible of the advantages derived from your talent to your particular State, yet I cannot suppress the desire of adding them to the mass to be employed on the broader scale of the nation at large. I will ask the favor of an immediate answer, that I may give in the nomination to the Senate, observing at the same time, that the period of your departure cant be settled until we get our administration together, and may perhaps be delayed till we receive the ratification of the Senate, which would probably be four months; consequently, the commission would not be made out before then. This will give you ample time to make your departure convenient. In hopes of hearing from you as speedily as you can form your resolution, and hoping it will be favorable, I tender vou my respectful and affectionate salutations.


WASHINGTON, Feb. 25, 1801. DEAR SIR,—Your favor of the 5th came to hand on the 20th, and I have but time to acknowledge it under the present pressure of business. I recognize in it those sentiments of virtue and patriotism which you have ever manifested. The suspension of public opinion from the 11th to the 17th, the alarm into which it threw all the patriotic part of the federalists, the danger of the dissolution of our Union, and unknown consequences of that, brought over the great body of them to wish with anxiety and solicitation for a choice to which they had before been strenuously opposed. In this state of mind they separated from their congressional leaders, and came over to us; and the manner in which the last ballot was given, has drawn a fixed line of separation between them and their leaders. When the election took effect, it was as the most desirable of events to them. This made it a thing of their choice, and finding themselves aggregated with us accordingly, they are in a state of mind to be consolidated with us, if no intemperate measures on our part revolt them again. I am persuaded that weeks of ill-judged conduct here, has strengthened us more than years of prudent and conciliatory administration could have done. If we can once more get social intercourse restored to its pristine harmony, I shall believe we have not lived in vain; and that it may, by rallying them to true republican principles, which few of them had thrown off, I sanguinely hope. Accept assurances of the high esteem and respect of, dear Sir, your friend and servant.


To give the usual opportunity of appointing a President pro tempore, I now propose to retire from the chair of the Senate; and, as the time is near at hand when the relations will cease which have for some time subsisted between this honorable house and myself, I beg leave before I withdraw, to return them my grateful thanks for all the instances of attention and respect with which they have been pleased to honor me. In the discharge of my functions here, it has been my conscientious endeavor to observe impartial justice, without regard to persons or subjects, and if I have failed in impressing this on the mind of the Senate, it will be to me a circumstance of the deepest regret. I may have erred at times—no doubt I have erred; this is the law of human nature. For honest errors, however, indulgence may be hoped. I owe to truth and justice at the same time to declare that the habits of order and decorum, which so strongly characterize the proceedings of the Senate, have rendered the umpirage of their President an office of little difficulty, that in times and on questions which have severely tried the sensibilities of the house, calm and temperate discussion has rarely been disturbed by departures from order.

Should the support which I have received from the Senate, in the performance of my duties here, attend me into the new station to which the public will has transferred me, I shall conisider it as commencing under the happiest auspices.

With these expressions of my dutiful regard to the Senate, as a body, I ask leave to mingle my particular wishes for the health and happiness of the individuals who compose it, and to tender them my cordial and respectful adieus.


WASHington, March 1, 1801. My Dear FRIEND,—I received a letter from you the last year, and it has been long since I wrote one to you. During the earlier part of the period it would never have got to your hands, and during the latter, such has been the state of politics on both sides of the water, that no communications were safe. Nevertheless, I have never ceased to cherish a sincere friendship for you, and to take a lively interest in your sufferings and losses. It would make me happy to learn that they are to have an end. We have passed through an awful scene in this country. The convulsion of Europe shook even us to our centre. A few hardy spirits stood firm to their post, and the ship has breasted the storm. The details of this cannot be put on paper.

For the astonishing particulars I refer you to the bearer of this, Mr. Dorson, my friend, fully possessed of everything, as being a Member of Congress, and worthy of confidence. From him you must learn what America is now, or was, and what it has been; for now I hope it is getting back to the state in which you knew it. I will only add that the storm we have passed through proves our vessel indestructible. I have heard with great concern of the delicacy of Mrs. de La Fayette's health, and with anxiety to learn that it is getting better. Having been at Monticello all the time your son was in America, I had not an opportunity of seeing him and of proving my friendship to one in whom I have an interest. Present the homage of my respects and attachment to Mrs. La Fayette, and accept yourself assurances of my constant and affectionate friendship.

P. S. March 18. This moment Mr. Pickon arrived, and delivered me your letter, of which he was the bearer.

« PreviousContinue »