Page images

matics are essentially necessary. I am about appointing a similar character for the north-western department, and charging him with determining by celestial observations the longitude and latitude of several interesting points of lakes Michigan and Superior, and an accurate survey of the Mississippi, from St. Anthony's Falls to the mouth of the Ohio, correcting his admeasurements by observations of longitude and latitude. From your quarter Mr. Briggs will be expected to take accurate observations of such interesting points as Mr. Ellicot has omitted, so that it will not be long before we shall possess an accurate map of the outlines of the United States. Your country is so abundant in everything which is good, that one does not know what there is here of that description which you have not, and which could be offered in exchange for a barrel of fresh peccans every autumn. Yet I will venture to propose such an exchange, taking information of the article most acceptable from home, either from yourself or such others as can inform me. I pray you to accept my friendly salutations and assurances of great esteem and respect.


Washington, June 30, 1803. DEAR Sir,—It is so long since I have had the pleasure of writing to you, that it would be vain to look back to dates to connect the old and the new. Yet I ought not to pass over my acknowledgments to you for various publications received from time to time, and with great satisfaction and thankfulness. I send you a small one in return, the work of a very unlettered farmer, yet valuable, as it relates plain facts of importance to farmers. You will discover that Mr. Binns is an enthusiast for the use of gypsum. But there are two facts which prove he has a right to be so: 1. He began poor, and has made himself tolerably rich by his farming alone. 2. The county of Loudon, in which he üves, had been so exhausted and wasted by bad husbandry, that it began to depopulate, the inhabitants going Southwarlly in quest of better lands. Binns' success has stopped that emigration. It is now becoming one of the most productive counties of the State of Virginia, and the price given for the lands is multiplied manifold.

We are still uninformed here whether you are again at war. Bonaparte has produced such a state of things in Europe as it would seem difficult for him to relinquish in any sensible degree, and equally dangerous for Great Britain to suffer to go on, especially if accompanied by maritime preparations on his part. The events which have taken place in France have lessened in the American mind the motives of interest which it felt in that revolution, and its amity towards that country now rests on its love of peace

and commerce. We see, at the same time, with great concern, the position in which Great Britain is placed, and should be sincerely afflicted were any disaster to deprive mankind of the benefit of such a bulwark against the torrent which has for some time been bearing down all before it. But her power and powers at sea seem to render everything safe in the end. Peace is our passion, and the wrongs might drive us from it. We prefer trying ever other just principles, right and safety, before we would recur to war.

I hope your agricultural institution goes on with success. I consider you as the author of all the good it shall do. A better idea has never been carried into practice. Our agricultural society has at length formed itself. Like our American Philosophical Society, it is voluntary, and unconnected with the public, and is precisely an execution of the plan I formerly sketched to you. Some State societies have been formed heretofore; the others will do the same. Each State society names two of its members of Congress to be their members in the Central society, which is of course together during the sessions of Congress. They are to select matter from the proceedings of the State societies, and to publish it; so that their publications may be called l'esprit des sociétes d'ogriculture, &c. The Central society was formed the last winto: only, so that it will be some timu Pefore they get under way. Mr. Madison, the Secretary of State, was elected their President.

Recollecting with great satisfaction our friendly intercourse while I was in Europe, I nourish the hope it still preserves a place in your mind; and with my salutations, I pray you to accept assula ices of my constant attachment and high respect


Washington, United States of America, July 4. 1803. DEAR SIR,—In the journey which you are about to undertake, for the discovery of the course and source of the Missouri, and of the most convenient water communication from thence to the Pacific Ocean, your party being small, it is to be expected that you will encounter considerable dangers from the Indian inhabitants. Should you escape those dangers, and reach the Pacific Ocean, you may find it imprudent to hazard a return the same way, and be forced to seek a passage round by sea, in such vessels as you may find on the Western coast ; but you will be without money, without clothes, and other necessaries, as a sufficient supply cannot be carried from hence. Your resource, in that case, can only be in the credit of the United States; for which purpose I hereby authorize you to draw on the Secretaries of State, of the Treasury, of War, and of the Navy of the United States, according as you may find your draughts will be most negociable, for the purpose of obtaining money or necessaries for yourself and men; and I solemnly pledge the faith of the United States, that these draughts shall be paid punctually at the date at which they are made payable. I also ask of the consuls, agents, merchants, and citizens of any nation with which we have intercourse or amity, to furnish you with those supplies which your necessities may call for, assuring them of honorable and prompt retribution; and our own consuls in foreign parts, where you may happen to be, are hereby instructed and required to be aiding and assisting to you in whatsoever may be necessary for procuring your return back to the United States. And to give more entire satisfaction and confidence to those who may be disposed to aid you, I, Thomas Jefferson, President of the United States of America, have written this letter of general credit for you with my own hand, and signed it with my name.


WASHINGTON, July 10, 1803. My LORD,—I received, through the hands of Mr. Lenox, on his return to the United States, the valuable volume you were so good as to send me on the life and writings of Fletcher, of Saltoun. The political principles of that patriot were worthy the purest periods of the British Constitution; they are those which were in vigor at the epoch of the American emigration. Our ancestors brought them here, and they needed little strengthening to make us what we are. But in the weakened condition of English whigism at this day, it requires more firmness to publish and advocate them than it then did to act on them. This merit is peculiarly your Lordship's; and no one honors it more than myself. While I freely admit the right of a nation to change its political principles and constitution at will, and the impropriety of any but its own citizens censuring that change, I expect your Lordship has been disappointed, as I acknowledge I have been, in the issue of the convulsions on the other side the channel. This has certainly lessened the interest which the philanthropist warmly felt in those struggles. Without befriending human liberty, a gigantic force has risen up which seems to threaten the world. But it hangs on the thread of opinion, which may break from one day to another. I feel real anxiety on the conflict to which imperious circumstances seem to call your nation, and bless the Almighty Being, who, in gathering together the waters under the heavens into one place, divided the dry land of your hemisphere from the dry lands of ours, and said, at least be there peace. I hope that peace and amity with all nations will long be the character of our land, and that its prosperity under the Charter will react on the mind of Europe, and profit her by the example. My hope of preserving peace for our country is not founded in the greater principles of non-resistance under every wrong, but in the belief that a just and friendly conduct on our part will procure justice and friendship from others.

In the existing contest, each of the combatants will find an interest in our friendship. I cannot say we shall be unconcerned spectators of this combat. We feel for human sufferings, and we wish the good of all. We shall look on, therefore, with the sensations which these dispositions and the events of the war will produce.

I feel a pride in the justice which your Lordship’s sentiments render to the character of my illustrious countryman, Washington. The moderation of his desires, and the strength of his judgment, enabled him to calculate correctly, that the road to that glory which never dies is to use power for the support of the laws and liberties of our country, not for their destruction; and his will accordingly survives the wreck of everything now living.

Accept, my lord, the tribute of esteem, from one who renders it with warmth to the disinterested friend of mankind, and assurances of my high consideration and respect.


WASHINGTON, July 11, 1803. DEAR GENERAL, -I accept with pleasure, and with pleasure reciprocate your congratulations on the acquisition of Louisiana; for it is a subject of mutual congratulation, as it interests every man of the nation. The territory acquired, as it includes all the waters of the Missouri and Mississippi, has more than doubled the area of the United States, and the new parts is not inferior to the old in soil, climate, productions and important communica

« PreviousContinue »