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TO MRS. ADAMS.
WASHINGTON, July 22, 1804. DEAR MADAM,—Your favor of the 1st instant was duly received, and I would not have again intruded on you, but to rectify certain facts which seem not to have been presented to you under their true aspect. My charities to Callendar are considered as rewards for his calumnies. As early, I think, as 1796, I was told in Philadelphia that Callendar, the author of the Political Progress of Britain, was in that city, a fugitive from persecution for having written that book, and in distress. I had read and approved the book ; I considered him as a man of genius, unjustly persecuted. I knew nothing of his private character, and immediately expressed my readiness to contribute to his relief, and to serve him. It was a considerable time after, that, on application from a person who thought of him as I did, I contributed to his relief, and afterwards repeated the contribution. Himself I did not see till long after, nor ever more than two or three times. When he first began to write, he told some useful truths in his coarse way; but nobody sooner disapproved of his writing than I did, or wished more that he would be silent. My charities to him were no more meant as encouragements to his scurrilities, than those I give to the beggar at my door are meant as rewards for the vices of his life, and to make them chargeable to myself. In truth, they would have been greater to him, had he never written a word after the work for which he fled from Britain. With respect to the calumnies and falsehoods which writers and printers at large published against Mr. Adams, I was as far from stooping to any concern or approbation of them, as Mr. Adams was respecting those of Porcupine, Fenno, or Russel, who published volumes against me for every sentence vended by their opponents against Mr. Adams. But I never supposed Mr. Adams had any participation in the atrocities of these editors, or their writers. I knew myself incapable of that base warfare, and believed him to be so. On the contrary, whatever I may have thought of the acts of the administration of that day, I have ever borne testimony to Mr. Adams' personal worth ; noi was it ever impeached in my presence, without a just vindication of it on my part. I never supposed that any person who knew either of us, could believe that either of us meddled in that dirty work. But another fact is, that I “liberated a wretch who was suffering for a libel against Mr. Adams.” I do not know who was the particular wretch alluded to; but I discharged every person under punishment or prosecution under the sedition law, because I considered, and now consider, that law to be a nullity, as absolute and as palpable as if Congress had ordered us to fall down and worship a golden image ; and that it was as
i much my duty to arrest its execution in every stage, as it would have been to have rescued from the fiery furnace those who should have been cast into it for refusing to 'worship the image. It was accordingly done in every instance, without asking what the offenders had done, or against whom they had offended, but whether the pains they were suffering were inflicted under the pretended sedition law. It was certainly possible that my motives for contributing to the relief of Callendar, and liberating sufferers under the sedition law, might have been to protect, encourage, and reward slander ; but they may also have been those
; which inspire ordinary charities to objects of distress, meritorious or not, or the obligation of an oath to protect the Constitution, violated by an unauthorized act of Congress. Which of these were my motives, must be decided by a regard to the general tenor of my life. On this I am not afraid to appeal to the nation at large, to posterity, and still less to that Being who sees himself our motives, who will judge us from his own knowledge of them, and not on the testimony of Porcupine or Fenno.
You observe, there has been one other act of my administration personally unkind, and suppose it will readily suggest itself
I declare on my honor, Madam, I have not the 'east conception what act was alluded to. I never did a single one with an unkind intention. My sole object in this letter being to place before your attention, that the acts imputed to me are either such as are falsely imputed, or as might flow from good as
well as bad motives, I shall make no other addition, than the assurances of my continued wishes for the health and happiness of yourself and Mr. Adams.
TO JAMES MADISON.
MONTICELLO, August 15, 1804. DEAR SIR,—Your letter dated the 7th should probably have been of the 14th, as I received it only by that day's post. I return you Monroe's letter, which is of an awful complexion; and I do not wonder the communications it contains made some impression on him. To a person placed in Europe, surrounded by the immense resources of the nations there, and the greater wickedness of their courts, even the limits which nature imposes on their enterprises -are scarcely sensible. It is impossible that France and England should combine for any purpose; their mutual distrust and deadly hatred of each other admit no co-operation. It is impossible that England should be willing to see France re-possess Louisiana, or get footing on our continent, and that France should willingly see the United States re-annexed to the British dominions. That the Bourbons should be replaced on their throne and agree to any terms of restitution, is possible ; but that they and England joined, could recover us to British dominion, is impossible. If these things are not so, then human reason is of no aid in conjecturing the conduct of nations. Still, however, it is our unquestionable interest and duty to conduct ourselves with such sincere friendship and impartiality towards both nations, as that each may see unequivocally, what is unquestionably true, that we may be very possibly driven into her scale by unjust conduct in the other. I am so much impressed with the expediency of putting a termination to the right of France to patronize the rights of Louisiana, which will cease with their complete adoption as citizens of the United States, that I hope to see that take place on the meeting of Congress. I enclosed you a paragraph from a newspaper respecting St. Domingo, wbich gives me uneasiness. Still I conceive the British
insults in our harbor as more threatening. We cannot be respected by France as a neutral nation, nor by the world ourselves as an independent one, if we do not take effectual measures to support, at every risk, our authority in our own harbors. I shall write to Mr. Wagner directly (that a post may not be lost by passing through you) to send us blank commissions for Orleans and Louisiana, ready sealed, to be filled up, signed and forwarded by us. Affectionate salutations and constant esteem.
TO GOVERNOR CLAIBORNE.
MONTICELLO, August 13, 1804. DEAR SIR.—Various circumstances of delay have prevented my forwarding till now, the general arrangements of the government of the territory of Orleans. Enclosed herewith you will receive the commissions. Among these is one for yourself as Governor. With respect to this I will enter into frank explanations. This office was originally destined for a person* whose great services and established fame would have rendered him peculiarly acceptable to the nation at large. Circumstances, however, exist, which do not now permit his nomination, and perhaps may not at any time hereafter. That, therefore, being suspended and entirely contingent, your services have been so much approved as to leave no desire to look elsewhere to fill the office. Should the doubts you have sometimes expressed, whether it would be eligible for you to continue, still exist in your mind, the acceptance of the commission gives you time to satisfy yourself by further experience, and to make the time and manner of withdrawing, should you ultimately determine on that, agreeable to yourself. Be assured that whether you continue or retire, it will be with every disposition on my part to be just and friendly to you.
I salute you with friendship and respect.
(* In the margin is written by the author, “La Fayette."]
TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.
MONTICELLO, September 8, 1804. DEAR SIR, -As we shall have to lay before Congress the proceedings of the British vessels at New York, it will be necessary for us to say to them with certainty which specific aggressions were committed within the common law, which within the admiralty jurisdiction, and which on the high seas. The rule of the common law is that wherever you can see from land to land, all the water within the line of sight is in the body of the adjacent county and within common law jurisdiction. Thus, if in this curvature
you can see from a to b, all the water within the line of sight is within common law jurisdiction, and a murder committed at c is to be tried as at common law. Our coast is generally visible, I believe, by the time you get within about twenty-five miles. I suppose that at New York you must be some miles out of the Hook before the opposite shores recede twenty-five miles from each other. The three miles of maritime jurisdiction is always to be counted from this line of sight. It will be necessary we should be furnished with the most accurate chart to be had of the shores and waters in the neighborhood of the Hook; and that we may be able to ascertain on it the spot of every aggression. I presume it would be within the province of Mr. Gelston to procure such a chart, and to ascertain the positions of the offending vessels. If I am right in this, will you be so good as to instruct him so to do?
I think the officers of the federal government are meddling too much with the public elections. Will it be best to admonish them privately or by proclamation? This for consideration till we meet. I shall be at Washington by the last day of the month. I salute you with affection and respect.