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WASHINGTON, January 6, 1805. DEAR SIR,—Your favor of December 26th has been duly received, as a proof of your friendly partialities to me, of which 1 have so often had reason to be sensible. My opinion originally was that the President of the United States should have been elected for seven years, and forever ineligible afterwards. I have since become sensible that seven years is too long to be irremovable, and that there should be a peaceable way of withdrawing a man in midway who is doing wrong. The service for eight years, with a power to remove at the end of the first four, comes nearly to my principle as corrected by experience; and it is in adherence to that, that I determine to withdraw at the end of my second term. The danger is that the indulgence

. and attachments of the people will keep a man in the chair after he becomes a dotard, that re-election through life shall become habitual, and election for life follow that. General Washington set the example of voluntary retirement after eight years. I shall follow it. And a few more precedents will oppose the obstacle of habit to any one after awhile who shall endeavor to extend his term. Perhaps it may beget a disposition to establish it by an amendment of the Constitution. I believe I am doing right therefore in pursuing my principle. I had determined to declare my intention, but I have consented to be silent on the opinion of friends, who think it best not to put a continuance out of my power in defiance of all circumstances. There is, however, but one circumstance which could engage my acquiescence in another election; to wit, such a division about a successor, as might bring in a monarchist. But that circumstance is impossible. While, therefore, I shall make no formal declaration to the public of my purpose, I have freely let it be understood in private conversation. In this I am persuaded yourself and my friends generally will approve of my views. And should I, at the end of a second term, carry into retirement all the favor which the first has acouired, I shall feel the consolation of having

done all the good in my power, and expect with more than composure the termination of a life no longer valuable to others or of importance to myself. Accept my affectionate salutations, and assurances of great esteem and respect.


January 26. 1805. The question arising on Mr. Simons' letter of January 10th is whether sea-letters shall be given to the vessels of citizens neither born nor residing in the United States. Sea-letters are the creatures of treaties. No act of the ordinary Legislature requires them. The only treaties now existing with us, and calling for them, are those with Holland, Spain, Prussia, and France. In the two former we have stipulated that when the other party shall be at war, the vessels belonging to our people shall be furnished with sea-letters ; in the two latter that the vessels of the neutral party shall be so furnished. France being now at war, the sea-letter is made necessary for our vessels, and consequently it is our duty to furnish them. The laws of the United States confine registers to home-built vessels belonging to citizens; but they do not make it unlawful for citizens to own foreign-built vessels; and the treaties give the right of sea-letters to all vessels belonging to citizens.

But who are citizens ? The laws of registry consider a citizenship obtained by a foreigner who comes merely for that purpose, and returns to reside in his own country, as fraudulent, and deny a register to such an one, even owning home-built vessels. I consider the distinction as sound and safe, and that we ought not to give sea-letters to a vessel belonging to such a pseudocitizen. It compromises our peace, by lending our flag to cover the goods of one of the belligerents to the injury of the other. It produces vexatious searches on the vessels of our real citizens, and gives to others the participation of our neutral advantages, which belong to the real citizen only. And inasmuch as an uniformity of rule between the different branches of the government is convenient and proper, I would propose as a rule that sea-letters be given to all vessels belonging to citizens under whose ownership of a registered vessel such vessel would be enuitled to the benefits of her register. Affectionate salutations.


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WASHINGTON, January 29, 1805. DEAR SIR,—Mr. Eppes has this moment put into my hands your letter of yesterday, asking information on the subject of the gunboats proposed to be built. I lose no time in communicating to you fully my whole views respecting them, premising a few words on the system of fortifications. Considering the harbors which, from their situation and importance, are entitled to deience, and the estimates we have seen of the fortifications planned for some or them, this system cannot be completed on a moderate cale for less than fifty millions of dollars, nor manned in time of war, with less than fifty thousand men, and in peace, two thousand. And when done they avail little ; because all military men agree, that wherever a vessel may pass a fort without tacking under her guns, which is the case at all our seaport towns, she may be annoyed more or less, according to the advantages of the position, but can never be prevented. Our own experience during the war proved this on different occasions. Our predecessors have, nevertheless, proposed to go into this system, and had commenced it. But no law requiring us to proceed, we have suspended it.

If we cannot hinder vessels from entering our harbors, we should turn our attention to the putting it out of their power to lie, or come to, before a town, to injure it. Two means of doing this may be adopted in aid of each other. 1. Heavy cannon on travelling carriages, which may be moved to any point on the bank or each most convenient for dislodging the vessel. A sufficient amber of these should be lent to each seaport town,

and their militia trained to them. The executive is authorized

. to do this; it has been done in a small degree, and will now be done more competently.

2. Having cannon on floating batteries or boats, which may be so stationed as to prevent a vessel entering the harbor, or force her, after entering, to depart. There are about fifteen harbors in the United States which ought to be in a state of substantial defence. The whole of these would require, according to the best opinions, two hundred and forty gun-boats. Their cost was estimated by Captain Rogers at two thousand dollars each ; but we had better say four thousand dollars. The whole would cost one million of dollars. But we should allow ourselves ten years to complete it, unless circumstances should force it sooner. There are three situations in which the gun-hoat may be. 1. Hauled up under a shed, in readiness to be launched and manned by the seamen and militia of the town on short notice. In this situation she costs nothing but an enclosure, or a sentinel to see that no mischief is done to her. 2. Afloat, and with men enough to navigate her in harbor and take care of her, but depending on receiving her crew from the town on short warning. In this situation, her annual expense is about two thousand dollars, as by an official estimate at the end of this letter. 3. Fully manned for action. Her annual expense in this situation is about eight thousand dollars, as per estimate subjoined. When there is general peace, we should probably keep about six or seven afloat in the second situation ; their annual expense twelve to fourteen thousand dollars; the rest all hauled up. When France and England are at war, we should keep, at the utmost, twenty-five in the second situation; their annual expense, fifty thousand dollars. When we should be at war ourselves, some of them would probably be kept in the third situation, at an annual expense of eight thousand dollars; but how many, must depend on the circumstances of the war. We now possess ten, built and building. It is the opinion of those consulted, that fifteen more would enable us to put every harbor under our view into a respectable condition; and that this should limit the views of the

present year.

This would require an appropriation of sixty thousand dollars; and I suppose that the best way of limiting it, without declaring the number, as perhaps that sum would build more. I should think it best not to give a detailed report, which exposes our policy too much. A bill, with verbal explanations, will suffice for the information of the House. I do not know whether General Wilkinson would approve the printing his paper. If he would, it would be useful.

Accept affectionate and respectful salutations.


Washington, February 8, 1805. DEAR SIR,Your letter of November the 26th came to hand May the 14th ; the books some time after, which were all distributed according to direction. The copy for the East Indies went immediately by a safe conveyance. The letter of April the 28th, and the copy of your work accompanying that, did not come to hand till August. That copy was deposited in the Congressional library. It was not till my return here from my autumnal visit to Monticello, that I had an opportunity of reading your work. I have read it, and with great satisfaction. Of the first part I am less a judge than most people, having never travelled westward of Staunton, so as to know anything of the face of the country; nor much indulged myself in geological inquiries, from a belief that the skin-deep scratches which we can make or find on the surface of the earth, do not repay our time with as certain and useful deductions as our pursuits in some other branches. The subject of our winds is more familiar to me. On that, the views you have taken are always great, supported in their outlines by your facts; and though more extensive observations, and longer continued, may produce some anomalies, yet they will probably take their place in this first great canvas which you have sketched. In no case, perhaps, does habit attach our choice or judgment more than in climate. The Canadian

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