Page images
PDF
EPUB

was not less dear to me, my family and friends, than his to his family and adherents; and the humble talents I possessed were for as many years devoted to the service of my country: whether as faithfully, I am willing to submit to Mr. Jefferson's own decision.

On the 10th of January, 1804, Cunningham informs Mr. Adams, that he had for some time been collecting * materials to present the public with a full view of the & character and conduct of Mr. Jefferson;" and asks Mr. Adams to furnish him with “ some particulars-interesting incidents in Mr. Jefferson's career;" at the same time telling him, that he had been informed, “ that such “a work was preparing by Mr. Coleman of New York, * under the eye of Hamilton;" which might induce him to relinquish it. In his answer of the 16th of the same month, Mr. Adams says, “I would not advise you to re* linquish the project you have in hand, because another 66 has the same.

If the two persons you name are engaged in such a work, you may depend upon it no good will come of it.” Why? Mr. Adams subjoins the reason : “ There will be so many little passions and “ weak prejudices, so little candour and sincerity in it, 6 that the dullest reader will see through it.” That is, * Hamilton has always been Jefferson's opponent and

enemy; and whatever he says to Jefferson's disadvan' tage, will be ascribed to his resentments, and will not • be believed; whereas, whatever you shall state, as an

impartial observer, will stick : hærebit lateri lethalis arundo.**

Then, in compliance with Cunningham's request for information concerning Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Adams freely makes the following contribution: “He (Jefferson] “always professed great friendship for me, even when,

as it now appears, he was countenancing Freneau, “ Bache, Duane and Callender.”_" Anecdotes from my “ memory would certainly be known. There are some “there known only to him and me; but they would 56 not be believed, or at least they would be said not to “ be believed, and would be imputed to envy, revenge,

* The fatal shaft will fasten in his side.

[ocr errors]

or vanity. I wish him no ill. I envy him not. I shudder at the calamities which I fear his conduct is " preparing for his country; from A MEAN THIRST OF

POPULARITY, AN INORDINATE AMBITION, and a WANT OF SINCERITY.”

In this paragraph there is a clear implication, that some of the anecdotes which he could recite would present such ill favoured features of Jefferson, and such fair ones of himself, that they would be imputed, by Mr. Jefferson's friends, to envy, revenge, or vanity.

In the same letter of January 10th, Cunningham says, 6. I wish to discover every arcanum that would be of

use to develop the true character of the Salt-Moun“tain Philosopher. This mountain has increased the “wonders of the world to eight; and if Mr. Jefferson “ would sink a tomb in a part of it for himself, it might, “ better than being a mummy, preserve his body and

memory through succeeding ages.” This pointed - ridicule of his old and nearly half-century friend, Mr. Adams doubtless enjoyed : certainly it received no rebuke.

If the “venerable and illustrious sages” of Monticello and Montezillo* are ever to be reconciled, and confer and receive mutual forgiveness, there is no time to be lost. The latter, being eighty-eight years old, and “now trembling on the verge of the grave;" and the former, an “octogenarian,” waiting impatiently " for 6 the friendly hand of death to rid him at once of all “ his heavy hours.”

Mr. Jefferson, in his letter to Mr. Adams, is pleased to suggest, that whatever alienation between them

* It has been the practice, in European states, for gentlemen to give particular names to their villas, or seats of residence in the country. This has been imitated in America: and in Virginia, and other states where there are not divisions of territory smaller than counties, it may have been found convenient. But in New-England, where counties are divided into small townships, and each distinguished by a legal and well known name, to give other names to small spots of a few acres, or to a farm, within a township, is preposterous, and worse than useless. Yet Mr. Adams has (to use a word of Mr. Jefferson's) belittled himself, by lately giving to the place of his residence in Quincy (a post-town too) the name of Montezillo-Little Mount. Whether this was the effect of vanity, or a humble imitation of his friend elevated on the top of Monticello, I do not undertake to decide.

had ever taken place, was to be ascribed to tale-bearers; “ filling our ears,” says he," with malignant false“ hoods ; by dressing up hideous phantoms of their “ own creation, presenting them to you under my

name, to me under yours, and endeavouring to instil “ into our minds things concerning each other, the most “ destitute of truth.” But who has not heard of the libels on President Adams (not omitting Washington) in the pamphlet called “ The Prospect before Us," written by Callender, under the countenance, patronage and pay of Mr. Jefferson ? of which libels Callender was convicted by a jury at Richmond; for which he was fined and imprisoned; and for which he received (as he had a good right to expect) President Jefierson's pardon.* The patronage and pay were evidenced by two letters from Jefferson to Callender, which, after they had quarrelled, Callender put into the hands of Augustine Davis, Esq. of Richmond. From Davis they went into the hands of a very respectable citizen of Virginia, from whom I received them. Both were in Mr. Jefferson's own hand writing, to me perfectly well known. Even the hand writing of Davis, on the backs of the letters, noting his receipt of them from Callender, was known to me, in consequence of an official correspondence, of more than three years, when Davis was the post-master in Richmond, and I postmaster general. Extract of a letter, dated Monticello, Sept. 6, '99, from Thornas JefferThe next paragraph has no relation to “ the book;" and the letter concludes with these words : 66 with every wish for your welfare, I am,

son to Mr. Callender.

66 SIR,

By a want of arrangement in a neighboring post-office during the absence of the post-master, my letters and papers for two posts back were detained. I suppose it was owing to this that your letter tho' dated Aug. 10, did not get to my hand till the last day of the month, since which this is the first day I can through the post-office acknolege the receipt of it. mr. Jeffersont happens to be here and directs his agent to call on you with this & pay you 50 dollars, on account of the book you are about to publish. when it shall be out be so good as to send me 2 or 3 copies, & the rest only when I shall ask for them."

* See the Appendix for some of the libellous passages in Callender's book.

| George Jefferson, nephew to Thomas Jefferson.

with great regard, Sir,

your most obedt. servt. 6. MR. CALLENDER"

TH: JEFFERSON.” at the foot of the second page.

The other letter is dated Monticello, Oct. 6, '99. The , first line acknowledges the receipt of a letter from Callender of September 29, and concludes with these words :

6 I thank you for the proof sheets you inclosed me: such papers cannot fail to produce the best effect. they inform the thinking part of the nation; and these again supported by the tax gatherers as their vouchers set the people to rights. you will know from whom this comes without a signature : the omission of which has been rendered almost habitual with me by the curiosity of the post-offices. indeed a period is now approaching during which I shall discontinue writing letters as much as possible, knowing that every snare will be used to get hold of what may be perverted in the eyes of the public.

Adieu." This is addressed to « MR. James THOMPSON CALLENDER,

Richmond."* And on the back of each letter were these words, in the hand-writing of Mr. Davis:

“Given by M. Callender to Aug. Davis." There can be no room for an apology for Mr. Jefferson, in paying "fifty dollars on account of the book," on the ground that he might not know its contents; for by the second letter it appears that Callender sent him the proof sheets, and that he approved of their contents; “such papers,” says he, “cannot fail to produce the best effect:" that is, Callender's book, “ The Prospect before Us,” by its slanders on Washington and Adams, and on the whole federal party, would poison the minds of many

well intentioned people, inflame the passions * Perhaps the reader will notice some singularities in the above extracts from Mr. Jefferson's letters: he writes acknolege for acknowledge, and begins his sentences (excepting the first word in a paragraph) with small instead of capital letters. It is his fashion in all his manuscripts that have fallen un. der my observation.

of the democrats, and, by the aid of the whiskey and other internal taxes, (always disagreeable to the multitude) thin the federal ranks, give victory at the pending election to democracy, and to Mr. Jefferson 'the long contemplated object of his “inordinate ambition,” the presidency of the United States.

This whole Callender affair, although no trial in our courts was of more notoriety, Mr. Adams has been willing to forget, since his son, John Quincy Adams, in 1807, fully enlisted himself under the banners of President Jefferson Callender was convicted under what has been called the sedition law; a law enacted in Mr. Adams's presidency, and for its duration limited to that term. One of its objects---for it embraced other subjects—was to protect him from the torrents of calumny pouring upon him from all the streams of democracy. It was a law more abused than understood. While it provided for the punishment of slanderers—who are always liars (such being the import of the word)—it gave protection to honest, truth-telling men, in criminal prosecutions, for alleged libels on the President of the United States; by authorizing them to give in evidence the truth of the facts alleged, for their justification.

In his letter No. X, dated Sept. 27, 1808, Mr. Adams enumerates various acts of Mr. Jefferson's administration, which he reprobates ; as, the repeal of the judiciary law, which Mr. Adams says he “always believed to be a violation of the constitution ;” “ the repeal of the taxes,” so necessary to provide defences against foreign dangers, and to diminish the national debt; and * the removals of so many of the best men, and the appointments of so many of the worst.”

Even legislative acts, in Mr. Jefferson's administration, may be ascribed to him: for he had acquired such an astonishing ascendency with his party, (though it would puzzle any impartial inquirer to find a reason for it) that the manifestation of his wishes was sufficient powa erfully to influence, if not to determine, the passing of a law. And this gentleman has been spending his last

« PreviousContinue »