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A perfect confidence that you are as much attached to peace and union as myself, that you equally prize independence of all nations, and the blessings of self-government, has induced me freely to unbosom myself to you, and let you see the light in which I have viewed what has been passing among us from the beginning of the war. And I shall be happy, at all times, in an intercommunication of sentiments with you, believing that the dispositions of the different parts of our country have been considerably misrepresented and misunderstood in each part, as to the other, and that nothing but good can result from an exchange of information and opinions between those whose circumstances and morals admit no doubt of the integrity of their views.
I remain, with constant and sincere esteem, Dear Sir, your affectionate friend and servant.
TO COLONEL BELL.
PHILADELPHIA, May 18, 1797.
DEAR SIR, I enclose you a copy of the President's speech at the opening of Congress, from which you will see what were the objects in calling us together. When we first met, our information from the members from all parts of the Union, were that peace was the universal wish. Whether they will now raise their tone to that of the Executive, and embark in all the measures indicative of war, and, by taking a threatening posture, provoke hostilities from the opposite party, is far from being certain. There are many who think, that, not to support the Executive, is to abandon Government. As far as we can judge as yet, the changes in the late election have been unfavorable to the Republican interest; still, we hope they will neither make nor provoke war. There appears no probability of any embargo, general or special; the bankruptcy of the English Bank is admitted to be complete, and nobody scarcely will venture to buy or draw bills, lest they should be paid there in depreciated cur
rency. They prefer remitting dollars, for which they will get an advanced price; but this will drain us of our specie. Good James river tobacco is 8 to 9 dollars, flour 8 to 9 dollars, wheat not saleable. The bankruptcies have been immense, but are rather at a stand. Be so good as to make known to our commercial friends of your place and Milton, the above commercial intelligence. Adieu.
P. S. Take care that nothing from my letter gets into the newspapers.
TO MR. GIROUD.
PHILADELPHIA, May 22, 1797.
SIR, I received at this place, from Mr. Bache, the letter of 20th Germinal, with the seeds of the bread-tree which you were so kind as to send me. I am happy that the casual circumstances respecting Oglethorpe's affairs, has led to this valuable present, and I shall take immediate measures to improve the opportunity it gives us of introducing so precious a plant into our Southern States. The successive supplies of the same seeds which you are kind enough to give me expectations of receiving from you, will, in like manner, be thankfully received, and distributed to those persons and places most likely to render the experiment successful. One service of this kind rendered to a nation, is worth more to them than all the victories of the most splendid pages of their history, and becomes a source of exalted pleasure to those who have been instrumental to it. May that pleasure be yours, and your name be pronounced with gratitude by those who will at some future time be tasting the sweets of the blessings you are now procuring them. With my thanks for this favor, accept assurances of the sentiments of esteem and regard with which I am, &c.
TO THOMAS PINCKNEY.
PHILADELPHIA, May 29. 1797. DEAR SIR, I received from you, before you left England, a letter enclosing one from the Prince of Parma. As I learnt soon after that you were shortly to return to America, I concluded to join my acknowledgments of it with my congratulations on your arrival; and both have been delayed by a blameable spirit of procrastination, forever suggesting to our indolence that we need not do to-day what may be done to-morrow. Accept these now, in all the sincerity of my heart. It is but lately I have answered the Prince's letter. It required some time to establish arrangements which might effect his purpose, and I wished also to forward a particular article or two of curiosity. You have found on your return a higher style of political difference than you had left here. I fear this is inseparable from the different constitutions of the human mind, and that degree of freedom which permits unrestrained expression. Political dissension is doubtless a less evil than the lethargy of despotism, but still it is a great evil, and it would be as worthy the efforts of the patriot as of the philosopher, to exclude its influence, if possibly, from social life. The good are rare enough at best. There is no reason to subdivide them by artificial lines. But whether we shall ever be able so far to perfect the principles of society, as that political opinions shall, in its intercourse, be as inoffensive as those of philosophy, mechanics, or any other, may be well doubted. Foreign influence is the present and just object of public hue and cry, and, as often happens, the most guilty are foremost and loudest in the cry. If those who are truly independent, can so trim our vessel as to beat through the waves now agitating us, they will merit a glory the greater as it seems less possible. When I contemplate the spirit which is driving us on here, and that beyond the water which will view us as but a mouthful the more, I have little hope of peace. I anticipate the burning of our sea ports, havoc of our frontiers, household insurgency, with a long train of et ceteras, which is enough for a man to have
met once in his life. The exchange, which is to give us new neighbors in Louisiana (probably the present French arinies when disbanded) has opened us to a combination of enemies on that side where we are most vulnerable. War is not the best engine for us to resort to, nature has given us one in our commerce, which, if properly managed, will be a better instrument for obliging the interested nations of Europe to treat us with justice. If the commercial regulations had been adopted which our Legislature were at one time proposing, we should at this moment have been standing on such an eminence of safety and respect as ages can never recover. But having wandered from that, our object should now be to get back, with as little loss as possible, and, when peace shall be restored to the world, endeavor so to form our commercial regulations as that justice from other nations shall be their mechanical result. I am happy to assure you that the conduct of Gen. Pinckney has met universal approbation. It is marked with that coolness, dignity, and good sense which we expected from him. I am told that the French government had taken up an unhappy idea, that Monroe was recalled for the candor of his conduct in what related to the British Treaty, and Gen. Pinckney was sent as having other dispositions towards them. I learn further, that some of their well-informed citizens here are setting them right as to Gen. Pinckney's dispositions, so well known to have been just towards them; and I sincerely hope, not only that he may be employed as Envoy Extraordinary to them, but that their minds will be better prepared to receive him. I candidly acknowledge, however, that I do not think the speech and addresses of Congress as conciliatory as the preceding irritations on both sides would have rendered wise. I shall be happy to hear from you at all times, to make myself useful to you whenever opportunity offers, and to give every proof of the sincerity of the sentiments of esteem and respect with which I am, Dear Sir, your most obedient and most humble servant.
TO GENERAL GATES.
PHILADELPHIA, May 30, 1797. DEAR GENERAL,-I thank you for the pamphlet of Erskine enclosed in your favor of the 9th instant, and still more for the evidence which your letter affords me of the health of your mind, and I hope of your body also. Erskine has been reprinted here, and has done good. It has refreshed the memory of those who had been willing to forget how the war between France and England had been produced; and who, apeing St. James', called it a defensive war on the part of England. I wish any events could induce us to cease to copy such a model, and to assume the dignity of being original. They had their paper system, stockjobbing, speculations, public debt, moneyed interest, &c., and all this was contrived for us. They raised their cry against jacobinism and revolutionists, we against democratic societies and anti-federalists; their alarmists sounded insurrection ours marched an army to look for one, but they could not find it I wish the parallel may stop here, and that we may avoid, instead of imitating, a general bankruptcy and disastrous war.
Congress, or rather the Representatives, have been a fortright debating between a more or less irritating answer to the President's speech. The latter was lost yesterday, by forty-eight against fifty-one or fifty-two. It is believed, however, that when they come to propose measures leading directly to war, they will lose some of their numbers. Those who have no wish but for the peace of their country, and its independence of all foreign influence, have a hard struggle indeed, overwhelmed by a cry as loud and imposing as if it were true, of being under French influence, and this raised by a faction composed of English subjects residing among us, or such as are English in all their relations and sentiments. However, patience will bring all to rights, and we shall both live to see the mask taken from their faces, and our citizens sensible on which side true liberty and independence are sought. Should any circumstance draw me further from home, I shall with great cordiality pay my respects