Page images

wish the very administration they had opposed, and to view it when obtained, as a child of their own.

Mr. A. embarrasses us. He keeps the offices of State and War vacant, but has named Bayard Minister Plenipotentiary to France, and has called an unorganized Senate to meet the fourth of March. As you do not like to be here on that day, I wish you would come within a day or two after. I think that between that and the middle of the month we can so far put things under way, as that we may go home to make arrangements for our final removal. Come to Conrad's, where I will bespeak lodgings for you. Yesterday Mr. A. nominated Bayard to be Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States to the French repuplic; to-day, Theophilus Parsons, Attorney General of the United States in the room of C. Lee, who, with Keith Taylor cum multis aliis, are appointed judges under the new system. H. G. Otis is nominated a district attorney, A vessel has been waiting for some time in readiness to carry the new minister to France. My affectionate salutations to Mrs. Madison.


Washington, February 18, 1801.

DEAR SIR,-The House of Representatives having yesterday concluded their choice of a person for the chair of the United States and willed me that office, it now becomes necessary to provide an administration composed of persons whose qualifications and standing have possessed them of the public confidence, and whose wisdom may ensure to our fellow-citizens the advantages they sanguinely expect. On a review of the characters in the different States proper for the different departments, I have had no hesitation in considering you as the person to whom it would be most advantageous to the public to confide the Department of War. May I therefore hope, Sir, that you will give your country the aid of your talents as Secretary of War? The delay

which has attended the election has very much abridged our time, and rendered the call more sudden and pressing than I could have wished. I am in hopes our administration may be assembled during the first week of March, except yourself, and that you can be with us in a few days after. Indeed it is probable we shall be but a few days together (perhaps to the middle of the month) to make some general and pressing arrangements, and then go home, for a short time, to make our final removal hither. I mention these circumstances that you may see the urgency of setting out for this place with the shortest delay possible, which may be the shorter as you can return again to your family, as we shall, to make your final arrangements for removal. I hope we shall not be disappointed in counting on your aid, and that you will favor us with an answer by return of post. Accept assurances of sincere esteem and high respect from, dear Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant,


WASHINGTON, February 18, 1801.

DEAR SIR,-Your favor of the 3d instant has been duly received. I perceive in it that frankness which I ever found in your character, and which honors every character in which it is found. I feel indebted also for the justice you do me as to opinions which others, with less candor, have imputed to me. I have received many letters stating to me in the spirit of prophesy, caricatures which the writers, it seems, know are to be the principles of my administration. To these no answer has been given, because the prejudiced spirit in which they have been written proved the writers not in a state of mind to yield to truth or reason. To the friendly style of your letter I would gladly answer in detail were it in my power; but I have thought that I ought not to permit myself to form opinions in detail, until I can have the counsel of those, of whose services I wish to avail

the public in the administration of their affairs. Till this can be done, you have justly resorted to the only proper ground, that of estimating my future by my past conduct. Upwards of thirty years passed on the stage of public life and under the public eye, may surely enable them to judge whether my future course is likely to be marked with those departures from reason and moderation, which the passions of men have been willing to foresee. One imputation in particular has been remarked till it seems as if some at least believe it: that I am an enemy to commerce. They admit me as a friend to agriculture, and suppose me an enemy to the only means of disposing of its produce. I might appeal too to evidences of my attention to the commerce and navigation of our country in different stations connected with them, but this would lead to details not to be expected. I have deferred answering your letter till this day lest the motives for these explanations should be mistaken. You will be so good as to consider this communication so far confidential as not to put it in the power of any person committing it to the press. I am with great esteem, dear Sir, your most obedient servant.


WASHINGTON, February 19, 1801.

After exactly a week's balloting there at length appeared ten States for me, four for Burr, and two voted blanks. This was done without a single vote coming over. Morris of Vermont withdrew, so that Lyon's vote became that of the State. The four Maryland federalists put in blanks, so then the vote of the four Republicans became that of their State. Mr. Hager of South Carolina (who had constantly voted for me) withdrew by agreement, his colleagues agreeing in that case to put in blanks. Bayars, the sole member of Delaware, voted blank. They had before deliberated whether they would come over in a body, when they saw they could not force Burr on the republicans, or keep

their body entire and unbroken to act in phalanx on such ground of opposition as they shall hereafter be able to conjure up. Their vote showed what they had decided on, and is considered as a declaration of perpetual war; but their conduct has completely left them without support. Our information from all quarters is that the whole body of federalists concurred with the republicans in the last elections, and with equal anxiety. They had been made to interest themselves so warmly for the very choice, which while before the people they opposed, that when obtained it came as a thing of their own wishes, and they find themselves embodied with the republicans, and their quondam leaders separated from them, and I verily believe they will remain embodied with us, so that this conduct of the minority has done in one week what very probably could hardly have been effected by years of mild and impartial administration. A letter from Mr. Eppes informs me that Maria is in a situation which induces them not to risk a journey to Monticello, so we shall not have the pleasure of meeting them here. I begin to hope I may be able to leave this place by the middle of March. My tenderest love to my ever dear Martha, and kisses to the little ones. Accept yourself sincere and affectionate salutation. Adieu.


WASHINGTON, Feb. 20, 1801.

DEAR SIR,-The liberality of the conversation you honored me with yesterday evening has given me great satisfaction, and demands my sincere thanks. It is certain that those of the Cabinet Council of the President should be of his bosom confidence. Our geographical position has been an impediment to that, while I can with candor declare that the imperfect opportunities I have had of acquaintance with you, have inspired an entire esteem for your character, and that you will carry with you that esteem and sincere wish to be useful to you. The accommodation you have

been so kind as to offer as to the particular date of retiring from office, is thankfully accepted, and shall be the subject of a par◄ ticular letter to you, as soon as circumstances shall enable me to speak with certainty. In the meantime accept assurances of my high respect and consideration.


WASHINGTON, Feb. 21, 1801.

SIR. Your favor of the 18th did not get to my hand till yesterday. I thank you for the accommodation in point of time therein offered. Circumstances may render it a convenience; in which case I will avail myself of it, without too far encroaching on your wishes. At this instant it is not in my power to say anything certain on the subject of time. The declarations of support to the administration of our government are such as were to be expected from your character and attachment to our Constitution. I wish support from no quarter longer than my object candidly scanned, shall merit it; and especially, not longer than I shall rigorously adhere to the Constitution. I am with respect, Sir, your most obedient humble servant.


WASHINGTON, Feb. 24, 1801.

DEAR SIR,-It has occurred to me that possibly you might be willing to undertake the mission as Minister Plenipotentiary to France. If so, I shall most gladly avail the public of your services in that office. Though I am sensible of the advantages derived from your talent to your particular State, yet I cannot suppress the desire of adding them to the mass to be employed on the broader scale of the nation at large. I will ask the favor of an immediate answer, that I may give in the nomination tc

« PreviousContinue »