Memoir, Correspondence, And Miscellanies, From The Papers Of Thomas Jefferson - novelonlinefull.com
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January the 13th. Baer and Harrison G. Otis told J. Nicholas, that in the caucus mentioned ante 10th, there wanted but five votes to produce a declaration of war. Baer was against it.
January the 19th. W. C. Nicholas tells me, that in a conversation with Dexter three or four days ago, he asked Dexter whether it would not be practicable for the States to agree on some uniform mode of choosing electors of President. Dexter said, 'I suppose you would prefer an election by districts.' 'Yes,' said Nicholas, 'I think it would be best; but would nevertheless agree to any other consistent with the const.i.tution.' Dexter said he did not know what might be the opinion of his State, but his own was, that no mode of election would answer any good purpose; that he should prefer one for life. 'On that reasoning,'
said Nicholas, 'you should prefer an hereditary one.' 'No,' he said, 'we are not ripe for that yet. I suppose,' added he, 'this doctrine is not very popular with you.' 'No,' said Nicholas, 'it would effectually d.a.m.n any man in my State.' 'So it would in mine,' said Dexter; 'but I am under no inducement to belie my sentiment; I have nothing to ask from any body; I had rather be at home than here, therefore I speak my sentiments freely.' Mr. Nicholas, a little before or after this, made the same proposition of a uniform election to Rossr who replied that he saw no good in any kind of election. 'Perhaps,' said he, 'the present one may last a while.' On the whole, Mr. Nicholas thinks he perceives, in that party, a willingness and a wish to let every thing go from bad to worse, to amend nothing, in hopes it may bring on confusion, and open a door to the kind of government they wish. In a conversation with Gunn, who goes with them, but thinks in some degree with us, Gunn told him that the very game which the minority of Pennsylvania is now playing with McKean (see subst.i.tute of minority in lower House, and address of Senate in upper), was meditated by the same party in the federal government, in case of the election of a republican President; and that the eastern States would in that case throw things into confusion, and break the Union. That they have in a great degree got rid of their paper, so as no longer to be creditors, and the moment they cease to enjoy the plunder of the immense appropriations now exclusively theirs, they would aim at some other order of things.
January the 24th. Mr. Smith, a merchant of Hamburg, gives me the following information. The St. Andrew's Club, of New York, (all of Scotch tories,) gave a public dinner lately. Among other guests Alexander Hamilton was one. After dinner, the first toast was 'The President of the United States.' It was drunk without any particular approbation. The next was, 'George the Third.' Hamilton started up on his feet, and insisted on a b.u.mper and three cheers. The whole company accordingly rose and gave the cheers. One of them, though a federalist, was so disgusted at the partiality shown by Hamilton to a foreign sovereign over his own President, that he mentioned it to a Mr.
Schwart-house, an American merchant of New York, who mentioned it to Smith.
Mr. Smith also tells me, that calling one evening on Mr. Evans, then Speaker of the House of Representatives of Pennsylvania, and asking the news, Evans said, Harper had just been there, and speaking of the President's setting out to Braintree, said, 'he prayed to G.o.d that his horses might run away with him, or some other accident happen to break his neck before he reached Braintree.' This was in indignation at his having named Murray, &c. to negotiate with France. Evans approved of the wish.
February the 1st. Doctor Rush tells me that he had it from Asa Green, that when the clergy addressed General Washington on his departure from the government, it was observed in their consultation, that he had never, on any occasion, said a word to the public which showed a belief in the Christian religion, and they thought they should so pen their address, as to force him at length to declare publicly whether he was a Christian or not. They did so. However, he observed, the old fox was too cunning for them. He answered every article of their address particularly except that, which he pa.s.sed over without notice. Rush observes, he never did say a word on the subject in any of his public papers, except in his valedictory letter to the Governors of the States when he resigned his commission in the army, wherein he speaks of 'the benign influence of the Christian religion.'
I know that Gouverneur Morris, who pretended to be in his secrets and believed himself to be so, has often told me that General Washington believed no more of that system than he himself did.
March, 1800. Heretical doctrines maintained in Senate, on the motion against the Aurora. That there is in every legal body of men a right of self-preservation, authorizing them to do whatever is necessary for that purpose: by Tracy, Read, and Lawrence. That the common law authorizes the proceeding proposed against the Aurora, and is in force here: by Read. That the privileges of Congress are and ought to be indefinite: by Read.
Tracy says, he would not say exactly that the common law of England in all its extent is in force here; but common sense reason, and morality, which are the foundations of the common law, are in force here, and establish a common law. He held himself so nearly half way between the common law of England and what every body else has called natural law, and not common law, that he could hold to either the one or the other, as he should find expedient.
Dexter maintained that the common law, as to crimes, is in force in the United States.
Chipman says, that the principles of common right are common law.
March the 11th. Conversing with Mrs. Adams on the subject of the writers in the newspapers, I took occasion to mention that I never in my life had, directly or indirectly, written one sentence for a newspaper; which is an absolute truth. She said that Mr. Adams, she believed, had pretty well ceased to meddle in the newspapers, since he closed the pieces on Davila. This is the first direct avowal of that work to be his, though long and universally understood to be so.
March the 14th. Freneau, in Charleston, had the printing of the laws in his paper. He printed a pamphlet of Pinckney's letters on Robbins's case. Pickering has given the printing of the laws to the tory paper of that place, though not of half the circulation. The printing amounted to about one hundred dollars a year.
March the 24th. Mr. Perez Morton of Ma.s.sachusetts tells me that Thatcher, on his return from the war Congress, declared to him he had been for a declaration of war against France, and many others also; but that on counting noses they found they could not carry it, and therefore did not attempt it.
March the 27th. Judge Breckenridge gives me the following information.
He and Mr. Ross were originally very intimate; indeed, he says, he found him keeping a little Latin school, and advised and aided him in the study of the law, and brought him forward. After Ross became a Senator, and particularly at the time of the western insurrection, they still were in concert. After the British treaty, Ross, on his return, informed him there was a party in the United States who wanted to overturn the government, who were in league with France; that France, by a secret article of treaty with Spain, was to have Louisiana; and that Great Britain was likely to be our best friend and dependence.
On this information, he, Breckenridge, was induced to become an advocate for the British treaty. During this intimacy with Ross, he says, that General Collot, in his journey to the western country, called on him, and he frequently led Breckenridge into conversations on their grievances under the government, and particularly the western expedition; that he spoke to him of the advantages that country would have in joining France when she should hold Louisiana; showed him a map he had drawn of that part of the country; pointed out the pa.s.ses in the mountain, and the facility with which they might hold them against the United States, and with which France could support them from New Orleans. He says, that in these conversations, Collot let himself out without common prudence. He says, Michaux (to whom I, at the request of Genet, had given a letter of introduction to the Governor of Kentucky as a botanist, which was his real profession,) called on him; that Michaux had a commissary's commission for the expedition, which Genet had planned from that quarter against the Spaniards; that ----------, the late Spanish commandant of St. Genevieve, with one Powers, an Englishman, called on him. That from all these circ.u.mstances, together with Ross's stories, he did believe that there was a conspiracy to deliver our country, or some part of it at least, to the French; that he made notes of what pa.s.sed between himself and Collot and the others, and lent them to Mr. Ross, who gave them to the President, by whom they were deposited in the office of the Board of War; that when he complained to Ross of this breach of confidence, he endeavored to get off by compliments on the utility and importance of his notes. They now cooled towards each other; and his opposition to Ross's election as Governor has separated them in truth, though not entirely to appearance.
Doctor Rush tells me, that within a few days he has heard a member of Congress lament our separation from Great Britain, and express his sincere wishes that we were again dependent on her.
December the 25th, 1800. Colonel Hitchburn tells me what Colonel Monroe had before told me of, as coming from Hitchburn. He was giving me the characters of persons in Ma.s.sachusetts. Speaking of Lowell, he said he was, in the beginning of the Revolution, a timid whig, but as soon as he found we were likely to prevail, he became a great office-hunter. And in the very breath of speaking of Lowell, he stopped: says he, I will give you a piece of information which I do not venture to speak of to others.
There was a Mr. Hale in Ma.s.sachusetts, a reputable, worthy man, who becoming a little embarra.s.sed in his affairs, I aided him, which made him very friendly to me. He went to Canada on some business. The Governor there took great notice of him. On his return, he took occasion to mention to me that he was authorized by the Governor of Canada to give from three to five thousand guineas each to himself and some others, to induce them not to do any thing to the injury of their country, but to befriend a good connection between England and it.
Hitchburn said he would think of it, and asked Hale to come and dine with him to-morrow. After dinner he drew Hale fully out. He told him he had his doubts, but particularly, that he should not like to be alone in such a business. On that, Hale named to him four others who were to be engaged, two of whom, said Hitchburn, are now dead, and two living.
Hitchburn, when he had got all he wanted out of Hale, declined in a friendly way. But he observed those, four men, from that moment, to espouse the interests of England in every point and on every occasion.
Though he did not name the men to me, yet as the speaking of Lowell was what brought into his Read to tell me this anecdote, I concluded he was one. From other circ.u.mstances respecting Stephen Higginson, of whom he spoke, I conjectured him to be the other living one.
December the 26th. In another conversation, I mentioned to Colonel Hitchburn, that though he had not named names, I had strongly suspected Higginson to be one of Hale's men. He smiled and said, if I had strongly suspected any man wrongfully from his information, he would undeceive me: that there were no persons he thought more strongly to be suspected himself, than Higginson and Lowell. I considered this as saying they were the men. Higginson is employed in an important business about our navy.
February the 12th, 1801. Edward Livingston tells me, that Bayard applied to-day or last night to General Samuel Smith, and represented to him the expediency of his coming over to the States who vote for Burr, that there was nothing in the way of appointment which he might not command, and particularly mentioned the Secretaryship of the Navy. Smith asked him if he was authorized to make the offer. He said he was authorized.
Smith told this to Livingston, and to W. C. Nicholas, who confirms it to me. Bayard in like manner tempted Livingston, not by offering any particular office, but by representing to him his (Livingston's) intimacy and connection with Burr; that from him he had every thing to expect, if he would come over to him. To Doctor Linn of New Jersey, they have offered the government of New Jersey. See a paragraph in Martin's Baltimore paper of February the 10th, signed, 'a looker on,' staling an intimacy of views between Harper and Burr.
February the 14th. General Armstrong tells me, that Gouverneur Morris, in conversation with him to-day on the scene which is pa.s.sing, expressed himself thus. 'How comes it,' says he, 'that Burr, who is four hundred miles off (at Albany), has agents here at work with great activity, while Mr. Jefferson, who is on the spot, does nothing?' This explains the ambiguous conduct of himself and his nephew, Lewis Morris, and that they were holding themselves free for a price; i.e. some office, either to the uncle or nephew.
February the 16th. See in the Wilmington Mirror of February the 14th, Mr. Bayard's elaborate argument to prove that the common law, as modified by the laws of the respective States at the epoch of the ratification of the const.i.tution, attached to the courts of the United States.
June the 23rd, 1801. Andrew Ellicot tells me, that in a conversation last summer with Major William Jackson of Philadelphia, on the subject of our intercourse with Spain, Jackson said we had managed our affairs badly; that he himself was the author of the papers against the Spanish minister signed America.n.u.s; that his object was irritation; that he was anxious, if it could have been brought, about, to have plunged us into a war with Spain, that the people might have been occupied with that, and not with the conduct of the administration, and other things they had no business to meddle with.
December the 13th, 1803. The Reverend Mr. Coffin of New England, who is now here soliciting donations for a college in Greene county, in Tennessee, tells me that when he first determined to engage in this enterprise, he wrote a paper recommendatory of the enterprise, which he meant to get signed by clergymen, and a similar one for persons in a civil character, at the head of which he wished Mr. Adams to put his name, he being then President, and the application going only for his name, and not for a donation. Mr. Adams, after reading the paper and considering, said, 'he saw no possibility of continuing the union of the States; that their dissolution must necessarily take place; that he therefore saw no propriety in recommending to New England men to promote a literary inst.i.tution in the south; that it was in fact giving strength to those who were to be their enemies, and therefore, he would have nothing to do with it.'
December the 31st. After dinner to-day, the pamphlet on the conduct of Colonel Burr being the subject of conversation, Matthew Lyon noticed the insinuations against the republicans at Washington, pending the Presidential election, and expressed his wish that every thing was spoken out which was known; that it would then appear on which side there was a bidding for votes, and he declared that John Brown of Rhode Island, urging him to vote for Colonel Burr, used these words. 'What is it you want, Colonel Lyon? Is it office, is it money? Only say what you want, and you shall have it.'
January the 2nd, 1804. Colonel Hitchburn, of Ma.s.sachusetts, reminding me of a letter he had written me from Philadelphia, pending the Presidential election, says he did not therein give the details. That he was in company at Philadelphia with Colonel Burr and ------ that in the course of the conversation on the election, Colonel Burr said, 'We must have a President, and a const.i.tutional one, in some way.' 'How is it to be done,' says. .h.i.tchburn; 'Mr. Jefferson's friends will not quit him, and his enemies are not strong enough to carry another.' 'Why,' says Burr, 'our friends must join the federalists, and give the President.'
'The next morning at breakfast, Colonel Burr repeated nearly the same, saying, 'We cannot be without a President, our friends must join the federal vote.' 'But,' says. .h.i.tchburn, 'we shall then be without a Vice-President; who is to be our Vice-President?' Colonel Burr answered, 'Mr. Jefferson.'
January the 26th. Colonel Burr, the Vice-President, calls on me in the evening, having previously asked an opportunity of conversing with me.
He began by recapitulating summarily, that he had come to New York a stranger, some years ago; that he found the country in possession of two rich families (the Livingstons and Clintons); that his pursuits were not political, and he meddled not. When the crisis, however, of 1800 came on, they found their influence worn out, and solicited his aid with the people. He lent it without any views of promotion. That his being named as a candidate for Vice-President was unexpected by him. He acceded to it with a view to promote my fame and advancement, and from a desire to be with me, whose company and conversation had always been fascinating to him. That, since, those great families had become hostile to him, and had excited the calumnies which I had seen published. That in this Hamilton had joined, and had even written some of the pieces against him. That his attachment to me had been sincere, and was still unchanged, although many little stories had been carried to him, and he supposed to me also, which he despised; but that attachments must be reciprocal, or cease to exist, and therefore he asked if any change had taken place in mine towards him; that he had chosen to have this conversation with myself directly, and not through any intermediate agent. He reminded me of a letter written to him about the time of counting the votes (say February, 1801), mentioning that his election had left a chasm in my arrangements; that I had lost him from my list in the administration, &c. He observed, he believed it would be for the interest of the republican cause for him to retire; that a disadvantageous schism would otherwise take place; but that were he to retire, it would be said he shrunk from the public sentence, which he never would do; that his enemies were using my name to destroy him, and something was necessary from me to prevent and deprive them of that weapon, some mark of favor from me which would declare to the world that he retired with my confidence.
I answered by recapitulating to him what had been my conduct previous to the election of 1800. That I had never interfered directly or indirectly, with my friends or any others, to influence the election either for him or myself; that I considered it as my duty to be merely pa.s.sive, except that in Virginia I had taken some measures to procure for him the unanimous vote of that State, because I thought any failure there might be imputed to me. That in the election now coming on, I was observing the same conduct, held no councils with any body respecting it, nor suffered any one to speak to me on the subject, believing it my duty to leave myself to the free discussion of the public; that I do not at this moment know, nor have ever heard, who were to be proposed as candidates for the public choice, except so far as could be gathered from the newspapers. That as to the attack excited against him in the newspapers, I had noticed it but as the pa.s.sing wind; that I had seen complaints that Cheetham, employed in publishing the laws, should be permitted to eat the public bread and abuse its second officer: that as to this, the publishers of the laws were appointed by the Secretary of State, without any reference to me; that to make the notice general, it was often given to one republican and one federal printer of the same place; that these federal printers did not in the least intermit their abuse of me, though receiving emoluments from the government, and that I have never thought it proper to interfere for myself, and consequently not in the case of the Vice-President. That as to the letter he referred to, I remembered it, and believed he had only mistaken the date at which it was written; that I thought it must have been on the first notice of the event of the election of South Carolina; and that I had taken that occasion to mention to him, that I had intended to have proposed to him one of the great offices, if he had not been elected; but that his election, in giving him a higher station, had deprived me of his aid in the administration. The letter alluded to was, in fact, mine to him of December the 15th, 1800. I now went on to explain to him verbally, what I meant by saying I had lost him from my list. That in General Washington's time, it had been signified to him that Mr. Adams, the Vice-President, would be glad of a foreign emba.s.sy; that General Washington mentioned it to me, expressed his doubts whether Mr. Adams was a fit character for such an office, and his still greater doubts, indeed, his conviction, that it would not be justifiable to send away the person who, in case of his death, was provided by the const.i.tution to take his place: that it would moreover appear indecent for him to be disposing of the public trusts, in apparently buying off a compet.i.tor for the public favor. I concurred with him in the opinion, and, if I recollect rightly, Hamilton, Knox, and Randolph were consulted, and gave the same opinions. That when Mr. Adams came to the administration, in his first interview with me, he mentioned the necessity of a mission to France, and how desirable it would have been to him if he could have got me to undertake it; but that he conceived it would be wrong in him to send me away, and a.s.signed the same reasons General Washington had done; and therefore, he should appoint Mr. Madison, &c. That I had myself contemplated his (Colonel Burr's) appointment to one of the great offices, in case he was not elected Vice-President; but that as soon as that election was known, I saw it could not be done, for the good reasons which had led General Washington and Mr. Adams to the same conclusion; and therefore, in my first letter to Colonel Burr, after the issue was known, I had mentioned to him that a chasm in my arrangements had been produced by this event. I was thus particular in rectifying the date of this letter, because it gave me an opportunity of explaining the grounds on which it was written, which were, indirectly, an answer to his present hints. He left the matter with me for consideration, and the conversation was turned to indifferent subjects. I should here notice, that Colonel Burr must have thought I could swallow strong things in my own favor, when he founded his acquiescence to the nomination as Vice-President, to his desire of promoting my honor, the being with me, whose company and conversation had always been fascinating with him, &c.
I had never seen Colonel Burr till he came as a member of Senate. His conduct very soon inspired me with distrust. I habitually cautioned Mr. Madison against trusting him too much. I saw afterwards, that under General Washington's and Mr. Adams's administrations, whenever a great military appointment or a diplomatic one was to be made, he came post to Philadelphia to show himself, and in fact that he was always at market, if they had wanted him. He was indeed told by Dayton in 1800, he might be Secretary at War; but this bid was too late! His election as Vice-President was then foreseen. With these impressions of Colonel Burr, there never had been an intimacy between us, and but little a.s.sociation. When I destined him for a high appointment, it was out of respect for the favor he had obtained with the republican party, by his extraordinary exertions and success in the New York election in 1800.
April the 15th, 1806. About a month ago, Colonel Burr called on me, and entered into a conversation, in which he mentioned, that a little before my coming into office, I had written to him a letter intimating that I had destined him for a high employ, had he not been placed by the people in a different one; that he had signified his willingness to resign as Vice-President, to give aid to the administration in any other place; that he had never asked an office, however; he asked aid of n.o.body, but could walk on his own legs and take care of himself; that I had always used him with politeness, but nothing more; that he aided in bringing on the present order of things; that he had supported the administration; and that he could do me much harm: he wished, however, to be on different ground: he was now disengaged from all particular business--willing to engage in something--should be in town some days, if I should have any thing to propose to him. I observed to him, that I had always been sensible that he possessed talents which might be employed greatly to the advantage of the public, and that, as to myself, I had a confidence that if he were employed, he would use his talents for the public good: but that he must be sensible the public had withdrawn their confidence from him, and that in a government like ours it was necessary to embrace in its administration as great a ma.s.s of public confidence as possible, by employing those who had a character with the public, of their own, and not merely a secondary one through the executive. He observed, that if we believed a few newspapers, it might be supposed he had lost the public confidence, but that I knew how easy it was to engage newspapers in any thing. I observed, that I did not refer to that kind of evidence of his having lost the public confidence, but to the late Presidential election, when, though in possession of the office of Vice-President, there was not a single voice heard for his retaining it. That as to any harm he could do me, I knew no cause why he should desire it, but, at the same time, I feared no injury which any man could do me: that I never had done a single act, or been concerned in any transaction, which I feared to have fully laid open, or which could do me any hurt, if truly stated: that I had never done a single thing with a view to my personal interest, or that of any friend, or with any other view than that of the greatest public good: that, therefore, no threat or fear on that head would ever be a motive of action with me. He has continued in town to this time; dined with me this day week, and called on me to take leave two or three days ago.
I did not commit these things to writing at the time, but I do it now, because in a suit between him and Cheetham, he has had a deposition of Mr. Bayard taken, which seems to have no relation to the suit, nor to any other object than to calumniate me. Bayard pretends to have addressed to me, during the pending of the Presidential election in February, 1801, through General Samuel Smith, certain conditions on which my election might be obtained, and that General Smith, after conversing with me, gave answers from me. This is absolutely false. No proposition of any kind was ever made to me on that occasion by General Smith, nor any answer authorized by me. And this fact General Smith affirms at this moment.
For some matters connected with this, see my notes of February the 12th and 14th, 1801, made at the moment. But the following transactions took place about the same time, that is to say, while the Presidential election was in suspense in Congress, which, though I did not enter at the time, they made such an impression on my mind, that they are now as fresh, as to their princ.i.p.al circ.u.mstances, as if they had happened yesterday. Coming out of the Senate chamber one day, I found Gouverneur Morris on the steps. He stopped me, and began a conversation on the strange and portentous state of things then existing, and went on to observe, that the reasons why the minority of States was so opposed to my being elected, were, that they apprehended that, 1. I would turn all federalists out of office; 2. put down the navy; 3. wipe off the public debt. That I need only to declare, or authorize my friends to declare, that I would not take these steps, and instantly the event of the election would be fixed. I told him, that I should leave the world to judge of the course I meant to pursue, by that which I had pursued hitherto, believing it to be my duty to be pa.s.sive and silent during the present scene; that I should certainly make no terms; should never go into the office of President by capitulation, nor with my hands tied by any conditions which should hinder me from pursuing the measures which I should deem for the public good. It was understood that Gouverneur Morris had entirely the direction of the vote of Lewis Morris of Vermont, who, by coming over to Matthew Lyon, would have added another vote, and decided the election. About the same time, I called on Mr.
Adams. We conversed on the state of things. I observed to him, that a very dangerous experiment was then in contemplation, to defeat the Presidential election by an act of Congress declaring the right of the Senate to name a President of the Senate, to devolve on him the government during any interregnum: that such a measure would probably produce resistance by force, and incalculable consequences, which it would be in his power to prevent by negativing such an act. He seemed to think such an act justifiable, and observed, it was in my power to fix the election by a word in an instant, by declaring I would not turn out the federal officers, nor put down the navy, nor spunge the national debt. Finding his mind made up as to the usurpation of the government by the President of the Senate, I urged it no further, observed, the world must judge as to myself of the future by the past, and turned the conversation to something else. About the same time, Dwight Foster of Ma.s.sachusetts called on me in my room one night, and went into a very long conversation on the state of affairs, the drift of which was to let me understand, that the fears above mentioned were the only obstacle to my election, to all of which I avoided giving any answer the one way or the other. From this moment he became most bitterly and personally opposed to me, and so has ever continued. I do not recollect that I ever had any particular conversation with General Samuel Smith on this subject. Very possibly I had, however, as the general subject and all its parts were the constant themes of conversation in the private tete-a-tetes with our friends. But certain I am, that neither he nor any other republican ever uttered the most distant hint to me about submitting to any conditions, or giving any a.s.surances to any body; and still more certainly, was neither he nor any other person ever authorized by me to say what I would or would not do.
[The following official opinion, though inadvertently omitted in its proper place, is deemed of sufficient importance to be inserted here.]
The bill for establishing a National Bank, undertakes, among other things,
1. To form the subscribers into a corporation.