The Writings of Thomas Jefferson - Library Edition - Vol. 6 (of 20)
by Thomas Jefferson
1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8     Next Part
Home - Random Browse



Library Edition









ANDREW A. LIPSCOMB, Chairman Board of Governors EDITOR-IN-CHIEF








Copyright, 1903, by The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association

Transcriber's Note: Omitted text or text that was in cypher is denoted by asterisks.


The word "tactician" is usually applied to military movements, but it has a broader meaning than this; it embodies the idea of a peculiar skill or faculty—a nice perception or discernment which is characterized by adroit planning or management, artfully directed in politics or diplomacy in government.

"Of all creatures the sense of tact is most exquisite in man"—Ross: Microcosmia.

"To see in such a clime, Where science is new, men so exact In tactic art"—Davenant Madagascar.

True statesmanship is the masterful art. Poetry, music, painting, sculpture and architecture please, thrill and inspire, but the great statesman and diplomatist and leader in thought and action convinces, controls and compels the admiration of all classes and creeds. Logical thought, power of appeal and tactfulness never fail to command attention and respect. It has always been thus, and it will unquestionably so remain. Many really able and brilliant men, however, lack balance and the faculty of calculation. They are too often swayed by emotions, and their intellectual powers, which otherwise might exert a controlling influence, are thus weakened, and often result in failure. True greatness in a man is gauged by what he accomplished in life, and the impress he left upon his fellow-men. It does not consist of one act, or even of many, but rather their effect upon the times in which he lived, and how long they endure after the actor is gone from the throng of the living.

At the bar, in the pulpit, in the medical profession, and especially in political life, tact is the sine qua non to the highest degree of individual success. However gifted one may be, he cannot win conspicuous laurels in any calling or avocation, if he be deficient in tactfulness. The man who best understands human nature, knows how to approach people, and possesses the art of leading them, is the one who will invariably have the largest following and will possess the greatest amount of influence over his fellows. The fact cannot be disputed that men of great brilliancy of intellect, without tact, have been distanced by others far less talented, who possessed the knack of getting near to the masses with the object in view to lead and control them. A military commander who knows how to muster and marshal his men so as to make them most effective when a battle is pending, will be unquestionably successful in manoeuvres and successful also in battle; and it is equally true in statecraft, and in the learned professions as well. The skillful tactician is master of every situation and is the victor in every important contest. But more than in any other calling is this true in politics. The successful leader in legislative bodies,—he whose name is recorded on the legislative journal as the author of the most important measures which are enacted into laws—is, without exception, that member who is tactful, thoughtful, industrious and sincere. It makes no difference how great his natural endowments may be, if he be wanting in these elements his success will be restricted to a narrow sphere; and the greatest of these is tactfulness.

The world's great tacticians are few. In America I can mention but three who are deserving of first rank,—Thomas Jefferson, Henry Clay and James G. Blaine. Neither represented the same generation, and neither was the exact counterpart of the others, but all of them were renowned in their ability to control their fellow-men. Each possessed that peculiar magnetic power to draw men around them and to win their confidence and support. Each had but to say the word, and his wishes were carried out. Each needed only to give the command to follow, and, like drilled soldiers, the multitudes fell into line and were obedient to every order. They were evidently cast in a peculiar mould, and that particular mould is limited seemingly to a single man in every generation. Why it is thus we know not, and yet we know that it is so. As the precentor in a choir leads the masses with his baton, and under correct leadership they rarely miss a note, so does the great tactician issue his commands, and his wishes are supreme. I here write Jefferson, Clay and Blaine as America's intrepid leaders and commanders in civil life; these three, and the greatest of these was Jefferson, as he seemed to have learned in early life, more than any of his compeers, that a little management will often avoid resistance, which a vast force will strive in vain to overcome; and that it is wisdom to grant graciously what he could not refuse safely, and thus conciliate those whom he was otherwise unable to control.

In referring to a man who possesses a high grade of capacity in a particular calling, we usually say he is ablean able man. The term able, therefore, signifies more than capable, more than well-informed, whether applied to an artist, a general, a man of learning, or a judge. A man may have read all that has been written on war, and may have seen it, without being able to conduct a war. He may be capable of commanding, but to acquire the name of an able general he must command more than once with success. A judge may know all the laws, without being able to apply the principles of law properly. A learned man may not be able either to speak, or to write, or to teach in a commanding manner. An able man, then, is he who makes a valuable use of what he knows. A capable man can do a thing; an able one does it. The term able cannot, therefore, be properly applied to genius. It is not correct, according to my way of thinking, to say an "able poet," an "able painter," an "able musician," an "able orator," an "able sculptor," because it is talent or genius, or both, that gives one rank in these callings in life, or in these particular undertakings. The word "able," as I understand it, is applicable to those arts only which involve the exercise of the mind as a controlling factor. One may be a great orator, according to the usual acceptation of the term "great," and yet be only a declaimer and a rhetorician. That is to say, he may be able to captivate audiences by his superior action, as Demosthenes defines oratory to be, and at the same time his elocution and rhetoric may be unexceptionable, yet he maybe in fact totally lacking in every element which goes to make up real greatness.

It may be correctly claimed that one may win distinction and renown by energy and tact, and yet be deficient in both wit and learning. But usually men are measured by the success they make in life, just as a carpenter is measured by his "chips"; and accepting this measure, it is exceedingly rare to find one who reaches above the rank of a ward politician, unless he possesses those real elements of greatness which I choose to class as honesty, sobriety, manliness, sympathy, energy, education, knowledge and fairness. I agree that a great tactician may not per se be a great man, but I do say that one who possesses this element, usually embodies those other elements which are accepted ordinarily as the true ingredients of greatness.

Jefferson did not rank in oratory with the Adamses, the Randolphs, James Otis and Patrick Henry, who were contemporaneous with him. He was, therefore, not by nature great in the sphere of oratory, and in his public utterances he does not always show the habit of radical thought which gave the great Democratic party, which lived and ruled our country throughout the larger part of the nineteenth century, that tremendous moral force peculiar to that marvelous organization which he founded and fostered throughout his long, useful and eventful life. Yet his speeches, if they may be classed as such, were clear, logical, forceful, convincing. In politics, in literature, in everything that concerned the world's forward movement in his day, his intellectual sympathies were universal, or as nearly so as it was possible for any man's to be. Men less learned and with lesser power of reason and thoughtfulness than he, have moved audiences to frenzy and have carried them at will; but Jefferson, without this peculiar gift, certainly possessed a sufficiency of this power, which the broad culture of the scholar and the steadfast tension of the thinker can give to any man. His addresses and writings are pregnant with profound aphorisms, and through his great genius transient questions were often transformed into eternal truths. His arguments were condensed with such admirable force of clearness that his utterances always found lodgment in the minds of both auditors and readers. Sensitive in his physical organization, easily moved to tenderness, and incapable of malice, he had that ready responsiveness to his own emotions as well as to those of others, which always characterizes genius.

While it may be said that oratory was not an art with Jefferson, yet his ideas on all governmental questions were always so clear and strong and well matured that he never failed to express them forcefully and effectively. His wonderful intellect, upon all important occasions, never failed to take hold on principle, justice, liberty and moral development, without which, as a part of its essence, the greatest mind can never express itself adequately. His State papers and his addresses and writings reveal the highest order of intellect, and are marked with a degree of originality peculiarly Jeffersonian. The doctrines he proclaimed and the principles he promulgated were so logical and sound that they are cherished yet, and it is believed by millions of our countrymen that they are as imperishable as the stars. Jefferson's philosophical ideas of democratic government are as much alive to-day as they were when he was at the zenith of his glory in life, and this cannot be said of any other illustrious American who was contemporaneous with him. It may be truthfully claimed that the lamp of liberty, which he, perhaps more than any other one American of his times helped to light, will never go out; and it may also be stated, with an equal degree of truthfulness, that the brilliant star of his own personal and political greatness will never set.

Some American writers have, from their standpoints of review, animadverted upon certain alleged weaknesses of Jefferson as a great national character. Although I do not indorse his position as favoring "States' Rights" and a Federal Government of restricted powers, as over against the broader doctrine promulgated by Washington, Adams, Jay and Hamilton, of a centralized government or Union which, when national questions are involved, should be, at all times, the supreme power of the country, yet I concede to him wonderful foresight in advocating a Constitution that would grant to the States the greatest possible latitude. Other critics have also barked along the trail of this distinguished man of destiny, charging him with being a demagogue, a jingoist, an infidel and the like, but their barking has made him all the greater, and has added new laurels to his marvelous career. Faults he may have had, but who has not? Weaknesses he may have had, but who is universally wise and strong? Burke, in his incomparable speech in the English Parliament on the East India bill, spoke for many great men in history when he thus alluded to the younger Fox: "He has faults; but they are faults, that though they may, in a small degree, tarnish the lustre, and sometimes impede the march of his abilities, have nothing in them to extinguish the fire of great virtues. In those faults there is no mixture of deceit, of hypocrisy, of pride, of ferocity, of complexional despotism, or want of feeling for the distress of mankind."

Like Charles James Fox, to whom Edmund Burke referred, Thomas Jefferson was the foremost Commoner of his day, and he allowed no opportunity to pass unimproved, to lift the common people to higher conceptions of life and duty. Such men are rare, and I am glad to be able conscientiously to place the name of Thomas Jefferson, in many important respects, and particularly as the champion of the rights of the common people, pre-eminently above all the other distinguished Americans of his generation; and I wish it understood that I make this statement upon a fair comprehensive knowledge of the acts and works of the leading men of that period of our country's history.

Jefferson in early life accepted the idea or theory that the first and most general truth in history is that men ought to be free. He evidently felt that if happiness is the end of the human race, then freedom is the condition, and that this freedom should not be a kind of a half escape from thralldom and tyranny, but it should be ample and absolute. This theory is most admirably expressed in the opening of the Declaration of Independence, of which he was the sole author, and which was adopted almost literally as he wrote it: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundations, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness." Democratic principles cannot be more clearly expressed than in the language above quoted, nor can any creed be more clearly defined. It is but just to state, therefore, that no individual American represents more distinctively the constructive power of the principles of popular government than Thomas Jefferson, who was then as now the greatest of all Virginians save one—Washington. In all of his public acts he was upheld by his confidence in the people, and he was so tactful at all times that he never allowed himself to wander at any great distance from the masses of his fellows. His faith in the reserve power of the people was imposing, and by this trustfulness he stamped himself as the matchless leader of his times, and among the greatest leaders of all times. Excepting, perhaps, Washington and Lincoln, the name of Jefferson is the most conspicuous of all Americans, and will endure longest in the annals of the history of the Great Republic, because it must be conceded that his theories of government have had more influence upon the public life of America than those of any other American citizen, living or dead.

There was a sympathy between his heart and the great popular heart, which time and conditions have never shaken. Expressions from his writings have become axioms, creeds and rallying cries to great multitudes of his countrymen. Three quarters of a century have elapsed since his death, and yet his ideas, doctrines and teachings are still quoted and accepted without any apparent diminution of their influence. Cicero had in mind an exact prototype of Jefferson when he said, "Homines ad deos nulla re propius accedunt quam salutem hominibus dando."[1]

[1] There is no way by which man can approach nearer to the gods than by contributing to the welfare of their fellow creatures.

Authentic history shows a persistent tendency of the Anglo-Saxon race in the unswerving direction of personal liberty. The inhabitants of the American Colonies revealed a tenacity and self-assertiveness in this direction to a greater extent than had ever been shown in England. The Jeffersonian idea has ever been that there shall be no king; that the sovereign ruler should be placed on the same level and be judged by the same principles as the humblest citizen; that the lords of the manors are entitled to no more privileges than the poorest peasant; that these rights are inalienable, and that any government which disregards them must of necessity be tyrannical.

In his introduction to De Tocqueville's able "Democracy in America," Mr. John T. Morgan thus describes the formative period of the American Republic, a period in which the name of Thomas Jefferson must, if justice be meted out to him, appear in every chapter, and in every important achievement that was then made:

"In the eleven years that separated the Declaration of the Independence of the United States from the completion of that act in the ordination of our written Constitution, the great minds of America were bent upon the study of the principles of government that were essential to the preservation of the liberties which had been won at great cost and with heroic labors and sacrifices. Their studies were conducted in view of the imperfections that experience had developed in the government of the Confederation, and they were, therefore, practical and thorough. When the Constitution was thus perfected and established, a new form of government was created, but it was neither speculative nor experimental as to the principles on which it was based. If they were true principles, as they were, the government founded upon them was destined to a life and an influence that would continue while the liberties it was intended to preserve should be valued by the human family. Those liberties had been wrung from reluctant monarchs in many contests, in many countries, and were grouped into creeds and established in ordinances sealed with blood, in many great struggles of the people. They were not new to the people. They were consecrated theories, but no government had been previously established for the great purpose of their preservation and enforcement. That which was experimental in our plan of government was the question whether democratic rule could be so organized and conducted that it would not degenerate into license and result in the tyranny of absolutism, without saving to the people the power so often found necessary of representing or destroying their enemy, when he was found in the person of a single despot."

In this excerpt the true democratic principles upon which the American Republic was founded, and which principles were largely conceived and put in shape by Thomas Jefferson, are clearly and concisely set forth. De Tocqueville, born and reared amid monarchial surroundings, though brilliant and learned as he was, could not measure the depths to which Jefferson had dug into the labyrinths of free thought and free institutions, and the consequence was that all of his conjectures as to the life and perpetuity of a government based upon the will and wishes of its subjects could not endure, went for naught, and subjected him to a just criticism not only by the advocates of such a government, but by the government itself. Daniel Webster in the Senate of the United States, while defending the doctrines of universal liberty, for which the State of Massachusetts had always stood, in his great speech in reply to Senator Hayne, of South Carolina, exclaimed in stentorian voice, "I shall enter on no encomium upon Massachusetts; she needs none. There she is. Behold her and judge for yourself. There is her history; the inhabitants know it by heart." So we can say to De Tocqueville, who had said of the Government of the United States, that it is all sail and no ballast, and that it possessed no power to resist internal strife, and, therefore, could not endure: there she is; she needs no encomium by us; there she stands, and she has stood firmly in the face of all sorts of opposition for more than a hundred years, and we believe she will endure forever!

In close relationship to that reign of democratic government which Jefferson so earnestly sought to establish, lies, in open view, the necessity for the education of the people, and to its accomplishment he dedicated, in early life, his talents and his energies. He saw then, and we, at this later period of our national growth and development, realize it all the more, that the strength and perpetuity of all free governments rest mainly upon the education of their subjects. Without it such governments fall easy victims to ignorant military captains and civil demagogues of low repute. Free government is better than monarchy in proportion to the intelligence of the governed. Where every citizen has by systematic training been rooted and grounded in the fruitful soil of knowledge, the principles and practices of self-restraint, and the generous ways of freedom, his loyalty to country cannot easily be shaken, nor can he easily be drawn into hostile schemes against the government that protects him. Jefferson saw clearly the necessity of a general system of education, and was among the very first to move in the direction of its establishment. He was so earnest an advocate of the necessity for and the advantages of education, that he never relaxed his efforts, although vigorously opposed by many of his able associates, until he established the University of Virginia to be finally supported by the State, as an open forum for the education of the young men of the Commonwealth; and his biographers inform us that he regarded this the most important achievement of his great career. In fact, he esteemed this victory so highly that he directed the words to be placed upon his tombstone at Monticello—"Founder of the University of Virginia." No act of his revealed more fully than this the tactician and the statesman, and no single act of his, although his entire career was strewn with great deeds, did so much to usher in a golden era of humanity and an universal monarchy of man, which, under God, is coming by and by.

Jefferson began public life early. Shortly after his graduation from William and Mary's College, the oldest educational institution in Virginia, he took up the study of law, and within a very few years he had gathered about him a profitable clientage. In this, the foremost of the learned professions, his genius as a tactician was early displayed. On account of his comparative youthfulness and the limited time that he had been at the bar, he could not, in the nature of things, have been an erudite lawyer, and yet the registry of the courts before which he practised showed that in the fourth year, after he became a barrister, he was employed in four hundred and thirty important cases. No one but a tactful man, however great his learning, in so short a period of time, could make a record of that exalted grade. He was, therefore, at the beginning of his career as a public man, frank, earnest, cordial, sympathetic in his manner, full of confidence in men, and sanguine in his views of life, which gave him a grip upon those about him, as a leader equipped by nature for achievements of the highest and most important possibilities.

As a delegate to the Second Continental Congress Mr. Jefferson had a leading share in its deliberations, although that body embraced many of the most distinguished men of that period. The most important act of that assembly was the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, which, as I have already stated, he himself drafted. It is said, however, that he was most valuable in committee work, because of the aptness of his sensible and methodical mind, and the ingenuity he possessed in putting his ideas upon paper, and doing it in such a way as to create but little, if any, antagonisms. In all of the official stations in which he was placed by his fellow citizens, by means of his talents for constructive statesmanship, and his persuasive and conciliatory spirit, he invariably displayed a remarkable talent for tact in parliamentary leadership.

Military chieftains often win immortal renown as the result of a single important battle, and often flash like rush-light stars across the sky of history. But this is not true of men like Jefferson and others of his class. They grow into great characters, and they build monuments to their memories which the tooth of time cannot destroy. There is nothing ephemeral or evanescent in the makeup of their records. They build not for a day nor a year, but for the centuries. Indeed, it may be said that they build for eternity, and thus many of them have builded wiser than they knew. The following is a summary of Jefferson's achievements:

1. Jefferson, although eight years at the bar, became a lawyer of renown, and an acknowledged leader in the profession.

2. For many years he was a member of the House of Burgesses of Virginia, and possessed therein an influence almost supreme.

3. He was a member of different conventions, selected by the people of Virginia, to consider the state of the colony, to provide against taxation without representation, and to secure greater liberties for the people, and was a leader in them all.

4. He was chairman of the three committees appointed in 1774 by the Virginia Convention, (1) to provide for the better education of the people; (2), for the arming of the militia of the colony; and (3), to draw up a statement of the causes which had impelled the colonies to take up arms against the mother country.

5. He was a member of the Continental Congress which adopted the Declaration of American Independence, and was the writer of that immortal document, which of itself entitles him to enduring fame. For more than a century and a quarter it has been read every year in all parts of the Republic to assembled multitudes on the anniversary of its ratification, and it has been used as a model by all peoples since its adoption, who have sought to secure for themselves freedom and self-government.

6. He was Governor of Virginia during the latter part of the Revolution, and at the end of his term of office, the House of Burgesses publicly thanked him for the able and patriotic services rendered by him during his administration of that exalted station.

7. He, while a member of the American Congress after the adoption of our present Constitution, was the author of the system of coinage which, with some amendments, is still in vogue in the United States.

8. He was, in the early years of the Republic, twice commissioned by Congress as Minister Plenipotentiary to negotiate treaties of commerce with European States, and in this, as in all other public undertakings, he exhibited the highest character of tact and diplomacy.

9. He was five years Minister to France, was exceedingly popular, and secured several important modifications of the French tariff in the interests of American commerce.

10. As the first Secretary of State under Washington, he handled, with consummate skill, the perplexing international questions which grew out of the war declared by France in 1793, against Holland and Great Britain.

11. In 1796 he became Vice-President, and was elevated to the Presidency in 1800, and was reelected in 1804. In this great office he regarded himself purely as a trustee of the public, and the simplicity of his customs and his manly demeanor in office brought to him the confidence of the people of the country at large.

12. The crowning glory of his administration was the purchase of the territory of Louisiana from France. This single act made his administration historic, and the people are even now only beginning to fully appreciate it as they should.

13. In the manner in which he controlled politics during his two terms as President, which resulted almost in the total absorption or annihilation of the Federalist party, he exhibited the qualities of a tactician rarely, if ever, equaled.

14. After forty years of public life, the illustrious Commoner retired to private life upon his farm at Monticello, and gave his remaining years to the establishment and building up of the University of Virginia, which became a noted centre of learning before his death, and has been, for over three quarters of a century, the leading university of the South.

Thomas Jefferson was a great man, a great diplomatist, a great tactician and an illustrious citizen and patriot. His name and his deeds will be cherished and admired as long as the English language is read or spoken, and as long as human lips lisp the name of liberty.



JEFFERSON AS A TACTICIAN. By Hon. George W. Atkinson, ex-Governor of West Virginia i


To General Washington, Nov. 14, 1786 1 To Monsieur Chas, Dec. 7, 1786 5 To Monsieur Duler, Dec. 8, 1786 6 To Messrs. Wilt, Delmestre and Co., Dec. 11, 1786 7 To James Madison, Dec. 16, 1786 8 To Charles Thompson, Dec. 17, 1786 11 To Colonel James Monroe, Dec. 18, 1786 15 To John Adams, Dec. 20, 1786 18 To Francis Hopkinson, Dec. 23, 1786 20 To Benjamin Franklin, Dec. 23, 1786 23 To Ezra Stiles, Dec. 24, 1786 25 To C. W. F. Dumas, Dec. 25, 1786 26 To William Carmichael, Dec. 26, 1786 29 To Benjamin Vaughan, Dec. 29, 1786 32 To John Jay, Dec. 31, 1786 35 To Samuel Osgood, Jan. 5, 1787 38 To M. de Calonnes (Controlleur Generale), Jan. 7, 1787 40 To John Jay, Jan. 9, 1787 41 To John Adams, Jan. 11, 1787 47 To Colonel David S. Franks, Jan. 11, 1787 49 To Monsieur L. W. Otto, Jan. 14, 1787 50 To Monsieur le Duc D'Harcourt, Governeur du Dauphin, Jan. 14, 1787 52 To Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, Jan. 15, 1787 53 To Colonel Edward Carrington, Jan. 16, 1787 55 To M. Du Rival, Jan. 17, 1787 59 To Messrs. S. and J. H. Delap, Jan. 17, 1787 60 To Monsieur Soules, Jan. 19, 1787 61 To Monsieur Hilliard d'Auberteuil, Jan. 27, 1787 62 To Chevalier de Segond, Jan. 27, 1787 62 To James Madison, Jan. 30, 1787 63 To John Jay, Feb. 1, 1787 73 To Monsieur Soules, Feb. 2, 1787 78 To John Adams, Feb. 6, 1787 79 To Mrs. William Bingham, Feb. 7, 1787 81 To Governor Edmund Randolph, Feb. 7, 1787 84 To John Jay, Feb. 8, 1787 85 To C. W. F. Dumas, Feb. 9, 1787 86 To Messrs. Borgnis Desbordes Freres, Feb. 12, 1787 88 To John Adams, Feb. 14, 1787 89 To John Jay, Feb. 14, 1787 89 To M. le Prevot des Marchands et Echevins de Paris, Feb. 18, 1787 90 To William Carmichael, Feb. 18, 1787 91 To Thomas Barclay, Feb. 18, 1787 93 To John Adams, Feb. 20, 1787 95 To John Adams, Feb. 23, 1787 96 To John Jay, Feb. 23, 1787 98 To Richard Peters, Feb. 26, 1787 100 To the Marquis de La Fayette, Feb. 28, 1787 101 To Madame la Comtesse de Tesse, March 20, 1787 102 To the Marquis de La Fayette, April 11, 1787 106 To William Short, April 12, 1787 110 To John Jay, May 4, 1787 111 To Pierre Guide, May 6, 1787 123 To William Carmichael, June 14, 1787 125 To C. W. F. Dumas, June 14, 1787 128 To John Bannister, Junior, June 19, 1787 129 To James Madison, June 20, 1787 131 To John Jay, June 21, 1787 138 To Madame de Corny, June 30, 1787 145 To John Adams, July 1, 1787 146 To David Hartley, July 2, 1787 150 To Benjamin Vaughan, July 2, 1787 152 To Dr. William Gordon, July 2, 1787 154 To T. B. Hollis, Esq., July 2, 1787 155 To John Bondfield, July 2, 1787 156 To James Manny, July 2, 1787 157 To Monsieur l'Abbe Morellet, July 2, 1787 158 To T. M. Randolph, Junior, July 6, 1787 165 To Edward Rutledge, Esq., July 14, 1787 169 To John Adams, July 17, 1787 173 To Joseph Fenwick, July 21, 1787 174 To Stephen Cathalan, Junior, July 21, 1787 175 To the Delegates of Rhode Island, July 22, 1787 178 To the Count de Montmorin, July 23, 1787 180 To Fulwar Skipwith, July 28, 1787 187 To J. W. Eppes, July 28, 1787 189 To Alexander Donald, July 28, 1787 191 To William Drayton, July 30, 1787 193 To Francis Hopkinson, Esq., Aug. 1, 1787 205 To R. Izard, Esq., Aug. 1, 1787 209 To James Madison, Aug. 2, 1787 212 To Thomas Barclay, Aug. 3, 1787 216 To Thomas Barclay, Aug. 3, 1787 218 To Edward Randolph, Aug. 3, 1787 218 To the Governor of Virginia (Edmund Randolph), Aug. 3, 1787 220 To William Hay, Aug. 4, 1787 223 To Dr. David Ramsay, Aug. 4, 1787 225 To Edward Carrington, Aug. 4, 1787 227 To Dr. James Currie, Aug. 4, 1787 229 To Benjamin Hawkins, Aug. 4, 1787 231 To Colonel James Monroe, Aug. 5, 1787 233 To the Honorable Commissioners of the Treasury, Aug. 5, 1787 235 To John Jay, Aug. 6, 1787 239 To Governor Edward Rutledge, Aug. 6, 1787 250 To Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, Aug. 6, 1787 252 To Colonel Richard Claiborne, Aug. 8, 1787 253 To John Churchman, Aug. 8, 1787 254 To Monsieur de L'Hommande, Aug. 9, 1787 255 To Peter Carr, Aug. 10, 1787 256 To Dr. George Gilmer, Aug. 11, 1787 263 To Colonel T. M. Randolph, Aug. 11, 1787 266 To the Reverend James Madison, Aug. 13, 1787 269 To the Honorable J. Blair, Aug. 13, 1787 272 To Joseph Jones, Aug. 14, 1787 273 To General George Washington, Aug. 14, 1787 274 To Colonel David Humphreys, Aug. 14, 1787 278 To John Jay, Aug. 15, 1787 280 To James Madison, Aug. 15, 1787 281 To the Count del Vermi, Aug. 15, 1787 282 To John Adams, Aug. 30, 1787 285 To Monsieur le Comte de Montmorin, Sept. 8, 1787 289 To Andrew Limozin, Sept. 9, 1787 291 To T. Blake, Sept. 9, 1787 293 To John Bondfield, Sept. 9, 1787 293 To C. W. F. Dumas, Sept. 10, 1787 294 To Don Francisco Chiappi, Sept. 15, 1787 295 To George Wythe, Sept. 16, 1787 296 To David Rittenhouse, Sept. 18, 1787 301 To the Honorable Commissioners of the Treasury, Sept. 18, 1787 303 To John Jay, Sept. 19, 1787 304 To Charles Thompson, Sept. 20, 1787 311 To John Jay, Sept. 22, 1787 314 To John Jay, Sept. 22, 1787 315 To Burrill Carnes, Sept. 22, 1787 318 To Andrew Limozin, Sept. 22, 1787 319 To John Jay, Sept. 24, 1787 320 To John Adams, Sept. 28, 1787 321 To Colonel William S. Smith, Sept. 28, 1787 323 To Monsieur le Comte de Buffon, Oct. 3, 1787 325 To C. W. F. Dumas, Oct. 4, 1787 327 To General John Sullivan, Oct. 5, 1787 328 To John Jay, Oct. 8, 1787 330 To James Madison, Oct. 8, 17S7 335 To John Jay, Oct. 8, 1787 336 To Monsieur le Comte de Moustier, Oct. 9, 1787 339 To Madame de Brehan, Oct. 9, 1787 340 To Andrew Limozin, Oct. 9, 1787 340 To C. W. F. Dumas, Oct. 14, 1787 341 To Madame de Corny, Oct. 18, 1787 342 To the Count de Montmorin, Oct. 23, 1787 344 To Monsieur l'Abbe de Morellet, Oct. 24, 1787 347 To John Jay, Oct. 27, 1787 348 To John Jay, Nov. 3, 1787 349 To John Jay, Nov. 3, 1787 359 To the Count de Montmorin, Nov. 6, 1787 363 To John Jay, Nov. 7, 1787 367 To John Adams, Nov. 13, 1787 368 To Colonel William S. Smith, Nov. 13, 1787 371 To James Maury, Nov. 13, 1787 374 To C. W. F. Dumas, Dec. 9, 1787 376 To William Carmichael, Dec. 11, 1787 378 To John Adams, Dec. 12, 1787 383 To James Madison, Dec. 20, 1787 385 To Edward Carrington, Dec. 21, 1787 393 To John Jay, Dec. 21, 1787 397 To Andrew Limozin, Dec. 22, 1787 400 To the Board of Treasury, Dec. 30, 1787 402 To John Jay, Dec. 31, 1787 404 To Monsieur Lambert (Controller-General), Jan. 3, 1788 411 To the Chevalier de Quesnay de Beaurepaire, Jan. 6, 1788 412 To William Drayton, Jan. 13, 1788 413 To le Comte de Bernstorff, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Copenhagen, Jan. 21, 1788 414 To William Rutledge, Feb. 2, 1788 417 To John Adams, Feb. 6, 1788 419 To the Commissioners of the Treasury, Feb. 7, 1788 421 To Doctor Price, Feb. 7, 1788 424 To Alexander Donald, Feb. 7, 1788 425 To Brissot de Warville, Feb. 12, 1788 428 To C. W. F. Dumas, Feb. 12, 1788 429 To Monsieur de Bertrous, Feb. 21, 1788 431 To Monsieur Trouchin, Feb. 26, 1788 432 To John Adams, March 2, 1788 434 To John Jay, March 13, 1788 435 To John Jay, March 16, 1788 436 To C. W. F. Dumas, March 29, 1788 441 To the Commissioners of the Treasury, March 29, 1788 443 To William Short, March 29, 1788 445 To General George Washington, May 2, 1788 447 To James Madison, May 3, 1788 455


JEFFERSON AT SIXTY-TWO Frontispiece Photogravure from the Original Crayon Drawing by St. Memin


THE FIRST PRAYER IN CONGRESS xx Photogravure from the Original Painting by T. H. Matteson

DAVID HUMPHREYS xxvi Photogravure from the Original Painting by Herring

JOHN JAY 366 Photogravure from the Original Painting by Stuart and Trumbull








PARIS, November 14, 1786.

SIR,—The house of Le Coulteux, which for some centuries has been the wealthiest of this place, has it in contemplation to establish a great company for the fur trade. They propose that partners interested one half in the establishment, should be American citizens, born and residing in the United States. Yet if I understood them rightly, they expect that that half of the company which resides here, should make the greatest part, or perhaps the whole of the advances, while those on our side of the water should superintend the details. They had, at first, thought of Baltimore as the centre of their American transactions. I have pointed out to them the advantages of Alexandria for this purpose. They have concluded to take information as to Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York, for a principal deposit, and having no correspondent at Alexandria, have asked me to procure a state of the advantages of that place, as also to get a recommendation of the best merchant there, to be adopted as partner and head of the business there. Skill, punctuality and integrity are the requisites in such a character. They will decide on their whole information, as to the place for their principal factory. Being unwilling that Alexandria should lose its pretensions, I have undertaken to procure them information as to that place. If they undertake this trade at all, it will be on so great a scale as to decide the current of the Indian trade to the place they adopt. I have no acquaintance at Alexandria or in its neighborhood; but, believing you would feel an interest in the matter, from the same motives which I do, I venture to ask the favor of you to recommend to me a proper merchant for their purpose, and to engage some well-informed person to send me a representation of the advantages of Alexandria, as the principal deposit of the fur trade.

The author of the political part of the "Encyclopedie Methodique" desired me to examine his article, "Etats Unis." I did so. I found it a tissue of errors; for, in truth, they know nothing about us here. Particularly, however, the article "Cincinnati" was a mere philippic against that institution; in which it appeared that there was an utter ignorance of facts and motives. I gave him notes on it. He reformed it, as he supposed, and sent it again to me to revise. In this reformed state, Colonel Humphreys saw it. I found it necessary to write that article for him. Before I gave it to him, I showed it to the Marquis de La Fayette, who made a correction or two. I then sent it to the author. He used the materials, mixing a great deal of his own with them. In a work, which is sure of going down to the latest posterity, I thought it material to set facts to rights as much as possible. The author was well disposed; but could not entirely get the better of his original bias. I send you the article as ultimately published. If you find any material errors in it, and will be so good as to inform me of them, I shall probably have opportunities of setting this author to rights. What has heretofore passed between us on this institution, makes it my duty to mention to you, that I have never heard a person in Europe, learned or unlearned, express his thoughts on this institution, who did not consider it as dishonorable and destructive to our governments; and that every writing which has come out since my arrival here, in which it is mentioned, considers it, even as now reformed, as the germ whose development is one day to destroy the fabric we have reared. I did not apprehend this, while I had American ideas only. But I confess that what I have seen in Europe has brought me over to that opinion; and that though the day may be at some distance, beyond the reach of our lives perhaps, yet it will certainly come, when a single fibre left of this institution will produce an hereditary aristocracy, which will change the form of our governments from the best to the worst in the world. To know the mass of evil which flows from this fatal source, a person must be in France; he must see the finest soil, the finest climate, the most compact State, the most benevolent character of people, and every earthly advantage combined, insufficient to prevent this scourge from rendering existence a curse to twenty-four out of twenty-five parts of the inhabitants of this country. With us, the branches of this institution cover all the States. The southern ones, at this time, are aristocratical in their dispositions; and, that that spirit should grow and extend itself, is within the natural order of things. I do not flatter myself with the immortality of our governments; but I shall think little also of their longevity, unless this germ of destruction be taken out. When the society themselves shall weigh the possibility of evil, against the impossibility of any good to proceed from this institution, I cannot help hoping they will eradicate it. I know they wish the permanence of our governments, as much as any individuals composing them.

An interruption here, and the departure of the gentleman by whom I send this, oblige me to conclude it, with assurances of the sincere respect and esteem with which I have the honor to be, dear Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.


PARIS, December 7, 1786.

SIR,—I should with great pleasure have perused your manuscript of the history of the American Revolution, but that it comes to me in the moment of my setting out on a journey into the south of France, where I am to pass the winter. In the few moments of leisure which my preparations for that journey admitted, I have read some detached parts, and find that it would have been very interesting to me. In one of these (page 60), I have taken the liberty of noting a circumstance which is not true, and to which I believe M. d'Aubertueil first gave a place in history. In page 75, I observe it says that Congress removed to Hartford, but this is a misinformation. They never sat there. In general, I would observe to you, that where there is no other authority for a fact than the history of d'Aubertueil, it will not be safe to hazard it. These authors have been led into an infinitude of errors, probably by trusting to the English papers, or to the European ones, copied from them. It is impossible to resort to a more impure source. I am much pleased to find, that you concur in the justice of the principles which produced our revolution, and have only to wish that I could have been able to go through the whole work. I have the honor to be, with much respect, Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.


PARIS, December 8, 1786.

SIR,—The circumstance escaped me of my having had the honor of being made known to you by Mr. Walker at Charlottesville. However, I should not have been the less ready, had it been in my power, to have aided you in procuring employment in some bureau here. But a stranger as I am, unconnected and unacquainted, my solicitations on your behalf would be as ineffectual as improper. I should have been happy to have been able to render you this service, as I am sincerely concerned at the circumstance which has placed you in need of it.

As to the paper money in your hands, the States have not yet been able to take final arrangements for its redemption. But, as soon as they shall get their finances into some order, they will surely pay for it what it was worth in silver at the time you received it, with interest. The interest on loan-office certificates is, I think, paid annually in all the States; and, in some of them, they have begun to make payments of the principal. These matters are managed for foreigners by the consul of their nation in America, where they have not a private friend to attend for them. I have the honor to be, Sir, with much respect, your most obedient humble servant.


PARIS, December 11, 1786.

GENTLEMEN,—Your favor of the 6th instant is duly come to hand, as had done that also of the 8th of November. I was much obliged to you for your observations and information on the late regulations. I have received and am still receiving from other quarters, other hints for its improvement. I cannot propose these to the minister as they arrive, because, besides the perpetual fatigue to him, the business would not be so well done in the end. As soon as all the defects of the new arrangement shall be discovered by a little experience, as well as by their being submitted to the gentlemen concerned in the commerce, I shall be able, by bringing all the amendments necessary into a single proposition, to submit them at once to the consideration of the minister. It will probably be yet some months before this can be done. In the meantime, we must be contented to submit a little longer to those remnants of burthen which still rest on our commerce. In this view, I will still thank you for any new hints of amendment which may occur to you in experience, assuring you they shall be put to good use, when the occasion shall serve. I have the honor to be, with much respect, Gentlemen, your most obedient, and most humble servant.


PARIS, December 16, 1786.

DEAR SIR,—After a very long silence, I am at length able to write to you. An unlucky dislocation of my right wrist, has disabled me from using that hand, three months. I now begin to use it a little, but with great pain; so that this letter must be taken up at such intervals as the state of my hand will permit, and will probably be the work of some days. Though the joint seems to be well set, the swelling does not abate, nor the use of it return. I am now, therefore, on the point of setting out to the south of France, to try the use of some mineral waters there, by immersion. This journey will be of two or three months.

I enclose you herein a copy of the letter from the Minister of Finance to me, making several advantageous regulations for our commerce. The obtaining this has occupied us a twelve month. I say us, because I find the Marquis de La Fayette so useful an auxiliary, that acknowledgments for his co-operation are always due. There remains still something to do for the articles of rice, turpentine, and ship duties. What can be done for tobacco, when the late regulation expires, is very uncertain. The commerce between the United States and this country being put on a good footing, we may afterwards proceed to try if anything can be done, to favor our intercourse with her colonies. Admission into them for our fish and flour, is very desirable; but, unfortunately, both those articles would raise a competition against their own.

I find by the public papers, that your commercial convention failed in point of representation. If it should produce a full meeting in May, and a broader reformation, it will still be well. To make us one nation as to foreign concerns, and keep us distinct in domestic ones, gives the outline of the proper division of powers between the general and particular governments. But, to enable the federal head to exercise the powers given it to best advantage, it should be organized as the particular ones are, into legislative, executive, and judiciary. The first and last are already separated. The second should be. When last with Congress, I often proposed to members to do this, by making of the committee of the States, an executive committee during the recess of Congress, and, during its sessions, to appoint a committee to receive and despatch all executive business, so that Congress itself should meddle only with what should be legislative. But I question if any Congress (much less all successively) can have self-denial enough to go through with this distribution. The distribution, then, should be imposed on them. I find Congress have reversed their division of the western States, and proposed to make them fewer and larger. This is reversing the natural order of things. A tractable people may be governed in large bodies; but, in proportion as they depart from this character, the extent of their government must be less. We see into what small divisions the Indians are obliged to reduce their societies. This measure, with the disposition to shut up the Mississippi, gives me serious apprehensions of the severance of the eastern and western parts of our confederacy. It might have been made the interest of the western States to remain united with us, by managing their interests honestly, and for their own good. But, the moment we sacrifice their interests to our own, they will see it better to govern themselves. The moment they resolve to do this, the point is settled. A forced connection is neither our interest, nor within our power.

The Virginia act for religious freedom has been received with infinite approbation in Europe, and propagated with enthusiasm. I do not mean by the governments, but by the individuals who compose them. It has been translated into French and Italian, has been sent to most of the courts of Europe, and has been the best evidence of the falsehood of those reports which stated us to be in anarchy. It is inserted in the new "Encyclopedie," and is appearing in most of the publications respecting America. In fact, it is comfortable to see the standard of reason at length erected, after so many ages, during which the human mind has been held in vassalage by kings, priests, and nobles; and it is honorable for us, to have produced the first legislature who had the courage to declare, that the reason of man may be trusted with the formation of his own opinions.

* * * * * * * *

I thank you for your communications in Natural History. The several instances of trees, &c., found far below the surface of the earth, as in the case of Mr. Hay's well, seem to set the reason of man at defiance.

I am, dear Sir, with sincere esteem, your friend and servant.


PARIS, December 17, 1786.

DEAR SIR,—A dislocation of my right wrist has for three months past, disabled me from writing except with my left hand, which was too slow and awkward to be employed often. I begin to have so much use of my wrist, as to be able to write, but it is slowly, and in pain. I take the first moment I can, however, to acknowledge the receipt of your letters of April the 6th, July the 8th and 30th. In one of these, you say, you have not been able to learn, whether, in the new mills in London, steam is the immediate mover of the machinery, or raises water to move it? It is the immediate mover. The power of this agent, though long known, is but now beginning to be applied to the various purposes of which it is susceptible. You observe that Whitehurst supposes it to have been the agent, which bursting the earth, threw it up into mountains and valleys. You ask me what I think of his book? I find in it many interesting facts brought together, and many ingenious commentaries on them. But there are great chasms in his facts, and consequently in his reasoning. These he fills up by suppositions, which may be as reasonably denied as granted. A sceptical reader therefore, like myself, is left in the lurch. I acknowledge, however, he makes more use of fact, than any other writer on a theory of the earth. But I give one answer to all these theorists. That is as follows. They all suppose the earth a created existence. They must suppose a creator then; and that he possessed power and wisdom to a great degree. As he intended the earth for the habitation of animals and vegetables, is it reasonable to suppose, he made two jobs of his creation, that he first made a chaotic lump and set it into rotatory motion, and then waited the millions of ages necessary to form itself? That when it had done this, he stepped in a second time, to create the animals and plants which were to inhabit it? As the hand of a creator is to be called in, it may as well be called in at one stage of the process as another. We may as well suppose he created the earth at once, nearly in the state in which we see it, fit for the preservation of the beings he placed on it. But it is said, we have a proof that he did not create it in its present solid form, but in a state of fluidity; because its present shape of an oblate spheroid is precisely that which a fluid mass revolving on its axis would assume.

I suppose that the same equilibrium between gravity and centrifugal force, which would determine a fluid mass into the form of an oblate spheroid, would determine the wise creator of that mass, if he made it in a solid state, to give it the same spheroidical form. A revolving fluid will continue to change its shape, till it attains that in which its principles of contrary motion are balanced. For if you suppose them not balanced, it will change its form. Now, the same balanced form is necessary for the preservation of a revolving solid. The creator, therefore, of a revolving solid, would make it an oblate spheroid, that figure alone admitting a perfect equilibrium. He would make it in that form, for another reason; that is, to prevent a shifting of the axis of rotation. Had he created the earth perfectly spherical, its axis might have been perpetually shifting, by the influence of the other bodies of the system; and by placing the inhabitants of the earth successively under its poles, it might have been depopulated; whereas, being spheroidical, it has but one axis on which it can revolve in equilibrio. Suppose the axis of the earth to shift forty-five degrees; then cut it into one hundred and eighty slices, making every section in the plane of a circle of latitude, perpendicular to the axis: every one of these slices, except the equatorial one, would be unbalanced, as there would be more matter on one side of its axis than on the other. There could be but one diameter drawn through such a slice, which would divide it into two equal parts. On every other possible diameter, the parts would hang unequal. This would produce an irregularity in the diurnal rotation. We may, therefore, conclude it impossible for the poles of the earth to shift, if it was made spheroidically; and that it would be made spheroidical, though solid, to obtain this end. I use this reasoning only on the supposition that the earth has had a beginning. I am sure I shall read your conjectures on this subject with great pleasure, though I bespeak, beforehand, a right to indulge my natural incredulity and scepticism. The pain in which I write awakens me here from my reverie, and obliges me to conclude with compliments to Mrs. Thompson, and assurances to yourself of the esteem and affection with which I am sincerely, dear Sir, your friend and servant.

P. S. Since writing the preceding, I have had a conversation on the subject of the steam mills, with the famous Boulton, to whom those of London belong, and who is here at this time. He compares the effect of steam with that of horses, in the following manner: Six horses, aided with the most advantageous combination of the mechanical powers hitherto tried, will grind six bushels of flour in an hour; at the end of which time they are all in a foam, and must rest. They can work thus, six hours in the twenty-four, grinding thirty-six bushels of flour, which is six to each horse, for the twenty-four hours. His steam mill in London consumes one hundred and twenty bushels of coal in twenty-four hours, turns ten pair of stones, which grind eight bushels of flour an hour each, which is nineteen hundred and twenty bushels in the twenty-four hours. This makes a peck and a half of coal perform exactly as much as a horse, in one day, can perform.


PARIS, December 18, 1786.

DEAR SIR,—Your letters of August the 19th and October the 12th, have come duly to hand. My last to you was of the 11th of August. Soon after that date I got my right wrist dislocated, which has, till now, deprived me of the use of that hand; and even now, I can use it but slowly, and with pain. The revisal of the Congressional intelligence contained in your letters, makes me regret the loss of it on your departure. I feel, too, the want of a person there, to whose discretion I can trust confidential communications, and on whose friendship I can rely against the unjust designs of malevolence. I have no reason to suppose I have enemies in Congress; yet it is too possible to be without that fear. Some symptoms make me suspect, that my proceedings to redress the abusive administration of tobacco by the Farmers General have indisposed towards me a powerful person in Philadelphia, who was profiting from that abuse. An expression in the enclosed letter of M. de Calonnes, would seem to imply, that I had asked the abolition of Mr. Morris's contract. I never did. On the contrary, I always observed to them, that it would be unjust to annul that contract. I was led to this, by principles both of justice and interest. Of interest, because that contract would keep up the price of tobacco here, to thirty-four, thirty-six, and thirty-eight livres, from which it will fall when it shall no longer have that support. However, I have done what was right, and I will not so far wound my privilege of doing that, without regard to any man's interest, as to enter into any explanations of this paragraph with him. Yet I esteem him highly, and suppose that hitherto he had esteemed me. You will see by Calonne's letter, that we are doing what we can, to get the trade of the United States put on a good footing. I am now about setting out on a journey to the south of France, one object of which is to try the mineral waters there, for the restoration of my hand; but another is, to visit all the seaports where we have trade, and to hunt up all the inconveniences under which it labors, in order to get them rectified. I shall visit, and carefully examine too, the canal of Languedoc. On my return, which will be early in the spring, I shall send you several livraisons of the "Encyclopedie," and the plan of your house. I wish to heaven, you may continue in the disposition to fix it in Albemarle. Short will establish himself there, and perhaps Madison may be tempted to do so. This will be society enough, and it will be the great sweetener of our lives. Without society, and a society to our taste, men are never contented. The one here supposed, we can regulate to our minds, and we may extend our regulations to the sumptuary department, so as to set a good example to a country which needs it, and to preserve our own happiness clear of embarrassment. You wish not to engage in the drudgery of the bar. You have two asylums from that. Either to accept a seat in the Council, or in the judiciary department. The latter, however, would require a little previous drudgery at the bar, to qualify you to discharge your duty with satisfaction to yourself. Neither of these would be inconsistent with a continued residence in Albemarle. It is but twelve hours' drive in a sulky from Charlottesville to Richmond, keeping a fresh horse always at the halfway, which would be a small annual expense. I am in hopes that Mrs. M. will have in her domestic cares, occupation and pleasure, sufficient to fill her time, and insure her against the tedium vitae; that she will find, that the distractions of a town, and the waste of life under these, can bear no comparison with the tranquil happiness of domestic life. If her own experience has not yet taught her this truth, she has in its favor the testimony of one who has gone through the various scenes of business, of bustle, of office, of rambling, and of quiet retirement, and who can assure her, that the latter is the only point upon which the mind can settle at rest. Though not clear of inquietudes, because no earthly situation is so, they are fewer in number, and mixed with more objects of contentment than in any other mode of life. But I must not philosophise too much with her, lest I give her too serious apprehensions of a friendship I shall impose on her. I am with very great esteem, dear Sir, your sincere friend and servant.


PARIS, December 20, 1786.

DEAR SIR,—Colonel Franks will have the honor of delivering you the treaty with the Emperor of Morocco, and all its appendages. You will perceive, by Mr. Barclay's letter, that it is not necessary that any body should go back to Morocco to exchange ratifications. He says, however, that it will be necessary that Fennish receive some testimony that we approve the treaty; and as, by the acts of Congress, our signature is necessary to give validity to it, I have had duplicates of ratifications prepared, which I have signed, and now send you. If you approve and sign them, send one back to me to be forwarded to Fennish, through Mr. Carmichael. Perhaps a joint letter should be written to Fennish; if you think so, be so good as to write and sign one and send it with the ratification, and I will sign and forward it. The other ratification is to go to Congress. Colonel Franks wishes to proceed with the papers to that body. He should do it, I think, immediately, as Mr. Jay, in a letter to me of October 26th, says that Congress have heard through the French Charge des Affaires, that the treaty was signed, and they wonder they have not heard it from us.

I enclose you a copy of a letter from Mr. Lambe, by which you will perceive he does not propose to quit Alicant. I will forward the resolution of Congress to Mr. Carmichael, which was enclosed in yours of November 30th, to see if that will move him. As the turn of this resolution admits a construction that Congress may think our original appointment of him censurable, I have, as in justice I ought, in a letter to Mr. Jay, taken on myself the blame of having proposed him to you, if any blame were due. I have enclosed him a copy of my letter to you of September 24, 1785. Mr. Barclay has proposed to go to Alicant to settle Lambe's accounts, and asked to be strengthened with our authority. If Lambe will obey the resolve of Congress, it will be better to let him go and settle his account there. But if he will not go back, perhaps it might not be amiss for Mr. Barclay to have instructions from us to require a settlement, those instructions to be used in that case only. If you think so, be so good as to write a joint letter and send it to me. But this, if done at all, should be done immediately. How much money has Lambe drawn? I have suggested to Mr. Jay the expediency of putting the Barbary business into Carmichael's hands, or sending somebody from America, in consideration of our separate residence and our distance from the scene of negotiation.

I had seen, without alarm, accounts of the disturbances in the East. But Mr. Jay's letter on the subject had really affected me. However, yours sets me to rights. I can never fear that things will go far wrong where common sense has fair play. I but just begin to use my pen a little with my right hand, but with pain. Recommending myself, therefore, to the friendship of Mrs. Adams, I must conclude here with assurances of the sincere esteem of, dear Sir, your friend and servant.

P. S. Should a Mr. Maury, of Virginia, but now a merchant of Liverpool, present himself to you, I recommend him to your notice, as my old school-fellow, and a man of the most solid integrity.


PARIS, December 23, 1786.

DEAR SIR,—My last letter to you was dated August 14th. Yours of May 27th and June 28th, were not then received, but have been since. I take the liberty of putting under your cover another letter to Mrs. Champis, as also an inquiry after a Dr. Griffiths. A letter to M. le Vieillard, from the person he had consulted about the essence L'Orient, will convey to you the result of my researches into that article. Your spring-block for assisting a vessel in sailing cannot be tried here, because the Seine, being not more than about forty toises wide, and running swiftly, there is no such thing on it as a vessel with sails. I thank you for the volume of the Philadelphia transactions, which came safely to hand, and is, in my opinion, a very valuable volume, and contains many precious papers. The paccan-nut is, as you conjecture, the Illinois nut. The former is the vulgar name south of the Potomac, as also with the Indians and Spaniards, and enters also into the Botanical name which is Juglano Paccan. I have many volumes of the "Encyclopedie" for yourself and Dr. Franklin; but, as a winter passage is bad for books, and before the spring the packets will begin to sail from Havre to New York, I shall detain them till then. You must not presume too strongly that your comb-footed bird is known to M. de Buffon. He did not know our panther. I gave him the stripped skin of one I bought in Philadelphia, and it presents him a new species, which will appear in his next volumes. I have convinced him that our deer is not a Chevreuil, and would you believe that many letters to different acquaintances in Virginia, where this animal is so common, have never enabled me to present him with a large pair of their horns, a blue and red skin stuffed, to show him their colors, at different seasons. He has never seen the horns of what we call the elk. This would decide whether it be an elk or a deer. I am very much pleased with your project on the Harmonica, and the prospect of your succeeding in the application of keys to it. It will be the greatest present which has been made to the musical world this century, not excepting the Piano-forte. If its tone approaches that given by the finger as nearly only as the harpsichord does that of the harp, it will be very valuable. I have lately examined a foot-bass newly invented here, by the celebrated Krumfoltz. It is precisely a piano-forte, about ten feet long, eighteen inches broad, and nine inches deep. It is of one octave only, from fa to fa. The part where the keys are, projects at the side in order to lengthen the levers of the keys. It is placed on the floor, and the harpsichord or other piano-forte is set over it, the foot acting in concert on that, while the fingers play on this. There are three unison chords to every note, of strong brass wire, and the lowest have wire wrapped on them as the lowest in the piano-forte. The chords give a fine, clear, deep tone, almost like the pipe of an organ. Have they connected you with our mint? My friend Monroe promised me he would take care for you in that, or perhaps the establishment of that at New York may have been incompatible with your residence in Philadelphia. A person here has invented a method of coining the French ecu of six livres, so as to strike both faces and the edge at one stroke, and makes a coin as beautiful as a medal. No country has ever yet produced such a coin. They are made cheaper, too. As yet, he has only made a few to show the perfection of his manner. I am endeavoring to procure one to send to Congress as a model for their coinage. They will consider whether, on establishing a new mint, it will be worth while to buy his machines, if he will furnish them. A dislocation of my right wrist, which happened to me about a month after the date of my last letter to you, has disabled me from writing three months. I do it now in pain, and only in cases of necessity, or of strong inclination, having as yet no other use of my hand. I put under your cover a letter from my daughter to her friend. She joins me in respects to your good mother, to Mrs. Hopkinson and yourself, to whom I proffer assurances of the esteem with which I am, dear Sir, your sincere friend and servant.


PARIS, December 23, 1786.

DEAR SIR,—I have received your favor of October 8, but the volume of transactions mentioned to come with it, did not; but I had received one from Mr. Hopkinson. You also mention the diplomas it covered for other persons, and some order of the society relative to myself, which I supposed were omitted by accident, and will come by some other conveyance. So far as relates to myself, whatever the order was, I beg leave to express to you my sense of their favor, and wish to merit it. I have several livraisons of the "Encyclopedie" for yourself and Mr. Hopkinson, which shall be sent in the spring, when they will be less liable to injury. Some books also which I received from Baron Blome must await that conveyance. I receive some discouraging accounts of the temper of the people in our new government, yet were I to judge only from the accounts given in the public papers, I should not fear their passing over without injury. I wish you may have given your opinion of them to some of your friends here, as your experience and knowledge of men would give us more confidence in your opinion. Russia and the Porte have patched up an accommodation through the mediation of this court. The coolness between Spain and Naples will remain, and will occasion the former to cease intermeddling with the affairs of the latter. The Dutch affairs are still to be settled. The new King of Prussia is more earnest in supporting the cause of the slaveholder than his uncle was, and in general an affectation begins to show itself of differing from his uncle. There is some fear of his throwing himself into the Austrian scale in the European division of power. Our treaty with Morocco is favorably concluded through the influence of Spain. That with Algiers affords no expectation. We have been rendered anxious here about your health, by hearing you have had a severe attack of your gout. Remarkable deaths are the Duchess of Chabot, of the House of Rochefoucault, Beaujon, and Peyronet, the architect who built the bridge of Neuilly, and was to have begun one the next spring from the Place Louis XV. to the Palais Bourbon. A dislocated wrist not yet re-established, obliges me to conclude here with assurances of the perfect esteem and respect with which I have the honor to be, your Excellency's most obedient, and most humble servant.

P. S. Will you permit my respects to your grandson, Mr. Franklin, to find their place here?


PARIS, December 24, 1786.

SIR,—I feel myself very much honored by the degree which has been conferred on me by the Senatus Academicus of Yale College, and I beg leave, through you, Sir, to express to them how sensible I am of this honor, and that it is to their and your indulgence, and not to any merit of my own, that I am indebted for it.

The commotions that have taken place in America, as far as they are yet known to me, offer nothing threatening. They are a proof that the people have liberty enough, and I could not wish them less than they have. If the happiness of the mass of the people can be secured at the expense of a little tempest now and then, or even of a little blood, it will be a precious purchase. "Malo libertatem periculosam quam quietem servitutem." Let common sense and common honesty have fair play, and they will soon set things to rights.

The bickerings between Russia and the Porte are quieted for the moment. The coolness between the Kings of Spain and Naples will remain, but will have no other consequence than that of the former withdrawing from interference with the affairs of the latter. The present King of Prussia pushes the interest of the Stadtholder more zealously than his uncle did. There have been fears that he might throw himself into the Austrian scale, which would greatly derange the European balance. This country is firm in support of the patriotic party in the United Netherlands.

We have made an advantageous treaty with Morocco, but with Algiers nothing is done. From what I learn from the temper of my countrymen and their tenaciousness of money, it will be more easy to raise ships and men to fight these pirates into reason than money to bribe them. I wish that something could be done in some form or another to open the Mediterranean to us. You will have seen that France is endeavoring to relieve and encourage our commerce with her.

The arts and sciences offering nothing new at this moment worth communicating to you, I shall only add assurances of the respect and esteem with which I have the honor to be, dear Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.


PARIS, December 25, 1786.

SIR,—A dislocation of my right wrist has for upwards of three months prevented my writing to you. I begin to use it a little for the pen; but it is with great pain. To this cause alone I hope you will ascribe that I have acknowledged at one time the receipt of so many of your letters. Their dates are September 12, 26, October 6, 17, 19, 23, November 3, 17, December 1, and there is one without date. They were communicated to the Marquis de LaFayette according to your desire, and those to Mr. Jay have been forwarded from time to time as private conveyances occurred, except some of the last for which no such conveyance has occurred till now. A gentleman is setting out for London, and from thence for New York.

We receive news from America of collections of the people in three or four instances in the Eastern States, demanding delays in the proceedings of the courts of justice. Those States, as you know, depended before the war chiefly on their whale oil and fish. The former was consumed in London, but, being now loaded with heavy duties, cannot go there. Much of their fish went up the Mediterranean, now shut to us by the piratical States. Their debts, therefore, press them, while the means of payment have lessened. The mobs, however, separated without a single injury having been offered to the person or property of any one, nor did they continue twenty-four hours in any one place. This country has opened a market for their whale oil, and we have made a good treaty of peace with Morocco. But with Algiers we can do nothing. An American paper has published a letter, as from me to the Count de Vergennes, on the subject of our productions of tobacco and rice. It is surreptitious and falsified; and both the true and untrue parts very improper for the public eye. How a newswriter of America got at it, is astonishing, and with what views it had been altered. I will be much obliged to you if you will endeavor to prevent its publication in the Leyden Gazette.

The following question I take the liberty of proposing to you confidentially. This country wants money in its treasury. Some individuals have proposed to buy our debt of twenty-four millions at a considerable discount. I have informed Congress of it, and suggested to them the expediency of borrowing this sum in Holland, if possible, as well to prevent loss to this country as to draw all their money transactions to one point. But could they borrow the money in Holland? I would be obliged to you for your opinion on this question, as it would decide me in pressing this matter further on Congress, or letting it drop. It will readily occur to you that the answer should come through the hands of your ambassador here alone. The pain in which I write obliges me, after many thanks for the interesting details of transactions in your country, to assure you of the esteem and respect with which I have the honor to be, Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.


PARIS, December 26, 1786.

DEAR SIR,—A note from me of the 22d of September, apprised you it would be some time before I should be able to answer your letters. I did not then expect it would have been so long.

I enclose herein a resolution of Congress, recalling Mr. Lambe, which I will beg the favor of you to have delivered him. I have written to Mr. Adams on the subject of directing him to settle with Mr. Barclay, and attend his answer. In the meantime, I am not without hopes Mr. Barclay has done the business. I send also a note desiring Mr. Lambe to deliver you his cypher, and a copy of a letter from the Minister of Finance here, to me, announcing several regulations in favor of our commerce.

My "Notes on Virginia," having been hastily written, need abundance of corrections. Two or three of these are so material, that I am reprinting a few leaves to substitute for the old. As soon as these shall be ready, I will beg your acceptance of a copy. I shall be proud to be permitted to send a copy, also, to the Count de Campomanes, as a tribute to his science and his virtues. You will find in them that the Natural Bridge has found an admirer in me also. I should be happy to make with you the tour of the curiosities you will find therein mentioned. That kind of pleasure surpasses much, in my estimation, whatever I find on this side the Atlantic. I sometimes think of building a little hermitage at the Natural Bridge (for it is my property) and of passing there a part of the year at least.

I have received American papers to the 1st of November. Some tumultuous meetings of the people have taken place in the eastern States; i. e. one in Massachusetts, one in Connecticut, and one in New Hampshire. Their principal demand was, a respite in the judiciary proceedings. No injury was done, however, in a single instance, to the person or property of any one, nor did the tumult continue twenty-four hours in any one instance. In Massachusetts, this was owing to the discretion which the malcontents still preserved; in Connecticut and New Hampshire, the body of the people rose in support of government, and obliged the malcontents to go to their homes. In the last-mentioned State, they seized about forty, who were in jail for trial. It is believed this incident will strengthen our government. Those people are not entirely without excuse. Before the war, these States depended on their whale oil and fish. The former was consumed in England, and much of the latter in the Mediterranean. The heavy duties on American whale oil, now required in England, exclude it from that market; and the Algerines exclude them from bringing their fish into the Mediterranean. France is opening her ports for their oil, but in the meanwhile, their ancient debts are pressing them, and they have nothing to pay with. The Massachusetts Assembly, too, in their zeal for paying their public debt, had laid a tax too heavy to be paid in the circumstances of their State. The Indians seem disposed, too, to make war on us. These complicated causes, determined Congress to increase their forces to two thousand men. The latter was the sole object avowed, yet the former entered for something into the measure. However, I am satisfied the good sense of the people is the strongest army our government can ever have, and that it will not fail them. The commercial convention at Annapolis, was not full enough to do business. They found, too, their appointments too narrow, being confined to the article of commerce. They have proposed a meeting in Philadelphia in May, and that it may be authorized to propose amendments of whatever is defective in the federal constitution.

When I was in England, I formed a portable copying press, on the principles of the large one they make here, for copying letters. I had a model made there, and it has answered perfectly. A workman here has made several from that model. The itinerant temper of your court will, I think, render one of these useful to you. You must, therefore, do me the favor to accept of one. I have it now in readiness, and shall send it by the way of Bayonne, to the care of Mr. Alexander there, unless Don Miguel de Lardizabal can carry it with him.

My hand admonishes me it is time to stop, and that I must defer writing to Mr. Barclay till to-morrow.

I have the honor to be, with sentiments of the highest esteem and respect, dear Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.


PARIS, December 29, 1786.

SIR,—When I had the honor of seeing you in London, you were so kind as to permit me to trouble you sometimes with my letters, and particularly on the subject of mathematical or philosophical instruments. Such a correspondence will be too agreeable to me, and at the same time, too useful, not to avail myself of your permission. It has been an opinion pretty generally received among philosophers, that the atmosphere of America is more humid than that of Europe. Monsieur de Buffon makes this hypothesis one of the two pillars whereon he builds his system of the degeneracy of animals in America. Having had occasion to controvert this opinion of his, as to the degeneracy of animals there, I expressed a doubt of the fact assumed, that our climates are more moist. I did not know of any experiments which might authorize a denial of it. Speaking afterwards on the subject with Dr. Franklin, he mentioned to me the observations he had made on a case of magnets, made for him by Mr. Nairne in London. Of these you will see a detail, in the second volume of the American Philosophical Transactions, in a letter from Dr. Franklin to Mr. Nairne, wherein he recommends to him to take up the principle therein explained, and endeavor to make an hygrometer, which, taking slowly the temperature of the atmosphere, shall give its mean degree of moisture, and enable us thus to make with more certainty, a comparison between the humidities of different climates. May I presume to trouble you with an inquiry of Mr. Nairne, whether he has executed the Doctor's idea, and if he has, to get him to make for me a couple of the instruments he may have contrived? They should be made of the same piece, and under like circumstances, that sending one to America, I may rely on its indications there, compared with those of the one I shall retain here. Being in want of a set of magnets also, I would be glad if he would at the same time send me a set, the case of which should be made as Dr. Franklin describes his to have been, so that I may repeat his experiment. Colonel Smith will do me the favor to receive these things from Mr. Nairne, and to pay him for them.

I think Mr. Rittenhouse never published an invention of his in this way, which was a very good one. It was of an hygrometer which, like the common ones, was to give the actual moisture of the air. He has two slips of mahogany about five inches long, three-fourths of an inch broad, and one-tenth of an inch thick, the one having the grain running lengthwise, and the other crosswise. These are glued together by their faces, so as to form a piece five inches long, three-fourths of an inch broad, and one-third of an inch thick, which is stuck by its lower end into a little plinth of wood, presenting their edge to the view. The fibres of the wood you know are dilated, but not lengthened by moisture. The slip, therefore, whose grain is lengthwise, becomes a standard, retaining always the same precise length. That which has its grain crosswise, dilates with moisture, and contracts for the want of it. If the right hand piece be the cross grained one, when the air is very moist, it lengthens, and forces its companion to form a kind of interior annulus of a circle on the left. When the air is dry, it contracts, draws its companion to the right, and becomes itself the interior annulus. In order to show this dilatation and contraction, an index is fixed on the upper end of two of the slips; a plate of metal or wood is fastened to the front of the plinth, so as to cover the two slips from the eye. A slit, being nearly the portion of a circle, is cut in this plate, so that the shank of the index may play freely through its whole range. On the edge of the slit is a graduation. The objection to this instrument is, that it is not fit for comparative observations, because no two pieces of wood being of the same texture exactly, no two will yield exactly alike to the same agent. However, it is less objectionable on this account, than most of the substances used. Mr. Rittenhouse had a thought of trying ivory; but I do not know whether he executed it. All these substances not only vary from one another at the same time, but from themselves at different times. All of them, however, have some peculiar advantages, and I think this, on the whole, appeared preferable to any other I had ever seen. Not knowing whether you had heard of this instrument, and supposing it would amuse you, I have taken the liberty of detailing it to you.

I beg you to be assured of the sentiments of perfect esteem and respect with which I have the honor to be, Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.


PARIS, December 31, 1786.

SIR,—I had the honor of addressing you on the 12th of the last month; since which, your favor of October the 12th has been received, enclosing a copy of the resolution of Congress for recalling Mr. Lambe. My letter by Mr. Randall informed you that we had put an end to his powers, and required him to repair to Congress. I lately received a letter from him, dated Alicant, October the 10th, of which I have the honor to enclose you a copy; by which, you will perceive that the circumstance of ill health, either true or false, is urged for his not obeying our call. I shall immediately forward the order of Congress. I am not without fear, that some misapplication of the public money may enter into the causes of his declining to return. The moment that I saw a symptom of this in his conduct, as it was a circumstance which did not admit the delay of consulting Mr. Adams, I wrote to Mr. Carmichael, to stop any moneys which he might have in the hands of his banker. I am still unable to judge whether he is guilty of this or not, as by the arrangements with Mr. Adams, who alone had done business with the bankers of the United States, in Holland, Mr. Lambe's drafts were to be made on him, and I know not what their amount has been. His drafts could not have been negotiated, if made on us both, at places so distant. Perhaps it may be thought, that the appointment of Mr. Lambe was censurable in the moment in which it was made. It is a piece of justice, therefore, which I owe to Mr. Adams, to declare that the proposition went first from me to him. I take the liberty of enclosing you a copy of my letter to Mr. Adams, of September the 24th, 1785, in which that proposition was made. It expresses the motives operating on my mind in that moment, as well as the cautions I thought it necessary to take. To these must be added, the difficulty of finding an American in Europe fit for the business, and willing to undertake it. I knew afterwards, that Dr. Bancroft (who is named in the letter) could not, on account of his own affairs, have accepted even a primary appointment. I think it evident, that no appointment could have succeeded without a much greater sum of money.

I am happy to find that Mr. Barclay's mission has been attended with complete success. For this we are indebted, unquestionably, to the influence and good offices of the court of Madrid. Colonel Franks, the bearer of this, will have the honor to put into your hands the original of the treaty, with other papers accompanying it. It will appear by these, that Mr. Barclay has conducted himself with a degree of intelligence and of good faith, which reflects the highest honor on him.

A copy of a letter from Captain O'Bryan to Mr. Carmichael, is also herewith enclosed. The information it contains will throw farther light on the affairs of Algiers. His observations on the difficulties which arise from the distance of Mr. Adams and myself from that place, and from one another, and the delays occasioned by this circumstance, are certainly just. If Congress should propose to revive the negotiations, they will judge whether it will not be more expedient to send a person to Algiers, who can be trusted with full powers; and also whether a mission to Constantinople may not be previously necessary. Before I quit this subject, I must correct an error in the letter of Captain O'Bryan. Mr. Lambe was not limited, as he says, to one hundred, but to two hundred dollars apiece for our prisoners. This was the price which has been just paid for a large number of French prisoners, and this was our guide.

I have the honor to be, with the most perfect esteem and respect, Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.


PARIS, January 5, 1787.

DEAR SIR,—I am desired to forward to you the enclosed queries, and to ask the favor of you to give such an answer to them, as may not give you too much trouble. Those which stand foremost on the paper, can be addressed only to your complaisance; but the last may possibly be interesting to your department, and to the United States. I mean those which suggest the possibility of borrowing money in Europe, the principal of which shall be ultimately payable in land, and in the meantime a good interest. You know best whether the suggestion can be turned to any profit, and whether it will be worth while to introduce any proposition to Congress thereon. Among the possible shapes into which a matter of this kind may be formed, the following is one: Let us suppose the public lands to be worth a dollar, hard money, the acre. If we should ask of a moneyed man a loan of one hundred dollars, payable with one hundred acres of land at the end of ten years, and in the meantime carrying an interest of five per cent., this would be more disadvantageous to the lender than a common loan, payable ultimately in cash. But if we should say, we will deliver you the one hundred acres of land immediately, which is in fact an immediate payment of the principal, and will nevertheless pay your interest of five per cent., for ten years, this offers a superior advantage, and might tempt money holders. But what should we in fact receive, in this way, for our lands? Thirty-seven dollars and one-fourth, being left in Europe, on an interest of five per cent., would pay annually the interest of the one hundred dollars for ten years. There would remain then only sixty-two dollars and three-quarters, for the one hundred acres of land, that is to say, about two-thirds of its price. Congress can best determine, whether any circumstance in our situation, should induce us to get rid of any of our debts in that way. I beg you to understand, that I have named rates of interest, term of payment, and price of land, merely to state the case, and without the least knowledge that a loan could be obtained on these terms. It remains to inform you from whom this suggestion comes. The person from whom I receive it, is a Monsieur Claviere, connected with the moneyed men of Amsterdam. He is, on behalf of a company there, actually treating with the Comptroller General here, for the purchase of our debt to this country, at a considerable discount. Whether he has an idea of offering a loan to us, on terms such as I have above spoken of, I know not; nor do I know that he is authorized to make the suggestion he has made. If the thing should be deemed worthy the attention of Congress, they can only consider it as a possibility, and take measures to avail themselves of it, if the possibility turns out in their favor, and not to be disappointed if it does not. Claviere's proposition not being formal enough for me to make an official communication of it, you will make what use of it you see best. I am, with very sincere esteem and attachment, dear Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.


PARIS, January 7, 1787.

SIR,—I had the honor, on the 2d of November last, to acknowledge the receipt of your Excellency's letter of October the 22d, wherein you are so good as to communicate to me the arrangements which the King had been pleased to make for the encouragement of the commerce of the United States of America with his subjects. I immediately made known the same to the agents of the United States in the several seaports of this kingdom, that they might give information thereof to the persons concerned in that commerce. Unacquainted with the forms in which his Majesty usually declares his will in cases of this kind, and the manner in which it is communicated to the officers of the customs at the seaports, I am unable to answer those agents who inform me that the officers of the customs and farms do not as yet consider themselves bound to conform to the new regulations. I take the liberty, therefore, of soliciting your Excellency's interposition for the issuing such orders as may be necessary for carrying into effect the gracious intentions of the King, and of repeating the assurances of those sentiments of perfect respect and esteem, with which I have the honor to be your Excellency's most obedient, and most humble servant.


PARIS, January 9, 1787.

SIR,—My last of December the 31st, acknowledged the receipt of yours of October the 12th, as the present does those of October the 3d, 9th, and 27th, together with the resolution of Congress of October the 16th, on the claim of Shweighauser. I will proceed in this business on the return of Mr. Barclay, who, being fully acquainted with all the circumstances, will be enabled to give me that information, want of which might lead me to do wrong on the one side or the other.

Information of the signature of the treaty with Morocco has been long on its passage to you. I will beg leave to recur to dates, that you may see that no part of it has been derived from me. The first notice I had of it, was in a letter from Mr. Barclay, dated Daralbeyda, August the 11th. I received this on the 13th of September. No secure conveyance offered till the 26th of the same month, being thirteen days after my receipt of it. In my letter of that date, which went by the way of London, I had the honor to enclose you a copy of Mr. Barclay's letter. The conveyance of the treaty itself is suffering a delay here at present, which all my anxiety cannot prevent. Colonel Franks' baggage, which came by water from Cadiz to Rouen, has been long and hourly expected. The moment it arrives, he will set out to London, to have duplicates of the treaty signed by Mr. Adams, and from thence he will proceed to New York.

The Chevalier del Pinto, who treated with us on behalf of Portugal, being resident at London, I have presumed that causes of the delay of that treaty had been made known to Mr. Adams, and by him communicated to you. I will write to him by Colonel Franks, in order that you may be answered on that subject.

The publication of the enclosed extract from my letter of May the 27th, 1786, will, I fear, have very mischievous effects. It will tend to draw on the Count de Vergennes the formidable phalanx of the Farms; to prevent his committing himself to me in any conversation which he does not mean for the public papers; to inspire the same diffidence into all other ministers, with whom I might have to transact business; to defeat the little hope, if any hope existed, of getting rid of the Farm on the article of tobacco; and to damp that freedom of communication which the resolution of Congress of May the 3d, 1784, was intended to re-establish.

Observing by the proceedings of Congress, that they are about to establish a coinage, I think it my duty to inform them, that a Swiss, of the name of Drost, established here, has invented a method of striking the two faces and the edge of a coin, at one stroke. By this, and other simplifications of the process of coinage, he is enabled to coin from twenty-five thousand to thirty thousand pieces a day, with the assistance of only two persons, the pieces of metal being first prepared. I send you by Colonel Franks three coins of gold, silver and copper, which you will perceive to be perfect medals; and I can assure you, from having seen him coin many, that every piece is as perfect as these. There has certainly never yet been seen any coin, in any country, comparable to this. The best workmen in this way, acknowledge that his is like a new art. Coin should always be made in the highest perfection possible, because it is a great guard against the danger of false coinage. This man would be willing to furnish his implements to Congress, and if they please, he will go over and instruct a person to carry on the work: nor do I believe he would ask anything unreasonable. It would be very desirable, that in the institution of a new coinage, we could set out on so perfect a plan as this, and the more so, as while the work is so exquisitely done, it is done cheaper.

I will certainly do the best I can for the reformation of the consular convention, being persuaded that our States would be very unwilling to conform their laws either to the convention, or to the scheme. But it is too difficult and too delicate, to form sanguine hopes. However, that there may be room to reduce the convention, as much as circumstances will admit, will it not be expedient for Congress to give me powers, in which there shall be no reference to the scheme? The powers sent me, oblige me to produce that scheme, and certainly, the moment it is produced, they will not abate a tittle from it. If they recollect the scheme, and insist on it, we can but conclude it; but if they have forgotten it (which may be), and are willing to reconsider the whole subject, perhaps we may get rid of something the more of it. As the delay is not injurious to us, because the convention, whenever and however made, is to put us in a worse state than we are in now, I shall venture to defer saying a word on the subject, till I can hear from you in answer to this. The full powers may be sufficiently guarded, by private instructions to me, not to go beyond the former scheme. This delay may be well enough ascribed (whenever I shall have received new powers) to a journey I had before apprised the minister that I should be obliged to take, to some mineral waters in the south of France, to see if, by their aid, I may recover the use of my right hand, of which a dislocation, about four months ago, threatens to deprive me in a great measure. The surgeons have long insisted on this measure. I shall return by Bordeaux, Nantes and L'Orient, to get the necessary information for finishing our commercial regulations here. Permit me, however, to ask as immediately as possible, an answer, either affirmative or negative, as Congress shall think best, and to ascribe the delay on which I venture, to my desire to do what is for the best.

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8     Next Part
Home - Random Browse