31. January 1804.
This prohibition of the admission of slaves into Louisiana, is like the drawing of a jaw tooth—We have expedient after expedient introduced to answer this purpose—Breckenridge has at last concentrated all his wisdom on the subject in the Amendment, which I now inclose you. This is a tolerably good device to reconcile the two parties of slave and anti-slave into which the majority are divided. [It pr]ovides tolerably well for the introduction of slaves into t[he] territory, under the form of heavy penalties against it.—This is now in general the great art of Legislation at this place—To do a thing, by assuming the appearance of preventing it—To prevent a thing by assuming that of doing it.
I intended to wait untill the question on Breckenridge’s amendment should be taken to give you the result—But it will certainly pass.—So I may as well close my letter—
4 O’clock—Breckenridge’s Amendment has not pass’d. Something else must be tried.
MHi: Adams Papers.