Thomas Jefferson Papers

III. Partial Draft: Judiciary, Juries, and Naturalization, [before 12 November 1801]

III. Partial Draft
Judiciary, Juries, and Naturalization

[before 12 Nov. 1801]

Judiciary. The Judiciary system of the US. and especially that portion of it recently erected will of course1 present itself to the contemplation of Congress; and that they may judge2 of the proportion which the institution bears to the business it has to perform, I have caused to be procured from the several states and now lay before Congress3 an exact statement of all the cases decided since the first establishment of the courts, and of those which were depending when addnl courts & judges were brought in to their aid.4
And while on the Judiciary organization it will be worthy of your consideration5 whether the protection of the inestimable instn6 of juries has been extended to all the cases involving the security of our persons & property; and especially where fine & imprisonment are inflicted as a punishment, & the sum or time not precisely fixed by law, whether it’s assesment by a jury may not be a necessary barrier against systematic obliquities, more dangerous to the genius of our government than the anomalous errors which juries may sometimes commit.
I cannot omit recommendg. a revisal of the laws on the subject of Naturalization. considering the ordinary chances of human life, a denial7 of citizenship under a residence of 14. years is a denial to the greater number. but this is directly opposite8 to the fundamental policy of the great portion of these states from their first settlement. and shall we in times when9 war and desolation are afflicting the other quarters of the earth refuse to their unhappy10 fugitives that hospitality which the savages of the wilderness extended to our fathers arriving in this land. shall oppressed humanity find no asylum on this globe?11 safety indeed may dictate12 that, for admission to offices of important trust, a residence should be required long enough to develope character & design. some length of residence too may be necessary to guard against fraudulent usurpations of our flag. but the ordinary rights and capabilities of a citizen, & especially that of transmitting inheritance, might surely be extended without danger to every one manifesting a bona fide purpose of13 embarking his life and fortunes permanently with us.

Dft (DLC: TJ Papers, 119:20569); entirely in TJ’s hand, canceled with a single diagonal stroke; undated; first two paragraphs written with a wide margin for revisions; third paragraph written in a smaller hand and running across the width of the page to make full use of the available space; on verso of TJ’s draft message to the Senate, [ca. 12 Nov. 1801], which was enclosed in TJ to Gallatin, 12 Nov.

The laws on the subject of naturalization then in effect were “An Act to establish an uniform rule of Naturalization” of January 1795 and a supplementary and amending act of 18 June 1798. The earlier act required a residence of two years in the United States before an immigrant could become a citizen. The 1798 law, passed in the same session of Congress as the Alien Friends Act and Alien Enemies Act, imposed a residency requirement of 14 years before an alien could attain citizenship, allowing exceptions for people who had initiated the process under the older law (U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855–56, 8 vols. description ends , 1:414–15, 566–69; Vol. 30:301n, 324n).

Fraudulent Usurpations of our flag: that is, misrepresentation of foreign ships as American owned. TJ as secretary of state warned U.S. consular and diplomatic officers in March 1793 to guard against this problem in order “to preserve for our vessels all the rights of neutrality” in the event of the impending “very general war in Europe.” “This usurpation,” TJ advised, “tends to commit us with foreign nations, to subject those vessels truly ours to rigorous scrutinies and delays to distinguish them from counterfeits, and to take the business of transporation out of our hands” (Vol. 25:365, 415–16, 426–7, 435, 439).

1Preceding two words interlined in place “certainly.”

2TJ first wrote “and in order that they may be able to judge” before altering the passage to read as above.

3Preceding five words interlined.

4TJ first wrote “in them on the   day of   last when the additional courts & judges it has been thought necessary to add other courts & judges <for> came in to their aid” before altering the passage to read as above.

5TJ first wrote “And while on the Judiciary functions, I recommend earnestly to their consideration the state of the laws on the subject of fines & imprisonments.”

6Preceding five words interlined in place of “interposition,” with “inestimable” replacing “precious.”

7Here and later in the sentence, TJ interlined “denial” in place of “refusal.”

8TJ here reworked “in direct opposition” to read as above.

9TJ here canceled “violence.”

10Word interlined in place of “wretched.”

11Question interlined.

12Word interlined in place of “require.”

13TJ here canceled “committing,” and “bona fide” is interlined in place of “fixed.”

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