Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Alexander McRae, 27 August 1809

To Alexander McRae

Monticello Aug. 27. 09.


Your favor of the 10th is recieved. I had certainly inferred, & too hastily as I percieve by a recurrence to your former letter, that your object would be to bring artists from Europe to this country. the expressions that your plan exposed you to hazard & combined public with private advantage led me into the error. I am afraid however I have been misconstrued in my turn. I did not mean to suggest that I thought the object, even as I supposed it, to be in any degree immoral, that it could be criminal to counteract an immoral law. if ever there was a case where a law could impose no other obligation than the risque of the arbitrary penalty it is that which makes the country in which a man happens to be born his perpetual prison, obliging him to starve in that rather than seek another where he can find the means of subsistence. I wished to avoid agency in it lest the relation in which I have stood with the public might give occasion for observations injurious to them. I take the occasion of renewing to you the assurances of my esteem & respect

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); at foot of text: “Alexr McRae esq.”; endorsed by TJ.

Index Entries

  • Clarke, John (1766–1844); and silk-manufacturing project search
  • Europe; and silk manufacturing search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; immoral laws search
  • manufacturing, household; silk manufacturing in Va. search
  • McRae, Alexander; and silk-manufacturing project search
  • McRae, Alexander; letters to search
  • silk manufacturing; in Europe search
  • textiles; silk manufacturing search