Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from James Wilkinson, 21 October 1806

Natchitaches Oct. 21st. 1806


I find from a public print lately established in Kentucky, the main object of which is the ensuing presidential Election, That the cause of Easton, Case, Lucas, Hammond & other Mal Contents of Louisiana, has made a powerful acquisition in the Pen of John Wood, by whom I have “en passant” been bespattered with Obloquy, & slandered with a degree of virulence & indecency surpassing all example, and this merely to gratify the Envy hatred & Malice of the Marshall Family—

I have at times been fearful your Confidence might be Shaken, by the boldness of the vile Calumnies leveled at me; but the reflection that I had not only Enjoyed but merited, the Confidence of General Washington & his administration, anterior to the Introduction of Pickering, & that the same illustrious Character died my friend; & that the honest but wrong-headed president Adams approved my Conduct in opposition to his Ministers; combined with the consciousness that the Wealth & Power of the Wide World could not for a Moment divert my course from the path of Honor, dissipated my apprehensions & determined me, not to descend to the task of refuting by living Testimony & authentic Documents, every imputation alleged against me, from the most frivolous to the most foul; I therefore contented myself by directing an Attorney to bring an Action of Slander against the printers, to test their Authorities in a Court of Justice.—But having placed my Hands on the enclosed, I have ventured to transmit them to you by this conveyance, and I regret deeply that I cannot add to them, the numerous public & private Testimonials of Honor & applause, received from Genl. Washington & his Secy. of War Genl. Knox—but those papers have been left behind me at Fort Adams.—

I am vain enough to believe those testimonies were not necessary to strengthen the confidence you have reposed in me, but they may serve, should the Thread of my Life be unseasonably cut, to silence the misrepresentations of my Enemies & to justify your predilection—In the mean time pardon, I beseach you, the honest pride which impels me to bare my Bosom to you—My Ultimate views are limited to the acquisition of an Honourable Name—My Attachments to Life hang by the precarious existence of an adored Wife—I have even contemned the sordid Interests of the World, & Estimate property by its immediate Utility only—and it is the highest ambition of my Soul, on a proper occasion, to spend my last Breath in the cause of my Country.—a frail Character but a Just one.—

To you I owe more than I will express, lest I should be suspected of adulation which I detest.—Suffice it that I shall serve the Nation with Zeal & Integrity, and that your trust can never be disgraced

By Sir Your faithful & Obliged Soldier & Servant

Ja: Wilkinson

DLC: Burr Conspiracy Collection.

Index Entries