Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Albert Gallatin, 9 February 1807

Feb. 9. 07.

Th:J. to mr Gallatin

I thank you for the case in the Liman sea, which escaped my recollection, it was indeed a very favorable one. I have adopted your other amendments, except as to the not building now; my own opinion being very strongly against this for these reasons. 1. The 127. gunboats cannot not be built in 1. 2. or even 6. months. Com. Preble told me he could build those he undertook in two months. they were but 4. & tho’ he was preparing during the winter, was engaged in April & pressed to expedite them, they were not ready for sea till November. 2. after war commences they cannot be built in N.Y. Boston, Norfolk or any seaport, because they would be destroyed by the enemy on the stocks. they could then be built only in interior places inaccessible to ships & defended by the body of the country where the building would be slow. 3. the 1st. operation of war by an enterprising enemy would be to sweep all our seaports, of their vessels at least. 4. the expence of their preservation would be all but nothing, because I have had the opinion of, I believe, every captain of the Navy, that the largest of our gun boats can be drawn up, out of the water, & placed under a shed with great ease, by preparing ways & capestans proper for it, and always ready to let her down again. such of them as are built in suitable places may remain on the stocks unlaunched. 5. full the half of the whole number would be small, and not costing more than of the large ones. Affectionate salutations.

NHi: Papers of Albert Gallatin.

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