Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Joseph Alston, 11 February 1807

Oaks—near Georgetown S.C—
Febry 11th. 1807


To a man whose fortune is sufficiently independent to place him above the acceptance of any office of emolument; & whose simple habits & unambitious pursuits render him equally indifferent about any office of trust or honor; the opinion of a President of the United States can be of very little consequence. I take the trouble, therefore, of transmitting you the enclosed, not as Chief Magistrate, but as a citizen of that common Country, to which birth, education, reason & principle attach me, & in which I should deeply lament were there one honest man who doubted my integrity.—My letter to Mr. Pinckney was occasioned, as you will perceive, by the perusal of certain documents accompanying your Message to the House of Representatives, on the 22d. of the last month. Those papers found me at my plantation, as usual, in the midst of my agricultural employments. The remarks I have made upon the passage in the cyphered communication, which particularly interested me, are truths. The objects I allude to, as having, to the best of my belief, engaged the attention of Col: Burr, I shall never hesitate, when necessary, to avow. Imagine not, however, from hence, that there is any one who reprobates, who abhors, more strongly than I do, the thought of injury or hostility to our Country. No Sir—If Col: Burr has ever meditated a plan of that nature, wrong me not, for an instant, by confounding me with him. We are two persons: He has a reputation which he may sport with, if he pleases; I have a reputation which shall be preserved sacred.—I will not add that, if there ever occur to your knowledge a single incident, upon which, not a Judicial process may be founded, but even suspicion to be made to hang, I shall delight in having it investigated: I take it for granted, it will not be necessary for a man connected with Col: Burr, tho’ by the fortuity of marriage only, to invite such a measure. But, Sir, while I thus express to you my readiness, at all times, to meet the strictest scrutiny of my conduct; I submit to your candour & sense of justice the propriety of introducing to the Public the name of an individual, under circumstances, which, untill repelled could not fail to attach suspicion, whilst there existed not one atom of proof to substantiate Guilt. I have the honor to be, Sir,

Very respectfully, Your fellow Citizen,

Joseph Alston

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

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