To Thomas Jefferson
Decr. 10. 96
Exitus in dubio1 is still the Motto to the election. You must reconcile yourself to the secondary as well as the primary station, if that should be your lot. The prevailing idea is that Pinkney will have the greatest number of votes: & I think that Adams will be most likely to stand next. There are other calculations however less favaroble [sic] to both. The answer to the Presidents Speech is in the hands of Ames, Sitgreaves Smith of Carola. Baldwin & myself.2 The form is not yet settled. There is a hope that it may be got into a form that will go down without altercation or d[i]vision in the House. Yrs. sincerely
Js. M. Jr
RC (DLC). Docketed by Jefferson, “rec’d Dec. 24.”
1. “The issue is doubtful,” Ovid, Metamorphoses, 12.522 (Ovid: Metamorphoses, Loeb Classical Library [2 vols.; London, 1922], 2:217).
2. On 6 Dec. JM had been a member of a congressional joint committee to wait on the president and to receive any communications from him. Washington delivered his annual message the next day, and on 8 Dec. JM was appointed to the House committee to draw up a reply. This address, reported to the House on 14 Dec., provoked a lengthy debate over the amount of praise to be bestowed upon Washington on the occasion of his retirement. JM took no part in the debate, voted for the address in the form it had been presented to the House, and served on the committee to convey it to the president on 16 Dec. (Annals of Congress description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … (42 vols.; Washington, 1834–56). description ends , 4th Cong., 2d sess., 1591, 1598, 1611–12, 1666–68).