Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Thomas Jefferson to Mathew Carey, 11 [November] 1816

To Mathew Carey

Poplar Forest near Lynchburg Oct. [Nov.]1 11. 16.

Dear Sir

I recieve here (where I pass a good deal of my time) your favor of Oct. 22. covering a Prospectus of a new edition of your Olive branch: I subscribe to it with pleasure, because I believe it has done & will do much good, in holding up the mirror to both parties, and exhibiting to both their political errors. that I have had my share of them, I am not vain enough to doubt, and some indeed I have recognised. there is one however which I do not, altho’ charged to my account in your book, and as that is the subject of this letter, & I have my pen in my hand, I will say a very few words on it. it is my rejection of a British treaty without laying it before the Senate. It has never, I believe, been denied that the president may reject a treaty after it’s ratification has been advised by the Senate. then certainly he may before that advice: and if he has made up his mind to reject it it is more respectful to the Senate to do it without, than against their advice. it must not be said that their advice may cast new light on it. their advice is a bald resolution of yea, or nay, without assigning a single reason or motive.

You ask if I mean to publish any thing on the subject of a letter of mine to my friend Charles Thompson? certainly not. I write nothing for publication, and last of all things should it be on the subject of religion. on the dogmas of religion as distinguished from moral principles,2 all mankind, from the beginning of the world to this day, have been quarrelling, fighting, burning and torturing one another, for abstractions unintelligible to themselves and to all3 others, and absolutely beyond the comprehension of the human mind. were I to enter on that arena, I should only add an unit to the number of Bedlamites.   Accept the assurance of my great esteem and respect

Th: Jefferson

RC (PPAmP: Thomas Jefferson Papers); misdated; signature and part of closing torn away, with missing text supplied from PoC; addressed: “Mr Matthew Carey Philadelphia”; frank clipped; postmarked Lynchburg, 13 Nov.; endorsed by Carey as received 19 Nov. PoC (DLC); on verso of a reused address cover from John F. Oliveira Fernandes to TJ; mutilated at seal, with most of the missing text rewritten by TJ. Recorded in SJL as a letter of 11 Nov. 1816.

Carey had criticized TJ in earlier editions of the olive branch for his unilateral rejection of the 1806 Monroe-Pinkney Treaty with Great Britain: “This was a mighty and a fatal error. It may be doubted whether it were not a violation, at least of the spirit of the constitution. It was, at all events, a case that probably did not enter into the conceptions of the framers of that instrument. If it had, it is likely they would have provided against its occurrence” (Carey, The Olive Branch: or, Faults on Both Sides, Federal and Democratic, 7th ed. [Philadelphia, 1815; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 3539], 57–8).

TJ’s letter to Charles Thomson (thompson) was dated 9 Jan. 1816.

1Month corrected by TJ to “Nov.” in PoC.

2Preceding five words interlined.

3Word added in left margin.

Index Entries

  • books; on politics search
  • Carey, Mathew; and TJ’s religious beliefs search
  • Carey, Mathew; letters to search
  • Carey, Mathew; The Olive Branch: or Faults on Both Sides, Federal and Democratic search
  • Constitution, U.S.; and treaty powers search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; subscriptions search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; presidential treaty powers search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; religion search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Public Service; as president search
  • Monroe, James; and Monroe-Pinkney Treaty search
  • Monroe-Pinkney Treaty (1806) search
  • Pinkney, William; and Monroe-Pinkney Treaty search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); TJ visits search
  • religion; TJ on search
  • Senate, U.S.; treaty powers of search
  • subscriptions, for publications; political search
  • The Olive Branch: or Faults on Both Sides, Federal and Democratic (M. Carey) search
  • Thomson, Charles; and TJ’s religious beliefs search
  • United States; presidency search