Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Thomas Jefferson to John Wayles Eppes, 9 September 1814

To John Wayles Eppes

Monticello Sep. 9. 14.

Dear Sir

I am sorry to learn by Francis’s letter that you are not yet recovered from your rheumatism, and much wonder you do not go and pass a summer at the Warm springs. from the examples I have seen I should entertain no doubt of a radical cure. the transactions at Washington and Alexandria are indeed beyond expectation. the circumjacent country is mostly disaffected, but I should have thought the motions of the enemy long enough known, and their object probable enough to have called the well affected counties of Virginia & Maryland into place. nobody who knows the President can doubt but that he has honestly done every thing he could to the best of his judgment. and there is no sounder judgment than his. I cannot account for what has happened but by giving credit to the rumors which circulate against Armstrong. who is presumptuous, obstinate & injudicious. I should1 hope the law could lay2 hold of Sims Etc. if it could lay hold of any thing after the experiment on Burr. but Congress itself can punish Alexandria, by repealing the law which made it a town, by discontinuing it as a port of entry or clearance, and perhaps by suppressing it’s banks. but I expect all will go off with impunity. if our government ever fails, it will be from this weakness. no government can be maintained without the principle of fear as well as of duty. good men will obey the last, but bad ones the former only.—our county is a desert. none are to be met in the roads but grey heads. about 800. men are gone from it, & chiefly volunteers. but I fear they cannot be armed. I think the truth must now be obvious that our people are too happy at home to enter into regular service, and that we cannot be defended but by making every citizen a souldier, as the Greeks & Romans who had no standing armies, & that in doing this all must be marshalled, classed by their ages, & every service ascribed to it’s competent class. ever affectionately yours’

Th: Jefferson

RC (Mrs. Francis Eppes Shine, Los Angeles, 1946); endorsed by Eppes. PoC (DLC); at foot of text: “John W. Eppes”; endorsed by TJ.

The letter from Francis Eppes may have been that of 15 July 1814, not found, recorded in SJL as received 29 July 1814 from Lynchburg.

1Word interlined.

2Manuscript: “law.”

Index Entries

  • Alexandria, Va.; British raid on search
  • Alexandria, Va.; surrender of search
  • Alexandria, Va.; TJ on search
  • Armstrong, John; as secretary of war search
  • Armstrong, John; TJ on search
  • Burr, Aaron (1756–1836); TJ on search
  • Eppes, Francis Wayles (TJ’s grandson); letters from accounted for search
  • Eppes, Francis Wayles (TJ’s grandson); relationship with father search
  • Eppes, John Wayles (TJ’s son-in-law); health of search
  • Eppes, John Wayles (TJ’s son-in-law); letters to search
  • health; rheumatism search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; government’s role search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; J. Armstrong search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; J. Madison search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; militia search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; warm baths search
  • Madison, James; TJ on search
  • militia; TJ on search
  • rheumatism; TJ recommends warm baths for search
  • Simms, Charles; mayor of Alexandria search
  • Warm Springs (Bath Co.); proposed visit to search
  • War of1812; British destruction in Washington search
  • War of1812; surrender of Alexandria search
  • War of1812; TJ on search
  • War of1812; volunteer troops search
  • Washington (D.C.); British destruction in search