Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Thomas Jefferson to William Short, 18 June 1813

To William Short

Monticello June 18. 13.

Dear Sir

Yours of the 2d is recieved, and a copy of Higgenbotham’s mortgage is now inclosed. the journey to Bedford which I proposed in my last, my engagements here have obliged me to postpone till after harvest which is now approaching; it is the most unpromising one I have seen. we have been some days in expectation of seeing M. Correa. if he is on the road, he has had some days of our very hottest weather. my thermometer has been for two days at 92. & 92½ the last being the maximum ever seen here. altho’ we usually have the hottest day of the year in June, yet it is soon interrupted by cooler weather. in July the heat, tho’ not so great, is more continuous & steady.

On the duration of the war I think there is uncertainty. ever since the rupture of the treaty of Amiens, the object of Gr. Britain has visibly been the permanent conquest of the ocean, and levying a tribute on every vessel she permits to sail on it, as the Barbary powers do on the Mediterranean which they call their sea. she must be conscious she cannot from her own resources maintain the exaggerated fleet she now has, and which is necessary to maintain her conquest: she must therefore levy the deficiency by duties of transit, on other nations. if she should1 get another ministry with sense enough to abandon this senseless scheme, the war with us ought to be short: because there is no material2 cause now existing, but impressment: and there our only difference is how to establish a mode of discrimination between our citizens which she does not claim, and hers which it is neither our wish or interest ever to employ. the seamen which our navigation raises had better be of our own. if this be all she aims at, it may be settled at Saint-Petersbg. my principle has ever been that war should not suspend either exports or imports. if the pyracies of France & England however are to be adopted as the law of nations, or should become their practice it will oblige us to manufacture at home all the material comforts.

this may furnish a reason to check imports until necessary manufactures are established among us. this offers the advantage too of placing the consumer of our produce near the producer. but I should disapprove of the prohibition of exports even to the enemy themselves, except indeed refreshments and water to their cruisers on our coast, in order to oblige them to intermit their cruises to go elsewhere for these supplies. the idea of starving them as to bread is a very idle one. it is dictated by passion, not by reason. if the war is lengthened we shall take Canada, which will relieve us from Indians, and Halifax3 which will put an end to their occupation of the American seas, because every vessel must then go to England to repair every accident. to retain these would become objects of first importance to us, and of great importance to Europe, as the means of curtailing the British marine. but at present being merely in posse, they should not be an impediment to peace. we have a great and a just claim of indemnifications against them for the thousand ships they have taken pyratically, and 6000. seamen impressed. whether we can on this score succesfully insist on curtailing their American possessions by the meridian of lake Huron, so as to cut them off from the Indians bordering on us, would be matter for conversation and experiment at the treaty of pacification.—I sometimes allow my mind to wander thus into the political field; but rarely, & with reluctance. it is my desire as well as my duty to leave to the vigour of younger minds to settle concerns which are no longer mine, but must long be theirs. affectionately Adieu.

Th: Jefferson

RC (ViW: TJP); endorsed by Short as received 26 June 1813. PoC (DLC); at foot of first page: “Mr Short.”

Short’s letter of the 2d, recorded in SJL as received 9 June 1813 from Philadelphia, has not been found. For the copy of higgenbotham’s mortgage enclosed here, see second enclosure noted at TJ to Short, 10 Feb. 1813. in posse: potentially, but not currently in existence (Black’s Law Dictionary description begins Bryan A. Garner and others, eds., Black’s Law Dictionary, 7th ed., 1999 description ends ).

1TJ here canceled “ever.”

2TJ here canceled “point.”

3TJ here interlined and canceled “whe,” but he left it undeleted in PoC.

Index Entries

  • Amiens; treaty of (1802) search
  • Corrêa da Serra, José; proposed visit of search
  • Great Britain; TJ on war with search
  • Great Britain; “algerine system” of search
  • Higginbotham, David; and W. Short’s land search
  • impressment; of American seamen search
  • impressment; TJ on search
  • Indian Camp (W. Short’s Albemarle Co. estate); sale of search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Business & Financial Affairs; and W. Short’s property search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; British impressment of seamen search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; domestic manufacturing search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; restrictions on foreign trade search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; the acquisition of Canada search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; war with Great Britain search
  • manufacturing, household; TJ on search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); TJ plans visit to search
  • Short, William; and Indian Camp search
  • Short, William; and J. Corrêa da Serra search
  • Short, William; letters to search
  • War of1812; TJ on search
  • weather; heat search