Thomas Jefferson Papers
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From Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 26 April 1798

To James Madison

Philadelphia. Apr. 26. 98.

I wrote you last on the 19th. since which your’s of the 15th. is recieved. I well remember the recieving that which inclosed a letter to Muhlenberg, but do not exactly recollect how I sent it. yet I have no doubt I sent it by my servant, that being my constant practice. your note from1 Baily I shewed to Genl. Van Cortlandt who was going to N. York. on his return he told me he would pay the note himself before the rising of Congress, since which I have said nothing to him more, as I doubt not he will do it. not knowing however the precise object of your letter to Bailey, I have sent it to the post office.

The bill for the naval armament (12. vessels) passed by a majority of about 4. to 3. in the H. of R. all restrictions on the objects for which the vessels should be used were struck out. the bill for establishing a department of Secretary of the navy was tried yesterday on it’s passage to the 3d. reading & prevailed by 47. against 41. it will be read the 3d time to day. the Provisional army of 20,000 men will meet some difficulty. it would surely be rejected if our members were all here. Giles, Clopton, Cabell, & Nicholas are gone, & Clay goes tomorrow. he recieved here news of the death of his wife. Parker is completely gone over to the war-party, in this state of things they will carry what they please. one of the war-party. in a fit of unguarded passion declared some time ago they would pass a citizen bill, an alien bill, & a sedition bill. accordingly some days ago Coit laid a motion on the table of the H. of R. for modifying the citizen law. their threats point at Gallatin, & it is believed they will endeavor to reach him by this bill. yesterday mr Hillhouse laid on the table of the Senate a motion for giving power to send away suspected aliens. this is understood to be meant for Volney & Collot. but it will not stop there when it gets into a course of execution. there is now only wanting, to accomplish the whole declaration beforementioned, a sedition bill which we shall certainly soon see proposed. the object of that is the suppression of the whig presses. Bache’s has been particularly named. that paper & also Cary’s totter for want of subscriptions. we should really exert ourselves to procure them, for if these papers fall, republicanism will be entirely brow-beaten. Cary’s paper comes out 3. times a week @ 5. D. the meeting of the people which was called at New York did nothing. it was found that the majority would be against the Address. they therefore chose to circulate it individually. the committee of ways & means have voted a land tax. an additional tax on salt will certainly be proposed in the House, and probably prevail to some degree. the stoppage of interest on the public debt will also perhaps be proposed, but not with effect. in the mean time that paper cannot be sold. Hamilton is coming on as Senator from N. York. there has been so much contrivance & combination in that as to shew there is some great object in hand. Troup the district judge of N. York, resigns towards the close of the session of their assembly. the appointment of mr Hobart, then Senator, to succeed Troup, is not made by the President till after the assembly had risen. otherwise they would have chosen the Senator in place of Hobart. Jay then names Hamilton Senator, but not till a day or two before his own election as Governor was to come on, lest the unpopularity of the nomination should be in time to affect his own election. we shall see in what all this is to end. but surely in something. the popular movement in the eastern states is checked as we expected: and war addresses are showering in from New Jersey & the great trading towns. however we still trust that a nearer view of the war & a land tax will oblige the great mass of the people to attend. at present the warhawks talk of Septembrizing, Deportation, and the examples for quelling sedition set by the French Executive. all the firmness of the human mind is now in a state of requisition.—salutations to mrs Madison & to yourself friendship & Adieu.

P.M. The bill for the naval department is passed.

RC (DLC: Madison Papers); addressed: “James Madison junr. near Orange courthouse.” PrC (DLC); lacks postscript.

On 30 Apr. President Adams signed the bill that created the Department of the Navy (U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855–56, 8 vols. description ends , 1:553–4). For an account of the passage of the bill, see Smelser, Navy description begins Marshall Smelser, The Congress Founds the Navy, 1787–1798, South Bend, Ind., 1959 description ends , 150–9. The act authorizing the president to raise a provisional army was approved on 28 May, but the House of Representatives had reduced the size of the force from 20,000 to 10,000 men and had amended the president’s power to raise troops from “whenever he shall judge the public safety shall require the measure” to a declaration of war, actual invasion by a foreign power, or evidence that the country was in imminent danger of an invasion. The legislation, which limited the executive authority to times when Congress was not in session, would expire after three years. Republicans failed by a 56 to 37 vote on 16 May to delete the third section of the act, which gave the president power to accept companies of volunteers and appoint commissioned officers (U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855–56, 8 vols. description ends , 1:558–61; JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1826, 9 vols. description ends , 3:296–302; Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United StatesCompiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. The first two volumes of the set cited here have “Compiled … by Joseph Gales, Senior” on the title page and bear the caption “Gales & Seatons History” on verso and “of Debates in Congress” on recto pages. The remaining volumes bear the caption “History of Congress” on both recto and verso pages. Those using the first two volumes with the latter caption will need to employ the date of the debate or the indexes of debates and speakers. description ends , 8:1725–72). For the debates on the constitutionality of giving the president the right to raise troops, see Notes on Federalist Arguments in Congressional Debates, [after 3 Aug. 1798].

Perhaps the impetus for TJ’s charge that Josiah Parker had completely gone over to the war-party was an announcement in the Gazette of the United States of 11 Apr. that “Col. P—— “of Virginia had organized a meeting of House Republicans at which he noted the importance of unanimity during the crisis with France and encouraged them, as the minority party, to join with the majority “in favor of measures of general defence.” For Parker’s party identification and voting record, see Dauer, Adams Federalists description begins Manning J. Dauer, The Adams Federalists, Baltimore, 1953 description ends , 170–1, 309.

On 17 Apr. Joshua Coit laid a motion on the table proposing that the naturalization act then in effect be referred to a committee for study. On 1 May the committee on protection of commerce and defense of the country recommended amending the law to increase the term of residence required for citizenship. In the ensuing debate Robert Goodloe Harper declared that it was time to change the law “to declare, that nothing but birth should entitle a man to citizenship in this country.” Harrison Gray Otis proposed a resolution denying future naturalized citizens from “holding any office of honor, trust, or profit.” The naturalization bill, signed by President Adams on 18 June, called for the registration of all aliens and included a 14-year residence requirement (Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United StatesCompiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. The first two volumes of the set cited here have “Compiled … by Joseph Gales, Senior” on the title page and bear the caption “Gales & Seatons History” on verso and “of Debates in Congress” on recto pages. The remaining volumes bear the caption “History of Congress” on both recto and verso pages. Those using the first two volumes with the latter caption will need to employ the date of the debate or the indexes of debates and speakers. description ends , 8:1566–70; U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855–56, 8 vols. description ends , 1:566–9). For TJ’s report on the attempts to cut the waiting period to 7 years, see TJ to Madison, 14 June, and JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1820–21, 5 vols. description ends , 2:506. For an account of the passage of the naturalization act, see Smith, Freedom’s Fetters description begins James Morton Smith, Freedom’s Fetters: The Alien and Sedition Laws and American Civil Liberties, Ithaca, N.Y., 1956 description ends , 26–34.

On 19 Apr., the same day the resolution for revising the naturalization law was sent to committee, the Geneva born Albert Gallatin spoke against the use of convoys to protect American trade. Federalists used this to challenge his patriotism. Speaker of the House Dayton charged that Gallatin had never acquainted himself with the “principles that actuated the Americans in 1776,” and John Allen of Connecticut queried, “Is this the language of an American who loves his country? No, sir, it is the language of a foreign agent” (Annals, 8:1427, 1453, 1473–83; JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1826, 9 vols. description ends , 3:266). For the resolution by James Hillhouse designed to give power to send away suspected aliens, see Smith, Freedom’s Fetters description begins James Morton Smith, Freedom’s Fetters: The Alien and Sedition Laws and American Civil Liberties, Ithaca, N.Y., 1956 description ends , 51–3. In his arguments before the House on 20 Apr., Allen clearly had Bache’s Aurora in mind when he described “a vile incendiary paper published in this city, which constantly teems with the most atrocious abuse of all the measures of the Government, and its administrators.” Making reference to the infamous conversation between “Y” and the American envoys, Allen identified (by insinuation, not name) the Aurora and the paper’s supporters in the House as “the fruits of ‘the diplomatic skill of France’ “(Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United StatesCompiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. The first two volumes of the set cited here have “Compiled … by Joseph Gales, Senior” on the title page and bear the caption “Gales & Seatons History” on verso and “of Debates in Congress” on recto pages. The remaining volumes bear the caption “History of Congress” on both recto and verso pages. Those using the first two volumes with the latter caption will need to employ the date of the debate or the indexes of debates and speakers. description ends , 8:1482, 1484–5). Cary’s paper: Carey’s United States Recorder, published at Philadelphia by James Carey, survived only from January to August 1798. In a draft on John Barnes on 5 May 1798 TJ ordered payment of $20 to Carey, to cover two subscriptions for TJ and one each for James Monroe and Wilson Miles Cary (MS in ViU: Edgehill-Randolph Papers, written and signed by TJ, endorsed by Barnes, canceled, with receipt on verso by Carey; MB description begins James A. Bear, Jr., and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, Princeton, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 2:982–3).

For the meeting held on 20 Apr. in New York and the address that was to be circulated through the wards of the city, see Gazette of the United States, 23 Apr. Adams appointed New York Senator John Sloss Hobart to succeed Robert Troup as judge of the United States District Court of New York on 11 Apr. His appointment was confirmed the next day. On the 16th TJ laid Hobart’s letter of resignation before the Senate. In the missive, Hobart thanked TJ “for the politeness and attention” with which TJ, as the president of the Senate, had treated him during his short tenure as senator (RC in DNA: RG 46, Senate Records, 5th Cong., 2d sess.; addressed: “The Honble Thomas Jefferson Vice President of the United States And President of the Senate”; endorsed by clerk). Three days later Governor Jay wrote Hamilton encouraging him to accept appointment to the vacant Senate seat but Hamilton declined. William North, a Federalist leader in the New York Assembly from Duanesburg, was subsequently appointed and took his seat on 21 May. He resigned it two months later to accept a post as adjutant general of the provisional army (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States … to the Termination of the Nineteenth Congress, Washington, D.C., 1828 description ends , 1:269; JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1820–21, 5 vols. description ends , 2:472, 490; Syrett, Hamilton Papers, 21:433–4, 447).

The talk of septembrizing referred to the consequences of the coup d’état in France of 18 Fructidor (4 Sep. 1797), including the passage of a law that authorized the arrest and deportation of 2 members of the Directory, 53 deputies from the Council of 500, and other government critics. The French executive also obtained the power to ban newspapers. Most of the officials listed for deportation escaped arrest but news of the arrival in French Guiana of those who did not was carried in Philadelphia newspapers. In his attack on the Aurora, Congressman Allen declared, “In another country, this printer and his supporters would long ago have found a fourth of September” (Stinchcombe, XYZ Affair description begins William Stinchcombe, The XYZ Affair, Westport, Conn., 1980 description ends , 52–3; Scott and Rothaus, Historical Dictionary description begins Samuel F. Scott and Barry Rothaus, eds., Historical Dictionary of the French Revolution, 1789–1799, Westport, Conn., 1985, 2 vols. description ends , 1:265–7; Gazette of the United States, 14 Apr. 1798; Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United StatesCompiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. The first two volumes of the set cited here have “Compiled … by Joseph Gales, Senior” on the title page and bear the caption “Gales & Seatons History” on verso and “of Debates in Congress” on recto pages. The remaining volumes bear the caption “History of Congress” on both recto and verso pages. Those using the first two volumes with the latter caption will need to employ the date of the debate or the indexes of debates and speakers. description ends , 8:1485).

1Preceding two words interlined in place of “first letter to.”

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