Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Thomas Jefferson to Henry Dearborn, 17 March 1815

To Henry Dearborn

Monticello Mar. 17. 15.

My dear General, friend &
antient Colleague.

I have recieved your favor of Feb. 27. with very great pleasure, and sincerely reciprocate congratulations on the late events. peace was indeed desirable; yet it would not have been as welcome without the successes of New Orleans. these last have established truths too important not to be valued: that the people of Louisiana are sincerely attached to the union: that their city can be defended: that the Western states make it’s defence their peculiar concern: that the militia are brave: that their deadly aim countervails the maneuvering skill of their enemy: that we have officers of natural genius now starting forward from the mass; and that, putting together all our conflicts, we can beat the British, by sea and by land, with equal numbers. all this being now proved, I am glad of the pacification of Ghent, and shall still be more1 so, if by a reasonable arrangement against impressment, they will make it truly a treaty of peace, and not a mere truce, as we must all consider it, until the principle of the war is settled. nor among the incidents of the war will we forget your services. after the disasters produced by the treason or the cowardice, or both, of Hull, and the follies of some others, your capture of York and Fort George first turned the tide of success in our favor; and the subsequent campaigns sufficiently wiped away the disgraces of the first. if it were justifiable to look to your own happiness only, your resolution to retire from all public business could not but be approved. but you are too young to ask a discharge as yet; and the public councils too much needing the wisdom of it’s ablest citizens to relinquish their claim on you. and surely none needs your aid more than your own state. Oh! Massachusets! how have I lamented the degradation of your apostacy! Massachusetts, with whom I went with pride in 76. whose vote was my vote on every public question, and whose principles were then the standard of whatever was free or fearless. but then she was under the counsels of the two Adamses; while Strong, her present leader, was promoting petitions for submission to British power and British usurpation. while under her present councils she must be contented to be nothing: as having a vote indeed to be counted, but not respected. but should the state once more buckle on her republican harness, we shall recieve her again as a sister, and recollect her wanderings among the crimes only of the parricide party which would have basely sold what their fathers so bravely won from the same enemy. let us look forward then to the act of repentance, which, by dismissing her venal traitors, shall be the signal of return to the bosom and to the principles of her brethren: and if her late humiliation can just give her modesty enough to suppose that her Southern brethren are somewhat on a par with her in wisdom, in information, in patriotism, in bravery, and even in honesty altho’ not in psalm-singing, she will more justly estimate her own relative momentum in the union. with her antient principles she would really be great if she did not think herself the whole. I should be pleased to hear that you go into her councils, and assist in bringing her back to those principles and to a sober satisfaction with her proportionable share in the direction of our affairs.

What most affects me in your letter is the hope it excites of once more seeing you, and, at Monticello. ‘Oh welcome hour whenever.’ you do not say whether the curiosity of mrs Dearborne excites no inclination on her part to come and see her Southern friends, the Hottentots of Doctors Morse, and Parish, and Ogden, and Gardener Etc. Etc. Etc. and yet she would be recieved by them with cordiality and distinction, and no where more affectionately than at Monticello. I have just recieved a letter of friendship from Caesar Rodney who flatters me with a like hope of a visit this summer. and I have written to him that if chance or purpose could time your visits together, it would make it a real jubilee; and that if your time should happen to be his, you will pick him up by the way. but come as you will, or as you can, it will make me supremely happy. only you must give me a month’s notice, because I am subject three or four times a year to absences of a month at a very distant possession in the South, which however with notice, are entirely at my command. it would be mortification indelible to lose such a visit by a mistimed absence. be so good as to lay my homage at the feet of mrs Dearborne, and to be assured that I am ever and affectionately your friend.

Th: Jefferson

RC (photocopy in ViU: TJP); endorsed by Dearborn. PoC (DLC); at head of text in an unidentified hand: “Genl Dearborne.”

oh welcome hour whenever is in John Milton, Paradise Lost, 10.771. hottentots: persons of inferior intellect or culture (OED description begins James A. H. Murray, J. A. Simpson, E. S. C. Weiner, and others, eds., The Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed., 1989, 20 vols. description ends ). Jedidiah morse, Elijah parish, David Osgood (ogden), and John Sylvester John Gardiner (Gardener) were prominent clergymen and authors from the northeastern states.

1Reworked from “mores.” PoC: “mores.”

Index Entries

  • Adams, John; TJ on search
  • Adams, Samuel; mentioned search
  • Army, U.S.; TJ on search
  • Dearborn, Henry; and invasion of Canada search
  • Dearborn, Henry; and War of1812 search
  • Dearborn, Henry; letters to search
  • Dearborn, Henry; plans to visit TJ search
  • Dearborn, Sarah Bowdoin (James Bowdoin’s widow; Henry Dearborn’s third wife); TJ invites to Monticello search
  • Federalist party; in Mass. search
  • Fort George (Upper Canada) search
  • Gardiner, John S. J.; mentioned search
  • Ghent, Treaty of (1814); TJ on search
  • Great Britain; and Massachusetts search
  • Hull, William; and surrender of Northwest Army search
  • impressment; TJ on search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Literary Quotes; Milton search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; Battle of New Orleans search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; British impressment of seamen search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; incompetent U.S. military leaders search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; J. Adams search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; Massachusetts search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; militia search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; Treaty of Ghent (1814) search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; U.S. Navy search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; W. Hull search
  • Louisiana (state); and War of1812 search
  • Massachusetts; Federalists in search
  • Massachusetts; governor of search
  • Massachusetts; relations with Great Britain search
  • Massachusetts; TJ on search
  • militia; TJ on search
  • Milton, John; Paradise Lost search
  • Milton, John; quoted by TJ search
  • Monticello (TJ’s estate); invitations to visit search
  • Morse, Jedidiah; mentioned search
  • Navy Department, U.S.; TJ on search
  • New Orleans, Battle of (1815); TJ on search
  • Osgood, David; mentioned search
  • Paradise Lost (J. Milton) search
  • Parish, Elijah; mentioned search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); TJ plans visit to search
  • Rodney, Caesar Augustus; plans to visit TJ search
  • Strong, Caleb; as governor of Mass. search
  • War of1812; and La. search
  • War of1812; TJ on search
  • War of1812; U.S. capture of Fort George search
  • War of1812; U.S. capture of York search
  • York (now Toronto), Upper Canada; U.S. capture of search