Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from William C. C. Claiborne, 28 May 1807

New Orleans May 28. 1807.

Dear Sir

I have been honored with the receipt of your letter of the 21. of March, inclosing a copy of an act of Congress which authorizes the President to accept of such Company or Companies of Volunteers, not exceeding 30,000, as shall make a tender of service.

The present state of things on the western side of the Mississippi, as far as I am advised, authorizes a hope that no difficulty will shortly arise in that quarter; but nevertheless, the wise measures of precaution adopted by our National Councils cannot fail to add to the permanent security of the Territories of the United States, and I shall feel singularly happy to contribute to their execution.—with this view I have addressed to the Officers commanding the several militia Corps in this Territory a letter of which the inclosure is a copy, and shall take such other means as may be in my power to excite that degree of patriotism and military ardor which the occasion is calculated to inspire.

I should have announced publicly in general orders the Act of Congress and the letter which you had done me the honor to address me, and invited the whole militia of the Territory to prove themselves worthy the appellation of Americans and to come forward in a Body with a tender of their services; but there are men in New Orleans whose primary object seems to be to embarrass every measure of the Government, at least such as it is my duty to execute,—and really Sir these men, from their Talents and address have acquired such influence that I thought it best to make my communications in a more private manner, or otherwise the good Citizens of this Territory might not be left free to act for themselves.

How far the battalion of Orleans Volunteers may on the present occasion manifest that patriotic ardor which has heretofore rendered them so respectable, I cannot undertake to say,—great exertion has been made to lessen their confidence in me and to impress them with an opinion that they experienced injustice the last winter;—it has been said that by placing that Corps temporarily under the command of General Wilkinson I had (cowardly) abandoned my authority and proved myself unworthy of the command which the Constitution of the Territory had given me;—absurd as this idea is, it nevertheless has been so artfully and vehemently pressed by the discontented party here, that it has evidently made an impression to my injury;—it has also been stated over and over again that the times did not justify the measures of precaution which were adopted, and that the late service required of the volunteers was more with a view to prevent a free expression of their sentiments as related to the conduct of public agents, by subjecting the Battalion to martial Law, than to oppose the Traitors.—this, and a thousand other suggestions have been made to disseminate distrust and discontent.—If therefore the offer of service from this Territory should not be as general as I could wish, I pray you not to attribute it to a want of exertion on my part, to accomplish the object of the Government.

I have the honor to be, Sir, With sentiments of great respect, Your faithful friend!

William C. C. Claiborne

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

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