James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from Thomas Jefferson, 6 November 1812

From Thomas Jefferson

Monticello Nov. 6. 12.

Dear Sir

I inclose you a letter from Colo. Gibson Secretary under Governor Harrison.1 I suppose he has addressed it to me on the footing of a very old acquaintance. He is a very honest man, very old in public service & much esteemed by all who know him. All this I believe however is known to yourself, & possibly he may be personally known to you.

The seeing whether our untried Generals will stand proof is a very dear operation. Two of them have cost us a great many men. We can tell by his plumage whether a cock is dunghill or game. But with us cowardice & courage wear the same plume. Hull will of course be shot for cowardice & treachery. And will not Van Renslaer be broke for cowardice & incapacity? To advance such a body of men across a river without securing boats to bring them off in case of disaster, has cost us 700. men: and to have taken no part himself in such an action & against such a general could be nothing but cowardice. These are the reflections of a solitary reader of his own letter.2 Dearborne & Harrison have both courage & understanding, & having no longer a Brock to encounter, I hope we shall ere long hear something good from them. If we could but get Canada to Trois rivieres in our hands we should have a set-off against spoliations to be treated of, & in the mean time separate the Indians from them and set the friendly to attack the hostile part with our aid. Ever affectionately your’s

Th: Jefferson

RC (DLC: Rives Collection, Madison Papers); FC (DLC: Jefferson Papers).

1Enclosure not found. In his epistolary record of 4 Nov. 1812, Jefferson noted the receipt of a 14 Oct. 1812 letter from John Gibson (DLC: Jefferson Papers) in which Gibson apparently solicited reappointment as Indiana territorial secretary or governor. Gibson also requested this appointment in his 14 Oct. letter to Eustis (Carter, Territorial Papers, Indiana, 8:209–10), in which he mentioned having written to the president on the same subject. Gibson (1740–1822), a Revolutionary War veteran, was Indiana territorial secretary, 1800–1816, and served as acting governor during the War of 1812.

2Van Rensselaer’s 14 Oct. 1812 letter to Dearborn, giving an official report on the Battle of Queenston, was printed in the National Intelligencer on 29 Oct. 1812.

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