Thomas Jefferson Papers
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From Thomas Jefferson to Edward Livingston, 30 April 1800

To Edward Livingston

Philadelphia Apr. 30. 1800.

Dear Sir

I recieved with great pleasure your favor of the 11th. inst. by this time I presume the result of your labours is known with you, tho’ not here. whatever it may be, & my experience of the art, industry, & resources of the other party has not permitted me to be prematurely confident, yet I am entirely confident that ultimately the great body of the people are passing over from them. this may require one or two elections more; but it will assuredly take place. the madness & extravagance of their career is what ensures it. the people through all the states are for republican forms, republican principles, simplicity, economy, religious & civil freedom.

I have nothing to offer you but Congressional news. The Judiciary bill is postponed to the next session. so is the militia bill: so the military academy. the bill for the election of Pres. & V.P. has undergone much revolution. Marshall made a dexterous maneuvre. he declared against the constitutionality of the Senate’s bill, and proposed that the decision of their grand committee should be controulable by the concurrent vote of the two houses of Congress; but to stand good if not rejected by a concurrent vote. you will readily estimate the amount of this sort of controul. the committee of the H. of R. however, took from the committee the right of giving any opinion, requiring them to report facts only, and that the votes returned by the states should be1 counted unless rejected by a concurrent vote of both houses. in what form it will pass them or us cannot be foreseen. our jury bill in Senate will pass so as merely to accomodate N. York & Vermont. the H. of R. sent us yesterday a bill for incorporating a company to work Roosevelt’s copper mines in N. Jersey. I do not know whether it is understood that the legislature of Jersey was incompetent to this, or merely that we have concurrent legislation under the sweeping clause. Congress are authorised to defend the nation: ships are necessary for defence: copper is necessary for ships: mines necessary for copper: a company necessary to work mines: and2 who can distrust this reasoning who has ever played at ‘this is the house that Jack built?’ under such a process of filiation of necessities the sweeping clause makes clean work.—we shall certainly rise on the 12th. there is nothing to do now but to pass the ways & means, and to settle some differences of opinion of the two houses on the Georgia bill, the bill for dividing the NorthWestern territory, & that for the sale of the Western lands. Salutations & affectionate esteem. Adieu.

Th: Jefferson

RC (John Ross Delafield, New York City, 1945); at foot of text: “E. Livingston esq.” PrC (DLC).

In the House of Representatives in December 1799 Henry Lee had called for a new uniform MILITIA law to limit service to young men 17 to 26 years of age, citing the effects on families and the potential for “wavering” in battle when fathers and sons served together. On 28 Apr. the House postponed action on Lee’s bill, which he had introduced in February, until the next session. On that day also the representatives postponed further consideration of Harrison Gray Otis’s bill, introduced in March, for the creation of a Military Academy and reorganization of the corps of engineers and artillerists (Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States… Compiled 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 , 10:201; JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1826, 9 vols. description ends , 3:590, 634, 684–6).

On 16 Apr. during House debate on the bill on disputed presidential elections, John Marshall questioned the role the bill gave the Senate to name the chairman of the Grand committee proposed as a mechanism for certifying electoral votes. He also objected to giving such a committee final say in deciding an election. Marshall wanted to amend the bill so that the chairman of the committee would be selected by lot and the committee would have “power to examine and decide finally, unless such decision be disapproved by a vote of the Senate and House of Representatives.” After some discussion the House gave the bill to a select committee with Marshall at its head, and on the 25th he delivered a report that rewrote the entire bill. In the new version, a “joint committee” would only collect information and report facts to Congress, which by a concurring vote of both houses could reject any disputed electoral votes. The bill died in May when the Senate insisted that the concurring vote should be for acceptance rather than rejection of disputed results and the two houses could not reach agreement (Marshall, Papers description begins Herbert A. Johnson, Charles T. Cullen, Charles F. Hobson, and others, eds., The Papers of John Marshall, Chapel Hill, 1974–2006, 12 vols. description ends , 4:36, 123–4, 128–30, 138–45; Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States… Compiled 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 , 10:179, 713).

Incorporating a company: in 1796 Nicholas J. Roosevelt and his associates in the New Jersey Copper Mine Association had petitioned unsuccessfully for a thirty-year monopoly on mining and quarrying in the Northwest and Southwest territories. In December 1799 they petitioned the House of Representatives again, asking for an act of incorporation to promote development of the Schuyler copper mine in New Jersey and to acquire mines elsewhere in the country. The House referred the matter to the Committee of Commerce and Manufactures, and on 1 Apr. Samuel Smith of Maryland brought in a bill to incorporate an entity to be called the Mine and Metal Company. John Nicholas and Nathaniel Macon opposed the measure. During debate the House struck out a portion of the bill that would have allowed the secretary of the treasury to subscribe $50,000 in U.S. funds in the company once it had garnered $150,000 in other subscriptions, substituting a provision for a secured loan to buy machinery to manufacture copper sheets. On 22 Apr. a vote to pass the bill failed. Smith, however, obtained leave to introduce a resolution calling for a committee to write a bill of incorporation “for the purpose of procuring sheet copper, to be manufactured within the United States.” Smith brought in that new bill, for the incorporation of the Passaick Copper Company, on the 25th. The measure still involved the entrepreneurial activities of Roosevelt, who in addition to the mining company was developing the Soho metal works, also in northern New Jersey, and a rolling mill on the Schuylkill River near Philadelphia. He also had the contract to supply copper sheathing for the new 74-gun warships. The new bill passed the House on the 29th. In the Senate on 10 May, after amendment, it failed to pass to a third reading. Roosevelt and his friends tried again without success to obtain an act of incorporation during the second session of the Sixth Congress, but New Jersey granted them incorporation in 1801. As the incorporation measure was pending in Congress in April 1800, New Jersey Congressman Aaron Kitchell sought information from Josiah Hornblower, who had been associated with the Schuyler mine years before. The House committee also received information orally and in writing from Benjamin Latrobe. Latrobe knew something about the New Jersey mine because it secured another of Roosevelt’s contracts, to supply steam engines for the waterworks that Latrobe was building for the city of Philadelphia. Latrobe was also involved himself in Roosevelt’s ventures and acted as the petitioners’ agent in the capital. The business relationship between the two men continued, and in 1808 Roosevelt married one of Latrobe’s daughters. In the information they gave to Congress both Hornblower and Latrobe forecast a constricted supply of copper due to increased demand in Europe and the failure of the great Welsh mine at Anglesey. Copper sheathing protected the hulls of warships from shipworms and barnacles, and at the end of 1798 Great Britain had, in fact, cut off the supply of copper that had been used on the first American frigates. On 16 Apr. 1800 a joint resolution of Congress authorized the president to collect information about potential copper mines on the shore of Lake Superior (JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1826, 9 vols. description ends , 3:542, 648, 660, 676, 679, 682, 685, 687; JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1820–21, 5 vols. description ends , 3:82–3, 87, 93; Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States… Compiled 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 , 10:664, 678–9, 681–2; The Soho Company, Incorporated the 27th November, 1801, by the Assembly of the State of New-Jersey [New York, 1802]; Letter from Mr. Hornblower to Mr. Kitchell, on the Subject of Schuyler’s Copper Mine, in New-Jersey: April 18th, 1800 [Philadelphia, 1800]; Benjamin Henry Latrobe, American Copper-Mines [Philadelphia, 1800; Evans, description begins Charles Evans, Clifford K. Shipton, and Roger P. Bristol, comps., American Bibliography: A Chronological Dictionary of all Books, Pamphlets and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States of America from …1639 …to …1820, Chicago and Worcester, Mass., 1903–59,14 vols. description ends No. 37785]; Van Horne, Latrobe description begins John C. Van Horne, ed., The Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers of Benjamin Henry Latrobe, New Haven, 1984–88, 3 vols. description ends , 1:143n, 166–8, 386n; Palmer, Stoddert’s War description begins Michael A. Palmer, Stoddert’s War, Naval Operations during the Quasi-War with France, 1798–1801, Columbia, S.C., 1987 description ends , 121; Perkins, First Rapprochement description begins Bradford Perkins, The First Rapprochement: England and the United States, 1795–1805, Philadelphia, 1955; Berkeley, 1967 description ends , 96; 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 , 2:87; Roosevelt to TJ, 17 Feb. 1801).

Ways & means: an act appropriating funds for the support of the government during 1800 became law on 7 May (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 , 2:62–6). The Georgia Bill became law on 10 May as the statute authorizing formation of a legislative assembly in Mississippi Territory; see TJ to Harry Innes, 23 Jan. 1800. It supplemented the 1798 act “for an amicable settlement of limits with the State of Georgia” that created the territory. The new measure contained a controversial provision that originated in the Senate and required the resolution by March 1803 of any claims stemming from Georgia’s cession of land to the United States (Terr. Papers description begins Clarence E. Carter and John Porter Bloom, eds., The Territorial Papers of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1934–75, 28 vols. description ends , 5:95–8).

On 7 May a bill to split the Northwestern Territory and create the Indiana Territory from its western portion on 4 July became law. The measure for the sale of Western lands, signed into law on 10 May, established four land offices in Ohio and laid down procedures for the survey and sale of lands there (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 , 2:58–9, 73–8).

1TJ here canceled “good.”

2TJ interlined the passage that follows, from “who can” through “played at,” and also inserted the question mark at the end of the sentence. He made these changes after pressing the PrC, which lacks the conversion of the terminal period to a question mark. TJ added the interlined passage to the PrC in ink, writing “doubt” rather than “distrust.”

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