Thomas Jefferson Papers
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John Langdon to Thomas Jefferson, 18 February 1810

From John Langdon

Portsmouth N.H. Feby 18th 1810

Dear Sr

It has been a long time since I had the honor of hearing from you; permit me by way of a short letter to take you by the hand and to ask you, (as we say among the Yankees) how you do, and how is your health. I look back often, with pleasure, when I call to my recollection, the happy hours I have passed, while I had the honor of associating with you Sr in our General Govmt although we had every thing to contend with yet kind Providence gave us the Victory.

Our political Hemisphere is at present a little clouded, but you will please to remember Sr that I am one of those who never once dispared of our Republic. The present moment is a very important one to the United States to be sure, but I think the great question, touching our Arrangements with great Britain is brot to a very narrow compass; she must give us satisfaction for her past conduct, and security for the freedom of the seas in future, or we must give up our Independance of course therefore as soon as we hear from Britain their determination, we shall not want more than two minutes to shape our course.

I do not want war if it can be avoided fairly, but, If we should be forced to the sad alternative, it must be with great Britain who have insulted and Injured us in every way in their power; This is the only way that we can do ourselves justice and make friends with all the rest of the World; As to the Injuries of France and other Nations towards us, they have been forced into it in great measure by great Britain. Can any man suppose for a moment that we shall be such fools as to go to war with so many Nations of the earth, in the plenitude of their Power, and who I may say are our friends, for the sole purpose of supporting our greatest1 enemy who are continually endeavouring to destroy us. It is impossable.

I won’t plague you any more now with my politics, you know me well; I am the same old Republican as usual.

I am Dear Sr with the greatest esteem and respect, your Hbl Servt

John Langdon

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson Esq late Presidt US”; endorsed by TJ as received 28 Feb. 1810 and so recorded in SJL.

John Langdon (1741–1819), president of New Hampshire, 1785–86 and 1788–89, and governor, 1805–09 and 1810–11, was a merchant in Portsmouth. He served a number of terms as speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, represented his state in the Continental Congress, attended the Federal Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, and campaigned for the ratification of the new United States Constitution in his home state the following year. Langdon sat in the United States Senate, 1789–1801, and was the body’s first president pro tempore. In his congressional career he initially voted with those favoring a national bank and the federal assumption of state debts, but by 1794 he had joined the Jeffersonian opposition. Langdon declined TJ’s invitation to be his secretary of the navy in 1801 (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; Lawrence Shaw Mayo, John Langdon of New Hampshire [1937]; TJ to Langdon, 23 May 1801, and Langdon to TJ, 22 June 1801 [DLC]; TJ to Mark Langdon Hill, 5 Apr. 1820).

1Word interlined in place of “eternal.”

Index Entries

  • Berlin and Milan decrees; provoked by Great Britain search
  • France; and U.S. search
  • France; Berlin and Milan decrees search
  • Great Britain; Orders in Council (1807) search
  • Langdon, John; and political situation search
  • Langdon, John; identified search
  • Langdon, John; letters from search
  • United States; and France search