Thomas Jefferson Papers
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From Thomas Jefferson to John Wayles Eppes, 7 February 1799

To John Wayles Eppes

Philadelphia Feb. 7. 99.

Dear Sir

Yours of Jan. 20. & 24. are duly recieved. in the former you mention the reciept of £40. for me, and Maria’s of the next day says that mr Eppes expected to recieve £30. more for me at the ensuing Cumberland court. not having heard from mr Randolph on the subject of the hire of your negroes, I was in the moment of recieving your letter, just about to inclose you a draught on George Jefferson for £100. on account. instead of this I have now written to him to answer your draught for one or two hundred dollars which with the £40. you have, & either with or without the £30. as the case may be, will make you up the hundred pounds. whatever this may be less than1 the valuation shall be paid up on my return. I shall offer your lands to my correspondent at £6000. they ought not to sell for less, and I have hopes you will get it. a bill is passing the Senate for an eventual army of 30,000 men (instead of the provisional one of 10,000 which had not been raised) and in addition to the existing army of 5000, the additional one of 9000. & the volunteer one, of we do not know how many. 2. millions of dollars more are to be borrowed to carry the act into execution. a bill is also brought into the Senate to retaliate on any French citizens who are or may fall into our hands, if the French should put to death or imprison any of ours impressed on board the vessels of their enemies & which may be taken by them. no trial of any kind is provided. the President alone is to judge & execute. though the measures of the government are still measures of provocation, yet a depression of spirits in that party is evident. they are much less insolent & abusive than at the last session. the public mind is evidently & rapidly turning against them, & they are sensible of it.—I inclose you a copy of mr Nicholas’s pamphlet. let mr Eppes have the reading of it. Adieu.

Yours affectionately

Th: Jefferson

RC (ViU); at foot of text: “J. W. Eppes.” PrC (MHi); endorsed by TJ in ink on verso. Enclosure: Letter from George Nicholas, of Kentucky, to His Friend, in Virginia. Justifying the Conduct of the Citizens of Kentucky, as to Some of the Late Measures of the General Government; and Correcting Certain False Statements, Which Have Been Made in the Different States, of the Views and Actions of the People of Kentucky, first published in Lexington, Kentucky in 1798 and reprinted by James Carey in Philadelphia in early 1799 (see 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 Nos. 34235, 35973; see also John C. Ogden to TJ, 7 Feb. 1799).

I have now written to him: TJ to George Jefferson, 7 Feb. 1799. My correspondent: William Short (Short to TJ, 6 Aug. 1798).

The bill giving the president power to retaliate against French citizens was brought in by Benjamin Goodhue on 5 Feb. in response to Adams’s message of 28 Jan., enclosing the 29 Oct. 1798 edict of the French Directory which declared that France would treat citizens of neutral countries as pirates if they served on enemy vessels, specifically those of England and Russia. “An act vesting the power of retaliation, in certain cases, in the President of the United States” was passed by a 22 to 2 margin a week later, although the debate revealed that France had rescinded the edict against which the bill was aimed. In response to a 14 Feb. request by the House for any information he had received on a suspension of the arrêté, Adams sent the House an extract of a letter from Rufus King to Pickering of 28 Nov. 1798, which reported that a second arrêté had postponed the execution of the first. In his message, however, Adams reminded the House that even if the edict of 29 Oct. were rescinded, the arrêté of 2 Mch. 1797, which directed that American seamen be treated as pirates if found on board ships of the enemies of France, was still in effect (Message from the President of the United States, Communicating to the House Such Information as He Has Received Touching a Suspension of the Arrete of the French Republic [Philadelphia, 1799]; see 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. 36554). On 2 Mch. 1799, the day before adjournment, the House passed the bill by a 56 to 30 vote. The president signed it the next day (JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1820–21, 5 vols. description ends , 2:574, 578, 583; JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1826, 9 vols. description ends , 3:476, 478–9, 515; ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Foreign Relations, 2:238–9; Duvergier, Lois, 11:10–11, 47; 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 , 1:743; TJ to Madison, 12 Feb.).

1Preceding three words interlined in place of “differ from.”

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