Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Thomas Jefferson to William Duane, 18 September 1813

To William Duane

Monticello Sep. 18. 13.

Dear Sir

Repeated enquiries on the part of Senator Tracy what has become of his book (the MS. I last sent you) oblige me to ask of you what I shall say to him. I congratulate you on the brilliant affair of the Enterprize & Boxer. no heart is more rejoiced than mine at these mortifications of English pride, and lessons to Europe that the English are not invincible at sea. and if these successes do not lead us too far into the navy-mania, all will be well. but when are to cease the severe lessons we recieve by land, demonstrating our want of competent officers? the numbers of our countrymen betrayed into the hands of the enemy by the treachery, cowardice, or incompetence of our high officers, reduce us to the humiliating necessity of acquiescing in the brutal conduct observed1 towards them. when, during the last war, I put Governor Hamilton & Majr Hay into a dungeon & in irons for having themselves personally done the same to the American prisoners who had fallen into their hands, and was threatened with retaliation by Philips, then returned to N. York, I declared to him I would load ten of their Saratoga prisoners (then under my care & within half a dozen miles of my house) with double irons for every American they should misuse under pretence of retaliation: and it put an end to the practice. but the ten for one are now with them. our present hopes of being able to do something by land seem to rest on Chauncey. strange reverse of expectations that our land-force should be under the wing of our little navy. Accept the assurance of my esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

RC (NNGL, on deposit NHi); addressed: “General Duane Philadelphia”; franked; postmarked Milton, 22 Sept. PoC (DLC).

On 5 Sept. 1813 the USS Enterprise captured HMS Boxer after a sharp fight off Portland, District of Maine (Boston Daily Advertiser, 8 Sept. 1813). In 1778–79 General William Phillips (philips) was the ranking officer in the Convention Army, a force of British and Hessian soldiers who had been taken by the Americans at the Battle of Saratoga in 1777 and marched south to Albemarle County a year later. He was allowed to leave for n. york in the autumn of 1779. Governor Henry Hamilton and Major Jehu Hay were captured at Vincennes in April 1779 and paroled against TJ’s wishes on 10 Oct. 1780 (PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 34 vols. description ends , 2:256–8, 287n, 3:44–9, 86n, 227, 333, 664–6, 4:24–5; Philander D. Chase, “‘Years of Hardships and Revelations’: The Convention Army at the Albemarle Barracks, 1779–1781,” MACH description begins Magazine of Albemarle County History, 1940–  (title varies: issued until 1951 as Papers of the Albemarle County Historical Society) description ends 41 [1983]: 9–53).

1Word interlined.

Index Entries

  • A Treatise on Political Economy (Destutt de Tracy) search
  • Boxer, HMS (brig) search
  • Chauncey, Isaac; U.S. Navy commodore search
  • Destutt de Tracy, Antoine Louis Claude; A Treatise on Political Economy search
  • Duane, William; and Destutt de Tracy’s works search
  • Duane, William; letters to search
  • Enterprise, USS (brig) search
  • Great Britain; treatment of prisoners of war by search
  • Hamilton, Henry; captured at Vincennes search
  • Hay, Jehu; captured at Vincennes search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; expansion of U.S. Navy search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; incompetent U.S. military leaders search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; treatment of prisoners of war search
  • Phillips, William; British general search
  • United States; treatment of prisoners of war by search