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George Logan to Thomas Jefferson, 18 September 1813

From George Logan

Stenton Sepr 18th: 1813

Dear Sir

Retired to my farm, I frequently contemplate with pleasure, the happiness and prosperity of the United States, under your administration. Your persevering exertions to civilize and comfort the Indians, on our extensive frontier. and your prompt attention to the abolition of the slave trade; will be recorded by the faithful pen of the historian to your immortal honor—Would to God; that whilst you had the power; you had concluded a treaty of commerce and friendship with Great Britain—Then would our country have escaped the direful calamities with which it is now overwhelmed.

One of the greatest evils of War, is to destroy the moral character of the people. To rend from its settled rectitude this principle; and so to environ it with tumult and confusion,1 that its refined dictates can be no longer heard; is to break down the fortress of a republican government; and to invite the destructive horrors of anarchy—The certain prelude to military despotism and national slavery. Such being my opinion founded on calm and deliberate reflection. I made use of every effort in my power to prevent a war with France in 1798, as I have done to prevent a war with England. I am satisfied this great evil would have been avoided had Mr Madison been left to his own judgment—But he was influenced by men as devoid of principle, as of genuine patriotism: by the councils of whom, he was precipitated into this ruinous measure

You are considered the particular friend of the President. As you value his reputation, and the happiness of your country; engage him to come forward decisively, with such just and honorable proposals for obtaining peace with Great Britain, as if not accepted, will place that government completely in the wrong. On this momentous occasion—all half way measures should be avoided.

Much has been said, and variously asserted respecting the disposition of the British nation towards the United States. I wish that disposition to have another fair trial. From my own observation when last in England, as well as from information derived from men of every party, and in every situation of life I am confident a treaty of peace and commerce may yet be made with that nation, equally honorable and beneficial to both countries. A renewed effort of the President to restore peace with Great Britain, may meet the obloquy of a few infuriated, or self interested individuals—But it is the province of a great2 statesman to consider the utility of a measure, and not to shrink from the path of known duty.

Should the war continue, owing to the apathy or neglect of Mr Madison, in embracing any favorable opportunity of terminating it—The history of his administration, will be the history of the calamities and miseries of his country.

Accept assurances of my friendship

Geo Logan


I have lately sent to the President—an appeal to the nations of Europe by madam de Stael Holstein published at Stockholm by authority of Bernadotte.

It merits your attention.

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Thos Jefferson Esqr”; endorsed by TJ as received 27 Sept. 1813 and so recorded in SJL. FC (PHi: Logan Papers); in Logan’s hand; endorsed by Logan, with his additional notation: “No 14.”

George Logan (1753–1821), scientific farmer, public official, and amateur diplomat, was born at Stenton, his family’s estate near Germantown, Pennsylvania, and received a medical degree from the University of Edinburgh in 1779. He returned from Europe the following year and turned his attention to improving his landholdings. Logan experimented extensively with crop rotation and sheep raising, helped found the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture in 1785, and was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 1793. In the latter year TJ called him “the best farmer in Pensylva. both in theory and practice.” The two men struck up a friendship during TJ’s tenure as secretary of state and kept up a fairly regular correspondence thereafter. Logan represented Philadelphia County in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, 1785–89, 1796–97, and 1798–1801, and he sat in the United States Senate, 1801–07. A firm Jeffersonian Republican, he opposed indirect taxes and the slave trade and supported internal improvements and the establishment of a national university. Logan is best remembered today for his private diplomatic peace mission to France in 1798. TJ, who had provided his friend with a certificate of introduction prior to his departure, was later obliged to explain that he had had no knowledge of Logan’s intentions. One result of the enterprise was the passage the following year of what became known as the Logan Act, which still prohibits American citizens from engaging in diplomatic negotiations with a foreign country without the consent of the United States government. Undeterred, Logan made a similar trip to England in 1810 (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 ; Deborah Norris Logan, Memoir of Dr. George Logan of Stenton, ed. Frances A. Logan [1899]; Frederick B. Tolles, George Logan of Philadelphia [1953]; 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 , 20:734, 25:650–1, 26:576, 30:386–7, 644, 645; APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends , Minutes, 18 Jan. 1793 [MS in PPAmP]; U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, 1845–67, 8 vols. description ends , 1:613; New-York Columbian, 12 Apr. 1821).

The appeal was Madame de Staël Holstein, An Appeal to the Nations of Europe against the Continental System: Published at Stockholm, by Authority of Bernadotte, In March, 1813 (Boston, 1813).

1FC: “commotion.”

2FC: “genuine.”

Index Entries

  • An Appeal to the Nations of Europe against the Continental System (Staël Holstein) search
  • Bernadotte, Jean Baptiste Jules, crown prince of Sweden; book sanctioned by search
  • France; G. Logan’s unofficial peace mission to search
  • Great Britain; G. Logan on peace with search
  • Great Britain; G. Logan’s unofficial peace mission to search
  • Indians; TJ’s policies concerning search
  • Logan, George; and peace with Great Britain search
  • Logan, George; identified search
  • Logan, George; letters from search
  • Logan, George; opposes War of1812 search
  • Logan, George; sends book to J. Madison search
  • Logan, George; unofficial peace missions of search
  • Madison, James; and outbreak of War of1812 search
  • Madison, James; and peace with Great Britain search
  • Madison, James; works sent to search
  • slave trade; U.S. abolition of search
  • Staël Holstein, Anne Louise Germaine Necker, baronne de; An Appeal to the Nations of Europe against the Continental System search
  • War of1812; opposition to search