Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Charles Carroll, 10 April 1791

From Charles Carroll

Annapolis, 10 Apr. 1791. TJ’s of the 4th received. Yesterday morning he gave Brown TJ’s letter, paid him the bank note, and took a receipt which he hopes will be satisfactory. He has kept a copy of latter, encloses original, and is “glad on both your accounts that this affair is thus finally adjusted and settled.”

“I flatter myself Congress will during the next Session adopt decisive and adequate measures for the encouragement and support of our navigation. Great Britain, as it strikes me, is the only power, which can rival us in the carrying trade, and the only one disposed to extend her own navigation on the depression of ours. In a matter however of so much consequence, by which the temporary interests of some of the States, and the interests of leading individuals in all, may be affected, we can not proceed with too much caution; for we ought not to hazard any measure, we are not determined to go thro’ with.” He is happy to hear affairs in France go so well: “on the success of the Revolution in that country not only the happiness of France, but the rest of Europe, and perhaps our own depends. I wish sincerely freedom to all the nations of the earth; to France from education, and gratitude I feel a particular attachment: with such feelings, it is not surprising that I should view with anxious care the proceedings of the national Assembly; I own my doubts of a happy issue to their new system do not arise so much from the opposition of the dignified Clergy, and noblesse, as from the fear of disunion, the side views and factions combinations and cabals amongst the popular party. God send my apprehensions may be entirely groundless.”

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 14 Apr. 1791 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure not found.

On Carroll’s role as intermediary in the collection of a doubtful claim by William Brown, see note to TJ to Brown, 4 Apr. 1791, which was the letter Carroll gave to the claimant.—Carroll’s statement that Great Britain was the only power “disposed to extend her own navigation on the depression of ours” was perhaps an intended echo of TJ’s own blunt language in the Report on Fisheries, in which he arraigned Great Britain for “exparte regulations … for mounting their navigation on the ruins of ours.” His calling for the utmost caution and his advising against “any measure, we are not determined to go thro’ with” was unquestionably inspired, as were similar expressions by others in the Senate, by the fear that TJ’s Report on Commerce would call for a navigation act because, as his Report on Fisheries had warned, British regulations detrimental to American commerce could “only be opposed by counter-regulations on our part.” For a comment on the sensation caused by the publication of TJ’s blunt language in the Report, see Editorial Note to Report on Fisheries, 1 Feb. 1791.

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