Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Charles Carroll, 15 April 1791

To Charles Carroll

Philadelphia Apr. 15. 1791.

Dear Sir

I recieved last night your favor of the 10th. with Mr. Brown’s reciept, and thank you for the trouble you have been so kind as to take in this business.

Our news from the Westward is disagreeable. Constant murders committing by the Indians, and their combination threatens to be more and more extensive. I hope we shall give them a thorough drubbing this summer, and then change our tomahawk into a golden chain of friendship. The most economical as well as most humane conduct towards them is to bribe them into peace, and to retain them in peace by eternal bribes. The expedition of this year would have served for presents on the most liberal scale for 100. years. Nor shall we otherwise ever get rid of an army, or of our debt. The least rag of Indian depredation will be an excuse to raise troops, for those who love to have troops, and for those who think that a public debt is a good thing. Adieu my dear Sir. Yours affectionately,

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC); at foot of text: “Charles Carrol esq. of Carrolton.”

TJ’s brief exchange with Carroll, in which the Senator from Maryland acted as intermediary in the matter of a doubtful debt, brought on polite but sharp expressions of political differences. TJ hinted at retaliatory measures against Great Britain. Carroll responded with a warning about pursuing policies that the nation might not carry out. In the above, TJ’s final sentence on Indian affairs and the national debt could not have concealed his hostility to modes of frontier warfare involving large expenditures for army contracts and his aversion to Hamilton’s fiscal policies (TJ to Carroll, 4 Apr. 1791; Carroll to TJ, 10 Apr. 1791; see Editorial Note to group of documents on the Mississippi Question, at 10 Mch. 1791). On these and other matters the two men held irreconcilable views. The above letter ended their correspondence.

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