Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Archibald Stuart, 22 October 1791

From Archibald Stuart

Sir Staunton Octr. 22d. 1791

Dr Sir

The objections to our State Government are so generally felt, that I am convinced its reformation will shortly be attempted; in that event I feel some anxiety for the Consequence should we be deprived of the Aid of Our absent Citizens. Are we to Expect the Assistance of yourself and Mr. Madison upon such an Occasion and if so, when could it most conveniently be afforded?

I must now express the pleasure I have felt that Agricola did not, nor could not produce a necessity for your appearing in the news papers. It was an event I dreaded as distressing to your feelings. Tho you might by that means have chastized so unprovoked and impertinent an Attack you have more effectually done it by silent contempt.

It will afford you no pleasure to be informed that the supposed Author is as much despised throughout the Circle of my Acquaintance as his greatest enemy could wish and that this is generally the Case I suspect will shortly appear.

I have not considered nor do I understand the principles of the Bank lately established by congress but am told that it is confessedly opposed to the principles of the government and that the expediency of the Measure was contrasted with and out weighed constitutional Objections. I hope this is not true as I cannot conceive the men of the present day are so daring as to offer such an insult to a free people. The Antis exclaim against the principles of your Collonial establishments as they are called as aristocratic and oppressive and altho they are the Germe of the old are generally ascribed to the New government. The Excise scheme tho unpopular is going quietly into operation in this quarter.

I feel interested in the establishment of cross posts throughout this state and particularly that a post office should be established at this place altho the whole of the Expence might not at first be defrayed from the profits of the establishment I conceive this would not long be the Case and perhaps a small and temporary sacrifice to the Objects it presents us with might not be inexpedient.—Fare well, I wish you health & happiness,

Archd. Stuart

RC (MoSHi); endorsed by TJ as received 4 Nov. 1791 and so recorded in SJL; on verso TJ made in pencil the following notes for his reply of 23 Dec. 1791:

“Exec. responsible—no Council

Exec. respect permanence indepdce

Legis. respect by permanence small number

Eql. represtn.

Senate better chosen.”

Stuart’s mention of objections to our state government is representative of the division between parties that was intensifying in Virginia. His analysis of the sentiment for reform is optimistic, reflecting perhaps the intense concern of those living in the western parts of the state over defense of the frontier and the apparent inability of the government to protect them. Talk of revision of the state’s constitution continued from 1776 until a convention finally met in 1829. See TJ to Stuart, 23 Dec. 1791; and TJ to James Madison, 17 Oct. 1792, and John Beckley to James Madison, 17 Oct. 1792 (printed in Rutland, Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M.E. Rachal, Robert A. Rutland and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962—, 14 vols. description ends , xiv, 385–6). See also Richard R. Beeman, The Old Dominion and the New Nation, 1788–1801 (Lexington, Ky., 1972), p. 90–118; and Norman K. Risjord, Chesapeake Politics, 1781–1800 (New York, 1978), p. 501. The well-known “Publicola” essays of 1791 by John Quincy Adams were answered by someone using the name Agricola in Dunlap’s American Daily Advertiser (Philadelphia), 5 and 9 July 1791, and these articles were reprinted in Richmond newspapers (Virginia Gazette & General Advertiser, 20 July 1791, and Virginia Gazette & Public Advertiser, 30 July 1791).

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