Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Wilson Cary Nicholas, 5 October 1798

To Wilson Cary Nicholas

Monticello Oct. 5. 98.

Dr. Sir

I entirely approve of the confidence you have reposed in mr Brackenridge, as he possesses mine entirely. I had imagined it better those resolutions should have originated with N. Carolina. but perhaps the late changes in their representation may indicate some doubt whether they would have passed. in that case it is better they should come from Kentuckey. I understand you intend soon to go as far as mr Madison’s. you know of course I have no secrets for him. I wish him therefore to be consulted as to these resolutions. the post boy waiting at the door obliges me to finish here with assurances of the esteem of Dr. Sir

Your friend & servt

Th: Jefferson

FC (DLC); above dateline in TJ’s hand: “Copy of a letter to Wilson C. Nicholas. time not permitting a press copy, this was immediately written from recollection and is nearly verbal”; at foot of text: “Wilson Cary Nicholas,” immediately below which TJ wrote: “see his letter of Oct. 4. 98. to which this is an answer.”

Late changes in their representation: in the North Carolina election of 1798 only four of the incumbents in the House of Representatives were reelected, one of those being William B. Grove, the sole state congressman who usually voted with the Federalists in the Fifth Congress. Republicans who lost their seats included Thomas Blount, Joseph McDowell, Dempsey Burges, James Gillespie, and Matthew Locke. The election of William R. Davie as governor and the passage of an address in support of the Adams Administration by the assembly also indicated the increasing influence of the Federalists in the state. When Davie laid the Kentucky Resolutions before the House of Commons on 21 Dec., the representatives immediately sent them to the Senate where they were tabled and never considered. However, although a local newspaper predicted that seven members of the newly elected North Carolina delegation would vote with the Federalists, in fact only four frequently did so during the Sixth Congress. The North Carolina House of Commons voted overwhelmingly against the Alien and Sedition Acts, calling them a “violation of the principles of the Constitution.” The resolution directed the state’s senators and congressmen to seek repeal of the acts without delay. The North Carolina senate, however, defeated the resolution by a 31 to 9 vote (Journal of the House of Commons. State of North-Carolina [Wilmington, N.C., 1798], 25, 68, 70, 76–8; see Evans, description begins Charles Evans, Clifford K. Shipton, and Roger P. Bristol, comps., American Bibliography: A Chronological Dictionary of all Books, Pamphlets and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States of America from … 1639 … to … 1820, Chicago and Worcester, Mass., 1903–59, 14 vols. description ends No. 34244; Dauer, Adams Federalists description begins Manning J. Dauer, The Adams Federalists, Baltimore, 1953 description ends , 307–8, 313, 324; Delbert H. Gilpatrick, Jeffersonian Democracy in North Carolina, 1789–1816 [New York, 1931], 100–2). For the Federalist surge in North Carolina following the XYZ affair, see Rose, Prologue to Democracy description begins Lisle A. Rose, Prologue to Democracy: The Federalists in the South, 1789–1800, Lexington, Ky., 1968 description ends , 169–70, 172–9, 212.

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