Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Aaron Burr, 7 January 1799

To Aaron Burr

Philadelphia Jan. 7. 99.

Dear Sir

I wrote you some time before I left home on the subject of my friend Currie’s affair but lest that letter should not have [come to hand] I trouble you with this merely to enquire in what state his suit against Morris [is]. and I should not have done it but that you had supposed that, if terminated favorably at all, it would be before this time. a line of information will be acceptable.

A want of confidence in our posts prevents my saying any thing on political subjects, further than that it is proposed (and no doubt will be agreed) to commence a great naval power by building 12 ships of [74. guns,] 12 frigates and from 25 to 30 smaller vessels, say a fleet of 50. ships. the first cost 10. millions of Doll. the annual expenses between 5. & 6 millions. thus our navy alone will cost us annually 1 ½ Dollars a head besides the first cost. add the army, civil list, & interest of the debt, and estimate the amount. I am Dear Sir

Your friend & servt

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC); faint.

I wrote you: TJ to Burr, 12 Nov. 1798.

In response to an 8 Dec. address by Adams calling for an increase in naval power, a House committee on 14 Dec. began to consider a bill, eventually reported on 17 Jan. and debated on 29 Jan. It authorized the president to induct revenue cutters into the Navy, “that the Navy be augmented with six ships, to carry not less than seventy-four guns, to be built within the United States, and six sloops of war, of not more than eighteen guns, to be built or purchased within the United States; and that a sum not exceeding one million of dollars, be appropriated therefore,” and extra monies for docks, timber, and cannon. The Senate passed it on 19 Feb. 1799, and on the 25th Adams signed it into law (JHR, description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1826, 9 vols. description ends 3:410, 439, 455; JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1820–21, 5 vols. description ends , 2:590; U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855–56, 8 vols. description ends , 1:621).

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