Thomas Jefferson Papers
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From Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, 23 January 1799

To James Monroe

Jan. 23. 99.

Dear Sir

The newspapers furnish you with the articles of common news as well as the Congressional. you observe the addition proposed to be made to our navy, and the loan of 5. millions opened at 8. percent to equip it. the papers say that our agents abroad are purchasing vessels for this purpose. the following is as accurate a statement of our income & expence, annual, as I can form, after divesting the treasury reports of such articles as are accidental, & not properly annual.

D.  C
1798. Impost 7,405,420.86 Int. & reimbursmt. of domestic debt 2,987,145.48 
Excise, auctions, licences, carriages 585,879.67   Int. on domestic loans 238,637.50 
Postage 57,000.     Dutch debt 586,829.58  3,812,612.56
Patents 1,050.   Civil list 524,206.83
Coinage 10,242.   loan offices 13,000.  
dividends of bank Mint 13,300.  
stock 79,920    lighthouses 44,281.08
fines 8    annuities and grants 1,603.33
8,139,520.53 military pensions 93,400.  
1799. Direct tax. } clear of expences 2,000,000 miscellaneous expences 19,000   
Stamp tax 10,139,520.   Contingent expences of govmt. 20,000   
 amt of civil govmt. properly. 728,791.24 
Indians 110,000   
Foreign intercourse 93,000
Treaties Gr. Br. Spain & Meditern. 187,500 280,000   
annual expence of existing navy 2,434,261.10.
do. of existing army (5038. offic. & priv.) 1,461,175.   
do. of officers of additl. army (actually commd) 217,375.    4,112,811.10
do. of privates of do. (about 9000.) 2,523,455
do. of additional navy (exclus. outfit) 2,949,278.96 5,472,733.96
8 pr. Ct. int. on 5. Millions. new loan 400,000   

by this you will percieve that our income for 1799. being 10. Millions, and expences 9. Million we have a surplus of 1. Million, which with the 5. millions to be borrowed it is expected will build the navy & raise the army. when they are complete we shall have to raise by new taxes about 5. millions more, making in the whole 15. millions, which if our population be 5. Millions will be 3. dollars a head. but these additional taxes will not be wanting till the session after next.—the majority in Congress being as in the last session, matters will go on now as then. I shall send you Gerry’s correspondence and Pickering’s report on it, by which you will percieve the unwillingness of France to break with us, and our determination not to believe it & therefore to go to war with them. for in this light must be viewed our surrounding their islands with our armed vessels instead of their cruising on our own coasts as the law directs.

According to information there is real reason to believe that the X.Y.Z. delusion is wearing off, and the public mind beginning to take the same direction it was getting into before that maneuvre. Gerry’s dispatches will lend strongly to open the eyes of the people. besides this several other impressive circumstances will all be bearing on the public mind. the alien & sedition laws as before, the direct tax, the additional army & navy, an usurious loan to set those follies on foot, a prospect of heavy additional taxes as soon as they are completed, still heavier taxes if the government forces on the war, recruiting officers lounging at every court house and decoying the labourer from his plough. a clause in a bill now under debate for opening commerce with Toussaint & his black subjects now in open rebellion against France, will be a circumstance of high aggravation to that country, and in addition to our cruising round their islands will put their patience to a great proof. one fortunate circumstance is that, annihilated as they are on the ocean, they cannot get at us for some time, and this will give room for the popular sentiment to correct the imprudence. nothing is believed of the stories about Buonaparte. those about Ireland have a more serious aspect. I delivered the letter from you of which I was the bearer. no use was made of the paper, because that poor creature had already fallen too low even for contempt. it seems that the representative of our district is attached to his seat. mr Beckley tells me you have the collection of a sum of money for him which is destined for me. what is the prospect of getting it, & how much? I do not know whether I have before informed you that1 mr Madison paid to mr Barnes 240. or 250. D. in your name to be placed to your credit with mr Short. I consequently squared that account, & debited you to myself for the balance. this with another article or two of account between us, stands therefore against the books for which I am indebted to you, & of which I know not the cost. a very important measure is under contemplation here, which if adopted will require a considerable sum of money on loan.2 the thing being beyond the abilities of those present, they will possibly be obliged to assess their friends also. I may perhaps be forced to score you for 50. or 100. D. to be paid at convenience. but as yet it is only talked of. I shall rest my justification on the importance of the measure, and the Sentiments I know you to entertain on such subjects.—we consider the elections on the whole as rather in our favor, & particularly believe those of N. Carolina will immediately come right. J. Nicholas, & Brent both offer again. my friendly respects to mrs Monroe, & to yourself affectionate salutations & Adieu.

P.S. I shall seldom write to you, on account of the strong suspicions of infidelity in the post offices. always examine the seal before you open my letters, and note whether the impression is distinct.

RC (DLC: Monroe Papers); addressed: “Colo. James Monroe near Charlottesville”; franked and postmarked; endorsed by Monroe. PrC (DLC).

The Aurora of 22 Jan. printed a report from an unidentified London newspaper stating that unnamed American agents had purchased “several of the French, Dutch, and Spanish prizes” recently brought into British ports, the vessels to undergo conversion “to ships of force.”

On Friday, 18 Jan., John Adams transmitted to Congress gerry’s correspondence with Talleyrand, introduced by a long letter of 1 Oct. 1798 from Gerry to Pickering that detailed Gerry’s transactions with the French government following the departure of Marshall and Pinckney. On Monday the 21st Adams sent Congress Pickering’s report assessing those papers. In the Senate the reading of the documents received on Friday was not concluded until after the receipt of the report on the 21st, and Stevens Thomson Mason immediately presented a motion to order the printing of the Gerry correspondence. That motion was postponed, and when the Senate took it up again on the 22d it was passed with the additional provision that the secretary of state’s report should also be printed. On the 21st the House ordered the printing of both Gerry’s correspondence and Pickering’s report. An effort in the House to confine its printing only to those documents received on 18 Jan. failed to pass (Dft of Mason’s motion in DNA: RG 46, Senate Records, 5th Cong., 3d sess., in TJ’s hand, with emendations, endorsed by clerk; JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1820–21, 5 vols. description ends , 2:571–2; JHR, description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1826, 9 vols. description ends 3:440, 441, 443). Gerry’s papers appeared under the title Message from the President of the United States, Accompanying Sundry Papers Relative to the Affairs of the United States, with the French Republic (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 Nos. 36551–2). John Fenno printed the report as Message from the President of the United States, Accompanying a Report of the Secretary of State, Containing Observations on Some of the Documents, Communicated by the President, on the Eighteenth Instant (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. 36546). From his examination of Gerry’s letters Pickering concluded that France continued to offer “only empty professions of a desire to conciliate.” The secretary of state closed his lengthy tract with the warning “that the Tyger crouches before he leaps upon his prey” (p. 17, 45). A subsequent printing of the pamphlet by Fenno included as an erratum page a letter from Pickering to “The Honourable the President of the Senate of the United States,” 24 Jan. 1799, correcting two errors in his report and noting that “the President of the United States … has directed me to communicate the same to you, for the information of the Senate” (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. 36547).

Surrounding their islands with our armed vessels: in December Secretary of the Navy Benjamin Stoddert had ordered the frigates United States, Constellation, and Constitution to the West Indies with other ships “for the protection of our Commerce, and for the Capture, or destruction of French armed Vessels.” Stoddert had issued orders for the first such cruise by U.S. warships in July 1798, immediately following the approval of a statute that authorized such action (NDQW, description begins Dudley W. Knox, ed., Naval Documents Related to the Quasi War between the United States and France, Washington, 1935–38, 7 vols. description ends Feb. 1797-Oct. 1798, 189–90; Nov. 1798–Mch. 1799, 70; 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 , 1:578–80).

The clause … for opening commerce with toussaint was part of a bill “further to suspend” trade with France by continuing the provisions of the act of 13 June 1798 (see TJ to Madison, 31 May 1798). A section in the new bill would have allowed the president to exempt from restrictions on trade any part of the French Republic in which claimants to authority “shall clearly disavow, and shall be found to refrain from the aggressions, depredations, and hostilities” of France against American property and ships. In the House of Representatives on 22 Jan., Gallatin argued that although the provision was not couched in such terms it was meant to strike at France by endorsing and aiding the Haitian independence movement led by Toussaint-Louverture. In order to carry this line of reasoning, Gallatin argued that the independence of Saint-Domingue would be “a very problematical event.” After further debate, on the 24th John Nicholas’s motion to strike that portion of the bill failed, 55 to 35. The bill passed the House on 28 Jan. and became law on 9 Feb. In its final form the act did not specify conditions but simply gave the president discretion to lift restrictions on trade with any possession of the French Republic (Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United StatesCompiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. The first two volumes of the set cited here have “Compiled … by Joseph Gales, Senior” on the title page and bear the caption “Gales & Seatons History” on verso and “of Debates in Congress” on recto pages. The remaining volumes bear the caption “History of Congress” on both recto and verso pages. Those using the first two volumes with the latter caption will need to employ the date of the debate or the indexes of debates and speakers. description ends , 9:2747–53, 2768, 2791–2; 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 , 1:613–16).

TJ had been the bearer of an unidentified document that had been in Madison’s possession and went to John Dawson at Monroe’s request. In December Monroe had been riled by a letter of “Junius” to the Aurora that he thought encouraged John Skey Eustace to continue a series of bitter articles in a New York newspaper denouncing Monroe’s conduct as minister to France. Monroe saw Alexander Hamilton as the instigator of Eustace’s attack (Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962, 27 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 5 vols. description ends , 17:182–3, 184–5, 222; Syrett, Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961–87, 27 vols. description ends , 22:216,253–61).

The representative of our district: Samuel J. Cabell. The payment from Madison in June 1798 helped retire the loan that TJ made to Monroe from the stock dividends of William Short in October 1797 to defray the cost of publishing Monroe’s View of the Conduct of the Executive (MB, description begins James A. Bear, Jr., and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, Princeton, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends 2:971, 977–8, 979, 986; TJ to John Barnes, 8 Oct. 1797).

The important measure was the establishment of another newspaper in Philadelphia that TJ, Tench Coxe, and other Republicans hoped to achieve. Unable to raise sufficient funds over the spring and summer of 1799, the organizers were unsuccessful in bringing the project to fruition (Noble E. Cunningham, Jeffersonian Republicans: The Formation of Party Organizations, 1789–1801 [Chapel Hill, 1957], 1313; Cooke, Coxe description begins Jacob E. Cooke, Tench Coxe and the Early Republic, Chapel Hill, 1978 description ends , 352–3; Coxe to TJ, 14 Feb., 29 Apr., and TJ to Coxe, 21 May 1799).

John Nicholas was “hard run” during the election but kept his seat in Congress. Richard Brent of Stafford and Prince William counties lost his seat but regained it for the Seventh Congress. Henry Lee’s winning of what proved to be a single term in Congress signaled to TJ an unanticipated Federalist “taint” in Northern Virginia (Biog. Dir. Cong., 666, 1357; TJ to Archibald Stuart, 14 May 1799).

1Here TJ canceled “I took on myself.”

2Here TJ canceled “very possibly.”

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