Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John Page, 13 February 1799

From John Page

Rosewell Feby. 13th. 1799

I thank you my dear Friend for your Letter & the Pamphlets inclosed. I see clearly through the Dark Windings, & turnings, dark as they are—

War with France has long been the favorite Object of our Govt. Porcupine first prepared me for this Event, by his declaration in Novr. 1796, that the Ud. S.s would be “obliged to go to War with France, & with Spain too; & that the sooner you drive them (every frenchman & Spaniard) said he into the Gulph of Mexico the better”—I have no doubt that a conditional Alliance offensive & defensive has been formed by R.K. & the british Minister—& that Britain is urging our Govt. on to its Ratification. Hence Congress is to be provoked into a Declaration of War; or at least into Measures which must force France to declare War—One of which, & the most compleatly calculated to effect this, is that which you mention respecting opening Commerce with Toussaint—The Statement of Expences you mention I think is far short of what they will be. The inclosed Address will shew you that I have taken some Steps towards going to the next Congress, a shorter I published to my Gloucester & Mathews Friends.

being afraid of losing a Conveyance by the Stage for this, I can only add that I am affectily. yrs.

John Page

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 23 Feb. and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: see below.

For TJ’s letter to Page, see 24 Jan. 1799.

Writing as Peter Porcupine in Porcupine’s Political Censor, For November 1796 (Philadelphia, 1796), William Cobbett asserted that Spain had probably given control over Louisiana, and thus over the Mississippi River commerce of the United States, to France, and in response the U.S., through an Alliance with Great Britain, could deprive the French of their possessions in the West Indies and “might forbid them to set a foot in Louisiana, or might drive them and their ‘natural allies,’ the Spaniards,” into the Gulf (p. 76). R.K. & The British Minister: Rufus King and, presumably, William Pitt.

Page’s address of 16 Nov. 1798 was To the Citizens of Accomack, Northampton, Elizabeth-City, Warwick and York (Richmond, 1798; 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. 34291), counties that had been added to Gloucester and Mathews to compose the congressional district Page had represented for four terms until he lost the seat for the Fifth Congress to Thomas Evans. Despite Page’s challenge, Evans retained the seat for the Sixth Congress (Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989, Washington, D.C., 1989 description ends , 976, 1605).

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