To Littleton W. Tazewell
Philadelphia April 10. 1800
Your favor of Mar. 29. is duly recieved and the object of the present is to answer your enquiries concerning mr Welch’s open account. consulting with the late mr T. Adams in 1774. about the importation of glass windows ready made & glazed for my house, he pressed me to address my commission to his friends Welch & co. I did so, making them a small shipment which turned out next to nothing, while the windows were much higher than expected. they sent them and there was a balance of I do not recollect how much. they arrived in 1775 after the non-importation agreement, and I had to buy them again at vendue. the immediate stoppage of intercourse prevented paiment. on recieving the account from Welsh in 1787. I informed him that as the confidence had been reposed in me, then a stranger to him, I would not deduct the 8. year’s interest, tho’ I did it in all other cases, and to close that matter I paid then (about 40£ sterl. I believe) the whole interest from 1774. to that time. mr Wickham had the settlement of this afterwards, and on an exact statement of principal & interest I gave him a 4th. bond for £150. payable July 1. 1801. with interest from Aug. 26. 93. which bond he has doubtless delivered you with the three which were given for mr Wayles’s debt to the same house, my portion of which was £981.
The bankrupt law has passed all the branches. the bill for the election of President & V.P. passed the Senate in a much worse form than that in which Duane published it. for they struck out the clause limiting the powers of the electoral committee, and extended it to all subjects of enquiry. what it’s fate will be in the lower house we know not. the bill for preventing judges from being ambassadors &c was rejected by the Senate; so was that from the lower house1 for preventing the interference of the military at elections. but they have read a 2d time an excellent bill, allowing the states to modify their jury laws. whether it will pass or not, cannot be said. there has been a grand Judiciary bill on the anvil, which would have added about 90. or 100,000 D. to the present annual expence of the Judiciary, and 27. or 29. judges to the present number. it has been considerably reduced in it’s dimensions in the lower house; and whether it will pass there or in the Senate is still to be seen. I expect we shall rise the 1st. or 2d. week in May. there is such a change in the public sentiment, & it is so rapidly progressive, that we count confidently that the next election will place a decisive majority of republican politics in the H. of R. and bring the Senate almost to a balance. even the eastern states are getting under way: but the dominion of the church & the law there, will keep their eyes long shut to abuses. you have heard of the proceedings against Duane. the marshal has not yet been able to lay hold of him. mr Cooper (author of the pamphlet I sent you) is indicted here for a letter he addressed to the President in the public papers last fall. an English lawyer would be as much puzzled to find indictable matter in it, as in the matter for which Frothingam of N. York was fined & imprisoned. the fate of mr Cooper however before a jury named by the Marshal, is not doubted. a printer in Vermont is indicted for printing mr Mc.Henry’s letter to Genl. Darke. under this prosecution, the press must yield. in the election which has just taken place of a Governor for Massachusets, we are informed that in 3. of the most populous counties of that state, not a single printer could be found who would venture to insert a single paper in favor of the republican candidate. we have no European news but what is in the papers. nothing has been permitted to be known from the dispatches from our envoys. there was a rumor [that] they were recieved, and it still continues, that England will consider our peace with France as a cause of war with her: and there are some indications [&] foundation for this. the injury it would be to Gr. Britain herself seems to make it improbable. appearances threaten a bloody campaign in Europe. there is nothing in nature corresponding with the man of Europe, except the tyger of Africa. heaven send us peace and good prices, & preserve us in our sober [liv]es. accept assurances of sincere esteem from Dear Sir
Your most obedt. servt
PrC (MHi); faint; at foot of first page: “Mr. Tazewell”; endorsed by TJ in ink on verso.
For TJ’s order for windows, see TJ to Archibald Cary and Benjamin Harrison, 9 Dec. 1774. His friends welch & co.: TJ placed the order with Robert Cary & Co., of which Wakelin Welch, Sr., was a partner. TJ received the account from Welch in 1783-not 1787—by which time Welch was the surviving partner of Cary, Moorey & Welch. At the same time Welch informed TJ that he had established a new partnership with his son, Wakelin Welch, Jr. On 25 Apr. 1786, TJ paid Welch £40, being the whole interest from 1774 on the debt (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 , 1:616–17; Vol. 6:272–3; Vol. 29:173–4). Mr Wickham had the settlement of this: TJ to John Wickham, 20 Jan. 1797.
Thomas Cooper was indicted for his reaction to an article in a Reading, Pennsylvania, newspaper, which revealed that Cooper had applied unsuccessfully for a position in the Adams administration in 1797. Cooper published his response, which his opponents characterized as the product of disappointment and revenge, as a handbill in November 1799 and included his 1797 letter of application. Denying that he was a political hypocrite, Cooper argued that when Adams entered office “even those who doubted his capacity, thought well of his intentions.” Cooper then enumerated the mistakes Adams had made since then. It was commonly noted that Cooper, although indicted as author of the November handbill, was arrested for seditious libel on 9 Apr. because of his role in Duane’s defense and his 25 Mch. letter to the Senate, described in the Philadelphia Gazette as insulting to that body and degrading to the American people (Philadelphia Gazette, 27 Mch. 1800; Thomas Cooper, An Account of the Trial of Thomas Cooper, of Northumberland; on a Charge of Libel Against the President of the United States [Philadelphia, 1800], 4–8; see Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, Washington, D.C., 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends No. 3224; Smith, Freedom’s Fetters description begins James Morton Smith, Freedom’s Fetters: The Alien and Sedition Laws and American Civil Liberties, Ithaca, N.Y., 1956 description ends , 307–33; Cooper to TJ, 23 Mch., and Duane to TJ, 27 Mch. 1800).
Alexander Hamilton called for action against the New York Argus, where David Frothingham was a journeyman who assisted in management of the paper, after it reprinted from Republican publications an “Extract of a letter from Philadelphia, dated Sept 20” on 6 Nov. 1799. The letter charged Hamilton with attempting to suppress the Philadelphia Aurora by offering Margaret Bache $6,000 in partial payment for the paper, with an additional sum to be paid when the publication was forfeited. The writer questioned whether Hamilton was in partnership with Robert Liston, the British minister. Anne Greenleaf, who assumed publication of the Argus after her husband Thomas Greenleaf died in the yellow fever epidemic of 1798, was already indicted under the Sedition Act. The New York attorney general’s office therefore charged Frothingham with libelous comments against Hamilton. Frothingham was arrested on 9 Nov. and tried on the 21st before the New York Court of Oyer and Terminer under the common law of seditious libel, which remained in effect in the state until 1821. Found guilty, Frothingham was fined $100 and sentenced to four months in prison, with his release contingent upon paying the fine and providing $2,000 in security to ensure his good behavior (Boston Constitutional Telegraphe, 26 Oct. 1799; New York Commercial Advertiser, 22 Nov. 1799; Syrett, Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961–87, 27 vols. description ends , 24:5–8; Wharton, State Trials description begins Francis Wharton, State Trials of the United States during the Administrations of Washington and Adams, Philadelphia, 1849 description ends , 649–51; Pasley, Tyranny of Printers description begins Jeffrey L. Pasley, “The Tyranny of Printers”: Newspaper Politics in the Early American Republic, Charlottesville, 2001 description ends , 268–9; Smith, Freedom’s Fetters description begins James Morton Smith, Freedom’s Fetters: The Alien and Sedition Laws and American Civil Liberties, Ithaca, N.Y., 1956 description ends , 400–6). For the partisan context of the charges against Frothingham and the Argus, described as the lone Republican newspaper in New York City, see Smith, Freedom’s Fetters description begins James Morton Smith, Freedom’s Fetters: The Alien and Sedition Laws and American Civil Liberties, Ithaca, N.Y., 1956 description ends , 398–417.
Jury named by the Marshal: on 4 Dec. 1799 Adams nominated John Hall to serve as marshal of the Pennsylvania District. During his trial, which commenced on 19 Apr., Cooper expressed concern that defendants under the Sedition Act were in a difficult position because the president appointed the judges who ran the trials and the federal marshals who summoned the juries. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Peters and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase presided at Cooper’s trial (JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States … to the Termination of the Nineteenth Congress, Washington, D.C., 1828, 3 vols. description ends , 1:325; Cooper, Account of the Trial of Thomas Cooper, 18; Smith, Freedom’s Fetters description begins James Morton Smith, Freedom’s Fetters: The Alien and Sedition Laws and American Civil Liberties, Ithaca, N.Y., 1956 description ends , 317).
Printer in Vermont: Anthony Haswell, the editor of the Vermont Gazette, who was charged with printing an extract from the Aurora critical of the administration for considering Tories “who had fought against our independence, who had shared in the desolation of our homes, and the abuse of our wives and daughters” for appointments. To prove the truth of the assertion Haswell obtained a certified copy of James McHenry’s letter to General William Darke of 18 Dec. 1798, in which McHenry sought the Virginia militia leader’s recommendations for appointments by noting: “as there are many among that description of persons whom you denominate old Tories, who are known to be men of honour and integrity, attached to the Constitution of the United States, approvers of the general measures which have proceeded from it since its adoption, decided opposers of French principles, and French aggressions; I can see no reason why the recommendations of such characters should not also be considered.” At the time of McHenry’s resignation, President Adams noted that the secretary of war’s letter to Darke was “quoted all over the Continent, assigning to me a Determination to appoint Tories to Office, and exclude all those who are not decided favourers of the Administration.” Indicted in October 1799, Haswell’s trial was postponed until May 1800. On 9 May he was found guilty, sentenced to two months in prison, and fined $200, plus court costs (Smith, Freedom’s Fetters description begins James Morton Smith, Freedom’s Fetters: The Alien and Sedition Laws and American Civil Liberties, Ithaca, N.Y., 1956 description ends , 359–71; Syrett, Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961–87, 27 vols. description ends , 24:552, 560–1; Wharton, State Trials description begins Francis Wharton, State Trials of the United States during the Administrations of Washington and Adams, Philadelphia, 1849 description ends , 685).
Elbridge Gerry was the republican candidate in the Massachusetts gubernatorial contest (Dauer, Adams Federalists description begins Manning J. Dauer, The Adams Federalists, Baltimore, 1953 description ends , 246–7).
1. Preceding four words interlined.