Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from David Austin, 16 June 1801

From David Austin

Tuesy: Eveng 16. June 1801

Mr. Austin begs liberty to lay before the President the enclosed instrument; trusting that viewed with a candid eye; it may serve to aid the President’s conceptions of the just & rational method of introducing that pacific estate, for which the Nations wait, & for the dawnings of which the Zion of God, daily sends up her prayers.

There are many, who have hoped for the opening prospect, in the administration of Mr. Jefferson—

With all due submission.

D. Austin

P.S. If the matter should need any illucida: Mr: A will be at the President’s call: if the matter be passed by: as the President observed, “Providence will have to seek other means of manifestation”—

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); addressed: “The President”; endorsed by TJ as received 16 June and so recorded in SJL with notation “S”; also endorsed by TJ: “refd. to Secy. of state. Th:J.” Enclosure: see below.

Austin enclosed an eight-page “Proclamation by the President of the United States of North America, on a plan of pacification; through the medium of a Commercial fœderalism, between the United States of America, and all nations and people disposed to give their hand to the pacific design.” In order to distribute “the diffusive benevolence of the Great Creator” among all nations, Austin’s proclamation called for a “system of proceeding” based on unqualified commercial reciprocity. All American diplomatic agents were to be recalled immediately and the U.S. would cease paying tribute to the Barbary powers. Future depredations by the Barbary states would be suppressed by a coalition of offended nations, which was also ready to receive “as brethren of the tribes of the Earth” and to extend a hand to “the descendants of our Brother Ishmael” should the opportunity arise. American vessels were to trade only with nations that had adopted pacific principles and would acquiesce to any conditions and port charges set by them. No support would be given to those who “trade in blood” and slave traders were to be “left to the mercy of any who may have it in their power to arrest them.” Convoys would protect trade with the West Indies. If “foreign convulsions” forced the abandonment of these measures, the president would embargo all U.S. ships and property until the results of such convulsions were known. The U.S. would not participate in foreign wars nor pay tribute to “free-booters” to protect their trade, and stood prepared to repel any aggression against its territory. To promote these policies, the president would rely on “humane & benevolent principles incident to our natures,” rather than “the exertion of artificial force.” On the fourth of July, to commemorate independence and the “political ‘passover’ of the Nation,” the president would invite all Americans “to consider themselves as called, in providence, to announce the approach, & even to swell the sound of that National Jubilee, which now opens, & which in its progress, is calculated to give Universal display to the Empire of ‘the Prince of Peace’” (MS in DNA: RG 59, LAR; in Austin’s hand). The proclamation later appeared in the 24 July 1801 issue of the Washington Federalist.

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