Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Ephraim Kirby, 7 August 1801

From Ephraim Kirby

Litchfield August 7th. 1801


I take the liberty to offer for your perusal and amusement the enclosed effusion of anti-republican malice. It is a true specimen of the present temper of the party in Connecticut.—The mass of the People begin to discern the danger which they have escaped, & to resort to the republican standard; but the work of reformation will be slow.—The priesthood are armed against us with all the powers of their order. Hypocrisy, rank hypocrisy, is more cherished and respected than true religion.—While this state of things continues, the people will in a degree continue to be the dupes of Clerical deception.—

Accept Sir, the assurances of my high respect and steem

Ephm Kirby

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “His Excely. Thos. Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as a letter of 17 Aug., received 3 Sep., and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: probably “Brutus” to TJ, undated, printed in the Litchfield Monitor, 5 Aug. 1801 (see below).

Effusion of anti-republican malice: Kirby probably referred to “Brutus,” who, in his response to TJ’s reply to the New Haven merchants, charged that the president admitted the time “may come” when honesty, capability, and adherence to the Constitution were the questions raised about candidates for office. “Brutus” conjectured that the questions now asked by TJ were “did Linn agree to vote against Burr? Did Livingston compound for the place of District Attorney, and desert Colonel Burr? Did M. Lyon agree that he would remain unshaken if Willard might be Marshall of Vermont? Has this candidate laboured for my election? Did this man malign Washington? did that man curse Adams? Has this competitor ridiculed the institutions of religion? Has this anxious face been set ‘like a flint’ against the ministers of the gospel? Will you all, gentlemen, with one heart and voice, join in anathemas against that ‘Sect’ of which Washington was the head? and sing hallelujahs to my administration?” To TJ’s declaration that it was difficult to obtain correct information respecting candidates, “Brutus” responded: “Indeed while the ear of a President shall be opened only to one party, and this party containing individuals hungering ‘for the loaves and fishes’ of office, information will be incorrect” (Litchfield Monitor, 5 Aug. 1801).

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