Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John Syme, 18 September 1801

From John Syme

Rockey Mills 18th Sepr. 1801.

Dear Sir,

I did write you sometime Since, but hear it miscarry’d. Bestow one of your precious Momts. on a Very Aged Republican, always Your Friend; Depress’d indeed 4 yrs. ago; But rejoic’d (perhaps) in the Extreme, last Congress. I perceve the Dust Kick’d up, whenever You Dismiss a Federal culprit. One & all your well wishers, are Clearly of Opinion wth. Abraham Bishop, that you possibly may halt too long at Capua. The Buisness being done in a General Way, They will have time, to digest it, & their Stomachs properly come Down. How[ever] that may be, beleive Me My good Sir, it is of no consequence, My Opinion is, these Wretches, will always Oppose You. We want them Not. If We had them, We should be wrong. If I am travelling North, & fall in, wth. one of these Men, instantly I Turn to the South, as to go their Road is Death & Destruction.

I am told Yourself & Friends, are not quite supply’d wth. Horses. I have a pair, Superior to any, I ever saw. They are full 19 hands, Young, Sound & Well Broke. Mr. Randolph could Call and visit them. Meantime, pray Deliver Him the Inclos’d, wth. My Compts. to all the Family, wch. Concludes Me for present, My Dear Sir,

With the Highest Consideration, Your Old Friend & Obedt. Servt.

J Syme

Please make my Respects to Mr. Madison & Lady.

RC (MoSHi: Jefferson Papers); torn; endorsed by TJ as received 24 Sep. and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure not found.

John Syme (1728–1805) served with TJ in the Virginia legislature during the 1770s and early 1780s, and as a colonel of militia and county lieutenant during the Revolution, he corresponded frequently with TJ in early 1781 on military matters. The two men also shared an interest in fine horses, with TJ attempting to purchase one from Syme in 1792 (Washington, Papers, Col. Ser. description begins W. W. Abbot, Dorothy Twohig, Philander D. Chase, Theodore J. Crackel, and others, eds., The Papers of George Washington, Charlottesville, 1983–, 48 vols.: Colonial Series, 1983–95, 10 vols. description ends , 7:274n; Rev. War Ser., 1:177n; Leonard, General Assembly description begins Cynthia Miller Leonard, comp., The General Assembly of Virginia, July 30, 1619–January 11, 1978: A Bicentennial Register of Members, Richmond, 1978 description ends , 102–3, 105–6, 109–10, 112, 114–15, 122–3, 125–6, 129–30, 141–2; Robert Bolling Lancaster, A Sketch of the Early History of Hanover County Virginia and Its Large and Important Contributions to The American Revolution [Richmond, 1976], 16; Vol. 24:340–1, 387–8).

In the preface to his published 11 Mch. address on TJ’s election, abraham bishop warned that the freedoms gained by “Our revolution” were in danger of being lost, “if, like Hannibal’s army in Capua, we regaled on luxuries and reposed on down; if we committed all the spoils of our triumphs, our military chest and weapons of warfare to that class of men, who know no treasury nor arsenal, except their own” (Abraham Bishop, Oration Delivered in Wallingford, On the 11th of March 1801, Before the Republicans of the State of Connecticut, at Their General Thanksgiving, For the Election Of Thomas Jefferson to the Presidency, And of Aaron Burr to the Vice-Presidency, Of the United States of America [Bennington, Vt., 1801], iv). The Roman historian Livy asserted that the Carthaginians under Hannibal squandered their triumph at Cannae by wintering at Capua and indulging in that city’s vices, rather than pushing on for final victory against Rome (Livy, The History of Rome, 6 vols. [London, 1921–37], 3:147).

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