XV. Levi Lincoln’s Remarks on the Message
[ca. 27 Nov.-8 Dec. 1801]
Quere—if the word from had not better be inserted as the word commerce understood is the object on which the verb seems immediately to operate
ºQuere, whether postage on newspapers had not better be added to the list of duties to be suspended. The means of instruction and of spreading knowledge are generally in all the States, not only exempted from duty, but in whole, or in part aided by a public support—The measure would be very popular with printers and both popular & useful with the people at large. The postage is too small to be of importance as an item of revenue, & yet so large as to prevent in some degree the circulation of papers—
ºQuere If the ideas here expressed are not too valuable to be suppressed, and yet whether they will not be considered as too strong, or as expressing or implying too much, to be directly applicable, with their whole force, to the probable situation our Government may be in—Whether it would not be better to soften the application of the ideas, by changing the Phraseology in some such a manner as the following—viz Least we should see our Government approxamating to that state, which &c—
ºIdeas against the building of the seventy-fours appear to me too important, to be omitted. It would be useful to change the public sentiment & expectation on this subject. I should doubt, could the U.S. now have a present of seven seventy fours, on the condition of their taking care of them & keeping them in repair for eight years, if they ought to accept of them. On the idea of our needing such ships eight years hence we could build them cheaper than we could preserve them. Smaller ships must be more useful to us.
Considering the importance that agriculture and manufactures are to our Country, and the ideas, too prevalent in the nothern States, that the Administration & the Southern States, are hostile to our navigation & commerce, quere if it would not have a good effect, to add to the address some such general expressions as the following viz—It is with Congress to consider whether the Agriculture and manufactures of our Country require immediate attentions, beyound the private patronage of individuals, and whether any legislative efforts are necessary or practicable for the securing, encouraging, or preventing the abridgment of the carrying trade particularly important to the prosperity of the northern States—
MS (DLC: TJ Papers, 109:18686–7); entirely in Lincoln’s hand; undated, but written after TJ asked Lincoln to review the annual message on 27 Nov. and before TJ gave it to Congress on 8 Dec.; endorsed by TJ: “Lincoln Levi.”
2 page—3 line: Lincoln referred to the second page of the MS of Document xiii, the passage in the “Tripoli” section of the message that reads: “our commerce in the Mediterranean was blockaded: and that of the Atlantic in peril. the arrival of our squadron dispelled the danger.”
Page 3d.: the third page of the MS of the fair copy, in the “Finances” section, where TJ inserted a sentence on newspaper postage in response to this suggestion from Lincoln (see Document xiii, note 1).
3 page 12 line: “war indeed, & untoward events may change this prospect of things, & call for expences which the impost could not meet,” in the “Finances” section (MS of Document xiii).
1. Lincoln likely inserted this line, and the query below it, sometime after he wrote the subsequent queries.