Thomas Jefferson Papers

Notes for Draft of Annual Message, 12 November 1801 [document added in digital edition]

Notes for Draft of Annual Message

before 12 Nov. 1801

In complying with my constnl duty of ‘giving to Congress information of the state of the Union,’ it is matter of great consoln that I have to state1 no agressions from abroad, no insurrections at home, no extraordinary afflictions by sickness, nor general sufferings from want, no interruptions of the course of civil justice nor new encroachments on the rights of conscience under colour of law. to him therefore who is the only sovereign of conscience, the giver of good and protector from those evils which are beyond the controul of our individual powers, we are bound, each in the way we believe most acceptable to him,2 to render homage & thanks

the laws permitting a free course to the pursuits of ingenuity & industry, the prosperity of individuals results & constitutes the prosperity of the whole. there is little therefore to recommend to the national legislature but to let things go on in

MS (DLC: TJ Papers, 128:22128); undated, but see below; entirely in TJ’s hand; followed on same sheet by notes for portion of draft of Second Inaugural Address; notes for draft of 1803 annual message on verso (see Vol. 41:440-2).

TJ did not identify these notes, but the first paragraph includes sentiments that he expressed, using other words, in the opening paragraph of his 1801 annual message to Congress. He created a draft of that message by 12 Nov. 1801 (Vol. 35:621). The notes suggest that he considered beginning it with a nod to the constitutional requirement for reporting to Congress on the state of the Union. For other fragments that relate to the composition of the message, see same, 612-13.

matter of great consoln: in the opening clause of the annual message, this phrase became “a circumstance of sincere gratification.” TJ reduced the list of afflictions and sufferings from which the United States had been spared to a reference to “the wars and troubles” that plagued other nations. He used the word “afflicted” twice in the first paragraph of the message. In the opening passages of the annual message, the only sovereign of conscience became “the beneficent being” to whom thanks were due for the general condition of peace and comfort (Vol. 36:58).

permitting a free course to the pursuits of ingenuity & industry: TJ declared in the opening paragraph of the message that the peaceful state of the country allowed its citizens “to practise and improve those arts which tend to increase our comforts.” Later in the message he named “four pillars” of national prosperity—“Agriculture, manufactures, commerce and navigation”—which he said were “most thriving when left most free to individual enterprize” (same, 58, 63).

1Preceding two words interlined.

2Preceding nine words interlined in place of “according to the dictates of our own persuasion.”

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