Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to John Wayles Eppes, 29 April 1802

To John Wayles Eppes

Washington. Apr. 29. 1802.

Dear Sir

It is now long since I have heard from Maria or yourself. Congress will rise certainly on the 3d. and I shall leave this on the 5th. for Monticello where I shall be one fortnight, and return hither. I mention my movements that if you should be meditating a visit to your plantation about that time we may meet, and at any rate that you may know whither to direct a letter to me. no important question remains now before Congress unless they should bring on the amendment of the constitution for designating votes for President & V. President, which is hardly probable, both houses being now very thin. present my tenderest affections to my ever dear Maria, and be assured of my sincere attachment.

RC (ViU); signature clipped; addressed: “John W. Eppes at Bermuda Hundred near City point”; franked and postmarked.

AMENDMENT OF THE CONSTITUTION: in February, Eppes had forwarded to TJ several amendments to the Constitution proposed by the Virginia General Assembly, one of which was to distinguish between president and vice president in casting votes in future elections. On 12 Apr., Senator DeWitt Clinton put forward just such a resolution, including the provision that it be submitted to the states for ratification. After discussing whether it was proper to bring such a weighty matter as a constitutional amendment to a vote so near the conclusion of the session, on 1 May the House declined to postpone a vote on the proposed amendment and passed the resolution, 47 votes to 14. The 14 negative votes came from Federalists. On Monday, 3 May, the Senate supported the House proposal 15–8, just one vote short of the two-thirds required. At half past seven that evening, after a joint committee from the House of Representatives and the Senate waited upon the president, TJ “informed them he had no further business to communicate” and both houses adjourned until the first Monday in December (Annals, description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … Compiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. The first two volumes of the set cited here have “Compiled … by Joseph Gales, Senior” on the title page and bear the caption “Gales & Seatons History” on verso and “of Debates in Congress” on recto pages. The remaining volumes bear the caption “History of Congress” on both recto and verso pages. Those using the first two volumes with the latter caption will need to employ the date of the debate or the indexes of debates and speakers. description ends 11:259, 303–6, 1285–94, 1296; Vol. 36:490–2). For the debate on the amendment during the end of the session, see Tadahisa Kuroda, The Origins of the Twelfth Amendment: The Electoral College in the Early Republic, 1787–1804 (Westport, Conn., 1994), 118–22.

Index Entries