Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to John Langdon, 29 June 1802

To John Langdon

Washington June 29. 1802.

My Dear Sir

Your’s of the 19th. was recieved last night. that of May 14. had arrived while I was on a short trip to Monticello from whence I returned on the 30th. Ult. commissioners of bankruptcy, made up from your’s & some other recommendations were appointed1 on the 14th. inst. and no doubt were recieved a few days after the date of your last. Nicholas Gilman, John Goddard, Henry S. Langdon & John Mc.Clintock were named. the three last were in your recommendation. although we have not yet got a majority into the fold of republicanism in your state, yet one long pull more will effect it. we can hardly doubt that one twelvemonth more will give an executive & legislature in that state whose opinions may harmonise with their sister states. unless it be true as is sometimes said that N.H. is but a satellite of Massachusets. in this last state the public sentiment seems to be under some influence additional to that of the clergy and lawyers. I suspect there must be a leven of state pride at seeing itself deserted by the publick opinion, and that their late popular song of ‘Rule New England’ betrays one principle of their present variance from the Union. but I am in hopes they will in time discover that the shortest road to rule is to join the Majority. Adieu and accept assurances of my sincere affection & respect.

Th: Jefferson

RC (NhPoS: John Langdon Papers); addressed: “John Langdon esquire Portsmouth N.H”; franked; postmarked 30 June. PrC (DLC).

Former congressman NICHOLAS GILMAN of Exeter was a recent convert to the Republicans in New Hampshire, despite being the brother of Federalist governor John Taylor Gilman. He was recommended to TJ for a bankruptcy commission by Henry Dearborn and U.S. attorney John S. Sherburne (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; Appendix II, List 1).

RULE NEW ENGLAND was written by Federalist poet Robert Treat Paine, Jr., who, at the time, was still writing under his given name of Thomas Paine. The song was performed to much acclaim at the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Charitable Fire Society in Boston on 28 May 1802, with Federalist newspapers lauding the spirit and political sentiments of the piece, as manifested by its chorus: “Rule, New-England! New-England rules and saves! Columbians never, never shall be slaves.” Complementing Paine’s work, the Boston Gazette declared that while the “indivisibility of the states is a desirable object,” New England was nevertheless “not to be nosed about, and subjected to the dominion of the visionary philosophists of bloated and besotted Virginia, and her sattelites.” Republican newspapers were predictably less impressed by the piece. The National Aegis dismissed Paine’s prose as pedantic and unoriginal, while the Independent Chronicle decried the “horrid political tenets” present in an ode composed for an allegedly charitable organization (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; Boston Gazette, 31 May 1802; Worcester National Aegis, 2 June 1802; Boston Independent Chronicle, 7 June 1802; Robert Treat Paine, Jr., The Works, in Verse and Prose, of the Late Robert Treat Paine, Jr. Esq. [Boston, 1812], 252–3).

1Word interlined in place of “signed.”

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