Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Albert Gallatin, 12 July 1803

To Albert Gallatin

July 12. 03.

Th: Jefferson to mr Gallatin

The strengthening the revenue cutters by the addition of another mate & 2. hands is approved. while our cutters must be large enough to go safely to sea, and should be well manned for their size, we should avoid making them larger than safety will require; because many small vessels will watch the coast better than a few large ones. resistance will not be attempted probably. Genl. Muhlenberg’s idea of forming the cutters into a line of communication seems to be a good one. I should suppose it well to partition the whole coast among them by certain limits.

It is difficult to see what mr Bond would be at. I suppose he aims at our citizen laws. there is a distinction which we ought to make ourselves, & with which the belligerent powers ought to be content. where, after the commencement of a war, a merchant of either1 comes here & is naturalized, the purpose is probably fraudulent against the other, and intended to cloak their commerce under our flag. this we should honestly discountenance, & never reclaim their property when captured. but merchants from either, settled & made citizens before a war, are citizens to every purpose of commerce, & not to be distinguished in our proceedings from natives. every attempt of Gr. Brit. to enforce her principle of ‘once a subject & always a subject’ beyond the case of her own subjects, ought to be repelled. a copy of Genl. Muhlenburg’s letter, stating the fact of citizenship accurately, ought to satisfy mr Bond, unless he can disprove the fact; or unless, admitting the fact, he at once attacks our principle. on that ground we will meet his government.

As to the patronage of the republican bank at Providence, I am decidedly in favor of making all the banks republican, by sharing deposits among them in proportion to the dispositions they shew. if the law now forbids it, we should not permit another session of Congress to pass without amending it. it is material to the safety of republicanism, to detach the mercantile interest from it’s enemies, and incorporate them into the body of it’s friends. a merchant is naturally a republican, and can be otherwise only from a vitiated state of things.   affectionate salutations.

RC (NHi: Gallatin Papers); endorsed. PrC (DLC). Recorded in SJL with notation “revenue cutters. Bond. republicn. bank.”

strengthening the revenue cutters: on 13 July, Gallatin sent a circular letter to Benjamin Lincoln, David Gelston, Peter Muhlenberg, and other collectors with revenue cutters, authorizing them “to employ two additional hands” and to “recommend a proper person as second mate.” They were cautioned to hire the extra seamen only if they thought it “essential to the public Service” (see Gallatin, Papers description begins Carl E. Prince and Helene E. Fineman, eds., The Papers of Albert Gallatin, microfilm edition in 46 reels, Philadelphia, 1969, and Supplement, Barbara B. Oberg, ed., reels 47-51, Wilmington, Del., 1985 description ends , 8:534; 47:860). muhlenberg’s idea: in the closing sentences of his 8 July letter to Gallatin, the Philadelphia collector suggested forming a line of communication between the revenue cutters on the coast to enable them to keep “an eye on the different inlets between the Capes” where coasting vessels carried on “an unlawful traffic with Vessels from Foreign Ports.” Muhlenberg concluded: “If this communication between the Cutters is found practicable, I have no doubt it will tend more to prevent an illicit trade, than any other precaution that can be taken” (see Enclosure No. 1, listed at Gallatin to TJ, 11 July, first letter).

Immediately after receiving the 7 July letter of complaint from Phineas bond, Muhlenberg submitted it to Alexander J. Dallas. The district attorney agreed with Bond that vessels owned by French citizens and armed in Philadelphia after the rupture between Britain and France should not be permitted to leave the port. This did not apply, however, to an American citizen, who was naturalized “previously to the existing hostilities between those Nations.” So far as respects our government, Dallas contended, the act of naturalization “forever closes the question of the place of nativity. Our Constitution and laws make no difference between an adopted, and a native, Citizen” (Tr in DNA: RG 59, NL). For the Bond letter, see Enclosure No. 2 at Gallatin to TJ, 12 July (second letter).

1Preceding two words interlined.

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