Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John Bird, 28 September 1803

From John Bird

New Castle 28th. Sepr. 1803


With extreme concern I have beheld the inclosed publication; and have read it with those emotions, which will actuate the honest heart of every genuine democratic Republican of the State.

The piece is vile and slanderous beyond measure. It is a collection of falshood from beginning to end; and the authors and abettors thereof, ought to be put down. Those who are within your reach, ought, in my humble opinion, to feel the full force of their own wicked machinations. By continuing them, they are furnished by yourself, with the very means of traducing the present administration.

Their envy, their diabolic enmity to republican men and measures will not permit them to remain quiet: But like Lucifer himself, they would, were it in their power, excite rebellion even in heaven!

It is needless for me to say more, than I think it my duty to inform your Excellency of those things—so that those persons may be placed before you in their proper colours.

I have the Honor to be, with the most perfect consideration Your obt. Hb Servant

Jno; Bird

Since writing the above, I have been informed, that Senator S White is supposed to be the author of the inclosed.

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 2 Oct. and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: see below.

inclosed publication: perhaps the undated broadside entitled “Address of the Federal Republican Committee of Kent County, To the Electors of the same,” submitted by John Clarke, chairman of the Kent County Committee of Correspondence. The address also appeared in full on the first and second pages of the 24 Sep. issue of the Federal Ark. It criticized the $15 million expenditure for the purchase of Lousiana. Delaware’s share of this debt would be more than $200,000. The writer warned: “Our population is already too much diffused, and by still enlarging our bounds we actually weaken the nation.” The writer criticized the expenditures for the repair of the Berceau, a French vessel; Gallatin’s sale of the Bank of the United States stock; and Congress’s grant of $2,000,000 to the president for foreign intercourse without specifying how or when it would be accounted for. The accumulation of debt would lead to “new taxes upon our houses, lands and upon the necessaries of life.” The elimination of taxes on “pleasurable carriages” and loaf sugar did not help the ordinary people as long as taxes remained on coffee, molasses, brown sugar, and salt. Finally, the writer pointed to TJ’s patronage policy. People were no longer appointed because they were honest, diligent, and capable, but because of their political affiliation. The writer feared the “principles and measures of Mr. Jefferson and his friends” would be applied in Delaware. To check this outcome, it was important to elect Federalists in the coming election (see Shaw-Shoemaker description begins Ralph R. Shaw and Richard H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801-1819, New York, 1958-63, 22 vols. description ends , No. 4192).

those who are within your reach: Bird and other Delaware Democratic Republicans especially sought the removal of Wilmington collector Allen McLane. Bird was applicant for the collectorship in place of McLane (Vol. 37:116-18, 542-4; Vol. 38:24-5, 159-60, 362-3; Vol. 39:640).

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