Thomas Jefferson Papers

Anonymous to Thomas Jefferson, [15 November 1809]

From Anonymous

[15 Nov. 1809]

The nature & importance of the Object of this Prospectus is the only apology I can offer, for an intrusion, that may appear novel & singular. The Preamble as published in the Boston papers, is added, & may give some explanation for me, unnecessary to repeat here—but only add, that this is a proposal for a publication, in which I shall never have any other concern, than as a subscriber, & zealous well wisher, (if it should ever appear,) & will do all in my power to support it, and look for my reward, in the pleasing reflection, of at least good intentions & earnest desires, to do some public service, as far as my poor ability & small sphere give me opportunity. If this humble effort should have a tendency, tho’ in the smallest degree to bring forward & hasten a Virginia Garden, I Shall have an abundant reward.

If you should think it worthy a republication in Virginia, I beg it may have such pruning & improvement, as you may think proper, by any addition, omision, or alteration. It is implicitly submited to your disposal. As I abhor flattery, I will not here detain you to tell how much I admire your maxims of policy, espescially in what relates to Peace, War, Commerce, the Indian tribes &c—& the undiminished confidence I have always had in your administration & still hope for in its effects, I hope the object & plan of this Prospectus, will be found in full accordance with your System, and as such it is offered, as a hearty testimonial of the sincere & grateful respect, I feel for you

The Author of the Prospectus

A word on Louisiana.

It may perhaps be asked, why a Territory of such [extent and] importance as Louisiana, should be left out of any project of [. . .] description, that has, or pretends to have, a public & National Object [in] view. This enquiry would deserve a respectful answer, and I do n[ot] consider it sufficient to say, that so extensive a range was not contemplated. The subject is too copious, & would open too wide a field of argument, to give even in the most summary way the numerous reasons. In a few lines then, I can only briefly say, for myself, tha[t] I have from the first to the present day, been an ardent admirer of the whole business, concerning the acquisition of Louisiana, & as far as my narrow ability & means would go, in its defence—and if no mo[re] benefit should come from it, than we have yet received, that would alwa[ys]1 abundantly justify it, & the authors & Agents of it forever deserve the gratitude of the Nation, for the good it has already produced.

But I look forward for much more. I think we have as yet received only the first fruits, & that by good management, many harvests of good things are yet to be reaped. This however cannot be, if it should be suffered to be within the grasp of the insatiable avarice of Land Jobb[ers] & Speculators, who would under a variety of new forms & plausible pretences, renew their “Land Banks,” Missisippi, & Yazoo Scheme’s, & “South Sea bubbles”—equal to the evils of Pandora’s box

But let it suffice for the present to say—Upon the excellent principles & motives which procured Louisiana, let the same excellent pacific policy, now govern & dispose us, to alienate all that we acquired, in exchange for all the remaining British Provinces on the Continent—but2 excluding Newfoundland, because of its distance, and we have m[ore] than enough3 & do better without it. and it would4 require Ships & an army to defend it. I am opposed to a Navy in any form or degree, or for any cause, for none has yet appeared, unless it should be in such a case as the possession of Nfoundland.

As I always said, & am still of the opinion, it would require a Volume to detail all the reasons & display all the advantages and policy of the acquisition of Louisiana, in short to do justice to the subject—so now for reasons equally strong,5 it might require an equal volume to do justice to the subject of the exchange, on the same principles, motives, & the benefits it would procure for us, & the great and permanent good it would secure to Posterity. I always6 heartily wished for such a Volume, in the former case & there is now the additional reason for it, that the arguments,7 in support of the negociation for Louisiana, would apply with equal force for the exchange

I have only to lament that I want both the ability & health necessary to write such a book, as I am persuaded a man of moderate ability & sufficient reading & information, would make it all plain

These crude thots so clumsily put together, should be copied over & made more fit for your attention, if haste & indisposition would permit—but it would be indecorus to take up any more of your time in apology—Please to accept my respects, and wishes for your Health

RC (DLC: TJ Papers, 189:33562–3); undated; postscript on Louisiana on second and third pages of sheet folded to form four pages; margin torn; endorsed by TJ as “Anon. (prospectus Mass. garden) Boston Nov. 15” received 10 Jan. 1810 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Prospectus of a new monthly publication, upon the plan, and embracing the several subjects herein specified: The Massachusetts garden and the patriot’s common place book [1809?] (printed broadside in MWA).

preamble … boston papers: a version of the enclosed prospectus with a preface by “George Public Good” appeared in the Boston Independent Chronicle, 20 Nov. 1809. The prospectus may have been written by Thomas Wallcut, a clerk in the office of the secretary of state of Massachusetts. The journal was apparently never published.

1Word interlined in place of an illegible word.

2Preceding four words interlined.

3Preceding six words interlined.

4Preceding three words interlined in place of “I am opposed to.”

5Reworked from “the same reasons.”

6Word interlined.

7Word interlined in place of “reasoning.”

Index Entries

  • anonymous correspondence; letters from search
  • Boston, Mass.; newspapers search
  • gardening; in Mass., proposed publication on search
  • Independent Chronicle (Boston newspaper) search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; anonymous letters to search
  • Louisiana Territory; land exchange with Great Britain search
  • Massachusetts; gardening in search
  • newspapers; Boston Independent Chronicle search
  • Prospectus of a new monthly publication: the Massachusetts Garden search
  • subscriptions, for publications; journals search
  • Wallcut, Thomas search
  • Yazoo land scheme; mentioned search