Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to James Ronaldson, 3 December 1810

To James Ronaldson

Monticello Dec. 3. 10.


I now return you the paper you were so kind as to inclose to me. the hint to the two belligerents of disarming each other of their auxiliaries, by opening asylums to them and giving them passages to this country, is certainly a good one. Bonaparte has mind enough to adopt it, but not the means. England again has the means but not mind enough. she would prefer losing an advantage over her enemy to giving one to us. it is an unhappy state of mind for her, but I am afraid it is the true one. she presents a singular phaenomenon of an honest people whose constitution, from it’s nature, must render their government for ever dishonest: and accordingly from the time that Sr Robert Walpole gave to the constitution that direction which it’s defects permitted, morality has been expunged from their political code. I think the paper might1 do good if published, & could do no harm. it cannot lessen our means of availing ourselves of the same resource in case of our being at war with either belligerent. the only difficulty in these cases (and in the revolution war we found it a great one) is the conveying the invitation to the adverse troops. accept my salutations & assurances of respect

Th: Jefferson

RC (William S. Potter, Wilmington, Del., 1977); at foot of text: “Mr Ronaldson.” PoC (DLC). Enclosure not found.

1Word interlined in place of “would.”

Index Entries

  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; British government search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; Great Britain search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; Napoleon search
  • Napoleon I, emperor of France; TJ on search
  • Ronaldson, James; letters to search
  • Ronaldson, James; sends dialogue on French troops search
  • Walpole, Sir Robert; and corruption of British constitution search