Thomas Jefferson Papers

Bernard Smith to Thomas Jefferson, 28 March 1811

From Bernard Smith

[New] Brunswick, N.J. March 28. 1811.


Taught, at an early period of my life, to revere your character, and having been employed in the Department of State, during a great part of your Administration, I had an opportunity of witnessing your exertions to promote the happiness and prosperity of our Country.

Impressed with these sentiments, I take the liberty of forwarding to You a paper containing an Oration, which I delivered on the 4th inst. A great pressure of business, as well as indisposition, has prevented me from paying you sooner this mark of respect, and of assuring you that I remain, with sentiments of profound respect & consideration, Your most obedt & very Hble Servt

B: Smith

RC (MoSHi: TJC-BC); torn at seal; at foot of text: “The Honble Thomas Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received from New Brunswick on 3 Apr. 1811 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Smith, oration given at the anniversary meeting of the Democratic Corresponding Society of New Brunswick, 4 Mar. 1811, asserting that a monied aristocracy has attempted gradually to change the United States from a representative democracy to an absolute monarchy; that although most Americans seem indifferent to this “junto,” Republicans will never surrender their liberty; that in 1800 they elected the wise, patriotic, and virtuous Thomas Jefferson to the presidency; that since his inauguration on 4 Mar. 1801, a date that “will form an important epoch in the annals of our country,” Republicans have eliminated internal taxes, liquidated half of the public debt, added Louisiana to the republic, extinguished Indian titles to a vast range of land, fortified seaports, and placed the army and navy on a respectable footing; that during the same period the Federalists have published incendiary material, delivered seditious speeches, fraudulently connected themselves to George Washington, and palliated British depredations against American honor; that Americans nonetheless have nothing to fear, since three fourths of the country supports the Madison administration, and if war breaks out even the Federalists will probably rally to the cause; but that citizens must remain vigilant, and remember that “united we stand, but divided we fall” (Trenton True American, 11 Mar. 1811; reprinted in New York Columbian, 13 Mar. 1811).

Bernard Smith (1776–1835) was a native of New Jersey who served as a State Department clerk starting in 1804. He was also postmaster of New Brunswick, 1810–19, federal surveyor and revenue inspector there, 1812–19, and a member of the United States House of Representatives, 1819–21. In 1821 President James Monroe appointed Smith register of the land office for Arkansas Territory, a post he held until his death. He also served as secretary to the territorial governor, 1825–28, and as a subagent to the Quapaw Indians (Smith to James Madison, 29 Nov. 1804 [DLC: Madison Papers]; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 2:270, 272, 3:179, 263, 272 [25, 26 May 1812, 2 Mar. 1819, 7 Jan., 7 Feb. 1822]; Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989, 1989 description ends ; Terr. Papers description begins Clarence E. Carter and John Porter Bloom, eds., The Territorial Papers of the United States, 1934–75, 28 vols. description ends , 19:284, 430; Little Rock Arkansas Gazette, 21 July 1835).

Smith sent President Madison the enclosed oration on 12 Mar. 1811 (Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, John C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, 1962– , 29 vols.: Congress. Ser., 17 vols.; Pres. Ser., 5 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 7 vols description ends , Pres. Ser., 3:220).

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