Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to George Hay, 28 December 1811

To George Hay

Monticello Dec. 28. 11.

Dear Sir

On my return after an absence of 6. weeks in Bedford I find here your favor of the 5th informing me of the dismission of Livingston’s suit. as this has been for want of jurisdiction, without any investigation of the merits of the cause, the public mind will remain unsettled & uninformed as to the justice of the case, and their impression produced by Livingston’s squalling as if his throat had been cut, will be uncorrected. I believe therefore it is a duty to myself as well as the public to lay the case before them, altho it is with infinite reluctance that I shall present myself on that arena: and with the more as I have not the courage & really not the time, to reform the Commentaries on the case which I sent you, and to put them into a more popular dress. they were written for those to whom the matters they contain were familiar; to common readers they will appear unnecessarily erudite, and pedantic. but I repeat that I am too tired of the subject to go over it again. so I think I must publish it as it is, and must I suppose send it to N.Y. as I know no press but that which reprints the Edinburgh review which can print correctly any language but English. I must request you therefore to return me the defence I put into your hands as also all the documents & papers that I may return them to their proper deposits. I am under great obligations to my counsel & to yourself particularly for the trouble they have had with this case, and as soon as I get through a mass of letters & other matters of business accumulated during my absence, I shall make them my just acknolegements for their attention to it. Accept the assurances of my great esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); at foot of text: “Mr Hay”; endorsed by TJ.

commentaries: TJ’s Statement on the Batture Case, 31 July 1810. The New York publisher who reprinted the edinburgh review was Ezra Sargeant.

Index Entries

  • Edinburgh Review search
  • Hay, George; and Livingston v. Jefferson search
  • Hay, George; letters to search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; statement on the batture case search
  • Sargeant, Ezra; and Edinburgh Review search