Thomas Jefferson Papers

Charles Hall to Thomas Jefferson, 25 June 1812

From Charles Hall

Philadelphia, June 25th 1812.


The sudden and spirited manner in which Government has declared War reflects credit on them, and it is sincerely to be hoped it will be followed up with the same spirit with which it has been declared.

I have always considered the River St Lawrence the natural Northern boundary of the United States, and hope no time will be lost in attacking Canada so as the Army may be there before any reinforcement could arrive from England or Ireland. This is the right Season for it, July is the right Month for it. I was in Canada some time ago in the Month of September, on commercial business, and recollect it was very warm in that Month; it is cold until June, but July, August & September are dry, fine & well suited to Military operations. I understand the English Garrison there is not very considerable. I am of opinion most of their Men will desert from them as soon as a respectable American force appears. The Partizans here to the English Star=Chamber (the King of England’s Privy Council) wish to put off the invasion of Canada until next Year, in order to give the English time to send reinforcements from England or Ireland; and also to intrigue at the Election next March, and then to reproach the Administration with having “done nothing.”—The River St John in the Bay of Fundy is essentially necessary for the United States in order to have dry Docks for the Navy; the tide rises there forty feet perpendicular.—

The entrance of this bay (Delaware) is very much exposed; I would suggest the propriety of raising a battery of twelve-24 pounders at the entrance of broad Creek near a Town called Lewes, near Cape James, and to station three Gun Vessels there; also a like Battery and force at the entrance of Maurice Creek near Dorchester on the North side of this Bay. This would protect the two principal Channels into Delaware Bay. There are ten or twelve Gun Vessels laying up in this Port; I recommend their being fitted out and maned immediately. Those that are fitted to carry two Guns are the most complete Vessels I have ever seen for the protection of Coasts; Bays, Harbours, and Rivers.—I would further suggest the propriety of building immediately Six Mortar=Launches and six fire=Ships for the protection ofeach of the most important harbours and Bays. I consider the following the most important places to be defended in the United States; Boston Bay, Rhode Island, New York, Delaware Bay, Chesapeake Bay and Orleans. The great advantage of these Vessels is the same as the Gun Vessels, ‘to move from place to place after the Enemy, so as to annoy and attack them to the best advantage.’

I was sorry to see in the National Intelligencer & the Alexandria1 Gazette paragraphs intimating that Government intends declaring War against France as well as England; I do most seriously warn you against being at War with the Continent of France and the Island of England at the same time. It will produce Peace between those two Nations and they (in that case) will turn their United Forces against the United States.

These remarks Sir, are given with the best intentions of sincerity and I hope they will be received as such. I have been waiting six months to receive through Mr Moore, an answer to a petition which I sent in January last to the New Administration in England, respecting a Vessel & Cargo of mine condemned at Halifax. I have never received any answer to my application, therefore give it up as lost, and am ready to join the Administration of the United States, if they will give me any encouragement.

I wrote to you last year in April from Washington enclosing a description of a newly invented Plough but did not receive your answer.

I am descended from the United States and am a relation to the founder of this Republic, and therefore consider I have a right to offer my services; if you can assist me in it I will thank you.

I have the Honour to be Sir, Your very Obedient servant

Charles Hall

RC (DNA: RG 107, LRSW); at foot of text: “Thos Jefferson Esqr &c. &c. &c.”; endorsed by TJ as received 1 July 1812 and so recorded in SJL, which adds that it was “enclosd to Pr. US.”; docketed by a War Department clerk as received 8 July 1812 and pertaining to “a means of defending the ports & harbours &C. and the proper time to invade Canada.”

Charles Hall claimed when the British government condemned the ship Eleanor at halifax for a breach of the navigation laws that he was a British subject and merchant who had purchased the vessel while living in Paramaribo, Suriname. The captors in turn alleged that he was “not a British born subject” and that he had “no fixed domicile, or place of abode, in any part of the British dominions, but is an itinerant merchant soujourning in different parts of the United States.” Late in 1809 Hall lost his appeal of the verdict. Writing from New York on 8 Aug. 1812, he requested government employment from President James Madison and indicated that he expected to take out American citizenship soon (Thomas Edwards,Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the High Court of Admiralty [London, 1812], 135–71, esp. 149–50; Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, John C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, 1962– , 31 vols.  Congress. Ser., 17 vols.  Pres. Ser., 6 vols.  Sec. of State Ser., 8 vols description ends , Pres. Ser., 5:130–2).

Hall’s letter to TJ of last year in april is not recorded in SJL and has not been found.

1Manuscript: “Alexander.”

Index Entries

  • Alexandria Gazette search
  • Canada; support for American conquest of search
  • Eleanor (ship) search
  • Hall, Charles; advises on war strategy search
  • Hall, Charles; identified search
  • Hall, Charles; letters from search
  • Hall, Charles; letters from accounted for search
  • Madison, James; mentioned search
  • Moore, Mr. search
  • National Intelligencer (Washington newspaper); and War of1812 search
  • newspapers; Alexandria Gazette search
  • War of1812; support for search