Thomas Jefferson Papers

John Rhea to Thomas Jefferson, 4 March 1813

From John Rhea

John Rhea of Tennessee with his respects presents the inclosed copy of a Circular Letter to Thomas Jefferson Esqr Late President of the United States.

RC (MHi); endorsed by TJ as received 20 Mar. 1813 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Rhea to his constituents, Washington, D.C., 8 Feb. 1813, blaming Great Britain for the War of 1812, due to that country’s attempts to control the seas and world commerce, its violation of the 1783 Treaty of Paris by maintaining posts in American territory and inciting Indian allies to war with the United States, its violation of the Jay Treaty of 1795, its edicts restricting American commerce, and its seizure and impressment of American seamen; arguing that Britain had waged a “war in disguise” for years (p. 3); complaining that British provocations have continued despite the Embargo and the Non-Intercourse Act and thus forced the United States to declare war; contending that even after the declaration of war, the British government has not addressed American grievances; predicting that despite General William Hull’s early defeat, the United States will emerge victorious; stressing that the American treasury remains strong even as it increases military expenditures; stating that the United States enjoys peace with every nation except “Great Britain, professing Christianity, and his savage Indian allies, and the Algerines, professing to be Mahomedans” (p. 7); and concluding that the American people must now decide whether to “establish their sovereign rights on a firm basis” (p. 8) and accept their country’s great destiny (printed circular in MWA; reprinted in Noble E. Cunningham Jr., ed., Circular Letters of Congressmen to Their Constituents, 1789–1829 [1978], 2:803–10).

Rhea enclosed an earlier circular letter, not found, in a brief 8 July 1812 letter to TJ, dated from Washington and stating that “With the highest respect and consideration John Rhea of Tennessee presents the inclosed copy of a circular Letter to Thomas Jefferson Esqr late President of the United States” (RC in MHi; dateline at foot of text; endorsed by TJ as received 15 July 1812 and so recorded in SJL).

Index Entries

  • impressment; of American seamen search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • Rhea, John; letters from search
  • Rhea, John; sends constituent circulars to TJ search
  • Tennessee; J. Rhea’s letters to constituents in search