To Samuel H. Smith
Monticello Aug. 23. 13.
Th: Jefferson presents his compliments to mr Saml H. Smith, & his thanks for the oration he has been so kind as to send him. he has read it with great pleasure, and sympathises in all it’s sentiments sincerely, one excepted, respecting the exhausting our resources on a navy. our strength is on the land, & weakness on the water. our enemies’ strength is on the water, at land nothing. and however capriciously fortune has hitherto disposed of events, he apprehends that to transfer the war to the scene where we are nothing and they omnipotent, is exactly what they must wish. considering however the votes of Congress as indicating the will of the majority to be in favor of the experiment, he substitutes acquiescence for conviction, and will go chearfully with the nation. if they are wrong, events will soon correct them: if right no man on earth will rejoice more sincerely than himself1 at being corrected in an error, and on seeing a re-establishment of that right which nature has given in common to all nations over an element purposely interposed to bring the most distant of them together. he seises with great pleasure every occasion of recalling himself to the memory of mr & mrs Smith.
RC (DLC: J. Henley Smith Papers); dateline at foot of text; addressed: “Samuel H. Smith esq. Washington Col.”; franked; postmarked Milton, 25 Aug. PoC (DLC); endorsed by TJ.
Early in 1813 congress passed several laws authorizing expenditure of a total of $3.5 million to expand the United States Navy (U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, 1845–67, 8 vols. description ends , 2:789, 821 [2 Jan., 3 Mar. 1813]).
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