Thomas Jefferson Papers

James Martin (of New York) to Thomas Jefferson, 17 November 1813

From James Martin (of New York)

Washington novr 17. 1813


I received with all imaginable Gratitude your Letter from monticello but confess I am Embarrassed by the Condescension on your part in writing it—you have taken however the favorable side to me and relieved me from the apprehension that what was most respectfully designed to Amuse a Vacant half hour might be Construed into a presumption which I was not justified in—no monk ever read any of the Fathers with the Devotion I do the Sentiments you Communicate—they have the Authoritative Stamp that wisdom & Experience give to all you say—And were it not that I know that were one to rise from the dead he could not controul the passions which at present influence that very moral & Religious Set—I believe I should have run the risque of your displeasure and by publishing your Opinion have shamed at least if not Silenced them—the poets have, to be sure, drawn very beautiful pictures of turbulent Crowds awed from Sedition by the Appearance of one man of Superior Sanctity and wisdom but I am certain no modern poet would draw the same picture—Great Britain has found the Art of closing even that Avenue pope’s Line ‘Huge Bales of British Broad cloth Block the Door’ is I am afraid as Embarrassing morally as the poet supposes it would be in reality but for paper money—that I write solely to amuse you in a leisure moment I can now give you a proof because I leave off at that phrase ‘paper money’ to tell you that having amused myself this morning by turning the whole Amount of the parliamentary Grants of last year into time I find that the national Expenditure of Great Bn was 1000 Dollars per minute and therefore I think the question their politicians so frequently ask each other ‘How are we ruined’? is easily Answered—to continue my Efforts I cut from the newspapers two Articles which if they do not Amuse you will at least shew that we do not bear either the naval or Law Oppressions without shewing some resentment—the one was wrote in a moment of Vexation at reading in the papers the Affidavits of poor people on the potomac who had been robbed of those Identical Articles and the other at reading (in the Federal papers) a Character given of a man to whom the Country owes I believe more than half its plagues—and which was so very highly Coloured that with one who knew him it could not be suffered to pass with Impunity—

your Indulgence to me does not make me forget that it is a Trespass, at least upon politeness, to write you long Letters and therefore considering myself now at Liberty to write you when I think I can write you entertainingly I am only to request you not to take the trouble of Answering this but to give me an Annual Certificate of your Health and your permission to continue writing—

I am with the utmost respect your Obliged & Obedt Servt

Jas Martin

RC (MHi); dateline at foot of text; endorsed by TJ as received 13 Dec. 1813 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures not found.

In June 1813 a firestorm of controversy resulted when the state senate of Massachusetts approved a resolution by the Federalist ex-congressman Josiah Quincy that “in a war like the present, waged without justifiable cause, and prosecuted in a manner which indicates that conquest and ambition are its real motives, it is not becoming a moral & religious people to express any approbation of military or naval exploits, which are not immediately connected with the defense of our sea-coast and soil” (Salem [Mass.] Gazette, 18 June 1813; Edmund Quincy, Life of Josiah Quincy of Massachusetts [1869], 324). As part of a poem making the general point that political corruption is rendered easier when paper money replaces bulkier bribes, Alexander Pope’s line, huge bales of british broad cloth block the door, appeared with minor variations in his Of the Use of Riches, an Epistle To the Right Honorable Allen Lord Bathurst (London, 1732), 3.

Index Entries

  • Great Britain; financial system of search
  • Great Britain; political corruption in search
  • Martin, James (of New York); letters from search
  • Martin, James (of New York); on British corruption search
  • Martin, James (of New York); sends newspaper articles to TJ search
  • Massachusetts; Senate search
  • newspapers; Federalist search
  • Pope, Alexander; quoted search
  • Quincy, Josiah search
  • War of1812; opposition to search