Thomas Jefferson Papers

Walter Jones to Thomas Jefferson, 16 February 1814

From Walter Jones

Feby 16th 1814.

Dear Sir,

I was much gratified by the receipt of yours of January the 10th, as it bestowed Some approbation on the matter & manner of my observations & the temper, in which they were written. it was my honest Intention to recall the mind to useful Truths, & to Show the possibility of writing even upon Party, without feeling that factious virulence & malignity, that appears to me, to be fast undermining the Safety & honour of our united republic.—Your Letter arrived, when I was much indisposed, and when an opportunity occurred of Sending the paper immediately to Richmond. I found I could not incorporate the very apposite addition you proposed, without writing the whole paper over again, for which I had niether time nor strength.—I thought it too of less Importance, as I had not meant, to make a full Enumiration of the Constituents of the republican Character, as will be Seen in the Expression “of these or of analogous maxims.”—

I am extremely pleased with the admirable character you draw of Genl Washington.—if you mean to prepare any Memoirs for Publication, as is generally Supposed by your friends, I hope this character will have a place in them.—If faction was Susceptible of the Emotion of Shame, or of a Consequent Blush, the perusal of this character, is Calculated to Call up both in your political adversaries.

I should be very glad to know your opinion of the Chances of Peace.—I have always thought that no nation upon Earth, that nearly approached us in populousness, was So weak & incapable of Carrying [on a?] war, as we are.—our people enjoy subsistence & freedom to Such a degree [as?] to make them extremely difficult & enormously expensive to be enlisted, [their?] republican equality render discipline uncommonly difficult, our vast destitution of military Science & experienced officers, and a Government of all others, most defective in that Sort of Energy that Can give Stability & Compactness to a military System, have long ago filled me with presages of a war, which Events have more than verified.—I think the Governing Party have never made allowance enough in their Calculations, for the counteracting & treacherous faction, which is Strong in N. England, & disseminated more or less through every other State—the violence of their domestic adversaries affords a Stimulu[s,] rather than a check, to their eagerness for foreign hostility.—their Forces daily crumbling away, thro Short enlistments, or the frauds in agents & Contractors of Supply, their Generals quarrelling, or Sick, or incompeten[t] or Captive, in Short impotence in every thing, but in legislative Declamations, and Executive Messages, while our implacable Enemy is at a Point of Power, Pride, and Triumph, which She has never before Seen.

The Legation sent on the Errand of peace, I apprehend, is too Numerous, and I wish they may not be of too discordant characters—the little middle faction, in the Senate, have placed Mr Gallatin hors de Combat—Mr Adams is an honest, Sensible man, but, I believe, very Self-willed & obstin[ate] Mr Bayard is an American, but a very proud federalist, of Mr Russe[ll] I know little, & heartily wish the Government may know enough, but I confess, as a Peace-maker, I distrust the ardent, aspiring, and fresh made States man & diplomatist, Mr Clay.—the premature prosperity of the western States, the bold Spirit of adventure or want that peopled them, have impressed upon the people a Character of Selfishness, Pride & impetuosity, that to me is Suspicious, as well as unamiable. their voracity for new lands, & the obstacles which british Canada presents, to their Extirpation of the Indian proprietors, would render a western man extremely pertinacious, in insisting on the Cession of Canada;1 and however hopeless Success, might be, would persevere, tho the Desolation of the Who[le] atlantic Coast Should follow.—I think I have seen a temper in thos[e] people, which, if excited, would fall heavier on the old atlantic States, that nurtured them So fondly, than the whole mass of N. England Toryism

These are very gloomy thoughts, and may be as baseless, as they are gloomy But they have not been lightly taken up, and under Some pretty favourable opportunities for observation.—I should not have troubled you with them: but in a retirement like mine, it is a Relief to be unburthened of reflexions, where one can impart them with Confidence, and be Sure, they will be received with Candor.—

Yours, dear Sir, with affectionate & unabating Esteem

Walt: Jones

have the Goodness to present me, in the kindest manner, to Colo Randolph & his Lady.—

RC (DLC); torn at seal, edge trimmed; addressed: “Mr Jefferson monticello Charlottesville”; franked; postmarked Farnham, Richmond Co., 19 Feb. 1814, and Charlottesville, 26 Feb.; endorsed by TJ as received 2 Mar. 1814 and so recorded in SJL.

Albert gallatin had been rendered hors de combat by the United States Senate’s initial rejection on 19 July of his 31 May 1813 nomination as a peace negotiator, which followed his departure for Europe. Federalist senator Jeremiah Mason took advantage of Gallatin’s absence by calling on 24 Jan. 1814 for his removal from his treasury post. In order to salvage the confirmation of Gallatin as minister plenipotentiary and envoy extraordinary to join a negotiating team that included John Quincy adams, James A. bayard, Jonathan russell and Henry clay, President James Madison replaced Gallatin as treasury secretary in February 1814 (JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 2:346, 348–9, 390, 470–1 [31 May, 2 June, 19 July 1813, 8, 9 Feb. 1814]; JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States description ends , 5:420–1; Raymond Walters Jr., Albert Gallatin: Jeffersonian Financier and Diplomat [1957], 269).

1Preceding two words interlined.

Index Entries

  • Adams, John Quincy; as peace negotiator search
  • Bayard, James Ashton; as peace negotiator search
  • Clay, Henry; as peace negotiator search
  • Gallatin, Albert; as peace negotiator search
  • Gallatin, Albert; as secretary of the treasury search
  • Gallatin, Albert; controversy over nomination of search
  • Jones, Walter; letters from search
  • Jones, Walter; on American politics search
  • Jones, Walter; on military weakness of the United States search
  • Jones, Walter; on prospects for peace search
  • Jones, Walter; on TJ’s description of G. Washington search
  • Kentucky; war sentiment in search
  • Madison, James; and A. Gallatin search
  • Mason, Jeremiah; as U.S. senator search
  • military; preparedness search
  • politics; factionalism search
  • Randolph, Martha Jefferson (Patsy; TJ’s daughter; Thomas Mann Randolph’s wife); greetings to search
  • Randolph, Thomas Mann (1768–1828) (TJ’s son-in-law; Martha Jefferson Randolph’s husband); greetings to search
  • Russell, Jonathan; as peace negotiator search
  • War of1812; and peace negotiations search
  • Washington, George; W. Jones on search