Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Leiper to Thomas Jefferson, 17 April 1814

From Thomas Leiper

Philada April 17th 1814—

Dear Sir

I wrote you on the 9th of Decr and the 2d of January since I have received yours of the 1st of January which I have read again and again but none other has nor never shall because I believe it would not advance your standing with a number of your friends of which number you may put me down as one—I observe you are affraid that Bonaparte will Conquer Europe and by that means will conquer England—England has been at War with us for upwards of Twenty years and will conquer us if she can and as she has been at the Bottom of all the Wars in Europe these Centenaries past from that circumstance the sooner she is conquered the better—You and I read the same history let us look at the origin of the present War of France and the Allies The people of France agreed to establish a republican goverment which you and I agree they had a right to do they sent their Embassador to England their request was a reasonable One for England to let them alone and establish their Goverment in their own way I do not correctly remember their answer but it amounted in substance to this—You are a set of scoundrels for attempting any thing like a republican Goverment you shall leave England in Fourteen days and they did oblige him to go within the time—In the mean time the Duke of Brunswick was put in Battle array Look at his friendly Proclaimation and again look at the Compacts formed at Coblentz & Pelnuntz where they did agree to divid France and Blot it out of the Map of Europe Again a Treaty was made at Amies by the whole powers of Europe who broke it the British—Prelemenories were established lately but Bonaparte has been given to understand since They cannot be complied with till they consult their Allies that is Castleraegh and Company from this very circumstance their will be no peace for Castlereagh has got with him the whole funds of England in his possession and money you know has a very powerfull effect on the great men as they are called in Europe—Now Sir my mind is made up that the Executive of England is the Cause of all the bloodshed and not Bonaparte for these Twenty years and my opinions proceed from the foregoing facts—You are affraid that Alexander will be dispossessed of his Title of Emperior the sooner the better from the history I have read of Russia they cannot have a worse1 Goverment—Let us take a Look of the Virtuous Kings all in a Bunch Russia Austria & Prussia what did they do they Cut up Polland and each took a slice and the Virtuous King of Great Britian looked on and suffered this thing to take place Indeed she makes no2 calculations but in the way of Trade for if she finds that object can be advanced by any exchange she will agree to it for she never had and believe never will have any other object in view—What was the principle cause of the brecking the Treaty of Amies it was Trade—England found that Bonaparte was going to every part of France inquiring to every species of manufacturies &ca and giving every eade3 in his power to premote them—England found it would not do especially as the Marquiss of Lands doun told them in the House of Lords that the Taxes in France per head was only One Pounds ten shillings and in England they were six Pounds and that it was impossible for them to manufacture with them on the same Terms and I have no doubt at this period they are some 20 per Cent higher in England—Thus far had I wrote when the enclosed Made its appearence in Ralf’s paper should it by the bye be yours which I hope it is not I must beg leave to differ from you in opinion General Armstrong on his return from the Lines said had the embargo been strickly observed the British could not have supported their Fleets and Armies and would have been obliged to return from whence they came I am with the Utmost esteem and respect Your most Obedeint Sert

Thomas Leiper

PS Enclosed is your letter to me of the 1st of January 1814 which was my intention to have returned at this date but it has been with this letter under lock & Key ever since

RC (DLC); addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Late President of the United States Monticello Virginia”; with apparently unrelated calculations by TJ on address cover; endorsed by TJ (brackets in original) as a letter of “Apr. 17. [1814] for 1815” received 12 May 1815 and recorded in SJL under this date of receipt as a letter of 17 Apr. 1815. Enclosures: (1) TJ to Leiper, 1 Jan. 1814. (2) newspaper article alleging that in a letter to an unnamed “gentleman residing in the neighborhood” of Philadelphia, “the Recluse of Montecello” had expressed “his utter disapprobation of the restrictive system of the administration—He is represented to say, that an embargo during war is a political solecism; and intimates that nothing but the energetic interference of the good sense of the people of the United States can arrest the mad and suicidal career of Mr. Madison’s administration—We have not seen this letter; but are satisfied that one of this sort really exists—When will political phenomena cease? It will be recollected that Mr. Jefferson in a letter to Dr. Logan, gave up the ‘super-eminent’ Napoleon Bonaparte: It appears now that he has also given up the sub eminent James Madison” (Relf’s Philadelphia Gazette, 11 Apr. 1814). No such letter by TJ criticizing the Madison administration has been found, and he emphatically denied its existence in his 12 June 1815 reply to Leiper.

In his 25 July 1792 manifesto the duke of brunswick justified his forthcoming invasion of France as an effort to save that country from anarchy and threatened to destroy Paris if the royal family were harmed (William Doyle, The Oxford History of the French Revolution [1989], 188; Philadelphia National Gazette, 19 Sept. 1792). The German city of Koblenz (coblentz) was a center for émigré activity during the early years of the French Revolution. In the 1791 Declaration of Pillnitz (pelnuntz), Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II and Frederick William II, the king of Prussia, threatened to use force to restore the powers and prerogatives of the French monarchy (William Doyle, The Oxford History of the French Revolution [1989], 147, 156–7, 171, 302). The 1802 Treaty of Amiens (amies) established a peace between France and Great Britain that lasted about a year (Connelly, Napoleonic France description begins Owen Connelly and others, eds., Historical Dictionary of Napoleonic France, 1799–1815, 1985 description ends , 16).

1Manuscript: “wrorse.”

2Word interlined.

3Thus in manuscript, presumably meaning “aid.”

Index Entries

  • Alexander I, emperor of Russia; mentioned search
  • Amiens; treaty of (1802) search
  • Armstrong, John; and Embargo Act (1813) search
  • Austria; and partitions of Poland search
  • Brunswick, Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand, Duke of; 1792manifesto of search
  • Castlereagh, Robert Stewart, Viscount; as foreign secretary search
  • Chauvelin, François Bernard, Marquis de; as French ambassador to Great Britain search
  • Embargo Act (1813); TJ’s alleged opinion on search
  • France; and Great Britain search
  • Frederick William II, king of Prussia; and Declaration of Pillnitz search
  • George III, king of Great Britain; and partitions of Poland search
  • Great Britain; and France search
  • Great Britain; and U.S. search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; publication of papers search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; return of confidential letters to search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; spurious letter allegedly from search
  • Koblenz; and French Revolution search
  • Lansdowne, William Petty, 2d earl of Shelburne and 1st marquess of; on taxation search
  • Leiper, Thomas; criticizes Great Britain search
  • Leiper, Thomas; letters from search
  • Leiper, Thomas; on Alexander I search
  • Leiper, Thomas; on Napoleon search
  • Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor; and Declaration of Pillnitz search
  • Logan, George; TJ’s correspondence with published search
  • Madison, James; TJ’s alleged opposition to search
  • Napoleon I, emperor of France; defended search
  • newspapers; Relf’s Philadelphia Gazette search
  • Philadelphia; Relf’s Philadelphia Gazette search
  • Pillnitz, Declaration of search
  • Poland; partitions of search
  • Prussia; and partitions of Poland search
  • Relf’s Philadelphia Gazette (newspaper) search
  • Russia; and partitions of Poland search