Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Albert Gallatin, 8 September 1816

To Albert Gallatin

Monticello Sep. 8. 16.

Dear Sir

The jealousy of the European governments rendering it unsafe to pass letters thro’ their post-offices, I am obliged to borrow the protection of your cover to procure a safe passage for the inclosed letter to Mde de Staël, and to ask the favor of you to have it delivered at the hotel of M. De Lessert without passing thro’ the post office.

In your answer of June 7. to mine of May 18. you mentioned that you did not understand to what proceeding of Congress I alluded as likely to produce a removal of most of the members,1 & that by a spontaneous movement of the people, unsuggested by the newspapers, which had been silent on it. I alluded to the law giving themselves 1500.D. a year. there has never been an instance before of so unanimous an opinion of the people, and that thro’ every state of the union. a very few members of the first order of merit in the house will be re-elected, such as R. M. Johnson who has been reelected, Clay of Kentucky by a small majority & a few others. but the almost entire mass will go out, not only those who supported the law, or voted for it, or skulked from the vote, but those who voted against it, or opposed it actively, if they took the money; and the examples of refusal to take it were very few. the next Congress then, federal as well as republican, will be almost wholly of new members.

We have had the most extraordinary year of drought & cold ever known in the history of America. in June, instead of 3¾ I. our average of rain for that month, we had only ⅓ of an inch, in Aug. instead of 9⅙ I. our average, we had only 810 of an inch. and it still continues. the summer too has been as cold as a moderate winter. in every state North of this there has been frost in every month of the year; in this state we had none in June & July. but those of Aug. killed much corn over the mountains. the crop of corn thro’ the Atlantic states2 will probably be less than ⅓ of an ordinary one, that of tobo still less, and of mean quality. the crop of wheat was midling in quantity, but excellent in quality. but every species of bread grain taken together will not be sufficient for the subsistence of the inhabitants; and the exportation of flour, already begun by the indebted and the improvident, to whatsoever degree it may be carried, will be exactly so much taken from the mouths of our own citizens. my anxieties on this subject are the greater, because I remember the deaths which the drought of 1755. in Virginia, produced from the want of food.

There will not be the smallest opposition to the election of Monroe and Tompkins; the republicans being undivided, & the federalists desperate. the Hartford convention, and peace of Ghent, have nearly annihilated them.

Our state is becoming clamorous for a convention & amendment of their constitution, and I believe will obtain it. it was the first constitution formed in the US. and, of course the most imperfect. the other states improved in theirs in proportion as new precedents were added, & most of them have since amended. we have entered on a liberal plan of internal improvements, and the universal approbation of it will encourage and ensure it’s prosecution.   I recollect nothing else domestic worth noting to you, and therefore place here my respectful and affectionate salutations.

Th: Jefferson

RC (NHi: Gallatin Papers); holes in manuscript, with missing text supplied from PoC; endorsed by Gallatin. PoC (DLC); on reused address cover of Enoch Reynolds to TJ, 27 June 1816; mutilated at seal, with some missing text rewritten by TJ; at foot of first page: “Albert Gallatin”; notation by TJ at foot of text: “thro’ the Secy of state’s office”; endorsed by TJ. Enclosure: TJ to Madame de Staël Holstein, 6 Sept. 1816.

The members of Congress voted themselves a salary of 1500.d. a year in lieu of a per diem in “An Act to change the mode of compensation to the members of the Senate and House of Representatives, and the delegates from territories.” This law was enacted on 19 Mar. 1816 and repealed less than a year later, on 6 Feb. 1817 (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 , 3:257–8, 345). TJ correctly predicted that the next Congress would be composed almost wholly of new members (Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–Present, online resource, Office of the Clerk, United States House of Representatives description ends ). TJ’s figures for the usual amount of rain in his home state in June and August are from his Notes on the State of Virginia (Notes, ed. Peden description begins Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, ed. William Peden, 1955 description ends , 74).

1Preceding two words reworked from “them.”

2Preceding two words interlined in place of “US.”

Index Entries

  • An Act to change the mode of compensation to the members of the Senate and House of Representatives, and the delegates from territories (1816) search
  • bread; scarcity of search
  • Clay, Henry; as U.S. representative from Ky. search
  • Congress, U.S.; compensation for members of search
  • Congress, U.S.; elections to search
  • corn; effect of weather on search
  • Delessert, Jules Paul Benjamin; and letters for Madame de Staël Holstein search
  • Federalist party; electoral defeats search
  • flour; exportation of search
  • food; bread search
  • Gallatin, Albert; delivers letter for TJ search
  • Gallatin, Albert; letters to search
  • Ghent, Treaty of (1814); mentioned search
  • Hartford, Conn.; Federalist convention at search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; Va. constitution search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; Notes on the State of Virginia search
  • Johnson, Richard Mentor; as U.S. representative from Ky. search
  • Monroe, James; presidential prospects of search
  • Notes on the State of Virginia (Thomas Jefferson); and weather search
  • Republican party; presidential slate of search
  • Staël Holstein, Anne Louise Germaine Necker, baronne de; conveyance of TJ’s letter to search
  • State Department, U.S.; forwards letters search
  • tobacco; effect of weather on search
  • Tompkins, Daniel D.; as Republican vice-presidential candidate search
  • United States; scarcity of bread in search
  • Virginia; constitutional convention for proposed search
  • Virginia; constitution of (1776) search
  • Virginia; weather in search
  • weather; cold search
  • weather; drought search
  • weather; effect on crops search
  • weather; frost search
  • weather; rain search
  • wheat; effect of weather on search