Thomas Jefferson Papers

John Wayles Eppes to Thomas Jefferson, 6 April 1818

From John Wayles Eppes

Washington april 6th 1818.

Dear Sir

I have been unwell during the last eight or ten days and part of the time confined to my room—This must be my apology for leaving your last so long unanswered—

I have determined to remove Francis from the Catholic school at the close of the Session of Congress. I would with pleasure send him on immediately and let him join you on your trip to Bedford, but the time is so nearly arrived for changing his clothes that I think it will be necessary for him to refit. I have thought therefore that he would loose less time by continuing where he is until the 20th when Congress will adjourn—I shall go directly home and probably be there on the 25th—As soon afterwards as we can fix him up he shall go on to New London—In the mean time if you would be so good as to engage a place for him & write me the terms of board & Tuition I shall be greatly obliged—If I know the time of your return I will send Francis to meet you—Knowing how precisely your arrangements are made generally as to time I will not press your taking my house in your way back—If you could it is unnecessary to say with how much delight I should once more receive one to whom I owe the duties of a son & for whom I have the feelings of one—

As I know that you are withdrawing your mind from political transactions I say nothing to you on that subject—Some of the knowing ones here seem to anticipate a sort of political Milenium in which the lamb and the wolf shall repose in quiet and the Tories and Traitors of the late war be converted into patriots—Some of the most distinguished men of the Federal party seem certainly disposed to support the administration—On a recent vote in the Senate on a proposition for excluding & subjecting to forfeiture all British vessels from ports to which vessels of the United States are not admitted by permanent regulations—The Senate gave a unanimous vote with the exception1 of myself2—Otis a distinguished member of the Hartford convention was of the number—I confess I want faith in their Sincerity—I fear the present unexampled prosperity of our country excites their malice—acts like a canker at their hearts and they wish again to bring us into some scrape—During the whole period of our restrictive System commenced under injuries accompanied with the3 most flagrant and daring insults—They reviled the administration they threatened to turn their arms against their own country & when the hostile edicts of the two Belligerents bore directly on the great Staples of the country which were subjected to Tribute, instead of feeling for the interest and honour of their country the merchants were willing to submit nay did submit and carried on their commerce under licence from Great Britain—After the unprincipled course they have pursued I could not reconcile it to myself to risque a free export of the Bulky products of our country for the purpose of protecting Tonnage—I fear that if Great Britain resists the measure whether right or wrong some of the merchants & of the Federalists4 will as heretofore justify and defend her course and again leave the agricultural interest in the lurch—Perhaps I am uncharitable—You will I hope pardon this short explanation I have given of my vote—It is the first instance during my public life in which I have voted alone—I feel satisfied with the present situation of the country—I wish all the revenue possible to be derived during the peace and applied faithfully to the Debt contracted during the war—I think too the period for commencing the System unfavorable—I would rather see it tried when the power and influence of G Britain was in some degree broken down & the present coalition existing in Europe against the rights of man was dissolved by broils and quarrels among themselves which must after a short period be the case if the history of past times gives any just rule for estimating the future—

With respect & esteem I yours5 sincerely

Jno: W: Eppes

RC (MHi); addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr Near Milton Virginia”; franked; endorsed by TJ as received 8 Apr. 1818 and so recorded in SJL.

The catholic school was Georgetown College (later Georgetown University). Eppes’s country house was located at Mill Brook, his Buckingham County estate. The phrase the lamb and the wolf shall repose in quiet appears in the Bible (Isaiah 11.6, 65.25).

Three days earlier Eppes had voted alone in the United States Senate against further consideration of a trade bill. He was also one of only two members who cast negative votes on 4 Apr. at the final Senate passage of the legislation, which became law as “An Act concerning navigation” on 18 Apr. 1818 (JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States description ends , 7:313, 318; 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 , 3:432–3).

1Manuscript: “excption.”

2After dash Eppes canceled “King and.”

3Preceding three words interlined in place of “for the.”

4Preceding six words interlined in place of “them.”

5Thus in manuscript.

Index Entries

  • An Act concerning navigation (1818) search
  • Bible; Isaiah referenced search
  • Congress, U.S.; adjourns search
  • debt, public; reduction of search
  • Eppes, Francis Wayles (TJ’s grandson); education of, at New London Academy search
  • Eppes, Francis Wayles (TJ’s grandson); education of, in and around Washington, D.C. search
  • Eppes, Francis Wayles (TJ’s grandson); relationship with father search
  • Eppes, John Wayles (TJ’s son-in-law); and national debt search
  • Eppes, John Wayles (TJ’s son-in-law); health of search
  • Eppes, John Wayles (TJ’s son-in-law); letters from search
  • Eppes, John Wayles (TJ’s son-in-law); on Federalist party search
  • Eppes, John Wayles (TJ’s son-in-law); opposes Anglo-American trade bill search
  • Eppes, John Wayles (TJ’s son-in-law); relationship with son search
  • Eppes, John Wayles (TJ’s son-in-law); TJ visits search
  • Federalist party; J. W. Eppes on search
  • Georgetown College (later Georgetown University) search
  • Great Britain; and U.S. search
  • Hartford, Conn.; Federalist convention at search
  • King, Rufus; as U.S. senator search
  • Mill Brook (J. W. Eppes’s Buckingham Co. estate); TJ visits search
  • New London, Va.; academy at search
  • Otis, Harrison Gray; Federalist legislator search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); and F. W. Eppes search
  • schools and colleges; Georgetown College (later Georgetown University) search
  • schools and colleges; New London Academy search
  • Senate, U.S.; and Anglo-American trade bill search
  • United States; and Great Britain search
  • United States; national debt search
  • War of1812; U.S. financing of search