Thomas Jefferson Papers

Noah Worcester to Thomas Jefferson, 20 September 1819

From Noah Worcester

Brighton Sept. 20. 1819

Dear Sir,

Some months ago a Proposed Memorial was published in this vicinity to call the attention of our countrymen to the enormities of privateering, and to prepare the way for bringing the subject before Congress. But a question has arisen, whether it will not be better to extend the prayer of the Memorial to all maratime depredations, according to a former treaty with Prussia. The subject is under the consideration of two respectable Committees, which we mentioned in No. 17, Friend of Peace. These Committees are inclined to favor the latter proposition, but they wish to obtain the opinions of a number of the most eminent politicians and philanthropists before they decide. The subject is believed to be one in which you, Sir, will take a deep interest, both as it relates to the good of our country and to the general cause of humanity. If it will be consistent with your health and your views of propriety, it is desired that you should give a concise answer to the following questions:—Is it desirable that a Memorial1 should be presented to Congress on the subject proposed? If desirable at all, which will be the most prudent, to limit the prayer of the Memorial to the abolition of privateering, or to extend it, and desire Congress to devise and pursue the best methods for obtaining a conventional law of nations, that no unarmed vessel shall be molested in time of war, not having on board contraband articles?

A similar request is made to a considerable number of eminent men. If they should answer, their letters will be laid before the Committees, but not published, if that shall be their request. The object is merely to ascertain the wiser course. I said “a concise answer,” in reference to your age and health, and not to prescribe the form of your reply, or limit your observations.

Yours with great respect.

N. Worcester. Cor. Sec. M.P.S.

P.S. I think I sent the Proposed Memorial, and also No 17—but lest you may have faild of receiving them, I shall send them with this.

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 29 Sept. 1819 and so recorded in SJL. RC (MHi); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to William Davis Robinson, 29 Jan. 1821, on verso; addressed: “Hon. Thomas Jefferson Monticello Va”; franked; postmarked Brighton, Mass., 21 Sept.

The Friend of Peace, vol. 2, no. 5 (no. 17 overall; [Cambridge, Mass., 1819?]; possibly Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library, 1829 description ends , 9 [no. 488]), pp. 29–31, reported that committees of the Massachusetts Convention of Congregational Ministers and the Massachusetts Peace Society had been named and charged with conferring on the best ways to eliminate privateering. The proposed memorial was [John Gallison], A Proposed Memorial to the Congress of the United States ([Boston, 1819]; possibly Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library, 1829 description ends , 11 [no. 689]), which implored Congress to take measures to abolish privateering. On 11 Jan. 1820 Henry Clay, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, presented the memorial to the House on behalf of the Plainfield Peace Society (Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … Compiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. (All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. Citations given below are to the edition mounted on the American Memory website of the Library of Congress and give the date of the debate as well as page numbers.) description ends , 16th Cong., 1st sess., 2545–8; JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States description ends , 13:123). Gallison amplified his views on privateering for the North American Review 11 (new ser., 2) (1820): 166–96.

1Manuscript: “Memoral.”

Index Entries

  • A Proposed Memorial to the Congress of the United States (J. Gallison) search
  • Clay, Henry; Speaker of U.S. House of Representatives search
  • Congress, U.S.; petitions to search
  • Friend of Peace; N. Worcester as editor of search
  • Gallison, John; A Proposed Memorial to the Congress of the United States search
  • House of Representatives, U.S.; petitions to search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Public Service; as minister to France search
  • Massachusetts; peace societies in search
  • North American Review and Miscellaneous Journal search
  • peace advocacy; and N. Worcester search
  • privateering; proposals to abolish search
  • Prussia; U.S. treaty with (1785) search
  • Worcester, Noah; andFriend of Peace search
  • Worcester, Noah; as peace advocate search
  • Worcester, Noah; letters from search