Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John Nicholas, 25 November 1819

Novr 25th 1819—

Dear Sir,

I thank you for your frank & kind answer to my former letter & request.—That “sweetning ingredient to the remaining drops of life—the peace & goodwill of all your fellow citizens”—as you thus most beautifully express it, & seem to wish for; is what you are entitled to in your own peaceful retreat & declining years; particularly under so benevolent a tender of the olive branch, on your own part, to “those who differ from you,” on closing so long a life.

There are, indeed, differences of opinion, on most subjects, it must be owned, inseparable from the various structure & formation of different minds, which no honest conscience can alter, control, or make bend to any “circumstances,” or inclinations even. These, however, ought to be exercised with a due regard to all the moral principles of truth, justice, & discretion, at all times & on all occasions.

That particular details on most subjects, are liable to obliteration in a decaying memory, is very easily conceived by one who experiences, as I do, the strong effects of the same human frailty. I lament it the more in you on this occasion, on one particular account; viz. the treasonable correspondence alluded to in my memorial, & the attempt made by Arnold to induce me by two long & ingenious letters to abandon our patriot cause, as he had done, & join the enemy; which letters I sent to you, & you directed me to hold no correspondence with him. These letters were afterwards sent to General Nelson, & in the hurry & long separation of our different movements, were unfortunately lost to me.

There were several publications in the Virginia Gazette & Enquire on these heads about Sepr or Octor 1805, which would probably refresh your memory. Could you obtain these files, & write me again by Mail to Richmond on these particular heads, I should esteem it a great favor.

Wishing you all that peace & good will you seem to wish for from others in your latter days, & a happy & tranquil termination to a long life; believe me, Dear Sir, respectfully,

Your most obedient humble Servt

John Nicholas

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

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