Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to James Bowdoin, 10 July 1806

Washington July 10. 06.

Dear Sir

I believe that when you left America the invention of the Polygraph had not yet reached Boston. it is for copying with one pen while you write with the other & without the least additional embarrasment or exertion to the writer. I think it the finest invention of the present age, and so much superior to the copying machine that the latter will never be continued a day by any one who tries the Polygraph. it was invented by a mr Hawkins of Frankford near Philadelphia, who is now in England turning it to good account. knowing that you are in the habit of writing much, I have flattered myself that I could add acceptably to your daily convenience by presenting you with one of these delightful machines. I have accordingly had one made, & to be certain of it’s perfection I have used it myself some weeks, & have the satisfaction to find it the best one I have ever tried; and in the course of two years daily use of them I have had opportunities of trying several. as a Secretary which copies for us what we write without the power of revealing it, I find it a most precious possession to a man in public business. I inclose directions for unpacking & using the machine when you recieve it; but the machine itself must await a special & sure conveyance under the care of some person going to Paris. it is ready packed & shall go by the first proper conveyance.

As we heard 2. or 3. weeks ago of the safe arrival of the Hornet at Lorient, we are now anxiously waiting to learn from you the first impressions on her mission. if you can succeed in procuring us Florida, & a good Western boundary it will fill the American mind with joy. it will secure to our fellow-citizens one of their most ardent wishes, a long peace with France & Spain. for be assured that the object of war with them and alliance with England, which at the last session of Congress, drew off from the Republican band about half a dozen of it’s members, is universally reprobated by our native citizens from North to South. I have never seen the nation stand more firm to it’s principles, or rally so firmly to it’s constituted authorities, and in reprobation of the opposition to them. with England I think we shall cut off the resource of impressing our seamen to fight her battles, and establish the inviolability of our flag in it’s commerce with her enemies. we shall thus become, what we sincerely wish to be, honestly neutral, & truly useful to both belligerents. to the one by keeping open a market for the consumption of her manufactures while they are excluded from all the countries under the power of her enemy: to the other, by securing for her a safe carriage of all her productions metropolitan or colonial, while their own means are restrained by their enemy, and may therefore be employed in other useful pursuits. we are certainly more useful friends to France & Spain as neutrals, than as allies. I hope they will be sensible of it, and by a wise removal of all grounds of future misunderstanding to another age, enable you to present us such an arrangement as will ensure to our fellow-citizens long & permanent peace & friendship with them. with respect to our Western boundary your instructions will be your guide. I will only add, as a comment, to them, that we are attached to the retaining the Bay of St. Bernard, because it was the first establishment of the unfortunate La Sale, was the cradle of Louisiana, and more incontestably covered and conveyed to us by France, under that name than any other spot in the country. this will be secured to us by taking for our Western boundary the Guadaloupe, & from it’s head round the sources of all waters Eastward of it to the highlands embracing the waters running into the Missisipi. however all these things I presume will be settled before you recieve this; and I hope so settled as to give peace & satisfaction to us all.

Our crops of wheat are greater than have ever been known & are now nearly secured. a caterpillar gave for a while great alarm, but did little injury. of tobacco not half a crop has been planted for want of rain, & even this half, with cotton & Indian corn, have yet many chances to run.

This summer will place our harbours in a situation to maintain peace & order within them. the next, or certainly the one following that will so provide them with gunboats & common batteries as to be hors d’insulte. altho’ our prospect is peace, our policy & purpose is to provide for defence by all those means to which our resources are competent.

I salute you with friendship, & assure you of my high respect & consideration.

Th: Jefferson

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

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