Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Albert Gallatin, 28 August 1806

Monticello Aug. 28. 06.

Dear Sir

I returned hither the day before yesterday & found your two letters of the 15th. I am much pleased with the expectation of mr Thompson’s continuance in office in the Orleans land office. the appointment of Robert Sargent as 2d. mate to the revenue cutter of Delaware is approved. on the subject of the negociation for the Floridas not one word further than is known to you has been recieved. you shall immediately know when anything is recieved.   as to the proposition for employing the Hornet to transport money for certain merchants from a belligerent port to the US. mr Miller seems to have viewed one side of the question only. the other would not withstand a moment’s reflection. every neutral vessel armed or unarmed, transporting merchandise of money or other goods, is rightfully liable to search by the ships of war of a belligerent. private vessels, even armed, are accordingly searched. the public armed ships are not, because no nation uses them but for the protection of private commerce, not for the carrying it on. the honour of the nation is relied on that they are not so employed; and the nation who would lend them to such purposes must give up their exemption from search. should a British frigate, having intimation of the Hornet’s cargo, demand & make a search; he would find on board the proofs that our public ships abuse their privilege, and of course must be denied it. the license to 4. British vessels to sail to Lima proves that belligerents may, either by compact or force, conduct themselves towards one another as they please; but not that a neutral may, unless by express permission of the belligerent. if the money said to have been brought from Jamaica by Murray & Mullony was private property, the act was wrong & ought not to be repeated. there are other insuperable reasons in this case, but this one is sufficient. I must take a little more time to consider & answer as to the Western roads & Louisiana instructions. affectionate salutations.

Th: Jefferson

NHi: Papers of Albert Gallatin.

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