November 12th. 1806.
The undersigned, a Committee appointed for the purpose by the democratic Citizens of the City and County of Philadelphia in obedience to sentiment as well as duty, and with the frankness and dignity becoming members of a free Community, offer to you their earnest wishes and their warmest feelings—
They have heard, and not without sensations of sincere regret, that it is your intention to retire from the office which you hold, and which you have filled with so much honor to yourself and benefit to your Country, to the shade of private life; after the present constitutional period of your service shall have expired—To an event so pregnant with disorganization and mischief, the undersigned cannot look forward but with the most sorrowful apprehension; and although they are friends of the principle of rotation in office as a general rule in a free Government, yet they are obliged to acknowledge; that the affairs of our common Country require an exception in the present crisis and the present instance—
Before you ascended the Executive chair, the doctrines of republicanism and the rights of man were proscribed as heretical, and the fashion was rapidly progressing of contempt for the Sovereign people— Representative Government was considered as an idle and visionary theory, an Utopian system, unsuited to man’s disposition or capacity, and calculated rather for the closet of the philosopher, than the sphere of human fallibility—Measures, in coincidence with such traiterous speculations, were suggested and put into operation— The machinery of oppression was fast forming, and time alone was wanting to give it complete organization and effect. Already did we see provisional armies, eight per cent loans, increase of national debt and expenditure, direct taxes, praetorian cohorts, judicial inquisition and proscription, alien and sedition laws, and governmental insurrections, when, by a mighty effort of the virtue and patriotism of the people, you were called to the first office among freemen, and looked up to as the protector of their rights
The commencement of a new and auspicious era under your administration revived the hopes of virtue, and appal’d the enemies of liberty—Practise confounded and put to shame their traiterous theories, and the content, tranquillity and prosperity of the people furnished sensible demonstration of the excellence of the Republican system under a republican President. While the work of patriotism and virtue is yet incomplete; while the immortal truths contained in the declaration of independence are hastening to maturity; while the hand of the master is alone wanting to finish the column of liberty, shall we, can we consent to commit it to other hands? A duty the undersigned owe to themselves, to their friends, to their Country—all, all forbid their concurrence in the transfer!
The political horizon is not yet cleared of its clouds. In this State, the common enemy, aided and abetted by men, who have abused your confidence, although supported by your patronage and the public bounty, have made inroads upon the democratic cause, and have put to hazard its existence—Pretexts the most groveling, and artifice the most gross have been employed to cover the design, while every engine, which sophistry could devise and union could combine, was used to secure the effect. To combat federalism under all its various shapes and influence, with its attendant train of federal officers, required a mighty effort; but nothing can be too difficult for virtue to atchieve or for patriotism to accomplish; happily, therefore, for our Country, the coalition of treachery and federalism had but a partial and momentary triumph—The flow of public and virtuous indignation has succeeded the ebb of principle, and again we behold the democratic cause rising to its former and destined level: with the aid of your countenance and patronage it will overflow and fertilize our land—
To discomfit faction; to remedy the evils under which we still labour; to give permanency to the legitimate principles of our political institutions; to secure tranquillity and peace to our Country; and to place the democratic cause beyond the reach of the enemies of liberty, are among the reasons of the undersigned for urging your continuance, another period, as the President of the United States—
The patriotism which you have always displayed leaves them no room to doubt your disposition to render service when your Country’s good requires it, the undersigned, therefore, cherish the expectation, that you will gratify the wishes of the democratic people of the United States by permitting your name to be placed on the list of candidates, at the next period of election
The undersigned beg you to accept the assurance of their sincere respect and regard, and they pray God to protect and preserve you.
By Order of the Committee
Thomas Leiper Chairman
Jmes Carson Secretary
DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.