Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Thomas Truxtun, 4 December 1806

Philadelphia 4th Decemr 1806.


I have the honor to enclose to yourself herewith a plan of Counteraction, Should there be any serious designs against the Union of States.—This is done by me as a faithful Citizen, and for your own use alone; as you will perceive Some Suggestions that can only be considered confidential. My feeble efforts are always well intended, and no man in this Country desires more fervently the happiness of this Country than I do.

I have the honor to be Your Excellency’s Obedient Servt Respectfully.

Thomas Truxtun

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.


Philadelphia 10th August 1806.

Copy from my minutes.

To Counteract any attempt to dismember the Empire (If Such be the designs of Colonel Burr, Late Vice President of the United States) by seperating the Western from the Atlantic States, I would propose the following plan to be immediately carried into opperation by the Government of the United States, and the principal command given to some faithful and vigilant officer—And all the Officers Selected of men of probity, who could never have been contaminated, by the allurements of mistaken honors, and of riches held out by rapine by the leaders of rebellion in the bosom of our beloved country.

First. If any insurrection exists, or is hatching, or if the Eggs of insurrection are lay’d, in the western country, I would recommend to be equipt, maned and dispatched for the river Mississippi, all the small vessels of war belonging to the Navy of easy draught of water, to viz, Brigs, Schooners, Gun boats, bom ketches, together with some well constructed Launches and barges, to roe from ten to twenty oars each, to draw little water, and to be well armed and every way calculated for the shores on that coast, as well as the rivers, creeks and inland navigation in that section of America, as also some whale boats as they are light and roe extremely fast.

Second. Such a Flotilla well appointed would be sufficient to blockade compleately the different passes of the river Mississippi and the Bays adjacent, together with all the Streams emptying into the Mississippi, near to its mouth or into the Bay of Mexico &c &c &c. Such a Flotilla would cut off all Supplies bound to the refractory Citizens and prevent their produce going out for any foreign market. In fact such a Flotilla would cut off all communication between the Insurgents and the various powers disposed secretly to aid them by any commerce over Sea and Check Aid to them otherwise, as well as to distroy any flotilla the insurgents might prepare. Thirdly. To prevent any connivance of the court of Spain of their Subjects in the neighbourhood of the rebels furnishing Supplies, In from Savannah &c, I would recommend an ocean Squadron, in addition to the inshore Squadron or Flotilla, to be composed of some of the large vessels of the US or frigates of easiest draught of water—to take Station and cruiz off Pensacola—Mobile the Mississippi mouth &c &c &c and to the westward of the Mississippi river—So that a line be formed of Considerable extent along the Coast without the Flotilla, or outside the Flotilla.

Fourthly. The Opperations of Such a force Consisting of a double Chain of Cruizers, and look out vessels, on the coast &c, and the one calculated as occasion may require to ascend the rivers & Streams would Check Rebellion Sooner than any army that could be raised and Sent into the western Country, and at much less expence—But while these opperations were carrying on by Sea—I would recommend Such a force composed of Militia Stationed on the western frontier of the Alantic States as would Effectually cut off all Supplies or Commerce with the refractory States, or in land communication with them.

Lastly. I do not Swell this plan of mine to Calumnies by entering on little details connected with Such opperations as I propose—But gives the outlines which is Sufficient for the consideration of Government in case of need. Much must be left to the Judicious commander appointed to regulate, in his own way, on the Spot, and to direct other affairs connected therewith, according to exigencies and various Circumstances.

But Quere. If a Seperation is the Object—are not the British Connected with Mr. Burr— Such a hint is well worthy of minute inquiry.

Thomas Truxtun

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