Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Charles Clay, 11 January 1807

Washington Jan. 11. 07.

Dear Sir

Your’s of Dec. 19. has been duly recieved, and I thank you for your friendly attention to the offer of lands adjoining me for sale. it is true that I have always wished to purchase a part of what was Murray’s tract which would straiten the lines of the Poplar Forest. but I really am not able to make a purchase. I had hoped to keep the expences of my office within the limits of it’s salary, so as to apply my private income entirely to the improvement & enlargement of my estate: but I have not been able to do it.   Our affairs with Spain, after which you inquire, do not promise the result we wish. not that war will take place immediately; but they may go off without a settlement, and leave us in constant bickering about indemnification for spoliations, the navigation of the Mobille and the limits of Louisiana.

Burr’s enterprize is the most extraordinary since the days of Don Quixot. it is so extravagant that those who know his understanding would not believe it if the proofs admitted doubt. he has meant to place himself on the throne of Montezuma, and extend his empire to the Allegany, siezing on N. Orleans as the instrument of compulsion for our Western states. I think his undertaking effectually crippled by the activity of Ohio. whether Kentucky will give him the coup de grace is doubtful; but if he is able to descend the river with any means, we are sufficiently prepared at New Orleans. I hope however Kentucky will do it’s duty & finish the matter, for the honour of popular govmt, and the discouragement of all arguments for standing armies. Accept my friendly salutations & assurances of great esteem & respect

Th: Jefferson

Privately owned.

Index Entries