Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to John Smith, 7 May 1807

Monticello May 7. 07.

Dear Sir

Your two letters of Mar. 27. & Apr. 6. have been recieved. writing from this place where I have not my papers to turn to, I cannot even say whether I have recieved such as you ask copies of. but I am sorry to answer any request of yours by saying that a compliance would be a breach of trust. it is essential for the public interest that I should recieve all the information possible respecting either matters or persons connected with the public. to induce people to give this information, they must feel assured that when deposited with me it is secret and sacred. honest men might justifiably withold information, if they expected the communication would be made public & commit them to war with their neighbors & friends. this imposes the duty on me of considering such information as mere suggestions for enquiry & to put me on my guard, and to injure no man by forming any opinion until the suggestion be verified. long experience in this school has by no means strengthened the disposition to believe too easily. on the contrary it has begotten an incredulity which leaves no one’s character in danger from any hasty conclusion. I hope these considerations will satisfy you both as they respect you and myself, & that you will be assured I shall always be better pleased with those cases which admit that compliance with your wishes which is always pleasing to me. Accept my salutations & assurances of great esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

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