Northumberland June 23. 1807.
From some late circumstances, I have reason to believe that neither Mr Priestley’s directions nor mine to transmit to you a copy of the memoirs of his father’s life have been complied with, though a set was appropriated for you to be sent at the first moment of publication. If you have not received one, be good enough to let me know: it will be a cause of much chagrin to Mr Priestley and myself should it be so, because it is not only our wish, but it would have been Dr Priestley’s had he been alive, to shew every testimony of respect to your person and character.
I am very glad you have acted with so much proper determination in respect of the British Treaty; for the impressment of American Seamen, was an insulting claim of that haughty government, equally offensive to the feelings of America, as opposed to common justice. You have taken safe and indisputable ground, provided commerce is to be protected at all; a point in which I fancy you and I differ. I was in hopes at one time that you would have been with me on that point, but it may happen in this case as in too many others that the right is not the expedient.
The political animosities of our State encrease daily: we have clearly four or rather five parties with us, 1st The monarchy-federalists: including the old tories, the old friends and adherents of Penn, who regard themselves as the noblesse of Pennsylvania, formed meliore luto. 2ly. The federalists who are not monarchists, but merely wish the power and privileges of the People to be somewhat abridged, and the Government to be more energetic. They are the friends & advocates of the military, the navy, the fortification System &c &c: 3ly The Quids, as Duane has nicknamed them, who are simply the advocates of things as they are, fearing the result of a change in this tempest of politics. 4ly. The democratic-republicans generally, who wish to extend the powers of the people and their representatives, to abolish all courts & all Law, and substitute arbitration in lieu of it, & to absorb in the Legislative branch all judicial and all executive powers. Their Governor as MKean’s successor is Simon Snyder my neighbour: a good man, reasonable and sensible; more acute than the Germans usually are, but with no literary knowledge or education whatever. Indeed I have personal reason for believing, that he has not an english book in his house; but he writes and spells tolerably well, better than nine tenths of our Legislators. I see no person likely to be opposed to him, upon the whole so eligible. Wm Tighlman our chief Justice is talked off, but there are many objections. He is beyond all comparison better qualified, but he ranks with the Chews, the Allens &c. the noblesse of my first class.
5ly. The democrats are certainly divisible into another class, the Duanites; with Leib. The abilities & energy of Duane have given him an influence, which has been used in defiance of all moral and political honesty in favour of Dr Leib, who is certainly a mill Stone round his neck. It is to them that the election of Gregg is to be imputed; ie to their fraudulent political manouvring against Snyder, who certainly is in favour with the majority of the republicans, & looked to as MKean’s successor. Every thing of personal imitation, and every thing of political violence proceeds from this sect of the republicans, who I am fully persuaded will ultimately occasion the downfall of the party in this State. But on the fall of the democratic party, they will succeed in their general views of abolishing Courts & Law, & executive power as well, as executive patronage.* For my own part I am persuaded that many things may be mended in our Constitution, but the longer I live, the more cautious I am of pulling down without clearly seeing how I can build up. I can not go with the Democrats throughout. They introduce too strong
habits of insubordination: they
are of opinion, that knowledge
is aristocracy, & that Ignorance
with republicanism is competent
to every political purpose that
a government needs. In our state legislature, all this has in my presence & hearing been openly & repeatedly advocated. This is too strong a dose for me. I have pressed in vain, a vote to call a Convention at some definite time hence, four or five years, but this is a proposition too moderate. I lay by therefore, and am ranked with the quids, tho’ I act with none. I begin to get weary of this incessant storm, and long for a short time of quiet, when the invaluable comforts of domestic society & social intercourse will not be enacted as the price of political reforms. Remain at all times respectfully and sincerely, your friend & servant
DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.