Washington July 9. 07.
Your favor of June 23. is recieved. I had not before learned that a life of Dr. Priestly had been published or I should certainly have procured it; for no man living had a more affectionate respect for him. In religion, in politics, in physics no man has rendered more service.
I had always expected that when the republicans should have put down all things under their feet, they would schismatise among themselves. I always expected too that whatever names the parties might bear, the real division would be into moderate & ardent republicanism. in this division there is no great evil, not even if the minority obtain the ascendancy by the accession of federal votes to their candidate: because this gives us one shade only, instead of another, of republicanism. it is to be considered as apostacy only when they purchase the votes of federalists with a participation in honor & power. the gross insult lately recieved from the English has forced the latter into a momentary coalition with the mass of republicans. but the moment we begin to act, in the very line they have joined in approving, all will be wrong, and every act the reverse of what it should have been: still it is better to admit their coalescence, & leave to themselves their shortlived existence.—both reason & the usage of nations required we should give Gr. Britain an opportunity of disavowing & repairing the insult of their officers. it gives us at the same time an opportunity of getting home our vessels, our property & our seamen, the very means of carrying on the only kind of war we should attempt. the only difference I believe between your opinion & mine as to the protection of commerce, is the forcing the nation to take the best road, & the letting them take a worse, if such is their will. I salute you with great esteem & respect
DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.