Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Barnabas Bidwell, 11 July 1807

Washington July 11. 07.

Dear Sir.

Yours of June 27. has been duly recieved, and altho’, wishing your happiness always, I cannot be altogether unpleased with a transfer of your services to a department more pleasing to yourself, yet I cannot but lament your loss in Congress. you know that talents cannot be more useful any where than there: and the times seem to portend that we may have occasion there for all we possess. you have long ago learnt the atrocious acts committed by the British armed vessels in the Chesapeake & it’s neighborhood. they cannot be easily accomodated, altho’ it is believed that they cannot be justified by orders from their government. we have acted on these principles. 1. to give that government an opportunity to disavow & make reparation. 2. to give ourselves time to get in the vessels, property & seamen now spread over the ocean. 3. to do no act which might compromit Congress in their choice between war, non-intercourse or any other measure. we shall probably call them some time in October, having regard to the return of the healthy season, and to the reciept of an answer from Great Britain, before which they could only act in the dark. in the mean time we shall make all the preparations which time will permit, so as to be ready for any alternative. the officers of the British ships, in a conference with a gentleman sent to them by the Mayor of Norfolk have solemnly protested they mean no further proceeding without further orders. but the question is whether they will obey the Proclamation? if they do not, acts of force will probably ensue. still these may lead to nothing further if their government is just. I salute you with great affection

Th: Jefferson

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

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