Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Edward Telfair, 11 July 1807

Savannah July 11th. 1807


That the People of the United States are sincerely attached to your person, and as sincerely approve of the principles of your Administration, is not at this time a problem of difficult solution. It is perhaps one of those abstract political truths, which requires no demonstration.

You have given an energy, a consistency and beauty to the principles of republicanism, which its confederated enemies cannot weaken or diminish:

You have strengthened the principles of Union among these States, by bonds of interest and affection, which internal disaffection, and external fraud, have in vain attempted to dissever:

Under your Administration, Virtue, peace and National prosperity, have gone hand in hand,—spreading their beneficial effects in every section of your Country.

Associating your political Wisdom with the patriotism of the People, you have defeated the machinations of Traitors—and freed the Republic from danger:

You have evinced to your Country, and to the World, that a general diffusion of the spirit of civic virtue, such as emanates from the persuasive, yet energetic principles of the republican Institution, is more salutary and efficient in times of internal discontent and convulsion, than either the bayonets of despots, or the Guillotines of Anarchists:

You have effectually crushed a British influence, which once pervaded these United States, spreading its maledictions over our National Character, and creating divisions among our People:

You have spared the lives and treasure of our Citizens, by preferring Peace and negociation, to the tyrannic and desolating triumphs of War—and that preference, hath hitherto been distinguished, by greater benefits and glory, than could have resulted from an accursed system of rapine and bloodshed—a system, abhorred by Republics, and necessary to despots only.

These, Sir, are among a few of the innumerable blessings, which have flowed from the measures of your Administration, and which have not only rendered you the pride of your Countrymen, but an object of their tenderest affection.

Relying upon the purity of your intentions, and standing upon the basis of your own integrity, you have treated with deserved contempt, the bitter anathemas of your enemies, (who are also the enemies of your Country) and you have not required a Sedition law to skreen either yourself from Obloquy, or your measures from investigation. This moderation has produced every effect that truth could have desired—It has added to the Celebrity of your mild but firm virtues, as a republican and a philosopher, and it has covered your calumniators with shame and confusion.—

In peace or in War, the People of these United States repose equal confidence in your administration: and at this momentous crisis, when the Government of Great Britain, is menacing the rights and Sovereignty of our Nation, and insolently soliciting another trial of strength with her powers—at a crisis so momentous, we, as a fraction of the people, know and feel, that the destinies of our Country are safe, under the control of a Chief Magistrate, whose character is thus marked, by every trait, which distinguishes a wise ruler, and a patriot Citizen.

Entertaining these opinions of yourself and your Administration, I feel happy, that it becomes my duty, to transmit to Your Excellency, the enclosed Resolutions.—They develope the strong feelings of indignation and resentment, which the late perfidious attack on the United States Frigate Chesapeake, and other aggressions of the British Government have excited among the Citizens of Savannah;—And I may venture to add, that similar feelings influence at this moment, every Citizen of Georgia.

We are prepared, Sir, to the utmost extent of our power and resources, to bow with submission to the mandates of the general Government, and to sacrifice every thing on the Altar of National Honor and retaliation.—We look upon the British Government, and her Assassinating Vassals, as our natural Enemies, whom nothing short of the demolition of our our liberties and Independency as a nation, can appease—We therefore trust, that a system of Co-ercion will be adopted, which will at this period, lead to a complete reparation of our wrongs, and forever afterwards, whether at War, or at Peace, place the means of a prompt vengeance within the power of American valour.—

In behalf of the Citizens of Savannah, I have the honor to be Respectfully Your Excellency’s Most Obedient Servant.

Edwd Telfair Chairman

of the Citizens of Savannah

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

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