Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Robert Smith, 18 September 1807

Monticello Sep. 18. 07.

Dear Sir

On my return yesterday I found yours of the 10th. and now re-inclose you Com. Rogers’s letter. you remember that the orders to Decatur were to leave the British ships unmolested so long as they laid quiet in the bay: but if they should attempt to enter Eliz. river to attack them with all his force. the spirit of these orders should, I think, be applied to New York. so long as the British vessels merely enter the Hook or remain quiet there, I would not precipitate hostilities. I do not sufficiently know the geography of the harbor to draw the line which they should not pass. perhaps the narrows; perhaps some other place which yourself or Commodore Rogers can fix with the aid of the advice he can get in N. York. but a line should be drawn which if they attempt to pass he should attack them with all his force. perhaps he would do well to have his boats ordinarily a little without the line to let them see they are not to approach it: but whether he can lie there in safety, ordinarily, he must judge. but if the British vessels continue at the Hook, great attention should be paid to prevent their recieving supplies, or their landing or having any intercourse with the shore or other vessels.   I left mr Nicholas’s yesterday morning. he is indisposed with his annual influenza. mrs Nicholas is well. I shall be at Washington on the 3d. prox. Affectionate salutations.

Th: Jefferson

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

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