Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to James Sullivan, 18 October 1807

Washington Oct. 18. 1807.


I have duly recieved your favor of the 8th. instant, covering, at the request of the General court of Massachusets, a Memorial to the Senate & House of Representatives of the US. on behalf of Benjamin Hichborn & others, with a desire that I would communicate & recommend the same to both Houses of Congress. I should avail myself with particular pleasure of every occasion of doing what would be acceptable to the legislative & Executive authorities of Massachusets, and which should be within the limits of my functions. The Executive of the union is indeed, by the Constitution, made the channel of communication between foreign powers & the United States. but Citizens, whether individually, or in bodies corporate, or associated, have a right to apply directly to any department of their government, whether legislative, executive, or judiciary; the exercise of whose powers they have a right to claim; & neither of these can regularly offer it’s intervention in a case belonging to the other. the communication & recommendation by me to Congress of the Memorial you have been pleased to inclose me, would be an innovation, not authorised by the practice of our government, & therefore the less likely to add to it’s weight or effect. thus restrained from serving you, in the exact way desired, I have thought I could not better do it, than by a prompt return of the papers, that no time might be lost in transmitting them through the accustomary channels of your Senators & Representatives in Congress: and I avail myself of the occasion of assuring you of my very high respect & consideration

Th: Jefferson

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

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