Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from William Duane, 5 December 1807

on or before 5 Dec. 1807

Respected Sir,

By the mail which carries this I have taken the liberty of sending you a copy or the first number of the Military library, a compilation of my own; it is my purpose to collect all that is to be had in the best books & to give them such a form as the first number exhibits, which may lead judicious men to enquire and think and inform those who are uninformed. I have obtained thro’ Genl. Dearborn’s kindness the use of several books from the War Office Library, and particularly the invaluable but prolix work of Guibert, the whole substance of which I mean to comprehend in my work. I have the French System translated making about 700 manuscript pages, to which will be added perspicuous diagrams of all the modern movements. It will be seen that from the price of this number, I have not looked so much to profit as to public utility, and I persuade myself that the circulation of such a work would be of very great use; I have conversed much with Genl. Wilkinson on the Subject, and meet his ideas as far as I was competent to discourse with a man of practical Experience.

I propose preparing as part of my work a Manuel for American Militia, the object of which is to supply what is wanted in Steuben’s little book, and to accommodate it to the use of every description of troops Infantry, cavalry & artillery, and to add to it some ideas of combination of movement of the various kinds of force. I explain myself to you with the same frankness & unreserve that your uniform kindness has encouraged me always to do, perhaps it would appear upon consideration that this work would be worth recommending to such Militia officers as are in Congress, for there is no work on military affairs extant which communicates any consistent information on more than one branch of Service; and a library of Various books contains so much Extraneous matter and besides the books are both scarce and expensive, that it is scarcely possible to collect them for several years

Lawsuits have detained me here and will detain me till at least after the 20th instant—So that I shall not have the pleasure of delivering the books you ordered till the first week in January. Mr. Barton’s botanical book is not to be had in sheets—Cumberlands work is to have a second volume; there is no English Edition to be had here but in quarto, which I did not take, knowing that you prefer 8vos

Neither is there an English copy of Mrs. Bryan’s Chemical Conversations to be had—

Col. Burr was to sail this day for Richmond.—I have not yet heard that he is gone; he was arrested here on Tuesday at night at the suit I believe of Alexander Henry, whom you may remember as notorious jobber in the 8 percent loan; it was ten o’clock at night before he obtained bail, I have not been able to learn who were his Sureties

We are in a bad way here as to our Militia—the uniform corps will not serve under M’Kean—he has ordered them to be called out in companies, to annoy them; and as no law authorises they will not I much fear obey him; the company that I commanded formerly, now commanded by Mr. Graves, will however by my advice turn out; but Rush & some others say they will not, unless under your authority. I know how many delicate & unpleasant considerations might arise from these dispositions all flowing from the best & most honorable motives; but in the manner that they have been treated by M’Kean; the contumelious dismission of their commandant of the Leegion and a variety of vexations that his malignant temper & the malignant dispositions of his advisers have prompted renders it a matter more unpleasant than surprising—as soon as I heard of it I waited on some of the Officers, & endeavored to induce them to turn out—Capt. Greaves alone I could prevail upon; but they have consented to call on the Adjutant Genl. and converse with him—the argument they use by the bye is different from the true one—They say they are willing to turn out with their own officers, not with officers of McKean’s nomination in whom they could have no confidence—they are willing to take their turn in the ordinary draft as other militia even under MKean—But as the law does not oblige them to turn out as Volunteer corps & as the President has not accepted their services, they will abide by the law. They add however that they are not ready to go from home & leave men behind them who are the deadly enemies of the Government, who are exempted from service & enjoy their property under a Government for which they will not fight, and whose friends they would destroy. These matters are not yet publicly known, and no efforts shall be untried to prevent bad effects.

I am respected Sir yours ever

Wm Duane

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

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