Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to William Jones, 3 February 1809

Washington Feb. 3. 09.

Dear Sir

I recieved duly your favor of Jan. 24. covering the resolutions & address of the town meeting of the city & county of Philadelphia, the answer to which has been delayed by other business which would not admit delay. I beg leave, through the same channel now to convey my answer.

Accept in this separate letter my thanks for the very friendly expressions of personal regard contained in your letter, & be assured that they are returned in full measure: and with these assurances I tender my best wishes for your future health & happiness, & my most friendly salutations.

Th: Jefferson

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.


Feb. 3. 1809

To the citizens of the city & county of Philadelphia in town meeting assembled

In the resolutions & address which you have been pleased to present to me, I recognize, with great satisfaction, the sentiments of faithful citizens, devoted to the maintenance of the rights of their country, to the sacred band which unites these states together, & rallying round their government in support of it’s laws. after the intolerable assault on our maritime rights, by the declarations of the belligerent powers, that we should navigate the ocean only as they should permit, the recall of our seamen, recovery of our property abroad, and putting ourselves into a state of defence, should perseverance on their parts force us to the last appeal, were duties of first obligation. no other course was left us but to reduce our navigation within the limits they dictated and to hold even that subject to such further restrictions as their interests or will should prescribe. to this no friend to the independance of his country could submit.

Your resolution to aid in bringing to justice all violators of the laws of their country, & particularly of the embargo laws, & to be ready at all times to assist in carrying them into effect, is worthy of the patriotism which distinguishes the city & county of Philadelphia. this voluntary support of laws, formed by persons of our own choice, distinguishes peculiarly the minds capable of self-government. the contrary spirit is anarchy, which of necessity produces despotism. it is from the supporters of regular government only that the pledge of life, fortune & honour is worthy of confidence.

I learn with great satisfaction your approbation of the several measures pursued by the government, and enumerated in your address. for the advantages flowing from them, you are indebted principally to a wise & patriotic legislature, & to the able & inestimable coadjutors, with whom it has been my good fortune to be associated in the direction of your affairs. that these measures may be productive of the ends intended, must be the wish of every friend of his country; and the belief that every thing has been done to preserve our peace, secure the rights of our fellow-citizens, & to promote their best interests, will be a consolation under every situation to which the great disposer of events may destine us.

Your approbation of the motives for my retirement from the station so long confided to me, is a confirmation of their correctness. in no office can rotation be more expedient; & none less admits the indulgences of age. I am peculiarly sensible of your kind wishes for my happiness in the tranquility of retirement. nothing will contribute more to it than the hope of carrying with me the approbation of my fellow citizens, of the endeavors which I have faithfully exerted to be useful to them. to the all-protecting favor of heaven I commit yourselves & our common country.

Th: Jefferson

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