Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Md., Inhabitants of Frederick County, 18 February 1809

State of Maryland. Frederick County.
February 18. 1809.

To the President, the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled.

The memorial of the subscribers, inhabitants of Frederick County in the State of Maryland, respectfully represents:

That your memorialists have viewed with anxious solicitude, but with entire approbation, the unceasing and impartial efforts of the present administration to preserve the maritime rights of the people of this country, against the cupidity of foreign nations, and cultivate with all the world the relations of amity and freindly intercourse. They have also seen the failure of those efforts as relates to the principal belligerent powers, with deep regret, and with all the sensibility the manifold injuries, wrongs and insults received from Great Britain and France are calculated to inspire; but most deeply do they feel themselves affected at the impression apparently made on foreign powers, that in sections of this country the noble impulse of patriotism, by which United America became emancipated from foreign taxation, and dominion, has degenerated into the mean, contracted and sordid spirit of avarice, and that the blindness and depravity of its voteries were preparing them to visit their own government with that vengeance which is only due to the wicked encroachments of foreign governments, and their emissaries and partisans in this country.

Your memorialists deprecate the idea, that any informed citizen, possessing an uncontaminated heart, can now withhold from his government his hearty and intire support. Differences of opinion on minor subjects is the characteristic of freedom, and therefore to be expected and respected in all free governments; but when foreign powers have heaped upon a nation every aggression, and every insult, and in the end pointedly assails its very independence, accompanied with the manifestation that the degeneracy and depravity of its citizens encourage the hostile procedure, there is no time for parley or for hesitation.

The declaration in Congress “that the United States cannot without a sacrifice of their rights, honor and independence submit to the late edicts of Great Britain and France,” clearly evinces that the question for every citizen now is—whether he will rally round his government, or enlist under foreign banners—

Your memorialists as American citizens, and with hearts overflowing with gratitude to the author of all good, for the peculier and supereminent blessings they enjoy as such, feel it a duty to declare, as they now beg leave to do to the constituted authorities, and to the world, that they will support their government in the measures taken, and in such further measures as the flagitious conduct of foreign nations may lead Congress to adopt against all resistance foreign or domestic; and in support of this declaration they pledge their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.

Signed by twelve hundred and four persons.

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

Index Entries