Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Benjamin Tomlinson, 20 February 1809

Cumberland, Allegany County Maryland, Febry 20th 1809—


A portion of the people of Allegany County having met together, to enter into Resolutions, approbatory of the measures of the General Government, and to express their readiness to support it, would be unwilling to let slip so favorable an opportunity as it presents, of testifying to you sir, their attachment, respect and esteem—We yield our willing praise in favor of your efforts for the general good, and while we are confident, your unceasing endeavors have been used to promote its best interests, and place them upon a basis, firm and lasting, we truly lament the existence of any cause, that should have stayed a support as universal, as we are sure your intentions merit—As to ourselves we doubt not of the correctness and wisdom of the course pursued, but are fully sensible a choice of difficulties alone, too often presented, though had the nation moved in mass all would have been well—When the storm and agitation that characterises the present moment shall have subsided; when passion and prejudice shall have yielded to reason its usurped place, and the acts that close your Administration shall have had justice done them by a cool and calm investigation, we trust that a full and ample reward will be given: and that posterity in passing sentence upon the present times, will not fail to appreciate all matters duly as they ought; and will acknowledge advantages, from the many discoveries, improvements and establishments made, the beneficial effects whereof, will be permanently diffused through this wide extended continent—A few fleeting years will scarce have passed away, before the men even of the present day, casting a retrospective eye upon these times, will be seized with wonder and astonishment at the strange contrarity of opinions, the strange bickerings we have fallen into, and the unaccountable distrust that seems to exist—To you, sir, we wish all possible happiness, may you live to behold the storm that seems to threaten us, pass like a summers cloud away; may you enjoy in your retirement, the reward of conscious rectitude and of the best intentions, and may your last moments receive a brightened hue from an assurance of your countrys happiness—

Signed in the name, and by order of the meeting—

Benjn. Tomlinson, Chrn.

Upton Bruce, sec:

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.


Cumberland, Febry. 20th. 1809

Whereas in times of peril and alarm, when internal commotions agitate the country, and when too our affairs with foreign nations wear a lowering and untoward aspect, and the gathering storm big with alarm, threatens every moment to burst and produce consequences, no head can foresee, but every heart may tremble at, it would seem particularly to be required of the citizens of a free Republic, that they step forth and declare to the Government, determinations of firm attachment and support.—Therefore be it resolved by the citizens of Allegany County now assembled, and it is hereby Resolved, that viewing with calmness, candor and deliberation the endeavors of the General Government to obtain redress of France and England, we consider the Government to have acted a perfectly fair, honorable and impartial part; that it now rests with these nations to adjust their differences with us whenever they deem fit, upon terms just and reciprocal, and their refusing to do so, evinces a spirit hostile and unfriendly—

Resolved, That we approve of the Embargo, and the different measures adopted by the Government to secure our rights and protect them from further infraction; and farther we pledge our aid, our persons and our property in execution of more bold and determined measures, or of such means as the wisdom of Congress may determine on, and deem necessary to obtain redress, or defend us against the attack, or the designs of any foreign nation whatever: that we will resist to the last, the usurpations upon our rights by any, and will resent with a just indignation and a suitable return, the efforts of any to force us into their views—

Resolved, That we view the manner in which the letter from Mr Canning to Mr Pinkney of the 23d of Septr last, has made its appearance as a departure from that line of respect, due from one nation to another, and as an artful and insidious attempt on the part of the Government of Great Britain, to sow divisions among the American people, and excite in them, unfounded jealousies and suspicions against their government.

Resolved, that outraged and insulted as we are by foreign powers, we deem it our sacred duty to rally round the standard of the government, that all internal differences ought to sink into oblivion and we become united in one common cause, the defence of our rights, and of our honor, that we witness with deep concern the divisions that distract the American mind, and at a moment when all should be united, the most fatal misunderstanding as to matters unhappily drives us asunder—On this head, the beloved father of his Country, our immortal Washington, has left us his warning voice:—“let me” says he, “warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally—It serves always to distract the public councils and infeeble the public administration—It agitates the community with illfounded jealousy’s and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasional riots and insurrection—It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access into the Government itself through the channels of party passions—Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another”—

Resolved, That we feel it our duty to submit to, and support all laws enacted by the legitimate authority, until they are constitutionally repealed, that without this principle, government is of no effect; we can have no security for life or property: without it we know not where we should drive, and he who acts upon, or inculcates a different doctrine, tares asunder the firmest band of society, sets every thing afloat, renders himself unworthy of those privileges the laws secure to him, and becomes an enemy to his country and to himself—

B. Tomlinson, Chrn.

U. Bruce, sec:

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