[20 Feb. 1809]
The deligates from the various Towns in the County of Essex, & Commonwealth of Massachusetts in Convention assembled at Topsfield on Monday February 20th AD 1809, actuated by a deep sense of the extraordinary situation of our common Country and the loss it is about to sustain by the privation of your Councils, that we may hereafter enjoy the cheering consolation of having paid the last tribute of respect, which is due from a free and grateful People to a beloved Chief Magestrate, whose principal object during a long series of years, has been the hapiness and glory of his Country, beg leave, in behalf of the republican Citizens of the County of Essex, to prefer to you this their respectful address.—
In reviewing the great events which have distinguished your Administration, and their salutary and happy effects on the Citizens of the United States, we are impelled to tender you our most sincere congratulations.—The repeal of burthensome and vexatious Taxes, the reduction of unnecessary Offices, and expences, the securing the friendship of the Indian Tribes and your exertions to ameliorate their unhappy situation by introducing among them Agriculture & other Arts of Civilization; the acquisition of Louisiana, the prompt and efficient means adopted to prevent a formidable insurrection, the happy termination of the War with the Barbary powers, and the reduction of thirty four Millions of the National-debt, while they prove the strength & efficiency of our excellent system of Republican Government, they reflect the highest honor on the prudence and wisdom of the Administration, refute the calumnies of its enemies, and will transmit your name with distinguished lusture to posterity.—
Since our National existance our Seamen have every day been enslaved and incarcerated in the Ships of Great-Britain; and our Rights & the laws of Nations been trampled on by England & France; You Sir, made the first stand, against violence, in their defence, a stand which we trust will never be abandoned. But for the voice of Faction & the Bribery of Britain, but for the efforts of a party, headed by a man outrageous in his passions and disgraced by his own friends, who to effect his purposes would ruin his Country & whose uneasy temper would disturb Elysium to gain the Mastery;—But for him & his friends your exertions would have been crowned with the securement of the rights of our Seamen & our Merchants.—
In adverting to the present embarrased situation of our Country, the public dispatches to our Ministers abroad Amply demonstrate, that your exertions to preserve the peace and continue the prosperity of our Country have been commensurate to the difficulties and dangers to which they have been so frequently exposed; and when we reflect on the Character and circumstances of those European Nations, which in their Mad Contention for Universal Dominion, have virtually abolished all those ancient laws & Usuages of Nations, which heretofore form’d a barrier to Belligerent aggression and a Shield to Neutral rights, and the Consequent intricate and embarrasing dilemma, in which the Administration were involved, we are duly sensible, that the preservation of our peace, without a sacrifice of our National honor, has been owing as much to an impartial and discreet, as to a dignified & wise direction of our public affairs—Knowing as we do, your affectionate attachment to our National Constitution, which has been Administred in its purety, by your exertions, and under your Administration; that the opposition with which the late measures of the General Government are Menaced in this part of the Union may not create in your mind any disquietude or doubts as to our reciprocating that attachment, we beg leave to assure you, that Notwithstanding the County of Essex is reputed the seat of disappointed & turbulent faction, the number who read and think for themselves, is indeed great & constituted of men who are too enlightened to become the dupes, & too independent to regard the displeasure of rank or oppulence Men who will never surrender, but with their lives, the invaluable liberties which the blood and wisdom of their Fathers achieved, and who Cherish the Constitution which pronounced us a Nation as their only ark of safety, the grand palladium of their present peace and future happiness.—In contemplating the period which will exhibit to the World the second astonishing spectacle which the annals of our Country affords of the Chief Majestrate of the Nation Voluntarily surrendering his powers, emoluments and honors into those hands which confered them on him; We are deeply impressed with the Joy which alone can arise from the reverence we entertain for your virtues, and that system of Government in which they have been so emminently and conspiceously exercised. And while in your unremitting exertions & able councils, in times of past difficulty, we behold a sure pledge that those Councils will not be withheld in any time of future trouble and National embarressment, we most earnestly pray that that solace may await you in retirement, which must be derived from a concientious discharge of the high and responsible office to which the sufrages of Millions of your fellow Citizens have repeatedly called you.
And while we wish you the undisturbed enjoyment of the choicest of heavens blessings, during the remainder of your days, we shall never cease to commend you to that Over-ruling providence which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of Man here and his grater happiness hereafter.—
Stephen Cross, President
Joseph Sprague junior—
DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.