Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Jesse Morris, 21 February 1809

At a Meeting of sixty Democratic Republican Delegates, from twenty one Townships of Washington County convened by public notice, at the house of Mr. Thomas Officer on Tuesday the 21st. day of February 1809. James Kerr Esqr. was called to the chair and Jesse Morris appointed Secretary.—When the following preamble, resolutions, and address, were laid before the meeting and unanimously adopted.—

That the people have a right at all times to meet peaceably (either colectively or by their Delegates) to express their sentiments of public men and public measures, “and consult for their common good” is indesputable, but it becomes an indespensible duty at a crisis like the present, when “The pot shards of the Earth” are dashing themselves to pieces against each other when every vestage of civel liberty and human happiness seems to be banished from the old-world, When the Sovereignty and independance of our beloved country (the only assylumn for oppressed humanity) has not only been wantenly infringed by the tyrants of Europe, but when ever the bond of union upon which all our political safety and security as a nation depends, is aparently in danger of being rent assunder by the machinations of foreign emissaries and the treachery of internal foes.—

When they hireling waiters of a desparate British faction (who have been fostered in our land,) have for eight years past prostituted the liberties of the press; diped their pens in the bitterest gall of malevolence and envy missrepresenting every act of our general government in any measure calculated to preserve the peace dignity and independance of these United States, and finally when the miscreants have openly advocated treason and rebelion against the constituted authorities, public opinion being the main pillar of all free governments, It is the bound and duty of every true and independant American to frown such traitors into Silence (as attempts to corrupt that opinion,) by withdrawing all pecunary aid or support from such printers as prostitute their presses in Justifying the outragious agressions of Great Britain and wickedly traduce our Government in every measure calculated to preserve and perpituate the blessings of independance and peace so eminantly enjoied under the Administration of our present Chief Magistrate especially as it is evidently owing to the Slanders and missrepresentations of these hireling printers that the General Government have been driven to the dire alternative either of Submitting to the agressions of foreign Despots or waging a defensive war to preserve that independance so dearly purchased by the blood of our brethren and fathers.—

Viewing the Government of our beloved Country thus driven by the machinations of foreign emissaries and internal traitors almost to the verge of a precipice, to be silent, would in the opinion of this meeting be criminal, and to be luke warm, pucilianimous, therefore.

1. Resolved that having full confidence in the integrity wisdom and patriotism, of the President and majority of Congress who have their all at stake in common with us, we rest assured that the energies of an indignant people directed by the wisdom of their representatives; will, under the superintendance of Divine Providence, yet defeat the machinations of our enemies and that the liberties, Union and independance of our Country will be handed down to posterity not only unimpared but renovated by the present political tempest raised by the enemies of the “rights of man” to destroy the only Government on Earth “under which man can speake and act as man”.—

2. Resolved that while we look back and review the desperate and daring attempt of Aaron Burr, and his associates to promote a civil war in the west, so happily frustrated; without sheding human blood, we are likewise perswaded that though murmers and discontents have appeared in the east, that the patriotism and animated appeal made to the independant free men of Massachusets by Lieutenant Lincolin, in his address to the Legislature of that State, will also crush the hopes of the enemies of our Country in that Section of the Union, carry dismay into the cabinate council of Timothy Pickering’s Essex Junto, and dispel the cloud apparently hovering over that hitherto patriotic State.—

3. Resolved, that we view with disapprobation the conduct of our present representative in Congress, he has not expressed the sentiments of his constituents for none would more readily than the citizens of Washington County declare that the United States could not without an abandonment of their rights honour and independance, submit to the late edicts of Great Britain and France.—

4. Resolved, that the thanks of this meeting are hereby tendered to our Democratic brethren of New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Marble head, Salem and elswhere, for their spirited and patrioatic resolutions to support the Government and laws of their Country, being convinced that our salvation as a nation depends on union of sentiment and union of action, And though remote from them we are ready to join heart and hand with all such and do hereby “pledge our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honour” to defend the Union and independance of our common Country.—

5. Resolved, that although the embargo laws have not produced the desired effect in bringing the tyrants of Europe to a sence of Justice, owing to the avarice of unprincipled speculators who in all countries are the pests of civil society yet we are perswaded that great and important benefits will arise therefrom in the establishment of manufactures in our own Country, and that the patrioatic resolutions of many of our worthy fellow Citizens throughout the Union, as worthy our imitation therefore we are determined to give every encouragement to domestic manufactures by giving such articles a preferance to the trifles heretofore imported, from foreign countries—

6. Resolved, that a copy of these proceedings with the annexed address, signed by the chair man and secretary, be forwarded to the President of the United States, and published in such papers as are disposed to support the government and laws of their country.—

Jesse Morris Secretary       James Kerr Chair man

To Thomas Jefferson Esqr. President of the United States.—

Sir. Though personally unknown to you we cannot think of letting this last oppertunity of addressing you as our Chief Magistrate pass without tendering our mite of thanks for past services, with heart felt pleasure have we observed your unremitting endeavours for eight years to preserve the peace and independance of your Country amidst the rise and fall of mighty Empires faithfully stearing clear of “entangling alliances with any” of the contending powers and observing a strict neutrality towards all, which in any common times would have saved our country from the present embarassments that have been thrown in the way of our national prosperity by the envy or malice of the rival powers.

Although the embargo laws have not as yet had the desired effect in bringing the tyrants of Europe to a sence of Justice, not for want of wisdom in the measure but principally owing to the averice of “the worthless part of the community” who have in their daring opposition to the laws evidenced that they would not only sacrefice the honour and independance of their country, but that they would even crucify their God for Gold, yet we are proud to observe that in many instances it has had the most beneficial effects in turning the attention of many of our enterprising fellow Citizens to the establishment of useful manufactures in our country, and the patriotic resolutions of some of the State Legislatures to encourage such laudable undertakings by agreeing to wear homespun, which if generally adopted would be much more congenial to the simplicity of our republican form of government than the trapings courtly sycophants heretofore imported, with pain have we observed that through the whole course of your Administration as the wisdom and policy of the measures proposed and adopted under your direction unfolded themselves; that in ten fold proportion did the verulence and abuse of your political enemies encrace, rest assured that your declaration at its commencment, that “error of opinion is found perfectly harmless when reason and truth are left free to combat it” has made a lasting impression on the minds of your fellow Citizens, of the integrity of your intentions; While we contemplate the patriotic firmness and disinterested virtues during the whole course of present Administration and former important services now about to exchange at your own instance as a second Washington the splendid labours of the highest Office in the gift of a free and independant people, for the humble scenes of domestic life, we cannot sepress the consicious feelings of that dignified preminence in the list of nations, to which the sovereign goodness of Almighty providence has graciously exalted the American people in confering upon them such illustrious instances of virtue and talent, comparing these with the royal oppressors of the Nations, their houghty pretentions and hallow pagent, how deformed and contemptable the latter, we feel disposed to pity rather than emulate the unhappy distinctions of their titled dignataries, those enobld tools of desolating tyrany and ruthless oppression; While carping malevolence lifts its envenomed voice and exerts in vain to disturb your deserved repose may you, Sir, enjoy unimpared the sweets of an approving conscience amidst the approbation of a greatful people while their latest posterity will inroll your illustrious name in the honourable cataloge of the benefactors of mankind and of their Country.—

Jesse Morris Secretary       James Kerr Chairman

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

Index Entries