Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette, 24 February 1809

Washington Feb. 24. 09.

My dear Sir

In the hurry of the approaching close of a session of Congress and of the preparations for my own departure from this place, I must drop you a line by a public vessel going to France, altho’ it can be but a short one. on politics I will say nothing; that being safest for you as well as myself. for those of our own country I will refer you to mr Coles, the bearer of this, my Secretary, who is intimately acquainted with our affairs, can give you all their details, & may be fully relied on. his great worth, as well as my affection for him, will, I am certain, ensure to him the attentions you so kindly bestow on all our country men.

Since mine of July 18. I have recieved your’s of May 29. June 19. & July 28. I now inclose you a letter from M. Duplantier to yourself & the copy of one to me. he mentions, you will observe a new claim of M. McCarty, interfering with yours in the environs of New Orleans. of this I have never heard before, nor does M. Duplantier mention it’s extent. his idea that the grounds on the Canal de Carondelet are irreclaimable, because low & covered with water must proceed from their not being there in the habit of enterprises of any kind. from the Missisipi to L. Pontchartrain the ground descends gradually, and at the lake in the highest waters, these drowned lands are covered 3. feet deep, diminishing to nothing as you go towards the city. a levée then of 4. feet is all that would be necessary even at the border of the lake, and that would be made with the earth of a ditch of 4. f. deep, which is no very arduous undertaking. still it is such an one as will require some advance of money. but when we consider the immensity of the country all of whose produce must be brought to N. Orleans, it must become the largest city in the world, and it’s growth must be most rapid, because the whole of our population which moves Westwardly adds to it. it’s value too must be considerably & speedily increased by a work which the government will execute this summer, that is, a continuation of the Canal of Carondelet into the Missisipi, which will carry all the commerce of the Misipi through that Canal, because the navigation will be so much safer & shorter. with such prospects the value of that ground must become great. in retiring from this place, it adds much to my pleasure that your interests will be superintended by persons so friendly to you as mr Madison & mr Gallatin. they will certainly do for you whatever can legally be done.

Our embargo, which has been a very trying measure, has produced one very happy, & permanent effect. it has set us all on domestic manufacture, & will I verily believe reduce our future demands on England fully one half. we are all eager to get into the Merino race of sheep. the weight of your fleeces as mentioned in your letter astonishes me. I thought that kind of sheep yielded a very fine wool, but little in quantity.   I shall soon be in a situation in which I can with punctuality execute any botanical orders of Mde. de Tesse which my portion of the country would furnish. but it is vain for me to offer my services anew until the freedom of the sea is obtained. be so good as to present my most friendly respects to her & M. de Tessé; and to be assured yourself of my constant affection & respect.

Th: Jefferson

CSmH: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

Index Entries