Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from William Duane, 28 February 1809

Phila. Feb. 28. 1809

Respected Sir,

A letter from Natchitoches now before me contains the following Statements, which I think it proper to communicate, tho’ it may probably be obtained from other quarters. The letter is from a gentleman of undoubted credit & integrity

“Some interesting Events are likely soon to occur in this quarter. Our Spanish neighbors talk of nothing but independence and are determined to Effect it the moment they hear of the Subjection of Spain to Bonaparte. This we all anticipate though the latest accounts warrant no such presumption. Immense sums have been Subscribed not only by the people but by their governor for purposes as they allege “of the first magnitude,” which is well understood to mean the Establishment of a new Empire. How greatly the U States would profit by such an Event must be obvious to Every one, and we therefore look with anxiety for the intelligence which is to Elicit the revolutionary flame. The viceroy of Mexico who was supposed to be in the French interest is deposed and a temporary government is Established”

The same letter contains the following information, which presents a deplorable picture of the State of discipline and barbarous insubordination which prevails too generally throughout the Military Establishment of the U. States; and which if not checked by Effective regulation very speedily may lend [to] the ruin of the country.*

I had proposed doing myself the pleasure of seeing you on the 4th of March, and [. . . .] to have set off tomorrow but as usual the lawyers will not admit it; if I should learn that you do not go to Virginia soon after I shall gratify my feelings in paying you my most grateful respects in person—If that should not be as I wish—I trust there is no necessity of my making any declaration on that Subject.

Wm Duane

* I prefer writing this on a separate paper for your personal information—

“The greatest animosity prevails among the officers of the army at this post as well as at New Orleans. Capt. Cooper has been tried for several high offences. Capt Woolstoncroft is under an arrest, and Col. Freeman’s arrest is Expected daily. A duel was fought a few days ago between Capt. Woolstoncroft and Lieut Humphry the former was slightly wounded. Col. Freeman at the same time refused a challenge from one of his lieutenants who has proclaimed him in the public papers as a coward. These are only a few of the melancholy transactions in the army small as it is.”

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

Index Entries