James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Thomas Jefferson, 18 August 1793

From Thomas Jefferson

Aug. 18. 93.

Dear Sir

My last was of the 11th. since which yours of the 5th. & 11th. are received. I am mortified at your not having your cypher. I now send the key of the numbers in mine of the 3d. This with my letter of the 11th. by post & another of the same date by Davy Randolph who will be at Monticello the last week of this month will put you in possession of the state of things to that date. The paper I now inclose will fill up chinks & needs not a word of explanation. To these I must add that orders are given to drive out of our ports the privateers which have been armed in them before the 5th. of June, by gentler means if it can be done, & if not, by the ultima ratio: and we are seising the prizes brought in since Aug. 7. to restore them to their owners. For those between June 5. & Aug. 7. we engage restitution or compensation. The inclosed paper will explain these distinctions of date, & justify the proceedings.1 I return you the little thing of Ld. Chath’s2 because, for particular reasons, were it now to appear it would be imputed to me, & because it will have more effect if publd. after the meeting of Congress. I rejoice at the resurrection of Franklin. There was a charming thing from the same pen (I conjecture) on the subject of instrumentality lately publd. by Freneau from the Virga. papers.3 The addresses in support of the proclmn. are becoming universal, and as universal a rising in support of the President against Genet. Observe that the inclosed paper4 has been only read in cabinet for the 1st. time as yet. On that reading H. objected to expressions implying a censure on other nations (‘the war of liberty on herself &c’).5 He thought expressions of frdship to France suited the occasion. But R. protested against every expression of friendship to that nation lest they should offend the other party, and intimated that he should move to eradicate them all. It will pretty effectually tear up the instrument if he succeeds. Nous verrons. Adieu.

P. S. You are free to shew the inclosed to Colo. Monroe. If the appeal which I have mentioned to you, should be pushed, I think that by way of compromise, I shall propose that instead of that, the whole correspondence be laid before Congress, merely as a matter of information. What would you think of this?

RC and enclosed key (DLC); FC and FC of enclosed key (DLC: Jefferson Papers); Tr and Tr of enclosed key (MHi). RC unsigned. The enclosed cipher key is filed with Jefferson to JM, 3 Aug. 1793, in the Madison Papers (DLC). Between the two columns of the key Jefferson wrote: “many numbers are inserted which were not in the letter, merely to baffle all attempts to make out what was in it.” For other enclosures, see nn. 1, 2, and 4.

1Jefferson probably enclosed a copy of his 7 Aug. letter to Genet (Ford, Writings of Jefferson description begins Paul Leicester Ford, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (10 vols.; New York, 1892–99). description ends , 6:365–66).

2Jefferson enclosed the extract of Lord Chatham’s speech that JM had previously sent to him (see JM to Jefferson, 11 Aug. 1793, n. 5).

3On 3 Aug. the Philadelphia National Gazette reprinted from the Va. Gazette, and Richmond and Manchester Advertiser of 22 July an essay, over the pseudonym “Turn-Coat,” which attacked Hamilton’s funding system. No evidence has been found to substantiate Jefferson’s attribution of this essay to John Taylor, author of the “Franklin” essays.

4Jefferson must have enclosed a draft of his official letter to Gouverneur Morris—antedated 16 Aug. 1793—which was discussed in cabinet meetings on 15, 20, and 23 Aug. (Ford, Writings of Jefferson description begins Paul Leicester Ford, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (10 vols.; New York, 1892–99). description ends , 6:371–93, 397). A press copy of this letter is in the Madison Papers (DLC).

5This phrase, characterizing the possibility of conflict between France and the U.S., was deleted from the letter to Morris. According to Jefferson’s notes on the cabinet meeting of 20 Aug., “H. moved to strike out these words ‘that of liberty warring on herself.’ He urged generally that it would give offence to the combined powers, that it amounted to a declaration that they were warring on liberty, that we were not called on to declare that the cause of France was that of liberty” (Ford, Writings of Jefferson description begins Paul Leicester Ford, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (10 vols.; New York, 1892–99). description ends , 1:259). A press copy of these notes is in the Madison Papers (DLC).

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