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ing that short interval, no particular circumstance occurred for epistolary communication, and both of us were too much oppressed with letter-writing, to trouble, either the other, with a letter about nothing.
The truth is, that the federalists, pretending to be the exclusive friends of General Washington, have ever done what they could to sink his character, by hanging theirs on it, and by representing as the enemy of republicans him, who, of all men, is best entitled to the appellation of the father of that republic which they were endeavoring to subvert, and the republicans to maintain. They cannot deny, because the elections proclaimed the truth, that the great body of the nation approved the republican
General Washington was himself sincerely a friend to the republican principles of our constitution. His faith, perhaps, in its duration, might not have been as confident as mine ; but he repeatedly declared to me, that he was determined it should have a fair chance for success, and that he would lose the last drop of his blood in its support, against any attempt which might be made to change it from its republican form. He made these declarations the oftener, because he knew my suspicions that Hamilton had other views, and he wished to quiet my jealousies on this subject. For Hamilton frankly avowed, that he considered the British constitution, with all the corruptions of its administration, as the most perfect model of government which had ever been devised by the wit of man; professing however, at the same time, that the spirit of this country was so fundamentally republican, that it would be visionary to think of introducing monarchy here, and that, therefore, it was the duty of its administrators to conduct it on the principles their constituents had elected.
General Washington, after the retirement of his first cabinet, and the composition of his second, entirely federal, and at the head of which was Mr. Pickering himself, had no opportunity of hearing both sides of any question. His measures, consequently, took more the hue of the party in whose hands he was. These measures were certainly not approved by the republicans; yet were they not imputed to him, but to the counsellors around him ; and his prudence so far restrained their impassioned course and bias, that no act of strong mark, during the remainder of his administration, excited much dissatisfaction. He lived too short a time after, and too much withdrawn from information, to correct the views into which he had been deluded; and the continued assiduities of the party drew him into the vortex of their intemperate career; separated him still farther from his real friends, and excited him to actions and expressions of dissatisfaction, which grieved them, but could not loosen their affections from him. They would not suffer the temporary aberration to weigh against the immeasurable merits of his life; and although they tumbled his seducers from their places, they preserved his memory embalmed in their hearts, with undiminished love and devotion; and there it forever will remain embalmed, in entire oblivion of every temporary thing which might cloud the glories of his splendid life. It is vain, then, for Mr. Pickering and his friends to endeavor to falsify his character, by representing him as an enemy to republicans and republican principles, and as exclusively the friend of those who were so ; and had he lived longer, he would have returned to his ancient and unbiased opinions, would have replaced his confidence in those whom the people approved and supported, and would have seen that they were only restoring and acting on the principles of his own first administration.
I find, my dear Sir, that I have written you a very long letter, or rather a history. The civility of having sent me a copy of Nr. Pickering's diatribe, would scarcely justify its address to you. I do not publish these things, because my rule of life has been never to harass the public with fendings and provings of personal slanders; and least of all would I descend into the arena of slander with such a champion as Mr. Pickering. I have ever trusted to the justice and consideration of my fellow citizens, and have no reason to repent it, or to change my course. At this time of life too, tranquillity is the summum bonum. But although I decline all newspaper controversy, yet when falsehoods have been advanced, within the knowledge of no one so much as myself, I
have sometimes deposited a contradiction in the hands of a friend, which, if worth preservation, may, when I am no more, nor those whom I might offend, throw light on history, and recall that into the path of truth. And if of no other value, the present communication may amuse you with anecdotes not known to every one.
I had meant to have added some views on the amalgamation of parties, to which your favor of the 8th has some allusion; an amalgamation of name, but not of principle. Tories are tories still, by whatever name they may be called. But my letter is already too unmercifully long, and I close it here with assurances of my great esteem and respectful consideration.
TO MR. MADISON.
MONTICELLO, July 14, 1824. Dear Sir,—I have attentively read your letter to Mr. Wheaton on the question whether, at the date of the message to Congress recommending the embargo of 1807, we had knowledge of the order of council of November 11th ; and according to your request I have resorted to my papers, as well as my memory, for the testimony these might afford additional to yours. There is no fact in the course of my life which I recollect more strongly, than that of my being at the date of the message in possession of an English newspaper containing a copy of the proclamation. I am almost certain, too, that it was under the ordinary authentication of the government; and between November 11th and De
; cember 17th, there was time enough (thirty-five days) to admit the receipt of such a paper, which I think came to me through a private channel, probably put on board some vessel about sailing, the moment it appeared.
Turning to my papers, I find that I had prepared a first draught of a message in which was this paragraph : “ The British regulations had before reduced us to a direct voyage, to a single port of their enemies, and it is now believed they will interdict all commerce whatever with them. A proclamation, too, of that gov. ernment of (not officially indeed communicated to us, yet so given out to the public as to become a rule of action with them,) seems to have shut the door on all negotiation with us except as to the single aggression on the Chesapeake.” You, however, suggested a substitute (which I have now before me, written with a pencil and) which, with some unimportant amendments, I preferred to my own, and was the one I sent to Congress. It was in these words, "the communications now made, showing the great and increasing dangers with which seamen, &c., ports of the United States. This shows that we communicated to them papers of information on the subject; and as it was our interest, and our duty, to give them the strongest information we possessed to justify our opinion and their action on it, there can be no doubt we sent them this identical paper. For what stronger could we send them ? I am the more strengthened in the belief that we did send it, from the fact, which the newspapers of the day will prove, that in the reprobations of the measure published in them by its enemies, they indulged themselves in severe criticisms on our having considered a newspaper as a proper document to lay before Congress, and a suflicient foundation for so serious a measure; and considering this as no suffcient information of the fact, they continued perseveringly to deny that we had knowledge of the order of council when we recommended the embargo, admitting, because they could not deny, the existence of the order, they insisted only on our supposed ignorance of it as furnishing them a ground of crimination. But I had no idea that this gratuitous charge was believed by any one at this day. In addition to our testimony, I am sure Mr. Gallatin, General Dearborne and Mr. Smith, will recollect that we possessed the newspaper, and acted on a view of the proclamation it contained. If you think this statement can add anything in corroboration of yours, make what use you please of it, and accept assurances of my constant affection and respect.
TO MR. LEWIS E. BECK, ALBANY.
I thank you, Sir, for your pamphlet on the climate of the west, and have read it with great satisfaction. Although it does not yet establish a satisfactory theory, it is an additional step towards it. Vine was perhaps the first attempt, not to form a theory, but to bring together the few facts then known, and suggest them to public attention. They were written between forty and fifty years ago, before the close of the revolutionary war, when the western country was a wilderness, untrodden but by the foot of the savage or the hunter. It is now flourishing in population and science, and after a few years more of observation and cullection of facts, they will doubtless furnish a theory of solid foundation. Years are requisite for this, steady attention to the therinometer, to the plants growing there, the times of their leafing and flowering, its animal inhabitants, beasts, birds, reptiles and insects; its prevalent winds, quantities of rain and snow, temperature of fountains, and other indexes of climate. We want this indeed for all the States, and the work should be repeated once or twice in a century, to show the effect of clearing and culture towards changes of climate. My Notes give a very imperfect idea of what our climate was, half a century ago, at this place, which being nearly central to the State may be taken for its medium. Latterly, after seven years of close and exact observation, I have prepared an estimate of what it is now, which may some day be added to the former work ; and I hope something like this is doing in the other States, which, when all shall be brought together, may produce theories meriting confidence. I trust that yourself will not be inattentive to this service, and that to that of the present epoch you may be able to add a second at the distance of another half century. With this wish accept the assurance of my respectful consideration.