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TO. JOHN QUINCY ADAMS.
MONTICELLO, March 30, 1826. DEJR SIR,—I am thankful for the very interesting message and documents of which you have been so kind as to send me a copy, and will state my recollections as to the particular passage of the message to which you ask my attention. On the conclusion of peace, Congress, sensible of their right to assume independence, would not condescend to ask its acknowledgment from other nations, yet were willing, by some of the ordinary international transactions, to receive what would imply that acknowledgment. They appointed commissioners, therefore, to propose treaties of commerce to the principal nations of Europe. I was then a member of Congress, was of the committee appointed to prepare instructions for the commissioners, was, as you suppose, the draughtsman of those actually agreed to, and was joined with your father and Dr. Franklin, to carry them into execution. But the stipulations making part of these instructions, which respected privateering, blockades, contraband, and freedom of the fisheries, were not original conceptions of mine. They had before been suggested by Dr. Franklin, in some of his papers in possession of the public, and had, I think, been recommended in some letter of his to Congress. I happen only to have been the inserter of them in the first public act which gave the formal sanction of a public authority. We accordingly proposed our treaties, containing these stipulations, to the principal governments of Europe. But we were then just emerged from a subordinate condition; the nations had as yet known nothing of us, and had not yet reflected on the relations which it might be their interest to establish with us. Most of them, therefore, listened to our propositions with coyness and reserve; old Frederic alone closing with us without hesitation. The negotiator of Portugal, indeed, signed a treaty with us, which his government did not ratify, and Tuscany was near a final agreement. Becoming sensible, however, ourselves, that we should do nothing with the greater powers, we thought it better not to hamper our country with engagements to those of less significance, and suffered our powers to expire without closing any other negotiations. Austria soon after became desirous of a treaty with us, and her ambassador pressed it often on me; but our commerce with her being no object, I evaded her repeated invitations. Had these governments been then apprized of the station we should so soon occupy among nations, all, I believe, would have met us promptly and with frankness. These principles would then have been established with all, and from being the conventional law with us alone, would have slid into their engagements with one another, and become general. These are the facts within my recollection. They have not yet got into written history; but their adoption by our southern brethren will bring them into observance, and make them, what they should be, a part of the law of the world, and of the reformation of principles for which they will be indebted to us. I pray you to accept the homage of my friendly and high consideration.
TO THE HONORABLE EDWARD EVERETT.
MONTICELLO, April 8, 1826. DEAR SIR,I thank you for the very able and eloquent speech you have been so kind as to send me on the amendment of the constitution, proposed by Mr. McDuffie. I have read it with pleasure and satisfaction, and concur with much of its contents. On the question of the lawfulness of slavery, that is of the right of one man to appropriate to himself the faculties of another without his consent, I certainly retain my early opinions. On that, however, of third persons to interfere between the parties, and the effect of conventional modifications of that pretension, we are probably nearer together. I think with you, also, that the constitution of the United States is a compact of independent nations subject to the rules acknowledged in similar cases, as well that of amendment provided within itself, as, in case of abuse, the justly dreaded but unavoidable ullimo ratio gentium. The report on the Panama question mentioned in your letter has, as I suppose, got separated by the way. It will probably come by another mail. In some of the letters you have been kind enough to write me, I have been made to hope the favor of a visit from Washington. It would be received with sincere welcome, and unwillingly relinquished if no circumstance should render it inconvenient to yourself. I repeat always with pleasnire the assurances of my great esteem and respect.
TO DR. EMMETT, PROFESSOR OF NATURAL HISTORY AT THE UNIVER
SITY OF VIRGINIA.
MostcieLLO, April 27, 1826. Dear Sir, It is time to think of the introduction of the school of Botany into our institution. Not that I suppose the lectures can be begun in the present year, but that we may this year make the preparations necessary for commencing them the next. For that branch, I presume, can be taught advantageously only during the short season while nature is in general bloom, say during a certain portion of the months of April and May, when, suspending the other branches of your department, that of Botany may claim your exclusive attention. Of this, however, you are to be the judge, as well as of what I may now propose on the subject of preparation. I will do this in writing, while sitting at my table, and at ease, because I can rally there, for your consideration, with more composure than in extempore conversation, my thoughts on what we have to do in the present season.
I suppose you were well acquainted, by character, if not personally, with the late Abbé Correa, who past some time among us, first as a distinguished savant of Europe, and afterwards as ambassador of Portugal, resident with our government. Profoundly learned in several other branches of science, he was so, above all others, in that of Botany; in which he preferred an amalgamation of the methods of Limæus and of Jussieu, to either of them exclusively. Our institution being then on hand, in which that was of course to be one of the subjects of instruction, I availed myself of his presence and friendship to obtain from him a general idea of the extent of ground we should employ, and the number and character of the plants we should introduce into it. He accordingly sketched for me a mere outline of the scale he would recommend, restrained altogether to objects of use, and indulging not at all in things of mere curiosity, and especially not yet thinking of a hot-house, or even of a greenhouse. I enclose you a copy of his paper, which was the more satisfactory to me, as it coincided with the moderate views to which our endowments as yet confine us. I am still the more satisfied, as it seemed to be confirmed by your own way of thinking, as I understood it in our conversation of the other day, To your judgment altogether his ideas will be submitted, as well as my own, now to be suggested as to the operations of the present year, preparatory to the commencement of the school in the next.
1. Our first operation must be the selection of a piece of ground of proper soil and site, suppose of about six acres, as M. Correa proposes. In choosing this we are to regard the circumstances of soil, water, and distance. I have diligently examined all our grounds with this view, and think that that on the public road, at the upper corner of our possessions, where the stream issues froin them, has more of the requisite qualities than any other spot we possess.* 170 yards square, taken at that angle, would make the six acres we want. But the angle at the road is acute, and the form of the ground will be trapezoid, not square. I would take, therefore, for its breadth, all the ground between the road and the dam of the brick ponds, extending eastwardly up the hill, as far and as wide as our quantity would require. The bottom ground would suit for the garden plants; the hill sides for the trees. * To wit, 19,360 square yards=4 acres for the garden of plants. 9,680
=2 acres for the plants of trees.
29,040 square yards=6 acres in the whole.
2. Operation. Enclose the ground with a serpentine brick wall seven feet high. This would take about 80,000 bricks, and cost $800, and it must depend on our finances whether they will afford that immediately, or allow us, for awhile, but enclosure of posts and rails.
3. Operation. Form all the hill sides into level terrasses of convenient breadth, curving with the hill, and the level ground into beds and alleys.
4. Operation. Make out a list of the plants thought necessary and sufficient for botanical purposes, and of the trees we propose to introduce, and take measures in time for procuring them.
As to the seeds of plants, much may be obtained from the gardeners of our own country. I have, moreover, a special resource. For three-and-twenty years of the last twenty-five, my good old friend Thonin, superintendent of the garden of plants at Paris, has regularly sent me a box of seeds, of such exotics, as to us, as would suit our climate, and containing nothing indigenous to our country. These I regularly sent to the public and private gardens of the other States, having as yet no employment for them here. But during the last two years this envoi has been intermitted, I know not why. I will immediately write and request a re-commencement of that kind oflice, on the ground that we can now employ them ourselves. They can be here in early spring.
The trees I should propose would be exotics of distinguished usefulness, and accommodated to our climate ; such as the Larch, Cedar of Libanus, Cork, Oak, the Maronnier, Mahogany? the Catachu or Indian rubber tree of Napul, (30°) Teak tree, or Indian oak of Burman, (239) the various woods of Brazil, &c.
The seed of the Larch can be obtained from a tree at Monticello. Cones of the Cedar of Libanus are in most of our seed shops, but may be had fresh from the trees in the English gardens. The Maronnier and Cork-oak, I can obtain from France. There is a Maronnier at Mount Vernon, but it is a seedling, and not therefore select. The others may be got through the means of our ministers and consuls in the countries where they grow,