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Jefferson's letters during 1813, express anything but approbation of the conduct of France." To Baron Humboldt (December 6th), he declared views in regard to the American Indians which sound like the dirge of that unfortunate race:
“You know, my friend, the benevolent plan we were pursuing here for the happiness of the aboriginal inhabitants in our vicinities. We spared nothing to keep them at peace with one another. To teach them agriculture and the rudiments of the most necessary arts, and to encourage industry by establishing among them separate property. In this way they would have been enabled to subsist and multiply on a moderate scale of landed possession. They would have mixed their blood with ours, and been amalgamated and identified with us within no distant period of time. On the commencement of our present war, we pressed on them the observance of peace and neutrality, but the interested and unprincipled policy of England has defeated all our labors for the salvation of these unfortunate people. They have seduced the greater part of the tribes within our neighborhood, to take up the hatchet against us, and the cruel massacres they have committed on the women and children on our frontiers taken by surprise, will oblige us now to pursue them to extermination, or drive them to new seats beyond our reach. Already we have driven their patrons and seducers into Montreal, and the opening season will force them to their last refuge, the walls of Quebec. We have cut off all possibility of intercourse and of mutual aid, and may pursue at our leisure whatever plan we find necessary to secure ourselves against the future effects of their savage and ruthless warfare. The confirmed brutalization, if not the extermination of this race in our America, is, therefore, to form an additional chapter in the English history of the same colored man in Asia, and of the brethren of their own color in Ireland, and wherever else Anglo-mercantile cupidity can find a two-penny interest in deluging the earth with human blood. But let us turn from the loathsome contemplation of the degrading effects of commercial avarice.”
In three letters to Mr. Eppes, then chairman of the Finance Committee in Congress, he gave his opinions at length on the subject of the banks and currency. The United States Bank had expired by the limitation of its charter in 1811, and it was now earnestly urged in Congress that the want of it mainly led to the distressing derangement prevailing in monetary affairs, and that its recharter was the only means of curing the evil, and providing the sound circulating medium necessary for the efficient prosecution of the war. Some of the earlier Republican opponents of the Bank had already begun to yield to these views. Mr. Jefferson maintained his uncompromising hostility. We can enter upon no analysis of his reasoning, and must refer the reader to the letters. Their general purport was to propose as a substitute for the bank, to issue Treasury bills
* Particularly see one to Madame de Staël, dated May 24th.
emitted on a specific tax appropriated for their redemption. And he even went so far as to pronounce the whole system of State banks, as then organized, unsubstantial and fraudulent— productive of evil at best, and always ready to explode and carry ruin throughout the community. He considered State banks necessary for the accommodation of business men—but thought they should offer nothing but cash in exchange for discounted bills. If we may credit the statements of an intelligent statistician, who was not a partisan of the Administration, the currency found disturbing agents not necessarily arising from the prosecution of the war, or from other legitimate causes. Matthew Carey records in his Olive Branch, that in the winter of 1813–14, the Boston banks being in a condition to do so, entered vigorously upon an attempt “to stop the wheels of government by draining the banks in the Middle and Southern States of their specie, and thus producing an utter disability to fill the loans” which the Government was attempting to effect. Mr. Carey at first placed the amount of specie which they withdrew in eight months from the Middle and Southern banks at four millions of dollars, but subsequent inquiries satisfied him that it was between seven and eight millions. He said “the banks from New York to Norfolk inclusively, as well as most of those to the westward, were literally drained of their specie, and nearly reduced to bankruptcy.” “A fearful alarm spread through the community. The issue was looked for with terror. . . . The banks throughout the middle and southern States were obliged to curtail their discounts. Bankruptcies took place to a considerable extent. Even wealthy men, who were wholly unprepared for such a crisis, suffered great inconvenience. Some who had subscribed to the loans were unable to comply with their engagements; and others were withheld from subscribing by the general pressure for money. In consequence, the loan, then pending, partially failed, to the very great embarrassment of the Government, and distress of the public. This was the nefarious object in view.” To show that there could be no pretext on the part of the Boston banks of a want of specie, our author gives an abstract of the statements of six Boston banks, officially published by the Secretary of the commonwealth, in January, 1814, by which it
appeared that the specie then in their vaults was $4,945,444, while their notes in circulation were but $2,000,601. But the Boston bankers did not allow their hoard of specie to lie idle. Between July 1st, 1814, and January 1st, 1815, it was reduced from $5,468,604 to $1,999,368. It did not flow back into the collapsed arteries of American circulation. Mr. Carey declares, on what he claims to be specific proof, that it was drawn into the British provinces to pay for Government bills and for smuggled goods; that an arrangement was made “with agents of the Government of Lower Canada, whereby an immense amount of British Government bills, drawn in Quebec, were transmitted for sale to New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, and disposed of to moneyed men on such advantageous terms as induced them to make large purchases. . . . These bills were forwarded through trusty persons in Boston, and the proceeds being placed to their credit, added immensely to the command the Boston banks had acquired, by the extent of the smuggling trade, over those in the middle and southern States.” This commercial intercourse with the enemy was so ostentatiously managed that Mr. Carey copies an advertisement of British Government bills for sale, taken from the Boston Daily Advertiser in 1814." Meanwhile, the Federal press and pulpit of Massachusetts so violently denounced the citizens of that State who should take any part of the Government loans, that the agents of the Government were compelled to advertise that the names of subscribers should not be made known.” 1 See Olive Branch, seventh edition, pp. 315–319, Lowell, the author of the “Road to Ruin," made a contemporaneous denial of such arrangements. Thereupon Carey said: “That these bills to an immoderate amount, were transmitted from Quebec; that they were drawn for the support of the armies employed in hostilities against this country: that they were paid for in specie, devoted to the o of those armies, are facts too stubborn to be set aside. I hereby publicly dare him [Mr. Lowell], or any other Fo in the Union, to disprove any of them. They are abundantly sufficient to estabish the iniquity of the case.” We are not aware that any explanations were ever made which tended to relieve the reputation of the parties charged with these transactions. * See advertisement of Gilbert and Dean, brokers, in Boston Chronicle, and of Jesse Putnam in Boston Gazette, April 14th, 1814. The Boston Gazette, April, 1814, said: “Some will say, will you let the country become bankrupt? no, the country will never become bankrupt. But, pray, do not revent the abusers of their trust becoming bankrupt. Do not prevent them from ecoming odious to the public and replaced by better men. Any Federalist who lends money to Goyernment, must go and shake hands with James Madison, and claim fellowship with Felix Grundy. Let him no more call himself a Federalist and friend to his country. He will be called by others infamous. . . . . . It is very grateful to find that the universal sentiment is that any man who lends his money to the Government at the present time, will forfeit all claim to common honesty and common courtesy among
all true friends of the country. God forbid that any Federalist should ever hold up his land to pay Federalists for money lent to the present rulers; and Federalists can judge
The restored amity of Jefferson and Adams had stood a near chance of being again wrecked at the outset. On Priestley's death, a letter, written to him in 1801 by Jefferson, was published by Lindsay, which reflected with severity on the idea that “we were to look backwards, not forwards, for improvement,” and which remarked that “the President himself” (Mr. Adams) had countenanced the latter idea “in one of his answers to addresses.” Mr. Adams, on receiving Lindsay’s publication, in 1813, called Jefferson's attention to this statement. In reply (June 15th, 1813) the latter exhibited the mingled tact and dignity—consideration for the feelings of another, and respect for himself—which always characterized him in this perplexing class of explanations. He pointed out to Mr. Adams the particular answer to an address which he had referred to 'retracted nothing—reaffirmed his abstract idea—and even ventured to tell Mr. Adams that he considered his expressions On that occasion “lent to the prejudices of his friends.” This last was treading on delicate ground, but the mixture of frankness and courtesy prevailed. Mr. Adams was never implacable when kindly approached.
A new and strong tie was beginning indeed to bind the stately old men together. They were speedily becoming the last of the signers of the Declaration of Independence—the last of the great actors and leaders of 1776. Their common and dearly loved friend, Rush, had died in April, 1813, after a brief illness, and when the ink on Jefferson's last letter to him was yet fresh.” In his first letter to Adams after that event (May 27th), Jefferson said:
whether Democrats will tax their constituents to pay interest to Federalists.” The Boston Centinel proclaimed similar views. In Number 5 of the Road to Ruin, Lowell said : “Money is such a drug (the surest sign of the former prosperity and present insecurity of trade) that men, against their consciences, their honor, their duty, their professions and promises, are willing to lend it secretly, to support the very measures which are both intended and calculated for their ruin.” The words which we have italicized in the preceding sentence were contemporaneously, construed to imply that a voluntary or extorted agreement had been made by the Federal moneyed men of Boston, not to take any shares in the Government loans.
Rev. Elijah Parish, D.D., thus “held forth" at Byfield, April 7th, 1814: “No peace will ever be made, till the people say there shall be no war. If the rich men continue to furnish money, the war will continue till the mountains are melted with blood-till every field in America is white with the bones of the people...'. - - -
i Jofférson designated that to the young men of Philadelphia. This will be found in Mr. Adams's works, dated May 7th, 1798, and it contains the following sentences: to without wishing to damp the ardor of curiosity, or influence the freedom of inquiry; I will hazard a prediction † after the most industrious and impartial researches, the longest liver of you all will find no principles, institutions, or systems of education more fit, in general, to be transmitted to your posterity, than those you received from your ancesters.” (Adams's Works, vol. ix., p. 188.
2 The letter is dated March 6th, 1813.
“Another of our friends of seventy-six is gone, my dear sir, another of the co-signers of the independence of our country. And a better man than Rush could not have left us, more benevolent, more learned, of finer genius, or more honest. We, too, must go; and that ere long. I believe we are under half a dozen at present; I mean the signers of the Declaration. Yourself, Gerry, Carroll, and myself, are all I know to be living. I am the only one south of the Potomac. Is Robert Treat Payne, or Floyd living?' It is long since I have heard of them, and yet I do not recollect to have heard of their deaths.”
Appended to a letter from Adams to Jefferson, dated July 15th, 1813, we find the following :
I have been looking for some time for a space in my good husband's letters to add the regards of an old friend, which are still cherished and preserved through all the changes and vicissitudes which have taken place since we first became acquainted, and will, I trust, remain as long as “A. ADAMs.”
Here was voluntary and frank retraction on the part of Mrs. Adams, from the position in which she had placed herself in her correspondence with Jefferson in 1804. Henceforth a succession of friendly messages passed between her and her early friend. She wrote to him and he replied. We regret that the letters have escaped publication.” Mrs. Adams, like her husband, never again met Mr. Jefferson, but she had the opportunity, and eagerly availed herself of it, to bestow kindly and assiduous attentions on some of his family. They gratefully appreciated those attentions then, and most warmly remember them now.
Mrs. Adams lost none of the imposing features of her character in the decline of life. An observing and intelligent gentleman who was a guest at Quincy within a year or two of her death, has given us a description of his visit. Mr. Adams shook as if palsied; but the mind and the heart were evidently sound. His spirits seemed as elastic as a boy's. He joked, laughed heartily, and talked about everybody and everything, past and present, with the most complete abandon. He seemed to our highly educated informant to be a vast encyclopedia of written and unwritten knowledge. It gushed out on every possible topic, but was mingled with lively anecdotes and sallies, and he exhi
1 Judge Payne died at his residence in Boston, May 11th, 1814, aged eighty-four. General William Floyd died on his farm, on the Mohawk river, New York. August 4th, 1821, aged eighty-six years. * One from Jefferson to Mrs. Adams is given in his Works, under date of January 11th, 1817. It was in answer to one from her, dated December 15th, 1816.