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culture, it may be as advantageous to a society, as it is to an individual, who has more land than he can improve, to sell a part, and lay out the money in stock and implements of agriculture, for the better improvement of the residue. A little land well stocked and improved, will yield more than a great deal without stock or improvement. I hope, therefore, that on further reflection, you will see this transac. tion in a more favorable light, both as it concerns the interest of your nation, and the exercise of that superintending care which I am sincerely anxious to employ for their subsistence and happiness. Go on then, brother, in the great reformation you have undertaken. Persuade our red brethren then to be sober, and to cultivate their lands; and their women to spin and weave for their families. You will soon see your women and children well fed and clothed, your men living happily in peace and plenty, and your numbers increasing from year to year. It will be a great glory to you to have been the instrument of so happy a change, and your children's children, from generation to generation, will repeat your name with love and gratitude forever. In all your enterprises for the good of your people, you may count with confidence on the aid and protection of the United States, and on the sincerity and zeal with which I am myself animated in the furthering of this humane work. You are our brethren of the same land; we wish your prosperity as brethren should do. Farewell.”
To a delegation of the Miamis and Delawares, he declared (January 8th, 1803), that Governor Harrison had, by his directions, agreed to accept a breadth of twenty-four leagues, extending from Point Coupee to the mouth of White River, where a breadth of seventy leagues had been bought of the tribes occupying it, and paid for; and this had been done from “the desire of peace and friendship" with the Indians, “and of doing nothing which should distress” them. He continued:
“You complain that our people buy your lands individually, and settle and hunt on them without leave. To convince you of the care we have taken to guard you against the injuries and arts of interested individuals, I now will give you a copy of a law, of our great council the Congress, forbidding individuals to buy lands from you, or to settle or hunt on your lands; and making them liable to severe punishment. And if you will at any time seize such individuals, and deliver them to any officer of the United States, they will be punished according to law. “We have long been sensible, brothers, of the great injury you receive from an immoderate use of spirituous liquors; and although it be profitable to us to make and sell these liquors, yet we value more the preservation of your health and happiness. Heretofore we apprehended you would be displeased, were we to withhold them from you. But believing it to be your desire, we have taken measures to prevent their being carried into your country; and we sincerely rejoice at this proof of your wisdom. Instead of spending the produce of your hunting in purchasing this pernicious drink, which produces poverty, broils and murders, it will now be employed in procuring food and clothing for your families, and increasing instead of diminishing your numbers. “You have proposed, brothers, that we should deduct from your next year's annuity, the expenses of your journey here; but this would be an exactness we do not
practise with our red brethren. We will bear with satisfaction the expenses of your journey, and of whatever is necessary for your personal comfort; and will not, by deducting them, lessen the amount of the necessaries which your women and children are to receive the next year.”
He informed them also that, at their request, smiths had been provided them; and that the United States agent would furnish them implements of husbandry and manufacture whenever they would use them.
The President's favorite plan in regard to the ultimate disposition of the Indian race is sketched in a letter to Hawkins; and it will now sound to most persons more like a dream of philanthropy than a serious proposition. He wrote:
“I consider the business of hunting as already become insufficient to furnish clothing and subsistence to the Indians. The promotion of agriculture, therefore, and household manufacture, are essential in their preservation, and I am disposed to aid and encourage it liberally. This will enable them to live on much smaller portions of land, and indeed will render their vast forests useless but for the range of cattle; for which purpose, also, as they become better farmers, they will be found useless, and even disadvantageous. While they are learning to do better on less land, our increasing numbers will be calling for more land, and thus a coincidence of interests will be produced between those who have lands to spare, and want other necessaries, and those who have such necessaries to spare, and want lands. This commerce, then, will be for the good of both, and those who are friends to both ought to encourage it. You are in the station peculiarly charged with this interchange, and who have it peculiarly in your power to promote among the Indians a sense of the superior value of a little land, well cultivated, over a great deal, unimproved, and to encourage them to make this estimate truly. The wisdom of the animal which amputates and abandons to the hunter the parts for which he is pursued should be theirs, with this difference, that the former sacrifices what is useful, the latter what is not. In truth, the ultimate point of rest and happiness for them is to let our settlements and theirs meet and blend together, to intermix and become one people. Incorporating themselves with us as citizens of the United States, this is what the natural progress of things will of course bring on, and it will be better to promote than to retard it. Surely it will be better for them to be identified with us, and preserved in the occupation of their lands, than be exposed to the many casualties which may endanger them while a separate people.”
If the Indians did not come into this view, the President's next choice was to induce them all to emigrate beyond the Mississippi, supplying them with everything essential to their comfort and happiness—and give them a home where the conflicting interests of white settlers would not pursue them. His present anxiety was to secure a belt of territory of the Indians on the east bank of the Mississippi throughout its whole length, for the purpose of planting upon it a population of whites, both to defend the frontier and to be prepared for other emergencies which might arise—in plain English, to rush upon Louisiana, and especially upon New Orleans, if that alternative should be forced upon us. But to return to the events of the session. The recommendation in the message to repeal the discriminating duties was not carried out. The navigating interests of the North remonstrated warmly against it, and it was suffered to drop without any decisive action. A proposition to discontinue the mint, urged by some of the ultra advocates of retrenchment, fortunately failed. The President's recommendations to construct a dry dock at the city of Washington had been referred to a select committee, of which the chairman was the learned Dr. Mitchell of New York. It reported the following resolution:
Resolved—That for preventing rottenness and decay in the ships of the navy, the President of the United States be, and hereby is, authorized to cause a dry-dock, with convenient canals, locks, machinery, and water-courses, to be constructed at or near the public Navy Yard in the city of Washington, which dock shall be capable of containing twelve frigates, or ships-of-war, and of preserving them dry, and safely sheltered from sunshine and rain; and that, for carrying the same into effect, dollars be, and the same hereby are, appropriated, to be paid out of any moneys in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated.
Dr. Mitchell stated that there had been placed before the committee, drawings, surveys and estimates by engineers, which made the project appear so plausible, that there was a unanimous vote in its favor. He had been informed that Sweden and Venice' had done something of the same kind. The object, he said, was thus to preserve a number of new ships not launched nor wetted in service, and “there could be no doubt they might be so covered and protected as to keep as well as furniture in a house.” He proceeded to explain that this would not apply to ships that “had grown foul and water soaken” in the ocean.
Dr. Eustis, of Massachusetts, opposed the resolution on the ground of the inappropriateness of the locality—that there was danger that the ships, “resting for a long time on comparatively
* Mr. Jefferson remarked in a letter (to the date of which we cannot now refer) in after years, that he derived his idea from an account of something of a similar kind in Venice.
small resting points, might be racked and injured in their frames”—that he doubted the practicability of proper ventilation—that it “was not known to him that any of the European nations had adopted this plan”—that they “ had incurred immense expense in building, and it was to be presumed had fallen on the best means of preserving their ships”—that he thought, in works of such magnitude, it was more prudent to follow than to lead older and more experienced nations. General S. Smith answered several of Eustis's objections. He thought the place practicable and suitable, and that there was no more danger of the ships hogging when lowered on their blocks than when on the stocks. On the subject of ventilation he doubted; but he thought it might be accomplished by taking off the garboard streaks of each ship, and streaks from their ceiling at proper intervals. He said:
“He had seen at Venice, above twenty ships-of-war in the arsenal, completely under cover, each lying afloat in its own dock, with stores on each side, in which their materials were deposited. He was told the whole number could be put to sea in twenty or thirty days' notice.”
Griswold said: “He must confess that the project appeared to him a visionary scheme, originating in the philosophy of the present day.” The Republicans representing those seaport and other local interests which were averse to making Washington the principal naval station of the country, joined the Federalists in a vote to refuse the Committee leave to sit again, and here the thing dropped. Eustis's arguments were legitimate ones, and presented fair subjects of doubt, though he did not attempt to disguise a degree of local feeling in the matter. But Griswold threw out the Federal text-word. It was a scheme of the modern “philosophy" The speculations on the causes of animal color, in the Notes on Virginia, the “horned toads,” and the “salt mountains” of “Philosopher Jefferson’” did not furnish topics of such exquisite and inexhaustible merriment to his opponents as the unlucky dry-docks! It is probable that the fact that Dr. Mitchell reported the resolution increased the zest of the entertainment. It was claimed that this learned man was singularly ignorant in practical affairs, and traditionary anecdotes without number are handed down of amusing pranks played on his credulity by wags who had not the fear of “philosophy” before their eyes. Some of these may possibly be true; but if most of them are, it is a remarkable coincidence that such a host of things should have happened to one man, recorded previously of real or imaginary personages, from the days of the comic poets of Greece down to those of Rabelais, Le Sage, and Joe Miller. But, at all events, Dr. Mitchell has furnished a prime brilliant in the colloquial setting round “Philosopher Jefferson.” The French have a not bad maxim that “he laughs best that laughs latest.” To be ignorant is not certainly to be “practical.” To be learned is not always to be a fool!
“Leaden Ignorance rears her head and laughs, - And fat Stupidity shakes his jolly sides”
sometimes at “philosophic vagaries” which turn out to be substantive things. The “horned toads” and “salt mountains” still flourish The essential principle of the dry-dock’ has since been introduced with perfect success and prečminent advantage into the American navy. The seventh Congress terminated on the 3d of March, 1803. The following letter alludes to the loss in future of a distinguished member from that body, and the accession of a new one nearly connected with the family of the President:
To MARIA JEFFERson EPPES.
MY DEAR MARIA:
Yours by John came safely to hand, and informed me of your ultimate arrival at Edgehill. Mr. Randolph's letter from Gordon's, received the night before, gave me the first certain intelligence I had received since your departure. A rumor had come here of your having been stopped two or three days at Ball Run, and in a miserable hovel; so that I had passed ten days in anxious uncertainty about you. Your apologies, my dear Maria, on the article of expense, are quite without necessity. You did not here indulge yourselves as much as I wished, and nothing prevented my supplying your backwardness but my total ignorance in articles which might suit you. Mr. Eppes's election will, I am in hopes, secure me your
1 That is, fitting vessels into a good state of forwardness for sea, and keeping them high and dry under cover, to protect them from the sun and rain, until they are wanted
for public use.