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separately, was, that the addition of a third negotiator was not at this time advisable. For the present, therefore, the question must rest. Mr. Bowdoin, we know, is anxious to come home, and is detained only by the delicacy of not deserting his post. In the existing temper between him and his colleague, it would certainly be better that one of them should make an opening for re-composing the commission more harmoniously. I salute you with affection and respect.
TO GEORGE HAY.
Washington, June 12, 1807. DEAR SIR, Your letter of the 9th is this moment received. Reserving the necessary right of the President of the United States to decide, independently of all other authority, what papers, coming to him as President, the public interests permit to be communicated, and to whom, I assure you of my readiness, under that restriction, voluntarily to furnish, on all occasions, whatever the purposes of justice may require. But the letter of General Wilkinson, of October the 21st, requested for the defence of Colonel Burr, with every other paper relating to the charges against him, which were in my possession when the Attorney General went on to Richmond in March, I then delivered to him; and I have always taken for granted he left the whole with you. If he did, and the bundle retains the order in which I had arranged it, you will readily find the letter desired, under the date of its receipt, which was November the 25th : but lest the Attorney General should not have left those papers with you, I this day write to him to forward this one by post. An uncertainty whether he is at Philadelphia, Wilmington, or New Castle, may produce delay in his receiving my letter, of which it is proper you should be apprized. But, as I do not recollect the whole contents of that letter, I must beg leave to devolve on you the exercise of that discretion which it would be my right and duty to exercise, by withholding the communication of any parts of the letter, which are not directly material for the purposes of justice.
With this application, which is specific, a prompt compliance is practicable. But when the request goes to copies of the
orders issued in relation to Colonel Burr, to the officers at Orleans, Natchez, &c. by the Secretaries of the War and Navy departments,' it seems to cover a correspondence of many months, with such a variety of officers, civil and military, all over the United States, as would amount to the laying open the whole executive books. I have desired the Secretary of War to examine his official communications; and on a view of these, we may be able to judge what can and ought to be done towards a compliance with the request. If the defendant alleges that there was any particular order, which, as a cause, produced any particular act on his part, then he must know what this order was, can specify it, and a prompt answer can be given. If the object had been specified, we might then have had some guide for our conjectures, as to what part of the executive records might be useful to him: but, with a perfect willingness to do what is right, we are without the indications which may enable us to do it. If the researches of the Secretary at War should produce any thing proper for communication, and pertinent to any point we can conceive in the defence before the court, it shall be forwarded to you. I salute you with respect and esteem.
TO GEORGE HAY.
Washington, June 17, 1807. • Sir,
In answering your letter of the 9th, which desired a communication of one to me from General Wilkinson, specified by its date, I informed you in mine of the 12th that I had delivered it, with all other papers respecting the charges against Aaron Burr, to the Attorney General, when he went to Richmond ; that I had supposed he had left them in your possession, but would immediately write to him, if he had not, to forward that particular letter without delay. I wrote to him accordingly on the same day, but having no answer, I know not whether he has forwarded the letter. I stated in the same letter, that I had desired the Secretary at War to examine his office, in order to comply with your further request, to furnish copies of the orders which had been given respecting Aaron Burr and his property; and in a subsequent letter of the same day, I forwarded to you copies of two
letters from the Secretary at War, which appeared to be within the description expressed in your letter. The order from the Secretary of the Navy, you said, you were in possession of. The receipt of these papers had, I presume, so far anticipated, and others this day forwarded will have substantially fulfilled, the object of a subpæna from the District Court of Richmond, requiring that those officers and myself should attend the Court in Richmond, with the letter of General Wilkinson, the answer to that letter, and the orders of the departments of War and the Navy, therein generally described. No answer to General Wilkinson's letter, other than a mere acknowledgment of its receipt, in a letter written for a different purpose, was ever written by myself or any other. To these communications of papers, I will add, that if the defendant supposes there are any facts within the knowledge of the Heads of departments, or of myself, which can be useful for his defence, from a desire of doing any thing our situation will permit in furtherance of justice, we shall be ready to give him the benefit of it, by way of deposition, through any persons whom the Court shall authorize to take our testimony at this place. I know, indeed, that this cannot be done but by consent of parties; and I therefore authorize you to give consent on the part of the United States. Mr. Burr's consent will be given of course, if he supposes the testimony useful.
As to our personal attendance at Richmond, I am persuaded the Court is sensible, that paramount duties to the nation at large control the obligation of compliance with their summons in this case; as they would, should we receive a similar one, to attend the trials of Blannerhassett and others, in the Mississippi territory, those instituted at St. Louis and other places on the western waters, or at any place, other than the seat of government. To comply with such calls would leave the nation without an executive branch, whose agency, nevertheless, is understood to be so constantly necessary, that it is the sole branch which the constitution requires to be always in function. It could not then mean that it should be withdrawn from its station by any co-ordinate authority.
With respect to papers, there is certainly a public and a private side to our offices. To the former belong grants of land, patents for inventions, certain commissions, proclamations, and other papers patent in their nature. To the other belong mere executive proceedings. All nations have found it necessary, that for the advantageous conduct of their affairs, some of these proceedings, at least, should remain known to their executive functionary only. He, of course, from the nature of the case, must be the sole judge of which of them the public interests will permit publication. Hence, under our constitution, in requests of papers, from the legislative to the executive branch, an exception is carefully expressed, as to those which he may deem the public welfare may require not to be disclosed; as you will see in the enclosed resolution of the House of Representatives, which produced the message of January 22nd, respecting this case. The respect mutually due between the constituted authorities, in their official intercourse, as well as sincere dispositions to do for every one what is just, will always insure from the executive, in exercising the duty of discrimination confided to him, the same candor and integrity to which the nation has in like manner trusted in the disposal of its judiciary authorities. Considering you as the organ for communicating these sentiments to the Court, I address them to you for that purpose, and salute you with esteem and respect.
TO GEORGE HAY.
Washington, June 19, 1807. Dear Sir, Yours of the 17th was received last night. Three blank pardons had been (as I expect) made up and forwarded by the mail of yesterday, and I have desired three others to go by that of this evening. You ask what is to be done if Bollman finally rejects his pardon, and the Judge decides it to have no effect? Move to commit him immediately for treason or misdemeanor, as you think the evidence will support ; let the court decide where he shall be sent for trial ; and on application, I will have the marshal aided in his transportation, with the executive means. And we think it proper, further, that when Burr shall have been convicted of either treason or misdemeanor, you should immediately have committed all those persons against whom you should find evidence sufficient, whose agency has been so prominent as to mark them as proper objects of punishment, and especially where their boldness has betrayed an inveteracy of criminal disposition. As to obscure offenders and repenting ones, let them lie for consideration.
I enclose you the copy of a letter received last night, and giving singular information. I have inquired into the character of Graybell. He was an old revolutionary captain, is now a flour mer
chant in Baltimore, of the most respectable character, and whose word would be taken as implicitly as any man's for whatever he affirms. The letter-writer, also, is a man of entire respectability. I am well informed, that for more than a twelvemonth it has been believed in Baltimore, generally, that Burr was engaged in some criminal enterprise, and that Luther Martin knew all about it. We think you should immediately despatch a subpæna for Graybell; and while that is on the road, you will have time to consider in what form you will use his testimony ; e. g. shall Luther Martin be summoned as a witness against Burr, and Graybell held ready to confront him ? It may be doubted whether we could examine a witness to discredit our own witness. Besides, the lawyers say that they are privileged from being forced to breaches of confidence, and that no others are. Shall we move to commit Luther Martin, as particeps criminis with Burr? Graybell will fix upon him misprision of treason at least. And at any rate, his evidence will put down this unprincipled and impudent federal bull-dog, and add another proof that the most clamorous defenders of Burr are all his accomplices. It will explain why Luther Martin flew so hastily to the aid of his honorable friend,' abandoning his clients and their property during a session of a principal court in Maryland, now filled, as I am told, with the clamors and ruin of his clients. I believe we shall send on Latrobe as a witness. He will prove that Aaron Burr endeavored to get him to engage several thousand men, chiefly Irish emigrants, whom he had been in the habit of employing in the works he directs, under pretence of a canal opposite Louisville, or of the Washita, in which, had he succeeded, he could with that force alone have carried every thing before him, and would not have been where he now is. He knows, too, of certain meetings of Burr, Bollman, Yrujo, and one other whom we have never named yet, but have him not the less in our view. I salute you with friendship and respect.
P. S. Will you send us half a dozen blank subpænas?
Since writing the within I have had a conversation with Latrobe. He says it was five hundred men he was desired to engage. The pretexts were to work on the Ohio canal, and be paid in Washita lands. Your witnesses will some of them prove that Burr had no interest in the Ohio canal, and that consequently this was a mere pretext to cover the real object from the men themselves, and all others. Latrobe will set out in the stage of to-morrow evening, and be with you Monday evening.