網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

own exigencies. The experience of three years has, I presume, left no doubt, that the present plan of primary schools, of putting money into the hands of twelve hundred persons acting for nothing, and under no responsibility, is entirely inefficient. Some other must be thought of; and during this pause, if it be only for a year, the whole revenue of that year, with that of the last three years which has not been already thrown away, would place our University in readiness to start with a better organization of primary schools, and both may then go on, hand in hand, for ever. No diminution of the capital will in this way have been incurred; a principle which ought to be deemed sacred. A relinquishment of interest on the late loan of sixty thousand dollars, would so far, also, forward the University without lessening the capital.

But what may be best done I leave with entire confidence to yourself and your colleagues in legislation, who know better than í do the conditions of the literary fund and its wisest application ; and I shall acquiesce with perfect resignation to their will. I have brooded, perhaps with fondness, over this establishment, as it held up to me the hope of continuing to be useful while I continued to live. I had believed that the course and circumstances of my life had placed within my power some services favorable to the outset of the institution. But this may be egoism ; pardonable, perhaps, when I express a consciousness that my colleagues and successors will do as well, whatever the legislature shall enable them to do.

I have thus, my dear Sir, opened my bosom, with all its anxieties, freely to you. I blame nobody for seeing things in a different light. I am sure that all act conscientiously, and that all will be done honestly and wisely which can be done. I yield the concerns of the world with cheerfulness to those who are appointed in the order of nature to succeed to them; and for yourself, for our colleagues, and for all in charge of our country's future fame and fortune, I offer up sincere prayers.

TH: JEFFERSON.

'FERSON.

[blocks in formation]

Monticello, December 11, 1821. DEAR SIR, Your letter of December the 19th places me under a dilemma, which I cannot solve but by an exposition of the naked truth. I would have wished this rather to have remained as hitherto, without inquiry ; but your inquiries have a right to be answered. I will do it as exactly as the great lapse of time and a waning memory will enable me. I may misremember indifferent circumstances, but can be right in substance.

At the time when the republicans of our country were so much alarmed at the proceedings of the federal ascendancy in Congress, in the executive and the judiciary departments, it became a matter of serious consideration how head could be made against their enterprises on the constitution. The leading republicans in Congress found themselves of no use there, browbeaten, as they were, by a bold and overwhelming majority. They concluded to retire from that field, take a stand in the State legislatures, and endeavor there to arrest their progress. The alien and sedition laws furnished the particular occasion. The sympathy between Virginia and Kentucky was more cordial, and more intimately confidential, than between any other two States of republican policy. Mr. Madison came into the Virginia legislature. I was then in the Vice-Presidency, and could not leave my station. But your father, Colonel W. C. Nicholas, and myself happening to be together, the engaging the co-operation of Kentucky in an energetic protestation against the constitutionality of those laws, became a subject of consultation. Those gentlemen pressed me strongly to sketch resolutions for that purpose, your father undertaking to introduce them to that legislature, with a solemn assurance, which I strictly required, that it should not be known from what quarter they came. I drew and delivered them to him, and, in keeping their origin secret, he fulfilled his pledge of honor. Some years after this, Colonel Nicholas asked me if I would have any objection to its being known that I had drawn them. I pointedly enjoined that it should not. Whether he had unguardedly intimated it before to any one, I know not : but I afterwards observed in the papers repeated imputations of them to me ; on which, as has been my practice on all occasions of imputation, I have observed entire silence. The question, indeed, has never before been put

to me, nor should I answer it to any other than yourself; seeing no good end to be proposed by it, and the desire of tranquillity inducing with me a wish to be withdrawn from public notice. Your father's zeal and talents were too well known, to derive any additional distinction from the penning these resolutions. That circumstance, surely, was of far less merit than the proposing and carrying them through the legislature of liis State. The only fact in this statement, on which my memory is not distinct, is the time and occasion of the consultation with your father and Colonel Nicholas. It took place here I know; but whether any other person was present, or communicated with, is my doubt. I think Mr. Madison was either with us, or consulted, but my memory is uncertain as to minute details.

I sear, Dear Sir, we are now in such another crisis, with this difference only, that the judiciary branch is alone and single-handed in the present assaults on the constitution. But its assaults are more sure and deadly, as from an agent seemingly passive and unassuming. May you and your cotemporaries meet them with the same determination and effect, as your father and his did the alien and sedition laws, and preserve inviolate a consitution, which, cherished in all its chastity and purity, will prove in the end a blessing to all the nations of the earth. With these prayers, accept those for your own happiness and prosperity.

TH: JEFFERSON..

LETTER CLXI.

TO JEDIDIAH MORSE.

Monticello, March 6, 1822. SIR, I have duly received your letter of February the 16th, and have now to express my sense of the honorable station proposed to my ex-brethren and inyself, in the constitution of the society for the civilization and improvement of the Indian tribes. The object, too, expressed, as that of the association, is one which I have ever had much at heart, and never omitted an occasion of promoting, while I have been in situations to do it with effect, and nothing, even now, in the calm of age and retirement, would excite in me a more lively interest than an approvable plan of raising that respectable and unfortunate people from the state of physical and moral abjection, to which they have been reduced by circumVOL. IV.

44

stances foreign to them. That the plan now proposed is entitled to unmixed approbation, I am not prepared to say, after mature consideration, and with all the partialities which its professed object would rightfully claim from me.

I shall not undertake to draw the line of demarcation between private associations of laudable views and unimposing numbers, and those whose magnitude may rivalize and jeopardize the march of regular governinent. Yet such a line does exist. I have seen the days, they were those which preceded the Revolution, when even this last and perilous engine became necessary; but they were days which no man would wish to see a second time. That was the case where the regular authorities of the government had combined against the rights of the people, and no means of correction remained to them, but to organize a collateral power, which, with their support, might rescue and secure their violated rights. But such is not the case with our government. We need hazard no collateral power, which, by a change of its original views, and assumption of others we know not how virtuous or how mischievous, would be ready organized, and in force sufficient to shake the established foundations of society, and endanger its peace and the principles on which it is based. Is not the machine now proposed of this gigantic stature? It is to consist of the ex-Presidents of the United States, the Vice-President, the Heads of all the executive departments, the members of the supreme judiciary, the Governors of the several States and Territories, all the members of both Hlouses of Congress, all the general officers of the army, the commissioners of the navy, all Presidents and Professors of colleges and theological seminaries, all the clergy of the United States, the Presidents and Secretaries of all associations having relation to Indians, all commanding officers within or near Indian territories, all Indian superintendants and agents; all these ex officio ; and as many private individuals as will pay a certain price for membership. Observe, too, that the clergy will constitute * nineteen twentieths of this association, and, by the law of the majority, may command the twentieth part, which, composed of all the high authorities of the United States, civil and military, 'may be outvoted and wielded by the nineteen parts with uncontrollable power, both as to purpose and process. Can this formidable array be reviewed without dismay? It will be said, that in this association will be all the confidential officers of the government; the choice of the people themselves. No man on earth has more implicit confidence than myself in the integrity and discretion of this chosen band of servants. But is confidence or discretion, or is strict limit, the principle of our constitution ? It will comprehend, indeed, all the functionaries of the government: but seceded from their consitutional stations as guardians of the nation, and acting not by the laws of their station, but by those of a voluntary society, having po limit to their purposes but the same will which constitutes their existence. It will be the authorities of the people, and all influential characters from among them, arrayed on one side, and on the other, the people themselves deserted by their leaders. It is a fearful array. It will be said, that these are imaginary fears. I know they are so at present. I know it is as impossible for these agents of our choice and unbounded confidence, to harbor machinations against the adored principles of our constitution, as for gravity to change its direction, and gravid bodies to mount upwards. The fears are indeed imaginary : but the example is real. Under its authority, as a precedent, future associations will arise with objects at which we should shudder at this time. The society of Jacobins, in another country, was instituted on principles and views as virtuous as ever kindled the hearts of patriots. It was the pure patriotism of their purposes which extended their association to the limits of the nation, and rendered their power within it boundless; and it was this power which degenerated their principles and practices to such enormities, as never before could have been innagined. Yet these were men; and we and our descendants will be no more. The present is a case where, if ever, we are to guard against ourselves; not against ourselves as we are, but as we may be; for who can now imagine what we may become under circumstances not now imaginable? The object, too, of this institution, seems to require so hazardous an example as little as any which could be proposed. The government is, at this time, going on with the process of civilizing the Indians, on a plan probably as promising as any one of us is able to devise, and with resources more competent than we could expect to command by voluntary taxation. Is it that the new characters called into association with those of the government, are wiser than these? Is it that a plan originated by a meeting of private individuals, is better than that prepared by the concentrated wisdom of the nation, of men not self-chosen, but clothed with the full confidence of the people? Is it that there is no danger that a new authority, marching independently along-side of the government, in the same line and to the same object, may not produce collision, may not thwart and obstruct the operations of the government, or wrest the object entirely from their hands? Might we not as well appoint a

* The clergy of the United States may probably be estimated at eight thousand. The residue of this society at four hundred; but if the former uumber be halved, the reasoning will be the same.

« 上一頁繼續 »