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home resources so valuable at all times, and so essential, if resort must ultimately be had to force.
It gave us time, too, to make a last appeal to the reason and reputation of nations. In the meanwhile I see with satisfaction that this measure of self-denial is approved and supported hy the great body of our real citizens ; that they meet with cheerfulness the temporary privations it occasions, and are preparing with spirit to provide for themselves those comforts and conveniences of life, for which it would be unwise evermore to recur to distant countries. How long this course may be preferable to a more serious appeal, must depend for decision on the wisdom of the legislature ; unless, indeed, a return to established principles should remove the existing obstacles to a peaceable intercourse with foreign nations. In every event, fellow citizens, my confidence is entire that your resolution to maintain our national independence and sovereignty will be as firm as it has been forbearing; and looking back on our history, I am assured by the past, that its future pages will present nothing unworthy of the former.
I am happy that you approve of the motives of my retirement. I shall carry into it ardent prayers for the welfare of my country, and the sincerest wishes for that of yourselves personally.
August 2, 1808. I received in due time your favor of June 24th, covering the address of the House of Representatives and Senate of New Hampshire, and I ask leave, through the same channel, to return the enclosed answer, to be communicated to them in whatever way you think most acceptable. Highly gratified by this approbation of the legislature of your State, as it respects myself personally, the moment at which it is expressed gives it peculiar value as a public document. It is the testimony of a respectable legislature in favor of a measure submitting our fellow citizens to some present sufferings to preserve them from future and
greater, and cannot fail to strengthen the disposition to maintain it which I am happy to perceive is so general. I tender you my affectionate salutations, and with every wish for your health and happiness, the assurance of my high respect and consideration.
TO HIS EXCELLENCY GOVERNOR LANG DON.
MONTICELLO, August 2, 1808. MY DEAR SIR,—The enclosed are formal, and for the public ; but in sending them to you I cannot omit the occasion of indulging my friendship in a more familiar way, and of recalling myself to your recollection. How much have I wished to have had you still with us through the years of my employment at Washington. I have seen with great pleasure the moderation and circumspection with which you have been kind enough to act under my letter of May 6th, and I have been highly gratified with the late general expressions of public sentiment in favor of a measure which alone could have saved us from immediate war, and give time to call home eighty millions of property, twenty or thirty thousand seamen, and two thousand vessels. These are now nearly at home, and furnish a great capital, much of which will go into manufactures and seamen to man a fleet of privateers, whenever our citizens shall prefer war to a longer continuance of the embargo. Perhaps, however, the whale of the ocean may be tired of the solitude it has made on that element, and return to honest principles, and his brother robber on the land may see that, as to us, the grapes are sour. I think one war enough for the life of one man ; and you and I have gone through one which at least may lessen our impatience to embark in another. Still, if it becomes necessary, we must meet it like men, old men indeed, but yet good for something. But whether in peace or war, may you have as many years of life as you desire, with health and prosperity to make them happy years. I salute you with constant affection and great esteem and respect.
TO THE HONORABLE JOSEPH ALSTON, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF SOUTH CAROLINA.
MONTICELLO, August 4, 1808. SIR,—I have duly received your letter of July 6th, covering the resolutions of the legislature of South Carolina of June 29th, and I see in those resolutions a new manifestation of the national spirit of which South Carolina has given so many proofs. It is the more exemplary, as it is certain that no State sacrifices more by the operation of a measure which, whether to avoid war, or to prepare for it, has been deemed equally necessary. The unanimity too of these resolutions, does peculiar honor to those individuals, who differing from the mass of their fellow citizens in their opinions of government, yet forget all differences when the rights of their country are in question ; who when it is assailed by foreign wrong, and menaced with the evils of war, instead of encouraging enemies by forebodings of weakness and division, present to them one common and individed front. Persuaded that the sentiments expressed in these resolutions are a true specimen of those entertained by the great mass of our fellow citizens, we may regret the evils which a contrary opinion in others may produce, but we cannot fear the result of any trial they may put us to.
I receive with particular gratification assurances of approbation from the legislature of South Carolina, and will not cease in my endeavors to merit a continuance of it. I pray you to accept my salutations and assurances of great respect and consideration.
TO THE INHABITANTS OF THE TOWN OF BOSTON, NEWBURYPORT AND PROVIDENCE, IN LEGAL TOWN MEETING ASSEMBLED.
AUGUST, 26, 1808. Your representation and request were received on the 22d inst., and have been considered with the attention due to every expression of the sentiments and feelings of so respectable a body of my fellow citizens. No person has seen, with more concern
than myself, the inconveniences brought on our country in general by the circumstances of the times in which we happen to live; times to which the history of nations presents no parallel. For years we have been looking as spectators on our brethren of Europe, afflicted by all those evils which necessarily follow an abandonment of the moral rules which bind men and nations together. Connected with them in friendship and commerce, we have happily so far kept aloof from their calamitous conflicts, by a steady observance of justice towards all, by much forbearance and multiplied sacrifices. At length, however, all regard to the rights of others having been thrown aside, the belligerent powers have beset the highway of commercial intercourse with edicts which, taken together, expose our commerce and mariners, under almost every destination, a prey to their fleets and armies. Each party, indeed, would admit our commerce with themselves, with the view of associating us in their war against the other. But we have wished war with neither. Under these circumstances were passed the laws of which you complain, by those delegated to exercise the powers of legislation for you, with every sympathy of a common interest in exercising them faithfully. In reviewing these measures, therefore, we should advert to the difficulties out of which a choice was of necessity to be made. To have submitted our rightful commerce to prohibitions and tributary exactions from others, would have been to surrender our independence. To resist them by arms was war, without consulting the state of things or the choice of the nation. The alternative preferred by the legislature of suspending a commerce placed under such unexampled difficulties, besides saving to our citizens their property, and our mariners to their country, has the peculiar advantage of giving time to the belligerent nations to revise a conduct as contrary to their interests as it is to our rights.
“In the event of such peace, or suspension of hostilities between the belligerent powers of Europe, or of such change in their measures affecting neutral commerce, as may render that of the United States sufficiently safe, in the judgment of the President,” he is authorized to suspend the embargo. But no
peace or suspension of hostilities, no change of measures affecting neutral commerce, is known to have taken place. The orders of England, and the decrees of France and Spain, existing at the date of these laws, are still unrepealed, as far as we know. In Spain, indeed, a contest for the government appears to have arisen ; but of its course or prospects we have no information on which prudence would undertake a hasty change in our policy, even were the authority of the Executive competent to such a decision.
You desire that, in this defect of power, Congress may be specially convened. It is unnecessary to examine the evidence or the character of the facts which are supposed to dictate such a call ; because you will be sensible, on an attention to dates, that the legal period of their meeting is as early as, in this extensive country, they could be fully convened by a special call.
I should, with great willingness, have executed the wishes of the inhabitants of the town of Boston, Newbury port, and Providence, had peace, or a repeal of the obnoxious edicts, or other charges, produced the case in which alone the laws have given me that authority; and so many motives of justice and interest lead to such changes, that we ought continually to expect them. But while these edicts remain, the legislature alone can prescribe the course to be pursued.
TO A PORTION OF THE CITIZENS OF BOSTON.
Sir, I have duly received the address of that portion of the citizens of (Boston) who have declared their approbation of the present suspension of our commerce, and their dissent from the representation of those of the same place, who wished its removal. A division of sentiment was not unexpected. On no question can a perfect unanimity be hoped, or certainly it would have been on that between war and embargo, the only alternatives presented to our choice. For the general capture of our vessels would have been war on one side, which reason and interest would repel by war and reprisal on our part.