Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Jefferson’

Thomas Jefferson versus the Supreme Court

May 16, 2012

Image from American Presidents

Thomas Jefferson versus the Supreme Court.

In the year 1798 Congress passed an act to punish certain kinds of libel, commonly called the ‘Sedition Act.’

The courts of the United States proceeded to execute it. A number of persons were indicted under it, convicted, and sentenced. But the President (Thomas Jefferson) deeming the act unconstitutional, arrested the execution of judgments of the court in every instance. The courts would convict and pronounce sentence upon the criminal, and the President would pardon; and yet the Union did not fall to pieces. At length Congress became satisfied of the unconstitutionality of the act, and suffered it to expire by its own limitation.

One of the parties, named Matthew Lyon, was convicted under the ‘Sedition Act.’ and sentenced to pay a fine. The fine was collected. The pardon of the President released him from imprisonment, but did not refund the fine paid or collected; but thirty years afterwards, Congress restored to the heirs of Lyon the amount of the fine and interest.

Says President Jefferson: “I discharged every person under punishment or prosecution under the Sedition law, because I considered and now consider that law to be a nullity as absolute and palpable as if Congress had ordered us to fall down and worship a golden image.” (Jefferson’s Works, 4, 556.)

It is the practice of late to hold up before the mind such frightful pictures of ‘collision,’ ‘resistance,’ ‘civil discord,’ ‘revolution,’ ‘anarchy,’ and ‘dissolution,’ that it would seem that any effort of resistance to the exercise of unauthorized power, and every attempt faithfully to execute official duty imposed by the Constitution and laws, is to be dreaded as an approach to treason; that every diversity of opinion or action between the functionaries of the two governments (State and United States) must terminate in the dissolution of the Union; that the hope of the nation rests, not so much in the intelligence and patriotism of the people, as in the successful pursuit of a run-away negro. But the real danger to the Union consists not so much in resistance to laws constitutionally enacted, as in acquiescence in measures which violate the Constitution. Is is much safer to resist unauthorized and unconstitutional power, at its very commencement, when it can be done by constitutional means, than to wait until the evil is so deeply and firmly rooted that the only remedy is revolution. — A.D. Smith, Judge of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin.

Richland County Observer (Richland Center, Wisconsin) Apr 27, 1858

Napoleon Wanted a Friend

April 30, 2012

History of the Purchase of the Great West from the French Emperor.
Rather Than See England Have the Territory He Would Donate It to America — Purchase Proposed by Him.

New York Commercial Advertiser.

There is an incident in American history that is as full of startling features, or even romance, as anything that ever transpired in a nation’s existence, and it is doubly interesting at this time when Hawaii is knocking at our doors for admission. It involves the circumstances of the Louisiana purchase, a mighty transaction, which gave the young republic “Louisiana and all that portion of the American continent extending northward to the tides that flow into the Pacific.” In detail these words meant Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota — that portion west of the Mississippi river — nearly all of Kansas, both the Dakota states, the Indian Territory, the greater part of Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Oregon — in all 900,000 square miles.

Image of James Monroe from Archiving Early America

For the incidents in this narrative that relate to the American part, the writer is indebted to Gen. George W. Monroe, a near relative of President Monroe, who permitted extracts to be made from letters written by his distinguished kinsman, our minister to France, when the Louisiana purchase was effected, and on the French side to data from the memoranda of M. Cambaceres, the close friend of the Vicomte de Saint-Denis whose grandson allowed the papers mentioned to be examined.

The treaty of Amiens, made in March, 1802, between France on the one side and Great Britain, the Batavian republic and Spain on the other, did not long endure. It was ruptured in May, 1803. Foreseeing its disruption, England, the mistress of the seas, began hostilities by seizing everything French on the ocean that she could. The work was commenced even before the breaking of treaty relations between herself and France. The latter country had no adequate means of retaliation at hand. Her fleet was totally unequal to that of Great Britain, and while the army of France was fairly capable and effective, nobody knew better than did the First Consul Napoleon that the arms were as obsolete as the tactical and the method of organization. But it was in money that France was most lacking.

The embargo against England had greatly damaged the trade in woven fabrics with that country and the wine merchants of south France so clamored that Napoleon was compelled to make his edicts less rigorous to them.

Meantime Great Britain was preparing for a death grip with the hated Corsican. It was not a time when great national loans were a feature of finance. Where the money to float his immense schemes was to come from the ruler of France could not tell. He needed 100,000,000 francs, not in assignats, but in gold, something all Europe would recognize as beyond question. This was the condition of France’s master Jan. 1, 1803.

The first consul was absorbed, preoccupied. He had directed that attendance of Cambaceres, the archchancellor, and Lebrun, Lord Treasurer of France, for that evening. He wished to discuss the money question with them. Bonaparte had many very unusual qualities, but one which was unique in his great character. He never asked for advice. “Relate to me,” he would say to an official, “the precise conditions with which I must contend. I will find the means to deal with them.” And he always worked the problem out alone.

A dispatch that day from Admiral Villeneuve (who was in command of the French fleet then cruising in West Indian waters) contained very disquieting information. It informed the Minister of Marine, and through him Napoleon, that from a sure source he had learned of England’s intention to attack France through her colonies, and the first blow would fall upon the thriving young City of New-Orleans. The information had been conveyed to the American Minister, Mr. Monroe, who was to have audience with the First Consul Jan. 3 and consider what steps the two nations might jointly take to ward off the threatened blow. IT was almost as great a peril to the young Republic as it was to France. With the mouth of the Mississippi River in possession of France’s hereditary foe and the bitter enemy of the sixteen States constituting the American Union, the great tide of commerce then setting southward from Pittsburg to the sea would be suddenly cut off or greatly injured and restricted.

Up to this time the commercial conditions between the two countries had been of the most liberal nature. France had made to our enterprising tradesmen southward concessions of the fairest and most friendly character. New-Orleans, indeed, was a free port to inland commerce, which was in the hands of Americans alone. This liberality was creating the Cities of Cincinnati and Louisville, and the smaller river towns were thriving. It was making the young West rich. Should all this prosperity be checked in a day? “Do everything in your power,” wrote President Jefferson to our Minister at Versailles, “to protect and foster the inland trade of our people with the Southwest.”

“I will see if the Americans cannot help us,” said Cambaceres, as he was taking leave of the First Consul that evening.

Image from KNOWLA

“Do you know, I have been thinking of that, too,” replied Bonaparte, as he placed his fine, white hand on his former colleague’s shoulder. “I have something in my mind that may change the fortunes of France. Do not speak to Mr. Monroe until my audience with him, which will be after the morning levee is over Jan. 3.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Monroe at this time did not understand the French language well enough to follow a speaker who talked as rapidly as did Bonaparte. So the intervention of an interpreter was necessary.

“We are not able alone to defend the Colony of Louisiana,” the First Consul began. “Your new regions of the Southwest are almost as deeply interested in its remaining in our hands as we are in retaining it. Our fleet is already not equal to the needs of the French Nation. Can you not help us to defend the mouth of the Mississippi River?”

“We could not take such a step,” said Monroe, “without a treaty offensive and defensive. Our Senate is really the treaty making power, and it is against us now. The President, Mr. Jefferson, is my friend as well as my official superior. Tell me, General, what have you in your mind?”

Napoleon did not at once reply. He was walking the room, with his quick, nervous step. It was a small private consulting cabinet, adjoining the Salle des Ambassadeurs. The great man had his hands lightly clasped behind him, his head inclined forward, his usual position in deep meditation. “I acquired this great territory, to which the mouth of the Mississippi is the gateway,” he finally began. “I have the right to dispose of it if I will. France cannot now defend and hold it. Rather than see it in England’s hands, I would give it to America. But why will your country not buy it from France?” There Bonaparte stopped.

In a second Mr. Monroe’s face was like a flame. What a diplomatic feat it would be for him! What a triumph for the Administration of Jefferson to add such a territory to the Nation’s domain! The Southern Senators and members, with those of Pennsylvania, whose City of Pittsburg was doing a great Southwest trade, would favor the purchase, for the production of cotton was beginning to be immensely profitable. All the really valuable cotton land not in the States already was in the territory mentioned.

Image from IMSA

The purchase would strengthen the South beyond words. Then, too, the United States would control the Mississippi River, which now drains twenty-three States. And he — James Monroe! What a place would his be in his country’s history! His name would be linked indissolubly with the creation of a new national domain. Already had Virginia given to the Republic the immense Northwest Territory — now comprising the States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, part of Minnesota, and all of Wisconsin. Then she had followed this bestowal of a kingdom by the gift of Kentucky, the superb. And now — and now there came, for the third in the brief life of the Nation, an opportunity for him — a Virginian, too — to render as grand a service to the common country as had ever been given by any son — save one — that Virginia had borne or reared!

No man born of woman was a better judge of his fellows than Bonaparte. He read the thoughts of the man before him as though they were on a written scroll. He saw the emotions of his soul. “Well, what do you think of my plain?” asked General Bonaparte.

“The matter, Citizen General, is so vast in its direct relations to my country and what may result from it that it dazes me,” the Minister replied. “But the idea is magnificent. It deserves to emanate from a mind like yours.” Mr. Monroe spoke with deep feeling. He never flattered. The look of truth was in his eyes, its ring in his voice. The First Consul bowed low.
“I must send a special dispatch at once to President Jefferson,” said Monroe, “touching this matter. My messenger shall take the first safe passage to America.”
“The Blonde, the swiftest vessel in our navy, leaves Brest at once, with orders to the West Indian fleet. I will detain her thirty-six hours, till your dispatches are ready. Your messenger shall go on our ship,” the First Consul said.

“But how much shall I say the territory will cost us?” The great Corsican was just ending the conversation. It had been full tow hours long. He came up to the American Minister, and, after a moment, spoke:

“Between nations who are really friends there need be no chaffering. Could I defend this territory, not all the gold of the world would buy it. But I am giving to a friend what I cannot keep. I need 100,000,000f. in coin, or its equivalent in bullion. Whatever action we take must be speedy. Above all, let there be absolute secrecy and silence,” and Bonaparte bowed our Minister out. The audience was ended.

“Now, what can be going on between the master of France and the American?” asked Prince Metternich, the Austrian Ambassador, as he offered his snuffbox to his confrere and rival diplomat, Nesselrode. The dark-faced Russian shook his head as he daintily dipped his finger and thumb into the “Prince’s Mixture,” a famous snuff at that time.

Within the hour it was known to every Ambassador and Minister in Paris that Bonaparte had been closeted for two full hours with the American envoy, while Lord Whitworth, British Ambassador, with Metternich and Nesselrode, waited for an audience. Nothing but affairs the most urgent could have caused such a causerie. What could it mean? “I suspect it concerns England,” wrote Lord Whitworth that night to Addington, Prime Minister, in a confidential note, relating the incident; “but how or in what way I cannot perceive.” By the end of the week the circumstance had been communicated to the English Minister at Washington, with orders to keep a particularly close watch upon events.

Monroe wrote very fully of the matter to Jefferson and also to Nathaniel Macon of North Carolina. He knew Macon to be one of the ablest statesmen of his time. The negotiation was kept a profound secret until Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Macon could sound a majority of their own party in Congress. The New-England delegation alone made any active objection. Mr. Burr, Vice President, brought over New-York and Pennsylvania. “We have too much territory now to defend,” said Josiah Quincy of Massachusetts. Mr. Adams followed in the same strain. Indeed, mr. Quincy declared in the debate in secret session on this question that he the Louisiana Purchase, without his State’s consent, in his opinion, would justify Massachusetts in retiring from the Union.

Image from the International Napoleon Society

The main difficulty was for the United States to procure the ready money. Bonaparte had consented to reduce his demand to 75,000,000f. But this was no small sum to the struggling young nation, which needed money on all sides. The Revolutionary veterans were clamoring for arrears of pay, still due, and pensions. Then the country was trying to build a navy. It had the Ohio, the Indiana, and the Northwestern frontier to defend. Hard cash was dreadfully scarce. The Nation was land poor. But with Stephen Girard as chief agent, the then young Dutch house of Hope conducted the business to a successful ending, aided in London by their correspondents, the Barings — sons of old Franz Baring, a successful money dealer, whose successors had gone into banking. The accepted bills for 25,000,000f. at four months, drawn against the United States Treasury, bearing 6 per cent. interest, were sold at par. They were divided into sums of 50,000f. and 100,000f. for the convenience of purchasers. When the London bankers learned that the Dutch capitalists were quietly purchasing these bills, two brokers, representing the Bank of Scotland and the Rothchilds respectively, offered to take one-half the sum total. But the bills were already placed. Their bids were declined.

It was a great stroke of business for Stephen Girard. He made about $100,000 in commissions alone. It led to his appointment to be naval agent for the French fleets in the United States, an office of great dignity and profit, for he was the person with whom the French Government places its money for the maintenance of its fleets on the North American and West Indian stations. So it happened that Mr. Girard had always on hand great sums in gold, subject to the orders of the commanding officers of the French fleets on the stations named.

In many ways the Louisiana purchase was a good diplomatic stroke for our country. It gave the United States a credit and standing abroad that has never been lessened or lowered. IT was the re-creation of France. The First Consul had long seen the need of rearming and reorganizing the forces of that country. He summoned the most expert arm-makers in France and said: “I wish you each to furnish me with a model musket, the best pistols for horsemen, a musquetoon, [our carbine,] and a sabre after a model to be given you. I wish the arms to be ready for a test in sixty days.” The result was the finest military firearms that had ever been known. The musket adopted weighed a little over nine pounds. IT carried a bullet eighteen to the pound. Its barrel was 42 inches, fitted with the bayonet that is still in use. The lock was extremely fine, and, with good flints, sure of fire. The French military firearms became famous all over the world. The recoil of the old Tower musket of England, and its equivalent on the Continent was so terrible that soldiers dared not fire it from the shoulder, but shot from the hip. The new arm of Napoleon burned four drams of superior powder, against six in the old piece. The trigger pull was reduced to that of the fowling piece of the time, and the new musketry drill prescribed a careful aim.

On Dec. 2, 1805, the French Army tested its new small arms and fire drill in actual battle, for the first time, at Austerlitz. The fire of the French infantry that day was so deadly that the allied armies could not stand up against it, nor answer it, and the new twelve-pounder, light field gun, also used in action for the first time that day, was a revelation to the Austrian and Russian Generals, in its rapidity of fire, ease in handling, and its new iron carriage.

“The re-equipment of our armies, which the money obtained by the sale of Louisiana made possible, gave the French soldier such confidence in the superiority of his weapons over those of his enemy that he became irresistible,” said Gen. de Lafayette, in 1824, to Gen. Schuyler of New-York and to President Monroe.

This country owes much to the royalist armies of France, but the debt was well-nigh paid with the money that made the Corsican the master of Europe and the French Empire the mightiest in Christendom. But if France won all Europe, the American Republic gained a new empire, the greatest ever attained by negotiation since diplomacy was a science.

The New York Time – Feb 13, 1895
Galveston Daily News – May 25, 1895

The Supreme Court’s Inconspicuous Start

December 20, 2011

Image from Architect of the Capitol

Supreme Court Of The United States Had An Inconspicuous Start

Washington — In a small and undignified chamber on the first floor of the unfinished Capitol of the United States, there assembled in 1801 a body of nine men who probably in the next few years did as much as anyone to mold the still malleable forms of the American Government.

The recent reconvening of the Supreme Court for its 1927-28 term, from October to June here, recalls the inauspicious beginnings of the body in the days of John Marshall. No branch of the Government and no institution under the Constitution, it has been said, has sustained more continuous attack or reached its present position after more vigorous opposition. Today, in black-robed dignity, under the benign smile of Chief Justice William H. Taft, the court sits in assured national respect, in the room in the Capitol which was the Senate Chamber 50 years ago. In 10 or 15 years more the court will sit in its own million-dollar building authorized by the last Congress, to be located on the hill near the Library of Congress.

Quarters Were Inconspicuous

But in 1801, and in the year of the famous Marbury vs. Madison decision, which decided once and for all the court’s power to review, and, if need be, declare unconstitutional acts of Congress, the Supreme Court sat in a chamber only 24 feet wide, 30 feet long, 21 feet high, and rounded at the south end. This was the room casually set aside for it only two weeks before the court came for the first time, in 1800, to the “Federal City,” known now as Washington, D.C.

After 12 years of control by the Federalists, John Adams had been defeated. Jeffersonian Democracy was to have its opportunity. Feeling ran high. Along the unpaved streets of the little capital-town that is now the center of America’s co-ordinated Government, new and old office-holders came almost to blows. Riding into power came the “Anti-Federalists” or Republicans, not to be confused with the present party of that name. Eventually they were to become the Democratic party. Tammany Hall still inscribes its campaign inscription with “Democratic-Republican candidates.”

The Anti-Federalists, with Jefferson, had won the executive and the legislative fields in 1800, but it was the Federal strategy to hold control of the judiciary. A short time before retiring, President Adams almost doubled the number of inferior federal courts and filled them with supporters. Then on Jan. 20, 1801, a little while before leaving office, he sent the name of his Secretary of State to the Senate for confirmation as the _______ Justice. It is recorded that John Marshall, under the stress of the times, nearly failed confirmation at the outset of his 34 years in office.

Image from awesomestoriesMARBURY VS. MADISON

Mingled With the People

John Marshall, the man who upheld the right of judicial review and thereby definitely confirmed that the American Government should ride three-wheeled instead of tandem, with equal powers divided between executive, legislative and judiciary, was regarded as a tower of strength by the Federals. He as a man who felt he could mingle with the people without losing dignity, for he pitched quoits, dressed carelessly, read novels ceaselessly, it is said, and went to market — basket on arm.

He was reared in Fauquier county, Va., served in the Revolution, and was the oldest of a family of 15. From the same state came his arch-opponent in constitutional theory, Thomas Jefferson, the new President. At one end of the unpaved Pennsylvania avenue, in the White House, sat the man who believed in states’ rights; in the stuffy room over the basement, east entrance hall, of the unfinished Capitol sat John Marshall, the very embodiment of the theory of a strong central government.

Decision Delayed Two Years

The incident that made the Supreme Court what it is today came almost at once. Under the act rushed through by the Federalists establishing additional judicial offices a certain William Marbury and three others were named justices of the peace in the District of Columbia. Jefferson coming into office instructed James Madison, as Secretary of State, to refuse to issue their commissions. Marbury and his associates moved by their counsel in December, 1801, in the Supreme Court for a mandamus — a writ requiring a person to do a specified act. A delay of two years ensued. Justice Marshall did not have congested dockets to excuse his delay, but weightier political reasons for withholding judgment.

Then from the small room in the Capitol in 1803 was first enunciated from the Supreme Bench in unmistakable language the doctrine that judicial control over legislation is implied in the provisions of the Federal Constitution. In fact, Chief Justice Marshall was the first man who declared an act of Congress unconstitutional.

Image from Free North Carolina

Comment Still Continues

The Marbury vs. Madison decision declared Marbury was entitled to office and that a mandamus was the rightful remedy. However, the application for the latter from the Supreme Court was denied, on the ground that the authority given the Supreme Court by a recent Judiciary Act of Congress was not warranted by the Constitution. Comment has continued on the decision from that day to this.

The right of judicial review is still challenged. Chief Justice Walter Clark of North Carolina, for example, declared the authority of the court is a “doctrine never held before, nor in any country since,” and attacked it as giving sovereignty in the Nation to a majority of the court — “to five lawyers, holding office for life, and not elected by the people.” On the whole, however, the Nation has supported the Marshall view. The whole course of American democratic development since then has been founded upon it.

Today as the nine Supreme Court justices file into their decorous chamber, led by Chief Justice Taft, smiling broadly, and greeted with old-time pomp of prim, deferential bows from clerk and court attaches, they probably have to thank John Marshall not only for their expanded quarters but for the dignity and power which, under him, the great judicial body has obtained.

— Christian Science Monitor.

Sheboygan Press (Sheboygan, Wisconsin) Oct 13, 1927

Know your Campaign History: Political Attacks and Other Facts

October 29, 2010

Hat Tip to Big Government, the website where I found it posted.

For sources, go to

Older Posts About Various Political Figures and Campaigns:

William Jennings Bryan 1896 Girding Their Loins

The colonel revels in rhetoric, and relegates sense to the background to force metaphor to the fore. As a specimen of linguistic high and lofty tumbling it discounts the acrobats of the circus ring, but it is as weak and bogus a concoction as the red lemonade which goes with the performance in the saw-dust arena. Contrast it with  the real, satisfying meat to be found in McKinley’s speeches, and it is like sponge cake to a starving man.

New Castle News (New Castle, Pennsylvania) Aug 8, 1900

William Allen – Ohio 1874-1879 Congressman, Senator, Governor

LAST year the Radicals in Ohio called upon William Allen to “rise up,” and now they are sorry for it. The old gentleman refuses to take his seat, but stands up  17,000 strong.

The Portsmouth Times (Portsmouth, Ohio) Oct 31, 1874

William Henry Harrison – 1840 – Life Guards of Your Country

Another Tory Compliment to General HARRISON.

“Harrison, while a member of the Senate of Ohio, voted to sell poor white men into slavery.” —

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Feb 11, 1840

Thaddeus Burr SturgesGold Rush Forty-Niner and Politician (scroll down for the section on his politics)

The remarks of Mr. Sturges were uncommonly rich, rare and edifying to the hosts of the “unterrified” there assembled. The burden of his song was in unfolding to the admiring eyes of the democracy, the peculiar beauties and unparalleled advantages of that El Dorado of a Locofoco’s hopes — the magnificent Republic of Texas — the fertility of which, he told them was so great, that one acre there was worth ten of the best land in Ohio! The little “neophyte” worked himself into such raptures upon this subject, that one would have thought he had received a regular sergeant’s commission, and was beating for volunteers among his Locofoco friends to follow those of them who have gone before to the ‘Republic of the Lone Star.’

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Aug 27,  1844

John B. WellerGold Rush Era Politician

After a conscientious delay of several moons’ duration, it has at last put up the name of Col. Weller. as its candidate for Governor; a man who has been the most abject slave of the slaveocracy that ever shamed the halls of Congress!

The fact has raised a difficult issue in our mind, which we will leave out to a baker’s jury of one dozen — which is the greatest doughface, Lewis Cass, John B. Weller, or the Editor of the Mirror?

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Jul 4, 1848

Ronald ReaganPresident’s Day Feature

Gubernatorial Nominee Likened to Death Valley

SACRAMENTO (UPI) — Gov. Edmund G. Brown Sunday attacked his Republican opponent, actor-politician Ronald Reagan, as “the best and perhaps last hope” of right wing extremists for an attractive candidate who shares their philosophy.

Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) Aug 15,  1966

Zachary Taylor – 1848 – Poetic Political Campaign

I lost my BALANCE, as I did when betting on the horse;
And now I hear another Polk will run another race
Upon the Presidential course, against the old “white face.”
But on my life, I swear to you, that General Lewis Cass
Can’t get the man who backed the horse to LOSE UPON THE ASS.


Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Sep 12, 1848

Grover Cleveland – 1887 – Political Parallels

On the Pyramid Reservation, somebody, who has an eye to the eternal fitness of things, has named the only blind Indian boy there “Grover Cleveland.”

Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada) Oct 3, 1887

The Evil Does Not Stop Here

May 1, 2010

[For the following correct and judicious remarks, we are indebted to the Editors of the Gazette of the United States. — In addition to the excessive fees herein enumerated, we may subjoin the official charges of the French Consuls in our ports; and, if we are not mistaken, those of the Danish, which are equally unjust and extravagant.] N. Pap.

They say history repeats itself.


Under the administration of General Washington, and that of Mr. Adams, our ears were perpetually stunned with democratic clamours against the government, on the score of our relations with foreign nations. As these democrats have now had the management of the government in their own hands for four years, it is incumbent on them to show in what one particular our affairs with foreign nations are better managed now than they were then. In the mean time we will point out several particulars in which our own citizens are at present absolutely oppressed and laid under contributions to fatten the minions of foreign powers, while our government tamely looks on and takes no concern in the business.

From sheer carelessness on the part of our government, or from something worse, the credibility of all kinds of American official papers, connected with commerce, such as bills of health, manifests, &c. has sunk so low in the estimation of foreign powers, that they have been induced to place agents of their own in all our seaport towns, to be supported at the expence of our merchants. To this imposition they compel us to submit, by suffering no American vessel to enter their ports, unless the truth and correctness of her papers are certified by their agent at the port from which she sails. —

Though this is sufficiently oppressive and injurious, the evil does not stop here. Even this guarantee of the veracity of the American government is not deemed satisfactory. An American vessel sailing from the port of Philadelphia when in perfect health, and having her bills of health in due form, certified by the Spanish consul, at the expence of the owner, on her arrival at Cadiz, though that city was then afflicted with disease, was not permitted to enter until she had performed a quarantine of 15 to 20 days. This inequitous exaction having taken place late in the season, has been the only cause that many of our vessels have been occluded from our ports by the ice, and driven to the West Indies.

In these remarks upon the conduct of foreign nations relative to American commerce, it is our duty to exempt the government of Great Britain from the charge of authorising these shameful and degrading contributions. — They place their Consuls in our seaport towns, and they pay them for their services. For signing certificates of health, &c. the British Consul neither receives nor demands any tribute.

The Portuguese Consul, for certifying both bills of health required by law, is authorised by his government to demand and receive of our merchants 2 dollars.
The Spanish Consul is in like manner authorised to levy a contribution of 2 dollars for each bill of health; and upon the cargo, 2 dollars for every separate article specified in the manifest so that on a cargo consisting of

????s,  Butter,
Corn,   Lard,
Flour,   Rice,
Wax,   Hams,
Fish,   Bread,

the owner must pay 20 dollars to the Spanish Consul for signing the manifest, and in the same proportion for any greater number of articles.

If our government could be prevailed upon to take the least interest in the commerce of the country, we might expect either that foreign governments would be prevented from thus levying taxes upon a part of our citizens for the support of their own officers, or es??tnar the Consuls in Spain, &c. ? aid be authorised to demand like privileges in the places to which they are sent.

There is still another particular in which our merchants are taxed by foreign governments, without any reciprocity on our part. Whenever an American vessel arrives at any port in Spain or Portugal, a guard, or customhouse officer is immediately put on board, where he remains during the time of quarantine and until the cargo is discharged, who, besides living on board, receives daily wages at the expense of the vessel; consequently, as we make no such demands of their vessels coming to our ports, we allow our merchants to be taxed for the purpose of defraying the expense of their custom house regulators. The length of time allo, which our vessels are detained in their ports is no small addition to the inequality of terms upon which commerce is carried on. — Here a foreign ship will be off ????ed in 10 or 20 days, in Spain an American vessel will be detained 40 or 50 days, including quarantine.

Let us now invite our democratic brethren to take a view of these notorious facts, thus briefly stated, and compare them with what they have so often said about the high national spirit of our government, which d????  setforth to be tributary to any nation under ?????. If this is not tribute, and levied too in the most humiliating form, we are unable to conjecture what would be the tribute. If a petty consul or commercial agent may be sent to each of our seaports, and authorized to levy contributions upon our citizens for his support, upon the same principle, a??b???? ?ors and their fate may be ????e?ssed to support themselves at our expence, and upon the same principle their ships of war, coming into our ports, may demand and take whatever supplies they may chose to want of provisions, military stores, or any thing else. Should they choose, however, to carry the principle into operation in its full extent, they will do well to confine their exactions to the merchants in which case they will have nothing to fear from the interference of our government.

The Adams Centinel (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) Jan 30, 1805

**The quality of the digital image of this paper was very poor in spots, and I couldn’t figure out some of the words. Adding to the difficulty, during this time period, the “S” was printed like an “f” except at the end of a word.

A Patriot’s Warning: The Words of Thomas Jefferson

February 17, 2010


If ever the tones of warning of the immortal Jefferson should be heard and heeded, now is the time. If there ever was a period when they were more directily applicable than any other, it is the present. Read and remember.

A Warning Voice. — “To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our selection between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude.

If we run into such debts, as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessaries and comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our callings and our creeds, as the people of England are, our people, like them, must come to labor sixteen hours in the twenty-four, give the earnings of fifteen of these to the governmemt for their debts and daily expenses, and the sixteenth being insufficient to afford us bread, we must live, as they now do, on oatmeal and potatoes; have no time to think, no means of calling the mismanagement to account; but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet the chains on the necks of our fellow-sufferers.

Our land-holders too, like theirs, retaining, indeed, the title and stewardship of estates, called theirs, but held really in trust for the treasury, must wander, in foreign countries, and be contented with penury, obscurity, exile, and the glory of the nation. This example reads to us the salutary lesson that private fortunes are destroyed by public as well as by private extravagance. And this is the tendency of all human governments. A departure from principle in one instance, becomes a precedent for a second; that second for a third; and so on, till the bulk of the society is reduced to be mere automatons of misery, to have no sensibilities left but sinning and suffering.

Then begins, indeed, the bellum omimium in omnia*, which some philosophers observing to be so general in this world, have mistaken it for the natural instead of the abusive state of man.

And the fore-horse of this frightful team is, PUBLIC DEBT.

Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression.”

Thomas Jefferson

The Experiment (Norwalk, Ohio) Sep 8, 1841

*war of all against all (Definition from the Atlantic Sentinel, which published these same words from Jefferson in a recent article.)

Democratic Principles: As Laid Out by Thomas Jefferson

December 14, 2009

Where is Mr. Jefferson when we need him? If only these principles held true today:


Jefferson lays down the following principles:

The people, the only source of legitimate power.

The absolute and lasting severance of church and state.

The freedom, sovereignty and independence of the respective States.

The Union, a confederacy, a compact neither a consolidation nor a centralization.

The constitution of the Union, a special written grant of powers, limited and definite.

The civil paramount to the military power.

The representative to obey the instructions of his constituents.

Elections free, and suffrage universal.

No hereditary office, nor order, nor title.

No taxation beyond the public wants.

No national debt, if possible.

No costly splendor of administration.

No proscription of opinion, nor of public discussion.

No unnecessary interference with individual conduct, property, or speech.

No favored classes, and no monopolies.

No public moneys expended except by warrant of specific appropriation.

No mysteries in government inaccessible to the public eye.

Public compensation for public services, moderate salaries, and pervading economy and accountability.

The Experiment (Norwalk, Ohio) Oct 11, 1843