The Correspondence of Thomas Jefferson

By Subject


With respect to a commercial treaty with this country [England], be assured that this government not only has it not in contemplation at present to make any, but that they do not conceive that any circumstances will arise which shall render it expedient for them to have any political connection with us. They think we shall be glad of their commerce on their own terms. There is no party in our favor here, either in power or out of power. Even the opposition concur with the ministry and the nation in this. I dined the other day in a company of the ministerial party. A General Clark, a Scotchman and ministerialist, sat next to me. He introduced the subject of American affairs, and in the course of the conversation told me that were America to petition Parliament to be again received on their former footing, the petition would be very generally rejected. He was serious in this, and I think it was the sentiment of the company, and is the sentiment perhaps of the nation. In this they are wise, but for a foolish reason. They think they lost more by suffering us to participate of their commercial privileges, at home and abroad, than they lose by our political severance. The true reason, however, why such an application should be rejected is, that in a very short time, we should oblige them to add another hundred millions to their debt in unsuccessful attempts to retain the subjection offered to them.

to Richard Henry Lee, 22 April 1786