The Correspondence of Thomas Jefferson
FOREIGN RELATIONS / BRITAIN / WAR
Our two countries are to be at war, but not you and I. And why should
our two countries be at war, when by peace we can be so much more
useful to one another? Surely the world will acquit our government
from having sought it.
The English newspapers suppose me the personal enemy of their nation.
I am not so. I am an enemy to its injuries, as I am to those of
France. Had I been personally hostile to England, and biased in favor
of either the character or views of her great antagonist, the affair
of the Chesapeake put war into my hand. I had only to open it and let
havoc loose. But if ever I was gratified with the possession of power,
and of the confidence of those who had entrusted me with it, it was on
that occasion when I was enabled to use both for the prevention of
war, towards which the torrent of passion here was directed almost
irresistibly, and when not another person in the United States, less
supported by authority and favor, could have resisted it.
to James Maury, 25 April 1812