The Correspondence of Thomas Jefferson

By Subject


I was pleased to see the vote of Congress, of September the i6th, on the subject of the Mississippi, as I had before seen, with great uneasiness, the pursuits of other principles, which I could never reconcile to my own ideas of probity or wisdom, and from which, and my knowledge of the character of our western settlers, I saw that the loss of that country was a necessary consequence. I wish this return to true policy, may be in time to prevent evil. There has been a little foundation for the reports and fears relative to the Marquis de La Fayette. He has, from the beginning, taken openly part with those who demand a constitution; and there was a moment that we apprehended the Bastile; but they ventured on nothing more, than to take from him a temporary service, on which he had been ordered; and this, more to save appearances for their own authority, than anything else; for at the very time they pretended that they had put him into disgrace, they were constantly conferring and communicating with him. Since this, he has stood on safe ground, and is viewed as among the foremost of the patriots. Everybody here is trying their hand at forming declarations of rights. As something of that kind is going on with you also, I send you two specimens from hence. The one is by our friend of whom I have just spoken. You will see that it contains the essential principles of ours, accommodated as much as could be, to the actual state of things here. The other is from a very sensible man,. a pure theorist, of the sect called the economists, of which Turgot was considered as the head. The former is adapted to the existing abuses, the latter goes to those possible, as well as to those existing.

to James Madison, 12 January 1789