The Correspondence of Thomas Jefferson

By Subject


I considered your letter of November 10th, 12th, as an evidence of the interest you were so kind as to take in the welfare of the United States, and I was even flattered by your exhortations to avoid taking any part in the war then raging in Europe, because they were a confirmation of the policy I had myself pursued, and which I thought and still think should be the governing canon of our republic. Distance, and difference of pursuits, of interests, of connections and other circumstances, prescribe to us a different system, having no object in common with Europe, but a peaceful interchange of mutual comforts for mutual wants. But this may not always depend on ourselves; and injuries may be so accumulated by an European power, as to pass all bounds of wise forbearance.

I learned with great pleasure your return to your native country. It is the only one which offers elements of society analogous to the powers of your mind, and sensible of the flattering distinction of possessing them. It is true that the great events which made an opening for your return, have been reversed. But not so, I hope, the circumstances which may admit its continuance. On these events I shall say nothing. At our distance, we hear too little truth and too much falsehood to form correct judgments concerning them; and they are moreover foreign to our umpirage. We wish the happiness and prosperity of every nation; we did not believe either of these promoted by the former pursuits of the present ruler of France, and hope that his return, if the nation wills it to be permanent, may be marked by those changes which the solid good of his own country, and the peace and well-being of the world, may call for. But these things I leave to whom they belong; the object of this letter being only to convey to you a vindication of my own country, and to have the honor on a new occasion of tendering you the homage of my great consideration, and respectful attachment.

to LaBaronne de Stael-Holstein (Madame), 3 July 1815