The Correspondence of Thomas Jefferson

By Subject


I hope the Governor will be able to settle with the Sacs and Foxes without war, to which, however, he seems too much committed: If we had gone to war for every hunter or trader killed, and murderer refused, we should have had general and constant war. The process to be followed, in my opinion, when a murder has been committed, is first to demand the murderer, and not regarding a first refusal to deliver, give time and press it. If perseveringly refused, recall all traders, and interdict commerce with them, until he be delivered. I believe this would rarely fail in producing the effect desired; and we have seen that, by steadily following this line, the tribes become satisfied of our moderation, justice, and friendship to them, and become firmly attached to us. The want of time to produce these dispositions in the Indians west of the Mississippi, has been the cause of the Kanzas, the Republican, the Great and the Wolf Panis, the Matas, and Poncaras, adhering to the Spanish interest against us. But if we use forbearance, and open commerce for them, they will come to, and give us time to attach them to us. The factories proposed on the Missouri and Mississippi, as soon as they can be in activity, will have more effect than as many armies. It is on their interests we must rely for their friendship, and not on their fears.

to Henry Dearborn (Secretary of War), 20 August 1808