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The Jeffersonian cyclopedia;

a comprehensive collection of the views of Thomas Jefferson classified and arranged in alphabetical order under nine thousand titles relating to government, politics, law, education, political economy, finance, science, art, literature, religious freedom, morals, etc.;

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seem to think the Mecklenburg Declaration
genuine. I believe it spurious. I deem it to
be a very unjustifiable quiz, like that of the
volcano, so minutely related to us as having
broken out in North Carolina, some half a
dozen years ago, in that part of the country,
and perhaps in that very county of Mecklenburg
for I do not remember its precise locality. If
this paper be really taken from the Raleigh
Register, as quoted, I wonder it should have escaped
Ritchie, who culls what is good from
every paper, as the bee from every flower; and
the National Intelligencer, too, which is edited
by a North Carolinian; and that the fire should
blaze out all at once in Essex, [137] one thousand
miles from where the spark is said to have
fallen. But if really taken from the Raleigh
Register, who is the narrator, and is the name
subscribed real, or is it as fictitious as the paper
itself? It appeals, too, to an original book,
which is burned, to Mr. Alexander, who is
dead, to a joint letter from Caswell, Hughes
and Hooper, all dead, to a copy sent to the dead
Caswell, and another sent to Dr. Williamson,
now probably dead, whose memory did not
recollect, in the history he has written of North
Carolina, this gigantic step of its county of
Mecklenburg. Horry, too, is silent in his history
of Marion, whose scene of action was the
county bordering on Mecklenburg. Ramsay,
Marshall, Jones, Girardin, Wirt, historians of
the adjacent States, all silent. When Mr.
Henry's resolutions, far short of Independence,
flew like lightning through every paper, and
kindled both sides of the Atlantic, this flaming
declaration of the same date, of the independence
of Mecklenburg county, of North Carolina,
absolving it from the British allegiance,
and abjuring all political connection with that
nation, although sent to Congress too, is never
heard of. It is not known even a twelvemonth
after, when a similar proposition is
first made in that body. Armed with this bold
example, would not you have addressed our
timid brethren in peals of thunder on their tardy
fears? Would not every advocate of Independence
have rung the glories of Mecklenburg
county in North Carolina, in the ears of the
doubting Dickinson and others, who hung so
heavily on us? Yet the example of independent
Mecklenburg county, in North Carolina,
was never once quoted. The paper speaks, too,
of the continued exertions of their delegation
(Caswell, Hooper, Hughes) “in the cause of
liberty and independence.” Now, you remember
as well as I do, that we had not a greater
tory in Congress than Hooper; that Hughes was
very wavering, sometimes firm, sometimes feeble,
according as the day was clear or cloudy;
that Caswell, indeed, was a good whig, and kept
these gentlemen to the notch, while he was present;
but that he left us soon, and their line of
conduct became then uncertain until Penn came,
who fixed Hughes and the vote of the State. I
must not be understood as suggesting any doubtfulness
in the State of North Carolina. No
State was more fixed or forward. Nor do I
affirm, positively, that this paper is a fabrication;
because the proof of a negative can only
be presumptive. But I shall believe it such
until positive and solemn proof of its authenticity
be produced. And if the name of McKnitt
be real, and not a part of the fabrication,
it needs a vindication by the production of such
proof. For the present, I must be an unbeliever
in the apocryphal gospel.—
To John Adams. Washington ed. vii, 128. Ford ed., x, 136.
(M. July. 1819)


Adams had sent Jefferson a paper clipping about
it from the Essex (Mass.) Register.—Editor.