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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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4851. LOUISIANA, Possession by Great Britain.—
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4851. LOUISIANA, Possession by Great Britain.—

I am so deeply impressed with the
magnitude of the dangers which will attend
our government, if Louisiana and the Floridas
be added to the British empire, that, in
my opinion, we ought to make ourselves
parties in the general war expected to take
place, should this be the only means of preventing
the calamity. But I think we should
defer this step as long as possible; because
war is so full of chances, which may relieve
us from the necessity of interfering; and if
necessary, still the later we interfere, the
better we shall be prepared. It is often indeed
more easy to prevent the capture of a
place than to retake it. Should it be so in the
case in question, the difference between the
two operations of preventing and retaking,
will not be so costly as two, three, or four
years more of war. So that I am for preserving
neutrality as long, and entering into
the war as late, as possible.—
Official Opinion. Washington ed. vii, 509. Ford ed., v, 238.
(Aug. 1790)