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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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5768. NAVY, Gunboats.—[further continued].
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5768. NAVY, Gunboats.—[further continued].

Of these boats a proper
proportion would be of the larger size, such as
those heretofore built, capable of navigating any
seas, and of reinforcing occasionally the


Page 618
strength of even the most distant port when
menaced with danger. The residue would be
confined to their own or the neighboring harbors,
would be smaller, less furnished for accommodation,
and consequently less costly. Of
the number supposed necessary, seventy-three
are built or building, and the hundred and
twenty-seven still to be provided, would cost
from five to six hundred thousand dollars.
* * * At times when Europe as well as the
United States shall be at peace, it would not be
proposed that more than six or eight of these
vessels should be kept afloat. When Europe is
in war, treble that number might be necessary
to be distributed among those particular harbors
which foreign vessels of war are in the habit of
frequenting, for the purpose of preserving order
therein. But they would be manned, in ordinary,
with only their complement for navigation,
relying on the seamen and militia of the port
if called into action on sudden emergency. It
would be only when the United States should
themselves be at war, that the whole number
would be brought into actual service, and would
be ready in the first moments of the war to cooperate
with other means for covering at once
the line of our seaports. At all times, those
unemployed would be withdrawn into places
not exposed to sudden enterprise, hauled up
under sheds from the sun and weather, and kept
in preservation with little expense for repairs
or maintenance. It must be superfluous to observe,
that this species of naval armament is
proposed merely for defensive operation; that it
can have but little effect toward protecting our
commerce in the open seas even on our coast;
and still less can it become an excitement to
engage in offensive maritime war, toward which
it would furnish no means.—
Special Message. Washington ed. viii, 81. Ford ed., ix, 26.
(Feb. 1807)