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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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5834. NEUTRALITY, Duties.—
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5834. NEUTRALITY, Duties.—

We have
seen with sincere concern the flames of war
lighted up again in Europe, and nations with
which we have the most friendly and useful relations
engaged in mutual destruction. While we
regret the miseries in which we see others involved,
let us bow with gratitude to that kind
Providence which, inspiring with wisdom and
moderation our late legislative councils while
placed under the urgency of the greatest wrongs,
guarded us from hastily entering into the sanguinary
contest, and left us only to look on and
to pity its ravages. These will be heaviest on
those immediately engaged. Yet the nations
pursuing peace will not be exempt from all evil.
In the course of this conflict [France and England],
let it be our endeavor, as it is our interest
and desire, to cultivate the friendship of
the belligerent nations by every act of justice
and of incessant kindness; to receive their
armed vessels with hospitality from distresses
of the sea, but to administer the means of annoyance
to none; to establish in our harbors
such a police as may maintain law and order;
to restrain our citizens from embarking individually
in a war in which their country takes no
part; to punish severely those persons, citizen
or alien, who shall usurp the cover of our flag
for vessels not entitled to it, infecting thereby
with suspicion those of real Americans, and
committing us into controversies for the redress
of wrongs not our own; to exact from
every nation the observance, toward our vessels
and citizens, of those principles and practices
which all civilized people acknowledge; to
merit the character of a just nation, and maintain
that of an independent one, preferring
every consequence to insult and habitual wrong.
Congress will consider whether the existing laws
enable us efficaciously to maintain this course
with our citizens in all places, and with others
while within the limits of our jurisdiction, and
will give them the new modifications necessary
for these objects. Some contraventions of right
have already taken place, both within our
jurisdictional limits and on the high seas. The
friendly disposition of the governments from
whose agents they have proceeded, as well as
their wisdom and regard for justice, leave us in
reasonable expectation that they will be rectified
and prevented in future; and that no act will be
countenanced by them which threatens to disturb
our friendly intercourse. Separated by a
wide ocean from the nations of Europe, and
from the political interests which entangle them
together, with productions and wants which render
our commerce and friendship useful to
them and theirs to us, it cannot be the interest
of any to assail us, nor ours to disturb them.
We should be most unwise, indeed, were we to
cast away the singular blessings of the position
in which nature has placed us, the opportunity
she has endowed us with of pursuing, at a distance
from foreign contentions, the paths of industry,
peace and happiness; of cultivating general
friendship, and of bringing collisions of
interest to the umpirage of reason rather than
of force. How desirable, then, must it be, in a
government like ours, to see its citizens adopt
individually the views, the interests, and the
conduct which their country should pursue, divesting
themselves of those passions and partialities
which tend to lessen useful friendships,
and to embarrass and embroil us in the calamitous
scenes of Europe. Confident that you will
duly estimate the importance of neutral dispositions
toward the observance of neutral conduct,
that you will be sensible how much it is
our duty to look on the bloody arena spread
before us with commiseration indeed, but with
no other wish than to see it closed, I am
persuaded you will cordially cherish these dispositions
in all discussions among yourselves,
and in all communications with your constituents;
and I anticipate with satisfaction the
measures of wisdom which the great interests
now committed to you will give you an opportunity
of providing, and myself that of approving
and carrying into execution with the fidelity
I owe to my country.—
Third Annual Message. Washington ed. viii, 27. Ford ed., viii, 272.
(Oct. 1803)