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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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5868. NEUTRALITY, Provisions not contraband.—[further continued].
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5868. NEUTRALITY, Provisions not contraband.—[further continued].

This act, too, tends directly
to draw us from that state of peace in
which we are wishing to remain. It is an essential
character of neutrality to furnish no aids (not
stipulated by treaty) to one party, which we are
not equally ready to furnish to the other. If
we permit corn to be sent to Great Britain and
her friends, we are equally bound to permit it
to France. To restrain it, would be a partiality
which might lead to war with France; and, between
restraining it ourselves, and permitting
her enemies to restrain it unrightfully, is no difference.
She would consider this as a mere
pretext, of which she would not be the dupe;
and on what honorable ground could we otherwise
explain it? Thus we should see ourselves
plunged, by this unauthorized act of Great
Britain, into a war with which we meddle not,
and which we wish to avoid, if justice to all
parties, and from all parties, will enable us to
avoid it. In the case where we found ourselves
obliged, by treaty, to withhold from the enemies
of France the right of arming in our ports, we
thought ourselves in justice bound to withhold
the same right from France also, and we did it.
Were we to withhold from her supplies of provisions,
we should, in like manner, be bound
to withhold them from her enemies also; and
thus shut to ourselves all the ports of Europe,
where corn is in demand, or make ourselves
parties in the war. This is a dilemma, which
Great Britain has no right to force upon us,
and for which no pretext can be found in any
part of our conduct. She may, indeed, feel the
desire of starving an enemy nation; but she can
have no right of doing it at our loss, nor of making
us the instruments of it.—
To Thomas Pinckney. Washington ed. iv, 61. Ford ed., vi, 414.
(Pa., Sep. 1793)


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