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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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5893. NEUTRALITY PROCLAMATION, History of.—[further continued].
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5893. NEUTRALITY PROCLAMATION, History of.—[further continued].

You have most perfectly seized the original idea of the proclamation.
When first proposed as a declaration of neutrality,
it was opposed, first, because the Execu
tive had no power to declare neutrality. Secondly,
as such a declaration would be premature,
and would lose us the benefit for which it
might be bartered. It was urged that there
was a strong impression in the minds of many
that they were free to join in the hostilities on
the side of France. Others were unapprised of
the danger they would be exposed to in carrying
contraband goods. It was, therefore, agreed
that a proclamation should issue, declaring that
we were in a state of peace with all the parties,
admonishing the people to do nothing contravening
it, and putting them on their guard as
to contraband. On this ground it was accepted
or acquiesced in by all [the cabinet], and E. R.
[Edmund Randolph] who drew it, brought to
me the draft, to let me see there was no such
word as neutrality in it. Circumstances forbid
other criticism. The public, however, soon took
it up as a declaration of neutrality, and it came
to be considered at length as such.—
To James Monroe. Washington ed. iv, 17. Ford ed., vi, 346.
(Pa., 1793)