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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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7322. REPUBLIC (French), Washington's cabinet and.—
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7322. REPUBLIC (French), Washington's cabinet and.—

We met at the President's
to examine by paragraphs the draft of
a letter I had prepared to Gouverneur Morris
on the conduct of Mr. Genet. There was no
difference of opinion on any part of it, except
on this expression, “An attempt to embroil
both, to add still another nation to the
enemies of his country, and to draw on both
a reproach which, it is hoped, will never stain
the history of either, that of liberty warring
on herself
”. Hamilton moved to strike out
these words, “that of liberty warring on herself ”. He urged generally that it would give
offence to the combined powers; that it
amounted to a declaration that they were
warring on liberty; that we were not called
on to declare that the cause of France was
that of liberty; that he had at first been with
them with all his heart, but that he had long
since left them, and was not for encouraging
the idea here, that the cause of France was
the cause of liberty in general, or could have
either connection or influence in our affairs.
Knox, according to custom, jumped plump
into all his opinions. The President, with a
good deal of positiveness, declared in favor
of the expression; that he considered the pursuit
of France to be that of liberty, however
they might sometimes fail of the best means
of obtaining it; that he had never at any time
entertained a doubt of their ultimate success,
if they hung well together; and that as to
their dissensions, there were such contradictory
accounts given, that no one could tell
what to believe. I observed that it had been
supposed among us all along that the present
letter might become public; that we had,
therefore, three parties to attend to,—1st,
France; 2d, her enemies; 3d, the people of


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the United States; that as to the enemies of
France, it ought not to offend them, because
the passage objected to, only spoke of an attempt
to make the United States, a free nation,
war on France, a free nation, which
would be liberty warring on herself, and,
therefore, a true fact; that as to France, we
were taking so harsh a measure (desiring
her to recall her minister) that a precedent
for it could scarcely be found; that we knew
that minister would represent to his government
that our Executive was hostile to liberty,
leaning to monarchy, and would endeavor
to parry the charges on himself, by
rendering suspicious the source from which
they flowed; that, therefore, it was essential
to satisfy France, not only of our friendship
to her, but our attachment to the general
cause of liberty, and to hers in particular;
that as to the people of the United States,
we knew there were suspicions abroad that
the Executive, in some of its parts, was
tainted with a hankering after monarchy, an
indisposition towards liberty, and towards the
French cause; and that it was important, by
an explicit declaration, to remove these suspicions,
and restore the confidence of the
people in their government. Randolph opposed
the passage on nearly the same ground
with Hamilton. He added, that he thought
it had been agreed that this correspondence
should contain no expressions which could
give offence to either party. I replied that it
had been my opinion in the beginning of the
correspondence, that while we were censuring
the conduct of the French minister, we should
make the most cordial declarations of friendship
to them; that in the first letter or two
of the correspondence, I had inserted expressions
of that kind, but that himself and the
other two gentlemen had struck them out;
that I thereupon conformed to their opinion
in my subsequent letters, and had carefully
avoided the insertion of a single term of
friendship to the French nation, and the
letters were as dry and husky as if written
between the generals of two enemy nations;
that on the present occasion, however, it had
been agreed that such expressions ought to
be inserted in the letter now under consideration,
and I had accordingly charged it
pretty well with them; that I had further
thought it essential to satisfy the French and
our own citizens of the light in which we
viewed their cause, and of our fellow feeling
for the general cause of liberty, and had
ventured only four words on the subject;
that there was not from beginning to end of
the letter one other expression or word in
favor of liberty, and I should think it singular,
at least, if the single passage of that
character should be struck out. The President
again spoke. He came into the idea
that attention was due to the parties who had
been mentioned, France and the United
States; that as to the former, thinking it certain
their affairs would issue in a government
of some sort—of considerable freedom—it
was the only nation with whom our relations
could be counted on; that as to the United
States, there could be no doubt of their universal
attachment to the cause of France, and
of the solidity of their republicanism. He
declared his strong attachment to the expression,
but finally left it to us to accommodate.
It was struck out, of course, and the expressions
of affection in the context were a good
deal taken down.—
The Anas. Washington ed. ix, 169. Ford ed., i, 259.
(Aug. 1793)