JEFFERSON, THOMAS, President. Letter signed ("Th:Jefferson") as President, to Captain Joseph Loring, Jr., Washington, D.C., 17 February 1809.
1¼ pages, 4to, 245 x 200 mm. (9¾ x 8 in.). Fine.
PRESIDENT JEFFERSON, TWO WEEKS BEFORE LEAVING OFFICE, CONTENDS WITH THE ENFORCEMENT OF THE EMBARGO: "NO PART OF THE PEOPLE...WILL DESERT THE BANNERS OF THIS COUNTRY"
Just after the repeal of the Embargo Act and enactment of the Non-Intercourse Act, Jefferson delicately reassures a Massachusetts Militia group--offended by a letter he and the Secretary of State had addressed to the Governor (Levi Lincoln)--that their patriotism is unquestioned: "The resolution...of the Officers of the legionary brigade of the first division of the Mass[achusetts] Militia...breathes that spirit of fidelity to our common country, which must ever be peculiarly the spirit of its militia, & which renders that the safest and last reliance of a republican nation. The perils with which we have been for some time environed...ought to have induced every faithful citizen to write in support of the rights of his Country, laying aside little differences political or personal, till they might be indulged without hazarding the safety of our country. Assailed in our essential rights by two of the most powerful nations on the Globe, we have remonstrated, negociated, & at length retired to the last stand in the hope of peaceably preserving our rights. In this extremity I have entire confidence that no part of the people in any section of the Union, will desert the banners of this country and cooperate with the enemies who are threatening its existence. The subscribing Officers of the legionary Brigade have furnished an honorable example of declaring their attachment to the Constitution, the laws of the Union of of [sic] the States, that they will at the call of the law rally around the standard of their country, and protect its Constitution, laws, rights & liberties against all foes. I thank them in the name of their Country for these patriotic resolutions. The pledge of support they tender will lead to no more than the honor of a Soldier and fidelity of a citizen would of itself require..."
The letter of the Massachusetts Legionary Brigade, the First Division Militia, formally vowed to defend any policies of the Federal government. The 1807 Embargo Act, passed at Jefferson's urging, prevented all foreign commerce and proved disastrous to the American economy. Opposition mounted, especially in New England, and to Jefferson's disappointment, the Embargo Act was repealed (about a week prior to this letter) and replaced with the Non-Intercourse Act, prohibiting trade with the offending powers only. The problem of enforcing the law, at the ports, remained, and Jefferson and Secretary of State Gallatin had asked the Massachusetts Governor to appoint members of the militia for each port, provided that those appointed were "of known respect for the laws," implying, unfortunately, that some militiamen could not be depended upon to enforce the unpopular law. "And it might have been predicted that in a state like Massachusetts, where the righteousness of resistance to unjust laws was being urged (as it had been in the American Revolution), the severe castigation of violators of the embargo laws...would be resented" (Dumas Malone, Jefferson the President: Second Term, p.651).