Jefferson Letters

Letter from Jefferson to Lafayette

Thomas Jefferson to Lafayette, Monticello, December 26, 1820

With us things are going on well. The boisterous sea of liberty indeed is never without a wave, and that from Missouri is now rolling towards us, but we shall ride over it as we have over all others. It is not a moral question, but one merely of power. Its object is to raise a geographical principle for the choice of a President, and the noise will be kept up till that is effected. All know that permitting the slaves of the South to spread into the West will not add one being to that unfortunate condition, that it will increase the happiness of those existing, and by spreading them over a larger surface, will dilute the evil everywhere, and facilitate the means of getting finally rid of it, an event more anxiously wished by those on whom it presses than by the noisy pretenders to exclusive humanity. In the meantime, it is a ladder for rivals climbing to power.

Letters from Lafayette to Jefferson

Lafayette to Thomas Jefferson, LaGrange, July 1, 1821

Are you sure, my dear friend, that extending the principle of slavery to the new raised states is a method to facilitate the means of getting rid of it? I would have thought that by spreading the prejudices, habits, and calculations of planters over a larger surface you rather increase the difficulties of final liberation. Was it not for that deplorable circumstance of Negro slavery in the Southern States not a word could be objected, when we present American doctrines and constitutions as an example to old Europe.

Lafayette to Thomas Jefferson, LaGrange, June 1, 1822

While I feel an inexpressible delight in the progress of everything that is noble minded, honourable, and useful throughout the United States, I find, in the Negro slavery, a great drawback upon my enjoyments. It raises a sigh, or a blush, according to the company, American or foreign, where I happen to be. Let me confess, my dear friend, I have not been convinced, and the less as I think more of it, by your argument in favor of dissemination. One is I believe more struck with the evil when looking upon it from without. As to the remedies, they may be better ascertained from within. . . . To see that plague cured, while I live, is next to impossibility, but I would like, before I die, to be assured that progressive and earnest measures have been adopted to attain, in due time, so desirable, so necessary an object. Prudence as well as honor seems to me to require it.