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Re: T. Jefferson to Sir John Sinclair

>Thomas Jefferson wrote to Sir John Sinclair on 30 Jun 1803 a letter
>which included this excerpt.

>"We are still uninformed here whether you are again at war.

Very interesting.  I just finished the John Adams book by David McCullough.
Peace with France is a major theme in there.  Jefferson accused (indirectly
through intermediaries and the press; he never liked to contest anything
directly) Adams of trying to start a war with France when Adams was trying
to prevent one.

Every book on that period gives a different slant on the same events.
Recently I've read the new Franklin biography (The First American:
The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin, by H. W. Brands) and the
Pulitzer-winning Adams one, as well as some Jefferson material.
As successive presidents, Adams and Jefferson both wanted peace
with France, but Jefferson never believed that Adams did, even though
this could as easily have been Adams writing:

>Peace is our passion, and the wrongs
>might drive us from it. We prefer trying ever other just principles,
>right and safety, before we would recur to war"

As Adams wrote:

``I desire no other inscription over my gravestone than:
'Here lies John Adams, who took upon himself the responsibility
of the peace with France in the year 1800.' ''

Earlier, Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson were all in Paris together
negotiating for French support against the British, but Adams
thought Franklin was lazy and Franklin thought Adams was pushy.
Earlier they were all in Philadelphia for the Declaration of Independence,
for which Jefferson was the pen and Adams was the voice; it was Adams
who continually spoke for it in the Continental Congress until it passed.
On that event they could all agree; not on the others.

It's clear that back then it was the same as now: three people
in the same place participating in the same events for the same side
could see them completely differently.

Adams and Jefferson were both farmers, which presumably explains why
Jefferson was writing to Agricultural Sir John Sinclair.


John S. Quarterman <jsq@quarterman.org>
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