Page:Henry Adams' History of the United States Vol. 4.djvu/44

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34
Ch. 2.
HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES.

ful coercion had not yet been tried. Even while the nation was aflame with warlike enthusiasm, his own mind always reverted to another thought. The tone of the proclamation showed it; his unwillingness to call Congress proved it; his letters dwelt upon it.

"We have acted on these principles," he wrote in regard to England,[1]—"(1) to give that Government an opportunity to disavow and make reparation; (2) to give ourselves time to get in the vessels, property, and seamen now spread over the ocean; (3) to do no act which might compromit Congress in their choice between war, non-intercourse, or any other measure."

To Vice-President Clinton he wrote,[2] that since the power of declaring war was with the Legislature, the Executive should do nothing necessarily committing them to decide for war in preference to non-intercourse, "which will be preferred by a great many." Every letter[3] written by the President during the crisis contained some allusion to non-intercourse, which he still called the "peaceable means of repressing injustice, by making it the interest of the aggressor to do what is just, and abstain from future wrong." As the war fever grew stronger he talked more boldly about hostilities, and became silent about

  1. Jefferson to Bidwell, July 11, 1807; Works, v. 125.
  2. Jefferson to the Vice-President, July 6, 1807; Works, v. 115.
  3. Jefferson to Governor Cabell, June 29, 1807, Works, v. 114; to Mr. Bowdoin, July 10, 1807, Works, v. 123; to M. Dupont, July 14, 1807, Works, v. 127; to Lafayette, July 14, 1807, Works, v. 129.