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    Jefferson Writes to George Clinton

    Thomas Jefferson Autograph Letter Signed "Th:Jefferson" as president. One page with integral address leaf, 7.75" x 9.75", Washington, March 22, 1808. Writing to the "President of the Senate," his vice president, George Clinton, and marked "Private," he says, in full:

    "I inclose two messages, the one public the other confidential, with their respective documents, under separate covers. Those of the Confidential message consist only of such passages or articles as, being improper for publication, have been stricken out of the papers of the other. it is probable therefore that both may be better understood by being read alternately, taking up each separate article of the Confidential papers when the reader arrives at the corresponding part of the public ones from which it has been stricken out, and to which it is a supplement. this is rendered easy by references. should this course of reading be adopted, the whole will of course be [sic] to be read with closed doors, altho' the public bundle may be afterwards printed. the reasons for this arrangement are explained in the Confidential message."

    In the years following the Revolutionary War, the young United States held claim to neutral shipping rights while at sea. In 1803, Britain and France went to war, with America caught squarely in the middle. By 1807, both powers had outlawed American trade with their opponent. In addition, British naval ships continuously seized American cargo ships and pressed their crews into serving the Royal Navy. In an effort to counteract this, President Thomas Jefferson, through his Democratic-Republicans in Congress, placed an embargo on American shipping in December 1807 intended halt the interference of the two European powers, but only managed to wreck the American economy.

    In an effort to repair the damage, Jefferson attempted to negotiate a treaty with the British, as laid forth in the letter to Congress mentioned above, also dated March 22, 1808, but it was all for naught. In the end, Jefferson repealed the Embargo Act shortly before leaving office in March 1809. Smoothed folds. Staining in the upper right corner. Chipping at the lower edge.

    W.C. Putnam Collection for the benefit the Acquisition and Conservation Fund of the Putnam Museum.

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