Thomas Jefferson letter, 1803

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  • Thomas Jefferson letter, 1803

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Thomas Jefferson letter, 1803


A two page letter written by Thomas Jefferson in February 1803.

See also:
Office of the Governor Correspondence


Letters to the Governor Accession C#257.


Rhode Island State Archives


1803 February


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Washington City
February 1803
In compliance with a request of the House of Representatives of the United States as well as with a sense of what is necessary, I take the liberty of urging on you the importance and indispensable necessity of vigorous exertions, on the part of the state governments, to carry into effect the militia system adopted by the national legislature, agreeably to the powers reserved to the states respectively, by the constitution of the United States and in a manner the best calculated to ensure such a degree of military discipline, and knowledge of ….. tactics, as will under the auspices of a benign providence render the militia a sure and permanent bulwark of national defence.
None but an armed nation can dispense with a standing army. to keep ours armed and disciplined is therefore at all times important. but especially so at a moment when rights the most essential to our welfare have been violated, and an infraction of treaty. treaty committed without colour or pretext; and although we are willing to believe that this has been the act of a subordinate agent only, yet is it wise to prepare for the possibility that it may have been the leading measure of a system. While therefore we are endeavoring and with a considerable degree of confidence, to obtain by friendly negotiation a peaceable redress of the injury and effectual provision against its repetition, let us array the strength of the nation, and be ready to do with promptitude and effect whatever a regard to justice and our future security may require.
In order that I may have a full and correct view of the resources of our country in all its different parts, I must desire you, with as little delay as possible to have me furnished with a return of the militia and of the arms and accoutrements of your state and of the several counties, or other geographical divisions of it. Accept assurances of my high consideration and respect
Th. Jefferson

Original Format



Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826, "Thomas Jefferson letter, 1803," in Virtual Exhibits, Item #146, (accessed October 15, 2019).