Fitzhugh to Jefferson (Letter 4)


To Thomas Jefferson from Peregrine Fitzhugh


19 May 1797

This letter is written from Fitzhugh to Jefferson. You will notice that Fitzhugh’s style in this letter is businesslike and to the point as opposed to his often very flowery language and being very circumspect.
Historical Background for this letter
Col. Fitzhugh still lives in Ann Arundel, Maryland, and resided there until he moved to Geneva, N.Y., in 1799. The first part of the letter is all about farming and has Fitzhugh receiving some special peas that Jefferson got from France that he had requested in Letter 2 to Jefferson. Fitzhugh promises to send some additional corn seed back to Jefferson for the following growing season since it is too late for this growing season.
The second part of the letter is all politics. Here Fitzhugh is concerned that Jefferson’s friend (James Madison who will ultimately be the 4th President of the United States, 1809-1817) is opposing a part of the draft constitution hammered out at the Constitutional Convention (1787-1789). James Madison is rumored to oppose the House of Representatives being left out of the Treaty making process which is the domain of the President with Senate approval. Ultimately this resistance by James Madison will prove to be futile. The letter goes on to talk about the war in 1797 that is raging between England and France for dominance of Europe. Fitzhugh like many farmers in the United States at that time, wants to stay neutral in the conflict so that it does not affect their commerce based on trading with both sides.
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