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ItemID: #57332
Cost: $4,800.00

Fifth Annual Message to Congress (National Intelligencer Extra)

Thomas Jefferson


JEFFERSON, Thomas. [Fifth Annual Message to Congress.] This Day, at 12 O’Clock, the President of the United States Communicated, by Mr. Coles, his Secretary, the Following Message to Both Houses of Congress. IN: National Intelligencer Extraordinary. [Washington: Samuel Harrison Smith], December 3, 1805. Original folio sheet of laid paper printed on recto only, measuring 13 by 21-1/2 inches, uncut. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $4800.

First public broadside printing of Jefferson’s fifth State of the Union address, in which he addresses threats of coastal and border violation by Spain, Britain and France, with his promises to reorganize the militia and augment the navy. Relations with neighboring Native American tribes are also discussed, including several significant recent purchases, and he alludes to the explorations of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

“The National Intelligencer was the newspaper of record in the United States, particularly in regard to the proceedings of the federal government. Administration policies were announced and defended in its columns, yet it maintained a remarkably moderate and judicious tone” (Malone, 681). On December 3, 1805, the Intelligencer published this broadside text of Jefferson’s fifth annual Message to Congress, on the very day it was delivered. In his speech, the President characterized the times as “a moment when the nations of Europe are in commotion and arming against each other, and when those with whom we have principal intercourse are engaged in the general contest, and when the countenance of some of them toward our peaceable country threatens that even that may not be affected by what is passing on the general theater.” What follows is an angered recitation of numerous violations of American sovereignty by foreign powers, particularly a dispute with Spain concerning the exact boundaries of Louisiana and the serious threat to ports and coastal towns posed by the Spanish and pirates. He promises to arm the cities and patrol the waters with more ships. The President then reassures the public that the militia system continues to work and that he intends to augment the navy. “Jefferson deliberately adopted a strong tone in this public document. ‘The message is more energetic and warlike than any he ever sent to Congress,’ said Senator William Plumer. Hostile critics accused him of blustering in order to gratify the public, but, so far as his references to Spanish relations were concerned, he said privately that his major purpose was to impress the French. And, having concluded, after reading an early draft, that he had been too soft on the British, he toughened the passages relating to them in order to effect a better balance” (Malone, 69).

In this message Jefferson also addresses the United States’ relations with neighboring Native American tribes, including three recent purchases of large tracts of land. “The three former purchases are important, in as much as they consolidate disjoined parts of our settled country, and render their intercourse secure; and the second particularly so as… it completes our possession of the whole of both banks of the Ohio, from its source to near its mouth, and the navigation of that river is thereby rendered forever safe to our citizens settled and settling on its extensive waters.” In a mention of the Missouri River and “other parts beyond the Mississippi,” he states: “A state of our progress in exploring the principal rivers of that country, and of the information respecting them hitherto obtained, will be communicated so soon as we shall receive some further relations which we have reason shortly to expect.” This is clearly an allusion to the progress of the Lewis and Clark expedition, initiated by Jefferson, which set out along the Mississippi, camped at the mouth of the Missouri during the winter of 1803-04, then followed the Missouri west and north searching for an all-water route across the continent. Jefferson would have had no way of knowing this at the time, of course, but less than a month before he delivered this message to Congress the Lewis and Clark expedition had reached the Pacific Coast. Around the time of this message, in early December, the expedition discovered the place where they would establish their winter quarters, Fort Clatsop. Typeset in three columns. Not in Shaw & Shoemaker (listing only two other broadside printings, both published a week later).

Horizontal fold worn, with minor loss of a few words as follows: first column should read, “As we advance our knowledge of this disease, as facts [develop] the source from which the individuals [receive it, the State] authorities charged with the care of the public health;” second column should read, “In aid of these it is desirable we should have a [competent] number of gun-boats, [and the number, to be competent, must] be considerable;” third column should read, “thereby rendered forever safe to our citizens settled and settling on its [extensive] waters. The purchase from the Creeks [too, has been for] some time interesting to the state of Georgia.” A few stray spots of foxing along right-hand margin. An extremely good copy. Very scarce.

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