Header img
Beyond Penn's Treaty

Committee on Indian Concerns Scrapbook

Page out of 220


[For the information of such as may read the following, we may state, that this address is reprinted at this time,
in order to promote, in the public mind, if possible, the same humane and benevolent feelings towards the Indians
that existed in the mind of THOMAS JEFFERSON.] 12th Mo. 1840 To THOMAS JEFFERSON,

WE, the Representatives of the Yearly Meeting of Friends

, for the
Western Shore of Maryland, the adjacent parts of Pennsylvania and
Virginia, and the State of Ohio, being convened in the City of
Baltimore, on those concerns which relate to our society, feel our
minds engaged to address thee on behalf of ourselves, and the
religious society which we represent.

Permit us to say, that whilst we desire to be preserved from inter-
meddling with the policy of those governments under which we live,
we believe it to be our indispensable duty, consistently with that
Christian obligation, with relation to governments, to lead a quiet
and peaceable life under them, in all Godliness and honesty.

We feel gratitude to the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe, in that
he hath influenced the councils of the general government of our
country, to decide upon several important subjects, agreeably to the
principles of eternal justice and right.

Amongst the most prominent of those acts which claim our ap-
probation, we are induced to notice thy efforts to preserve our coun-
try from the ravages and calamities of war, by cultivating a dispo-
sition, and pursuing a conduct, marked with conciliation and friend-
ship toward all those nations with whom we have intercourse;
thereby avoiding those grounds of dissention, which are often the
sources from whence this desolating scourge has its origin, to the
reproach of Christianity. For, as we are firmly persuaded of its
obligation as a righteous principle, so it is our fervent desire, in re-
gard to all men, that even the smallest germ of enmity may be era-
dicated. And our ardent prayer to the Father of the Universe is,
that, through the overruling order of his providence, the hearts and
understanding of his erring and contending creatures may be illu-
minated, so to behold the excellency of brotherly affection, as to be-
come willing to admit the spirit of reconciliation.

We are also bound to acknowledge those philanthropic exertions,
which have been used to ameliorate the condition of the Indian na-
tives, by introducing among them a knowledge of agriculture, and
some of the mechanic arts. We sincerely congratulate thee on
their progress in cilvilization, and the very encouraging prospect,
abundantly evinced, that this truly benevolent and laudable under-
taking will ultimately be crowned with the desired success--an un-
dertaking which, whilst it increasingly obviates the wretchedness
of their former condition, converts them from dangerous neigh-
bours to valuable friends.

But there remains a subject inexpressibly dear to our hearts,
which was particularly interesting to our feelings. We rejoice in
the prospect of a termination to the wrongs of Africa, and that a
traffic, heretofore legalized in a district of our country, in its nature
abhorrent to every just and tender sentiment, and reproachful to
humanity, to say nothing of Christian principles, is inderdicted by
our government.--For the exertion of thy influence, united with
the National Legislature (may we not say.) to relieve our country,
from the complicated evils attendant upon this cruel and inhuman
trade, we are engaged, through this medium, to testify our warmest

And may the future councils of our country yield to the influence
of Him, who is called Wonderful Counsellor, The Mighty God,
The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace; so that the
exercise of additional acts of justice and mercy, towards this greatly
oppressed part of the human family, may utterly remove the cries
of oppression from this highly-favored land.

With sentiments of respect due from us to those who, in the
ordering of Divine providence are set over us, we are thy friends.
Signed on behalf of the Meeting, by GERARD T. HOPKINS, CLERK

I thank you for the address you have kindly presented me, on
behalf of that portion of the Society of Friends of which you are the
Representatives: and I learn with satisfaction their approbation of
the principles which have influenced the councils of the general
government, in their decisions on several important subjects confided
to them.

The desire to preserve our country form the calamities and rava-
ges of war, by cultivating a disposition, and pursuing a conduct,
conciliatory and friendly to all nations, has been sincerely enter-
tained and faithfully followed. It was dictated by the principles of
humanity, the precepts of the Gospel, and the general wish of our
country; and it was not to be doubted, that the Society of Friends,
with whom it is a religious principle, would sanction it by their

The same philanthropic motives have directed the public endea-
vours to ameliorate the condition of the Indian natives, by introduc-
ing among them a knowledge of agriculture and some of the me-
chanic arts, by encouraging them to resort to these as more certain,
and less laborious resources for subsistence, than the chase, and by
withholding from them the pernicious supplies of ardent spirits.
They are our brethren, our neighbours; they may be valuable
friends, of troublesome enemies. Both duty and interest then en-
join, that we should extend to them the blessings of civilized life,
and prepare their minds for becoming useful members of the Ame-
rican family. In this important work, I owe to your Society an
acknowledgment that we have felt the benefits of their zealous co-
operation, and approved its judicious direction towards producing
among those people habits of industry, comfortable subsistence, and
civilized usages, as preparatory to religious instruction, and the cul-
tivation of letters.

Whatever may have been the circumstances which influenced our
forefathers to permit the introduction of personal bondage into any
part of these States, and to participate in the wrongs committed on
an unoffending quarter of the globe, we may rejoice that such cir-
cumstances, and such a sense of them, exist no longer. It is hon-
ourable to the nation at large, that their Legislature availed them-
selves, at the first practicable moment, for arresting the progress of
this great moral and political error: and i sincerely pray with you,
my friends, that all the members of the human family, may, in the
time prescribed by the Father of us all, find themselves securely es-
tablished in the enjoyments of life, liberty and happiness.

TH. JEFFERSON.Nov. 13, 1807.