John Wayles Eppes to Alexander J. Dallas

Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 25th was received late last Evening—The one I addressed to you was written under the impulse of feelings produced at the moment your communication was read—I viewed with apprehension and dread what appeared to me an official declaration that “public credit no longer existed”—

Your acceptance of the office you hold was honorable to your patriotism and the ability and firmness with which you commenced the discharge of the duties of the station secured the confidence and approbation of the Republican party. I felt gratified in your success. I was anxious to promote it—I considered the prosperity of the country as identified with it. No man would have placed on your brow with more pleasure than myself the laurel due to him, who from chaos produced order and placed on a solid basis the finances and credit of the country. Every thing uttered by the Secretary of the Treasury like “gold and silver coin” has a universal and not a partial credit—If an unguarded expression on the floor of Congress could wound public credit is it extraordinary that I should dread the club of Hercules might crush it—I should with yourself deplore the want of National character and energy if the state of public feeling was too sickly to bear the truth—a statement of facts is one thing—an inference drawn from those facts is another—It would I think have been more prudent for the Secretary of the Treasury to have left the inference “That public credit does not exist” to be drawn by others.

Perhaps as is very common while I was accusing you of employing in a moment of despair expressions calculated to wound public credit, I was myself under the impulse of feeling guilty of a similar error towards yourself and plunging a “dagger into your bosom”. I am incapable of intentionally wounding the feelings of any human being—If I have employed strong language attribute it to momentary feeling, solely. With the feelings of the Executive circle on this subject I could have no [. . .] acquaintance—The opinions are exclusively my own—If I have erred I wish no human being to be implicated. as I thought; I wrote; and with the same frankness I now repeat that although my apprehensions as to the injurious effect of your letter remain on my mind, I am not so illiberal as to withdraw any portion of my respect and attachment because you have in your official character pursued what every honest man must do the dictates of his conscience and judgement—

With respect & esteem I am yours

Jno: W: Eppes
RC (NcD: John Wayles Eppes Papers); in left margin at head of text: “private”; addressed: “ Hnbl Mr Dallas Washington”; endorsed by Dallas: “Mr Eppes 30. Novr 1814 [. . .]?”
Alexander J. Dallas
Date Range
November 30, 1814