The period covered by this volume brings to a conclusion Thomas Jefferson’s first year as president. His annual message to Congress conveys good news: peace between France and England is restored; a growing population will increase the revenue and, with reduced expenditures, permit the abolition of internal taxes; the military establishment can be reduced; “peace & friendship” with Indian neighbors prevails. Jefferson recommends two particular matters to the attention of Congress: a revision of the naturalization laws that will reduce the term of residence required for citizenship; a review of the Judiciary Act, one of the final pieces of legislation of the Adams administration.
Two delegations of Indian nations—the Miamis led by Little Turtle and the Shawnees and Delawares led by Black Hoof—come to Washington to meet with Jefferson and Secretary of War Henry Dearborn. Jefferson observes that it is good for all of them to “renew the chain of affection” in person.
He regularly entertains members of Congress and the Cabinet at the President’s House, offering outstanding food, fine wines, and “Very Philosophic conversation.” On New Year’s Day, the president receives a “Mammoth Cheese,” a token of esteem from the citizens of Cheshire, Massachusetts, that the Baptist clergyman John Leland accompanied to Washington. Jefferson’s answer to the citizens praised the Constitution’s prohibition of religious tests and on the same day he replied to the October 1801 letter of the Danbury Baptists, assuring them that “religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his god.”