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Thomas Jefferson to Doctor William Small



May 7, 1775.

DEAR SIR: Within this week we have received the unhappy news of an action of considerable magnitude between the King' s Troops and our brethren of Boston, in which, it is said, five hundred of the former, with the Earl of Percy,are slain. That such an action has occurred is undoubted, though perhaps the circumstances may not have reached us with truth. This accident has cut off our last hope of reconciliation, and a phrenzy of revenge seems to have seized all ranks of people. It is a lamentable circumstance that the only mediatory power acknowledged by both parties, instead of leading to a reconciliation has divided people, should pursue the incendiary purpose of still blowing up the flames, as we find him constantly doing in every speech and publick declaration. This may perhaps be intended to intimidate into acquiescence; but the effect has been most unfortunately otherwise. A little knowledge of human nature, and attention to its ordinary workings, might have foreseen that the spirits of the people here were in a state in which they were more likely to be provoked than frightened by haughty deportment. And to fill up the measure of irritation, a proscription of individuals has been substituted in the room of just trial. Can it be believed that a graceful people will suffer those to be consigned to execution, whose sole crime has been the developing and asserting their rights? Had the Parliament possessed the power of reflection, they would have avoided a measure as impotent as it was inflammatory. When I saw Lord Chatham' s Bill, I entertained high hope that a reconciliation could have been brought about. The difference between his terms and those offered by our Congress might have been accommodated, if entered on by both parties with a disposition to accommodate. But the dignity of Parliament, it seems, can brook no opposition to its power. Strange that a set of men who have made sale of their virtue to the Minister, should yet talk of retaining dignity! But I am getting into politicks, though I sat down only to ask your acceptance of the wine, and express my constant wishes for your happiness.