Letter to Cabell

Thomas Jefferson

August 11, 1807

TO GOVERNOR WILLIAM H. CABELL. WASHINGTON, July 8, 1807.SIR,—You will have received from the Secretary at War a letter, requesting that the quota of the State of Virginia of 100,000 militia be immediately organized and put in readiness for service at the shortest warning, but that they be not actually called out until further requisition. The menacing attitudes which the British ships of war have taken in Hampton Road, the actual blockade of Norfolk, and their having sounded the entrance, as if with a view to pass up to the city, render it necessary that we should be as well prepared there as circumstances will permit. The Secretary at War being gone to New York to arrange a plan of defence for that city, it devolves on me to request that, according to the applications you may receive from the officers charged with the protection of the place, and the information which you are more at hand to obtain than we are here, you will order such portions of the militia as you shall think necessary and most convenient to enter immediately on duty, for the defence of the place and protection of the country, at the expense of the United States. We have, moreover, four gunboats hauled up at Hampton, and four others on the stocks in Matthews county, under the care of Commodore Samuel Barron, which we consider as in danger. I must request you also to order such aids of militia, on the application of that officer, as you shall think adequate to their safety. Any arms which it may be necessary to furnish to the militia for the present objects, if not identically restored to the State, shall be returned in kind or in value by the United States. I have thought I could not more effectually provide for the safety of the places menaced, than by committing it to your hands, as you are nearer the scene of action, have the necessary powers over the militia, can receive information, and give aid so much more promptly than can be done from this place. I will ask communications from time to time of your proceedings under this charge. I salute you with great esteem and respect.

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