A Genius for Peace
I think one war enough for the life of one man.
Jefferson to John Langdon, August 2, 1808 1
Jefferson's passion for peace affected every aspect of his presidency. With a skill so dexterous as to be largely invisible to his own compatriots he kept the peace in his own party—except for the small rebellion led by John Randolph, who could keep peace with nobody. He prevented a dangerous rift between Madison and Monroe from widening into an enmity that might have split the Republicans in two. Although Monroe in 1806 disregarded his orders and initiated a treaty with England so unacceptable that Jefferson would not even permit its publication, he treated the humiliated diplomat with great gentleness and suggested that he might take the post of the governorship of Louisiana Territory. Monroe, however, was determined to run against Madison for president. Jefferson wrote with dismay, "I see with infinite regret a contest between yourself and another, who have been very dear to each other, and equally so to me.... I have ever viewed Mr. Madison and yourself as two principal pillars of my happiness. Were either to be withdrawn, I should consider it as among the greatest calamities which could assail my future peace of mind." Though the rift persisted for two years, Jefferson maintained his friendship separately with each man, and continued in overtures which aided in the final reconciliation in 1810. 2
It must not be thought, however, that Jefferson was incapable of handing out harsh criticism or even calculated insult. Almost everyone