Archive for the 'John Adams' Category

Thomas Jefferson Adams Koran 1786 Adja at LOC

January 22, 2007

LOC Original Quote Source

Page 413 Image from Cornell Library

The ambassador replied: It was writ-
ten in their Koran, that all nations
which had not acknowledged the
Prophet were sinners, whom it was
the right and duty of the faithful to
plunder and enslave; and that every
mussulman who was slain in this war-
fare was sure to go to paradise.

Joshua London Victory at Tripoli

At National Review

December 16, 2005, 9:55 a.m.
America’s Earliest Terrorists
Lessons from America’s first war against Islamic terror.

By Joshua E. London


Take, for example, the 1786 meeting in London of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja, the Tripolitan ambassador to Britain. As American ambassadors to France and Britain respectively, Jefferson and Adams met with Ambassador Adja to negotiate a peace treaty and protect the United States from the threat of Barbary piracy.

These future United States presidents questioned the ambassador as to why his government was so hostile to the new American republic even though America had done nothing to provoke any such animosity. Ambassador Adja answered them, as they reported to the Continental Congress, “that it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise.”

Virgil Goode at TPMMuckraker

LOC Index


LOC Original Quote Source

View page 405

Ye~erson American Alinisler in France.


THE United States has contributed
to the diplomatic circles of the Old
World some incongruous members, he-
roes of the caucus and the stump, not
versed in the lore of courts, and un-
skilled in drawing-room arts. So,at
least, we are occasionally told by per-
sons who think it a prettier thing to
bow to a lady than to an audience, and
nobler to chat agreeably at dinner than
to discourse acceptably to a multitude.
Perhaps we shall do better in the diplo-
matic way by and by, when we have our
Civil Service College (to match West
Point and Annapolis) in which young
men will be especially trained for the
higher walks of public life. Hitherto,
our diplomatists have won their signal
successes simply by being good citi-
zens. We have never had a Talleyrand,
nor one of the Talleyrand kind (though
we came near it when Aaron Burr was
pressed for a foreign appointment), and
no American has ever been sent to lie
abroad for his countrys good. We
have had, however, besides a large
number of respectable ministers in the
ordinary way, three whose opportunity
was, at once, immense and unique,
Franklin, Jefferson, and Washburne,
and each of these proved equal to his
It is not as a record of diplomatic
service that Jeffersons five years~ resi-
dence in France is specially important
to us. France and America were like
lovers then, and it is not difficult to ne-
gotiate between lovers. His master in
the diplomatic art was the greatest
master of it that ever lived, Benja-
min Franklins excellence being, that
heconducted the intercourse of nations
on the principles which control men of
honor and good feeling in their private
business, who neither take, nor wish,
nor will have an unjust advantage, and
look at a point in dispute with their an-
tagonists eves as well as their own,
never insensible to his difficulties and
Ids scruples. It is what France did to
Jefferson that makes his long residence
there historically important; because
the mind he carried home entered at
once into the forming character of a
young nation, and became a part of it
forever. All these millions of people,
whom we call fellow-citizens, are more
or less different in their character and
feelings from what they would have
been, if; in the distribution of diplo-
matic offices in 1785, Congress had
sent Jefferson to London instead of
Paris, and appointed John Adams to
Paris instead of London.
At first, he had the usual embarrass-
ments of American ministers he
could read, but not speak the French
language, and he was sorely puzzled
how to arrange his style of living so as
not to go beyond his nine thousand
dollars a year. The language was a
difficulty which diminished every hour,
though he never trusted himself to
write French on any matter of conse-
quence; but the art of living, in the
style of a plenipotentiary, upon the al-
lowance fixed by Congress, remained
difficult to the end. Nor could he,
during the first years, draw much reve-
nue from Virginia. He left behind him
there so long a list of debts (the re-
sult of the losses and desolations of
the war), that the proceeds of two crops,
and the arrears of his salary as gov-
ernor voted by the legislature, only
sufficed to satisfy the most urgent of
A Virginia estate was a poor thing
indeed in the absence of the master;
and, unhappily, the founders of the
government of the United States, in
arranging salaries, made no allowance
for the American fact, that the mere
absence of a man from home usually
lessens his income and increases his
expenditure. Even Franklin took it
for granted that we should always have
among us men of leisure~ most of whom

View page 406

406 .?/efferson Americvz Minister in France. [October,

would be delighted to serve the public
for nothing. Who, indeed, could have
foreseen a state of things, such as we
see around us now, when the richer a
man is the harder he works, and when,
in a flourishing city of a hundred thou-
sand inhabitants, not one man of lei-
sure can be found, nor one man of
ability who can afford~~ to go to the
legislature ? Jefferson, Adams, and
perhaps I may say, most of the public
men of the country, have suffered
agonies of embarrassment from the
failure of the first Congresses to adopt
the true republican principle of paying
for all service done the public at the
rate which the requisite quality of ser-
vice commands in the market. The
only great error, perhaps, of Washing-
tons career was his aristocratic dis-
dain of taking fair wages for his work,
an error which most of his succes-
sors and many of their most valued min-
isters have rued in silent bitterness.
Nay, he rued it himself. What anxious
hours Washington himself passed from
the fact that there were so few compe-
tent statesmen in the country who
chanced to be rich enough to live in
Philadelphia on the salary of a Secre-
tary of State!
Jefferson was somewhat longer than
usual in getting used to what he called
the gloomy and damp climate of
Paris, such a contrast to the warmth,
purity, and splendor of the climate of his
mountain home. We find him, too, still
mourning his lost wife, and writing to
his old friend Page, that his principal
happiness was now in the retrospect of
life. Moreover, the condition of hu-
man nature in Europe astonished and
shocked him beyond measure. He was
not prepared for it; he could not get
hardened to it. While experiencing all
those art raptures which we should pre-
sume he would, keenly enjoying the
music of Paris above all, and the archi-
tecture only less, falling in love with a
statue here and an edifice there, still,
he could not become reconciled to the
hideous terms on which most of the
people of France held their lives. At
his own pleasant and not inelegant
abode , gathered most that was brilliant,
amiable, or illustrious in Paris. Who
so popular as the minister of our dear
allies across the sea, the successor of
Franklin, the friend of Lafayette, the
man of science, the man of feeling, the
scholar and musical amateur reared in
the wilderness? He liked the French,
too, exceedingly. He liked their man-
ners, their habits, their tastes, and even
their food. He was glad to live in a
community, ~vhere, as he said, a man
might pass a life without encountering
a single rudeness, and where people
enjoyed social pleasures without eating
like pigs and drinking like Indians.
But none of these things could ever
deaden his heart to the needless misery
of man in France. Read his own
First, to his young friend and pupil,
James Monroe, in June, 1785, when he
had been ten months in Paris: The
pleasure of the trip [to Europe] will be
less than you expect, but the utility
greater. It will make you adore your
own country, its soil, its climate, its
equality, liberty, laws, people, and man-
ners. My God! how little do my
countrymen know what precious bless-
ings they are in possession of, and
which no other people on earth enjoy!
I confess I had no idea of it myself.
To Mrs. Trist, in August, x785 : It
is difficult to conceive how so good a
people, with so good a king, so well-
disposed rulers in general, so genial a
climate, so fertile a soil, should beren-
dered so ineffectual for producing hu-
man happiness by one single curse,
that of a bad form of government. But
it is a fact, in spite of the mildness of
their governors, the people are ground
to powder by the vices of the form of
government. Of twenty millions of
people supposed to be in France, I am
of opinion there are nineteen millions
more wretched, more accursed in every
circumstance of human existence, than
the most conspicuously wretched indi-
vidual of the whole United States.
To an Italian friend in Virginia,
September, 1785 : Behold me, at
length, on the vaunted scene of Eu-
View page 407

1872.] ~Yfferson Arnerica;z Millister in France.
rope! You are, perhaps, curious to
know how it has struck a savage of the
mountains of America. Not advan-
tageously, I assure you. I find the
general fate of mankind here most de-
plorable. The truth of Voltaires ob-
servation offers itself perpetually, that
every man here must be either the
hammer or the anvil. It is a true pic-
ture of that country to which they say
we shall pass hereafter, and where we
are to see God and his angels in splen-
dor, and cro~vds of the damned tram-
pled under their feet.
To George Wythe, of Virginia, in
August, 1786: If anybody thinks that
kings, nobles, or prie~ts are good con-
servators of the public happiness, send
him here. It is the best school in the
universe to cure him of that folly. He
will see here, with his own eyes, that
these descriptions of men are an aban-
doned conspiracy against the happiness
of the people. Preach, my dear sir, a
crusade against ignorance establish
and improve the law for educating the
common people. Let our countrymen
know, that the people Mone can protect
us against these evils, and that the tax
which. will be paid for this purpose is
not more than the thousandth part of
what will be paid to kings, priests, and
nobles, who will rise up among us if
we leave the people in ignorance.
To General Washington, in Novem-
ber, 1786: To know the mass of evil
which flows from this fatal source [an
hereditary aristocracy], a person must
be in France; he must see the finest
soil, the finest climate, and the most
compact state, the most benevolent
character of people, and every earthly
advantage combined, insufficient to pre-
vent this sc6urge from rendering ex-
istence a curse to twenty-four out of
twenty-five parts of the inhabitants of
this country.
To James Madison, in January, 1787:
To have an idea of the curse of ex-
istence under a government of force,
it must be seen. It is a government
of wolves over sheep.
To another American friend, in Au-
gust, 1787: If all the evils which can

arise among us from the republican
form of government, from this day to
the day of judgment, could he put into
scale against what this country suffers
from its monarchical form in a week,
or England in a month, the latter would
preponderate. No race of kings has
ever presented above one man of com-
mon sense in twenty generations. The
best they can do is to leave things to
their ministers ; and what are their
ministers but a committee badly
To Governor Rutledge of South
Carolina, August, 1787: The Euro-
pean are governments of kites over
To another American friend, in Feb-
ruary, 1788 : Ehe long-expected edict
at length appears. It is an acknowl-
edgment (hitherto withheld by the
laws) that Protestants can beget chil-
dren, and that they can die, and be
offensive unless buried. It does not
give them perrpission to think, to speak,
or to worship. It enumerates the hu-
miliations to which they shall remain
subject, and the burthens to which
they shall continue to be unjustly ex-
posed. What are we to think of the
condition of the human mind in a coun-
try, where such a wretched thing as
this has thrown the state into convul-
sions, and how must we bless our own
situation in a country, the most illiter-
ate peasant of which is a Solon, com-
pared with the authors of this law.
Our countrymen do not know their
own superiority.

Such were the feelings with which
he contemplated the condition of the
French people. But he was in a situ-
ation to know, also, how far the
great in France were really benefited.
by the degradation of their fellow-citi-
zens. Their situation was dazzlino~~
but there was, .he thought, no class in
America who were not happier than
they. Intrigues of love absorbed the
younger, intrigues of ambition the
elder. Conjugal fidelity being regarded
as something provincialand ridiculous,
there was no such thing known among
View page 408

408 .5~etferso;z Amcriccvz Illinisler in F,-cz;zce. [October,

them as that tranquil, permanent fe~
licity with which domestic society in
America blesses most of its inhabitants,
leaving them free to follow steadily
those pursuits which health and rea-
son approve, and rendering truly deli-
cious the intervals of those pursuits.
Such sentiments as these were in
vogue at the time, even among the
ruling class. Beaumarchaiss Marriage
of Figaro was in its first run when
Jefferson reached Paris. Doubtless,
he listened to the barbers soliloquy in
the fifth act (a stump speech ~ Za mode
de Paris), the longest soliloquy in a
modern comedy, in which Beaumar-
chais, as we should say, arraigns the
administration. I ~ya s thought of
for a government appointment, says
poor Figaro, but, unfortunately, I
was fit for it: an arithmetician was
wanted; a dancer got it. Jefferson
rarely mentions the theatre in his
French letters ; but the theatre in Paris
is like dinner, too familiar a matter to
get upon paper. Beaumarchais himself
he knew but too well, for the brilliant
dramatist was a claimant of sundry
millions from the honorable Congress
for stores furnished during the war
which puzzled and perplexed every
minister of the United States from
Franklin to Rives.
Our plenipotentiary was one of the
most laborious of men during his resi-
dence in Europe. He had need of all
his singular talent for industry. The
whole of a long morning he usually
spent in his office hard at work; and,
sometimes, as his daughter reports,
when he was particularly pressed, he
would take his papers and retire to a
monastery near Paris, in which he
hired an apartment, and remain there
for a week or two, all the world shut
out, till his task was done. In the
afternoon, he walked seven miles into
the country and back again; and in
the evening, music, art, science, and
society claimed him by turns. I must
endeavor, in a few words, to indicate
the nature and objects of such inces
cial duties. The two continents were
then as far apart as America is now
from Australia. It took Jefferson from
fourteen to twenty weeks to get an
answer from home; and if his letters
missed the monthly packet, there was
usually no other opportunity till the
next. It was ~part of his duty as min-
ister to send to Mr. Jay, Secretary for
the foreign affairs of Congress, not
only a regular letter of public news,
but files of the best newspapers. He
did, in fact, the duty of Own Corre-
spondent, as well as that of plenipo-
tentiary; with much that is now done
by consuls and commercial agents.
As it was then a part of the system of
governments in Europe to open letters
intrusted to the mail, important letters
had to be written in cipher; which was
a serious addition to the labor of all
official persons. An incident of Mr.
Jeffersons second year serves to show
at once the remoteness of America
from Europe, the difficulty of getting
information from one continent to
another, and th9 variety of employ-
ments which then fell to the lot of the
American minister. He received a
letter making inquiry concerning a
young man named Abraham Albert
Alphonso Gallatin, who had emigrated
from Switzerland to America six years
before, and of whose massacre and scalp-
ing by the Indians a report had lately
reached his friends in Geneva. It was
to the American minister that the dis-
tressed family (one of the most respec-
table in Switzerland) applied for infor-
mation concerning the truth of the
report. In case this young man had
fallen a victim to the savages, Mr. Jef-
ferson was requested to procure a certifi-
cate of his death and a copy of his ~vill.
It was in this strange way that Thomas
Jefferson first obtained knowledge of the
Albert Gallatin whom he was destined
to appoint Secretary of the Treasury.
France and America, I say, were
like lovers then. And yet, in one re-
spect, the new minister found French-
men disappointed with the results of
sant toil. the alliance between the two countries.
And, first, as to his public and offi- The moment the war closed, commerce
View page 409


had resumed its old channel; so that
the new flag of stars and stripes, a
familiar object on the Thames, was
rarely seen in a port of France. Why
is this ? Mr. Jefferson was frequently
asked. Does friendship count for noth-
ing in trade? Is this the return France
had a right to expect from America?
Do Americans prefer their enemies to
their friends? The American minis-
ter made it his particular business, first,
to explain the true reason of this state
of things, and, then, to apply the only
remedy. In other words, he made
himself, both in society and in the au-
dience room of the Count de Vergennes,
an apostle of free-trade.
The spell of the protective system,
in 1785, had been broken in England,
hut not in France. Jefferson showed
the Count de Vergennes that it was
the measure of freedom of trade which
British merchants enjoyed that gave
them the cream of the worlds com-
merce. He told the Count (an excel-
lent man of business and an honorable
gentleman, but as ignorant as a king
of political economy) that if national
preferences could weigh with merchants,
the whole commerce of America would
forsake England and come to France.
But, said he, in substance, our mer-
chants cannot buy in France, because
you will not let them sell in France.
One day, he ~vent over the whole list
of American products, and explained
the particular restriction or system of
restrictions, which rendered it impossi-
ble for American merchants to sell it
in France at a profit. Indigo, France
had tropical islands, the planters of
which she must protect. Tobacco,
O heavens! in what a coil and tangle
of protection was that fragrant weed!
First~ the king had the absolute mo-
nopoly of the sale of it. Secondly, the
king had farmed the sale to some
great noblemen; who, in turn, had
sub-let the right to men of business.
These gentlemen had concluded a con-
tract with Robert Morris of Philadel-
phia, giving him an absolute monopoly
of the importation for three years.
Morris was to s~nd to France twenty
Yefferson American Minister in France. 409

thousand hogsheads a year at a fixed
price, and no other creature ~n earth
could lawfully send a pound of tobacco
to France.
The learned reader perceives that
there was a tobacco Ring in 1785,
which included king, noble men, French
merchants, and Mr. Jeffersons friend,
Robert Morris. When, in the course
of this enumeration, he came to the arti-
cle of tobacco, and explained the mode
in which it was protected, the Count
remarked that the king received so
large a revenue from tobacco, that it
could not be renounced. I told him,
as Mr. Jefferson relates, that we did
not wish it to be renounced, or even
lessened, but only that the monojoly
should be put down; that this might
be effected in the simplest manner by
obliging the importer to pay, on en-
trance, a duty equal to what the king
now received, or to deposit his tobacco
in the kings warehouses till it was
paid, and then permitting a free sale of
it. A/a foil said the Count, that
is a good idea; we must think of it.
They did think of it. Mr. Jefferson
kept them thinking during the whole of
his residence in Paris. In many letters
and in conversation, vivid with his own
clear conviction, and warm with his
earnest purpose to serve both coun-
tries, and man through them, he ex-
pounded the principles of free-trade.
Each of our nations, he said, has
exactly to spare the articles which the
other wants. We have a surplus of
rice, tobacco, furs, peltry, potash, lamp
oils, timber, which France wants; she
has a surplus of wines, brandies, escu-
lent oils, fruits, manufactures of all
kinds, which we want. The govern-
ments have nothing to do but not to
hinder their merchants from making
the exchange.
To the theory of free-trade every
thinking man, of course, assented. But
when it came to practice, he generally
found (as free-traders now do) that pri-
vate interest was too powerful for him.
It was in France very much as it was
in Portugal. After negotiating for
years with the Portuguese minister for
View page 410

410 Yefferson A mcrican Minister in France [October,

the free admission of American pro-
ducts, Jefferson succeeded in getting
his treaty signed and sent to Lisbon for
ratification. The astute old Portuguese
ambassador predicted its rejection.
Some great lords of the court, said
he to Mr. Jefferson, derive an impor-
tant part of their revenue from their
interest in the flour – mills near the
capital ; which the admission of Amer-
ican flour will shut up. They will pre-
vail upon the king to reject it. And
so it proved. Jefferson, however, was
not a man to prefer no bread to half a
loaf. He did really succeed in France,
after twelve months hard work and
vigilant attention, aided at every turn
by the Marquis de Lafayette, whose
zeal, to serve his other country across
the ocean knew no diminution while
he lived, in obtaining some few crusts
of free-trade for the merchants of
America; which had an important
effect in nourishing the infant com-
merce between the two countries. Nor
did he rest content with them. He
could not break the Morris contract,
nor even wish it broken; but, aided
by Lafayettes potent influence, he ob-
tained from the Ministry an engage-
ment that no contract of the same na-
ture should ever again be permitted.
To the last month of his stay in Europe,
we find, in his voluminous correspond-
ence, that he still strove to loosen what
he was accust~~med to call the shac-
kles upon trade.
His efforts in behalf of free-trade in
tobacco exposed him to the enmity of
Robert Morris and his kindred, one of
the most powerful circles in the United
States, including Gouverneur Morris,
as able and honorable an aristocrat as
ever stood by his order,a man of
Bismarckian acuteness, candor, integ-
rity, and humor. In writing of this
matter, in confidence, to James iVIon-
roe, Jefferson held this language: I
have done what was right, and I will
not so far wound my privilege of doing
that without regard to any mans inter-
est, as to enter into any explanations
of this paragraph with Robert Morris.
Yet I esteem him highly, and suppose
that hitherto he had esteemed me.
The paragraph to which he alludes
was one in a letter of the French min-
ister of finance, in which there was an
expression implying that Mr. Jefferson
had recommended the annulling of the
Morris Contract. This he had not
done. On th~ contrary, he had main-
tained that to annul it would be unjust.
But he deemed it unbecoming in him
as a public man to so much as correct
this misapprehension.
The reader, perhaps, has supposed
that the evils resulting from tariff-
tinkering, are peculiar to the United
States. Mr. Jefferson knew better.
As often as he succeeded in getting a
restriction upon trade loosened a little,
an injured Interest cried out; and did
not always cry in vain. In 1788, he
obtained a revisal of the tariff in favor
of American products, which admitted
American whale oil (before prohib-
ited) at a duty of ten dollars a ton.
This was a vast boon to Yankee whal-
ers. But an existing treaty between
France and England obliged France
to admit English oil on the terms of
the most favored nation. At once,
the English oils flowed in, over-
stocked the market, and lowered the
price to such a point that the French
fishermen and sealmen could not live.
An outcry arose, which the French
Ministry could not disregard. Then it
was proposed to exclude all European
oils which would not infringe the Brit-
ish treaty; and this idea Jefferson, #4
free-trader as he was, encouraged with
patriotic inconsistency, because, as he
says, it would give to the French and
American fisheries a monopoly of the
French market. The arr~t was drawn
up ministers were assembled; and in
a moment more it would have been
passed, to the enriching of Nantucket
and the great advantage of all the New
England coast. Just then, a minister
proposed to strike out the word Euro-
pean, which would make the measure
still more satisfactory to French oil-
men. The amendment was agree dto;
the arreit was signed; and, behold,
Nantucket excluded!
View page 411


As soon as Jefferson heard of this
disaster, he put forth all his energies
in getting the arr~/ amended. Not
content with verbal and written remon-
strance, he took a leaf from Dr. Frank-
lins book, and caused a small treatise
upon the subject to be printed to entice
them to read it, particularly the new
minister, M. Neckar, who, minister as
he was, had some principles of econ-
omy, and will enter into calculations.
He succeeded in his object, and soon
had the pleasure of sending to Nan-
tucket, through Mr. Adams, a notifi-
cation that the whalemen might put
to sea in full confidence of being al-
lowed to sell their oil in French ports
on profitable terms. He testit~ed to
the generous aid he had had in this
business from Lafayette: He has
paid the closest attention to it, and
combated for us with the zeal of a
Other curious incidents of his five
years war against the Protective Sys-
tem press for mention ; but, really, one
suffices as well as a thousand. It is
always the same story; the interests
of men against the rights of man,
temporary and local advantage opposed
to the permanent interest of the human
race, a shrinking from a fair, open
contest, and compelling your adversary
to go into the ring with one hand tied
behind him. Nevertheless, such is
the nature of man, that the progress
from restriction to freedom, whether in
politics, religion, or trade, must be slow
in order to be sure. It is huir~an to cry
Great is Diana of the Ephesians
when you live by making images of the
chaste goddess. Even Jefferson, a free-
trader by the constitution of his mind,
was not so very ill-content with a mo-
nopoly which shut English whalemen
out of the ports of France, and let his
own countrymen in. The principle
was wrong, but he could bear it in this
instance. It required many years of
pig-headed outrage to kill his proud
and yearning love for the land of his
ancestors, but the thing was done at
last with a completeness that left noth-
ing to be desired.
Among the powers with which the
commissioners of the United States
endeavored to negotiate treaties of
amity and commerce on sublime
Christian principles, were Tunis, Al-
giers, Tripoli, and the high, glorious,
mighty, and most noble King, Prince,
and Emperor of Morocco. Before
Mr. Jefferson had held the post of
plenipotentiary many weeks, he was
reminded, most painfully, that those
powers were not yet, perhaps, quite
prepared to conduct their foreign affairs
in the lofty style proposed. A rumor
ran over Europe, that Dr. Franklin, on
his voyage to America, had been cap-
tured by the Algerines and carried to
Algiers; where, being held for ransom,
he bore his captivity with the cheerful-
ness and dignity that might have been
expected of him. Nor was such an
event impossible, nor even improbable.
The packets plying between Havre.and
New York were not considered safe
from the Algerine corsairs in 1785.
Nothing afloat was safe from them un-
less defended by superior guns, or pro-
tected by an annual subsidy. Among
the curious bits of information which
Jefferson contrived to send to Mr. Jay,
was a list of the presents made by the
Dutch, in 1784, to the aforesaid King,
Prince, and Emperor of Morocco. The
Dutch, we should infer from this cata-
logue, supplied the Emperor with the
n~eans of preying upon the commerce
of the world; for it consists of items
like these : 69 masts, 30 cables, 267
pieces of cordage, 70 cannon, 2! an-
chors, 285 pieces of sail-cloth, 1450
pulleys, ~i chests of tools, 12 quad-
rants, 12 compasses, 26 hour-glasses,
27 sea-charts, ~o dozen sail. needles, 24
tons of pitch ; besides such extraor-
dinary presents as 2 pieces of scarlet
cloth, 2 of green cloth, 280 loaves of
sugar, one chest of tea, 24 china punch-
bowls, 50 pieces of muslin, 3 clocks,
and one very large watch. He
learned, too, that Spain had recently
stooped to buy a peace from one of
these piratical powers at a cost of six
hundred thousand dollars.
It was in the destiny of Mr. Jeffer
Y~effcrxn Arnerica;z iJIi;zister in France.
View page 412

412 5efferson American Minister in France. [October –

son, at a later time, to extort a peace
from these pirates in another way, and,
in fact, to originate the system that rid
the seas of them forever. But, at
present, the country which he repre-
sented was not strong enough to de-
part from the established system of
purchase. The United States was
a gainer even by the treaty for which
Spain had paid so high a price, for
Spain was then in close alliance with
the republic which had humbled the
great enemy of the House of Bourbon.
In the spring of 1785 came news that
the American brig Betsy had been cap-
tured and taken to Morocco, where the
crew were held for ransom. It was the
good offices of Spain that induced the
King, Prince, and Emperor of Morocco
to make a present to the American
minister at Cadiz of the liberty of the
Betsys crew. But when Mr. Car-
michael waited on the Spanish ambas-
sador to thank him, in the best Span-
ish he could muster, for the friendly
act of the king, he was given to under-
stand that, unless the United States
sent an envoy to Morocco with pres-
ents for the Emperor, no more crews
would be released except on the usual
terms. Mr. Carmichael notified Mr.
Jefferson of these events, and added
that he feared further depredations
from the Algerines. Thirteen prizes
had recently been brought in by them;
chiefly Portuguese, he tI~ought. The
Americans, I hope, are too much fright-
ened already, said he, to venture
any vessels this way, especially during
the summer. And they ran some risk
even in the more northern latitudes.
A month later, Mr. Jefferson re-
ceived a doleful letter from three
American captains in Algiers, which
brought the subject home to him most
forcibly: We, the subjects of the
United States of America, having
the misfortune of being captured off
the. coast of Portugal, the 24th and
30th of July, by the Algerines, and
brou~,ht into this port, where we are
become slaves, and sent to the work-
houses, our sufferings are beyond our
expressing, or your conception
being stripped of all our clothes, and
nothing to exist on but two small cakes
of bread per day, without any other
necessaries of life. But the captains
had found a friend: Charles Logie,
Esq., British Consul, seeing our dis-
tressed situation, has taken us three
masters of vessels out of the work-
house, and has given security for us to
the Dey of Algiers, King of Cruelties.
The sailors, however, remained in the
workhouses, where they would certain-
ly starve, the captains thought, if Mr.
Jefferson could not at once prevail
upon Congress to grant them relief.
In writing this letter, the three cap-
tains provided Mr. Jefferson with seven
years trouble. During all the remain-
der of his residence at Paris, and years
after his return home, one of his chief
employments was to procure the deliv-
erance of those unfortunate prisoners
from captivity. After making some
provision for their maintenance, he ex-
plained to Congress the necessity of
treating with the pirates as the Span-
iards had done, money in hand. He
was authorized to give twenty thou-
sand dollars to the High and Mighty
Prince and Emperor of Morocco, and
the same sum to the King of Cruelties,
for a treaty of peace. Inadequate as
these sums were, they seemed stupen-
dous to a Congress distressed with the
debt of the Revolution, fearing to learn
by every arrival that their credit was
gone in Europe, through the failure of
their agents to effect a new loan. Jef-
ferson and Adams took the liberty of
doubling the price for a treaty with
Algiers; offering forty thousand dol-
lars for a treaty and the twenty prison-
ers. They felt that this was assuming
a responsibility which nothing could
justify but the emergency of the case.
The motives which led to it, wrote
Jefferson to Mr. Jay, must be found
in the feelings of the human heart, in a
partiality for those sufferers who are of
our own country, and in the obligations
of every government to yield protec-
tion to their citizens as the considera-
tion for their obedience. He assured
the secretary that it would be a corn-
View page 413

1872.] Yqft~erson America;: Zilinister in France.
fort to know that Congress did not dis-
approve this step. He received that
comfort in due time; but the forty
thousand dollars did not get the treaty,
nor bring home the captives. The
agents whom he despatched returned
with the report that upon such terms
no business could be done.
And so the affair drew on. In the
spring of 1786, Mr. Jefferson upon an
intimation received from Mr. Adams,
hurried over to London to confer with
the ambassador of Tripoli upon the
matter; supposing that whatever bar-
gain they might make with Tripoli
would be a guide in their negotiations
with Algiers and Morocco. The two
Americans met the ambassador, and
had a conversation with him which one
would think more suitable to A. D. 1100
than 1786. The first question discussed
b!etween them was, whether it were bet-
ter for the United States to buy a tem-
porary peace by annual payments, or a
permanent peace by what our English
friends elegantly style a lump sum.
The ambassador was much in favor of
a permanent peace. Any stipulated
annual sum, he said, might cease to
content his country, and an increased
demand might bring on a war, which
wouid interrupt the payments, and give
new cause of difference. It would be
much cheaper in the long run, he as-
sured them, for the United States to
come down handsomely at once and
make an end of the business.
That question having been duly con-
sidered, the Americans were ready to
listen to the terms; which were these
for a treaty of peace with Tripoli, to
last one year, with privilege of renewal,
twelve thousand five hundred guineas
to the government, and one thousand
two hundred and fifty guineas to the
a~nbassador; for a permanent peace,
thirty thousand g~iineas to the gov-
ernment, and three thousand guineas
to the ambassador; cash down on
receipt of signed treaty. N. B. Mer-
chandise not taken. On the same
terms, the ambassador assured them,
a peace could be had with Tunis; but
with regard to Algiers and Morocco,

he could not undertake to promise
anything. Peace with the four pirati-
cal powers, then, would cost Congress
at least six hundred and sixty thou-
sand dollars. If the affair had not
involved the life and liberty of coun-
trymen, the American commissioners
might have laughed at the dispropor-
tion between the sums they were em-
powered to offer and those demanded.
Disguising their feelings as best they
could, they took the liberty to make
some inquiries concerning the ground
of the ~iretensions to make war upon
nations who had done them no injury.
The ambassador replied: It was writ-
ten in their Koran, that all nations
which had not acknowledged the
Prophet were sinners, whom it was
the right and duty of the faithful to
plunder and enslave; and that every
mussulman who was slain in this war-
fare was sure to go to paradise. He
said, also, that the man who was the
first to board a vessel had one slave
over and above his share, and that
when they sprang to the deck of an
enemys ship, every sailor held a dag-
ger in each hand and a third in his
mouth; which usually struck such ter-
ror into the foe that they cried out for
quarter at once. It was the opinion of
this enlightened public functionary that
the Devil aided his countrymen in
these expeditions, for they were almost
always succe.sssful.
It is difficult for us to realize only
eighty-six years after this conv~rsation,
that it could ever have been held;
still less that the American commis-
sioners should have seriously reported
it to Mr. Jay, with an offer of their
best services in trying to borrow the
money in Holland or elsewhere, and in
concluding the several bargains for
peace with the four powers ; least of ~
all, that Mr. Jay should have submitted
the offers of the ambassador to Con-
gress. Congress, in their turn, referred
the matter back to Mr. Jay for his
opinion; which he gave with elabora-
tion and exactness. The substance of
his report was this : We cannot raise
the money, and it would be an injury
View page 414

Yreffcrson A meri~an Minister in France. LOctober,

to our credit to attempt to do so and
not succeed.
Mr. Jefferson was obliged, therefore,
to confine his efforts to the mere de-
liverance of the captives by ransom.
This, too, was a matter demanding the
most delicate and cautious handling;
for the price of a captive was regulated
like professional fees, according to the
wealth of the parties interested. Let
those professional pirates but suppose
a government concerned in a slaves
ransom, and the price ran up the scale
to a height most alarming. Jefferson
was obliged to conceal from every one,
and especially from the prisoners, that
he had any authority to treat for their
release; a course that brought upon
him, a kind of censure hard to bear in-
deed. While he was exerting every
faculty in behalf of the captives, he
~vould receive from thenr cruel let-
ters, as he termed them, accusing
him, not merely of neglecting their in-
terests, but of disobeying the positive
orders of Congress to negotiate their
He availed himself, at length, of the
services of an order of monks called
The Mathurins, instituted for the pur-
pose of begging alms for the ransom of
Christian captives held to servitude
among the Infidels. Agents of theirs
constantly lived in the Barbary States,
searching out captives, and driving
hard bargains in their purchase. As it
~vas known that the Mathurins could
ransom cheaper than any other agency,
they were frequently employed by gov-
ernments and by families in procuring
the deliverance of captives. The chief
of the order received Mr. Jefferson
with the utmost benignity, and won his
favorable regard by making no allusion
to the religious heresy of the American
captives. He offered to undertake the
purchase, provided the most profound
secrecy were observed, and he thought
the twenty captives would cost Con-
gress ten thousand dollars. Congress
authorized the expenditure. But that
was the time when it overtaxed the
credit of the United States even to
subsist their half a dozen representa
tives in Europe. The moment I
have the money, Mr. Jefferson was
obliged to write, the business shall
be set in motion. But the money was
long in coming. A newgovernment
was forming at Philadelphia. All was
embarrassmefit in the finances and
confusion in the minds of the transi-
tory administration. The poor cap-
tives lingered in slavery year after year,
dependant for daily sustenanc~, for
months at a time, on advances made
by the Spanish ambassador. As late
as 1793, we still find Mr. Jefferson
busied about the same, prisoners in
While doing what he could for the
relief and protection of his own coun-
trymen, he set on foot a nobler scheme
for delivering the vessels of all the mar-
itime nations from the risk of capture
by these pirates. He drew up a plan,
which he submitted to the Diplomatic
Corps at Versailles, for keeping a joint
fleet of six frigates and six smaller ves-
sels in commission, one half of which
should be always cruising against the
corsairs, waging active war, until the
four Barbary States were willing to
conclude treaties of peace without sub-
sidy or price. Portugal, Naples, the
two Sicilies, Venice, Malta, Den mark,
and Sweden, all avowed a willing-
ness to share in the enterprise, pro-
vided France offered no opposition.
Having satisfied the ambassadors on
this point, he felt sure of success if
Congress would authorize him to make
the proposition as from them, and to
supl)ort it by undertaking to contribute
and maintain one of the frigates. But
the power of the Congress of the old
Confederacy, never sufficient, was now
waning fast. What could it ever do
but recommend the States to pay their
share of public expenses? And the
recommendations of *is nature, as
Jefferson remarked, were now so open-
ly neglected by the States, that Con-
gress declined an engagement which
they were conscious they could not
fulfil with punctuality. It was an ex-
cellent scheme. Jefferson had drawn
it up in great detail~ and with so much
View page 415

1872.] Yeffcrson American Minister in France. 415

forethought and good sense, that it
looks on paper as though it might have
answered the purpose.
It fell to the lot of Jefferson to nego-
tiate and sign a convention between
France and the United States which
regulated the consular services of both
nations. Does the reader happen to
know what despotic powers a consul
exercised formerly? He was a terrible
being. He was invested with much of
the sacredness and more than the au-
thority of an ambassador. The laws of
the country in which he lived could not
touch him, could neither confine his
person, nor seize his goods, nor search
his house. Over such of his country-
men as fell into his power he exercised
autocratic sway. If he suspected a pas-
senger of being a deserter or a criminal,,
he could send him home; if he caught
a ship in a contraband act, he could
order it back to its port. When Dr.
Franklin came to arrange the Consular
Service of the two countries, the Count
de Vergennes simply handed him a copy
of the Consular Convention established
between France and the Continental
powers; and this the Doctor accepted,
signed, and sent home for ratification,
supposing it to be ~the correct and
only thing admissible. Congress
received it, as Jefferson reports,
with the deepest concern. They
honored Dr. Franklin, they were at-
tached to the French nation, hut they
could not relinquish fundamental prin-
ciples. The convention was returned
to Jefferson, with new instructions and
powers ; and he succeeded, after a
long and difficult negotiation, in in-
ducing the French government to limit
those excessive consular powers. The
government, he explains, anticipated a
very extensive emigration from France
to the United States, which, under the
old consular system, they could have
controlled; and hence they yielded it
with the utmost reluctance, and inch
by inch. But they yielded it, at last,
with frankness and good-humor, and
the consular system was arranged as
we find it now.
XVhen we tarn from the plenipoten
tiarys public duties to his semi-official
and voluntary labors, it is impossible
not to be stirred to admiration and
gratitude. I do not know what public
man has ever been more solicitous to
use the opportunities which his office
conferred of rendering solid service to
his country, to institutions, to corpora-
tions, to individuals. He kept four
colleges Harvard, Yale, XVilliam and
Mary, and the College of Philadel
-phia advised of the new inventions,
discoveries, conjectures, books, that
seemed important. And what news he
had to send sometimes! It was he
who sent to America the most impor-
tant piece of mechanical intelligence
that pen ever recorded, the success
of the Watt steam-engine~ by means of
which a peck and a half of coal per-
forms as much work as -a Worse in a
day. He – conversed at Paris with
Boulton, who was Watts partner in
the manufacture of the engines, and
learned from his lips this astounding
fact. But it did not antound him in
the least, he mentions it quietly in
the postscript of a long letter; for no
man yet foresaw the revolution in. all
human affairs which that invention
was to effect. He went to see an en-
gine at work in London afterwards,
but he was only allowed to view the
outward parts of the machinery, and
he could not tell whether the mill
was turned by the steam immediate-
ly, or by a stream of water which the
steam pumped up.
We are all familiar with the system
of manufacturing watches, clocks, arms,
and other objects, in parts so exactly
alike that they can be used without
altering or fitting. It was Jefferson
who sent to Congress an account of
this admirable idea, which he derived
from its ingenious inventor, a French
mechanic. He also forwarded speci-
mens of the parts of a musket-lock, by
way of illustration. The system, which
was at first employed only in the man-
ufacture of arms, seems now about to
be applied to all manufactures. He
sent to Virginia particular accounts of
the construction of canals and locks,
View page 416

416 Ycfferson Amcrican Minister in France. [Octo1~er,

and of the devices employed in Europe
for improving and extending the navi-
gation of rivers ; information peculiar-
ly welcome to General Washington and
the companies formed under his aus-
pices to extend the navigation of the
James and the Potomac back to the
Virginian as he was, he had a Yan-
kees love for an improved implement
or utensil, and he was always sending
something ingenious in that way to a
friend. He scoured Paris to find one
of the new lamps for Richard Hen-
ry Lee, failed to get a good one, tried
again in London, and succeeded. Mad-
ison was indebted to him for getting
made the most perfect watch the arts
could then produce, price six hundred
francs, and a portable copying-press
of his own contriving, besides a great
number of books for his library. A
stroll among the book-stalls was one
of his favorite afternoon recreations
during the whole of his residence in
Paris, so one of his daughters records,
and he picked up many hundreds of
prizes in the way of rare and curious
books, for Madison, Wythe, Monroe,
and himself.
Europe is still the chief source of
our intellectual nourishment; but when
Jefferson was minister in Paris, it was
the only source. America had con-
tributed nothing to the intellectual re-
sources of man, except Franklin; and
the best of Franklin was not yet acces-
sible. We had no art, little science,
no literature; not a poem, not a book,
riot a picture, not a statue, not an edi-
lice. Jefferson evidently recognized it
as a very important part of his duty
to be a channel of communication by
which the redundant intellectual wealth
of one continent should go to lessen
the poverty of the other. He had in
his note-book a considerable list of
Americans, such as Dr. Franklin,
James Madison, George Wythe, Ed-
mund Randolph, Dr. Stiles, of whom
he was the literary agent in Europe,
for whom he received the volumes of
the Encyclop~dia as they appeared, and
subscribed for copies of any work of
value which was announced for publica-
tion. In advance of international copy-
right, and, indeed, before Noah \Veb-
ster had procured a home copyright for
his spelling-book from a few of the
State legislatures (the beginning of
our copyrighf system), Jefferson aided
two American authors to gain some-
thing from the European sale of their
writings. He got forty guineas for an
early copy of Ramsays History of the
Revolutionary War for translation into
French; and when he found that the
London booksellers did not dare sell
the book, he sent for a hundred copies,
and caused it to be advertised in the
London papers, that persons in Eng-
land wishing the work could have it
from Paris, per dilzgence. Similar ser-
vice he rendered Dr. Gordon, author
of the History of the war to which he
had himself contributed.
Some opportunities which occurred
to him of aiding the growth of a better
taste in America for architecture, he
eagerly seized. Virginia was about to
disfigure Richmond with public build-
ings, and the commissioners wrote to
him for plans ; particularly, a plan for a
capitol. What commission could have
been more welcome? From his youth
up, before he had ever seen an edifice
that was not repulsive, he was an en-
thusiast in architecture; and now, in
Paris, it was a daily rapture to pass
one of his favorite buildings. He
would linger near it, he tells one of his
friends, for a long time; would often
go out of his way to catch a view of it;
loved to study it in new lights and un-
usual conditions of the atmosphere,
and never grew weary of admiring it.
As soon, therefore, as he received
the letter from Richmond, he engaged
the best architect of the day, and en-
tered upon the joyous work. They
took for their model the lifaison Quar-
rie of Nisnies, which, he though t,was
one of the most beautiful, if not the
most beautiful and precious morsel of
architecture left us by antiquity; . . .
very simple, but noble beyond expres-
sion. All the time he could spare
from pressing public duties he spent
View page 417


in adapting the ancient model to mod-
ern utilities ; but with all his zeal
the plan consumed time, and he was
aghast one day, to receive news from
home that the commissioners were be-
ginning to build without it. He wrote
to Madison, begging him to use all his
influence for delay. How is a taste,
he asked, for this beautiful art to be
formed in our countrymen unless we
avail ourselves of every occasion when
public buildings are to be erected, of
presenting to them models for their
study and imitation? The loss of a
few bricks, he thought, was not to be
weighed against the comfort of lay-
ing out the public money for some-
thing honorable, the satisfaction of see-
ing an object and proof of national
good taste, and the regret and mortifi-
cation of erecting a monument of our
barbarism, which will be loaded with
execrations as long as it shall endure.
He seems to have smiled at his own
vehemence. You see, he concluded,
I am an enthusiast on the subject of
the arts. But it is an enthusiasm of
which I am not ashamed, as its object
is to improve the taste of my country-
men, to increase their reputation, to
reconcile to them the respect of the
world and procure them its praise.~~
Madison exerted himself; the work
was stopped; the plan was accepted.
But the home architect, as Professor
Tucker tells us, mingled an idea or
two of his own with those of the an-
cient master, and considerations of
economy were allowed to modify parts
of the design. The result many read-
ers have seen in that ill-starred, for-
lorn-looking edifice, the Capitol of Vir-
ginia at Richmond. Near it, on the
capitol grounds, is the best thing
America has yet paid for in the way
of a mox~ument to the memory of de-
serving men, the monument to \Vash-
ington and the other Virginians most
distinguished in the Revolutionary
struggle. Jefferson was much occu-
pied with details of this fine work dur-
ing his residence in Paris. For Vir-
ginia, also, he bought some thousands
of stands of arms and other warlike
VOL. XXX.NO. i8o. 27
Yefferson America;i Minister in France. 417.

material; for, who had yet so much as
thought that Virginia was not a sov-
ereign State?
There was no end of his services to
the infant unskilled agriculture of his
country. In Charleston and Philadel-
phia there was already something in
the way of an Agricultural Society, to
which he sent information, seeds,
roots, nuts, and plants; thus continu-
ing the work begun in his fathers
youth by John Bartram of Philadel-
phia, to whom be honor and gratitude
forever! To the Charleston Society,
Jeffersons benefactions ~vere most nu-
merous and important. Upon receiv-
ing the intelligence that he had been
elected a member of the society, he
sent them, with his letter of acknowl-
edgment, son seeds of a grass that
had. been found very useful in the
southern parts of Europe, and was
almost the only grass cultivated in
Malta. It is to be feared the seed
was not duly cared for by the Society,
for the Northern eye looks in vain, in
the Carolinas, for a vivid lawn or a
fine field of grass. Afterwards he pro-
cured for them a quantity of the acorns
of the cork oak. Where are the cork
oaks that should have sprung from
them? He burned with desire to in-
troduce the olive culture into the
Southern States, and he returns again
and again to the subject in his letters.
He saw what a great good the olive-
tree was to Europe, from its hardiness,
its fruitfulness, the low quality of soil
in which it flourishes, and the agreea-
ble flavor it imparts to many viands
otherwise tasteless or disagreeable..
He urged the Charleston Society to
make it a chief object to introduce the
olive, and offered to send them boun-
tiful supplies of plants of every valua-
ble variety, and to be one of five per-
sons to contribute ten guineas a year
for their experimental culture in South
if, he wrote to President Drayton~
the memory of those persons is held,
in great respect in South Carolina who
introduced there the culture of rice, a
plant which sows life and. death. with
View page 418

418 Yejferson A inerican Minister in France. [Oct& b~r,

almost equal hand, what obligations
would be due to him who should intro-
duce the olive-tree, and set the exam-
pie of its culture ! Were the owners
of slaves to view it only as the means
of bettering //~eir condition, how much
would he better that by planting one
of those trees for every slave he pos-
sessed! Having been myself an eye-
witness to the blessings which this
tree sheds on the poor, I never had
my wishes so kindled for the introduc-
tion of any article of new culture into
our own country.
Olive-oil, however, despite his gen-
erous efforts, is not yet an American
product. The Society accepted his
offers. He sent them a whole cargo
of plants. The culture was begun
with enthusiasm. But, whether from
want of skill, or want of perseverance,
or the unsuitableness of the climate, or
the excessive richness of the soil, the
trees did not flourish. The caper, too,
of which he sent seeds and amplest in-
formation, we still import in long, thin
bottles, from Europe. Cotton he dis-
misses with curious brevity, consider-
ing the importance it has since at-
tained. In writing of East India
products to the Charleston Society, he
says, Cotton is a precious resource,
and which canFlot fail with you.
Rice was the great theme of his
agricultural letters. He was surprised,
upon settling for the first time in a
Catholic community, at the vast quan-
tities of rice consumed ; for it was the
great resource of all classes during
Lent. Fish was then a costly article,
so far from the sea. Voltaire laughs
at the Paris dandies of his day who
alleviated the rigors of Lent by break-
fasting with their mistresses on a fresh
fish brought, post, from St. Malo, that
cost five hundred francs, a delicate
mark of attention, he observes~ to a
pretty penitent. Rice, however, was
the standing dish in France during
the fasting-season, and the merchants
timed their importations accordingly.
Jefferson was struck with the small
quantity of American rice brought to
French ports and the low price it
brought. Upon inquiry, he was told
that the American rice (which reached
France by way of England) was in-
ferior in quality to that of Piedmont
and not so well cleaned. He sent
to Charleston specimens of the kinds
of rice sold in Paris, explained the in-
conveniences of a circuitous commerce,
urged the Carolinians to send cargoes
direct to Havre, and told them to be
sure to get the hulk of the supply
in port a month before Lent. As to
the imperfect cleaning, he resolved to
investigate that point to the uttermost.
Being at Marseilles in 1787, he in-
quired on every hand concerning the
machine employed in Italy to hull and
clean the rice. No one could tell him.
The vast national importance of the
matter, together with the warm re-
sponses which he had received from
Charleston to his letters upon rice, in-
duced him to cross the Alps and trav-
erse the rice country on purpose to
examine the hulling-mill employed
there, to the use of which he supposed
the higher price of the Italian rice was
due. I found their machine, he
wrote to Edward Rutledge of South
Carolina, exactly such a one as you
had described to me in Congress in the
year 1783 !
But he did not cross the Alps in
vain. Seeing that the Italians cleaned
their rice by the very mill used in
South Carolina, he concluded that the
Italian rice was of a better kind, and
resolved to send some of the seed to
Charleston. It was, however, part of
the barbaric protective system to pre-
vent the exportation of whatever could
most signally bless other nations ; and
no one was allowed to send seed-rice
out of the country. Jefferson, falling
back on the higher law, took meas-
ures with a muleteer to run a couple of
sacks across the Apennines to Genoa;
but having small faith in the muleteers
success, he filled the pockets of his
coat and overcoat with the best rice of
the best rice-producing district in Italy,
and sent it, in two parcels by different
ships, to Charleston. The muleteer
failed to run his sacks, but this small
View page 419

1872.] Yefferson American Minister in France~, 419

store reached the Charleston Society,
who distributed it among the rice-
planters, a dozen or two of grains to
each. These were carefully sown and
watched, usually under the masters
eye. The species succeeded well in
the rice country, and enabled the South
Carolina planters to produce the best
rice in the world. If the reader has
had to-day a pudding of superior rice,
its grains were, in all probability, de-
scended lineally from those which Jef-
ferson carried off in his, pockets in
He afterwards sent the society rough
seed-rice from the Levant, from Egypt,
from Cochin-China, from the East In-
dies; besides an improved tooth of
a rice-mill. He also perfected with
the French government and with
French merchants the best arrange-
ments then possible for the direct im-
portation of rice from South Carolina
and Georgia. No man was ever more
vigilant than he in detecting opportu-
nities to benefit his country. How did
he get unhulled rice from Cochin-
China? The young prince of that
country, lately gone from hence, having
undertaken that it shall come to me.
Nor did he confine his services to
his own country; for, as he said more
than once, he regarded the office which
he filled as international, and he wished
to be the medium of good to both coun-
tries. Among other American produc-
tions, he sent for two or three hundred
peccan nuts from the far West, for
planting in France. To Dr. Stiles he
wrote: Mrs. Adams gives me an ac-
count of a flower found in Connecticut,
which vegetates when suspended in
the air. She brought one to Europe.
What can be this flower? It would be
a curious present to this continent.
Such hints were seldom dropped in
vain. Some of his correspondents
took extraordinary pains to gratify his
desires of this nature. The venerable
Buffon, getting past eighty then, and
verging to the close of his illustrious
career, was indebted to Jefferson for
torrents of information concerning na-
ture in America, as well as for many
valuable specimens. He gave the great
naturalist the skin of a panther, which
the old man had never seen, and had
not mentioned in his work; also, the
horns and skins of American deer, the
feet and combs of American birds, and
many other similar objects.
He did not, it seems, always agree
with Buffon. The old man held chem-
istry in contempt, mere cookery, he
called it, and held that a chemist was
no better than a cook. I think it,
said Jefferson, on the contrary, the
most useful of sciences, and big with
future discoveries for the utility and
safety of the human race. He com-
bated, also, the Count de Buffons
theory of the degeneracy of animals in
America. After much discussion, he
tried an argument similar to that which
Dr. Franklin had used, when, in reply
to a remark of the same nature, he re-
quested all the Americans seated on
one side of the table to stand, and then
all the Frenchmen, who happened to
sit in a row on the other side. The
Americans towered gigantic above the
little Gauls, and the Doctor came off
triumphant. Jefferson, on his part,
wrote to General Sullivan of New
Hampshire to send him the bones and
skin of a moose, mightiest of the deer
kind; Sullivan, exaggerating the im-
portance of the object, on fire to do
honor to his country and oblige its rep-
resentative, formed a hunting party,
plunged into the measureless snows of
the New Hampshire hills, found a herd,
killed one, cut a road twenty miles to
get it home, got the flesh from the
bones, packed skeleton and skin in a
great box, with horns of five other vari-
eties of American deer, and sent it on
its way to the ocean. In the course of
time, Mr. Jefferson received a bill of
thirty-six guineas for the carriage of
the box, and a glowing account from
General Sullivan of his exertions in
procuring its contents. He paid the
bill with a wry face, but the moose
did not arrive. Six months after the
grand hunt, he wrote thus: That the
tragedy might not want a proper catas-
trophe, the box, bones and alJ, are lost;
View page 420

420 Yefferson American Minister in France. [Octoker,

so that. this chapter of Natural History
will still remain a blank. But I have
written to him not to send me another.
I will leave it for my successor to fill
up, ~whenever I shall make my bow
here. A week later, however, he had
the pleasure of sending the box to the
Count de Buffon, promising much larger
horns another season. The naturalist
gracefully acknowledged the gift, and
owned that the moose was indeed an
animal of respectable magnitude. I
should have consulted you, sir, said
he, before publishing my Natural His-
tory, and then I should have been sure
of my facts. He died next year, too
soon to enjoy the enormous pair of
bucks horns coming to Jefferson from
his native mountains, to maintain in Eu-
rope the credit of his native continent.
The publication of Jeffersons Notes
on Virginia, in English and in French,
was an interesting event of his resi-
dence in Europe. Saturated as the
book was with the republican senti-
ment of which he was the completest
living exponent, it was eagerly sought
after in Paris, and had its effect upon
the time. He appears to have taken
a modest view of the merits of the
work. I have sometimes thought,
he wrote to his friend Hopkinson of
Philadelphia, of sending my Notes to
the Philosophical Society as a tribute
due to them; but this would seem as
if I considered them as worth some-
thing, which I am conscious they are
not. I will not ask for your advice on
this occasion, because it is one of those
on which no man is authorized to ask
a sincere opinion.
A work much more important, upon
which he valued himself more than
upon anything he ever wrote in his
life, except the Declaration of Inde-
pendence, and far more meritorious
than that, was published in Paris in
1786. I mean his Act for Freedom of
Religion, passed in that year by the
Virginia legislature. He had copies of
it printed, according to his custom. It
was received and circulated with an
ominous enthusiasm. I say ominous;
for the first effect of ideas so much in
advance of the state of things could not
but be destructive and disastrous. The
whole Diplomatic Corps complimented
the author by asking for a copy to
transmit to their several courts, and he
had it inserted in the Encycloj5ldie, to
which he had contributed articles, and
material for ~trticles, on subjects re-
lating to the United States. I think,
he wrote to his old friend and mentor,
George Wythe, that our Act for Free-
dom of Religion will produce consider-
able good even in these countries,
where ignorance, superstition, poverty,
and oppression of body and mind, in
every form, are so firmly settled on the
mass of the people, that their redemp-
tion from them can never be hoped.
Never is a long time. He told George
Wythe that if every monarch in Europe
were to try as hard to emancipate the
minds of his subjects from ignorance
and prejudice, as he was then trying to
keep them benighted, a thousand years
would not raise them to the American
level. He attribute.d the superiority of
Americans, in freedom and dignity of
mind, to their severance from the parent
stock and their separation from it by a
wide ocean ; which had placed all
things under the control of the co;n-
mon sense of the teop he.
A summons from Mr. Adams, his
colleague in the commission for nego-
tiating commercial treaties, called him
to London in March, 1786. He spent
two months in England. The visit
was an utter and a woful failure. What
evils might have been avertedthe
war of 1812, for one item if that un-
happy dotard of a king had had the
least glimmer of sense, or the smallest
touch of nobleness He received these
two gentlemen, representatives of an
infant nation offering amity and recipro-
cal good, in a manner so churlish as
left them no hope of being so much as
decently listened to. And they were
not decently listened to. Ministers
were cold, vague, evasive. Merchants
said to them, in substance America
must send us her produce, must buy
our wares ; we are masters of the situ-
ation. Why should we treat? What
View page 421


do we want more? Society, too, gave
them the cold shoulder. These two
men, the most important personages
upon the island, if England could but
have known it, were held of less ac-
count than a couple of attach6s of the
Austrian legation. It required cour-
age, as Mr. Adams intimates, for a
nobleman to converse with them at an
assembly. That nation, wrote Mr.
Jefferson, hate us; their ministers
hate us; and their king, more than all
other men. Strange infatuation! Fa-
tal blindness
Of course, being human, Mr. Jeffer-
son did not relish England. He found
the people heavy with beef and beer,
of a growling temper, and excessively
prone to worship power, rank, and
w.alth. They are by no means the
free-minded people we suppose them
in America. Their learned men, too,
are few in number, and are less learned,
and infinitely less emancipated from
prejudice, than those of France. In
the mechanic arts, he admitted, they
surpassed all the world, and he enjoyed
most keenly the English gardens and
parks. London, he thought a hand-
somer city than Paris, but not as hand-
some as Philadelphia; and the archi-
tecture generally in England, the most
wretched he ever saw, not excepting
America, nor even Virginia, where it
is worse than in any other part of
America I have seen.
He set the Londoners right on one
point. The crack invention of the mo-
ment was a carriage wheel, the circum-
ference of which was made of a single
piece of wood. As these wheels were
patented and made in London, the in-
vention was claimed as English. He
told his friends, and caused the fact to
be published, that the farmers in New
Jersey were the first, since Homers
day, who were known to have formed
wheels in that manner. Dr. Franklin,
some years before, had chanced to
mention it to the person who then held
the patent. The idea struck him, and
the Doctor went to his shop and as-
sisted him in making a wheel of one
piece. The Jerseymen did it by merely

bending a green sapling, and leaving it
bent till it was set; but as in London
there were no saplings, the philosopher
was kept experimenting for several
weeks. He triumphed, at length, and
made a free gift of the process to the
carriage-maker, who made a fortune by
it. Jefferson visited the shop in which
Dr. Franklin had worked out the idea,
where he received the story from the
owner, who gave the whole credit to
Franklin and spoke of him with love
aTnd gratitude. He also found in the
Iliad the passage which proves that
the Gr~eks and the Jersey farmers em-
ployed the same process He fell
on the ground like a poplar which has
grown smooth in the western part of a
great meado~v, with its branches shoot-
ing from its summit. But the chariot-
maker with the sharp axe has felled it,
that he may bend a wheel for a beauti-
ful chariot. It lies drying on the banks
of a river.
In company with Mr. Adams, he
made the usual tour of England, visit-
ing the famous parks, towns, battle-
fields, edifices. So far as his letters
show, nothing kindled him in England
but the gardens, the article in which
England excels all the earth, and
he made the most minute inquiries as
to the cost of maintaining those exqui-
site places, in order to ascertain whether
it were possible for him to have a really
fine garden at Monticello. It is to be
presumed he applauded Mr. Adamss
harangue to the rustics on the battle-
tIe-field of Worcester, Cromwells
crowning mercy. The impetuous
Adams, exalted by the recollections
called up by the scene, was offended at
the stolid indifference of the people
who lived near by. Do Englishmen,
he exclaimed, so soon forget the
ground where liberty was fought for?
Tell your neighbors and your children
that this is holy ground; much holier
than that on which your churches
stand! All England should come in
pilgrimage to this hill once a year!
The by-standers, as Mr. Adams re-
ports, were animated and pleased by
this compliment to their native field.
7effcrson American Minister in France.
View page 422

422 riqiferson American Minister in France. [Oct8ber,

The two Americans visited Stratford-
upon-Avon, but Mr. Jefferson only re-
cords that he paid a shilling for seeing
Shakespeares house, another shilling
for seeing his tomb, four shillings and
twopence for his entertainment at the
inn, and two shillings to the servants.
Mr. Adams, on the contrary, ventured
the bold remark that Shakespeares
wit, fancy, taste, and judgment, his
knowledge of life, nature, and charac-
ter, were immortal.
Jefferson played his last piece upon
the violin in Paris. Walking one day
with a friend four or five miles from
home, absorbed in earnest conversa-
tion, he fell and dislocated his right
wrist. He grasped it firmly with his
other hand, and, resuming the conver-
sation, walked home in torture, of which
his companion suspected nothing. It
was unskilfully set, and he never, as
long as he lived, recovered the proper
use of it; could never again write with
perfect ease, could never again play
upon his instrument. Mr. Randall re-
marks the curious fact, that, so inveter-
ate had become the habit of entering
his expenditures, he continued to re-
cord items, that very afternoon, using
his left hand. In the morning, before
the accident, he entered the payment
to his steward, Petit, of five hundred
and four francs for various household
expenses, and, in the afternoon, after
the accident, in a hand more legible,
records the expenditure of 24 f. io
for buttons, and 4 f. 6 for gloves.
The next day, he was out again, see-
ing the kings library, for which he
paid three francs.
The wrist being weak and painful
five months after the accident, the doc-
tors filled up the measure of their
absurdity by advising him to try the
waters of Aix in Provence. He tried
those waters, and, deriving no benefit
from them, resumed his journey and
enjoyed an instructive and delightful
four months tour of France and italy;
visiting especially the seaports, rice
districts, and regions noted for the cul-
ture of particular products. The cities,
he says, he made a job of; and gener
ally gulped it all down in a day; but
he was never satiated with rambling
through the fields and farms, examin-
ing the culture and cultivators with a
degree of curiosity which make some
take me to be a fool, and others to be
much wiser than I am. But he did
not always find the towns so devoid of
interest. It was upon this tour that he
saw at Nismes the edifice which he
had taken for a model for the capitol at
Richmond. Here I am, madam, he
wrote to one of his friends, gazing
whole hours at the Maison Quarrie,
like a lover at his mistress. The stock-
ing-weavers and silk-spinners around
it consider me a hypochondriac En-
glishman about to write with a pistol
the last chapter of his history. This
is the second time I have been in love
since I left Paris. The first was with
a Diana at the Chateau de Laye-Epi-
naye in Beanjolois, a delicious morsel
of sculpture by M. A. Slodtz. This,
you will say, was in rule, to fall in love
with a female beauty ; but with a
house It is out of all precedent.
No, madam, it is not without prece-
dent in my own history. At Vienna,
he owns to having been in a rage on
seeing a superb Roman palace de-
faced and hewed down into a
hideous utility.
When he saw men working long
hours and hard for forty cents a week,
children toiling witl~ the hoe, women
carrying heavy loads, tending locks,
striking the anvil, and holding the
plough, he sometimes made rather vio-
lent entries in his brief, hurried diary.
For example Few chateaux; no
farmhouses, all the people being gath-
ered in villages. Are they thus col-
lected by that dogma of their religion
which makes them believe, that, to
keep the Creator in good-humor with
his own works, they must mumble a
mass every day?
The hopeless, helpless condition of
the peasantry in some parts of France
to which nature had been most bounti-
ful struck him to the heart again and
again. It was his custom, as he wan-
dered among the farms and vineyards,
View page 423


to enter their abodes upon some pre-
text, and converse with the wives of
the absent laborers. He would con-
trive to sit upon the bed, instead of the
offered stool, in order to ascertain of
~vhat material it was made, and he
would peep on the sly into the boiling
pot of grease and greens to see what
was to be the family dinner. He had
left Lafayette at Paris deeply absorbed
in. the early movements of the coming
revolution, and he begged him to come
into the southern provinces and see
for himself what occasion there was for
discontent. To do it most effectual-
ly, he said, you must be absolutely
incognito; you must ferret the people
out of their hovels as I have done, look
into their kettles, eat their bread, loll
on their beds on pretence of resting
yourself, but, in fact, to find if they are
soft. You will feel a sublime pleas-
ure in the course of this investigation,
and a sublimer one hereafter, when you
shall be able to apply your knowledge
to the softening of their beds, or the
throwing a morsel of meat into their
kettle of vegetables.
What a republican such scenes as
these made of him! How he came to
hate, abhor, despise, and loathe the
hereditary principle ! And all the
more, because his post gave him the
means of knowing the exact calibre of
the hereditary kings and nobles who
took from these faithful laborers near-
ly all their toil produced, and left them
thistles and garbage for their own sus-
tenance. There is not a crowned
head in Europe, he wrote to General
Washington in 1788, whose talents
or merits would entitle him to be elect-
ed a vestryman by the people of Amer-
ica; and he gave it to the general as
his opinion that there was scarcely an
evil known in Europe which could not
be traced to the monarch as its source,
nor a good which was not derived
from the small fibres of republicanism
existing among them.
The king of France he knew was a
fool; and the queen, at a moment when
the fate of the monarchy seemed to
hang upon a few millions more or less
Yefferson American Minister in France. 423

in the treasury, gratified to the full a
mania for high play. The kings of
Spain and of Naples knew. but one in-
terest in life, the slaughter of birds,
deer, and pigs. They passed their
lives in hunting, and d espatched two
couriers a week, one thousand miles,
to let each other know what game they
had killed the preceding days. The
successor to the great Frederick was
a mere hog in body and mind.
George III. was a madman, and his
son an animal of the same nature as
the king of Prussia. According to
Jefferson, England was as happy in her
Prince of Wales in 1789, as she is
in 1872. A friend (probably the Duke
of Dorset) described to him the be-
havior of the prince ata little dinner
of four persons
He ate half a leg of mutton; did
not taste the small dishes because
small; drank champagne and burgun-
dy as small beer during dinner, and
Bordeaux after dinner, as the rest of
the company. Upon the whole, he ate
as much as the other three, and drank
about two bottles of wine without
seeming to feel it He has not a
single element of mathematics, of natu-
ral or moral philosophy, or of any oth-
er science on earth nor has the society
he has kept been such as to supply the
void of education. It has been that of
the lowest, most illiterate, and profli-
gate persons in the kingdom He
has not a single idea of justice, moral-
ity, religion, or of the rights of men, or
any anxiety for the opinion of the
world. He carries that indifference
for fame so far, that he probably would
not be hurt were he to lose his throne,
provided he could be assured of having
always meat, drink, horses, and women.
Compared with the political system
which placed such animals as these
upon the summit of things, and made
life burdensome, shameful, and bitter to
nearly all but such, Jefferson thought
the least good of the American govern-
ments a paragon of perfection. The
very evils of democracy he learned to
regard with a kind of favor. A little
rebellion, now and then, like that in
View page 424

424 Phebe~ [October,

Massachusetts in 1786, he thought,
might be, upon the whole, beneficial.
It is true, he wrote, that our gov-
ernments want energy; and this, he
confessed, was an inconvenience.
But the energy which absolute gov-
ernments derive from an armed force,
which is the effect of the bayonet con-
stantly held at the breast of every citi-
zen, and which resembles very much
the stillness of the grave, must be
admitted also to have its inconven-
iencies. The outrageous license of
the London newspapers seemed to him
an evil not greater than the suppres
sions and the perversions of the more
shackled press of the Continent. He
made an acute observation on this
point to Thomas Paine in 7787, the
truth of which every inhabitant of New
York who has glanced over the news-
papers during the last four years can
The licentiousness of the press
produces the same effect which the
restraint of the press was intended to
do. If the restraint prevents things
from being told, the licentiousness of
the press prevents things from being
believed when they are told.
7czmes Parto;:.


D HEBE, idle Phebe,
10n the doorstep in the sun,
Drops the ripe-red currants
Through her fingers, one by one.
Heedless of her pleasant work,
Rebel murmurs rise and lurk
In the dimples of her mouth.
Winds come perfumed from the South;
Musical with swarms of bees
Are the overhanging trees:
Phebe does not care
If the world is fair.
Phebe! Phebe!
It was but a wandering bird
That pronounced the word

Phebe, listless Phebe,
Leaves the currants on the stem,
Saying, Since he comes not,
Labor s lost in picking them:
Loiters down the alleys green
Crowds of blushing pinks between,
Followed by a breeze that goes
Whispering secrets of the rose.
Does that saucy birds keen eye
Read her heart, as he flits by?
Syllables that mock,
Haunt the garden-walk:

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