Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Giovanni Fabbroni, 15 September 1776

From Giovanni Fabbroni

Paris the 15th Sept 1776


Tis need less to tell You that the present troubles of America postponed the return of Mr. Mazzei’s Vessel to Virginia deprived me also of the pleasure of accepting the him [kind?] offers You were so good as to make me. I was not a Little chagrined to find my self all at once bereft (at Least for some time) of the hopes of Seeng that fine Contry the fertility of wich can be equalled by nothings but the magnenimity of its Inhabitants. I hope You will Let me know the particulars of the present War as far as they may relate to Your welfare wit [which] Your Silence and that of my friends in that Country has made me vastly uneasy about. Yet in so good a cause as that of Liberty, their can be no doubt but event will be cround with success. Mr. De Crenis Capt. of Harses who will hand You this is an officier of Some distinction in the Servise of the croun of France. I beg Leave to recommend him to You as a person of merit whose good qualities receive a new Luster from the particular estim he has for the Country he is going to.

I wraite to You at present from Paris where if I can be of any Service to You I hope You will command me. You may direct Your Letters at Paris at racommendetion of Mr. L’Abbe Niccoli chargé des affaires de La Cour de Toscane au petit Louxembourg at Paris. Vel at Bordeaux to the House of Messrs. V & P Frenck where I am well informed many vessels arrive from Your place. And if be Your interest to Load for that Market You may depend on the puntuality of these English Gentlemen. I shal remain here till the Month of April 1778 next whom [when?] I will forther inform you may direct to me. Assuring Mrs. Jefferson of my respect I remain very Sincerely Your most obedient humb[le] Servant,

John Fabronis

RC (DLC). Addressed: “To Mre. Jefferson Esqre At Williamsbourg on the James River In Virginia.” Endorsed: “Fabroni John.” On the cover are notes by TJ concerning his plan to import plantation workers who were skilled in the use of musical instruments; these are evidently notes for his reply to Fabbroni, 8 June 1778, q.v. (Fabbroni spelled his name “Fabroni” in his earliest letters to TJ, but soon altered it to “Fabbroni,” the form followed by his family and in this edition.)

TJ’s draft acknowledgment (8 June 1778) of the present letter gives it an ambiguous date: 1776 corrected to 1777, or vice versa. Like TJ, we are also in doubt; but the preponderance of evidence indicates that the date as written by Fabbroni is correct. The delay of twenty-one months in TJ’s reply may be explained by the delay in the departure for America of De Crenis (i.e., Martial-Jean-Antoine Crozat de Crénis; see Lasseray, Les français sous les treize étailes, under Crozat), to whom the letter was entrusted. He did not arrive until just before 17 Aug. 1777, on which date Gen. Washington acknowledged a letter of introduction by him from Benjamin Franklin, written in Paris, 2 Apr. 1777 (Washington, Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, ix, 85–7). De Crénis did not go to Virginia, as expected, and it was evidently some time before he found the means to transmit Fabbroni’s letter to TJ. As for Fabbroni, a young Florentine scholar and friend of Philip Mazzei’s, the principal reason for his failure to come to America, as he had long wished to do, was that he had come under the patronage of Leopold, Grand Duke of Tuscany, had been sent to observe scientific progress in France and England, and remained abroad for some years (Georges, Baron Cuvier, Recueil dea éloges historiques … de l’Institut Royal de France, Paris, 1819–27, iii, 507–8; Mazzei, Memoirs, p. 185–6, 199). The intimate tone of the present letter suggests that one or more earlier letters were exchanged, but these have not been found.

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