Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to John Jay, 11 May 1785

To John Jay

Paris May 11. 1785.


As it frequently happens that we cannot meet with passengers going hence to the packet to whom we may commit our letters, and it may be often necessary to write to you on subjects improper for the inspection of this government to which the letters by post are subject, I have made out a cypher which I now inclose and deliver to young Mr. Adams who will have the honor of delivering you this. The plate and impression have been made under my own eye, with circumstances of such caution as may give you the most perfect confidence in it. I have the honor to be with great esteem Sir your most obedient & most humble servt.,

Th: Jefferson

RC (DNA: PCC, No. 87, i). Tr (DNA: PCC, No. 107, i). Entry in SJL reads: “[Mr. Jay] inclosing cypher”; opposite the entry is the notation: “by Mr. Adams. May packet.” Enclosure: The code that TJ caused to be engraved has not been found among the collections of the Library of Congress or the National Archives; it may be among the Jay Papers. In his Account Book for 25 May 1785 TJ wrote: “paid engraver of my cyphers. 48f.” See TJ to Madison and to Monroe, this date.

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