Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to William Short, 6 April 1790

To William Short

New York April 6th. 1790


My last to you was of March 28th.1 Since that yours of the 2d. and 6th. of January have come to Hand, together with the Ratification of the Consular Convention.

I send you herewith a Letter from the President to the King notifying my Recall, with a Letter of Leave to M. de Montmorin, and another of Credence for you to the same, all of which you will be pleased to deliver to him. Copies of them are enclosed for your Information.

We are extremely mortified at the Prospect there is that the Act of Justice and Gratitude to the Court of France, which Congress in the first Moment it ever was in their Power have been and still are preparing, may arrive too late to save that Court from the Necessity of parting with our Debt to a Disadvantage. The Secretary of the Treasury having by Order of Congress reported a Plan for funding both our foreign and domestic Debts, they thought it necessary by a Recommitment, to subject that Part of it which concerned the domestic Debt to maturer Discussion; but the Clause “for making adequate Provision for fulfilling our Engagements in respect to our foreign Debt” was not recommitted, because not susceptible of any Abridgement or Modification; on the contrary it was passed without a dissenting Voice, and only waits ’till the Residue of that System of which it makes a Part, can be digested and put into the Form of a Law. I send you a Copy of the Resolution to be communicated to Monsr. de Montmorin and Monsr. Necker, and anxiously wish it may arrive in Time to prevent a disadvantageous Alienation, by satisfying these Ministers that we are exerting ourselves to repay to that Country in her Hour of Difficulty what she generously advanced for us in ours.

You may remember I purchased some Officer’s Fusils, had them packed in my Presence, and sent with my own Baggage to Havre. When they arrived here the Plates and other principal Parts of the Locks were no longer in the Box. It is necessary therefore that the Workman send you six new Locks, which may be applied to the Stocks and Barrels we have, and that you be so good as to forward these by the first safe Conveyance.

Press the Negociation for our Captives in the Line, and on the Terms I had fixed, not binding us further without further Advice, and be pleased to apprize us of its present situation and future Progress, as being a Subject we have at Heart.

The Leyden Gazettes furnishing so good Information of the interesting Scenes now passing in Europe, I must ask your particular Attention to the forwarding them as frequently as it is possible to find Conveyances. The English Papers bring their Lies very fresh; and it is very desirable to be provided with an authentic Contradiction in the first Moment.

You will receive herewith the Newspapers and other interesting Papers as usual. I have the honor to be with the most perfect Esteem Sir Your most obt. & most h’ble Servt.,

Th Jefferson

Dupl (Nathaniel E. Stein, New York City, 1954); in Remsen’s hand, signed by TJ; at head of text: “Copy” endorsed by Short as received 10 June 1790. FC (DNA: RG 59, PCC No. 121). Enclosures: (1) Washington to Louis XVI, 6 Apr. 1790 (printed as enclosure to TJ to Montmorin, same date). (2) The two letters from TJ to Montmorin of this date (together with copies of these and of the foregoing for Short). (3) Resolution of Congress, 29 Mch. 1790, reading in part as follows: “Mr. Benson from the Committee of the whole House, to whom was referred the Report of the Secretary of the Treasury relative to a Provision for the Support of the public Credit, Reported that the Committee had … come to a Resolution thereupon, which … was twice read and agreed to by the House, nemine contradicente, as followeth—Resolved that adequate Provision be made for fulfilling the Engagements of the United States in respect to their foreign Debt. Extract from the Journal. (Signed) John Beckley Clerk” (FC in DNA: RG 59, PCC No. 121). (4) The newspapers and other interesting papers are identified in the following memorandum prepared by Remsen for TJ sometime during April: “Mr. Jefferson wrote to Mr. Short the 6th April instant, acknowledging the Receipt of his Letters of 2d. and 6th. January 1790 (Since which Mr. Jay sent to the Office Mr. Short’s Letter of 12 January, and Mr. Jefferson received his Note of 10 February accompanying a parcel of Newspapers &c.) and sent him enclosed The President’s Letter to the King, and Mr. Jefferson’s two Letters to Count de Montmorin, all of the 6th. Inst., with copies of them for his Information, a printed Report of the Secy of the Treasury relative to a provision for the Support of public Credit, and the Gazette of the U.S. from 11 Decemr. (the Time up to which Mr. Short had already been furnished with them) to the 6th. April.—A duplicate of the abovementioned Letter, and of the Papers mentioned in it, a Commission for Mr. Short, and a Continuation of the Gazette of the Ud. States, are in readiness for Mr. Short.—The french Packet is advertised to sail the 25th Inst., but Mr. de la Forest says she will not probably get away before the 1st of May.—Mr. Constable’s Vessel will sail for Havre the 2d. of May.—Mr. Short’s letter of 12 January, and his Note of 10 February 1790, the latter accompanying a Parcel of Newspapers, and a Pamphlet for the Secy. of the Treasury on the Subject of the incomes and expenditures remain to be answered. The Pamphlet abovementioned, and Extracts from all the Letters from Mr. Short relative to the transfer of the debt we owe to France have been sent to the said Secretary” (DLC: TJ Papers, 54: 9277–8; see note, Short to TJ, 10 Feb. 1790; also, TJ to Short, 7, 27, and 30 Apr. 1790). As indicated in this, TJ forwarded a copy of Report of the Secretary of the Treasury to the House of Representatives, relative to a provision for the support of the public credit of the United States, in conformity to a resolution of the twenty-first day of September, 1789. Presented to the House on Thursday the 14th day of January, 1790 (New York, Childs and Swaine, 1790); this was “Apparently the first document ever printed separately by the House” (Greely, Public Documents description begins Adolphus Washington Greely, ed., Public Documents of the First Fourteen Congresses, 1789–1817: Papers Relating to Early Congressional Documents, Washington, 1900 description ends , p. 39). In DLC: Short Papers, there is a note in Remsen’s hand listing the various accumulations of issues of the Gazette of the United States that were dispatched with TJ’s letters to Short from 6 Apr. 1790 to 9 Apr. 1791, showing also that transmission “of the Richmond gazette [Virginia Gazette, and Public Advertiser] … commenced just after Mr. Jefferson’s coming into Office.”

On the purchase of the officer’s fusils, made because they were manufactured on the principle of interchangeability of parts, see TJ to Knox, 12 Sep. 1789.

1Thus in Dupl; FC reads “30th.” which is the correct date.

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