Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Rodolph Valltravers, 2 April 1792

To Rodolph Valltravers

Philadelphia Apr. 2. 1792.


The President of the United states has received your letters of Nov. 15. 1789. Mar. 20. Aug. 1. and Nov. 30. 1791. and no others. The three volumes of M.S.S. on the European settlements in the East Indies came also safely to hand. These contain certainly a great deal of matter which would be useful either to states or persons concerned in the commerce to those countries, and it is desireable they should be made public. But the President does not charge himself with any thing of this kind. They are therefore sent with the present letter to Messrs. Van Staphorsts of Amsterdam, to whom, in your last, you desire letters may be directed for you. This is done with the hope that the world may have the benefit of their publication and yourself that of their sale. Your letter addressed to the societies of arts, will be delivered to the American Philosophical society. On the other subjects of your letters I am not authorised to say any thing in particular. I am Sir your very humble servt,

Th: Jefferson
Secretary of State to the U.S.

PrC (DLC); at foot of text: “Mr. Rodolph Vall-travers, Rotterdam. To the care of Messrs. Van Staphorsts. Amsterdam.”

Valltravers (1723-ca. 1815), a native of Berne, Switzerland, was a journalist and sometime diplomat, with widely varied interests. Naturalized as a British subject in 1757, he corresponded with such leading intellectuals of Europe and America as Linnaeus, Rousseau, Franklin, Adams, John Churchman, and TJ. Although his scholarly contributions were slight, Valltravers was elected to the Royal Society, the Linnean Society and, early in 1792, the American Philosophical Society. Perhaps due to his own limited talents, Valltravers was forced to make use of his far reaching contacts living all over the world. He peppered his correspondents with letters, often to their eventual fatigue. The letters noted here (only that of 15 Nov. 1789 is not found) are only a few of those addressed to Washington; these proposed various schemes to the President, chiefly for Valltravers’ own employment by the United States as an agent, consul, or resident minister. His letter to the societies of arts was dated on or about 3 July 1791 (Valltravers to Washington, 1 Aug., 30 Nov. 1791, DNA: RG 59, MLR; Valltravers to Washington, 20 Mch. 1791, DLC: Washington Papers; Leonard W. Labaree and others, eds., The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, [New Haven, 1959-], xiv, 24n, xxiii, 610–11; New York Journal and Weekly Register, 11 Feb. 1792).

Index Entries