Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Gouverneur Morris, 10 April 1792

From Gouverneur Morris

London 10 April 1792

Dear Sir

I beg Leave to enclose the procés verbal of the late assassination at Stockholm. The last Advices from thence give Hopes of the King’s Recovery but from the Nature of the Wound his state must for a long Time be precarious. Conjecture as is usual in such Cases wanders very far but it would seem to be the Consequence of a pretty general Combination among the Nobles of Sweden to restore their aristocratic Tyranny. You know that the Country was freed by the King from this afflictive Calamity but that, as is too often the Case, he arrogated all Power to himself.

The last Advices from India mention the Taking of a french Frigate the Resolve by the English because she would not permit them to search Merchant Ships under her Convoy. Lord Grenville in mentioning this Affair to the french Minister here treated it as a Thing of Course which they had a Right to do by the commercial Treaty at which Mr. Hertzinger was not a little surpriz’d. The Opinion here seems to be that the national Assembly will by no Means resent this Insult to their Flag but treat it as the Aggression of their Officer and him as an Aristocrat who wished to involve his Nation in a War with their Friends the English. I beleive for my own Part that the british Embassador at Paris is ordered to make an Apology and from the Situation of Things there I presume that it will be readily accepted.

You will find enclos’d a Pamphlet which was publish’d here on Occasion of the late Armament against Russia. It was written under the Inspection of a Person to whom the Facts were all familiarly known. I think if you have not seen it before you will derive some Pleasure from the Perusal.

FC (DLC: Morris Papers); in Morris’ hand; recorded in SJL as received 13 June 1792.


The fatal shooting of King Gustavus III was a pivotal event in European history. It was the first political assassination in Europe since 1672, and was the inspiration for several plays and operas. For an interesting interpretation of TJ’s view of the effect of the assassination derived from a June 1792 dinner conversation, see Edward Thornton to James B. Burges, 11 June 1792, in S. W. Jackman, ed., “A Young Englishman Reports on the New Nation: Edward Thornton to James Bland Burges, 1791–1793,” WMQ description begins William and Mary Quarterly, 1892- description ends , 3d ser., xviii [1961], 110; Franklin L. Ford, description begins Paul Leicester Ford, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Letterpress Edition, N.Y., 1892-1899, 10 vols. description ends “Assassination in the Eighteenth Century: The Dog that did not Bark in the Night,” American Philosophical Society, Proceedings, cxx [1976], 211–5).

Lord Grenville justified the seizure of the Resolve on the basis of the treatyof commerce concluded between France and Great Britain in September 1786, which gave each of the signatories the right to search the other’s merchant vessels for contraband (Clive Parry, ed., The Consolidated Treaty Series, 239 vols. [Dobbs Ferry, N. Y., 1979–1981], l, 71–92). Mr. Hertzinger: Yves Hirsinger, chargé d’affaires of the French embassy in London (Paul Vaucher, ed., Recueil des instructions donnés aux ambassadeurs et ministres de France … Angleterre, 1698–1791 [Paris, 1965], p. 564 n. 6).

The pamphletMorris enclosed was [M. Joly], Serious Enquiries into the Motives of Our Present Armament against Russia (London, 1791). See Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952-1959, 5 vols. description ends No. 2796. This work, which Joly originally wrote in French under the direction of his superior, Semyon Romanovich Woronzow, the Russian ambassador to Britain, was designed to prevent the Pitt administration from intervening in the Russo-Turkish war on behalf of the Turks (Gleb Struve, “John Paradise—Friend of Doctor Johnson, American Citizen and Russian Agent,” VMHB description begins Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 1893- description ends , lvii [1949], 364–72).

Index Entries