From Gouverneur Morris
Paris 17 January 1793
I have already had the Honor to inform you that the Statue of General Washington by Houdon is finish’d and to ask to what Place it is to be sent. I have since been applied to by the Statuary in Regard to the last Payment for that Object. He tells me that “he hopes the State of Virginia will do as other foreigners pay him the Difference of Exchange a Thing the more easy to them as in Fact it can only cost them the Sum Stipulated. The Sum which they would have paid two Years ago and which eight Years ago would have been specially secur’d against Depreciation could the Emission of Assignats have been then foreseen.” I have said to him that I am by no Means competent to decide on the Subject but would forward to the State his Application. I hope you will pardon me Sir for troubling you with it but as you agreed with Mr. Houdon in the first Instance it is (as well for that as for other Reasons) most proper that I should address myself to you. I am with Esteem and Respect Dear Sir your obedient Servant
RC (DNA: RG 59, DD); at head of text: “No. 17”; at foot of first page: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr.”; endorsed by TJ as received 1 May 1793 and so recorded in SJL. FC (Lb in DLC: Gouverneur Morris Papers). Tr (DNA: RG 46, Senate Records, 3d Cong., 1st sess.) Tr (Lb in DNA: RG 59, DD).
Jean Antoine Houdon’s statue of Washington had been commissioned in 1784 by the Virginia General Assembly, which requested TJ, then an American commissioner in France, to select a sculptor. See Vol. 15: xxxvii–ix; and Freeman, Washington description begins Douglas Southall Freeman, George Washington, New York, 1948–57, 7 vols.; 7th volume by J. A. Carroll and M. W. Ashworth description ends , vi, 40–2.
TJ submitted this letter to the President on 1 May 1793, and Washington returned it the next day (Washington, Journal description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed., The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797, Charlottesville, 1981 description ends , 124, 125).