Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Auguste Belin, 27 February 1800

To Auguste Belin

Feb. 27. 1800.

Th: Jefferson presents his compliments to M. Belin and his thanks for the funeral oration of M. Chaudron on General Washington. he has read this very eloquent production with great satisfaction. it is in truth a very pleasing thing to Americans to see foreigners so liberally participate in their grief on the loss of their great countryman. it is but justice to acknolege that the citizens of France paid this fraternal homage to the memory of their other great character, their patriarch Franklin, as on the present to that of Genl. Washington.

RC (Longwood Library, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, 1959); addressed: “Monsr. Belin Secretary of the Lodge de l’Amenité.” Not recorded in SJL.


Auguste Belin (1774–1845) came to the United States from Saint-Domingue. Later, known as Augustus Belin, he was a Delaware merchant and bookkeeper for E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. His descendants continued the association with the du Pont firm, and in the nineteenth century the two families became connected by marriage (John Beverley Riggs, A Guide to the Manuscripts in the Eleutherian Mills Historical Library: Accessions through the Year 1965 [Greenville, Del., 1970], 694, 713; John K. Winkler, The Du Pont Dynasty [New York, 1935], 120–1, 239; William H. A. Carr, The du Ponts of Delaware [New York, 1964], 189).

Belin was the secretary of the Loge Française L’Aménité, a masonic lodge that served as an important focal point in Philadelphia for émigrés from France and Saint-Domingue. Simon Chaudron, a Philadelphia jeweler, watchmaker, and clockmaker, held the position of orator of the lodge and gave the address commemorating “Brother” Washington on New Year’s Day. The group’s membership voted to have the oration printed, and John Ormrod published it in French and English. Both versions also included remarks that Joseph E. G. M. De la Grange, the lodge’s master, had made to the officers of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and other guests (Simon Chaudron, Oraison Funèbre, du Frère George Washington [Philadelphia, 1800]; Chaudron, Funeral Oration on Brother George Washington, trans. Samuel F. Bradford [Philadelphia, 1800]; Extrait des Régistres de la Loge Française L’Aménité, No. 73, Séante a Philadelphie [Philadelphia, 1800], 6; Wayne A. Huss, “Pennsylvania Freemasonry: An Intellectual and Social Analysis, 1727–1826” [Ph.D. diss., Temple University, 1984], 159–60, 169, 203–5, 373; Stafford, Philadelphia Directory, for 1800 description begins ornelius William Stafford, The Philadelphia Directory, for 1800, Philadelphia, 1800 description ends , 30).

John Ormrod also published another masonic tribute, Samuel Magaw’s Oration Commemorative of the Virtues and Greatness of General Washington; Pronounced in the German Lutheran Church, Philadelphia: Before the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, on the Twenty-Second Day of February, Eighteen Hundred (Philadelphia, 1800; see Evans, description begins Charles Evans, Clifford K. Shipton, and Roger P. Bristol, comps., American Bibliography: A Chronological Dictionary of all Books, Pamphlets and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States of America from …1639 …to …1820, Chicago and Worcester, Mass., 1903–59,14 vols. description ends No. 37879). George A. Baker, grand secretary of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, inscribed a copy of Magaw’s oration for presentation to TJ (CSmH).

For tributes paid by citizens of France on the occasion of Franklin’s death, see Gilbert Chinard, L’Apothéose de Benjamin Franklin: Collection de Textes Accompagnée d’une Introduction et de Notes [Paris, 1955], and the group of documents on the death of Franklin in Vol. 19:78–115. Abbé Siéyès’s letter to Washington of 20 June 1790 referred to the homage of mourning by the French National Assembly as a “solemn act of fraternal friendship” (Vol. 19:110).

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