Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Thomas Paine, [16 October 1800]

From Thomas Paine

Paris 24 Vendre. year 9 [i.e. 16 Oct. 1800]

Dear Sir

As the wind at one time and the tides at another prevented the Commissioners sailing at the time they intended it gives me the opportunity of sending you an addition to the other pieces.—We have nothing new since the date of my last. I send you a paragraph from a paper of yesterday. 15 Ocr—23 Vendre.1

The arrangement between Denmark is but tempory—the first Article is

The question respecting the right of visiting Neutral Ships going without convoy is sent (renvoya) to an ulterior discussion

3 Art—Pour empêcher que de pareilles rencontres. ne renouvellent des contestations de la meme nature. S. M. danoise suspendra ses convois jusqu’à ce que les explications ulterieures sur le meme objet aient pu effectuer une convention definitive”

fait Copenhagen le 29 Augst. 18002

La politique des puissances du Nord se developpe de plus en plus. L’article publie par la gazette de Petersbourg, du 15 septembre, six jours après l’arrivée du courier danois, porteur de la nouvelle que les differens avaient été applanis entre l’Angleterre et le Dannemarck, confirme aujourd’hui positivement ce qu’on ne pouvait conjecturer, il y a quinze jours, savoir, que l’execution du plan dirigé contre l’ambition de l’Angleterre n’etait que differee de la part des trois puissances du Nord. Si le courroux de Paul ler avait été calmé par la convention du 29 août, il n’aurait surement point publié le 15 septembre, que diverses circonstances politiques font prévoir à S.M. qu’une rupture avec l’Angleterre pourrait avoir lieu. Une chose remarquable, et qui semble prouver que notre cour ne prendra pas une part active dans cette querelle, c’est l’espèce de ménagement avec lequel la gazette de la cour a omis ce passage menaçant, en transcrivant la gazette de Petersbourg.3

This is by the way of Berlin, and is the latest News we have from Russia.4

The translation of all the pieces I have sent you are in the press and I expect will be printed by tomorrow

Salut et respect

Thomas Paine

RC (DLC); English date supplied; with two newspaper clippings, one now missing, attached within the body of the letter (see notes below); endorsed by TJ as received 6 Jan. 1801 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: probably a manuscript of “Observations on some passages in the Discourse of Sir William Scott, Judge of the Admiralty in England, in the affair of the Swedish vessel the Maria, captured by the English,” not found, but printed as the fourth and final “head” of Compact Maritime, 21–4 (see Paine to TJ, 1 Oct. 1800). Enclosed in Stephen Thorn to TJ, 27 Dec. 1800.

My last: Paine to TJ, 6 Oct.

Paine reported, in English, the substance of the first article of the August 1800 convention between Denmark and Great Britain, which postponed the question of rights of neutral ships. The agreement’s third article was as he wrote it in French, with minor variations. The brief convention contained three other articles (Sir Francis Piggott and G. W. T. Omond, Documentary History of the Armed Neutralities: 1780 and 1800 [London, 1919], 412–13; Paine to TJ, 1 Oct. 1800).

Translation of all the pieces: the four brief essays that Paine sent to TJ—two on 1 Oct., one on 6 Oct., and one with the letter above, which were published together in the U.S. as Compact Maritime— also appeared as a French-language pamphlet, Pacte maritime: addressé aux nations neutres, par un neutre (Paris, 1800).

1Here Paine apparently attached a clipping, which has not been found, and then continued his letter below it.

2Translation: “Art. 3. To prevent similar encounters from renewing disputes of the same kind, His Danish Majesty will suspend his convoys until further clarifications on the same subject have been able to bring about a definitive convention. done at Copenhagen 29 Augst. 1800.”

3This paragraph is from a newspaper clipping affixed to the letter. Translation: “The policy of the northern powers is becoming clearer and clearer. The article published in the Petersburg newspaper on 15 Sep., six days after the arrival of the Danish courier, bearer of the news that the disputes had been smoothed over between England and Denmark, confirms positively today what one could not surmise two weeks ago, namely, that the execution of the plan directed against England’s ambition had been merely postponed by the three northern powers. If the wrath of Paul I had been assuaged by the 29 Aug. convention, it would certainly not have been published on 15 Sep. that diverse political circumstances make His Majesty foresee that a rupture with England might take place. A remarkable thing, and which seems to prove that our court will not take an active part in this quarrel, is the kind of tact with which the court gazette omitted that threatening passage when transcribing the Petersburg gazette.”

4Paine wrote this sentence on the clipping.

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