Thomas Jefferson Papers

John Wagner’s Notes on a Letter from Rühle von Lilienstern, [ca. 20 May 1801]

Jacob Wagner’s Notes on a Letter from Rühle von Lilienstern

[ca. 20 May 1801]
Letter dated 11 Feby. 1801 at Dillenburg near Marburg.

He proposes to establish three colonies under the authority of the U.S. to be peopled with emigrants from Germany, whose inducement to remove is the misery brought upon them by the prevailing war.

1st. Colony, to be settled at New Holland, either in the gulf of Carpentaria or the unexplored bay opposite the Island of Timor.

2nd. do. to be settled in Africa, at Dalagoa Bay, opposite the Island of Madagascar.

3rd. do. in America adjacent to the U.States.   Quer. where?1

He wants to be head of the colonies, and to govern them by his family & friends: The U.States to defray the expense of the emigration and colonial settlement.

He is 56 years old, the author of 30 volumes on economical and political subjects, &c. &c.

His project is not fully developed, and does not appear to have been digested even by himself. The general advantage to be derived from the colonies he makes to consist in the extension of the American trade.

MS (DLC: TJ Papers, 109:18718); undated; in Jacob Wagner’s hand; being a summary translation of Rühle von Lilienstern to TJ, 11 Feb. 1801, in German, with dateline and closing in French, 4 p., at head of text: “Monsieur le President,” signed: “Deruhle-Lilienstern Conseiller et Bailli de S.A.S. Monsgr le Prince d’Orange et de Nassau,” endorsed by TJ as received about 20 May and interlined in SJL at that date (RC in same).

“Deruhle-Lilienstern” was probably August Friedemann Rühle von Lilienstern (1744–1828), a lawyer, counsellor, and jurist of Dillenburg, Germany (Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, 56 vols. [Berlin, 1967–71], 29:610–11).

New Holland: that is, Australia.

In late April or early May, TJ received a memorandum from the State Department accounting for letters written and actions taken between 1 and 28 Apr., the period during which Levi Lincoln was serving as acting secretary of state (MS in DLC: TJ Papers, 112:19231; in a clerk’s hand; endorsed by TJ: “State department of. proceedings during April 1801”).

1Wagner probably added the preceding question later.

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