Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Thomas Paine, 25 June 1801

From Thomas Paine

Paris June 25. 1801

Dear Sir

I write this merely to say there is nothing new to inform you of. Mr. Dawson whom I saw this Morning when I gave him my letter on Machanics for you, tells me that the treaty is not ratified, and that he should send off the Sloop the next day.—you will easily conclude from this delay in the ratification that something is the cause of it. It is however time the vessel should depart. If she lose this Spring tide she must wait a fortnight longer. Havre is a very inconvenient port for any thing more than common Merchant vessels to enter at, besides which the british know every day what is going on at Havre, and who goes in every vessel. They learn this by the fishermen. This is an additional reason for sending the next vessel to some port on the Atlantic. The parliamentaire from America to Havre was taken in going out and carried into England. The pretence, as the papers say, was that a Swedish Minister was on board for America. If I had happened to have been there I suppose they would have made no Ceremony in conducting me on Shore. Havre, however, is, in form, a blockaded port. As I only catch a few Minutes to write this scroll, and to say there is no news, you will excuse the insignificance of it.

your much Oblged fellow Citizen

Thomas Paine

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 3 Sep. and so recorded in SJL.

Letter on Machanics: Paine sent TJ a description of a proposed method of generating power by the successive firing of gunpowder charges affixed to the rim of a wheel (MS in DLC, in Paine’s hand, signed by initials; dated Paris, 25 June 1801; includes two diagrams; at head of text: “On the Means of generating Motion for Machanical Uses”; at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received 3 Sep. and so recorded in SJL); see Philip S. Foner, ed., The Complete Writings of Thomas Paine, 2 vols. (New York, 1945), 2:1047–50.

Parliamentaire: early in May, British warships stopped the cartel ship (or parlementaire) Benjamin Franklin after it left Le Havre. The ship, which was carrying passengers and ballast, was sent to Portsmouth, where it was detained for ten days and then released. It arrived in Philadelphia in July. The passenger mistakenly thought to be a swedish diplomat was probably Peder Blicher Olsen, the new Danish consul general for the United States who was to have the powers of a resident minister. He had stopped in France on his way to his new assignment and evidently traveled to the U.S. on the Benjamin Franklin. He arrived in Washington at the end of July, too late to call on TJ, who left for Monticello on the 30th. Blicher Olsen’s letter of credence from the king of Denmark was dated 16 Jan. (Philadelphia Gazette, 20 July 1801; Richard Söderström to James Madison, 21 July 1801, in DNA: RG 59, NFC; Christian VII to president of the United States, 16 Jan. 1801, filed with Blicher Olsen to James Madison, 31 July 1801, in DNA: RG 59, NL; Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser. description begins J. C. A. Stagg, ed., The Papers of James Madison, Secretary of State Series, Charlottesville, 1986–, 8 vols. description ends , 1:452, 489; MB description begins James A. Bear, Jr., and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, Princeton, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 2:1048; note to Joseph Allen Smith to TJ, 22 Mch. 1801).

Index Entries