Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Samuel Harrison Smith, [23 November 1801]

From Samuel Harrison Smith

[23 Nov. 1801]


I have the pleasure of communicating, what may in its details be possibly unknown to you, that the Preliminary Articles of peace between France & England were signed at London on the 1st of Oct. The terms agreed to are stated in the London Prints to be those proposed as the ultimatum of the British ministry, and acceded to by Buonaparte, without the least alteration.

The articles are not given, but they are stated to be the guarantee by France of the three Allies of England, viz Turkey, Portugal & Naples. Egypt to be evacuated by French & English, and Madeira restored. The Stadtholder, the King of Sardinia and the French princes are abandoned to their fate. Malta to be restored to the Knights, Minorca to be restored to Spain—Nothing is gained to England in the Mediterranean or in Europe; while France gains all Holland, the Netherlands, a large part of Germany, Switzerland & 2/3 rds. of Italy. In the West Indies England is to keep only Trinidad; the cape of Good Hope is to be a free port and Ceylon is to be ceded to England.

The English Prints condemn in the most indignant terms the conduct of ministers.

I am with sentiments of great respect

Sam. H. Smith

RC (DLC); undated; endorsed by TJ as received 23 Nov. and so recorded in SJL.

London Prints: Smith’s summary of the presumed contents of the articles of peace echoed a paragraph from a special issue of the London Gazette published on 2 Oct., before the text of the articles was released. Smith reprinted that report and others from London in the next issue of the National Intelligencer, on 25 Nov.

Compensation to some of the hereditary monarchs who lost territorial possessions in the 1790s was an unresolved issue. The displaced rulers included the Dutch stadtholder; the king of sardinia, who had retained control of that island but lost Piedmont, Savoy, and Nice; and the french princes, Louis XVIII, Comte de Provence and titular king of France, and his brother Charles Philippe, Comte d’Artois (Grainger, Amiens Truce description begins John D. Grainger, The Amiens Truce: Britain and Bonaparte, 1801–1803, Rochester, N.Y., 2004 description ends , 57, 70, 74, 116; Tulard, Dictionnaire Napoléon description begins Jean Tulard, Dictionnaire Napoléon, Paris, 1987 description ends , 405, 1087–9, 1332–4).

The English Prints Condemn: the London Gazette decried the secrecy of the peace negotiation for harming merchants while benefiting a few financial speculators who had advance warning of the terms of the pact. Lamenting that Britain had not acceded to a truce long before, the Gazette expressed hope that the government’s ministers had finally recognized “the folly of attempting to conquer France.” Henry Addington’s government had faced the wrath of various factions since the new cabinet took over in March 1801, with economic malaise and poor harvests contributing to the discontent. The government’s opponents in Parliament, including a group led by Grenville in the House of Lords, denounced the terms of the peace (National Intelligencer, 25 Nov. 1801; Grainger, Amiens Truce description begins John D. Grainger, The Amiens Truce: Britain and Bonaparte, 1801–1803, Rochester, N.Y., 2004 description ends , 99–106; Vol. 33:90n).

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