Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Lafayette, 30 January 1802

From Lafayette

La Grange—10h pluviose jy the 30h 1802

My dear friend

I Have not this Long While Had the pleasure of a Letter from You—Yet I Hope You Have Received the Heartfelt Expressions of my old, Constant friendship, and the Affectionate, patriotic Wishes Which Accompagny You in a Station Where the Welfare of the United States, and the Cause of liberty are So Highly Interested—So Confused Have Been the Ideas of Europe that Never She Could be So Much Benefited, as in the present times, By the Example of a free Government—However Unpopular Liberal principles Now are in the old World, I am Convinced they Cannot fail Coming Again Into public favour—the More Sacred Names Have Been So Much Sullied, the peaceful Citizens Have Been So Cruelly trampled Upon in dirt and Blood that there is More to Be Lamented, than Wondered At, in the present Almost Universal disgust—You Will know By the papers, and Still Better by Mr Livingston’s Correspondance that, in the Mean While, the Interior tranquility of france is perfectly Insured, and her External Influence [strenously] Supported—Bonaparte is just Returning from His Brillant Journey to Lyons Where He Has Accepted the presidency of our Young Cisalpine Sister—peace With Great Britain is Concluded—I am More and More Attached to My Rural Retirements—My family Agree in Opinion With me—they Request to Be Affectionately and Respectfully Remembered to You—My Son Has Returned to His Regiment in Italy—I Expect Him in the Spring, and probably to Marry a Very Amiable daughter to the Senator tracy Whom You Have known as a patriot Member of the Constituent Assembly—There Would Be an Affectation, My dear friend, in Seeming to be Ignorant of the Concern and Intentions You Have Expressed Respecting My private Affairs—I shall only Say that I am duly Sensible of these New testimonies of Your Affection to Me—And altho’ it does Not Behove me Either to promote or to Anticipate, particularly in Matters of this Nature, Yet I Could Not forbear dropping a Grateful Word Upon it—It is probable You Will, by the present Opportunity, Receive official dispatches as I Have Been Asked for my Letters By a Note from the Commissary for Commercial Relations, Lequinio, Whom I Had Seen in the Beggining of the Revolution—I Hear He Has Gone far into the Jacobine party, Altho’ I am Not Acquainted With particulars But from Some Late Circumstances I think He Will Behave Well in His New Capacity—Be pleased, My dear Sir, to present My Best Compliment to our friend Madisson, to Your family, to Mr dawson, and to Such other friends as are pleased to Enquire After their fellow Soldier and fellow Citizen—I am With High and Affectionate Respect



RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as a letter of 11 Pluviose received 2 July and so recorded in SJL. Enclosed in Joseph Marie Lequinio de Kerblay to TJ, 20 June 1802.

Pleasure Of A Letter From You: TJ had last written to Lafayette on 13 Mch. 1801. Lafayette’s most recent letter to TJ was dated 21 June, received in September (Vol. 33:270; Vol. 34:403–4).

Bonaparte had arranged for the meeting of the constituent council of the cisalpine Republic in Lyons. He wanted to firm up French influence in northern Italy, and went to Lyons himself in January to make sure the council agreed to the new constitution, which was the work of Pierre Louis Roederer. The constitution provided for a president, a legislative council, and a council of state. Electoral colleges of landowners, businessmen, and intellectuals selected some council members. Bonaparte accepted the presidency himself after his brother Joseph and two Italians declined the office. He named an Italian, Count Francesco Melzi d’Eril, as his deputy and assigned the more routine duties of the presidency to Melzi. As a concession to the Italians, Bonaparte called the state under its new frame of government the Italian Republic (Desmond Gregory, Napoleon’s Italy [Madison, N.J., 2001], 54–9).

In June 1802, Lafayette’s son, George Washington Louis Gilbert du Motier de Lafayette, married Françoise Émilie Destutt de Tracy. Her parents were Émilie Louise de Durfort-Civrac and Antoine Louis Claude Destutt de Tracy. Lafayette and Destutt de Tracy became friends when they were both army officers from aristocratic families, and both supported the French Revolution until the execution of Louis XVI. Destutt de Tracy was one of the intellectuals who came to call themselves idéologistes, taking the name from his work Éléments d’idéologie. They are better known by the label Bonaparte gave them, the idéologues. TJ was familiar with members of the group, including Volney and Cabanis, when they liked to gather at Auteuil under the patronage of Madame Helvétius. In the 1790s they became prominent in the class of moral and political sciences of the National Institute. Bonaparte was initially supportive of the group, and Destutt de Tracy was one of the original members of the Conservative Senate of France created by the 1799 constitution (Arnaud Chaffanjon, La Fayette et sa descendance [Paris, 1976], 165–6; Biographie universelle, ancienne et moderne, new ed., 45 vols. [Paris, 1843–65], 42:77–9; Tulard, Dictionnaire Napoléon description begins Jean Tulard, Dictionnaire Napoléon, Paris, 1987 description ends , 600–1, 902–4, 1565; RS description begins J. Jefferson Looney and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series, Princeton, 2004–, 5 vols. description ends , 1:260–3; Vol. 31:405; Vol. 34:442n).

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