Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Joseph Marie Lequinio de Kerblay, 20 June 1802

From Joseph Marie Lequinio de Kerblay

Newport le 20 Juin 1802—1er messidor
an 10m de la R. fr.


j’ai l’honneur de vous adresser, Ci-incluses, deux lettres, l’une de mr. de la fayette, l’autre de mr. de liancourt; j’avais une grande ambition de vous les remettre moimême.—nommé par le premier Consul sous-commissaire des rélations Commerciales de france à Newport, mon projet était de vous aller offrir mon hommage et solliciter moimême Votre agrément. Vos vertus personnelles, Monsieur le président, et votre haute réputation me rendaient le Devoir bien Agréable À remplir; mais le citoyen pichon notre Commissaire général que j’ai trouvé À philadelphie, m’a dit que Cela n’était point l’uzage, qu’aucun Commissaire, ou sous-Commissaire des rélations Commerciales de france n’était encore allé directement solliciter lui-même son admittatur, qu’il fallait lui adresser ma Commission avec une lettre, qu’il se chargeait de m’obtenir cet admittatur et de me le faire passer, et que d’ailleurs vous étiez, en Ce moment, à votre Campagne à Cent lieues plus loin que Washington-city.

privé, par ces Contretems, de la jouissance Que je m’étais promise, je me suis rendu à mon poste où j’attendrai pour Entrer En éxersice, que Vous Veuilliez bien m’accorder mon admittatur.—je me regarderais bien heureux d’une occasion où je pusse vous aprocher et vous témoigner de vive voix Combien ardement je Desire obtenir votre estime. je vous prie de Croire, Monsieur le président, que je ferai tout pour la mériter et pour vous Convaincre de mon profond respect.

Lequinio Kerblay

I think, sir Président, it should Been much more Convenient to Write my letter in english, but I am yet so little acquainted With this language, that I Can not in it but Write very Badily, and perhaps in such rud a manner as to be not understood; from another Way taking right Consideration of your extensive skill, I don’t doubt you are learned in french as Well as in english tongue; Both theze reasons, sir president, have produced my Determination, and I hope you be so good as to pardon it.


Newport, 20 June 1802—1 Messidor, Year
10 of the French Republic

Mister President,

I have the honor of sending you two letters, enclosed, one from Mr. Lafayette, the other from Mr. Liancourt, which I had high hopes of giving you in person. Having been named by the first consul vice commissary of French commercial relations in Newport, my plan was to pay my respects and solicit your approval. Your personal virtues, Mister President, and distinguished reputation rendered this duty very pleasant. But Citizen Pichon, our commissary general, whom I met in Philadelphia, told me that it was not customary: that no commissary or vice commissary of French commercial relations had ever gone directly to solicit his own admittatur. He said I should send him my appointment with a letter; he would be responsible for obtaining the admittatur and forwarding it to me. He said, further, that you were one hundred leagues from Washington right now, in your country home.

Since this disappointing turn of events prevents me from having the pleasure I had promised myself, I came directly to Newport, where I shall wait until you graciously grant my admittatur and I can take up my position. I would consider myself very fortunate to be able to meet you and tell you in person how ardently I wish to earn your esteem. I assure you, Mister President, that I will do everything to merit that esteem and to convince you of my deep respect.

Lequinio Kerblay

RC (MoSHi: Jefferson Papers); on printed letterhead stationery of the Republic of France including the heading “Relations commerciales de France” and “Lequinio Kerblay, Sous-commissaire des Relations commerciales de France à Newport, en Rhode-Island, États-unis d’Amérique” (identifying Lequinio de Kerblay as vice commissary for commercial relations of France at Newport); endorsed by TJ as received 2 July and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt to TJ, [11 Jan. 1802]. (2) Lafayette to TJ, 30 Jan. 1802.

Joseph Marie Lequinio de Kerblay (1740–1813), whose name also appears without “de Kerblay,” was originally from near Vannes in western France. After engaging in the practice of law, he was an early and eager participant in the French Revolution, rising from local and regional offices to the national legislative assembly and the National Convention. He was denounced in 1795 for the brutality of his actions two years earlier, when he was the Convention’s representative in the suppression of counterrevolutionary uprisings in the west of France. Those charges were later lifted by a blanket amnesty, and following Bonaparte’s rise to power as first consul, Lequinio was named as a forest inspector and, subsequently, as commissary of commercial relations at Newport, Rhode Island. Some of his writings on agriculture and political economy were published but drew little attention. He sent one of his works, a description of a trip through the French department of Jura, to TJ in July (Biographie universelle description begins Biographie universelle, ancienne et moderne, new ed., Paris, 1843–65, 45 vols. description ends , 24:243–4; J. C. F. Hoefer, Nouvelle biographie générale depuis les temps les plus reculés jusqu’a nos jours, 46 vols. [Paris, 1855–66], 30:860–2; Lequinio de Kerblay to TJ, 15 July 1802).

ADMITTATUR: Louis André Pichon wrote to Madison from Philadelphia on 29 May enclosing the commissions of Lequinio de Kerblay and Pierre Jean Marie Sotin de la Condière, who was to be the French commissary of commercial relations at Savannah, Georgia. TJ signed exequaturs officially recognizing Lequinio and Sotin on 15 June (FCs in Lb, DNA: RG 59, Exequaturs; Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 32 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 1986–, 8 vols. Pres. Ser., 1984–, 6 vols. Ret. Ser., 2009–, 1 vol. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 3:269).

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