From Louis André Pichon and Émilie Brongniart Pichon
Georgetown le 9 Septembre 1802
Mr. et Me Pichon ont l’honneur de presenter leurs respects à Monsieur le Président des Etats Unis et prennent la liberté de lui témoigner tout le regret qu’ils éprouvent de ne pouvoir profiter des obligeantes invitations que Mr. le Président a eu la bonté de leur faire de faire une excursion à Monticello. Mr Pichon étant impérieusement appellé à New York par la présence des frégates françaises qui y sont mouillées, ne peut Pour cette saison se diriger de ce coté des Etats Unis: sans cet incident il aurait au moins seul, été rendre ses hommages à Mr. le Président.
Georgetown 9 Sep. 1802
Monsieur and Madame Pichon are honored to present their respects to the president of the United States and to assure him of all their regret at not being able to benefit from the president’s kind invitation to take an excursion to Monticello. Mr. Pichon, having been urgently called to New York by the presence of the French frigates docked there, cannot travel to that part of the United States during this season. Without that incident, he would have come, even if alone, to pay homage to the president.
RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as a letter of 1 Sep. received 7 Sep.; recorded in SJL as a letter of 1 Sep. received 9 Sep.
Alexandrine Émilie Brongniart Pichon (b. 1780), whom Lafayette described as “a Very Amiable Young Lady,” married Louis André Pichon in December 1800. The youngest child of Louise d’Egremont Brongniart and the architect and designer Alexandre Théodore Brongniart, Émilie grew up in an intellectual and creative circle in Paris that included the chemist Antoine François de Fourcroy, who was a relative, and several artists. Jean Antoine Houdon made busts of Émilie’s two older siblings when they were children. Another sculptor, Jean Louis Couasnon, modeled a bust of Émilie, or “Ziguette” as she was called in the family, at the age of four. Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun painted a lively portrait of her at the age of eight, and when Émilie was fifteen, a portrait by François Gérard enthralled critics at the Salon of 1795. Émilie developed her own artistic skills under the tutelage of Jacques Louis David, who gave her access to his studio to copy some of his works, and the sculptor Denis Antoine Chaudet. She knew Latin, studied music, and attended public lectures. According to a family tradition, she turned down a marriage proposal from her brother’s friend, Georges Cuvier. She was about nine years younger than Pichon, who proposed marriage to her a few weeks before he expected to depart for the United States as commissaire général. A week after their wedding and two days before they left for the United States, Talleyrand hosted a dinner for the couple and the bride’s family. Of Émilie, Lafayette wrote to Alexander Hamilton: “I Have foretold Her she would Be very well Liked in America.” The Pichons took up residence in a house in Georgetown, and Émilie became good friends with Dolley Madison and Margaret Bayard Smith. She had a son during her residence in the United States, but the child died in 1804. She and Pichon had three other children, the oldest of which was born in 1805, soon after the Pichons returned to France. In 1830, Émilie became a baronne (baroness) when the restored French monarchy bestowed a title of nobility on her husband (Jacques Silvestre de Sacy, Alexandre-Théodore Brongniart, 1739–1813, Sa Vie—Son Œuvre [Paris, 1940], 62n, 90–6, 100–4, 112–13, 124; Louis de Launay, Une grande famille de savants: Les Brongniart [Paris, 1940], 22, 86; Michèle Beaulieu, “Le Buste d’Émilie Brongniart par J.-L. Couasnon,” La Revue du Louvre, 24 , 105–8; Alexandre-Théodore Brongniart, 1739–1813: Architecture et décor: Musée Carnavalet, 22 Avril-13 Juillet 1986 [Paris, 1986], 22–3; Tony Halliday, Facing the Public: Portraiture in the Aftermath of the French Revolution [Manchester, Eng., 1999], 4, 49, 52–5; Margaret Bayard Smith, The First Forty Years of Washington Society, ed. Gaillard Hunt [New York, 1906], 34, 44, 213–18; Mattern and Shulman, Dolley Madison description begins David B. Mattern and Holly C. Shulman, eds., The Selected Letters of Dolley Payne Madison, Charlottesville, 2003 description ends , 46, 53, 59, 68, 71, 75; Jacques Henri-Robert, Dictionnaire des diplomates de Napoléon: Histoire et dictionnaire du corps diplomatique consulaire et impérial [Paris, 1990], 286–7; Syrett, Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961–87, 27 vols. description ends , 25:336; Albert H. Bowman, “Pichon, the United States, and Louisiana,” Diplomatic History, 1 , 259; Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser. description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 33 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 1986–, 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984–, 6 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009–, 1 vol. description ends , 8:238, 483; Vol. 32:430).
According to a letter from Daniel Brent to Madison, Louis André Pichon knew by 3 Sep. that he would have to go to New York and would not be able to make his planned excursion into Virginia. On 7 Sep., Brent understood that Pichon had left for New York that morning, and on the 14th Brent reported that the French chargé was “still at New York.” If Brent’s information was correct, Pichon may have misdated the letter printed above or was not actually at Georgetown when he wrote it. TJ misread the date that Pichon put on the letter, and perhaps for that reason had a faulty recollection of the day on which he received it (Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser. description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 33 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 1986–, 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984–, 6 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009–, 1 vol. description ends , 3:539, 555, 580).