Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Nicolas Gouin Dufief, 17 November 1802

To Nicolas Gouin Dufief

Washington Nov. 17. 1802.


There has been a book written lately by DuMousnier in answer to Barruel, and to the diatribes of the Anti-philosophers, which from my knolege of the man I am sure must be good. should a copy of it come to your hands I shall be happy to obtain it. in the original, I mean, for it has been translated into English, but I never read translations. Accept my salutations & best wishes.

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC); at foot of text: “M. Dufief”; endorsed by TJ in ink on verso.

The book that TJ sought was Jean Joseph Mounier’s De l’influence attribuée aux philosophes aux franc-maçons et aux illuminés sur la révolution de France, published at Tübingen and in other cities in 1801. The work was a refutation of the Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire du jacobinisme of Augustin barruel, who blamed the French Revolution on a conspiracy of freemasons and Illuminati against religion and monarchy. TJ in January 1800, writing to Bishop James Madison, deemed Barruel’s argument “the ravings of a Bedlamite” (Vol. 31:349–52).

my knolege of the man: in August 1789, Mounier was one of eight French political leaders who attended a dinner at TJ’s residence in Paris organized by the Marquis de Lafayette to negotiate a compromise on critical constitutional issues and avert, in Lafayette’s words, “a civil war” (Vol. 15:354–5, 390–1, 548, 551n; Vol. 25:58).

The Scottish Episcopal bishop James Walker translated Mounier’s book into English as On the Influence Attributed to Philosophers, Free-Masons, and to the Illuminati, on the Revolution of France (London, 1801).

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