Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Lafayette, 1 September 1803

From Lafayette

La Grange 14th fruct.
September the 1st 1803

My Dear Sir

This Letter Will Be Delivered By M. de foncin Whose Abilities as an Engeneer, and Whose personal Character Entitle Him to Your particular Notice—our Acquaintance with Him dates from a time Not Unknown to You When an Enterprise Had Been Made at Cayenne for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery—M. de foncin’s zeal on the Occasion, and His Actual perseverance in the principles of Humanity and Justice Make me Wish He May be favoured with Your Kind Attention—to Which General Motives I Beg Leave to Add that I am Under Obligations to His friendly interest in My Behalf. My Wife Who Has a Great Regard for Him joins with me in the Recommendation.

I Hope You Have Received My Letters and those to our friend Madisson Respecting the Grant of lands with Which I Have Been Honoured—While I keep the Most Grateful Sense of that Very flattering and Useful favour, and While I Affectionately feel My Obligations to You on the Occasion I took the Liberty to Send a power of Attorney in Blank Requesting You, Madisson, and Mr. Gallating Who Has Been particularly kind to me in this Affair, to Act in My Name for the Location as You think the Best to Be done.

My friends Cabanis and tracy Have Several Months Ago desired me to present to You Copies of Books Lately published by them—Mr. Livingston, Who took charge of the Envoice Has Not Yet Heard of its Arrival, nor do I know Whether they Have Come to Hand.

To the Correspondance of the American Minister I Refer You for European News—The Cession of Louisiana is to me An inexhaustible Source of Satisfaction—I think the British Government in their Late declaration of War have Misunderstood the Affairs of france, and Mismanaged those of their own Country—to the World I wish Liberty and peace.

The fracture of My thigh is Mended—But I still Walk Upon Crutches—My Wife and family Who are at La Grange Request their Best Respects to be presented to You—We all Join in Affectionate Compliments to Your Amiable daughters—I Had Yesterday a Letter from My dear Cousin tessé who is Well in a Country Seat at Aulnay, where she Has Laid out a Most pleasant Garden.

Adieu, my dear Sir, I am with the Most Affectionate Grateful Regard Your Constant friend


RC (DLC). Received 4 Nov. (see TJ to Lafayette of that day).

enterprise: in the mid-1780s, Lafayette purchased a plantation and slaves in Cayenne, French Guiana, as an experiment in emancipation. He and his family never went there, but undertook to have the plantation’s laborers educated and trained in skills to prepare them for their freedom. John Foncin was in Cayenne at the time, and, according to Lafayette, “Shared in my plans.” The marquis called the project “My Hobby Horse,” but before it could be completed through the liberation of the slaves, the revolutionary government of France seized his properties, including the Cayenne estate. Lafayette had wanted George Washington to join him in the endeavor, but Washington declined to participate (John T. Gillard, “Lafayette, Friend of the Negro,” Journal of Negro History, 19 [1934], 358-64; Stanley J. Idzerda and others, eds., Lafayette in the Age of the American Revolution, 5 vols. [Ithaca, N.Y., 1977-83], 5:91-2, 330; Washington, Papers description begins W. W. Abbot, Dorothy Twohig, Philander D. Chase, Theodore J. Crackel, Edward C. Lengel, and others, eds., The Papers of George Washington, Charlottesville, 1983- , 59 vols.: Confed. Ser., 1992-97, 6 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1987- , 17 vols.; Ret. Ser., 1998-99, 4 vols.; Rev. War Ser., 1985- , 22 vols. description ends , Confed. Ser., 3:121, 544; Harlow Giles Unger, Lafayette [Hoboken, N.J., 2002], 215-16; 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- , 35 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 1986- , 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984- , 7 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009- , 2 vols. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 8:144).

Lafayette discussed his grant of lands from Congress in letters to Madison in June and July. Gallatin had given Lafayette options for receiving the grant, and with the July letter Lafayette sent Madison a blank power of attorney “as I did not Know whether it was proper to fill it With names in High public Station.” He asked “my dear Friends to do as you think fitt” (same, 5:59, 148-9; Lafayette to TJ, 17 May).

copies of books: see Vol. 38:615-16.

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