Thomas Jefferson Papers

David Bailie Warden to Thomas Jefferson, 17 April 1809

From David Bailie Warden

Paris 17 april, 1809.


I had the honor of writing to you, by Mr Purviance, the bearer of dispatches. I now beg leave to inclose, for your perusal,1 an analysis of tobacco, which you will please to2 present to the Philosophical Society of Philadelphia. As it is curious and interesting, it3 may be deemed worthy of a place in the next volume of their memoirs. The essence of tobacco, prepared in America, if allowed to enter France and other Countries, free of duty, might bring an immense fortune, to him who would have an exclusive right to its sale. It would seem, however, almost impossible, to succeed in this speculation, as a duty would be imposed as soon as the qualities of the liquor were ascertained—

I hear that General Armstrong is appointed Minister at War. I hope to be able to send you some pamphlets by the vessel which is daily expected, and by which he will return. He seems to believe, that all intercourse, between our Country and this, will cease—at this awful moment, when the laws of nations are despised, and expediency substituted in place of morals, it will be exceedingly difficult to preserve a commercial connection with Europe. Much depends on the fate of Austria. It is believed here that she has numbers and courage. Her enemy, by the events of Spain, has lost much of moral, and of physical influence—He cannot, with safety,4 withdraw his forces from that Country—However, his hitherto matchless troops, aided by eighty thousand men, furnished by5 the Confederation of the Rhine, may still be victorious.6

I send, for your acceptance, a small packet of garden seeds. Messrs Humboldt, Lasteyrie, Thouin, Lacepede &7 bid me present you their affectionate Compliments—

I am, Sir, with great esteem, Your very obedt and very humbl Servt

David Bailie Warden

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “The Honble Thomas Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 10 July 1809 and so recorded in SJL. FC (MdHi: Warden Letterbook). Enclosed in TJ to James Madison, 12 July 1809, and Madison to TJ, 23 July 1809.

David Bailie Warden (1772–1845), diplomat and scholar, was born in Ireland, studied medicine, and trained for the Presbyterian ministry. Arrested in 1798 for his association with the United Irishmen, he was banished from Ireland the next year and immigrated to the United States, where he became an educator in New York. Warden came to Paris about the end of 1805 as tutor to the family of John Armstrong, American minister to France. Armstrong made Warden acting consul and agent for prizes in 1808, but they soon quarreled when Armstrong failed to recommend him to TJ as permanent consul at Paris. After a subsequent lobbying trip to America, Warden did receive the appointment on 3 Mar. 1811, but his efforts to become minister to France and his diplomatic career ended with his removal as consul in June 1814 over controversies involving prize cases. He remained in France and made his greatest contribution as an informal cultural agent, author, and translator of French and American scientific works. In addition to his frequent correspondence with TJ on topics ranging from science to literature, Warden was the official agent of the American Philosophical Society in France and a major collector of Americana (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; Francis C. Haber, David Bailie Warden, A Bibliographical Sketch of America’s Cultural Ambassador in France, 1804–1845 [1954]; Armstrong to TJ, 28 July 1808 [DLC]; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 2:173, 174–5 [1, 3 Mar. 1811]).

Taking advantage of Napoleon’s weakness elsewhere while he sought to pacify the Iberian Peninsula, on 10 Apr. 1809 Austrian forces entered Bavaria, one of the French-dominated German states included in the confederation of the rhine (David G. Chandler, The Campaigns of Napoleon [1966], 677).

1Preceding three words omitted in FC.

2FC here adds: “read and.”

3FC here adds: “perhaps.”

4Preceding two words omitted in FC.

5FC substitutes “the armies of” for preceding five words.

6FC ends here.

7Thus in manuscript.

Index Entries

  • American Philosophical Society; TJ forwards material to search
  • Armstrong, John; and D. B. Warden search
  • Armstrong, John; rumored as secretary of war search
  • Austria; war with Napoleon search
  • France; military operations in Austria search
  • Humboldt, Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander, Baron von; sends greetings to TJ search
  • Lasteyrie Dusaillant, Charles Philibert, comte De; sends greetings to TJ search
  • Napoleon I, emperor of France; and Austria search
  • Purviance, Samuel search
  • Rhine, Confederation of the search
  • seeds; sent to TJ search
  • Society of United Irishmen search
  • Thoüin, André; sends greetings to TJ search
  • Warden, David Bailie; and J. Armstrong search
  • Warden, David Bailie; identified search
  • Warden, David Bailie; letters from search
  • Warden, David Bailie; sends seeds to TJ search