Thomas Jefferson Papers

Lafayette to Thomas Jefferson, 20 May 1812

From Lafayette

La Grange 20h May 1812

My dear friend

I Cannot Lament the Sudden departure of the wasp Since I am informed it is owing to Some Better progress from this Quarter—the particulars I do Not know, Having Had no Late Opportunity of a Confidential Communication with Our friend mr Barlow. the Negociation with mr perceval Has taken a shorter turn than was Expected—I Hope His power May Be inherited By one Better disposed in favor of the U.S. for altho’ my Leanings in American politics are of Course french, I Heartily wish they may not Be involved in a war with Any of the Belligerents.

An immense Army Composed of the fighting part of the Continent, the peninsula excepted, Being under the immediate orders, or omnipotent Controul of this Government Seems to Be directed Against Russia—General orders Shall Be Given at or from dresden where Emperor Napoleon is Gone—we are troubled with a Scarcity of wheat, and a disproportionate increase of price owing in part to imprudent measures. But the Evil is Lesser than Had Been Aprehended.

Your Letters, my dear friend, Have done me much Good—they Have Afforded particular informations Respecting the State of your Health, your way of Life, and a much wanted Explanation for your Long Silence—to them also I am indebted for a Great Comfort in your Approbation of My Sales—True it is, as you very Justly observe, that I Have Been well paid for the delay you Had found adviseable—But I See you Believe the time is Now Come to Save me from impending Ruin By Employing those Ressources which I owe to the providence of friendship, and the increase of which, not Being now So Rapid, may in your opinion Be Compared with the increase of debts By the Accumulation of interests.1 This opinion of yours, Coinciding with my own, and that of other friends, was Enforced By a Sense of duty to my Creditors, and a fear of danger for my Children— mr madison’s, mr duplantier’s, mr Parish’s assertion that no Loan or Sale Could Be Expected in America—the discouraging Answers I Have So often Received from Every Quarter in Europe, Have prompted me to Listen to the proposals of two English Gentlemen, Sir John Coghill and mr Seymour, altho’ the difference of Exchange Has Made them Stick to the price of Sixty francs, about twelve dollars, payable in paris. it is Only for the Pointe Coupée lands—the precious tract Near the town more important for me than Ever, Has not Yet Been Announced to me as effectualy Located—But five Hundred and twenty Acres Have Been Reserved for that purpose—should the town Part Have Cut So deep as to Leave a Lesser number, it Seems to me I May Still Have them By Laying upon that Spot the whole of the Remaining title—I know that an immense value Has already been obtained—you will not think that Avidity is my fault—But Circumstanced as I am, and Amidst the feelings of my Gratitude to the United States and my particular friends, I am not indifferent to the idea that, in Your absence, our friend Madison is the man to Whom my Concerns are intrusted and Submitted.

M. and mde de tessé are well—a Letter was intended for you—I Have no time to Give them proper notice—my children Beg their Best Respects to Be offered to you—Be pleased to present me most Respectfully and affectionately to mrs Randolph —No more Shall I Say By this Opportunity, knowing your friendship and Good wishes are with Me, as I know you depend upon the Sentiments of your affectionate Grateful friend


My friend tracy Has Been very Happy of your LetterHis answer, and mine Have No doubt arrived with the Constitution.

Have you Ever Received two Shepherd’s dogs which I Sent at the time of mr Coles’s Return to the U.S. altho’, I think, By an other vessel?

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 15 July 1812 and so recorded in SJL.

British prime minister Spencer perceval was assassinated on 11 May 1812 in the lobby of the House of Commons (ODNB description begins H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison, eds., Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004, 60 vols. description ends ). my sales: In March 1812, for 60 francs (roughly $12) per acre, Lafayette sold Louisiana land patents for 2,000 and 4,000 acres, respectively, to Englishmen Henry Seymour and Sir John Coghill (Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, John C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, 1962– , 31 vols.  Congress. Ser., 17 vols.  Pres. Ser., 6 vols.  Sec. of State Ser., 8 vols description ends , Pres. Ser., 2:35–8, 4:341; Paul V. Lutz, “Lafayette’s Louisiana Estate: The Unusual Dealings between the Marquis and Three Wealthy Englishmen,” Louisiana Studies 4 [1967]: 341). Lafayette’s answer to TJ of 26 Dec. 1811 had not yet arrived.

1Manuscript: “intersts.”

Index Entries

  • Barlow, Joel; and treaty negotiations in Paris search
  • Coghill, John; and Lafayette search
  • Coles, Isaac A.; and shepherd dogs search
  • Constitution, USS (frigate) search
  • Destutt de Tracy, Antoine Louis Claude; letters to mentioned search
  • dogs; shepherd search
  • Duplantier, Gabriel Armand Allard; and Lafayette’s La. land search
  • Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, marquis de; land of, in La. search
  • Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, marquis de; letters from search
  • Madison, James; and Lafayette search
  • Napoleon I, emperor of France; armies of search
  • Parish, John; and Lafayette search
  • Perceval, Spencer; assassination of search
  • Pointe Coupee, La.; Lafayette’s land at search
  • Randolph, Martha Jefferson (Patsy; TJ’s daughter; Thomas Mann Randolph’s wife); greetings to search
  • Russia; Napoleon defeated in search
  • Seymour, Henry; and Lafayette’s La. lands search
  • Tessé, Adrienne Catherine de Noailles de; health of search
  • Tessé, René Mans Froulay, comte de; health of search
  • Wasp (brig); carries letters to and from Europe search