Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Thomas Jefferson to Jean Baptiste Simon Thierry, 20 April 1812

To Jean Baptiste Simon Thierry

Monticello. Apr. 20. 12.

Th: Jefferson presents his compliments to M. Thiery and asks his acceptance of the inclosed pamphlet on the subject of the Batture of N. Orleans. tho’ he has ventured to differ from him on a single question, he was too much indebted for his able information on other points of the controversy, not to have made his acknolegements of the aid he derived from it with justice and pleasure. he prays him to accept the assurance of his great respect.

PoC (MHi); dateline at foot of text; endorsed by TJ. Enclosure: Jefferson, Proceedings description begins Thomas Jefferson, The Proceedings of the Government of the United States, in maintaining The Public Right to the Beach of the Missisipi, Adjacent to New-Orleans, against the Intrusion of Edward Livingston. prepared for the use of counsel, by Thomas Jefferson, New York, 1812; Sowerby, nos. 3501, 3508; Poor, Jefferson’s Library, 10 (no. 604) description ends .

Jean Baptiste Simon Thierry (d. 1815) was a native of France who settled about 1804 in Orleans Territory. In 1808 he became the editor of the New Orleans Louisiana Courier, which was the official newspaper of the territorial government. Later he served as the Louisiana state printer. Thierry had a gift for polemic and authored both pamphlets and newspaper editorials promoting his outspoken defense of the public right to the Batture Sainte Marie (George Dargo, Jefferson’s Louisiana: Politics and the Clash of Legal Traditions [1975]; Brigham, American Newspapers description begins Clarence S. Brigham, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690–1820, 1947, 2 vols. description ends , 1:185; Claiborne, Letter Books description begins Dunbar Rowland, ed., Official Letter Books of W. C. C. Claiborne, 1801–1816, 1917, repr. 1972, 6 vols. description ends , 4:311–2, 359, 371, 5:13–4; Orleans Parish Probate Court Will Book, 2:202).

TJ differed from Thierry on a single question regarding the right of alluvion. Thierry asserted in his Examen des Droits des Etats-Unis et des pretensions de Mr. Edouard Livingston sur la Batture en Face du Faubourg Ste. Marie (New Orleans, 1808; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 3477; English translation, Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 3478), 28–9, that despite French royal ordinances, the ancestors of Jean Gravier could claim the right of alluvion under the coutumes de Paris (customs of Paris), which were based in Roman law, and also under Spanish law. TJ noted that the counsel supporting Edward Livingston’s claim to the batture had found the French law silent on this point, and he added that the rights in question had been vested in the public “before the Spanish government took place, and could not be anulled by a subsequent law. These gratuitous admissions therefore of M. Thierry, not at all necessary to his argument, and therefore probably not well considered, and in opposition to the opinions and demonstrations of an able brother counsellor, must be disavowed, and the authority of the Ordinance of 1693 insisted on with undiminished confidence. Mr. Thierry himself will perhaps the more readily abandon them, when he sees with what avidity his eagle-eyed adversary has pounced upon them in a letter to some member of the government, in which he considers them as giving up all ground of opposition to his claims” (Jefferson, Proceedings description begins Thomas Jefferson, The Proceedings of the Government of the United States, in maintaining The Public Right to the Beach of the Missisipi, Adjacent to New-Orleans, against the Intrusion of Edward Livingston. prepared for the use of counsel, by Thomas Jefferson, New York, 1812; Sowerby, nos. 3501, 3508; Poor, Jefferson’s Library, 10 (no. 604) description ends , 32–3; the “brother counsellor” was Derbigny).

Index Entries

  • Derbigny, Pierre (Peter) Augustin Bourguignon; and batture controversy search
  • Examen des Droits des Etats-Unis et des pretensions de Mr. Edouard Livingston sur la Batture en Face du Faubourg Ste. Marie (Thierry) search
  • France; laws of search
  • Gravier, Jean (John); and batture controversy search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; The Proceedings of the Government of the United States, in maintaining the Public Right to the Beach of the Missisipi, Adjacent to New-Orleans, against the Intrusion of Edward Livingston search
  • law; French search
  • law; Roman search
  • law; Spanish search
  • Paris; coutumes de (legal customs of) search
  • Roman law; and batture controversy search
  • Spain; laws of search
  • The Proceedings of the Government of the United States, in maintaining the Public Right to the Beach of the Missisipi, Adjacent to New-Orleans, against the Intrusion of Edward Livingston (Thomas Jefferson); TJ distributes remaining copies search
  • Thierry, Jean Baptiste Simon; Examen des Droits des Etats-Unis et des pretensions de Mr. Edouard Livingston sur la Batture en Face du Faubourg Ste. Marie search
  • Thierry, Jean Baptiste Simon; identified search
  • Thierry, Jean Baptiste Simon; letters to search
  • Thierry, Jean Baptiste Simon; TJ differs with search
  • Thierry, Jean Baptiste Simon; TJ sends batture pamphlet to search