Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Lafayette to Thomas Jefferson, 21 January 1816

From Lafayette

La grange January 21st 1816

My dear friend

I Have Been for a Long While Anxiously Expecting Answers to Several Letters of Mine Which I principaly Atribute to the distance from Monticelo to the Sea port places where opportunities are to Be found—But as the departure of Mr Gallatin Cannot fail to Be known to You I Hope He May Be the Bearer of Your dispatches.

the Situation of Europe is too Comprehensive, the Events of Last Year Have Been too Complicated and Numerous for me to pretend making that History of twelve months the Subject of a Letter. You will Have, in the papers, shackled as they now are in france partial as they Have Been elsewhere, found materials Enough to form a Correct judgement. Let me only firmly assert that the Cause of European Liberty far from Being Lost in france Has Never Been So well Understood By the mass of the people and that the Reactionnary Spirit of the day is doing more for it than Either the Conventional or the imperial System. the Medicine is Bitter and to obnoxious Characters Not Very Safe. Yet to the party of privileges and to the party of Rights, the Result Not only in this But in other Countries Cannot fail to prove what for upwards of forty Years You and I Have Wished it to Be.

A Series of unfortunate Circumstances, the Effect of Recent despotism, as the Excesses of the Revolution Had Sprung from the education of the Ancien Regime, Had Roused Against Us Not only our Natural adversaries of Coblentz and pilnitz But all the population of Europe. it Remained for Us either to shake off1 the Expeller of the Bourbons, and Appeal to the nation who Could No more trust Him or them, or to Let Him, with a standing army and His Eminent talents, face an Enemy2 five times their Numbers. in the Hurry of defense, the Later Ressource was prefered By an active majority. we thought it imprudent to dissent, and Were Unanimous in Giving Napoleon Every Means of defense. But when, Having Lost His principal forces, and Left His Gallant Soldiers to their fate, He turned to the Representative of the people to dissolve them, and Resume Arbitrary power, He Was Stopped in the mad Attempt. Had We got a little time, popular measures might Have Saved us. on my Return from An Embassy to the allies which I Could not decline, We found the Capitulation of paris Had Been Signed. the Executive and the peers dissolved themselves. president fouché Became a minister to the king. We Were shut out of our House But Not Before a manifesto Had Been published, July the 5h, Very Similar to what Had Been declared in July 1789. I inclose it. You know How the Royal Government Has Become an instrument3 in the Hands of the Allies to disarm first, then to oppress the Country. Under these Circumstances two Houses Have Been framed. Their produce You may See from the news papers. Both majorities and minorities You Would think much alike. among a few individual Exceptions, I Send You the printed Opinion of My Young friend, Victor Broglie, Grand Son to the marechal, Son to the one You Have Seen in the Constituent Assembly. He Seats as a duke in the House of peers, and Has Called Yesterday at La Grange on His Way to Marry the Charming daughter of our friend mde de Staël.

for my part, my dear friend, I am Returned to my old Agricultural Post With a determination not to Quit it. many french Citizens, Several of them of distinguished talents, are Going to the U.S. either to obey or to Avoid proscription. How Happy I Would Be to find myself Under the Hospitable friendly Roof of Monticelo You Well know, But Cannot Blame me for Staying.

Our Worthy friend tracy who Holds His peerage, is Almost Blind. a letter from You would Be a Great Comfort to Him. if You Can Send me two Copies of a Certain Anonymous Work on montesquieu’s writings I Will Be obliged to You Be pleased to present my Best Respects to Mrs Randolph, to Receive those of my family. Most affectionately forever

Your old Loving friend

Lafayette

RC (DLC); at foot of first page: “Mr Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 16 May 1816 and so recorded in SJL.

The manifesto, not found as enclosed by Lafayette, was the 5 July 1815 declaration of the French Chamber of Representatives. Translated into English and published in the New York Evening Post, 24 Aug. 1815, and other newspapers, it emphasized the continued independence of the French nation, asserted the status of the chamber as a delegation of the people, and restated its commitment to liberty, equality, and the rights expressed in the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man. The enclosed opinion, not definitely identified, may have been the Opinion de M. de Broglie Sur la Loi d’amnistie portée par les Ministres de Sa Majesté à la Chambre des Pairs le 9 janvier 1816 (Paris, [1816]; listed as “Broglie” in Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library, 1829 description ends , 11 [no. 681], with other foreign political pamphlets).

1Manuscript: “of.”

2Manuscript: “Enmemy.”

3Manuscript: “intrument.”

Index Entries

  • Broglie, Achille Léonce Victor Charles, duc de; marriage of search
  • Broglie, Achille Léonce Victor Charles, duc de; Opinion de M. de Broglie Sur la Loi d’amnistie portée par les Ministres de Sa Majesté à la Chambre des Pairs le 9 janvier 1816 search
  • Broglie, Albertine Ida Gustavine de Staël Holstein, duchesse de; marriage of search
  • Broglie, Charles Louis Victor; family of search
  • Broglie, Victor François, duc de; family of search
  • Commentary and Review of Montesquieu’s Spirit of Laws (Destutt de Tracy); Lafayette requests copies of search
  • Destutt de Tracy, Antoine Louis Claude; Commentary and Review of Montesquieu’s Spirit of Laws search
  • Destutt de Tracy, Antoine Louis Claude; health of search
  • Fouché, Joseph, duc d’Otrante search
  • France; Bourbon dynasty restored search
  • France; Chambre des Pairs search
  • France; Chambre des Représentants search
  • France; Constituent Assembly search
  • French Revolution; Declaration of the Rights of Man search
  • French Revolution; mentioned search
  • Gallatin, Albert; as minister plenipotentiary to France search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • Koblenz; and French Revolution search
  • Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, marquis de; and Destutt de Tracy’s commentary on Montesquieu search
  • Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, marquis de; as legislator search
  • Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, marquis de; letters from search
  • Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, marquis de; on events in France search
  • Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, marquis de; retirement of search
  • Napoleon I, emperor of France; defeated at Battle of Waterloo search
  • Napoleon I, emperor of France; returns to power search
  • Opinion de M. de Broglie Sur la Loi d’amnistie portée par les Ministres de Sa Majesté à la Chambre des Pairs le 9 janvier 1816 (Broglie) search
  • Pillnitz, Declaration of search
  • Randolph, Martha Jefferson (Patsy; TJ’s daughter; Thomas Mann Randolph’s wife); greetings sent to search
  • Staël Holstein, Anne Louise Germaine Necker, baronne de; family of search
  • Waterloo, Battle of (1815) search