Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Thomas Jefferson to William Short, 15 May 1815

To William Short

Monticello May. 15. 15.

Dear Sir

Your favor of the 3d finds me just on my departure for Bedford, and I return you therefore the paper you inclosed me, without delay. to the fact of the want of time I will further add that no person on earth would more willingly than myself do whatever was within my power to reward with the honors they have merited our naval heroes, for the respect which their heroism has procured for our country, and for the humiliations they have inflicted on an insulting, a vindictive, and causeless enemy. but I never had that sort of poetical fancy which qualifies for allegorical devices, mottos Etc. painters, poets, men of happy imagination can alone do these things with taste. I must therefore refer it back to you for some one who will do justice to the subject. the re-revolution of France furnishes an additional element of calculation for the problem of your return to France. adversity may have taught Bonaparte moderation; but I apprehend that his temper & particular kink of insanity render him incapable of that. what a treat indeed would the conversation of Dupont be! he must totally despair for his country, as I do. a military despotism is now I fear fixed on it permanently. among the victims of his return to power, I contemplate but one with pleasure; that is the Pope. the insult which he and the bigot of Spain have offered to the lights of the 19th century by the reestablishment of the inquisition admits no forgiveness. how happily distant are we from the bedlam of Europe. affectionately Adieu.

Th: Jefferson

RC (PHi: Brinton Coxe Collection, George Harrison Correspondence); addressed: “William Short esquire Philadelphia”; franked; postmarked Charlottesville, 17 May. PoC (MHi); on verso of reused address cover to TJ; endorsed by TJ as a letter of 14 May 1815 but recorded under correct date in SJL. Enclosure not found.

On the verso of the address leaf of the RC is a note from Short to George Harrison, a Philadelphia naval agent: “Saturday—Dear sir I despatch to you just as I have recd it the letter from the Gentleman who was as you see setting out on a journey, & disqualifies himself—I am sorry not to give you a better acct of my negotiation—I send the letter that you may read & see it is not my fault. yrs truly W Short” (RC in PHi: Brinton Coxe Collection, George Harrison Correspondence; partially dated; addressed: “Geo. Harrison Eqr 156 Chesnut Str”).

Missing letters from Short to TJ of 25 Apr. and of the 3d and 9 May 1815 are recorded in SJL as received from Philadelphia on 3, 11 May, and 4 June 1815, respectively. TJ reused the address cover of the letter of 25 Apr. (addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Monticello Mail to Milton Virginia”; franked; postmarked Philadelphia, 25 Apr.) for the PoC of his letter to James Madison, 12 May 1815. He reused the address cover of the 3 May letter (addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Monticello Mail to Milton Va”; franked; postmarked Philadelphia, 3 May) for the PoC of his letter to Joseph Miller, 26 June 1815, and he reused the address cover of the 9 May letter (addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Monticello Mail to Milton Virginia”; franked; postmarked Philadelphia, 9 May) for the PoC of his letter to Elisha Ticknor, 5 July 1815.

Pius VII, the pope of the Roman Catholic Church, restored the Holy Office of the inquisition in Rome and the Papal States in 1814, and in that year Ferdinand VII of spain did the same in his nation (James MacCaffrey, History of the Catholic Church in the Nineteenth Century [1798–1908], 2d ed. [1910], 1:209–10; Juan Antonio Llorente, The History of the Inquisition of Spain, from The Time of its Establishment to the Reign of Ferdinand VII [1843], 204; New-York Evening Post, 4 Oct. 1814).

Index Entries

  • Christianity; Inquisition search
  • Du Pont de Nemours, Pierre Samuel; TJ on search
  • Ferdinand VII, king of Spain; and Inquisition search
  • Ferdinand VII, king of Spain; TJ on search
  • France; TJ on search
  • Great Britain; TJ on war with search
  • Harrison, George; Philadelphia naval agent search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; Ferdinand VII, king of Spain search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; France search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; Great Britain search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; Inquisition search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; Napoleon search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; Pius VII search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; war with Great Britain search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; solicitations for search
  • Napoleon I, emperor of France; and Pope Pius VII search
  • Napoleon I, emperor of France; returns to power search
  • Napoleon I, emperor of France; TJ on search
  • Navy Department, U.S.; and War of1812 search
  • Navy Department, U.S.; TJ on search
  • Pius VII, pope; and Inquisition search
  • Pius VII, pope; and Napoleon search
  • Pius VII, pope; TJ on search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); TJ plans visit to search
  • Short, William; correspondence with G. Harrison search
  • Short, William; letters from accounted for search
  • Short, William; letters to search
  • Short, William; plans to visit France search
  • Short, William; TJ rejects request from search
  • Spain; Inquisition in search
  • War of1812; U.S. naval victories during search