Thomas Jefferson Papers
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From Thomas Jefferson to Aaron Burr, 12 November 1798

To Aaron Burr

Monticello Nov. 12. 1798

Dear Sir

Dr. Currie, on whose behalf I troubled you last summer, being anxious to learn something of the prospect he may have of recovery from Robert Morris, I take the liberty of asking a line directed to me at this place where I shall still be long enough to recieve it. I should not have troubled you but that you expected early in the summer to be able to judge what could be done. I am aware at the same time that the fever at New York may have disturbed all legal proceedings.

I did not mean to say a word on politics, but it seems that I have seen in the New York papers a calumny which I suppose will run through the union, that I had written by Doctr. Logan letters to Merlin and Taleyrand. on retiring from the Secretary of state’s office, I determined to drop all correspondence with France, knowing the base calumnies which would be built on the most innocent correspondence. I have not therefore written a single letter to that country, within that period, except to Mr. Short on his own affairs merely which are under my direction, and once or twice to Colo. Monroe. by Logan I did not write even a letter to Mr. Short, nor to any other person whatever. I thought this notice of the matter due to my friends, though I do not go into the newspapers with a formal declaration of it. I am with sincere esteem Dear Sir

Your friend & sevt

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC); at foot of text: “Colo. Burr.”

I troubled you: TJ to Burr, 20 May 1798.

On 17 Sep. American Minister to London Rufus King reported to Alexander Hamilton the rumor that George Logan had gone to France with letters from Jefferson. The story reached New York in October. On 15 Oct. Noah Webster’s New York Commercial Advertiser began publication of a series of articles on Logan’s visit that was based on reports from Paris newspapers. On the 16th the Advertiser reported that Logan was not on official business, and that the Directory, afraid of a misunderstanding, wished him to complete his affairs quickly. On 5 Nov. the Advertiser printed a highly critical column describing Logan as the “agent of a faction.” In a memoir printed in 1899, edited by Logan’s great-granddaughter, Logan’s wife stated that her husband carried only two letters, both from Citizen Létombe and addressed to Talleyrand and Philippe Antoine Merlin de Douai. Merlin was a French legal authority and politician who had become minister of justice in 1795 and also served as minister of police for a few months in 1796. He was elected to the Directory in 1797 (Certificate for George Logan, 4 June 1798; Syrett, Hamilton, 22:183–5; Tolles, Logan, 153–73; Logan, Memoir, 57; Scott and Rothaus, Historical Dictionary, 2:652–3; Jean Tulard, ed., Dictionnaire Napoléon [Paris, 1987], 1167–8).

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