Thomas Jefferson Papers
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From Thomas Jefferson to John Brown, 14 August 1802

To John Brown

Monticello Aug. 14. 1802.

Dear Sir

The inclosed letter of thanks from the Philosophical society has been sent me to forward to you.

We have been unfortunately delayed in our Hospital establishment at New Orleans by different accidents: and I just now learn that mr Daniel Clarke, who is to be the Superintendent, is lately returned from New Orleans to Philadelphia; in which case he will have left the place just before our letters and instructions could have reached it. I have this day written to the Secretary of the Treasury to get him take measures here for establishing the hospital in his absence by some persons there in whom he can confide, and Doctr. Bache (grandson of Dr. Franklin) appointed Surgeon, will proceed the moment he knows that arrangements are ordered to be made. in the mean time our suffering boatmen will have nearly lost the benefit intended them this season. We have no certain information yet of the definitive resolution of France as to Louisiana. delay however is favorable to us, as it gives us time to be heard, and to speak with urgency on the subject. if France takes time to think before she acts, it appears to me impossible she should not desist from this measure. there is in that country (& especially among the military) considerable ferment. the attempt on Buonaparte’s life in April was a serious one. fortune however seems to take care of him. mr Short is just arrived from France, but has not yet reached this place. Accept assurances of my affectionate esteem & respect

Th: Jefferson

P.S. I absent myself from the tidewaters during these two months (Aug. & Sep.) and most of the other members of the administration do the same. the lower part of Virginia is peculiarly sickly at present.

PrC (DLC); at foot of text: “John Brown esq.” Enclosure: American Philosophical Society to John Brown of Boone County, Kentucky (see John Vaughan to TJ, 21 July).

Daniel Clark (CLARKE) was in New York in mid-August, expecting to travel to England on personal business (Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser. description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 33 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 1986–, 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984–, 6 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009–, 1 vol. description ends , 3:487).

ATTEMPT ON BUONAPARTE’S LIFE: early in May, Joseph Fouché, the French minister of police, thwarted two plots against the first consul by officers of the army. Robert R. Livingston discussed one of the attempts in two letters to Madison of 10 May that were among the dispatches that Madison forwarded to TJ on 11 Aug. There were also a few reports in American newspapers in July and August, reprinting news from London and Paris, that mentioned one of the failed designs to kill the first consul. Because Fouché knew of the plans before they could be carried out, Bonaparte’s life was not in danger and the minister of police did not consider the schemes SERIOUS threats to the regime. Army generals implicated in the plots were demoted or exiled away from Paris. The conspiracies exhibited the discontent of a number of military officers, particularly in reaction to Bonaparte’s rapprochement with the Catholic Church and his evident abandonment of revolutionary principles. Livingston thought that ill feeling in the officer corps was “pretty extensive.” In June, Fouché and other officials suppressed a conspiracy by officers who attempted to initiate a widespread revolt of the army (Thierry Lentz, Le Grand Consulat, 1799–1804 [Paris, 1999], 347–51; Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser. description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 33 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 1986–, 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984–, 6 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009–, 1 vol. description ends , 3:205, 206n, 207; Charleston Carolina Gazette, 15 July; Washington Federalist, 11 Aug.; Vol. 35:194n).

SICKLY: TJ may have referred to measles in particular. The disease had been a problem not just in Virginia, but in Washington, Philadelphia, New York, and elsewhere, and was “uncommonly mortal.” In mid-August, measles still lingered at Norfolk, where it had been present for several weeks and was responsible for the deaths of some children. Yellow fever had not yet reached Norfolk, but, as a preventive measure, in August the municipal government instituted a quarantine on ships arriving from Philadelphia, Baltimore, the West Indies, and the Bahama Islands. In a similar step, James Monroe appointed a superintendent for a quarantine at Richmond. Yellow fever did enter Virginia later in the season, causing several hundred fatalities at Norfolk by early autumn, and Fredericksburg also took quarantine measures (Philadelphia Gazette, 18 Aug.; CVSP description begins William P. Palmer and others, eds., Calendar of Virginia State Papers . . . Preserved in the Capitol at Richmond, Richmond, 1875–93, 11 vols. description ends , 9:316, 317; Preston, Catalogue description begins Daniel Preston, A Comprehensive Catalogue of the Correspondence and Papers of James Monroe, Westport, Conn., 2001, 2 vols. description ends , 1:130–1; Wyndham B. Blanton, Medicine in Virginia in the Nineteenth Century [Richmond, 1933], 225, 237).

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