Thomas Jefferson Papers
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To Thomas Jefferson from Lister Asquith, 8 September 1785

From Lister Asquith

St. Pol de Léon, 8 Sep. 1785. He wrote TJ the day before, with the news of their sentence by the farmers-general, and writes again in less agitation at the advice of Father John Mehegan. He begs TJ to intervene, for they have been in close confinement three weeks, are short of provisions, and are exceedingly anxious for their families. Encloses a petition of Father John “in our Favor as he sees our distress and the Injustice of their Sentence.”

RC (DLC); 2 p. Dft (DLC); undated; with several practice words at foot of text, evidently made as Asquith attempted to compose his hand before preparing RC. The text of Dft differs from RC only in phraseology and in the absence of the postscript. The presence of both Dft and RC among TJ’s Papers can be explained only on the ground that Asquith was so distraught that he sent both by mistake. Enclosure: Probably Asquith to Vergennes, 9 Sep. 1785, St. Pol de Léon, written in French by Mehegan and signed by Asquith (DLC: TJ Papers: 14: 2501–2), imploring Vergennes’ protection and succor. There is also in DLC: TJ papers: 27: 4602–3 a letter from Asquith to John Paul Jones that was written about this time, addressed to him at L’Orient, and having at foot of its text a letter in Mehegan’s hand asking his friend Jones (“whose portrait I always keep in my chamber”) to intercede; neither of these is dated, but Asquith told Jones that they depended on him “and Mr. Jefferson for our relief” and that they had “been close confined these 3 Weeks.” This letter, as shown by the postmarks and address, went to Brest, then to L’Orient, then to Paris, and was received and endorsed by TJ.

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