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Valentín de Foronda to Thomas Jefferson, 26 August 1809

From Valentín de Foronda

Philadelphia Agosto 26 de 1809.

Muy Señor mio:

antes de que yo llegara á estos Estados conocia el nombre del sabio del Philantropo Jefferson y desde que llegue no he tenido, sino motivos de confirmarme en mi Juicio. En las dos ocasiones que tuve la honra de visitar à Vm. siendo Presidente admiré sus talentos, y su extremada amabilidad, y quedé muy agradecido del modo lisonjero con que me trato; asi para dar à Vm una pequeña prueba de mi consideracion de que no me olvido de sus honras, y de que no soy un hombre que solo me recuerdo delos que estan en mando, me tomo la libertad de remitirle dos exemplares de un folleto sobre la constitucion Española, que acabo de imprimir.

Mis ocupaciones son grandes: asi solo he empleado dos ratos en es cribir mi desaliñado bosquejo, lo que basta para hacer ver, que me intereso en la felicidad Española.

Nadie sabe mejor que Vm. lo dificil que es el hacer el bien: los hombres son muy malos; sus cabezas estan rellenas de disparates, y esta materia es tan pegajosa, tan tenaz, que ni toda la quimica Philosofica del Gran Jefferson es capaz de reducirla à Gas para que se evapore de los Caletres humanos.

Deseo à Vm. tranquilidad, salud, y deseo que tenga la bondad de disponer de la inutilidad de su admirador y atento Servidor Q.S.M.B.

Valentín de Foronda

Editors’ Translation

Philadelphia August 26, 1809.

Dear Sir:

Before I arrived in these states I was aware of the name of the wise philanthropist Jefferson and since my arrival I have only had reason to confirm my judgment. On the two occasions that I had the honor to visit you while you were president I admired your talents, and your extreme kindness, and I was very appreciative of the complimentary manner in which you treated me; thus, to give you a little proof of my consideration, and to show that I do not forget your kindnesses and that I am not a man who remembers only those who are in power, I take the liberty of sending you two copies of a pamphlet on the Spanish constitution that I just finished printing.

My occupations are many: thus I have only taken a moment to write my hasty outline, which is enough to show that I am interested in the happiness of the Spanish people.

No one knows better than you how difficult it is to do good: men are very evil; their heads are filled with nonsense, and it is so contagious, so tenacious, that not even the great, philosophical chemist Jefferson is able to reduce it to gas so that it evaporates from human judgment.

I wish you peace, health, and I hope that you have the goodness to make use of the uselessness of your admirer and attentive servant who kisses your hand

Valentín de Foronda

RC (DLC); at head of text: “Sr Dn Thomas Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 4 Sept. 1809 and so recorded in SJL. Translation by Dr. Jennifer McCune. Enclosure: Foronda, Apuntes ligeros sobre la nueva constitución, proyectada por la Magestad de la Junta Suprema Española, y reformas que intenta hacer en las leyes (Philadelphia, 1809).

Valentín de Foronda (1751–1821) was consul general for Spain at Philadelphia, 1802–07, and chargé d’affaires, 1807–09. He published regularly on political economy, was admitted to the American Philosophical Society in 1802, and found TJ sympathetic to his liberal views. Foronda was jailed for dissent in Spain in 1814, brought to trial, and banished to Pamplona (Gonzalo Diaz Diaz, Hombres y Documentos de la Filosofia Española [1988], 3:270–3; Robert S. Smith, “A Proposal for the Barter and Sale of Spanish America in 1800,” Hispanic American Historical Review 41 [1961]: 275–86; Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, John C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, 1962– , 31 vols.: Congress. Ser., 17 vols.; Pres. Ser., 5 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 6 vols description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 2:416; TJ to John Wayles Eppes, 12 July 1807 [DLC]; APS, Minutes, 16 July 1802 [MS in PPAmP]; Sowerby).

On this day Foronda also sent James Madison the enclosure (Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, John C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, 1962– , 31 vols.: Congress. Ser., 17 vols.; Pres. Ser., 5 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 6 vols description ends , Pres. Ser., 4:604).

Index Entries

  • American Philosophical Society; members of, foreign search
  • Apuntes ligeros sobre la nueva constitución (Foronda) search
  • Foronda, Valentín de; Apuntes ligeros sobre la nueva constitución search
  • Foronda, Valentín de; identified search
  • Foronda, Valentín de; letters from search
  • Spain; constitution of search
  • Spanish language; letters in, from; V. de Foronda search