Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, 9 April 1816

To James Monroe

Monticello Apr. 9. 16.

Dear Sir

It had escaped my recollection till this moment that you had desired me to send you the copy of La Harpe’s journal. you will find bound up with it some Extracts from it which I had made because bearing immediately on the question of right, and a duplicate copy of the letters of Cevallos Salcedo & Herrera. if your office possesses the original, as I am sure it does, I will be glad to have this returned, that I may deposit it with the A. Philosophical society where it will be safe and more open than it would be in your office for the use of writers on that subject. but indeed you should have it printed, that being the only certain way of preserving any thing. you will see that this was meditated by a calculation in my hand at the foot of the 1st page, from which it appears that 300. copies sold @ 1.D 10 C. would repay the whole expence of printing them.

Affectionately yours

Th: Jefferson

RC (NN: Monroe Papers); between closing and signature: “James Monroe esq.”; endorsed by Monroe, with his additional notation: “memoir on Louisiana.” PoC (DLC); on verso of reused address cover to TJ; endorsed by TJ.

The enclosed manuscript of Benard de la harpe’s “Journal historique Concernant l’Etablissement des françois à la Louisianne tiré des memoires de Mrs D.Iberville et de Bienville Commandants pour le Roy au dit Paix, et sur les decouvertes et recherches de Mr Benard de la harpe, nommé au commandements de la Baye st Benard” (“Historical journal concerning the settlement of the French in Louisiana drawn from the reports of Messrs. d’Iberville and de Bienville commanders for the king in the said country, and on the discoveries and investigations of Mr. Benard de la Harpe, appointed to the command of Saint Benard Bay”) (DNA: RG 59, HFL) was found among the papers of Athanaze de Mézières. It came to the attention of John Sibley who, through the agency of William C. C. Claiborne, forwarded a version of it in 1805 to James Madison, then the secretary of state. Before sending it to Washington, Sibley had copies made, including one for TJ (Sibley to TJ, 9 Aug. 1805, and to Madison, 10 Aug. 1805 [both in DLC]). On the copy now enclosed, TJ noted at the foot of the first numbered page: “[. . .] [l]eaves of 370. words each. = 20 sheets of print @ 16.D. for 300. copies = 320.D.” Also bound with this copy is a sheet folded to form four pages consisting of notes in TJ’s hand. The duplicate letters also bound with this copy are Trs of Pedro cevallos to Charles Pinckney and Monroe, Aranjuez, 13 Apr. 1805 (printed in ASP, Foreign Relations, 2:660–2), Nemesio salcedo to Claiborne, Chihuahua, 18 Sept. 1806 (extract printed in ASP, Military Affairs, 1:205–6), and Antonio Cordero to James Wilkinson, Camp of Nacogdoches, 11 Oct. 1806 (printed in ASP, Military Affairs, 1:205). The location of the manuscript Sibley sent to Madison is unknown. After Monroe received TJ’s enclosure, another copy was made. This second copy in DNA: RG 59, HFL, in an unidentified hand, includes TJ’s notes on the cost of printing in the same hand as the rest of the MS. Despite TJ’s effort to retain a copy so that he could give it to the American Philosophical Society, both texts are now in the National Archives (TJ to Peter S. Du Ponceau, 30 Dec. 1817; Du Ponceau to TJ, 6 Jan. 1818; TJ to Josiah S. Johnston, 13 Feb. 1825). However, an additional copy of the La Harpe manuscript was deposited at the American Philosophical Society in 1816 by William Darby. The text was published in French in 1831 by A. L. Boimare as Journal Historique de l’Établissement des Français a la Louisiane and in 1851 in English translation by Benjamin F. French in Historical Collections of Louisiana, pt. 3. The history and provenance of this work are discussed fully in Mildred Mott Wedel, “The Benard de La Harpe Historiography on French Colonial Louisiana,” Louisiana Studies 13 (1974): 9–67.

Index Entries

  • American Philosophical Society; and B. de La Harpe manuscript search
  • Boimare, A. L.; editsJournal Historique de l’Établissement des Français a la Louisiane (B. de la Harpe) search
  • Cevallos, Pedro; and Louisiana Territory search
  • Claiborne, William Charles Coles; and B. de La Harpe manuscript search
  • Claiborne, William Charles Coles; governor of Orleans Territory search
  • Cordero, Antonio; and Louisiana Territory search
  • Darby, William; and B. de La Harpe manuscript search
  • French, Benjamin F.; and English translation of B. de La Harpe manuscript search
  • French language; works written in search
  • Herrera, Simón de; and Louisiana Territory search
  • Journal historique Concernant l’Etablissement des françois à la Louisianne (B. de La Harpe) search
  • Journal Historique de l’Établissement des Français a la Louisiane (B. de La Harpe; ed. A. L. Boimare) search
  • La Harpe, Benard de; Journal historique Concernant l’Etablissement des françois à la Louisianne search
  • La Harpe, Benard de; Journal Historique de l’Établissement des Français a la Louisiane (ed. A. L. Boimare) search
  • Louisiana (Spanish and French colony); Journal historique Concernant l’Etablissement des françois à la Louisianne (B. de la Harpe) search
  • Louisiana Territory; boundaries of search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); as secretary of state search
  • Mézières, Athanase de; and B. de La Harpe manuscript search
  • Monroe, James; and B. de La Harpe manuscript search
  • Monroe, James; as secretary of state search
  • Monroe, James; letters to search
  • Pinckney, Charles; negotiates with Spain search
  • Salcedo, Nemesio; and Louisiana Territory search
  • Sibley, John; and B. de La Harpe manuscript search
  • Spain; and La. search
  • State Department, U.S.; and La. boundaries search