Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Pierre Samuel Du Pont de Nemours to Thomas Jefferson, 8 September 1813

From Pierre Samuel Du Pont de Nemours

Paris. 8 Septembre 1813.

Cher et respectable Ami,

J’ai l’honneur de vous envoyer imprimé l’ouvrage dont je vous ai l’obligation, car c’est vous qui m’y avez fait Songer.

Il a Subi plusieurs corrections pour le rendre plus digne de vous et de votre Patrie.1

Je vous demande en retour, avec les plus vives instances,2 un exemplaire de votre excellent Commentaire Sur Montesquieu. J’en avais commencé la traduction, et je ne Saurais l’achever par ce qu’il a fallu rendre à Mr Warden celui qu’il m’avait prêté.—Je n’ai ôsé le lui redemander. Il ne convenait pas que je le visse depuis qu’il S’est mal conduit3 envers Madame Barlow qui a la tête d’un homme et le coeur d’un Ange, et qui approuvait4 Son Neveu remplissant un devoir Sacré.5

Je ne Sais quand nous pourrons imprimer votre livre en Français; mais il faut qu’il y soit mis, et par un Homme dont le coeur et l’esprit Soient d’accord avec les vôtres.—notre Langue est encore plus universelle que l’anglaise; et les Peuples qui la parlent Sont ceux qui ont le plus besoin de vos instructions.

Envoyez moi donc ce livre précieux.6 Faites moi ajouter cette reconnaissance à toute celle que je vous dois et à l’attachement aussi tendre que respectueux que je vous ai voué pour la vie.

DuPont (de nemours)

Editors’ Translation

Paris. 8 September 1813.

Dear and respectable Friend,

I have the honor of sending you a printed copy of a work for which I am obliged to you, because you inspired me to write it.

It has undergone several revisions to make it more worthy of you and your country.

In return I ask you very earnestly for a copy of your excellent Commentary on Montesquieu. I had begun to translate it but was unable to finish it before I had to return Mr. Warden’s copy to him.—I did not dare ask him for it again. I would have thought it improper to see him again after he behaved badly toward Mrs. Barlow, who has the head of a man and the heart of an angel, and who approved of her nephew fulfilling a sacred duty.

I do not know when we will be able to print a French translation of your book, but it must be done, and by a man whose heart and mind are in tune with yours.—Our language is in even more universal use than English; and the people who speak it are the ones most in need of your instruction.

Send me, therefore, this precious book. Allow me to add this favor to all of my other debts to you and to the tender and respectful attachment which I have dedicated to you for the rest of my life.

DuPont (de nemours)

RC (Gallery of History, Las Vegas, 1994); dateline at foot of text; at head of text: “a Monsieur Jefferson”; mistakenly endorsed by TJ as a letter of 18 Sept. 1813 received 14 Dec. 1813 and so recorded in SJL. Dft (DeGH: Pierre Samuel Du Pont de Nemours Papers, Winterthur Manuscripts); unsigned; containing substantial differences from the RC, only the most important of which are noted below. Tr (DeGH: Eleuthere Smith Papers, Winterthur Manuscripts); wording generally follows Dft. Translation by Dr. Genevieve Moene. Enclosure: Du Pont, Sur l’éducation nationale dans les États-Unis d’Amérique (Paris, 1812; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library, 1829 description ends , 5 [nos. 207, 209–10]).

Following Joel Barlow’s death in December 1812, the American chargé d’affaires at Paris, David Bailie warden, attempted to assume his duties on an interim basis and began styling himself United States consul general. Ruth Baldwin barlow, however, refused to turn her husband’s official papers over to him and tried unsuccessfully to have her nephew Thomas Barlow appointed instead, actions which led to considerable friction between the two parties. As United States minister plenipotentiary to France, William H. Crawford removed Warden from office in June 1814, at least in part because of his actions with respect to the Barlows (Francis C. Haber, David Bailie Warden, A Bibliographical Sketch of America’s Cultural Ambassador in France, 1804–1845 [1954], 16–8; 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., 6 vols.  Sec. of State Ser., 8 vols description ends , Pres. Ser., 6:5, 87–90; Clara Baldwin to Dolley Madison, 16 Feb. 1813 [ViU]; Providence Rhode-Island American, and General Advertiser, 16 Apr. 1813).

1Dft here adds “Mr Paterson m’avait promis de le traduire. Je voudrais qu’il ne l’est pas achevé ou publié avant que cette édition française lui Soit parvenue” (“Mr. Patterson promised me that he would translate it. I intended that he would not perfect or publish it before this French edition reached him”).

2Preceding five words not in Tr.

3Dft omits “mal” before this word and then adds “avec imprudence, de raison et entier défaut de respects” (“with imprudence of mind and a complete lack of respect”).

4Word replaced in Dft with “défendait les droits de la légation americaine en Soutenant” (“defended the rights of the American legation in supporting”).

5Preceding four words replaced in Dft with “Secretaire de cette légation chargé des chiffres dans le devoir qu’il avait de ne les remettre qu’au nouveau ministre plenipotentiaire envoyé par Mr le President” (“fulfilling his responsibility as secretary of this legation in charge of ciphers by remitting them to no one but the new minister plenipotentiary sent by the president”).

6Dft here adds “par duplicata, par triplicata, dans les paquets, de votre gouvernement à votre digne Ambassadeur jusqu’à ce que je vous en aies accusé la reception” (“in duplicate, triplicate, and in the packages sent by your government to your worthy ambassador, until I have acknowledged the receipt of it to you”).

Index Entries

  • Barlow, Joel; death of search
  • Barlow, Ruth Baldwin (Joel Barlow’s wife); dispute with D. B. Warden search
  • Barlow, Ruth Baldwin (Joel Barlow’s wife); P. S. Du Pont de Nemours on search
  • Barlow, Thomas search
  • Commentary and Review of Montesquieu’s Spirit of Laws (Destutt de Tracy); and P. S. Du Pont de Nemours search
  • Crawford, William Harris; minister plenipotentiary to France search
  • Destutt de Tracy, Antoine Louis Claude; Commentary and Review of Montesquieu’s Spirit of Laws search
  • Du Pont de Nemours, Pierre Samuel; and Destutt de Tracy’s commentary on Montesquieu search
  • Du Pont de Nemours, Pierre Samuel; letters from search
  • Du Pont de Nemours, Pierre Samuel; on R. Barlow search
  • Du Pont de Nemours, Pierre Samuel; Sur l’éducation nationale dans les États-Unis d’Amérique search
  • French language; letters in, from; P. S. Du Pont de Nemours search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • Patterson, Robert Maskell; and translation of P. S. Du Pont de Nemours’s works search
  • Sur l’éducation nationale dans les États-Unis d’Amérique (P. S. Du Pont de Nemours) search
  • Warden, David Bailie; and Destutt de Tracy’s work on Montesquieu search
  • Warden, David Bailie; conflict with Barlows search