Adams Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Abigail Adams, 7 July 1785

Thomas Jefferson to Abigail Adams

Paris July 7. 1785

Dear Madam

I had the honour of writing you on the 21st. of June, but the letter being full of treason, has waited a private conveiance. Since that date there has been received for you at Auteuil a cask of about 60. gallons of wine. I would have examined it’s quality and have ventured to decide on it’s disposal, but it is in a cask within a cask, and therefore cannot be got at but by operations which would muddy it and disguise it’s quality. As you probably know what it is, what it cost, &c. be so good as to give me your orders on the subject and they shall be complied with.

Since my last I can add another chapter to the history of the redacteur of the Journal de Paris.1 After the paper had been discontinued about three weeks, it appeared again, but announcing in the first sentence a changement de domicile of the redacteur, the English of which is that the redaction of the paper had been taken from the imprisoned culprit, and given to another. Whether the imprisonment of the former has been made to cease, or what will be the last chapter of his history I cannot tell.—I love energy in government dearly.—It is evident it was become necessary on this occasion, and that a very daring spirit has lately appeared in this country, for notwithstanding the several examples lately made of suppressing the London papers, suppressing the Leyden gazette, imprisoning Beaumarchais,2 and imprisoning the redacteur of the journal, the author of the Mercure of the last week has had the presumption, speaking of the German newspapers, to say “car les journaux de ce pays-la ne sont pas forcés de s’en tenir à juger des hemistiches, ou à annoncer des programes academiques.” Probably he is now suffering in a jail the just punishments of his insolent sneer on this mild government, tho’ as yet we do not know the fact.

The settlement of the affairs of the Abbé Mably is likely to detain his friends Arnoud and Chalut in Paris the greatest part of the summer. It is a fortunate circumstance for me, as I have much society with them.—What mischeif is this which is brewing anew between Faneuil hall and the nation of God-dem-mees?3 Will that focus of sedition be never extinguished? I apprehend the fire will take thro’ all the states and involve us again in the displeasure of our mother country.

I have the honour to be with the most perfect esteem Madam your most obedt. & most humble servt.

Th: Jefferson

RC (Adams Papers); docketed in an unknown hand: “Mr Jefferson 1795.” The “9” is faint and may be an incomplete “8” rather than an error.

1See Jefferson to AA, 21 June, and notes 3 and 4, above, and Jefferson, Papers description begins The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen (from vol. 21), John Catanzariti (from vol. 24), and others, Princeton, 1950-. description ends , 8:265. The Journal did not actually cease publication between 4 and 27 June, but it did announce a new editorial office, under the heading “Changement de Domicile,” in its 27 June issue.

2Pierre Caron de Beaumarchais had been imprisoned at St. Lazare for a few days in March 1785, at the insistance of a member of the royal family who became offended at Beaumarchais’ vigorous defense of his controversial and extraordinarily popular comedy, Le mariage de Figaro (JQA, Diary description begins Diary of John Quincy Adams, ed. David Grayson Allen, Robert J. Taylor, and others, Cambridge, 1981-. description ends , 1:233–234, and note 3, 236).

3Between 10 April and 5 May, competing groups of merchants, mechanics, and manufacturers held several meetings in Boston’s Faneuil Hall and filled the local press with polemic essays in an attempt to formulate an effective policy to counter the flood of imported British manufactures that was disrupting the city’s economy. The protests led to the passage of a navigation act and a protective tariff by the Massachusetts legislature in June and July. Jensen, The New Nation description begins Merrill Jensen, The New Nation: A History of the United States During the Confederation, 1781–1789, New York, 1950. description ends , p. 290–293; Mass., Acts and Laws description begins Acts and Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts [1780–1805], Boston, 1890–1898; 13 vols. description ends , 1784–1785, p. 439–443, 453–457; JQA to JA, 3 Aug., note 3, below. “God-dem-mees” (Goddems; Goddams) was a synonym for Englishmen in common use by the nineteenth century (OED description begins The Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford, 1888–1972; 12 vols. and supplements. description ends ).

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