Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Borgnis Desbordes, Frères, 22 May 1786

To Borgnis Desbordes, Frères

Paris May 22. 1786.


Being but lately returned from England I could not sooner acknowlege the receipt of your favors of Jan. 13. Mar. 13. 17. and 29., Apr. 24. and May 11. It appears by these that nothing is now necessary for the liberation of Asquith and the other prisoners but to pay the charges of the prosecution and sustenance, which you suppose will be about 900₶. Probably it will be something more on account of the delay which has happened since. I will therefore beg the favour of you to pay these charges, to furnish each of the prisoners further with a guinea a peice, and to take Asquith’s bill on Mr. Grand banker for the United states at Paris for the whole of your advances, which I will instruct Mr. Grand to pay. Permit me here to return you my thanks for your very charitable attention to these unfortunate men. When I first asked this favor of you, I had no expectation your trouble would have been of so long continuance. You have seen that their situation was interesting to humanity, and I doubt not have met a sufficient reward in the gratification of relieving real distress; after this it is little to add the obligation you have conferred on, Gentlemen, Your most obedient & most humble servt,

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC).

Your favors: The letter from Borgnis Desbordes, Frères to TJ of 13 Jan. appears under that date; all the other letters acknowledged here were addressed to Short (see TJ to Borgnis Desbordes, Frères, 5 Mch. 1786); that of 13 Mch. is summarized in the note to Rayneval to TJ, 5 Mch.; that of 17 Mch. was enclosed in Short’s letter to TJ, 26 Mch., and is summarized there. In addition to these, Borgnis Desbordes, Frères wrote Short on 29 Mch. (RC in DLC: TJ Papers, 19:3344; noted in SJL as received by TJ 31 Apr. [1 May?]), informing him that Jean Diot & Cie. of Morlaix had sent the papers for the release of the prisoners for TJ’s authorization; and asking that TJ obtain a cancellation of expenses for the prisoners. On 24 Apr. they also wrote Short that they had received his letters of 27 Mch. and 11 Apr. and informed him that they had not yet received the prisoners’ bills from St. Pol de Léon but estimated that the total amount for food during their detention might come to 800 to 900₶; that their legal expenses would not be high (RC in DLC: TJ Papers, 20:3428; noted in SJL as received 31 Apr. [1 May?] 1786). In a letter to Short, 11 May (RC in DLC: TJ Papers, 20:3518; noted in SJL as received 19 May), they wrote that they were without news from TJ or Short and were anxiously awaiting word; that they were sending the letter by Capt. Nathaniel Cutting, of the Charmante Sally, from Boston. The last letter from Borgnis Desbordes, Frères to Short, 17 May (RC in DLC: TJ Papers, 20:3541; noted in SJL as received 21 May), stated that they were sending TJ the account of legal and food expenses to be paid by the prisoners before they were freed, totalling 642₶ 13s. 7d., and that there were a few other minor expenses which were so slight they could be omitted.

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