Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to William Short, 4 May 1787

To William Short

Marseilles May 4. 1787.

Dear Sir

I received last night at Aix your favors of April 4. 6. and 24. by which I perceive that M. de Crevecoeur goes by the present packet and leaves Paris the 7th. I must therefore beg the favor of you to dispatch the inclosed letter to Mr. Jay by a courier in the instant of receiving this to M. de Crevecoeur if he shall have left Paris. The courier must go day and night rather than run any risk of not getting to Havre before the packet sails. Having been just able to finish my letter to Mr. Jay in time for this day’s post, I must refer writing to you more lengthily to a future post. I took the liberty in my letter of May 1. from Nice, of desiring you to have future letters sent to me to Nantes, poste restante. I am with sentiments of pure & sincere esteem, Dear Sir your affectionate friend & servant,

Th: Jefferson

RC (Vi); endorsed: “[Mr.] Jefferson May 4 [received] 13 1787.” PrC (DLC). Enclosure: TJ to Jay, this date. The present letter and its enclosure were enclosed in TJ to Grand, this date.

Since TJ’s letter to Jay was concerned principally with the results of his conversations with José da Maia, his urgency in making arrangements for the dispatch to go by the packet of 10 May—to say nothing of his exhausted physical state after an extraordinary trip across the Apennines (see TJ to Short, 1 May, and to Martha Jefferson, 5 May 1787)—tells much of the effect that the secret discussion in Nîmes had upon him. But if TJ expected that Congress, or Jay, might be tempted by his glowing account of the Brazilian mines to undertake the furnishing of “cannon, ammunition, ships, sailors, souldiers, and officers” to support a revolution against Portugal, even on promise that “every service and furniture will be well paid,” he was disappointed. Jay transmitted his letter, as Congress received and filed it, without comment. The fact that Short did not receive the letter that was to go by courier … day and night until after the packet had sailed was not a disaster in American diplomacy.

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