Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Jan Ingenhousz, 9 August 1788

From Jan Ingenhousz

Paris Aug. 9th. 1788.

Dear Sir

I was at Mr. Pelletier’s house, where they told me, that if such a legalisation could be made, it could not be but au greffe de la ville, at the town house. I thought it advisable to ask advise to Mrs. Tourton & Ravel how to proceed on that business. They told me such legalisation not being customary and by no means necessary it would be difficult to get it perform’d, and it would be even difficult to get at the Prevot des marchands at his office, as there are more important transactions performed at that office, that, if they accepted the Commission, they would certainly not legalise the paper immediately, that they would keep it there, and not return it very likely in 6 or 8 days. They assur’d me, that, as all acts signed by the british minister here are send away without any legalisation of the prevot des marchands, they were very sur such acts would be equaly valid in America. And indeed I should think it inconsistend with common sense, that an inlighted nation should not give as much credid to their own public minister’s signature as to a magistrate who does not know personaly the man whose signature he is to legalise. For what certainty has the prevot de marchands, that I am the identik man who signed the act, without some witnesses, known to him, should attest that I am the man in question? My power of attorney for England was not signed by a magistrate of Vienna but signed by the Brittish envoyé. If there should be any thing wanting in the power of Atorney, I fancy it would be, that the witnesses have put to their names no quality or their ordinary residence. I send you the power back, on purpose that each of the two witnesses could join to their names at least their abode, if you think it necessary (for instance Mr. N. of London, &c). If not, I begg the favour to join it to the letter adressed to Dr. Franklin and to forward it just as it is, togeather with the printed papers. I am very respectfully Dear sir Your most obedient humble servant,

J. Ingen Housz

RC (MoSHi); endorsed by TJ: “Ingenhousz.” The enclosed power of attorney authorizing Samuel Vaughan, Jr., to act for Ingenhousz in the Samuel Wharton land affair (see Van Doren, Franklin, p. 394–7) has not been found, and the eminent scientist’s somewhat testy animadversions upon TJ’s evident refusal to authenticate the document (as he had consistently refused to do on all other occasions) conceal the fact that in this instance, as in that of Paradise, TJ had made an exception by actually drafting the power of attorney, which was forwarded in the letter … to Dr. Franklin. In that letter Ingenhousz wrote: “I arrived here some Days ago and saw yesterday Mr. Jefferson for the first time; and as he told me he should send a paquet to Philadelphia tomorrow by a lady…I proposed him to make up immediately the power of atorney according to the model sent to me by Mr. Vaughan. He did it very willingly and was in every respect very civil and oblidging to me‥‥Your advise and that of Mr. Vaughan to wait with the Congress certificates of the 7000 dollars till the new gouvernment be established is certainly very good and I will follow it, and prefer land for money. Mr. Jefferson approoves also much of it, and the more so as he thinks the new government is already adopted‥‥He thinks the value of paper currency will soon increase and that the states will grant about an aker for every dollar borrow’d” (Ingenhousz to Franklin, 9 Aug. 1788; PPAP). A postscript stated: “The power of atorney is signed by Mr. Jefferson, and two American gentlemen, which will certainly be sufficient.”

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