Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from C. W. F. Dumas, 10 October 1788

From C. W. F. Dumas

The Hague, 10 Oct. 1788. The approval of his conduct, as evidenced by TJ’s letter of 30 Sep., is the only satisfaction he has had for a long time except a “mens conscia recti” in the midst of a veritable purgatory. The enclosure for Congress makes it unnecessary to say more.—His duty to Congress and his family forces him to live like a hermit, in physical discomfort, without companionship or consolation. Encloses a letter he received from Mr. L[uzac] which gives him reason to think that Mr. Diodati no longer has reason for complaint. Hopes to be informed soon of accession of North Carolina and Rhode Island. His family send their respects.

RC (DLC); 2 p.; in French; endorsed. FC (Dumas Letter Book, Rijksarchief, The Hague; photostats in DLC). Enclosures: (1) Dumas to Jay, 6 Oct. 1788 (FC in same), which is described in Dipl. Corr., 1783–89, m, 628, as being among Dumas’ dispatches between 20 Aug. 1788 and 1 Jan. 1789 that are missing, two others of which are listed as dispatches of 9 and 12 Oct. However, this enclosure is shown by FC to have been regarded by Dumas as “postscripts” dated 6, 9, and 12 Oct. to his dispatch No. 48 of 26 Sep. 1788, which had already been transmitted to TJ (see Vol. 13: 639–40, note). As recorded in FC, these “postscripts” may be summarized as follows: 6 Oct. : Dumas encloses copy of the Courier du Bas-Rhin No. 80 of 4 Oct. which contains an article concerning him, and another about the chargé des affaires of the emperor, both of which undoubtedly originated at The Hague; from the way things are going, he would not be surprised if the conjecture regarding himself should be verified arbitrarily, and, as for the other, he does not doubt that he will be supported by his court. Distance from the United States will expose Dumas and his family to every suffering; his wife and daughter will be abandoned to his implacable enemies; he will not discuss what position the United States will be placed in if so violent an affront should take place as the arbitrary dispossession of their agent from their residence: “La sagesse du Congrès en décidera selon son auguste dignité.” 9 Oct.: Yesterday morning he was summoned to appear before the Deputy Councillors of the Province of Holland; although ill, he complied and was informed that, while it was true he had obeyed their resolution requiring him to remove from the door of one of his houses the term “Agent des Etats Unis,” he had violated its spirit by substituting another, “Correspondant des Etats Unis”; they therefore ordered him to remove that sign also, as well as the arms of the United States from the balcony, an order accompanied by the haughty and peremptory word “obeissez”; he answered that the residence belonged not to him, but to the United States, having been bought by him as their agent and for their account, as directed by their minister; that the arms of the United States had been sculpted by order of their minister when the decayed balcony was repaired; that, as the inscription at the door was done by his own order, he would remove the word “correspondant” but leave the words “Etats-Unis d’Amerique”; to this they replied that it was necessary to remove the entire inscription, “repetant avec l’hauteur l’obeissez” they told him that they had learned he intended to reoccupy his own house, but he said that they had been misinformed—only his wife and daughter were to live there in order, if possible, to achieve greater safety and tranquillity, and he himself would continue to live in the hôtel of the United States until he received orders from Congress to dispose of it or was relieved by a minister; they said that Dumas could do as he pleased but, whether in the hôtel or in the street, he was under the power of the sovercign; upon which, bowing and saying nothing, he withdrew; he had removed the inscription from the door; he felt it his duty to delay his dispatch in order to add the above, while renewing assurances “de ma fidelité, depuis près 13 ans inviolables, au milieu des plus rudes Epreuves, pour les Etats-Unis, leur honorable Congrès, mes seuls et uniques maîtres, et pour votre Excellence,” &c. 12 Oct.: Finally the famous placard of the forced loan has been published, which he encloses; this piece is worth the trouble of translating and bringing to the attention of Congress and all the good citizens of the United States; it will serve as a basis for comparing their fortunate situation with the plight of others; there is a fixed plan to humiliate and mortify him; deprived of the protection of the droit des gens by the Estates General although a foreigner and an agent of the United States, abandoned to the will of the local government, he will be required to contribute to the forced loan as any other subject, both for his house at The Hague and for his farm in Gueldre, which will be ruinous; the Holland obligations of 2 ½% have been worth only 68% in the past fifteen days and continue to fall; God knows whether they will stop at half of the capital; his duty to Congress and solicitude for his wife and daughter require him to live alone like a hermit, ill, without society, without consolation; he awaits the disposition of his masters and resigns himself to the Supreme Wisdom; he encloses a letter for the magistrate of Philadelphia from that of Nassau Idstein in Germany and another from a father in Holland to his son in Philadelphia (enclosures not further identified; on 17 Oct. 1788 Dumas wrote to Willink & Van Staphorst enclosing dispatch No. 48 to Jay and stating that he was preparing two others; it is possible therefore that the present letter to TJ did not include the “postscript” of the 12th; FC in same). (2) The letter from Luzac has not been found.

Index Entries