Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Grouber de Groubentall, 8 November 1788

From Grouber de Groubentall

Paris, 8 Nov. 1788. Has just learned that the entries for a prize offered by the“ Société institutée à Philadelphie pour l’examen d’objets Politiques” must be sent to the president of the society by 1 Jan.; although the time is short, he would like to submit a treatise. Has published, on 20 July last, a two-volume work, entitled Théorie generale de l’administration Politique des finances, in which he discusses many of the questions proposed by the society, but he requires specific information on America, which he asks TJ to supply, concerning the productivity of the soil, commerce, agricultural produce, manufactures, exports and imports, cost of government of the states, &c.

RC (DLC); 3 p.; at foot of text: “rue de la Marche au Marais No. 6.

The Society for Political Enquiries for the discussion of general policy was founded on 9 Feb. 1787 with Benjamin Franklin as president, in whose library its weekly meetings were held. Thomas Paine, Gouverneur and Robert Morris, James Wilson, and Benjamin Rush were among the members; the most notable paper read before the Society was that by Tench Coxe on 11 May 1787, published as An Enquiry into the Principles on which a Commercial System for the United States of America Should be Founded (Philadelphia, 1787). In 1788 the Society announced that it would award “an oval plate of solid standard gold, of the value of ten guineas,” inscribed with the name of the author and the title of his entry, to the winning essay submitted prior 1 Jan. 1789 on one of the following subjects: “I. What is the best system of taxation for constituting a revenue in a commercial, agricultural, and manufacturing country? II. How far may the interposition of government be advantageously directed to the regulation of agriculture, manufactures and commerce?” (Penna. Journal, 14 May 1788; Carl Van Doren, Franklin, 743–4; Brooke Hindle, Pursuit of Science in Revolutionary America, 378; C. Page Smith, James Wilson, 204). The Society dissolved soon after the new government went into operation.

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