Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Jonathan Nesbitt, 11 March 1789

To Jonathan Nesbitt

Paris Mar. 11. 1789.


I did not expect you so soon to-day, or I should have come in in time to have the pleasure of seeing you.

The safe-conduct which I asked and obtained of Monsieur de Villedeuil was for you as a Courier, bringing dispatches to me from our Secretary for foreign affairs. The answers to these dispatches being now ready I cannot ask a continuance of that safe conduct. But so far as my consent to your longer stay may be considered as material, I give it freely: as I would rather find another courier to carry back my dispatches in answer, than stand in the way of any arrangement which may be useful to yourself and your creditors. Of this the present letter may serve as evidence. I have the honor to be with great attachment Sir Your most obedient & most humble servant,

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC).

At the time this letter was written, TJ evidently did not know whether he would have to obtain another courier or not (TJ to Jay, 12 Mch. 1789). The question was answered effectively by the Parisian police on the morning of 16 Mch. when Nesbitt, hotly pursued, fled to the apartment of Gouverneur Morris and was again arrested. TJ therefore sent his letters of 12–18 Mch. 1789, addressed to Jay, Moustier, the Commissioners of the Treasury, Madison, and others in America and England, “by M. Giroin via London” (SJL). Nesbitt’s decision to overstay his leave, the expiration of his safe conduct, and his arrest made it impossible for TJ to seek to obtain his release, an effort regarded even by Morris, who exerted every influence for that object, as an “illegal Act” (see note to TJ to Nesbitt, 7 Feb. 1789).

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