Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to William Short, 26 July 1790

To William Short

New York July 26. 1790.

Dear Sir

My publick letter of this date will convey to you public information and there is little of a private nature which the newspapers will not give you. Your last letter to me was of Mar. 25. and was acknoleged in mine of May 27. Since that I have written you three short letters of June 6. July 1. and 8. to apprize you of the removal of government from hence to Philadelphia on the bare possibility they might get in time to change the destination of Petit and my furniture to Philadelphia instead of this place. Be so good as to make my acknoledgements to the club des quatre vingts dix for the honor of their choice of me as a member. Other destinations will prevent the President, Dr. Franklin and myself from the honour of meeting them in person, so you must make the compliments of us all.

A minister will be sent to Paris, but to this moment I do not know who it will be. A conversation with the President today convinces me he has not made up his mind; that he is even undecided whether he will name one immediately, or put it off to December. As the Senate will sit but a few days longer, my next will inevitably inform you whether you will be relieved this fall or the next spring. Make up your mind to come and enter sturdily on the public stage. I now know the characters on it, and assure you candidly you may be any thing you please at home or abroad as soon as you shall make yourself known and possess yourself of American affairs. We are extremely puzzled to find characters fit for the offices which need them.1 The President pays a visit to Mount Vernon soon. I shall to Monticello. Adieu. Yours affectionately.

RC (ViW); at head of text: “Private”; unsigned; partly in code, with interlinear decoding in Short’s hand; endorsed as received 23 Oct. 1790. PrC (DLC); accompanied by the text en clair on a separate sheet for the coded passage.

TJ erred in referring to the quatre vingts dix club (see Short to TJ, 28 Jan. 1790): the “Société de 89” was founded by Lafayette to provide his followers with “un centre de concert et d’action … où les députés et les nouvellistes frayaient avec les grands seigneurs et les banquiers. Il [Lafayette] ne dédaigneit pas les hommes à gages: quand les démocrates s’emancipèrent, il publia des feuilles de combat et une claque remplit les tribunes de l’Assemblée” (Georges Lefebvre, Raymond Guyot, and Philippe Sagnac, La Revolution Française, Vol. xiii of Peuples et civilisations, Paris, 1930, p. 42; see also Catalogue of the Lafayette exhibition, Archives Nationales, Paris, 1957, p. 69, article signed Marcel Reinhard). In commenting to Washington on the probability of a counter revolution by the aristocrats, Lafayette remarked: “I am rather more concerned with a division that rages in the popular party. The Clubs of the Jacobines, and 89 it is called, have divided the friends of liberty who accuse each other, Jacobines being taxed with a disorderly extravagance, and 89 with a tincture of ministerialism and ambition. I am endeavouring to bring about a reconciliation” (Lafayette to Washington, 23 Aug. 1790, Letters of Lafayette to Washington, 1777–1799, ed. Louis Gottschalk, privately printed, N.Y., 1944, p. 349–50).

1All of the preceding part of this paragraph is written in code; the passage is supplied from TJ’s text en clair and has been verified by the Editors, employing a partially reconstructed key for Code No. 10.

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