Thomas Jefferson Papers

Enclosure III: The President to the President of the National Assembly of France, 27 January 1791

Enclosure III
The President to the President of the
National Assembly of France

United States January 27. 1791


I received with particular satisfaction, and imparted to Congress1 the communication made by the Presidents letter2 of the 20th of June last in the name of the National Assembly of France. So peculiar and and so signal an expression of the esteem of that respectable body for a citizen of the United States, whose eminent and patriotic services are indelibly engraved on the minds of his countrymen cannot fail to be appreciated by them as it ought to be.3 On my part I assure you, Sir, that I am sensible of all its value.

The circumstances,4 which, under the patronage of a monarch, who has proved himself to be the friend of the people over whom he reigns, have promissed the blessings of liberty to the French Nation, could not have been uninteresting to the free Citizens of the United States; especially when they recollected the dispositions, which were manifested by the individuals as well as by the Government of that Nation towards their still recent exertions, in support of their own rights.5

It is with real pleasure, Sir, that I embrace the opportunity now afforded me, of testifying through you to the National Assembly, the sincere, cordial and earnest wish, I entertain, that their labours may speedily6 issue in the firm establishment of a Constitution, which by wisely conciliating the indispensable7 principles of public order with the enjoyment and exercise of the essential rights of man, shall perpetuate the freedom and happiness of the People of France.

The impressions naturally produced by similarity of political sentiment are justly to be regarded as causes of national sympathy;8 calculated to confirm the amicable ties which may otherwise subsist between nations. This reflection, independent of its more particular reference, must dispose every benevolent mind to unite in the wish, that a general diffusion of true principles of liberty,9 assimilating as well as ameliorating the condition of Mankind and10 fostering the maxims of an ingenuous and virtuous policy, may tend to strengthen the fraternity of the human race, to assuage the jealousies and animosities of its various sub-divisions, and to convince11 them more and more, that their true interest and felicity will best be promoted by mutual good will and universal harmony.12

The friendship to which the President alluded in the close of his letter has caused me to perceive with particular pleasure, that ONE who had endeared himself to this Country by an ardent zeal and by useful efforts in the cause of liberty, has by the same titles acquired the confidence and affection of his own. May it ever be his chief aim to continue to be beloved as one of her most virtuous and most faithful Citizens!—I beg you to accept my acknowledgments for the sentiments in the same letter which relate more particularly to myself, and at the same time to be assured of the most perfect consideration, on my part.

Go: Washington

FC (DLC: Washington Papers). Tr (DLC: Hamilton Papers); in an unidentified clerk’s hand; lacks concluding paragraph (see note 12 below). MS (DLC: Hamilton Papers); entirely in Hamilton’s hand (printed in full in Syrett, Hamilton description begins The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, ed. Harold C. Syrett and others, New York, 1961-, 17 vols. description ends , vii, 459–61). MS clearly represents a revised version of the (missing) draft from which Tr was copied. FC follows MS except in minor changes in phraseology such as that indicated in note 2. The more significant variations between Tr and MS are indicated in textual notes below.

1The corresponding phrase in Tr is at the close of the sentence and reads: “… which I took an early opportunity of making known to Congress.”

2MS reads: “your letter”; the alteration and another of the same sort were made necessary by the fact that Bureaux de Pusy had succeeded Sieyès as President of the National Assembly.

3Tr reads: “… whose memory will be ever justly dear to his countrymen has a strong claim upon their acknowledgements.”

4Tr reads: “The progress of the Events which ‥‥” (see Editorial Note).

5Tr reads: “… of that Nation in favor of the success of their still recent exertions for the preservation of their own rights.”

6This word is not in Tr and is interlined in MS.

7This word is not in Tr.

8Tr reads: “… as causes of sympathy between free nations.”

9Tr reads: “… of the principles of liberty.” In MS this was first altered to read “… of the principles of natural liberty” and then was changed to read as above, except that the definite article was retained.

10Preceding ten words are not in Tr.

11Tr reads “teach.”

12Tr ends at this point.

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