Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from David Humphreys, 17 May 1791

From David Humphreys

Lisbon, 17 May 1791. He was presented to the Queen on the 13th, delivered his letter of credence, and, with the approval of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, expressed his discourse in English, a copy of which he encloses. The Queen, surrounded at the public audience by her ministers, the diplomatic corps, the nobility, the chief officers of the departments, and many ladies of the court, replied “on the spot … vivâ você, ‘Her wish that the United States of America might in return enjoy all manner of prosperity.’” He also encloses a letter on the subject from the Minister for Foreign Affairs. This was the birthday of the Prince of Brazil, who assisted in the ceremony, and also the anniversary of the Queen’s coronation, circumstances which caused “the numerous Company and splendid Gala of the Court. Great promotions took place; and undissembled satisfaction with Her Majesty, and the mild and happy administration of Her Government seemed universally to prevail… . P.S. I flatter myself with having opportunities, hereafter, of demonstrating in the most unequivocal manner every thing I have asserted respecting the mild Government and prosperous state of Portugal.”

RC (DNA: RG 59, DD); at head of text: “(No. 19)”; endorsed by TJ as received 24 Aug. 1791 and so recorded in SJL. Tr (same). Enclosures: (1) Copy of Humphreys’ speech on being presented to the Queen, 13 May 1791: “May it please your Majesty! Although it has been my first care to become sufficiently acquainted with the Portuguese language, to understand the glorious exploits of Your Majesty’s Ancestors recorded in it: yet I feel myself peculiarly distressed, at this instant, in not being able to explain, in that language, my sensibility of the honor conferred on me, by being placed near their august descendant and the Inheritor of all their virtues, as the first Representative to this Court, from the American Nation.—With equal pain, I find myself unable to express, in the same tongue, the distinguished friendship of the United States of America for your Majesty: and particularly the grateful sense they entertain of the Orders, your Majesty has so repeatedly given, for your fleets to protect American ships from the hostile attacks of the piratical Powers of Barbary.—For myself, it will constitute the greatest felicity of my life, and the most pleasing reflection to the latest period of it; if, in being the faithful Organ of expressing the sense of my Country, I may, in any degree, be the humble Instrument of promoting an extensive, happy and durable intercourse between the Subjects of your Majesty, and the Citizens of the United States of America.—And as I have a sincere pleasure in believing, that there do not exist, at this moment, on the face of the globe, any two Nations in more prosperous circumstances; so I am equally happy in a conviction, there are no two nations better calculated to promote the mutual Interest and essential Prosperity of each Other” (DNA: RG 59, DD). (2) English and Portuguese texts (both in Humphreys’ hand, as is the foregoing speech to the Queen) of Luis Pinto de Souza to Humphreys, 17 May 1791, acknowledging his of the 11th with the copy of the speech which he “had the honor of bringing by a translation to Her Royal Understanding” (same).

Index Entries