Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from William Carmichael, 19 August 1791

From William Carmichael

Madrid 19th Augt 1791


Mr. Cassenave who means to establish a commercial house at Alexandria in your State will have the honor to present you this Letter. He is strongly recommended to me by the House of Messrs. Drouillet Capital Banquers here and who have always been disposed to render me and every American who has come hither every service pecuniary or friendly in their Power. I flatter myself that you will favor this Gentleman and his Partner with your kind Notice. They are perfect Strangers in our Country but they go there with the fixed Determination of becoming usefull Citizens with a Capital (as I am Informed) which may be advantageously employed in the Extension of our Commerce. From the knowledge which I have of your Liberal Manner of thinking, I have taken the Liberty of giving Mr. Cassenave this Letter and have the honor to be with the highest Esteem & respect Your Most Obedt & Hle. Sert,

Wm. Carmichael

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 19 Nov. 1791 and so recorded in SJL.

Despite Carmichael’s claims that he wrote regularly to TJ, this private letter and an official dispatch of 24 Jan. 1791 are the only letters TJ received during his tenure as Secretary of State from the American chargé d’affaires in Spain, with the exception of those Carmichael later wrote in conjunction with William Short during their joint mission to Spain. In light of this abysmal record, it is not surprising that TJ subsequently requested Short to “communicate to me confidentially the true character of Carmichael, his history at Madrid &c.” (TJ to Short, 18 Mch. 1792). Samuel G. Coe, The Mission of William Carmichael to Spain (Baltimore, 1928), p. 110, suggests that Carmichael’s dispatches to TJ were intercepted, though he fails to identify the culprit.

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