Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from William Short, 29 February 1792

From William Short

Paris Feb. 29. 1792

Dear Sir

I have been so much indisposed since my last of the 8th. inst. as to have been absolutely incapable of writing. I resume my pen at present merely to inform you by the English packet that the answer from the Emperor arrived here two days ago. The King’s council have had it under long and mature consideration and have communicated it to the diplomatic committee. The Minister goes to morrow to communicate it to the Assembly. As yet its contents are only known as far as they have been received indirectly from Vienna, or transpired here from the council and diplomatic committee. They suffice to establish beyond doubt that the answer is moderate and leaves the alternative of peace or war to the French nation. The Emperor is determined not to interfere in the internal affairs so long as the King is satisfied and his person and family and the monarchial form of government respected. Should the contrary take place he will in concert with the other powers of Europe come to the succour of the King and the Government. This you may consider as the substance of his answer which is said to go into some detail with respect to the present prevailing anarchy.—In the mean time he is marching troops into his dominions bordering on France in order to protect them from insult.

Disorders still augment. In the capital the pretext is the high price of sugar, in the provinces the circulation of grain—large quantities have been lately stopped near Noyon. More than thirty thousand people in revolt took possession of them. Troops were sent to disperse them and there was every appearance of civil war commencing. It has been avoided however for the present partly by yielding to the people and partly by the appearance of force. In the mean time all the sources of public and private calamity are increasing every day, by the state of anarchy, non perception of taxes, depreciation of Assignats &c. &c.

There has been daily expectation of the national assembly allowing a part of our debt to be employed in advances to the sufferers in S. Domingo and I have for that reason as yet suspended the payment of the sums arising on the last loan at Amsterdam in hopes of its being employed in that manner.—The Antwerp loan is paid here as fast as received. I have already receipts from the French agent at Antwerp for near 1,300,000 florins and that sum will be compleated by today agreeably to the engagement of the undertaker of the loan. I will ask the favor of you to communicate these circumstances to the Secretary of the Treasury, who I hope will excuse my not writing by the present conveyance. My last to him was by the way of Havre and I shall write to him again by the same way very shortly. I must beg you to allow me to refer you for other articles of intelligence to the gazettes sent to Havre. I have the honor1 to be with sentiments of profound respect, Dear Sir, your most obedt. & most hum. servt.,

W: Short

P.S. I have received your letter of Jany. 5th. by the way of England together with the list of newspapers forwarded to me from the department of foreign affairs. Several have miscarried, so that I have them only incompletely. W. S.

PrC (DLC: Short Papers); at head of text: “No. 95”; at foot of first page: “Thomas Jefferson Secretary of State, Philadelphia.” Tr (DNA: RG 59, DD). Recorded in SJL as received 29 May 1792.

Short’s last letter to Alexander Hamilton was that of 26 Jan. 1792 (Syrett, Hamilton description begins The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, ed. Harold C. Syrett and others, New York, 1961-1979, 27 vols. description ends , x, 565–70). TJ sent Hamilton a copy of all but the last two sentences of the final paragraph together with the following covering note: “Th: Jefferson presents his respectful compliments to the Secretary of the Treasury, and sends him the above extract at the request of Mr. Short who, being unwell, wrote only a few lines to Th: J.” (TJ to Hamilton, 30 May 1792, PrC in DLC; Tr in DNA: RG 59, DCI).

1The remainder of closing, signature, and P.S. are added from Tr; Short merely noted at bottom of second page of PrC: “rect. of letter of Jan. 5. 92. acknoleged in Postscript.”

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