Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Joel Barlow, 1 October 1792

From Joel Barlow

London 1 Oct. 1792

Dear Sir

I recieved your favour of the 20th. June by Mr. Pinckney, who appears to deserve all that you say of him as a true republican. I wish as much could be said in this respect of our minister at Paris. It is really unfortunate for our interest as well as for the cause of liberty in general, that he does not accord better with the principles which do and ought to govern the people of France.

That country is now taking the proper ground on which to establish a glorious republic, nor will it be in the power of all the combined despots to prevent it. I should have sailed for America before now, were it not for the interesting turn that the affairs of Europe have taken. But as I had nothing particular for the moment to do in America, and it appeared that I might do some good by staying, I have delayed my departure much longer than I intended. I now send you another little Pamphlet, which appeared to me to stand a chance to do some good in France. It is already translated, as I suppose, and will probably be well recieved there.

I now intend to sail in January. But I do not feel so sure of it as I did of sailing last spring. I have not given over the idea of attempting the American History, but it is not certain when I shall find leisure to do it.

Paine will do much good in the National Convention, they seem now to be removing all the rubbish out of the way, in order to lay the proper foundation for a rational government. I am, dear Sir with great respect, your obet. Servt.

J. Barlow

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Mr. Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 31 May 1793 and so recorded in SJL.

The little pamphlet, for which Barlow was made a citizen of France, was his A Letter to the National Convention of France, on the defects in the constitution of 1791, and the extent of the amendments which ought to be applied (London, 1792). The French translation, by C. Ludger, was published at Paris in 1792. TJ later acquired the edition printed at New York in 1793, which contained the Conspiracy of Kings, a poem Barlow had previously sent to TJ in a letter of 18 Mch. 1792. See Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, Washington, D.C., 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends No. 2825.

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