Thomas Jefferson Papers

Note from Edmond Charles Genet, [ca. 30 October 1793]

Note from Edmond Charles Genet

[ca. 30 Oct. 1793]

Note particuliere.

Les français du Canada, des Illinois, de la nouvelle Orléans n’attendent que l’Instant où les américains prendront une attitude digne d’un peuple libre pour s’unir à eux et pour Consacrer1 ce vaste Continent au Culte de la Divinité qui regnera bientôt sur le monde entier. Les adresses cijointes les ont instruits des dispositions de la france,2 des agens Surs les ont repandus parmi eux et l’on peut assurer que s’ils voyoient3 paroitre Sur les frontieres tracées par leurs Tirans les 15 étoiles américaines unies aux Trois couleurs du peuple françois,4 leurs fers Seroient brisés, l’angleterre et l’Espagne punies et l’humanité Vengée.

RC (DLC); undated; in a clerk’s hand, unsigned; endorsed by TJ as a “private note” received 7 Nov. 1793 and so recorded in SJL. Dft (DLC: Genet Papers); consists of canceled portion of last paragraph of Genet to TJ, 30 Oct. 1793, in a clerk’s hand with revisions by Genet and with “Note particuliere” written in the margin by him. FC (same). Enclosure: see enclosure printed at Josef Ignacio de Viar and Josef de Jaudenes to TJ, 27 Aug. 1793. Other enclosure printed below.

Genet wrote this private note in a bid to obtain American support of his officially authorized plans for subverting Spanish rule in Louisiana and British rule in Canada. The Girondin ministry that sanctioned these ventures had instructed the French minister to seek American support for them in return for recognizing the right of the United States to navigate the Mississippi and holding out the possibility of adding Canada to the American Union, though there is no evidence that Genet ever apprised TJ of the latter point (Turner, CFM description begins Frederick Jackson Turner, “Correspondence of French Ministers, 1791–1797,” American Historical Association, Annual Report, 1903, II description ends , 204). Genet had recently sent an obscure emissary named Mezieres to spread revolutionary propaganda among French settlers in Canada and dispatched a small naval squadron from New York to capture the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, destroy the British fishery at Newfoundland, and encourage the French inhabitants of Acadia to resist British rule—a mission these ships never carried out, preferring instead to return to France (Maude H. Woodfin, “Citizen Genet and his Mission” [Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 1928], 428–34). For the steps Genet had also taken to end Spanish control of Louisiana, see Editorial Note on André Michaux’s proposed western expedition, at 22 Jan. 1793; TJ to Isaac Shelby, 28 June 1793, and note; and Josef Ignacio de Viar and Josef de Jaudenes to TJ, 2 Oct. 1793, and note. There is no evidence that TJ ever informed the President or the Cabinet of the French minister’s note.

1Altered in Dft by Genet from “que cet instant pour s’unir à eux et à nous et pour consacrer de Concert.”

2Altered in Dft by Genet from “de nos dispositions.”

3Preceding nine words altered in Dft by Genet from “notre Escadre a dû avoir porté dans cet instant aux Canadiens. J’ose vous assurer que lorsquils verront.”

4Remainder of sentence written in margin of Dft by Genet in place of “Le nouveau monde Sera libre,” for which he had first substituted and then canceled “<l’affranchissement du> le nouveau monde.”

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