Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Mann Page, 6 March 1798

To Mann Page

Philadelphia Mar. 6. 98.

Dear Sir

I have to acknolege the receipt of your f[avor] of [Feb.] 13. and […] thank you for the papers it contain[ed.] that of mr Anderson [is so much] […] that I take the liberty of reques[ting you] […] his signature, for which purpose I now inclose it to you. [it is possible] that whenever I shall have collected full evidence on the subject, I [shall] […] from the whole […] statement of the transaction [and publish it] in some way. [for?] this [reason] [I wish] to have in my possession auth[entic statements] to support [every] p[…] which may be questioned.

We have at length recieved despatches from our envoys. [such] of them as [were] in readiness were yester-day laid before […]. I inclose you a copy. [you] will see by them that they do not expect to obtain the objects of their mission. what these were have not yet been explained to us however it does not seem [as] if open war would be de[clar]ed against us. the law indeed which the Directory proposes [wi]ll have many effects; but whether these [will fall hard]est on [us or] the English, will be better decided by merchants acquai[nted] with all th[eir business.] I apprehend that our navigation would […] it to [continue]. […] probably it’s continuance will not be long. [that the?] conflict [for] which the two great combatants are preparing must soon […] of […] of […] [war] between the […] wisdom […] to us, & […] Mr. Nicholas’s [amendment?] […]ded1 in the negative […]2 not what will be […], but it is evident we have [not] […]. [be pleased] to present my […]3

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC); faint and torn, with multiple illegible passages, the longest of which are identified in notes below; at foot of text: “Mann Page Esq.” Enclosures: (1) Enclosure No. 1 printed at Page to TJ, 13 Feb. 1798. (2) The Message of the president of the United States, of 5th March, 1798; with a Letter from our Envoys Extraordinary at Paris, with Other Documents (Philadelphia, 1798); see Evans, description begins Charles Evans, Clifford K. Shipton, and Roger P. Bristol, comps., American Bibliography: A Chronological Dictionary of all Books, Pamphlets and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States of America from … 1639 … to … 1820, Chicago and Worcester, Mass., 1903–59, 14 vols. description ends No. 34809.

Five despatches from the American envoys in Paris finally arrived at the Department of State late on 4 Mch. 1798. The next day the president sent Congress one of the communications, No. 5, dated 8 Jan. 1798. That dispatch enclosed a message from the Executive Directory of France to the Council of Five Hundred, 4 Jan. 1798, and a copy of the pending French law, which was subsequently approved, whereby the presence of British goods in a cargo would condemn a vessel and neutral ships would be refused admittance to French ports if they had stopped at British ports en route (see Jefferson, the Aurora, and Delamotte’s Letter from France, at 23 Jan. 1798). “We can only repeat that there exists no hope of our being officially received by this Government,” the three diplomats stated in dispatch No. 5, “or that the objects of our mission will be in any way accomplished.” That comment would be fully understood only in the context of the other four dispatches, written between 22 Oct. and 24 Dec. 1797, which revealed what became known as the XYZ affair. Explaining that those lengthy communications required “some days” for decipherment, Adams did not convey them to Congress on 5 Mch. 1798. In a bleak message to Congress on 19 Mch. he announced the failure of the mission to France but gave no details. On 3 Apr. 1798, in response to a resolution of the House of Representatives on the preceding day, he sent Congress the four dispatches, along with the instructions under which the envoys had gone to France (ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Foreign Relations, 2:150–68).

1Approximately one line of original text illegible.

2Approximately one line of original text illegible.

3Approximately one and a half lines of original text and complimentary closing illegible.

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