Thomas Jefferson Papers

Certificate for George Logan, 4 June 1798

Certificate for George Logan

I Thomas Jefferson do hereby certify that George Logan the bearer hereof, who is about to visit Europe on matters of business, is a citizen of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania and United States of America, of one of the most antient & respectable families of the said commonwealth, of independant fortune, good morals, irreproacheable conduct, and true civism; and as such he is recommended to the attention of all those who from principles of humanity, or a desire to attach to their country the respect of others, would interest themselves in seeing the protection & hospitality of their laws extended to a worthy & unoffending stranger placed under their safeguard. Given under my hand and seal at Philadelphia this 4th. day of June 1798.

Th: Jefferson

MS (PHi: Dickinson-Logan Papers); in TJ’s hand; with subjoined French translation in unknown hand; with TJ’s seal affixed; endorsed: “Certificate of Thos: Jefferson.” Not recorded in SJL.

George Logan departed Philadelphia on his peace mission to France on board the Iris, a neutral vessel bound for Hamburg, on 12 June, carrying this and a similar certificate of citizenship from his friend Pennsylvania Chief Justice Thomas McKean. He also brought two letters of introduction from the French consul in Philadelphia, Philippe de Létombe, one for Talleyrand and the other for Philippe Antoine Merlin de Douai, member of the Directory. The Federalist press, discovering Logan’s departure less than a week later, depicted his mission as traitorous and warned “that seditious Envoys from all the Republics that France has subjugated first went to Paris and concerted measures with the despots.” The newspaper accounts noted that Logan had informed McKean of his plans and had visited Létombe at daybreak on the day of his clandestine departure. In a letter to Secretary of State Pickering on 6 Aug. William Vans Murray, American minister at the Hague, characterized Logan’s passports from TJ and McKean as being written “in very general terms, as a man of science and a friend of humanity—a philosophical sort of thing—its real object must therefore be suspected” (Murray to Pickering, 29 July and 6 Aug. 1798, in MHi: Pickering Papers; TJ to Logan, 4 May 1793; Porcupine’s Gazette, 18 June 1798; Gazette of the United States, 18, 23 June 1798; Tolles, Logan description begins Frederick B. Tolles, George Logan of Philadelphia, New York, 1953 description ends , 155–6). See also TJ to Aaron Burr, 12 Nov. 1798, and Monroe to TJ, 26 Jan. 1799.

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