Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Simon Chaudron, 18 December 1800

To Simon Chaudron

Washington Dec. 18. 1800.

Dear Sir

I am informed by a gentleman who called on you in Philadelphia that the watch is arrived, which you were so kind as to undertake to import for me. the question is how to procure a safe conveyance of it to this place, which can only be in a gentleman’s pocket; as experience has proved to me that no precautions of package can secure a watch brought in a trunk, on the wheels of a carriage, from the effects of the shaking of the carriage. mr Jones, the member of Congress from Georgia, is now in Philadelphia, and perhaps may still be there at the moment of your recieving this. he would be so kind as to bring it to me. if still there he will be found at mrs Wigman’s. 67. Vine street. should he be come away, by examining from time to time the books of the stage office within a few doors of you, some person no doubt might be found coming on who would be so kind as to take charge of the watch. the price shall be remitted to you the moment it is made known to Dear Sir

Your most obedt. servt

Th: Jefferson

PrC (MHi); at foot of text: “M: Chaudron”; endorsed by TJ in ink on verso.

Jean Simon Chaudron (1758–1846), a native of Vignory, France, learned watchmaking in Switzerland before moving to Saint-Domingue, where he dealt in watches and jewelry and became a planter. Displaced by the island’s revolution, he went to Philadelphia and opened a shop at 12 South Third Street. Chaudron cleaned a watch for TJ in March 1797, shortly after TJ paid him for a timepiece for John Randolph of Roanoke. A gold French watch that TJ purchased for one of his granddaughters in 1807 and a fine gold watch chain that he sought a few months later both came from Chaudron’s firm. The watchmaker was also a poet and writer, composing odes on events in Europe and songs for the Loge Française l’Aménité, a Philadelphia lodge of émigré French and Saint-Dominguen freemasons of which he was the orateur (orator). In that capacity in 1800 he delivered a New Year’s Day address on George Washington that Auguste Belin, another of the lodge’s officers, sent to TJ. Before June 1817 Chaudron became the editor of l’Abeille Americaine, a weekly publication. Joining the Vine and Olive Colony, a settlement of French exiles in Alabama, he left Philadelphia in 1819 for the group’s lands on the Tombigbee River. He subsequently moved to Mobile. A selection of his verse, Poésies Choisies, was published in Paris in 1841 (Winston Smith, Days of Exile: The Story of the Vine and Olive Colony in Alabama [Tuscaloosa, Ala., 1967], 9, 53, 114, 128; Tableau des F.F. Composant la T. R. Loge Française l’Aménité, No. 73 [Philadelphia, 1803], 3; Ode sur la Conquète de l’Italie [Philadelphia, 1799]; Recueil de Cantiques, de la Loge Française l’Aménité, No. 73 [Philadelphia, 1801], 17–19; A. J. Blocquerst and F. Malicot, Bureau de l’Abeille Américaine. Les Éditeurs, au Public et aux Anciens Abonnés de l’Abeille [Philadelphia, 1817]; Stafford, Philadelphia Directory, for 1800, 30; MB description begins James A. Bear, Jr., and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, Princeton, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 2:955, 956, 1218; Vol. 31:396,417; bills of Chaudron & Co., 18 Dec. 1807 at MHi and 26 Apr. 1808 at DLC; TJ to Henry Voigt, 3 Dec. 1807; Henry Voigt to TJ, 19 Dec. 1807; William Short to TJ, 28 Apr. 1808; Chaudron to TJ, 7 Feb. 1819; TJ to Chaudron, 3 Mch. 1819).

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