Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Stephen Thorn, 19 February 1801

From Stephen Thorn

George Town Feby 19th: 1801

Honoured Sir

Some time in December last, I had the honour of sending you by post, a large packet of Letters from Mr Paine at Paris, particularly entrusted to my care by the writer, which with the books1 accompanying the same, I hope you have received.—Permit me to congratulate you on your late appointment to the Office of President of the United States—It will greatly add to the triumph of Republican principles in Europe as well as in the Country where fair freedom rose

Having been several years in Europe, nay throughout the greatest part thereof, and during a long residence in paris, have followed up the history of the French Revolution, being assisted by several literary characters there of great respectability in some observations thereon; to complete which, as well as to arange some private concerns in that Country, where I have a landed property, makes me desirous to return there—therefore as the treaty is adopted and we have no consular agent at Havre, I could wish for that appointment, and to return by the first public occasion—The enclosed papers are submitted for your consideration, besides my friend Col Lyon, and who has known me from a boy, will give you any information respecting me—

Salut et respect

Stepn. Thorn

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); at foot of text: “Mr. Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 20 Feb. and so recorded in SJL; also endorsed by TJ: “to be consul at Havre.” Enclosures not found.

The Treaty is adopted: on 3 Feb. the Senate agreed to the Convention of 1800 with France, but only if Article 2 were excised and an eight-year limit imposed on the duration of the pact. The convention’s second article would have postponed the settlement of indemnities for private shipping that had been captured at sea during the period of hostility between the two nations, and it made the treaties of 1778 and the consular convention of 1788 inoperative until the indemnities were resolved. During the negotiations in 1800, indemnification was a paramount issue for the American envoys (Oliver Ellsworth, William Vans Murray, and William R. Davie). However, the United States had abrogated the treaties of 1778, which contained articles that conflicted with privileges granted to Britain by the Jay Treaty. The French, who hoped to avoid responsibility for payment of indemnities, would not discuss the settlement of spoliation claims without receiving in return either an affirmation of the terms of the earlier alliance or a new treaty that would give France status equal, at least, to that enjoyed by Great Britain. In order to break the impasse and allow the two nations to come to terms on other matters, the Americans suggested a deferment of the problem issues. Article 2—and the designation of the pact as a convention rather than a treaty—was the result of that compromise. The Senate, by refusing to approve the article, indicated that restoration of the treaty of amity and commerce of 1778 was not a possibility, although the excision of Article 2 also meant that the convention would contain no provision for the settlement of spoliation claims (JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States… to the Termination of the Nineteenth Congress, Washington, D.C., 1828, 3 vols. description ends , 1:377; Miller, Treaties description begins Hunter Miller, ed., Treaties and other International Acts of the United States of America, Washington, D.C., 1931–48, 8 vols. description ends , 2:458–9; E. Wilson Lyon, “The Franco-American Convention of 1800,” Journal of Modern History, 12 [1940], 305–33; TJ to Oliver Ellsworth and William Vans Murray, [18] Mch. 1801; Vol. 32:159n, 504, 539–40n).

1MS: “books books.”

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