Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Napoleon Bonaparte, 18 March 1801

To Napoleon Bonaparte

Citizen First Consul,

To testify to you the sincerity of the Government of the United States in its negotiations, I have transmitted to Oliver Ellsworth and William Vans Murray, two of the late Envoys Extraordinary and Ministers Plenipotentiary of the United States to the French Republic, the ratification of the Convention between the said States and the French Republic, signed at Paris on the 30th day of September last past, by your Plenipotentiaries and those of the said States: and the said Oliver Ellsworth and William Vans Murray or either of them are instructed to take the necessary measures for the exchange of the ratifications in convenient time, and to take upon themselves the execution of this business; in which case I beseech you, Citizen First Consul, to give full credence to whatever the said Oliver Ellsworth and William Vans Murray or either of them shall say to you on the part of the United States, concerning the same, and to receive the said ratification in the name of, and on the part of the United States of America, when it shall be tendered by them or either of them. I pray God to have you Citizen First Consul in his Holy keeping.

Written at the City of Washington this Eighteenth day of March, in the year of our Lord, one thousand Eight hundred and one.

Th: Jefferson

By the President

Levi Lincoln

Acting as Secretary of State.

FC (Lb in DNA: RG 59, Credences); in a clerk’s hand; at head of text: “Thomas Jefferson, President of the United States of America, To the First Consul of the French Republic.” Tr (NNPM: William Vans Murray Letterbooks); in Murray’s hand; contains a blank in place of Lincoln’s name (see John Dawson to TJ, 31 Mch.). Not recorded in SJL.


Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821) was first consul of France, the most powerful position under the constitution promulgated at his direction after the 18 Brumaire coup of November 1799. A professional army officer, he had previously gained notice for his role in dispersing the insurrection of 13 Vendémiaire in 1795, for his planning and command of the campaigns in Italy in 1796–7, and for leading the occupation of Egypt. He was proclaimed consul for life in 1802 and emperor in May 1804 (Tulard, Dictionnaire Napoléon description begins Jean Tulard, Dictionnaire Napoléon, Paris, 1987 description ends , 1226–9; Stewart, French Revolution description begins John H. Stewart, A Documentary Survey of the French Revolution, New York, 1951 description ends , 767–8,773).

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