Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Joseph Léonard Poirey, [15 April 1801]

From Joseph Léonard Poirey

Paris Ce 25. Germinal an 9.


Permettez moi de vous adresser le mémoire d’une demande que des Circonstances impérieuses me portent à présenter au Congrès des Etats-unis d’Amerique. Je vous Supplie de le lire avec intéret: et S’il est en votre pouvoir de la faire accueillir, que votre humanité aussi forte sans doute que toutes les Vertus qui vous Caracterisent devienne l’appui d’un homme qui a Servi l’amerique avec désintéressement et que vous avez honoré de votre Estime en france.

Je vous Supplie, Monsieur, d’agréer avec bonté l’homage de ma reconnoissance et de mon tres profond Respect


editors’ translation

Paris this 25 Germinal Year 9 [15 Apr. 1801]


Permit me to address to you the statement of a request that pressing circumstances bring me to present to the Congress of the United States of America. I beg you to take an interest in reading it: and if it is in your power to present it for approval, may your humanity—no doubt as strong as all the virtues that characterize you—become the support of a man who has served America disinterestedly and whom you have honored with your esteem in France.

I beg you, Sir, to accept with kindness the homage of my gratitude and my very deep respect,


RC (DLC); at head of text: “A Monsieur Thomas Jefferson President des Etats-unis d’Amerique”; at foot of text: “Rue Mézieres No 900”; endorsed by TJ as received 20 Aug. and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure not found.

À PRÉSENTER AU CONGRÈS: in 1796 Poirey, who had been an aide and secretary to the Marquis de Lafayette during the American Revolution, petitioned for permission to file a claim for compensation from the United States for that service. Poirey, like Lafayette, had initially refused any payment, but changed his mind when he found himself in need of money. By then the statute of limitations for such claims had expired, and although James Madison, then a member of the House of Representatives, urged the approval of Poirey’s request, some other congressmen, including Henry Dearborn, were reluctant to allow special exemptions to the time limits on claims. The House did pass a bill in 1797, but the measure failed in the Senate. In 1819 Congress passed an act allowing the settlement of Poirey’s claim. Poirey and TJ had corresponded in 1788, when Poirey continued to act as Lafayette’s secretary (ASP, description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1832–61, 38 vols. Bear, Family Letters Edwin M. Betts and James A. Bear, Jr., eds., Family Letters of Thomas Jefferson, Columbia, Mo., 1966 description ends Claims, 1:183; JHR, description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1826, 9 vols. description ends 2:436, 640, 643–4, 645; 11:393; JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1820–21, 5 vols. description ends , 2:309–11; Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States… Compiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. The first two volumes of the set cited here have “Compiled…by Joseph Gales, Senior” on the title page and bear the caption “Gales & Seatons History” on verso and “of Debates in Congress” on recto pages. The remaining volumes bear the caption “History of Congress” on both recto and verso pages. Those using the first two volumes with the latter caption will need to employ the date of the debate or the indexes of debates and speakers. description ends , 6:1817, 1828–30, 1839–40; U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States… 1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855–56, 8 vols. description ends , 6:225; Vol. 12:529).

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