Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John Dawson, 18 August 1801

From John Dawson

Paris August 18 1801.

My dear Sir.

My letters to the Secretary of State will give all the political information which I have, and what I deem it prudent to write.

I inclose to you a letter from Mr. Volney on a subject interesting to our country—had I funds I coud acquire Some things which woud be beneficial—that gentleman, and some others have been friendly and usefull—they remember you, who have many friends in this country.

With truth and Esteem Your freind

J Dawson

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 5 Nov. and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Volney to Dawson, Paris, 19 Thermidor Year 9 [i.e.] 7 Aug. 1801, about the potential importation of useful plants and animals from the Old World to the New; he recommends Corsican olive trees rather than those of Provençal as better suited to the Virginia climate; for the same reason he advises importing sheep directly from Spain rather than Spanish sheep bred in France, noting also that sheep from Spain would be pure-blooded; he praises the improvement of English horse breeds by the introduction of Arabian bloodlines, but recommends obtaining Arabian horses from the bedouins or other direct sources, such as Basra on the Persian Gulf, for horses from the plains of the Euphrates, or Syria; even more useful than horses would be donkeys, for the breeding of mules, with Malta producing the finest donkeys and Egypt the greatest quantity; he discounts the assertion of the Abbé Raynal, who claimed that an attempt to introduce camels in Florida failed—Raynal was an orator and a writer, Volney asserts, but he was not a historian; camels could be useful in the sandy regions of Virginia and the Carolinas, but it would be necessary to find a species resistant to cold and humidity, such as the Turkoman camel, with long hair and short legs, or the two-humped Bactrian camel of northern China; he suggests offering large bonuses to encourage the importation of useful plants and animals, or sending expeditions to find items of utility; how much better it would be if Magellan and Bougainville had sought practical products, such as camels, on their voyages rather than luxury goods; on a smaller scale, Volney also urges the importation to America of the nightingale, and that a new attempt be made to send American redbirds to France, which Franklin tried to do more than once without success (RC in same; in French).

Dawson had addressed letters to the secretary of state on 5 Aug., 25 June, and 27 May 1801. Those communications have not been found. In the one of 5 Aug., he stated that the French government had ratified the revised Convention of 1800, which William Vans Murray also reported in a dispatch to Madison on 3 Aug. 1801. Bonaparte approved the ratification on 31 July, accepting the eight-year limit on duration of the convention imposed by the U.S. Senate. He also agreed to expunge the second article, leaving the status of previous treaties between the United States and France unresolved but closing off indemnity claims. Dawson wrote private letters to Madison on 25 June and 5 Aug. in addition to his official communications to the State Department. Hinting that Murray may have been responsible for the delay in ratification, Dawson indicated that he would have more to say on that subject in person after his return. Dawson, who hoped to visit England before returning to the United States, forwarded the documents pertaining to the ratification of the convention (Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser. description begins J. C. A. Stagg, ed., The Papers of James Madison, Secretary of State Series, Charlottesville, 1986–, 8 vols. description ends , 1:233, 350–1; 2:11–12, 17–18; Parry, Consolidated Treaty Series description begins Clive Parry, ed., The Consolidated Treaty Series, Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., 1969–81, 231 vols. description ends , 55:346–7, 369–70; Stephen Thorn to TJ, 19 Feb. 1801).

Index Entries