Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Charles Pinckney, 14 September 1801

From Charles Pinckney

September 14:1801 In Amsterdam

Dear Sir

I had the honour to acquaint you that I arrived in Holland on the 10th of this month & yesterday reached Amsterdam—the fatigue & length of my very long sea Voyage & a desire to examine this storehouse of Batavia will keep me here a few days & then I mean to proceed by the way of the Hague & Brussells as rapidly as I can to Paris & from thence to Madrid—To you who are so well acquainted with Europe any Description of mine would be superfluous—to me Holland is one of the most extraordinary spectacles that could be exhibited & as my stay can be but short in it, I am incessantly engaged all day & some times half the night in seeing & examining every thing I can—My route from the Texel Mouth at Helder through North Holland & by the Hague will give me a View of the whole of it & I am hopeful my health will improve by the route, as riding generally agrees with me—I inclose you the Leyden Gazettes of the 8 & 4th September—they will inform you that the report of a Peace is unfounded—nor is it likely as Great Britain insists, if she is obliged to return her colonial acquisitions that France shall restore her continental ones—this she will never do while she can hold them—besides it is said from authority which appears almost unquestionable, that one of the secret articles of the Luneville treaty is that the Stadhtholder shall be indemnified by being made Elector of Hanover—the intelligence respecting Egypt, Portugal & the serious differences likely to arise from the recent death of the Elector of Cologne, as well as the late attempt of Lord Nelson on the coasts of this country, are detailed in the Gazettes inclosed—from those you will think with me, that Peace between France & Great Britain is not at present very likely.—the conferences through Mr Otto & Mr Merry are kept up but it is considered here as more matter of form than any thing else—in the meantime all the small powers will be compelled to take their sides as the larger shall decide—in short I still hold my opinion that no lasting or permanent peace will take place, until the great Question is completely decided, whether Europe shall be republican or Monarchical—if a Peace could be patched up it would soon be broken—If the European republics new model their Governments & give to their citizens, such a Government as the American, or such a one as will ensure to them their public & private rights particularly the rights of property & the trial by Jury there can be no Question as to the result—the Batavian Government are now seriously engaged in preparing a plan to be hereafter submitted to a Convention for reforming their Constitution, but it is pretty clear they do not understand the nature & principles of republican Systems as well as we do & I suspect the new one of Batavia will, under some other name, be very much like that of France.—I propose in a short time to go to the Hague in my way to Paris & from thence to write you again whatever I shall suppose worthy your Notice.—I request my best respects to my friends Mr Madison, Mr Galletin & the gentlemen at Washington & with the Most affectionate respect & regard I am Dear Sir

Yours Truly

Charles Pinckney

I take the liberty of inclosing a Letter covering for my little Daughter which I will be much obliged to you to have the goodness to let one of your servants put in the Post office.—

Since writing the above I have the Leyden Gazette of yesterday which I also inclose: by this you will percieve the train of politics in Europe & also that Menou is determined to bury himself under the ruins of Alexandria rather than submit.—I have just seen some gentlemen from Paris arrived last night—notwithstanding the great secrecy with which General Buonoparte conducts every thing & the silence that is particularly observed on the subject of a Descent, there is little doubt this is his grand object, & that he will keep in preparation for striking, & not with a palsied hand, whenever opportunities shall occur to render it probable of success—I am hopeful to be in Paris by the 24th.—

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 28 Dec. and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Issues of Nouvelles Politiques of Leiden. Other enclosure not found.

Leyden Gazettes: Gazette de Leide was the name commonly used for a French-language newspaper published in Leiden. In 1801 the newspaper’s formal title was Nouvelles Politiques. Earlier, TJ considered the Gazette to be the best source of European news. On occasion he had sent items for publication in its columns or supplied American newspapers with translated extracts from the Leiden publication (Eugène Hatin, Les Gazettes de Hollande et la Presse Clandestine aux XVIIe et XVIIIe Siècles [Paris, 1865], 146–55; 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 , 1:561n; Vol. 7:540–5; Vol. 13:246–7; Vol. 16:239–40; Vol. 25:394, 439, 535; Vol. 27:117).

There was no article in the Lunéville treaty making the former Dutch stadtholder, William of Orange, the elector of Hanover (Parry, Consolidated Treaty Series description begins Clive Parry, ed., The Consolidated Treaty Series, Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., 1969–81, 231 vols. description ends , 55:475–95).

The death in July 1801 of the archbishop and elector of cologne, Maximilian Franz, created friction between Prussia and the Holy Roman Empire, since the treaty of Lunéville called for vacant ecclesiastical principalities to become indemnification for territory lost to France. Max Franz—the youngest son of Maria Theresa of Austria, a brother of Marie Antoinette, and an early patron of Ludwig van Beethoven—had been a vigorous promoter of social and political reform, arguing against the empire’s participation in the wars against revolutionary France (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 , 2:113n; Nouvelles Politiques, Supplement, 8 Sep.; Friedrich Heer, The Holy Roman Empire, trans. Janet Sondheimer [New York, 1968], 271, 279–81).

Lord Nelson had attacked French ships at Boulogne, where a potential invasion flotilla was gathering, and a portion of the British fleet also kept watch on the Dutch coast (Grainger, Amiens Truce description begins John D. Grainger, The Amiens Truce: Britain and Bonaparte, 1801–1803, Rochester, N.Y., 2004 description ends , 45; William Laird Clowes, The Royal Navy: A History from the Earliest Times to the Present, 7 vols. [London, 1897–1903; repr. 1996–97], 4:444–6; Nouvelles Politiques, 8 Sep., and Supplement).

Louis Guillaume Otto, who went to London as the French commissioner for prisoners of war in 1799, was the conduit through which the French government, in 1800, broached the idea of a naval armistice. In March 1801, Lord Hawkesbury, the British foreign secretary, opened new discussions with Otto about terms of a peace agreement. The exchanges between Hawkesbury and Otto, which centered on the status of places that had been occupied by Britain and France during the war, dragged on, and in July Hawkesbury sent Anthony Merry to Paris—nominally, like Otto, as a commissioner of prisoners—to act as another channel of communication between Hawkesbury and Talleyrand (Grainger, Amiens Truce description begins John D. Grainger, The Amiens Truce: Britain and Bonaparte, 1801–1803, Rochester, N.Y., 2004 description ends , 7–42; Vol. 32:192n).

The constitution of the Batavian Republic was not supposed to be revised until 1803, but in March 1801 the government called for a new constitution. Under the new frame of government, implemented in September, executive powers were held by a newly created 12-member body called the Staatsbewind, the executive directory ceased to exist, and the role of the legislature was to approve or reject laws handed down by the executive (Louis Legrand, La Révolution Française en Hollande: La République Batave [Paris, 1895], 270–8; Tulard, Dictionnaire Napoléon description begins Jean Tulard, Dictionnaire Napoléon, Paris, 1987 description ends , 885).

My Little Daughter: Pinckney had two daughters, Frances Henrietta Pinckney (b. 1790) and Mary Eleanor Pinckney (b. 1792). He also had a son. Pinckney, a widower, did not take the children with him to Europe, and he is known to have written on at least one occasion to his elder daughter (Marty D. Matthews, Forgotten Founder: The Life and Times of Charles Pinckney [Columbia, 2004], 72, 82–3, 86, 110).

Knowing that his government was discussing peace terms with the British, the French commander in Egypt, the Baron de Menou, attempted to delay the surrender of Alexandria as long as possible. He did not die in the siege (Grainger, Amiens Truce description begins John D. Grainger, The Amiens Truce: Britain and Bonaparte, 1801–1803, Rochester, N.Y., 2004 description ends , 44–5; Tulard, Dictionnaire Napoléon description begins Jean Tulard, Dictionnaire Napoléon, Paris, 1987 description ends , 1163–5).

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