Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from William Branch Giles, 25 September 1801

From William Branch Giles

Petersburg September 25th. 1801


This letter will probably be presented to you by Mr. Tubuffe.—He is the son of a gentleman of that name, who, some years ago, came from France to the United states, with a view of establishing himself in some parts of the western country, but in making the attempt, was unfortunately murdered by the Indians.—It is represented to me, that after the death of the father, and during the minority of the son, the family was put on the list of emigrants by the then government of France. Mr. Tubuffe having received assurances that their names will now be erased from the emigrant list, proposes to visit his native country, with a view of making his respects to his Mother, who is still living, and as far as may be practicable of reclaiming his estate,—Mr. Tubuffe sensible of the High consideration attached to your name in France, conceives, that letters from you of his good conduct here, will essentially facilitate the execution of his objects, and for this purpose has applyed to me through a friend for a letter of recommendation to you.—I comply with Mr. Tubuffe’s request with the greater pleasure both from the consideration of his own good conduct in this place; and the irreparable misfortune he has sustained in this country in the loss of his father.—Mr. Tubuffe, connected with his elder brother, has been for some time doing business in this place in the mercantile line,—Their house is in good credit, and as far as I am informed, their conduct individually unexceptionable.—under these circumstances, I have no doubt, that as far as propriety will admit, you will render to Mr. Tubuffe the services he solicits.—

Be pleased Sir to accept assurances of my High consideration and Respect &c

Wm. B Giles

RC (NHi: Robert R. Livingston Papers); at foot of first page and foot of text: “Mr. Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 1 Oct. and so recorded in SJL; also endorsed by TJ: “by Tubuffe.” Enclosed in TJ to Robert R. Livingston, 3 Oct. 1801.

Mr. Tubuffe: Alexandre Tubeuf, born in 1779, was the younger son of Pierre François Tubeuf of France, who had acquired a large tract of land on the Clinch River in Russell County, Virginia, where he hoped to settle a number of French immigrants. The elder Tubeuf moved to Virginia to establish the settlement in 1791, writing to TJ, George Washington, and Patrick Henry after his arrival and citing Lafayette in his support, but the enterprise did not develop very far before the entrepreneur was murdered in 1795. Although some accounts attributed the killing to indians, Tubeuf was the victim of a conspiracy of local inhabitants who had robbery as their motive and who started a rumor to put the blame on Native Americans. Earlier, Tubeuf had obtained concessions for the development of coal deposits in France, but his widow, who had remained there, could not assert that claim until 1801, when the family’s name was removed from the list of banned émigrés. Alexandre and his brother François (Pierre François, or Peter Francis) were by then merchants in Petersburg, Virginia, specializing in wine and spirits and branching into trade with Saint-Domingue. Alexandre went to France in November 1801 to help press the family’s claim to mines in the Alès region. The brothers also attempted to secure their father’s Virginia tract, which contained ore-bearing lands but was subject to foreclosure as security for a loan from the state (Gwynne Lewis, The Advent of Modern Capitalism in France, 1770–1840: The Contribution of Pierre-François Tubeuf [Oxford, 1993], 19–20, 158–63, 175–6, 198–201, 232–6; James William Hagy, “The Frontier Dreams of François Pierre de Tubeuf,” VMHB description begins Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 1893– description ends , 77 [1969], 329–35; CVSP description begins William P. Palmer and others, eds., Calendar of Virginia State Papers … Preserved in the Capitol at Richmond, Richmond, 1875–93, 11 vols. description ends , 8:241, 364–5; 9:359, 363; Washington, Papers, Pres. Ser. description begins W. W. Abbot, Dorothy Twohig, Philander D. Chase, Theodore J. Crackel, and others, eds., The Papers of George Washington, Charlottesville, 1983–, 48 vols.: Presidential Series, 1987–, 12 vols. description ends , 8:518–20; Vol. 22:141–2, 195).

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