Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Charles Le Brun, 10 March 1802

From Charles Le Brun

New-york, le 10. mars 1802.


Cette lettre, que je prends la liberté de vous adresser; est Ecrite Sous les auspices de Cette bienveillance & de Cette bonté qui vous Caractérisent: C’est Sur Cette verité, que je fonde l’espoir de la voir acceuillir favorablement. j’aurais peut-être, un autre titre à faire Valoir: Celui d’Etre l’ami particulier de vôtre Illustre ami le Général Kosciuszko, dont j’ai eu l’honneur de vous remettre moi même Sa lettre de recommandation & vôtre portrait qu’elle accompagnait: Sous Ce double avantage, je me plais donc à Croire, Monsieur Le président, que vous me rendrez le Service que les Circonstances où je me trouve m’autorisent à vous demander.

Mon intention est de partir dans 18 ou 20. jours dans mon navire pour Curaçao, où je vais établir ma maison de Commerce; ainsique vous le Verrez par la Circulaire que j’ai l’honneur de joindre ici. comme les relations commerciales de Cette Ile avec la Côte ferme, Sont très grandes; & qu’il importe beaucoup à mes Intérêts d’y Etre particulierement recommandé, je vous aurai donc, Monsieur, la reconnaissance la plus grande, de vouloir bien demander pour moy, une ou deux lettres de recommandation pour Monsr. le Gouverneur de la Gueras, & Celui de Caracas; à Monsieur le Chevalier de Yrujo, Ambassadeur près de vous, de Sa Majesté Catholique. Vous Seul, monsieur Le président, pouvez me rendre Cet important Service: demandé par vous, Son plaisir Sera de S’empresser à vous les donner.

Ce bienfait, monsieur le président, que vous me rendrez, le Souvenir en Sera eternel; & dans mon Cœur Sera placé à Coté de ma Gratitude.

J’ai l’honneur d’Etre avec le plus profond respect, Monsieur, Vôtre très humble & Très obeissant Serviteur.

Charles Brun

Editors’ Translation

New York, 10 Mch. 1802


This letter that I take the liberty of addressing to you is written under the auspices of that benevolence and kindness that characterize you. It is upon that truth that I base the hope of seeing you accept it favorably. I would perhaps have another basis to draw upon: that of being the special friend of your illustrious friend General Kosciuszko, from whom I had the honor of delivering to you myself his letter of introduction and your portrait which accompanied it. From this double advantage I am pleased to believe, Mister President, that you will render me the service that my present circumstances authorize me to request of you.

I intend to leave in 18 or 20 days in my ship for Curaçao, where I am going to establish my commercial business, as you will see from the circular that I have the honor of enclosing herewith. Since commercial relations between this island and the mainland are very strong, and since it is very important for my interests to be especially recommended there, I shall be greatly indebted to you to request one or two letters of recommendation to the governor of Gueras and also the governor of Caracas from the Chevalier de Irujo, the ambassador accredited to you by His Catholic Majesty. You alone, Mister President, can render me this important service: at your request, it will be his pleasure to hasten to provide them.

This favor, Mister President, which you will do for me will be an eternal memory, and in my heart will be placed alongside my gratitude.

I have the honor to be, with the deepest respect, Sir, your very humble and very obedient Servant.

Charles Brun

RC (DLC); at foot of first page: “Monsr. Ths. Gerfferson, presidt. des Etats unis”; below signature: “at Mesrs. Daniel Ludlow & Co. Merchts. New-york”; endorsed by TJ as received from Charles “Brune” on 11 Mch. and so recorded in SJL; see below for another endorsement by TJ. Enclosure: Circular letter in Spanish, dated Curaçao, 1 Jan. 1802, announcing the establishment of Le Brun’s commercial house in that colony; citing his experience of 15 years in commerce in Europe, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Antilles, as well as his knowledge of the cultivation and promotion of the products of the colonies, he offers his services; his firm engages in commission sales and purchases, can equip long voyages, and can provide management of affairs, collection of overdue bills, and litigation, uniting commercial experience with caution, zeal, exactitude, and facility (RC in DLC; printed form signed by Le Brun as “Charles Brun,” with dateline, heading, and portion of salutation in his hand; at head of text in Le Brun’s hand: “Sñor. Dn. Ths. Gefferson presidente, de Los Estados unidos de America”).

Charles Le Brun (1754 or 1755–1844) did not remain in Curaçao, but at some point returned to the United States. In Philadelphia in 1811, Mathew Carey published an instructional book Le Brun had written for children, Le Directeur des enfans, depuis l’âge de cinq ans jusq’à douze. According to the title page of that work, Le Brun was already a published author and translator. The next year, Carey published Le Brun’s edition of Les aventures de Télémaque, fils d’Ulysse, a widely read work by François de Salignac de La Mothe-Fénelon that first appeared in 1700 (Philadelphia, 1812). Le Brun’s Télémaque came out in multiple editions in the years following its initial appearance. Le Brun also translated Alexander Pope’s poem, Essay on Man, into French with annotation. Although Le Brun published that work himself in Philadelphia in 1823—with Pope’s English verse on the left-hand page facing the translation in French prose on the right-hand page—it bears a dedication to Napoleon Bonaparte dated 15 Aug. 1812. Le Brun translated into Spanish a 1798 work by Bertrand Barère, La liberté des mers, ou, le gouvernement anglais dévoilé (“the liberty of the seas, or, the English government revealed”). That translation, first published in Philadelphia in 1820 as La libertad de los mares, ó, El gobierno inglés descubierto, went through several subsequent editions. Le Brun sent a copy to TJ in 1821. He also wrote other works in Spanish. Although he signed the letter above, and the enclosed circular, as Charles Brun, his name appeared as Charles Le Brun on the title pages of his books, and that is the form of the name he used until his death. On the title page of his translation of Pope’s Essay in 1823, he identified himself as a U.S. citizen and an interpreter for the Pennsylvania government as well as an author. He resided in Philadelphia at the time of his death (Philadelphia North American and Daily Advertiser, 9 Sep. 1844; [Alexander Pope], Essay on Man, Translated from the English by Charles Le Brun / Essai sur l’homme, traduit de l’Anglais par Charles Le Brun [Philadelphia, 1823]; Charles Le Brun, Vida de Fernando Septimo, rey de España [Philadelphia, 1826]; Charles Le Brun, Retratos políticos de la revolucion de España [Philadelphia, 1826]; Charles Le Brun, Los placeres del tocador [Philadelphia, 1829]; Vol. 30:83n; Vol. 32:503n; Le Brun to TJ, 31 Dec. 1821, in MoSHi: Jefferson Papers, with TJ’s copy of his reply of 13 Jan. 1822 on verso).

When Le Brun wrote to TJ again years later, he mentioned the letter of introduction that Tadeusz KOSCIUSZKO had given him (Le Brun to TJ, 31 Dec. 1821). Le Brun likely called on TJ on 9 Jan. 1802, the day that TJ received John Vaughan’s letter of 29 Dec. along with, presumably, the “specimens of Coins & Medals” from Joseph Priestley that Vaughan asked Le Brun to take to TJ. In his letter to TJ, Vaughan said that “Mr Brun” was Kosciuszko’s friend and came “strongly recommended.” Kosciuszko’s own recommendation for Le Brun has not been found and apparently was not recorded in SJL. On 9 Jan., TJ did receive a letter from Kosciuszko. Le Brun presumably carried that communication, but it was a duplicate version of the Polish exile’s letter of 15 Sep. 1799, which dealt primarily with Kosciuszko’s business affairs and made no mention of Le Brun (RC in Kahanowicz Collection, Polish Museum of America, Chicago, 1970, endorsed by TJ, recorded in SJL with notation “qu. year”; Vol. 31:184).

The PORTRAIT of TJ may have been one of the colored aquatint engravings that Michel Sokolnicki made in Europe from a drawing by Kosciuszko. TJ, who had a copy of the engraving at Monticello, left one in the President’s House in Washington after he completed his second term as president (Vol. 30:xlii; RS description begins J. Jefferson Looney and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series, Princeton, 2004–, 6 vols. description ends , 1:668; 2:39, 106).

GUERAS: probably La Guaira, a fortified harbor on the north coast of South America that was the primary port for CARACAS and the surrounding region (Donna Keyse Rudolph and G. A. Rudolph, Historical Dictionary of Venezuela, 2d ed. [Lanham, Md., 1996], 318–19).

TJ inadvertently endorsed Le Brun’s letter: “to be Naval officer for the port of Newport district of [R.I.].” Judging from the entries in SJL, TJ meant that notation for another letter he received on 11 Mch., one from William Crooke at Newport, 28 Feb. 1802, that has not been found.

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