Thomas Jefferson Papers
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II. Sample Encipherment: The Lord’s Prayer, [18 April 1802]

II. Sample Encipherment: The Lord’s Prayer

[18 Apr. 1802]

1st. Operation, or Original.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 | l o u r f a t h e r | w h i c h a r t i | n h e a v e n h a l | l o w e d b e t h | y n a m e t h y k i | n g d o m c o m e | t h y w i l l b e d | o n e i n e a r t | h a s i t i s i n h | e a v e n g i v e | u s t h i s d a y o | u r d a i l y b r | e a d a n d f o r g | i v e u s o u r t | r e s p a s s e s a | s w e f o r g i v | e t h e m t h a t t | r e s p a s s a g | a i n s t u s a n d | l e a d u s n o t | i n t o t e m p t a | t i o n b u t d e | l i v e r u s f r o | m e v i l f o r t | h i n e i s t h e k | i n g d o m a n d | t h e p o w e r a n | d t h e g l o r y | f o r e v e r a n d | e v e r a m e n   |

key of letters. | | 3.
key of lines. | | 1.

2cd. Operation, or transcript in cypher.

1 abountgaohnhasaetiniiho
5 infaetlisdstueusweewmirb
2 oueaystdshntvnersndotvxu
8 qunkepeakenyrstntreana
7 wunmyonedh1ybiaoeaapfhra
9 psonrlidhogatdaokndnpr
6 aqindnatnhlsdfshsmsterlbm
3 toramwihapesoeepeofvxpu
4 lonvxfveitinamttriovtslm
8 tqttmrvbriaodr2xovsdufvnp
3 aostvnxue3iwdevdeesaovghe
6 rabceglorssufmlmxldrsbnot
1 foanqubcwlnoew4isrltmide
4 besnceoieaufpdnideraediio
7 mcednrreoaiyugsntoaoevu
2 povhognarvweeientvrrsl
5 thabcnehdmnnisoaubloga
9 bnxurihetertvgtetdyddxm
1 lvunythuereailhtfanffsbii

3rd. Operation, decyphering.



MS (NNMus); in Meriwether Lewis’s hand; undated; with the three operations arranged side-by-side on the page; canceled letters shown in italics; contains three errors in the second operation that were not carried over into the decipherment in the third operation (see notes 1, 2, and 4 below). MS (DLC: TJ Papers, 232:41578–9); entirely in TJ’s hand; undated; with each operation on a separate page; in several instances the canceled letters at the beginnings of lines in the second operation differ from the letters Lewis used; with some cancellation and overwriting of letters to correct the decipherment in the third operation. PrC (same, 232:41583); three pages pressed on a single sheet; endorsed by TJ: “Cypher. mr Patterson’s.” Dft (ViU); entirely in TJ’s hand; undated; on verso of Dft of Document I, being an address cover with a partial address in an unidentified hand: “The President of”; endorsed by TJ: “Robert Patterson’s cypher” and “Mr. Patterson’s cypher”; consisting of four operations, the third operation being the key, in two vertical columns of numbers labeled “order of lines” and “insignificant letters”; both parts of the key differ from the key used in later versions, resulting in a different encipherment in the second operation; with first operation arranged as 23 columns (two sections of nine columns each and one section of five columns) and 12 rows, ending the text with “foreverandeve”; on second operation TJ drew snaking vertical lines to set off the random letters inserted during encipherment; last operation is incomplete, TJ arraying the decipherment again as 23 columns, completing the first three rows and the first 15 columns of the fourth through twelfth rows; TJ adding carets at two locations in the second and fourth operations and making the following notation, using the word “columns” to signify what Patterson called “sections” (see Patterson to TJ, 19 Dec. 1801): “note at these marks ^ in the 1st. and 2d. columns a letter was omitted. it’s effect may be remarked in the 2d. and 3d. transcripts, at the same marks”; in the fourth operation, the two omissions of letters noted by TJ result in “forgive u our” instead of “forgive us our” and “as w forgive” instead of “as we forgive.” Enclosed in TJ to Robert R. Livingston, 18 Apr. 1802.

OUR FATHER WHICH ART IN HEAVEN: for the encipherment, TJ used the form of the Lord’s Prayer that appeared in the standard Anglican liturgy, the 1662 revision of the Book of Common Prayer. The 1752 edition of the prayer book that TJ inherited from his father, in which TJ recorded births and other family events, contained this text of the prayer (The Book of Common-Prayer, and Administration of the Sacraments, and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, According to the Use of the Church of England [London, 1662]; The Book of Common Prayer [Oxford, 1752]; [John Cook Wyllie], Thomas Jefferson’s Prayer Book [Charlottesville, 1952]; S. L. Ollard, Gordon Crosse, and Maurice F. Bond, eds., A Dictionary of English Church History, 3d ed. rev. [London, 1948], 133–4; Vol. 28:xxxviii–xxxix).

SOTE NFSW DVLM: the three groups of letters at the foot of the document, which also appear in the MS in TJ’s hand, were a demonstration of how the decipherer of a message would recognize the superfluous letters added to the right end of the lines. To unravel an enciphered message such as the one illustrated by the “2cd. Operation” above, the decipherer would, according to TJ’s instructions in Document I, first use the cipher key to mark out the superfluous letters at the left end of each line and identify the proper sequence of lines within each section. The next step was to write down the first letter of each line, taking the lines in order as specified by the key, then the second letter of each line, the third letter of each line, and so on. TJ said that the “insignificant letters” added to the right ends of lines would reveal themselves during the decipherment. In the sample above, there are no superfluous letters on the right end of line 1 in the first section of the “2cd. Operation”: the 15 uncanceled letters of that line are all part of the message. With the sixteenth letters of lines 2 through 5, however, the decipherer would find the sequence “s o t e.” The seventeenth letters of those lines produce the sequence “n f s w,” and the eighteenth letters make “d v l m.” By that point, TJ presumed, the decipherer would know to go “no further” along each line (Document I), having discovered the point at which the contents of the message ceased and the randomly inserted letters began.

1Lewis omitted a second “h” here.

2Lewis here followed the MS in DLC, but the next three letters should be “n r n,” not “x o v,” to complete the eighth column of the second section of the first operation.

3In MS in DLC, TJ interlined the remainder of this line in place of “hognarvweeie” (see line 2 of this section of the second operation).

4Lewis misread this letter in MS in DLC, where TJ wrote, correctly, “u.”

5The three groups of letters at the foot of the document were written by Lewis, erased, and rewritten by TJ in a slightly different position.

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