Thomas Jefferson Papers
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III. Sample Encipherment: "To the People of Great-Britain" [after 25 December 1801]

III. Sample Encipherment: “To the People of Great-Britain”

152879634 836147259 735841926 312694758 key of lines
831694725 291846375 369285741 825163974. key of letters

first operation.

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

2d. operation, or cyphering.

1. itatsbar | whtatnnteeborainiyyanfyddtdtttarwudasp

5. ail | aolunrasoeemelganriscahrmhlonaenboiaty | ewrho

2. s | hahnhssusheiyngseoondmotfwihohnnistsie | nbeclp

8. ontwrt | tiynarfvhhrtrdnshnarntroeehthfyntrlwtt | m

7 jmieriynp | alrareodtttnnoip1teloadifhstswebaiucdan

9 vhro | ibtitfgoeeeoeystednsdhprsfeioatdirahbh | yrhegno

6 wrsterl | nfomghdanixeioaidisteneetolndmdtrsrnhi | cp

3 oz | enedeftrsaenadnasfucaeuhrenefetmtehogr | swnhe

4 uawim | ndghuoenisntgbagafrennteowacasiehtennt | c


8 am | gpisknpsstleoedageentnywoehoeitseepuor | mursodwerhbto2

3 qvenaprue3 | lttcueitielearaeraoialtheegtvipesdsrar | ystne

6 m | tnrbassoeeeudsaeatgamsiwmtsnaegsetnenw | qram

1 nahpymwe | oehtericrrmfpwttmsdmteoeaorthihtseioyeu4 | x

4 tlnr | eyhalnnesayrtsnoevunneeacfhienlmoeoovp | nople

7. acsset | odoesauradglcwnnnhriiitemhtyrrhtrhocge | brrh

2. axh | nrayfivaeceheamhohyarbstmriuarehhnmphi | f

5. dhyawle | daentdgfrsnreaypdertssrtoatochiovrnsio | stjeam

9 seylu | rostodplooirnlpseiaetgbhnreufteoimrtu | ntrdweet


7 xem | sdienernputoialoeaoiiersocilnuomuheia | pumtaong

3 osteno | teudoiteovnniieuuanhtforcabjlcamsmchi | yrh

5 woahyalen | esisgdoyuriltifttigieisdstrscttchnpme | nas

8 sa | bocngnedeohsnsnfanrngrpcrieyvsfplostn | prewr

4 giastrdl | nsnerltrsitacvrlsbdehlteereuyeinseiev | tchl

1 tpaoi | esmofcoanbgsfiosrntdeseoaslsuadlgtier | enotp

9 mfirtni | yfedcaeocuetlfaectidhtrespsbeggadfohd | erv

2 ibop | asmwfhrvteeilcwaohatdonap5piolnfenontl | omx

6 s | sefcirfastnmslusrtlrrbuetittoohoowlws | buebivtlals


3 dstocewr | eleoiimrhrpegeomrfseooeeaedsdresfneeo | dog

1 nb | tanshndptsaeootnhsoetyintaaoyuocrofap | undbont

2 fdtam | hlstadopsopvnrieeoupstzdhtnaeavteurdr | erbg

3d. operation, or decyphering.


MS (DLC: TJ Papers, 128:22131–2); entirely in TJ’s hand; undated, but written after TJ’s receipt on 25 Dec. 1801 of Robert Patterson’s letter of 19 Dec.; endorsed by TJ: “Cypher”; first operation is on one sheet, second and third operations are on a composite sheet made by attaching two pieces of paper together; in the first operation, TJ added the numbers at the heads of the columns and the vertical rules in pencil; in the second operation he added vertical strokes to set off the arbitrary letters at the beginnings and ends of lines; he struck through the arbitrary letters inserted at the beginnings of lines, shown in italics; his decipherment in the third operation includes two errors introduced in the second operation (see notes 1 and 5–7 below). PrC (DLC: TJ Papers, 232:41581–2).

WHEN A NATION LED TO GREATNESS: for this trial encipherment, TJ selected a passage from the Continental Congress’s address “To the people of Great-Britain,” approved by the Congress on 21 Oct. 1774. TJ enciphered most of the text of the three opening paragraphs of the appeal, which began, “When a Nation, led to greatness by the hand of Liberty.…” He ran out of room on the page of his first operation and truncated the third paragraph by ending with “by having our lives and property in their power” (omitting the conclusion of the sentence, “they may with the greater facility enslave you”). The address was reprinted in several American cities in 1774 as part of Extracts from the Votes and Proceedings of the American Continental Congress, Held at Philadelphia on the 5th of September 1774. TJ owned a copy published in Williamsburg that year, which he had bound into a volume with other pamphlets of the period, including his own Summary View of the Rights of British America. The address was also printed in London in 1775 with the title To the People of Great Britain. TJ was not a member of the Continental Congress in 1774 (Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, 34 vols. [Washington, D.C., 1904–37], 1:81–2, 129; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, Washington, D.C., 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends 3:253–9, Nos. 3085, 3094).

1This letter should be “n.”

2TJ interlined this line.

3In this line and at least a dozen other lines in the second operation, TJ initially misplaced the vertical strokes by which he marked off the random letters at the left end of the line. He partially erased those strokes and made new ones in the correct positions before striking through the random letters.

4The vertical stroke should come before, rather than after, this letter.

5This letter should be “n.”

6This letter should be “n,” in the word “against”; TJ introduced this error in the enciphering process (see note 1 above).

7This letter should be “n,” in the word “ancestors” (see note 5 above).

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