Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from G. Louis de Golz, 15 September 1802

From G. Louis de Golz

the 15th: Septembr: 1802.


Pardon my boldness in sending this letter as an humble suitor in my behalf, to entreat Your kind and benevolent Patronage and protection in my present distressing situation, having been deprived of my property by the late desolation dd: 5 Febry: a.c., of Cape François, where unluckily I then happened to be with my property consisting of Merchandises consumed by the flames. Now an unfortunate foreigner, placed in a distant Country, where every one is Suspicious of my character, activity &c: borne down by distress, Want, and despair of Success or application, and deprived even of the Small money of defraying the expences of a Voyage to my Native Country to Swisserland, or any other Part of Europe, where my Character, and abilities are already known, and where of Course, I should find some eligible employment, by which means I then might Repair my losses, or at least prevent the dreadful idea of inevitable destruction. Thus, my situation being exceedingly distressing, I presume to crave Your leave to lay at Your feet, my best tribute of duty and thankfulness, for any employment and application of my best services; I will readily accept of any employment, however small the income, as of a clerk or any thing else. I would only wish for an opportunity, when I might be able to develope my real activity, and abilities connected with the most sober Character.

Honoured Sir! Pardon my importunity in presenting You, tho’ against the rules of delicacy and decorum, the enclosed analytical Sketch or description of my Circumstances and situation—

Whatever Your pleasure shall be, I entirely submit to Your discretion, and shall rest satisfied with Your disposition of my services. Let me hear soon good news, which may releive and rejoice me; let me be removed hence wheresoever You please, and give me liberty to importune You, to lay Your Command upon me, that I might have soon occasion for paying You my best tribute of duty and Gratitude.

Sir! Your most humble Servant

G. Louis De Golz

P:S. My direction or rather that of letters for me is to Mr: Ralph Cross—Collector of the District of Newburyport.

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); endorsed by TJ as received 23 Sep. and “Office” and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: “An Analytical Sketch of the Circumstances of G. Louis de Golz,” stating that de Golz was born in 1774 near Lake Constance in the Swiss canton of Schaffhausen, where lay the ashes of his parents; his mother “sacrificed every thing for the best education of her only Son,” which permitted de Golz to cultivate his interest in “all the European languages,” as well as “all the sciences, belles lettres, technical arts, Agriculture &c: in order to form a Systematical idea of Cosmography”; in accordance with his mother’s wishes, however, de Golz studied law “and the other respective Sciences” at Basel and Leipzig before removing to Vienna, following the prevailing “false opinion” that only Joseph von Sonnenfels could successfully instruct young men in “the Sciences of Finance, Diplomacy, &c”; following the death of his mother, de Golz found that his inheritance would not answer his wants; he turned to mercantile pursuits on advice received from Count von Hertzberg, the Prussian minister of finance; he served as a clerk in Hamburg for six years, conducting mercantile correspondence in several languages and traveling on business to many European countries, which further enhanced his knowledge of European languages, manners, and customs; after 18 months at a Paris counting house, de Golz went to London, where he was employed in claiming the naval prizes of neutral merchants at the Court of Admiralty; peace ended this employment and de Golz subsequently invested all his property in “Merchandize proper for the West Indian Markets”; he left London after the preliminary treaty of peace was signed and traveled by way of Charleston, South Carolina, to Havana, Cuba, where he sold his goods “with a very flattering advantage”; returning to Charleston, he then went “with a fresh Speculation” to Saint-Domingue, where the French fleet appeared on 5 Feb. 1802, a few days after his own arrival; the presence of the French “induced the Negroes to set fire to all the houses &c: at Cape-François, where all my Merchandises and goods were distroyed, and I but with difficulty could save myself from destruction” (MS in same).

For the LATE DESOLATION of Cap-Français, see Vol. 36:598–600; Vol. 37:574–7.

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