Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Thomas Paine, 12 January 1803

From Thomas Paine

Jany. 12 1803

I will be obliged to you to send back the Models, as I am packing up to set off for Philadelphia and NYork. My intention in bringing them here in preference to sending them from Baltimore to Philadelphia, was, to have some Conversation with you on those Matters and others I have not informed you of. But you have not only shewn no disposition towards it, but have, in some measure, by a sort of shyness, as if you stood in fear of federal observation, precluded it. I am not the only one, who makes observations of this kind.

Thomas Paine

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 13 Jan. and so recorded in SJL.

send back the models: upon his arrival in Washington in November, Paine loaned TJ some of his models of bridges and carriage wheels. He planned to ship them to Philadelphia for display in Charles Willson Peale’s museum (Foner, Thomas Paine description begins Philip S. Foner, ed., The Complete Writings of Thomas Paine, New York, 1945, 2 vols. description ends , 2:1051; Paine to TJ, on or before 3 Nov. 1802).

sort of shyness: although Paine had dined with TJ and other heads of department in early December, invitations may have been less frequent after Congress was in session. TJ remained silent on the subject of Paine, despite both the ongoing efforts of the Federalist press to link the two and the appearance of a series of letters by Paine, “To the Citizens of the United States,” beginning in late November in the National Intelligencer. James Cheetham observed that Paine’s “reception at Washington was cold and forbidding. Even Mr. Jefferson received him with politick circumspection; and such of the members of congress as suffered him to approach them, did so from motives of curiosity. Policy dictated this course” (New-York Evening Post, 10 Jan. 1803; Jerry W. Knudson, Jefferson and the Press: Crucible of Liberty [Columbia, S.C., 2006], 77, 81; Malone, Jefferson description begins Dumas Malone, Jefferson and His Time, Boston, 1948-81, 6 vols. description ends , 4:197–9; James Cheetham, Life of Thomas Paine [New York, 1809], 227).

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