Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Lafayette, 4 June 1803

From Lafayette

Auteuïl 15th floreal [i.e. Prairial]
June the 4th. 1803

My dear Sir

I Hope You will Have Received My Joyfull Congratulations on the Happy, Thrice Happy Arrangement for Louisiana, as Well as my Thankfull Aknowledgements for the Honourable Bounty of Congress in my Behalf and for the kind part You Have Been pleased to take in this Equally flattering and advantageous favour.

These Lines shall be Consecrated to The Memory of a departed friend of ours General Chastelux—The inclosed Letter from His Widow, and the Note which Accompagnies it will Let You know Her particular Case, and the Hope she Has Some Thing Might Be Made of it for the Sake of Her Son a very promising Youth—I am Sure You Will Be So kind as to Make the Enquiry, and if there was Some thing to be done, that Your patronage would not be Wanting

I write this by Mr. Mery, a french Citizen, St. domingo planter, who is Going to the West indias By Way of philadelphia and Has Been Recommended to Me by Her Cousin, Madame d’Astorg, whom You Have often Seen at the Hôtel La Rochefoucauld.

I am Here, with my Wife, Son, daughter in law, and New Born little grand daughter taking Care of my Wounds, and Stretching My Rusted Articulations untill I can Return to my Beloved Rural Abode at La Grange.

With Every Sentiment of Respect, Gratitude, and Affection I am my dear Sir Your Constant friend


RC (DLC). Recorded in SJL as received 24 Aug. Dupl (same); in a clerk’s hand, signed by Lafayette; dated 15 Prairial and 4 June; at head of text: “duplicate”; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esq. President of the United States” with notation “2a”; notation of forwarding, signed by John Mitchell; franked; postmarked New York, 30 Aug., with note by a postmaster: “Milton Va.” Enclosures: (1) Madame de Chastellux to TJ, 5 June. (2) Memorandum, undated and unsigned, stating that Lord Baltimore received a grant from Charles I that made Baltimore and his heirs proprietors of the lands north of the Potomac River that became the province of Maryland; that the proprietor’s lands and privileges were bound by entail and should have passed to two female members of the family who married two brothers of the Plunkett family of Ireland; the property and titles went instead to illegitimate descendants of Lord Baltimore; the land and privileges were sequestered by Maryland during the American Revolution, after which those illegitimate heirs received a large indemnification from Great Britain; Madame de Chastellux is the great-granddaughter of one of the legitimate female heirs who should have received the lands and titles; her son Alfred, the only child of General Chastellux, is the only legitimate direct descendant of Lord Baltimore and can by right claim the indemnification made for the property seized by the state of Maryland; he also has a claim, not by right but by favor, to some compensation for his father’s assistance to the United States as an officer in the French army during the American War for Independence (MS in DLC: TJ Papers, 132:22804, in a clerk’s hand; MS in same, 132:22807, in a clerk’s hand); see also Madame de Chastellux to TJ, 5 June and 30 June.

madame d’astorg was a close friend of the Duchesse de La Rochefoucauld (Doina Pasca Harsanyi, ed., Lettres de la Duchesse de La Rochefoucauld à William Short [Paris, 2001], 255; George Green Shackelford, Jefferson’s Adoptive Son: The Life of William Short, 1759–1848 [Lexington, Ky., 1993], 61, 64, 130).

new born little grand daughter: Natalie Renée Émilie du Motier de Lafayette, born 22 May (Arnaud Chaffanjon, La Fayette et sa descendance [Paris, 1976], 171).

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