Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Augustus B. Woodward, 20 October 1803

From Augustus B. Woodward

Washington, october 20. 1803.

In the volume of the encyclopédie, which the president was so kind as to lend me, I find a reference to a figure which is not contained in the same volume. I conclude therefore the plates are in a separate volume. The reference is (fig. Astron. 171.). If the president can conveniently turn to this figure I will be obliged to him to permit the bearer to bring the volume containing it.

I transmit a work which contains at the end an account of a singular pecuniary institution in spain, called a bank, and which the president may be inclined to look at.

The work which the president enquired for, entitled I think “usages et coutûmes de paris” is not the same with a work I have seen, and which I shall shortly procure from alexandria; but I have reason to believe the work I allude to contains a great deal of information on the domestic jurisprudence of france. I hope to have the pleasure to send it next week.

A. B. Woodward.

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 20 Oct. and so recorded in SJL.

pecuniary institution in spain: the original purpose of the Banco de San Carlos, chartered in 1782, was to provide a means for the redemption of promissory notes issued by the crown against Spain’s war-related expenditures (Gabriel Tortella, “Spanish Banking History, 1782 to the Present,” in European Association for Banking History, Handbook on the History of European Banks, ed. Manfred Pohl and Sabine Freitag [Aldershot, Hants, Eng., 1994], 865-6, 886-7).

usages et coutûmes de paris: prior to the national codification of law under Bonaparte, French legal usage varied widely among regions and from locale to locale. The Coutume de Paris, compiled by the Parlement of Paris and published in the 16th century, recorded the practices of courts there regarding property, seigneurial rights, wills and inheritance, sales, servitude, and other aspects of civil law. The French crown applied the Coutume de Paris to Canada in 1663 and to Louisiana in 1712. Daniel Clark, in his reply to the 16th of TJ’s queries on Louisiana, stated that the province’s laws were derived from Spanish legal codes and from “les uses & Coutumes de Paris for what respects usages & Customs.” Clark, writing in New Orleans, added: “the French uses & Coutumes may I presume be easily found among the Booksellers in the United States, they are not to be had here” (Terr. Papers description begins Clarence E. Carter and John Porter Bloom, eds., The Territorial Papers of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1934-75, 28 vols. description ends , 9:35; Jerah Johnson, “La Coutume de Paris: Louisiana’s First Law,” Louisiana History, 30 [1989], 145-55).

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