Thomas Jefferson Papers

Tadeusz Kosciuszko to Thomas Jefferson, 20 May 1809

From Tadeusz Kosciuszko

Mai 20 [1809]

Je suis faché d’apprendre par vottre lettre la mauvaise santé d’un homme si éstimable que Mr Barnes; mais si L’ange du ciel lui apporte l’ordre de quitter Le service du monde Je ne doute pas que vous ne trouviez en Amerique ou les moeurs ne sont pas si corrompues qu’en Europe—quelqu’un qui approche de son méritte de son bon Coeur et de son honnetté.—

Je ne vois pas comment vous pouriez étre en guerre avec la France si ce n’est par lettres, manifestes ou Journeaux.—a l’egard de L’Angleterre c’est toute autre chose car vous pouriez être maitre de l’Amerique du Nord et ce qui doit arriver avec le tems.—

Ne perdez pas de vue l’Ecole Militaire pour les Jeunes gens de chaque province, afin qu’ils soyent un jour capable de guider votre Milice; quoique vous ne soyez plus en place votre motion Sera adoptée sans contre dit, car vous étes cheri de tout Le monde.—

Que le ciel vous protege pour le bienfait de L’humanité, La justice, L’exemple et Le bonheur de vos Amis aussi Sincere que moi—

T Kosciuszko

Editors’ Translation

20 May [1809]

I am sorry to learn through your letter that a man as estimable as Mr. Barnes is in poor health; but if the angel of heaven brings him orders to quit the service of this world I do not doubt that you will find in America where customs are not as corrupt as they are in Europe someone who will come close to him in merit, kindness and honesty.—

I do not see how you could be at war with France, except through letters, manifestos or newspapers.—Regarding England that is a different matter as you could be master of North America and that must happen in time.—

Do not lose sight of the Military School for young men from each province, so that they may be able some day to lead your militia; even though you are no longer in office, your proposal will be adopted without opposition, as you are beloved by everybody.—

May heaven protect you for the benefit of humanity, justice, as an example to and for the happiness of your friends who are as sincere as I am—

T Kosciuszko

RC (MHi); partially dated at foot of text; endorsed by TJ as received from Paris 3 Aug. 1809 and so recorded in SJL. Translation by Dr. Genevieve Moene. Enclosed in James Madison to TJ, 3 Aug. 1809.

Tadeusz (Thaddeus) Andrzej Bonawentura Kosciuszko (1746–1817) studied military engineering in Poland and France and traveled to America in 1776 to offer his services to the Continental army. As colonel of engineers he designed fortifications at Philadelphia, Fort Ticonderoga, Saratoga, and West Point and was promoted a brevet brigadier general as the war ended. After returning to Poland, Kosciuszko commanded an army that in 1792 unsuccessfully opposed the second partition of his country, and two years later he led the failed uprising against the Russians that bears his name. He visited the United States briefly, 1797–98, and settled into a life of exile, first in France and from 1815 in Switzerland. Kosciuszko became acquainted with TJ in Philadelphia in 1798, when he gave TJ power of attorney to manage his American assets. Their financial relationship continued in TJ’s retirement, when TJ first loaned himself this money in 1809 and then repaid it in 1815 with part of the proceeds of the sale of his library (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; Miecislaus Haiman, Kosciuszko in the American Revolution [1943] and Kosciuszko, Leader and Exile [1946]; PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 31 vols. description ends , 30:195–6, 313–5; TJ to John Barnes, 15 June 1809; MB description begins James A. Bear Jr. and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 2:1264–5, 1307).

In 1805 Kosciuszko proposed an ecole militaire for the young men of each state to be supervised by members of Congress (Kosciuszko to TJ, [15 Nov. 1805] [MHi]).

Index Entries

  • Barnes, John; injures arm search
  • French language; letters in, from; T. Kosciuszko search
  • Kosciuszko, Tadeusz (Thaddeus) Andrzej Bonawentura; and J. Barnes search
  • Kosciuszko, Tadeusz (Thaddeus) Andrzej Bonawentura; identified search
  • Kosciuszko, Tadeusz (Thaddeus) Andrzej Bonawentura; letters from search
  • Kosciuszko, Tadeusz (Thaddeus) Andrzej Bonawentura; on military preparedness search
  • military; academy to train officers search
  • schools and colleges; military, proposed by T. Kosciuszko search