From the Société Agricole et Manufacturière Française
Philadelphia January 5th 1817.1
A vous, thomas Jefferson, qui avez Signé la chartre de L’indépendance de votre pays; Vous qui, comme premier Magistrat de cette heureuse République, L’avez administrée durant les tems les plus périlleux, avec toute la prévoyance de la Sagesse et qui dans la retraitte avez emporté les vœux de tous Ceux qui Savent aimer la patrie!
A Vous qui dans les vississitudes d’une longue existence avez appris a connaître la Nature humaine, Ses faiblesses, Ses besoins, Surtout ceux les plus difficiles a Satisfaire, ceux qui Sont nés de L’Etat de L’homme en Société.
Nous, réfugiés Sur L’unique terre hospitalière qu’offrent les deux mondes, après avoir pendant vingt cinq ans lutté vainement Contre tous les obstacles pour établir dans la vieille Europe les principes politiques qui font la gloire et le bonheur des citoyens de L’Amerique du Nord. Nous dépouillés de tout, Excepté de L’honneur Seul bien que nos oppresseurs ne nous ont point envié.
Nous nous adressons à Vous pour que, dispensant un de ces rayons & philosophies par les quels les Minos les Solons ont Sçu régir leurs concitoyens; Vous veuilliez bien tracer les bases du Contract Social qu’il est indispensable d’établir entre nous pour L’administration intérieure de notre Société agricole et manufacturière.
Qui peut plus peut moins; Celui qui dans Sa jeunesse a été le Législateur de Son pays et qui n’a présenté que des lois que les tems n’ont fait que rendre plus respectables Ne refusera pas à des hommes échappés d’un Nauffrage qui a englouti une Nation tout-entière, de les faire Jouir du fruit de Ses pensées Muries par Quarente anneés d’expérience & de reflexions Sur L’art de rendre heureux Ses Semblables; Ces hommes respirent après un bonheur paisible, dans une vie agreste, à L’abri des inquiétudes que L’incertitude Sur les titres de propriété et une responsabilité retroactive ne manquent jamais de produire. Condessendez a notre demande et le ciel demeurera Serein pour nous. Cette faveur insigne, ne pouvant qu’affirmer celles que nous Sollicitons des representans de la Nation pour la concession d’un terrein Suffisant a Notre entreprise, vous assurera de notre part et de Celle de nos neveux une gratitude qui ne pourra être égalée que par le respect et L’admiration que nous professons pour vos inaltérables vertus.
Les Membres du Bureau de la Société agricole et manufacturière française.
|L M: Dirat
vice pr & tresorier
|N S Parmantier
P.S. Notre vice président Mr Wm Lee, dont vous fîtes L’heureux choix pour representer les Etats Unis dans le poste important de Consul général à Bordeaux où il a fait Autant pour L’honneur de Sa Nation que pour les hommes proscrits de la Nôtre, est en ce moment à Washington city où il presentera notre demande au gouvernement: Nous vous prions de vouloir bien Correspondre avec lui pour les bases du monument législatif que nous Sollicitons de vous.
N S P
Philadelphia, January 5th 1817.
To you, Thomas Jefferson, who signed your country’s charter of independence; who, as chief magistrate of that happy republic, administered it during the most perilous times with all the foresight of wisdom; and who have carried into retirement the good wishes of all those who know how to love their native land!
To you, who, through the vicissitudes of a long life, have gotten to know human nature—its weaknesses and needs, especially the ones that are most difficult to satisfy, those born out of the condition of man in society.
We, who are refugees in the only hospitable land that the two worlds have to offer, after having struggled in vain for twenty-five years against all obstacles to establish in old Europe the political principles that are the glory and happiness of the citizens of North America; we, who are stripped of everything except honor, the only thing that our oppressors did not want from us.
We address ourselves to you so that, by dispensing one of those rays and philosophies through which the Minoses and Solons ruled their fellow citizens, you might outline the basis of the social contract that must be established among us for the internal administration of our agricultural and manufacturing society.
Those who can do great things can also grant small favors. The one who in his youth was the legislator of his country and who has introduced nothing but laws that time has made even more respectable will not refuse to men who have escaped from the shipwreck that engulfed a whole nation the benefit of the fruit of his thoughts, which have been matured by forty years of experience and reflection on the art of making his people happy. These men aspire to the peaceful happiness of a rustic life, sheltered from the worries that uncertainty over titles of ownership and retroactive responsibility never fail to produce. Condescend to our request and the sky will remain clear for us. This distinguished favor can only reinforce those we are soliciting from the representatives of the nation through the concession of a piece of land sufficient for our enterprise, and it will assure you, on our part and from our descendants, a gratitude that can only be equaled by the respect and admiration we profess for your unalterable virtues.
The members of the board of the Société Agricole et Manufacturière Française.
|L M: Dirat
vice president and treasurer
|N S Parmantier
P.S. Our vice president Mr. Wm Lee, whom you so happily chose to represent the United States in the important post of consul general at Bordeaux, where he did as much for the honor of his nation as for those banished from our country, is at this moment in Washington city, where he will present our request to the government. We beg you to be so kind as to correspond with him regarding the basis of the legislative monument we are soliciting from you.
N S P
RC (MHi); in Parmantier’s hand, signed by Martin, Dirat, and Parmantier; dateline above postscript; at head of text: “a Thomas Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as a letter from “Martin & Parmentier” received 12 Jan. 1817 and so recorded in SJL. Translation by Dr. Genevieve Moene.
The Société Agricole et Manufacturière Française was established in Philadelphia in the autumn of 1816 in order to promote the establishment of an agricultural colony of French expatriates somewhere in the western United States. Although it received a sizable concession of land in present-day Alabama from the national government early the following year, the resulting Vine and Olive Colony never prospered and had been largely abandoned by the 1830s (Rafe Blaufarb, Bonapartists in the Borderlands: French Exiles and Refugees on the Gulf Coast, 1815–1835 , 44–9, 159–74).
Joseph Martin du Colombier (1761–1846), merchant and physician, was born on the island of Saint Domingue. The youngest son of a wealthy planter, he was educated in France and took part in the American Revolution, during which he spent time on a British prison ship. Martin returned to the West Indies following the conflict. The subsequent Haitian revolution found him serving as a captain of dragoons in the government forces. In the winter of 1792–93 Martin immigrated to the United States. Settling in Wilmington, Delaware, he became a successful trader and pro bono medical practitioner. Martin moved to Philadelphia in 1805, and in 1827 he relocated to and lived thereafter in the nearby suburb of Nicetown (Townsend Ward, “Germantown Road and Its Associations,” PMHB description begins Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 1877– description ends 5 : 122–5; Blaufarb, Bonapartists in the Borderlands, 45, 213; Philadelphia Public Ledger, 18 Nov. 1846; gravestone inscription in Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia; Weekly Notes of Cases argued and determined in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, the County Courts of Philadelphia … 28 [Apr.–Nov. 1891]: 193–8).
Louis Marie Dirat (b. ca. 1774), soldier, public official, and journalist, was a native of Nérac, France. Condemned to death during the French Revolution, he won release from captivity in 1794 and joined the army as an aide-de-camp to his relative, General Catherine Dominique, marquis de Pérignon. Dirat was appointed subprefect of his hometown late in 1799, and he retained that position until 1813. In the latter year he moved to Paris to work as an accountant and edit a leftist political journal. On Napoleon’s return to power in March 1815, Dirat asked for and obtained his former office in Nérac. Perhaps in consequence, following the emperor’s defeat at Waterloo, Dirat’s name was added to the restored monarchy’s 24 July 1815 proscription list. Exiled from France, he sailed to America and by September 1816 was in Philadelphia, where he established a lace and millinery shop with his wife. Dirat received permission to return to France in 1819 and arrived there early the following year. His former political associates avoided him, however, suspecting that he had become a police informant (Galerie Historique des Contemporains, ou Nouvelle Biographie [2d ed., Brussels, 1822–23], 4:206; Petit Almanach de la Cour de France [Paris, 1813], 197; New-York Courier, 2 Feb. 1816; Kingston, N.Y., Ulster Plebeian, 21 May 1816; New London Connecticut Gazette, 25 Sept. 1816; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 12 Nov. 1816; Blaufarb, Bonapartists in the Borderlands, 12, 198; Boston Repertory, 20 July 1819; Philadelphia Franklin Gazette, 29 Oct. 1819; Philadelphia Poulson’s American Daily Advertiser, 22 Mar. 1820; Le Livre Noir de Messieurs Delavau et Franchet, ou Répertoire Alphabetique de la Police Politique sous le Ministère Déplorable , 2:265).
Nicholas Simon Parmantier (ca. 1776–1835), businessman and educator, was born in France and served in that nation’s army prior to his immigration to the United States during TJ’s second presidential administration. He had settled in Philadelphia by the time he obtained American citizenship in 1809, and he worked there as a distiller and as a manufacturer of spermaceti oil. A founder and early vice president of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, Parmantier fought on the American side during the War of 1812. Having moved with other settlers to the Vine and Olive Colony in 1817, he relocated four years later to Pensacola and served there as a notary public and justice of the peace. Parmantier migrated in about 1831 to Nashville, Tennessee, where he taught French language and literature at the local university from 1832 until his death (P. William Filby, ed., Philadelphia Naturalization Records , 525; List of Patents description begins A List of Patents granted by the United States from April 10, 1790, to December 31, 1836, 1872 description ends , 70; J. Thomas Scharf and Thompson Westcott, History of Philadelphia. 1609–1884 , 3:2280; James Robinson, The Philadelphia Directory, for 1811 [Philadelphia, 1811], 241; John A. Paxton, The Philadelphia Directory and Register, for 1813 [Philadelphia, 1813]; William S. W. Ruschenberger, A Notice of the Origin, Progress, and Present Condition of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia , 51, 55, 77; Pennsylvania Archives, 6th ser. , 9:142–3; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 12 Nov. 1816; Blaufarb, Bonapartists in the Borderlands, 57, 216; Terr. Papers description begins Clarence E. Carter and John Porter Bloom, eds., The Territorial Papers of the United States, 1934–75, 28 vols. description ends , 22:308–10, 23:469, 778, 24:330; Lucius Salisbury Merriam, Higher Education in Tennessee , 35; National Banner and Nashville Whig, 17 July 1835; gravestone inscription in Nashville City Cemetery).
1. Reworked from “1816.”
- Bordeaux; U.S. consul at search
- Declaration of Independence; signers of search
- Dirat, Louis Marie; and Société Agricole et Manufacturière Française search
- Dirat, Louis Marie; identified search
- French language; letters in, from; Société Agricole et Manufacturière Française search
- Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; Declaration of Independence search
- Lee, William (1772–1840); and Société Agricole et Manufacturière Française search
- Lee, William (1772–1840); consul at Bordeaux search
- Martin du Colombier, Joseph; and Société Agricole et Manufacturière Française search
- Martin du Colombier, Joseph; identified search
- Parmantier, Nicholas Simon; and Société Agricole et Manufacturière Française search
- Parmantier, Nicholas Simon; identified search
- Société Agricole et Manufacturière Française; identified search
- Société Agricole et Manufacturière Française; letter from search
- Société Agricole et Manufacturière Française; seeks land grant search
- Société Agricole et Manufacturière Française; social contract of search