Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Stephen Cathalan, [before 6 June 1817]

To Stephen Cathalan

Monticello1 [before 6 June 1817]

Dear Sir

My last to you was of Feb. 1. 16. since which I have recieved your several favors of Feb. 15. Mar. 19. June 1. 4. 19. & July 12. & the several parcels of wine & Maccaroni, came safe to hand. all of them were good; but those particularly esteemed for daily use are the Nice, Ledanon & Roussillon. the Nice de Bellet is superlatively fine, for which I am particularly obliged to M. Spreafico. the vin de Ledanon too is excellent, and the Roussillon of M. Durand very good. this last will be most sought for from this quarter, as being lower priced, & more adapted to the taste of this country, artificially created by our long restraint under the English government to the strong wines of Portugal and Spain. the Ledanon recalled to my memory what I had drunk at your table 30. years ago, and I am as partial to it now as then. the return of the first swallow, just now seen, reminds me that the season is now arrived when the provision of another year should be attended to. I therefore am now directing a remittance to mr Vaughan, my friend and correspondent at Philadelphia, requesting him to transmit 200. Dollars of it for myself and 65. Dollars for my grandson Thomas Jefferson Randolph, either to yourself directly, or to place it at Paris at your command. when you shall have recieved it, I will pray you to procure for me the wines and other articles stated in the invoice inclosed, and to extend your kindness to my grandson also, who is this day leaving us with his wife and child to commence separate housekeeping, and prays me to present him to your good offices. I do it with the greater satisfaction, because I can conscientiously assure you of his most solid integrity honor and diligence. when I shall be no more, all my affairs will be left in his hands. I state his invoice separately, and will pray you to have his parcels separately packed, that we may each know our own. in your letter of June 19. you remind me of mr Bergasse’s former establishment at Marseilles, and that his son continues the business of compounding the wines of the country in imitation of others, and particularly that he can furnish the quality of Bordeaux claret at a franc per bottle, box included, and 3. years old. it is this which my grandson asks for, on my assurance to him that mr Bergasse’s imitations were perfect, of which I had tasted several, and that they contained not a drop of any thing but the pure juice of the grape. if you will have the goodness to have my parcels marked & his they will be taken care of by the way as if they were all mine, and will still be easily separated when they come to our hands. Address them to the Collector of the Customs of any port from Boston to the Chesapeake, but be so good as to send them all together, in the same vessel, that I may have occasion to transact with a single collector only. our distance from the sea-port towns, and little communication with them, renders the multiplication of transactions with them very troublesome, tedious & uncertain.   Not knowing exactly what these articles may cost, should they exceed the remittance, dock the excess off of my invoice; and should they cost less than the remittance, carry the balance on to the next year’s account.   there is a number of my friends who have tasted these wines at my table, and are so much pleased with their qualities and prices that they are about forming a company, and engaging an agent in Richmond, to import for them once a year what each shall direct. I have promised, when their association is made up, to recommend their agent to you, & to warrant them faithful supplies.   Our new President, Colo Monroe, has asked from me some information as to the wines I would recommend for his table and how to get them. I recommended to him the vin blanc liqoureux d’Hermitage de M. Jourdans, the Ledanon, the Roussillon de M. Durand; and the Nice de Bellet of M. Sasserno, and that he should get them thro’ you, as best knowing the particular qualities to which I refer. I am anxious to introduce here these fine wines in place of the alcoholic wines of Spain and Portugal; and the universal approbation of all who taste them at my table will, I am persuaded, turn by degrees the current of demand from this part of our country, [an]d that it will continue to spread de proche en proche. the delicacy and innocence of these wines will change the habit from the coarse & inebriating kinds hitherto only known here. my own annual demand will generally be about what it is this year; the President’s probably the double or treble. the wine of M. Jourdan being chiefly for a bonne bouche, I shall still ask for it occasionally.

In my letter recommending wines to the President, I propose to him the naming young mr Sasserno our Consul at Nice. the fear is that he may consider our commerce with that port as too inconsiderable to justify the placing a consul there. I wish I were able to state to him the nature of that commerce, & how many of our vessels may touch there of a year.

On the arrival of the Nice wine at Alexandria I wrote to request the Collector to get your Acquit à Caution discharged by the signature of the French Consul there, and to inclose it to me. he informed me there was no French Consul there then, but that there would soon be one and that I might rely on his sending you a due discharge of2 the Acquit a Caution. I hope this has been done, and that on discontinuing the freedom of your port, the reciept and reshipment of foreign articles hereafter will be put on the easy footing it is in England & in this country. it is much easier to insulate the few foreign goods arriving for re-exportation, than the whole city from the country to which it belongs.3

The immortal flowers arrived safe, and we placed the garland on the head of Genl Washington’s bust, in our Dining-room. we thank you for them, and for the offer to send the living plant. but this is all but impossible. it would have three distinct water-voyages to get to this place, besides waiting for opportunities in the custom house & warehouses, and, passing thro’ so many hands, it could not be expected that all would use the necessary diligence for preserving them in life: and when arrived, they could not stand our winter, the cold of which, descends sometimes to 14.° below zero of Reaumur. it would therefore be taking and giving a great deal of trouble, to result certainly in disappointment & regret.   I hope you will be able to make up and dispatch the wines Etc. by the 1st of September, that they may be sure to get to us before winter commences. earlier than that they might suffer by heat on the passage or in the warehouses:4 and if you can drop me a line of information on your reciept of this and of mr Vaughan’s remittance, it will place my mind at ease under the assurance of recieving my supplies.   Wishing all possible happiness to yourself & family, I salute you with unchanging friendship and respect.

Th: Jefferson

P.S. June 6. 17. since writing the preceding, which has laid by me some time, the President has called on me at Monticello; and I took that occasion of pressing on him the appointment of young5 mr Sasserno Consul at Nice: he consented, and asked me to give him his Christian name. on looking for it thro’ all your letters and those of mr Spreafico, it is never once mentioned. if you will be so good as to send it to me as soon as you recieve this, it may be here before the next meeting of the Senate, and so no time lost.

PoC (DLC: TJ Papers, 210:37451–2); on a reused address cover from TJ to George Divers; undated, with dated postscript; torn at seal, with some words rewritten by TJ; at foot of first page: “M. Cathalan”; endorsed by TJ as a letter of 6 June 1817 and so recorded in SJL; notation by TJ at foot of text: “sent by duplicates the one thro’ mr Vaughan, the other under cover to mr Gallatin thro the state office.” Enclosed in TJ to Albert Gallatin, [before 6 June], TJ to John Vaughan, 7 June, and TJ to Daniel Brent, 8 June 1817.

TJ acknowledges as distinct documents, dated 1 and 4 june 1816, a Cathalan letter printed above at 4 June 1816 but also sent by him to TJ as an additional text with the earlier date. Thomas Jefferson Randolph, his wife Jane H. Nicholas Randolph, and their daughter Margaret Smith Randolph were moving from the Dome Room at Monticello (illustrated elsewhere in this volume) to TJ’s Tufton estate to begin separate housekeeping (Shackelford, Descendants description begins George Green Shackelford, ed., Collected Papers … of the Monticello Association of the Descendants of Thomas Jefferson, 1965–84, 2 vols. description ends , 1:77). de proche en proche: “little by little.” bonne bouche: “special treat.”

TJ’s letter to the collector of Alexandria regarding the acquit à caution (French customhouse bond) was TJ to Charles Simms, 5 June 1816. The reply, which came instead from the deputy collector, was William D. Simms to TJ, 1 July 1816.

1TJ here canceled “June 6. 17.”

2Preceding four words interlined.

3Sentence interlined.

4Sentence to this point interlined.

5Manuscript: “youn.”

Index Entries

  • Bellet (wine) search
  • Bergasse, Henri Joachim search
  • Bergasse, Henry search
  • birds; swallows search
  • Cathalan, Stephen (Étienne) (1757–1819); and wine for TJ search
  • Cathalan, Stephen (Étienne) (1757–1819); as commercial agent in Marseille search
  • Cathalan, Stephen (Étienne) (1757–1819); letters to search
  • Cathalan, Stephen (Étienne) (1757–1819); sends flowers to TJ search
  • claret (wine) search
  • Durand, François; and wine for TJ search
  • Durand, François; TJ recommends wine from search
  • food; macaroni search
  • Hermitage (wine); TJ recommends search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Business & Financial Affairs; account with J. Vaughan search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Business & Financial Affairs; orders wine from S. Cathalan search
  • Jourdan, Mr. (French winemaker) search
  • lavender; sent by S. Cathalan search
  • Lédenon, France; wine of search
  • macaroni; sent to TJ search
  • Monroe, James; and appointments search
  • Monroe, James; and wine search
  • Monroe, James; visits Monticello search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); dome room at search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); tea room at search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); Visitors to; Monroe, James search
  • Nice; U.S. consul at search
  • Nice; wine from search
  • Randolph, Jane Hollins Nicholas (Thomas Jefferson Randolph’s wife; Wilson Cary Nicholas’s daughter); resides at Tufton search
  • Randolph, Margaret Smith (TJ’s great-granddaughter; Thomas Jefferson Randolph’s daughter); resides at Tufton search
  • Randolph, Thomas Jefferson (TJ’s grandson; Jane Hollins Nicholas Randolph’s husband); orders food and wine from Europe search
  • Randolph, Thomas Jefferson (TJ’s grandson; Jane Hollins Nicholas Randolph’s husband); resides at Tufton search
  • Roussillon, France; wine from search
  • Sasserno, Joseph Victor Adolphus; and wine search
  • Sasserno, Joseph Victor Adolphus; consulship for search
  • Simms, Charles; as collector at Alexandria search
  • Simms, William Douglass; as deputy collector at Alexandria search
  • Spreafico, Amant; and consulship for J. V. A. Sasserno search
  • Spreafico, Amant; and wine for TJ search
  • swallows; migration of search
  • Tufton (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); T. J. Randolph resides at search
  • Vaughan, John; and TJ’s lines of credit in Europe search
  • Washington, George; bust of, at Monticello search
  • wine; Bellet search
  • wine; claret search
  • wine; Hermitage search
  • wine; of Lédenon search
  • wine; of Nice search
  • wine; of Roussillon search
  • wine; sent to TJ search
  • wine; TJ orders from S. Cathalan search