Thomas Jefferson Papers

Francis Adrian Van der Kemp to Thomas Jefferson, 12 October 1817

From Francis Adrian Van der Kemp

Philadelphia 12 oct. 1817.

Dear and respected Sir!

The condescending kindnesses and proofs of your regard, with which I have been honoured by you induces me, to take the liberty of offering to your acceptance, the humble tribute of a female acquaintance, with which I was lately favoured. I paid her a visit at New-york and could not decline, to Send you in her name her last publication—before She returned to her native country—Amsterdam. She is an uncommon female—of respectable and wealthy Parents—paying dearly by her Sufferings for her Patriotism. She gives me the following account of her Lot in a Letter of Sept. 4th I hope, that my little work, though considerably deficient as to Style and Language may be considered by you as having a tendency to do Some good.—

Soon after our glorious prospects (95) respecting the Liberty and happiness of the Republic began to be in part lost, and a kind of anti-democratic faction prevailed greatly. About 1799 I 17½ years old began to Show my desire to take an active part in attempts intended1 for the restoration of true liberty and a more democratic State of things; and ere long I acted more or less, when Some Opportunity offered for me, chiefly by procuring the printing of pieces attended With Some danger of persecution.—After Some light persecution I was in 1806 arrested on account of a tract of mine, when the country was about to fall under the yoke of Bonaparte and his Brother to be king over us.

After a trial, which lasted 3 months I was confined for two2 years in a way, of correction, afterwards 10 months at liberty and in my mothers house; there upon (4 May 1809) arrested on account of tracts against a threatning measure, partaking of the nature of conscription; after a trial lasting Six months, and a Sentence of Short bannishment, I was retained in prison, and an arbitrary confinement during the pleasure of government threat’ned me: then I escaped from prison Somewhat in a Similar way as la Valette of late, and was Since 8 months in England—and further alternately in Secret in my mother’s house, or in Some place where I was unknown and bore another name. This was attended with considerable difficulties, though divine Providence kept me out of the hands of Persecutors often in a very remarkable manner, and Seeing it appeared, that I had no more any prospect of being useful to my Suffering country I in 1812 resolved to try to escape hither, and Succeeded therein—my Dear and allmost dying mother consenting: and wishing to live till She Should know me to be out of the reach of persecution. Here I have Sojourned, living rather poorly, and under the apparent disadvantages of decay of health, and of being quite unknown—

I have drawn up my last publication—a last tribute to the good cause of Liberty—with inexpressible trouble—May Patriotic Zeal and watchfulness revive in these highly favoured united States, and may, if needs, the Americans at large—Shew themselves of one mind with the citisens of oneyda County—3

She was a few days, as She informed me, confined in England, and ordered to leave that country. That She no Sooner addressed me was—to preserve her Independence to avoid obligations—to Skreen her friends in Holland from persecution, to which they might have been exposed—if her residence had been discovered

Recommending myself to your honoured remembrance—I remain

Dear and respected Sir! Your obed. and obliged

Fr. Adr. vanderkemp

RC (DLC); dateline at foot of text; endorsed by TJ as received 23 Dec. 1817 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Maria Aletta Hulshoff, Peace-Republicans’ Manual; or, The French Constitution of 1793, and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of Citizens (New York, 1817; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library, 1829 description ends , 11 [no. 628]). Enclosed in Anthony Charles Cazenove to TJ, 25 Oct. 1817, and Thomas G. Watkins to TJ, 21 Dec. 1817.

Maria Aletta Hulshoff (1781–1846), pamphleteer, was a native of Amsterdam who opposed French rule in her homeland through political writings such as her pamphlet Oproeping, van het Bataafsche Volk ([Amsterdam], 1806), which resulted in a two-year prison sentence. She was imprisoned again in 1809 for her pamphlet Waarschouwing tegen de Requisitie ([Haarlem, 1809]), but escaped to Great Britain. Hulshoff lived in New York City from 1811 until 1820, when she returned to Amsterdam (Olga Van Marion, “Maria Aletta Hulshoff: The Dutch Joan of Arc,” in Lia Van Gemert and others, eds., Women’s Writing from the Low Countries, 1200–1875: A Bilingual Anthology [2010], 490–9; Geertje Wiersma, Mietje Hulshoff of de Aanslag op Napoleon [2003]).

The French conquest of Holland in 1795 resulted in the establishment of the Batavian republic, which lasted until its transformation into the kingdom of Holland in 1806 under Louis Bonaparte. In 1815 Antoine Marie Chamans, comte de Lavalette (la valette), was sentenced to die for his political ties to Napoleon, but he escaped from prison the day before his scheduled execution disguised in his wife’s clothing (Biographie universelle description begins Biographie universelle, ancienne et moderne, new ed., 1843–65, 45 vols. description ends , 11:140–1; Lavalette, Memoirs of Count Lavallette [1831], 2:327–52).

1Manuscript: “intented.”

2Word interlined in place of “three.”

3Closing guillemet editorially moved from left margin.

Index Entries

  • Bonaparte, Louis, king of Holland; rule of search
  • Hulshoff, Maria Aletta; family of search
  • Hulshoff, Maria Aletta; identified search
  • Hulshoff, Maria Aletta; Peace-Republicans’ Manual search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • Lavalette, Antoine Marie Chamans, comte de; escapes from prison search
  • Napoleon I, emperor of France; and the Netherlands search
  • Napoleon I, emperor of France; family of search
  • Peace-Republicans’ Manual (M. A. Hulshoff) search
  • The Netherlands; Bonaparte, Louis (king) search
  • Van der Kemp, Francis Adrian; and M. A. Hulshoff search
  • Van der Kemp, Francis Adrian; letters from search
  • Van der Kemp, Francis Adrian; sends works to TJ search