Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Louis H. Girardin, 16 March 1819

To Louis H. Girardin

Monticello Mar. 16. 19.

Dear Sir

I recieved last night your favor of the 11th and now forward you the Volume of Botta in which are the speeches supposed to have been made in Congress on the question of independance, but which never were made there. the selection of these as specimens of the work for the public, is a most unlucky one, giving fiction as a specimen of fact. it is exactly the part of the work which has given some discredit to it. Botta was seduced into this error by the example of the Greek and Roman historians, who composed speeches which they supposed adapted to the circumstances and put them into the mouths of persons named by themselves. Botta has chosen Lee and Dickerson for the fathers of his speeches, who, could they rise from the dead, would not recognise themselves in these speeches. Hume’s method is the correct one. he says on such occasions that it was argued so, and so, on one side, and so and so on the other, summing up the probable reasonings on each side with-out ascribing them to particular persons by name. the great value of the rest of Botta’s work, fully compensates this small error of judgment. Accept the assurance of my great esteem & respect

Th: Jefferson

RC (PPAmP: Thomas Jefferson Papers); addressed: “Mr Girardin Staunton”; franked. PoC (DLC); on verso of reused address cover of Joseph C. Cabell to TJ, 24 Dec. 1818; torn at seal; endorsed by TJ. Enclosure: vol. 2 of Carlo Botta, Storia della Guerra dell’ Independenza degli Stati Uniti d’America (Paris, 1809; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 509; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library, 1829 description ends , 4 [no. 134]), which includes orations purportedly delivered at the Continental Congress in 1776 by Richard Henry Lee and John Dickinson (pp. 331–49).

Index Entries

  • American Revolution; books on search
  • American Revolution; speeches delivered during search
  • books; on American Revolution search
  • Botta, Carlo Giuseppe Guglielmo; Storia della Guerra dell’ Independenza degli Stati Uniti d’America search
  • Continental Congress, U.S.; speeches in search
  • Declaration of Independence; debate on search
  • Dickinson, John; reputed speech of search
  • Girardin, Louis Hue; and C. G. G. Botta’sStoria della Guerra dell’ Independenza degli Stati Uniti d’America search
  • Girardin, Louis Hue; letters to search
  • Greece, ancient; historians of search
  • Hume, David; TJ on search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books and Library; sends books search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; C. G. G. Botta’sStoria della Guerra dell’ Independenza search
  • Lee, Richard Henry; reputed speech of search
  • Rome, ancient; historians of search
  • Storia della Guerra dell’ Independenza degli Stati Uniti d’America (C. G. G. Botta) search