Thomas Jefferson Papers

Pierre de Polética to Thomas Jefferson, 27 May 1819

From Pierre de Polética

Washington City. le 27 Mai 1819.—


Peu avant mon départ de Paris en février dernier, j’ai reçu du Vice-Roi de Pologne Prince Zajonceck, la lettre dont j’ai l’honneur de Vous transmettre ci-joint la Copie avec celles des piecès qui l’accompagnoient: Le tout indique clairement la nature des renseignements que me demande le Gouvernement de Pologne [et qui] je n’[a]i pas hési[te de] lui promettre, comptant d’avance sur votre obligeance malgré tous les motifs qui m’engageoient à respecter vos loisirs si précieux par les souvenirs auxquels ils se rattachent.

Je saisis avec empressement cette occasion pour vous exprimer, Monsieur, mon vif desir d’obtenir la permission de me présenter encore une fois à Monticello pour vous y renouveller de vive voix l’expression de la haute Considération avec laquelle j’ai l’honneur

d’être, Monsieur, Votre très h[u]mble & très obeissant Serviteur
Pierre de Polética
Envoyé de Russie près les US. d’Amérique.

Editors’ Translation

Washington City. 27 May 1819.—


Shortly before my departure from Paris last February, I received a letter from the viceroy of Poland, Prince Zajączek, a copy of which I have the honor of enclosing to you, along with copies of the documents that accompanied it. Together they clearly indicate the nature of the information that the Polish government has requested from me, and I have promised without hesitation to obtain it. I count in advance on your kindness, notwithstanding all the reasons that have urged me to respect your leisure, which is so precious because of the memories connected with it.

I eagerly seize this opportunity to express to you, Sir, my strong desire to obtain permission to present myself once again at Monticello in order to renew to you in person the expression of my highest consideration, with which I have the honor

to be, Sir, your very humble and very obedient servant
Pierre de Polética
Envoy from Russia to the United States of America.

Tr (DNA: RG 21, CCDCCR); dateline adjacent to closing; damaged at creases, with missing text supplied from 2d Tr; docketed in part as “Defendants Exhibit D Copy of a Letter fm Mr Politica to Mr Jefferson Enclosing a Despatch fm the Vice roi of Poland”; used in Washington County, D.C., chancery case 105, Armstrong v. Lear. Tr (DNA: RG 267, SCACF, box 141, case 1303, Armstrong v. Lear). Recorded in SJL as received 30 May 1819. Probably enclosed in TJ to William Wirt, 5 Feb. 1820.

Pierre de Polética (1778–1849), Russian diplomat, was born in Vasilkov, Ukraine, and educated in the cadet corps in Saint Petersburg from age four to eighteen, graduating in 1796 as a lieutenant. Two years later he joined the Collegium for External Affairs as a translator, and in 1799 he became an official in the vice-chancellor’s administration. Polética was named a clerk with the Russian legation to Stockholm in 1802 and was secretary for the Russian legation at Naples in 1805. He visited TJ at Monticello toward the end of his stint from 1809–11 as counselor to the Russian embassy in Washington, and he subsequently served at embassies in Rio de Janeiro, Madrid, and London. Returning to the United States as minister plenipotentiary, 1819–22, Polética helped negotiate the Alaskan boundary between Russia and Great Britain, cosigning the final treaties in Saint Petersburg in 1824 and 1825. He was elected a foreign member of the American Philosophical Society in 1822, and he published Aperçu de la Situation Intérieure des États-Unis d’Amérique et de leurs rapports politiques avec l’Europe (London, 1826; translated into English as A Sketch of the Internal Condition of the United States of America, and of their Political Relations with Europe [Baltimore, 1826]). Polética was named head of the fifth department of the Russian senate in 1832 and became a privy councillor before he retired in 1843. He died during a visit to Frankfurt (Mykhaylo Huculak, When Russia was in America: The Alaska Boundary Treaty Negotiations, 1824–25, and the role of Pierre de Poletica [1971], esp. 89–103; Richard A. Pierce, Russian America: A Biographical Dictionary [1990], 402–3; APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends , Minutes, 18 Jan. 1822 [MS in PPAmP]).

Index Entries

  • American Philosophical Society; members of, foreign search
  • French language; letters in, from; P. de Polética search
  • Kosciuszko, Tadeusz (Thaddeus) Andrzej Bonawentura; estate of search
  • Polética, Pierre de; and T. Kosciuszko’s estate search
  • Polética, Pierre de; as Russian minister plenipotentiary to U.S. search
  • Polética, Pierre de; identified search
  • Polética, Pierre de; letter from search
  • Polética, Pierre de; plans visit to Monticello search
  • Zajączek, Jozéf; and T. Kosciuszko’s estate search