Thomas Jefferson Papers

Lafayette to Thomas Jefferson, 20 July 1820

From Lafayette

La Grange July 20h 1820

My dear friend

On my Long Wished Return to my farm and to a family Circle, it Becomes a first object for me to Let You Hear from Us, and to Entreat Some Lines Acquainting me With the State of your Health and personal Concerns. this packet is intrusted to mr frederick Jacquemont, the worthy Son of my intimate friend who in the times of the Republican Government Was at the Head of the direction for public instruction. it is the Second Voyage of this Young man to the U.S. on Commercial Business. He intends Going from Newyork to Haïtÿ. I gave Him a Letter of introduction to president Boyer who wrote to me Some months Ago in terms which entitle me to Hope my Recommendation Will Be acceptable.

The Great Work of general Enfranchisement to Which, you and I, my dear friend, Have devoted ourselves So many Years Ago, is progressing through innumerable obstacles of despotism, privilege, and Every kind of political, Sacerdotal, personal Aristocracy. But Never did those Ennemies So effectually defeat the Cause of freedom as when Under the Mask of popular Licentiousness, or the glittering Seductions of military glory, they Spread terror and Oppression, in Concert With the ignorance of an ill Educated population, and the folly of a misled patriotism. Yet Before our Half Century of Revolutionary times is over we Shall Have the Comfort to See the affairs of mankind in a good Way of improvement. The Late change in Spain Has Been Welcomed By the patriots of france, particularly at the tribune where the minister of foreign affairs Was obliged to disclaim any intention to oppose it. what Has Lately passed at Naples Will Receive a Sympathical Applause. there is also Sympathy Betwen the german and french nations, nay, among us and the Liberal part of the British Empire, However averse they Generally Are to mingle with an Extensive Common interest. in this European Contest Betwen Right and privilege, france Holds the Honor to Be a kind of political Head quarters for liberalism. much attention is paid to Her debates as if there Was an instinctive universal Sentiment that on Her Emancipation depends the Solidity of Every other Succès in the Cause of Europe. Yet when our Neighbours Have gained ground We found ourselves materially defeated, altho’ the Strugle Has greatly advanced our moral maturity.

A great Leading feature in our Circumstances is that the french youth Being Remarkably more Enlightened than You Have known them, they Have Risen above the Spirit of faction, and Care Very little about dynasties, Generals, and even Secondary forms of Government. they are generally Republicans. Jacobinism and Bonapartism are to them objects of disgust. Some traces of the former You find Among Revolutionary Veterans; the other Still lives in the Hearts of military or administrative Companions of Napoleon. Both might be found in the ignorant mass. But there is Now at the Head of public opinion a Set of men Quite devoted to the Cause of liberty, and Behind them a Certain number of military and Civil Remnants of the Successive Systems Who Have Remained in or Return to the true principles, while that disposition is generally diffused Among our Young Generations. Hence my predilection for them, I may Be permitted to add, their friendship for me, Both of which are daily and Severely Reflected Upon By our Adversaries.

in this Situation of things, it Has pleased government, the Ultras and ministers, now United, the chief as Well as the other Members of the Roïal family, (duke d’orleans excepted) to enter oppenly in the Carrière1 of Counter Revolution. liberty of the press, individual liberty Have Been Suspended. a most insolent bill of election Has Been introduced Which altho’ Amended Still Leaves one forth of the Body of Electors, already So aristocratical, invested With the privilege of a peculiar College and of a double Vote. attempts of a Serious Nature Have Been made, an impeachement Has Been Announced against Some of us. the manifestation of public opinion Has Been Repress’d by the Sword. and while Every thing Seems to give our adversaries a momentary triumph, they Cannot But feel that there is more true danger impending on them than Upon the objects of their Animadversion.

the Jacobinical and terrorist times Had Crushed the nation and disgusted it. the directors altho’ they Gave Some good institutions, Had nothing Expansive and truly liberal. the imperial Whirlwind Had Hurried away the Spirits and Judgment of the people. the two Restorations, intermixed With the Remarkable period of the Hundred days, Have put every thing and Every party Upon its truer and more proper ground; We are Recovering the Sentiments of 89, and meet them With the Acquirements of the past thirty Years. You know I am Sanguine in My Expectations, But I do not think they Will, this time, Be greatly disappointed.

inclosed You Will find Some short Speeches of mine during this Session which Have Since Been printed. I do not Give them to You on Account of any intrinsic merit, But as a Specimen of our line of debate; I Send also a pamphlet of my Colleague Benjamin Constant Relating to a very strange Enterprise Upon our letters to one of our Constituents.

My family are With me at La Grange Excepting my Eldest Grand daughter Celestine maubourg, lately married to m. de Brigode, a member of our House; they are gone to their Very agreable Country Seat in flanders. I am Requested to present to You the Most affectionate Respects of our whole Colony. Be the kind interpriter of my Sentiments around You and think often of Your old, obliged, affectionate friend


m. de tracy Has to Some degree Recovered the use of His Eyes. not So much as to Enable Him to pursue His publications. He now is in the Country near moulins.

RC (DLC); at foot of first page: “mr Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 28 Sept. 1820 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures not found.

On 24 Mar. 1820 Étienne Denis Pasquier, the French minister of foreign affairs, spoke to the Chambre des Députés, stating of the recent political upheaval in Spain that “I heartily wish it may make the Spanish people happy; I wish it may in cementing on a new basis, the union of the throne and of the nation, give to public liberty, as well as to the rights of the crown, all desirable guarantees. … Let Spain then be free, great and happy with her King. We ought to wish it. I wish and hope it. But let us be willing to acknowledge that the end which she is eager to attain is precisely the same which we have reached” (City of Washington Gazette, 19 May 1820).

The chief of the French royal family was King Louis XVIII. The hundred days refers to the period in 1815 between Napoleon’s return from exile on the island of Elba and his second abdication. Romain Joseph, baron de Brigode, and Lafayette both sat at this time in the Chambre des Députés (our house).

1Manuscript: “Carrier.” The French word “carrière” means “career.”

Index Entries

  • Boyer, Jean Pierre; president of Haiti search
  • Brigode, Célestine Louise Henriette de Fay de La Tour-Maubourg, baroness de (Lafayette’s granddaughter) search
  • Brigode, Romain Joseph, baron de search
  • censorship; in France search
  • Constant de Rebecque, Henri Benjamin; works of search
  • Destutt de Tracy, Antoine Louis Claude; and Lafayette search
  • Destutt de Tracy, Antoine Louis Claude; health of search
  • France; and Spain search
  • France; Bourbon dynasty restored search
  • France; Chambre des Députés search
  • France; Directory search
  • France; electoral law in search
  • France; freedom of the press in search
  • France; political situation in search
  • France; youth of search
  • French Revolution; Reign of Terror search
  • health; vision loss search
  • Jacquemont, Frédéric François Venceslas search
  • Jacquemont, Joseph Frédéric Eulalie; travels of search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, marquis de; and Destutt de Tracy search
  • Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, marquis de; and events in Europe search
  • Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, marquis de; and events in France search
  • Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, marquis de; and TJ’s health search
  • Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, marquis de; family of search
  • Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, marquis de; letters from search
  • Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, marquis de; sends works to TJ search
  • Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, marquis de; speeches of search
  • Louis XVIII, king of France; as counterrevolutionary search
  • Naples, kingdom of (later Kingdom of the Two Sicilies); revolution in search
  • Napoleon I, emperor of France; Hundred Days search
  • Napoleon I, emperor of France; mentioned search
  • Orléans, Louis Philippe, duc d’ search
  • Pasquier, Etienne Denis; as French minister of foreign affairs search
  • politics; Bonapartism search
  • politics; Jacobinism search
  • Spain; revolution in search