Thomas Jefferson Papers

Lafayette to Thomas Jefferson, 1 June 1822

From Lafayette

La grange June the 1st 1822

My dear Excellent friend, I Every day Lament the distance that Separates me from You; it Seems that at the actual period of the Great Crisis which Has for near Half a Century Worked Upon Both Hemispheres We ought to Be Near Each other as We Have Been in 81 at Richmond and in 89 at Chaïllot. But You Have Remained on the good Side of the Atlantic. there liberty, dignity, prosperity are the Happy and Ever thriving lot of that part of America Which, as Citizens, We May Call our own. And now Besides those two and twenty United Republican States, there are Rising New Republican Constellations, on the true principles of freedom, independance, and Equality, where it is to Be Hoped Royalty, Heredity, and privilege shall never Be admitted. I am Highly pleased With the Aknowledgement of the Commonwealth of Colombia as free and independant States and Would much Regret that dificulties should Arise in the Senate. the Right of Emancipation in the Colonies, under circumstances which Have Been fully Evinced in South America, Has Been professed and asserted By the U.S. in Such a forcible and fundamental Series of Arguments and actions that their Conduct With Respect to other parts of America Has Become a Matter of Course. france Herself Commits a downright impropriety in Hesitating on a point which Has Been So Honourably Supported By Her professions and Her arms Under Lewis the 16th’s Reign. But Her Government Wants Nationality, and while the ministers are Wavering and dumb on the Subject, the Commerce of paris and a few deputies Have, in a great dinner to m. Zea, taken the liberty to Aknowledge a Representative of the Colombian Republic. nor Have We thought that the fraternal ties which now Unite the patriots of Spain and those of france ought to deter us from an Hommage due to the General doctrines which are above Momentary Considerations.

While I feel an inexpressible delight in the progress of Every thing that is Noble minded, Honourable, and Useful throughout the United states, I find, in the Negroe Slavery, a great drawback Upon my Enjoyments. it Raises a Sigh, or a Blush, according to the Company, American or foreign, Where I Happen to Be. Let me Confess, my dear friend, I Have Not Been Convinced, and the less as I think more of it, By Your Argument in favor of dissemination. One is, I Believe, more Struck With the Evil When Looking Upon it from Without. as to the Remedies, they may Be Better Ascertained from Within. this Wide Blot On American Philantropy and Civilisation is Ever thrown in my face when I indulge my Patriotism in Encomiums, otherwise Undisputable. to See that plague Cured, while I live, is near to impossibility, But I Would like, Before I die, to Be assured that progressive and Earnest measures Have Been adopted to attain, in due time, So desirable So necessary an object. prudence as well as Honor Seems to me to Require it.

the state of Europe is Very Critical. when You Consider what is Called the Holy Alliance of all the Dynasties, ministries, priesthoods, armies, and Administrations of Europe, Saving Spain and portugal, when it is a fact that the League of all the Existing, past, and possible Aristocracies of this World know much Better their own interest, are more linked together, and Have much improved the Civil and military, public and Secret means of oppression, it Seems that Europe is quite Unable to Rise to freedom. Her Situation Seems the more Unretrievable as it is Universally aknowledged that Upon the liberties of france depend the Preservation of Spanish and portuguese liberty and the possibility of italian Emancipation. add to this the Evident preference which Emperor Alexander gives to His Antiliberal duties as the Agammennon of the Sainte alliance over the Wishes of His people and the Views of His predecessors, a disposition which is Worked Upon By Co despots and Co Aristocrats By all the means that a Cunning and Corrupt diplomacy Can Employ. in france, garantees Have Hitherto Been more Attacked than the material Enjoyments of the Revolution. the mass of the people are not Sensible of the dangers that awaït them; the Horns of Counter Revolution are drawn in as Soon as they meet too great an obstacle. Bonapartian Experience Has mingled With Emigrant pretensions; and on the patriotic Side, an other part of the Bonapartists, alive to their Rememberances, faithfull to imperial legitimacies and imperial Habits, stand in the Way of the pure friends of liberty and Equality, Muster Against them all the Mistaken impressions which an abuse of the Name of Republic Has left in the minds of the people, and are more apt to impede than facilitate the claims of national Sovereignty.

However, on the other Hand, there is a patriotic fermentation in a great part of Europe. italy, the peninsula, and france as far as it formerly was Extended to the Rhine, are in a state of Sympathy Which forebodes, in Case of Emancipation, Ready and powerfull alliance in the great Cause of Right Against privilege. Signs of discontent, attempts to Rouse in arms pop out in Several places and are a motive or pretence for Severities Which do not tend to Soften the public mind. there is in the french youth more knowledge, liberality, devotion to freedom, and patriotic activity than at any other period of our History. troops are not So firm in their obedience, they Have more of the Citizen than the Court might Wish. there Exists particularly Among the Young Non Commissioned officers a more Civic Spirit than in the Remnants of the imperial armies, and Learned Corps, Artillery and Engeneers are generally patriots. it Seems Government are aware of A Situation mutually Critical. Arrestations Have Been made, Court martials and Assizes on treasonable pretences Have Been Held, and are now ordered in Several places, Namely in the departement du Haut Rhin, which Has not deterred the electors from Returning my Son as a member from what is Called the High College. the Regiments are marched from place to place and Severed from a free Communication With the Citizens; Empeachments Have Been framed, Approved in Council, during the last Session Against Some deputies, Your friend at the Head of them; yet they Were not produced; Royalist papers now Encourage the court and ministers to a Bold attack Upon us. I don’t Believe it Will be Attempted. a new Session is to Be oppened on the 4h of June.

We Have Been So often deceived in Speculations Upon the Eastern War that Nothing Remains But to Waït the Event. there are ten fold the Materials Which at an other period would Have precipitated Russia Upon turkey, and all christian potentates Upon Each other. But the fear of Western Emancipation, and the Concerns of despotism and privilege Are foremost in all those legitimate and aristocratic Heads. in the mean while the Greecks are making a Glorious attempt to Emerge from Servitude; But at the Same time that the Counter Revolutionary Cross of fanatical missionaries is Carried in our towns and Villages under the protection of Government, all the governments of the Sainte alliance are Secret Ennemies to the liberal Cross of Grecian insurrection, not Even Excepting Emperor Alexander, and Setting foremost the British Government whose Conduct in that Respect Has Been Equally Cruel and infamous. it is However a fine prospect to foresee those old, classical, Republican Names moulded Again into a Confederacy With the immence improvement of American institutions. How Honourable for france Had she Been in a Situation to Send a tricolored flag in the Archipelago With the Avowed1 purpose to protect Grecian liberty! an other idea Has Seized my fancy, and I Have Several months Ago imparted it to the president and other friends in the Cabinet of Washington. it is the Wish that the flag of the U.S. Should Ride over those Seas, along those Coasts, yelding a Refuge Against murder and persecution, Combining philantopic Measures With Such of the Naval powers, and france is Conspicuous among them, Who far from lending their Assistance to acts of Cruelty, are disposed to protect Unarmed populations. But I Would Wish for Some thing more. it is the positive intention to advise and assist the Greecks in their Exertions towards a Republican Confederacy among their islands and Such part of their Coasts as may Associate With them; nor do I doubt But What in a little time the Conduct of the turks towards the American Navy would justify Any part she might please to take in the afair, and Promote the advantages, moral, political, and Commercial that Could Be thereby provided for the U.S. all the navies of Europe think themselves Called to A Cruise in the Archipelago. the flag of America is Cruising in the Mediterranean, where By the Bye, I Suppose they should Be Rather friendly than Hostile, nay, on occasion, as far as prudence permits, Really Serviceable to the friends of liberty in italy. it Seems to me that Archipelago should also Be an object for a Cruise. inclosed You Will find the Last proclamation issued at Epidaure on the 1st January. the Grecian Citizen Who Brought it to me, Enquired whether I thought a Loan of A Million of dollars Could Be procured in the U.S. my answer, after Having Consulted with mr Gallatin, Was that I didn’t2 think it possible to Succeed With Government, But as to the Second part of the Question, whether a Loan might Be obtain’d from private Capitalists, on Conditions advantageous to them, I thought a trial Should Be made, as it Was Nothing more than Sending a Confidential traveller to marseïlles, and Hence to the U.S. where I Would Be Happy to provide Him With my letters of introduction to Such persons as Could Be the Best judges and advisers in the Business.

My family are for the most part now with me at La grange and Beg to Be most Respectfully Remembered to You; the Eldest of my grand daughters, married to my Colleague Brigode, in the department du nord, Has made Anastasia a grand mother By giving me a great Grand daughter in addition to twelve Grand children. I must leave that Company, my two daughters and a third one, Emily George’s wife for a very tedious Session at paris. my Son, now my Colleague, goes with me. How the meeting of the two parties in the House Will turn out I don’t pretend to foretell. m. de tracy is in Good Health, But altho’ He Has partly Recovered His Sight the melioration does not go So far as to admit Long Reading or writing; A few pages, one letter now and then is the most He Can Venture to do. it is a great pity His Studies Have Been thus Schackled; our Society, or more properly our family at La grange Has for Eight months past Received the precious addition of two Amiable Young ladies, Britons By Birth, Americans in their Heart, whose Sympathies With us are never more Evident than in their Respect and Attachment to You. the Elder miss wright did for the first time Give me the pleasure to Read the praise of America from an English pen. on that ground Began an Acquaintance which Soon Became Affectionate mutual friendship. You Have No doubt Read Her letters on Society and manners in the U.S. I recommend the Second English Edition where Some Errors Have Been Rectified, Some observations Explained to advantage, and a tale Relating to You, which she Had Heard at Newyork, and immediately Sacrificed the moment A Hint Was given on the Subject, Succeeded By a Very pretty Story which she Had Reasons to Believe perfectly Correct. I much Want to know Your opinion of that Work which Has Been translated in German, Spanish, french, and modern Greeck, and if favorable, as I Hope it will Be the Case, I am Sure no greater Gratification Can Be offered to my Young friend. I was pleased to See in the Second edition A few Severities Softened; a Sentiment in which no Spirit of party will, I know, prevent You from Agreeing. I Have Read in a letter of Jeremy Bentham this judgment on the author „She is the Sweetest and Strongest mind that Ever Was Cased in a female Body„.

I Beg You to present my most affectionate Respects to mrs Randolph; my family Request to Be also most affectionately Remembered to Her and to You. I intend writing to our Excellent friend Madison; should time, on this occasion, Be deficient I depend Upon You to let Him Hear of me and my Sense of public affairs on this Side of the Atlantic. the Recent Nomination of mr freyssinious Celebrated for His pious public Conferences, and lately made a Bishop in partibus, to the place of Grand master of the University Could Suffice to Give You an idea of the actual plan of Education. it is Conformant to the doctrine of Jesuits and quite opposed to the feelings of Young Generations. How Such discordances may Be Settled, time shall discover.

Let me Hear from You, my dear Jefferson, give me Every particulars Respecting Your Health and whatever Relates to You, family, friends, and Believe me, as I know you do, forever, your affectionate Grateful friend


I am Very Happy to Hear our Worthy and able friend Gallatin does not Yet leave His station in which He is Very Useful, much Liked and Respected, and would Have, I think, Settled the Commercial differences more Easely With mr pasquier than it Has Hitherto Been possible to adjust them With mr Hyde de Neuville.

RC (DLC); addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esq. Monticelo State of Virginia”; with signed note dated 20 Aug. 1822 by Daniel Brent on address leaf reading “forwarded thro’ the Dept of State by Mr Jefferson’s respectful obedt servant”; endorsed by TJ as received 25 Aug. 1822 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Preamble to the Greek Constitution and the Greek National Assembly’s proclamation of 1 Jan. 1822, declaring the nation’s independence from the Ottoman Empire; accusing its oppressors of intolerable, arbitrary, and barbaric treatment; calling for the preservation of Greek lives, honor, and property, and the reestablishment of freedom and self-rule; hailing Greek military victories over the Turks; announcing the assembly’s dissolution and the formation of a central authority, based on justice and the rights of man, to direct the affairs of the Greek nation; and calling for national unity, obedience to the new government, and submission to its laws (Tr in DLC; in French; printed in English in Edward Blaquiere, The Greek Revolution; Its Origin and Progress [London, 1824], 327–9, and elsewhere).

During the 1780s TJ lived in Paris next to one of the city gates, La Grille de Chaillot (chaïllot) (Howard C. Rice Jr., Thomas Jefferson’s Paris [1976], 51). In 1822 the United States consisted of twenty-four states, not two and twenty.

In his letter to Lafayette of 26 Dec. 1820, TJ optimistically predicted that the dissemination of slavery to western states and territories would lessen its evils and facilitate its eventual end. the peninsula: the Iberian Peninsula. Lafayette’s son, George Washington Lafayette, had recently been elected to the Chambre des Députés from the Haut-Rhin department in northeastern France.

Lafayette imparted his proposal that the United States support the Greek revolution in a 22 Jan. 1822 letter to James Monroe (NN: Monroe Papers). anastasia was Lafayette’s daughter Anastasie, comtesse de La Tour-Maubourg, while emily was his daughter-in-law, Françoise Émilie Destutt de Tracy Lafayette.

The tale included in the first edition of Frances Wright’s Views of Society and Manners in America (London, 1821; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library, 1829 description ends , 7 [no. 354]), but excised from the second, regarded TJ’s efforts, while president, to practice republican simplicity in his dealings with foreign diplomats. This nearly caused a diplomatic incident when the wife of the Spanish minister deemed such behavior to be insulting to her king and country, and the minister himself came to the President’s House to complain: “Mr. Jefferson, while occupied in his library, was informed that the Spanish minister was in an adjoining apartment; he called immediately for his boots, and putting one on, and holding the other in his hand, proceeded to the room. Having half opened the door, he issued orders to the servant behind him, touching his horse, and then advancing, and drawing on as he did so his remaining boot, welcomed his visitor with his wonted amenity. ‘Pray be seated; be seated; no ceremony here, my good sir. Very glad to see you;’ and then, without regarding the disconcerted air of the astonished representative of Spain and the Indies, entered with his wonted ease into general conversation, opposing the gentleman to the minister, and the unaffected majesty of the philosopher to the frozen haughtiness of the diplomatist. The combat was soon decided. The Spaniard departed, and reported to his lady and diplomatic friends that, when they went to the house of the American President, they must leave the dignity of their masters at home” (pp. 125–6).

In a 24 Oct. 1821 letter to Pierre Étienne Louis Dumont, jeremy bentham remarked that Frances Wright had “one of the sweetest and absolutely the strongest minds ever cased in a female body” (Timothy L. S. Sprigge, Stephen Conway, and others, eds., The Correspondence of Jeremy Bentham [1968– ], 10:414). On 1 June 1822 Denis Frayssinous (mr freyssinious) had been appointed French minister of public instruction, with the titles of bishop of Hermopolis and grand master of the royal university (Circulars of Information of the Bureau of Education 4 [1881]: 112).

1Manuscript: “awowed.”

2Manuscript: “din’t.”

Index Entries

  • Agamemnon, king of Mycenae (mythological character) search
  • Alexander I, emperor of Russia; and Greece search
  • Alexander I, emperor of Russia; and Holy Alliance search
  • Bentham, Jeremy; on F. Wright search
  • boots search
  • Brent, Daniel; forwards letters to and from TJ search
  • Brigode, Célestine Louise Henriette de Fay de La Tour-Maubourg, baroness de (Lafayette’s granddaughter) search
  • Brigode, Romain Joseph, baron de search
  • clothing; boots search
  • Colombia, Republic of; recognition of search
  • Destutt de Tracy, Antoine Louis Claude; health of search
  • France; and Greek independence search
  • France; and Lafayette search
  • France; and Latin America search
  • France; and U.S. search
  • France; Chambre des Députés search
  • Frayssinous, Denis search
  • Gallatin, Albert; as minister plenipotentiary to France search
  • Great Britain; and Greek independence search
  • Greece, modern; and Ottoman Empire search
  • Greece, modern; constitution of search
  • Greece, modern; legislature of search
  • Greece, modern; war of independence search
  • health; vision loss search
  • Holy Alliance; and Alexander I search
  • Holy Alliance; and Greek independence search
  • Holy Alliance; mentioned search
  • horses; mentioned search
  • Hyde de Neuville, Jean Guillaume; as French ambassador to U.S. search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; slavery search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Public Service; as president search
  • Jesuits; mentioned search
  • Lafayette, Françoise Émilie Destutt de Tracy (Lafayette’s daughter-in-law) search
  • Lafayette, George Washington (Lafayette’s son); as legislator search
  • Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, marquis de; and A. Gallatin 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 F. Wright search
  • Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, marquis de; and Greek independence search
  • Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, marquis de; and J. Madison search
  • Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, marquis de; and slavery in U.S. search
  • Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, marquis de; and South American independence search
  • Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, marquis de; as legislator 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
  • Lasteyrie du Saillant, Virginie, marquise de (Lafayette’s daughter); family of search
  • La Tour-Maubourg, Anastasie, comtesse de (Lafayette’s daughter); family of search
  • Louis XVI, king of France; reign of search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); and Lafayette search
  • Monroe, James (1758–1831); and Greek independence search
  • Ottoman Empire; and Greece search
  • Ottoman Empire; and Russia search
  • Paris; La Grille de Chaillot search
  • Pasquier, Etienne Denis; as French minister of foreign affairs search
  • President’s House (Washington); mentioned search
  • Randolph, Martha Jefferson (Patsy; TJ’s daughter; Thomas Mann Randolph’s wife); greetings sent to search
  • religion; Jesuits search
  • Russia; and Ottoman Empire search
  • Senate, U.S.; mentioned search
  • slavery; Lafayette on search
  • slavery; TJ on search
  • South America; republics in search
  • Spain; and U.S. search
  • State Department, U.S.; forwards letters search
  • United States; and France search
  • United States; and Greek independence search
  • United States; and South American republics search
  • United States; and Spain search
  • Views of Society and Manners in America (F. Wright) search
  • Wright, Frances; friendship with Lafayette search
  • Wright, Frances; J. Bentham on search
  • Wright, Frances; Views of Society and Manners in America search
  • Zea, Francisco Antonio search