Thomas Jefferson Papers

Henry Dearborn to Thomas Jefferson, 31 August 1822

From Henry Dearborn

Lisbon August 31t 1822—

Dear Sir,

Knowing me so well as you do, you could not have contemplated my present situation, and especially at my time of life, no one better knows my deficiencies for my present situation than your self, the very perticular and flatering manner that my nomination, and notification of it was made, opperated as the strongest inducement for my accepting the appointment. it being intirely unsought and unexpected on my part or by any of my friends, the very flatering notice of it from the President placed me in a situation very difficult for me to discribe, but here I am, and not without hopes of being of some service to my Country. thus far, appearences are favourable, and if I should succeed in healing some old bruses, and in establishing a friendly intercourse on fair and reciprocal principles, I shall, I hope, return home with satisfaction to my self and to my Government and friends. no exartions of such abilities as I possess shall be wanting in effecting the wishes & expectations of the President. I trust that my stay here will not extend over two years at farthest, Mrs Dearborn is with me and also a grand-Daughter. Mr Thos Brent Secretary of Legation arrived two days since from Madrid. the account he gives of the affairs in Spain shews a want of confidence in the King, with great struggles for overseting the present sistem of Government. great hopes are now entertained by the friends of the present Government from the recent change of the Ministry, the new Ministers are concidered sound & true.—an Election for a new Cortés has been made here1 since I arrived, it was attended with no turbelence, but was carried through very quietly.—

with sentiments of the highest respect and esteem I am Sir your sincere friend and Humble Servt

Henry Dearborn

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “The Honbl Thomas Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 9 Oct. 1822 and so recorded in SJL.

Dearborn’s grand-daughter was Laura Matilda Gay (Davis).

The want of confidence in Ferdinand VII of Spain resulted from the discovery in July of a conspiracy to move him from Madrid to the insurgent provinces, where he was to organize the overthrow of the revolutionary regime and promulgation of a more conservative constitution. Whether through cowardice, indecision, or a desire to be reinstalled only as an absolute ruler, Ferdinand ultimately refused to leave the capital, and the plot failed. During the subsequent change of the ministry, moderate liberals were purged from office, leaving the more radical element in complete control (Paul W. Schroeder, Metternich’s Diplomacy at Its Zenith, 1820–1823 [1962], 195–6).

1Word interlined.

Index Entries

  • Brent, Thomas search
  • Davis, Laura Matilda Gay search
  • Dearborn, Henry; as minister plenipotentiary to Portugal search
  • Dearborn, Henry; letters from search
  • Dearborn, Sarah Bowdoin (James Bowdoin’s widow; Henry Dearborn’s third wife); in Lisbon search
  • Ferdinand VII, king of Spain; lack of confidence in search
  • Monroe, James (1758–1831); and appointments search
  • Monroe, James (1758–1831); and U.S. foreign relations search
  • Portugal; and U.S. search
  • Portugal; Cortes of search
  • Portugal; elections in search
  • Spain; conspiracy to overthrow regime in search
  • Spain; politics in search
  • United States; and Portugal search