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Lot #72
Thomas Jefferson

“A MAN OF LITERATURE AND A GENUINE REPUBLICAN”: JEFFERSON warmly recommends a French diplomat who would become an important associate of Napoleon

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“A MAN OF LITERATURE AND A GENUINE REPUBLICAN”: JEFFERSON warmly recommends a French diplomat who would become an important associate of Napoleon

ALS signed “Th: Jefferson,” one page, 7.5 x 9.25, June 1, 1793. Jefferson, then in his final year as America’s first secretary of state, writes from Philadelphia to Governor [George] Clinton of New York. In full: “The bearer hereof, Monsr. de Hauterive, appointed Consul at New York in the place of M. de Crevecoeur, having brought me some very particular recommendations from friends at Paris, who would not give them lightly, I comply with their desire in presenting him to your notice. In a short conversation which I had with him I found him a man of literature, and a genuine republican, under which character I am sure he will be acceptable to your Excellency. The Minister here also seems to interest himself particularly for him. I therefore take the liberty of asking your countenance of him, both in the social & official line, and verily believe he will do justice to your attentions: which will also be considered as a favor conferred on your Excellency....” After serving as a professor and Ambassador to Constantinople, French-born Alexandre Maurice Blanc de Lanautte, the Comte d'Hauterive (1754–1830) was appointed French consul at New York. Forced to abandon the post under suspicion of embezzlement—a charge later proved false—the comte became a close advisor to Napoleon and drafted a number of important official documents for the First French Empire. After serving in a number of diplomatic and clerical posts, he “retired” to a position as archivist at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in which capacity he continued following the Restoration in 1814. At the time of writing, Franco-American relations were at a most crucial point. Louis XVI had been executed only months before; Revolutionary War hero Lafayette had been convicted of treason and was serving a five-year prison sentence in France; and Jefferson and others (including Hamilton) were heatedly debating the legitimacy of France’s revolutionary government. (Jefferson took the view that the new government was “continuous” with that of Louis XVI and that the 1778 Treaty of Alliance between America and France—a matter of some importance in light of France’s ongoing conflict with Great Britain—was still in effect. Hamilton argued that such agreements ceased with the dethronement, imprisonment, and execution of Louis XVI, and that any diplomatic agreements of such a nature would have to be negotiated anew.) Intersecting mailing folds (light vertical fold through one letter of last name; a few short edge separations with archival reinforcement), faint mild soiling with a few small, subtle stains, and light brush to one word of text, otherwise fine, bright, attractive condition. Auction LOA John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and R&R COA.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title:
  • Dates: #333 - Ended May 14, 2008