261
261
Jefferson, Thomas
AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED ("TH: JEFFERSON") TO WILLIAM LEE
Estimate
20,00030,000
JUMP TO LOT
261
Jefferson, Thomas
AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED ("TH: JEFFERSON") TO WILLIAM LEE
Estimate
20,00030,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Fine Autograph Letters and Manuscripts from a Distinguished Private Collection: Part II | Music, Americana, English and Continental Literature

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Jefferson, Thomas
AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED ("TH: JEFFERSON") TO WILLIAM LEE
1 page (9 5/8 x 7 3/4 in.; 247 x 198 mm) on a bifolium of wove paper watermarked posthorn, Monticello, 26 August 1816, integral leaf with autograph address panel ("William Lee esquire | Consul of the US for Bordeaux") and franking signature ("free | Th: Jefferson"), reception and forwarding dockets; seal tear and repair, a few short repaired tears to integral leaf.
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Literature

The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Retirement Series, ed. Looney, 10: 342–343

Catalogue Note

Jefferson compares the statuses of the United States and Europe: "the mass of their people, within which term I include from the king to the beggar, is returning to Gothic darkness while the mass of ours is advancing in the regions of light."

On 20 December 1814, Lee, the United States Consul at Bordeaux, had sent Jefferson a copy of his Les États-Unis et L’Angleterre, a work he had published "with a view to enlighten the people of France on the motives of our War and to help our good cause." Nearly a year and half later, 11 May 1816, Lee wrote Jefferson again, this time enclosing a letter from François Gard, a teacher at the Institution Nationale des Sourdes-Muettes in Bordeaux. Jefferson here acknowledges both of these missives.

"Your letters of Dec. 20. 14. and May 11. 16. are yet to be acknoleged: and my thanks to be returned for the book which accompanied the former on the subject of Great Britain and America. that able exposition prepared the European mind for receiving truths more favorable to us, and subsequent events have furnished facts corroborating those views. I believe that America, & by this time England also are more justly appreciated. some greatly enlightened minds in Europe are in science far beyond any thing we possess; but leaving them out of the account (& they are but few) the mass of their people, within which term I include from the king to the beggar, is returning to Gothic darkness while the mass of ours is advancing in the regions of light. during the paroxysm of Anglomany lately raging in Bordeaux you must have had a mortifying time. that rage cannot last. the English character is not of that cast which makes itself be loved." Lee's book was included in the 1829 Nathaniel Poor auction of Jefferson's library, lot 684.

M. Gard's letter had suggested that a school for the deaf and mute, similar to his home institution, ought to be established in the United States, and by the time Jefferson replied to Lee, he discovered that a nearly identical letter from Gard had been published by a New York physician, Samuel L. Mitchell, in order to gauge public interest in pursuing this proposal. "I was just about publishing mr Garde’s letter when I saw in the newspapers that addressed to Dr Mitchell. his position in a populous city, and convenient to others, being so much more favorable than mine for the views of M. Garde, I rejoiced to see his letter in so good hands and surceased medling in it myself, my inland & rural situation affording me no facilities for promoting it’s object. should you have occasion to write to mr Garde, I will thank you to throw in a line of explanation and to tender him my respects & best wishes for his success." Although Gard was not directly involved, in 1817 an Institution for the Deaf and Dumb was chartered in New York.

The letter concludes with a wish that Lee, now back in his homeland, might soon return to his diplomatic post: "Not doubting that after so long a residence in France your wishes are still there, I heartily sympathise with them and hope the circumstances are not very distant, which may render your return agreeable and useful. Accept my salutations and assurances of perfect esteem and respect."

 

Fine Autograph Letters and Manuscripts from a Distinguished Private Collection: Part II | Music, Americana, English and Continental Literature

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New York