Together 12pp., 4to." />
24 June 2009
THE PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE COLLECTOR
[JEFFERSON, Thomas]. SHORT, William (1759-1849). Seven autograph letters signed ("W. Short"), TO HECTOR ST. JEAN DE CREVECOEUR (1735-1813), Paris, 6 August 1787 - 4 July 1790. Together 12pp., 4to.
AMERICA: "THE MOST HAPPY REVOLUTION THAT HAS EVER BEEN EFFECTED"; FRANCE: "THE GREAT EVENT OF THE REVOLUTION SEEMS TO ME SECURED"
The political upheavals of France and America form the thread of this fascinating group of letters from Short (Jefferson's secretary at the American legation in Paris) to the famed author of Letters from an American Farmer. The 6 August 1787 letter addresses the first stirrings of the French Revolution: "things seem to be at an important crisis at present in most parts of Europe & particularly in France... The Parliament have done themselves much honor by their firmness & spirit in this opposition..." Things in America are also uneasy as the nation moves from the Articles of Confederation to the new federal Constitution: 9 August: "What you say of affairs in America gives me real uneasiness & yet I think there is too much good sense among my countrymen to let them lose the advantages of the most happy revolution that has ever been effected... If the cause of liberty should fail in America...mankind must set themselves down contented under the domination of Kings & Nobles." 29 May 1788: "We are on tiptoe of expectation for news respecting the federal constitution--as yet we only know of the acceptance of six states."
23 September 1789: A rich, long letter that vividly captures the mood of revolutionary Paris just two months after the storming of the Bastille: "This letter will be sent by Mr. Jefferson..." Short relates the apprehensions of the great patroness of the arts, Countess de Houdetot: "her desires for the success of the revolution, & for peace & tranquility...are so ardent as to resemble very much fears...Paris abounds with people of this description. Still I see really no good grounds for their apprehension.... & the great event of the revolution seems to me secured." He does not think there will be civil war, but the shortage of bread in Paris seemed "the most dangerous circumstance & most likely to produce bloodshed..." His "most ardent wish" was that France would "possess the calm & tranquility of which my dear country furnishes so great an example." It was just this hopeful, benign vision of the French Revolution that Jefferson took with him back to America, and the raging battles between pro- and anti- French factions in the 1790s (Short stayed on as charge d'affaires under Gouveneur Morris). Together 7 items.
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