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Thomas Jefferson to John Adams

10 Dec. 1785

Dear Sir Paris Dec. 10. 1785

On the arrival of mr [expansion sign] Boylston I carried him to the Marquis de la Fayette, and received from him communications of his object. this was to get a remission of the duties on his cargo of oil, & he was willing to propose a future contract. I proposed however to the Marquis, when we were alone, that instead of wasting our efforts on individual applications, we had better take it up on general ground, and, whatever could be obtained, let it be common to all. he concurred with me. as the jealousy of office between ministers does not permit me to apply immediately to the one in whose department this was, the Marquis’s agency was used. the result was to put us on the footing of the Hanseatic towns, as to whale oil, & to reduce the duties to 11H—5s for 520lb French, which is very nearly two livres on the English hundredweight, or about a guinea & a half the ton. but the oil must be brought in American or French ships, & the indulgence is limited to one year. however as to this I expressed to Ct. de Vergennes my hopes that it would be continued, & should a doubt arise, I should propose at the proper time to claim it under the treaty on the footing gentis amicissimi. after all, I beleive mr [expansion sign] Boylston has failed of selling to Sangrain, and, from what I learn, through a little too much hastiness of temper. perhaps they may yet come together or he may sell to somebody else.

When the general matter was thus arranged, a mr [expansion sign] Barrett arrived here from Boston with letters of recommendation from Govr. Bowdoin, Cushing & others. his errand was to get the whale business here put on a general bottom, instead of the particular one which had been settled you know the last year for a special company. we told him what was done. he thinks it will answer, and proposes to settle at L’Orient for conducting the sales of the oil & the returns. I hope therefore that this matter is tolerably well fixed as far as the consumption of this country goes. I know not as yet to what amount that is; but shall endeavor to find out how much they consume, and how much they furnish themselves. I propose to mr [expansion sign] Barrett that he should induce either his state or individuals to send us a sufficient number of boxes of the Spermaceti candle, to give one to every leading house in Paris, I mean to those who lead the ton: and at the same time to deposit a quantity for sale here & advertize them in the Petites affiches. I have written to mr [expansion sign] Carmichael to know on what footing the use & introduction of the whale oil is there, or can be placed.

I have the honour to be with very sincere esteem Dear sir / Your most obedient humb. servt.

Th: Jefferson

Dear Sir Paris Dec. 11. 1785

Baron Polnitz not going off till to-day enables me to add some information which I receive from mr [expansion sign] Barclay this morning. you know the immense amount of Beaumarchais’ accounts with the U.S. and that mr [expansion sign] Barclay was authorized to settle them. Beaumarchais had pertinaciously insisted on settling them with Congress. probably he received from them a denial: for just as mr [expansion sign] Barclay was about to set out on the journey we destined him Beaumarchais tendered him a settlement. it was thought best not to refuse this, & that it would produce a very short delay. however it becomes long, and mr [expansion sign] Barclay thinks it will occupy him all this month. the importance of the account, and a belief that nobody can settle it so well as mr [expansion sign] Barclay, who is intimately acquainted with most of the articles, induce me to think we must yeild to this delay. be so good as to give me your opinion on this subject. I have the honour to be with very great esteem Dear Sir

Your most obedient / & most humble servt

Th: Jefferson

P.S. pray contrive the inclosed letter to Colo. Monroe. it must not pass through the hands of the English post officers.

RC (MHi: Adams Papers).
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