Papers - Vol. 2

Papers - Vol. 2

Papers - Vol. 2

Papers - Vol. 2

Synopsis

This volume documents exhaustively for the first time Edmond Charles Genet's dramatic challenges to American neutrality and Jefferson's diplomatic and political responses. After welcoming Genet's arrival as the harbinger of closer relations between the American and French republics, Jefferson becomes increasingly distressed by the French minister's defiance of the Washington administration's ban on the outfitting of French privateers in American ports, the enlistment of American citizens in French service, and the exercise of admiralty jurisdiction by French consuls in American ports. Although the Supreme Court declines to advise the executive branch on neutrality questions that Jefferson prepares with the President and the Cabinet, he helps to formulate a set of neutrality rules to meet Genet's challenge.Unable to convince the impetuous French envoy to adopt a more moderate course, Jefferson works in the Cabinet to bring about Genet's recall so as to preserve friendly relations with France and minimize political damage to the Republican party, in which he takes a more active role to prevent the Federalists from capitalizing on Genet's defiance of the President. Grappling with the threat of war with Spain, Jefferson involves himself equivocally in a diplomatically explosive plan by Genet to liberate Louisiana from Spanish rule. In this volume Jefferson also plays a decisive role in resolving a dispute over the design of the Capitol and plans agricultural improvements at Monticello in preparation for his retirement to private life.

Excerpt

This volume, covering the years 1777 to June 1779, marks the end of Jefferson's legislative career in the Virginia House of Delegates and the beginning of his term as governor. a few comments are necessary by way of amplification of the editorial policies outlined in Volume 1, inasmuch as the present volume embraces the first summaries of documents, the first record entries, and, most important of all, the first notable exception to the chronological arrangement in this part of the work.

Summaries. Letters, memoranda, legislative bills, tabular documents, enclosures, and other forms of record appearing in these volumes will be summarized if the matter is of slight importance or if the text is readily available elsewhere in print. As indicated earlier, summaries of letters or documents written by Jefferson will be confined to those of a trivial or duplicative nature and will be far less numerous than those of letters or documents written by others. Also, more documents will be summarized during the periods of Jefferson's incumbency of office than for other periods of his life, since such periods naturally produced a greater volume of routine and even trivial documentation. Occasionally, as in the case of the Bill to Enforce Attendance of Members of Assembly and the Bill to Enable Judges of the General Court to Hold Two Additional Sessions (see p. 188-9, below), fairly important documents will be summarized when there is a probability but not a certainty of Jefferson's authorship. Even important letters or documents will be summarized if they were enclosures and if they were not written by Jefferson.

An effort is made in these summaries to present in more or less detailed form the substance of the documents and not merely to provide calendar entries. in the fullest degree of summarization, direct quotations from the text will be employed frequently; in the least degree of summarization, an effort will be made to present enough of the substance of a document to enable the reader to form an intelligent opinion of its contents. It is scarcely necessary to point out that any degree of summarization involves the risk of distorting the meaning or misleading the reader through omissions and misinterpretations of phraseology; the editors have endeavored to guard against this danger by employing, in many instances, the precise phraseology of the original author. the text of summarized docu-

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