11-18-2007 11-18-2007
Skinner Auctions
Skinner Auctions Boston MA
2386 Boston
November 18, 2007 11:00AMCalender

Jefferson, Thomas (1743-1826)

Auction: Books & Manuscripts - 2386 Location: Boston Date / Time: November 18, 2007 11:00AM


Jefferson, Thomas (1743-1826), Important autograph letter signed, dated Philadelphia, January 3, 1794, one page, as Secretary of State, to Thomas Pinckney, Ambassador to Great Britain, informing him of his resignation as Secretary of State, 9 3/8 by 7 5/8 in.

Text in full: "Dear Sir/I have the honor to inform you that I have resigned the office of Secretary of State & that Mr. Randolph late Attorney Genl. of the US. is appointed by the President & approved by the Senate as Secretary of State. he will acknolege (sic) the receipt of your several letters, not yet acknoleged (sic) by me, & will answer in detail such parts of them as may require special answer. I beg leave to conclude this last act of my public correspondence with you with very sincere assurances of the great esteem and respect with which I have the honor to be Dear Sir, your most obet. & most humble sevt."

By the fall of 1793, Thomas Jefferson had had enough. After having served as Minister to France from 1784 to 1789, he was appointed Secretary of State under President George Washington during the tumultuous period of 1790-1793. This era brought rise to the French Revolution, and despite Jefferson's fondness for the French, he brought an objectivity to the post that was heroic in this period of European intrigue. When war broke out between the English and French in 1793, Jefferson, despite his support for the French cause, advised Washington that the United States should remain neutral. Citizen Genet, the new French minister, lobbied the Americans to violate their neutrality and support the French cause. Jefferson did his best to thwart these blatant violations. However, Alexander Hamilton and the Federalists clearly had Washington's ear at this point, driving Jefferson, despite two urgings to the contrary, to resign on December 31st, 1793.
This letter was written just four days after the resignation, and signals a change in Jefferson's life. It is one among the last documents he penned before retreating home to Monticello where he remained for three years, becoming an elder statesman, gentleman farmer, inventor and family man, until the "unchecked power the Federalists had over Washington", as he later wrote, forced him back into the political fray.
Estimate $70,000-100,000


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