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The Jeffersonian cyclopedia;

a comprehensive collection of the views of Thomas Jefferson classified and arranged in alphabetical order under nine thousand titles relating to government, politics, law, education, political economy, finance, science, art, literature, religious freedom, morals, etc.;

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5145. MAZZEI (Philip), Jefferson's letter to.—[continued].
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5145. MAZZEI (Philip), Jefferson's letter to.—[continued].

The letter to Mazzei has
been a precious theme of crimination for federal
malice. It was a long letter of business in
which was inserted a single paragraph only of
political information as to the state of our
country. In this information there was not
one word which would not then have been,
or would not now be approved by every republican
in the United States, looking back to
those times, as you will see by a faithful copy
now enclosed of the whole of what that letter
said on the subject of the United States, or
of its government. This paragraph, extracted
and translated, got into a Paris paper at a
time when the persons in power there were
laboring under very general disfavor, and their
friends were eager to catch even at straws
to buoy them up. To them, therefore, I have
always imputed the interpolation of an entire
paragraph additional to mine, which makes me
charge my own country with ingratitude and
injustice to France. There was not a word in
my letter respecting France, or any of the proceedings
or relations between this country and
that. Yet this interpolated paragraph has been
the burden of federal calumny, has been constantly
quoted by them, made the subject of
unceasing and virulent abuse, and is still
quoted, * * * as if it were genuine, and really
written by me. And even Judge Marshall makes
history descend from its dignity, and the
ermine from its sanctity, to exaggerate, to
record and to sanction this forgery. In the
very last note of his book [Life of Washington
] he says, “a letter from Mr. Jefferson to
Mr. Mazzei, an Italian, was published in Florence,
and republished in the Moniteur, with
very severe strictures on the conduct of the
United States”. And instead of the letter itself,
he copies what he says are the remarks of the
editor, which are an exaggerated commentary
on the fabricated paragraph itself, and silently
leaves to his reader to make the ready inference
that these were the sentiments of the letter.
Proof is the duty of the affirmative side. A
negative cannot be positively proved. But, in
defect of impossible proof of what was not in
the original letter, I have its press-copy still in
my possession. It has been shown to several
and is open to anyone who wishes to see it.
I have presumed only that the interpolation was
done in Paris. But I never saw the letter in
either its Italian or French dress, and it May
have been done here, with the commentary
handed down to posterity by the Judge. The
genuine paragraph, retranslated through Italian
and French into English, as it appeared here
in a federal paper, besides the mutilated hue
which these translations and retranslations of it
produced generally, gave a mistranslation of a
single word, which entirely perverted its meaning,
and made it a pliant and fertile text of
misrepresentation of my political principles.
The original, speaking of an Anglican, monarchical
and aristocratical party, which had
sprung up since he had left us, states their
object to be “to draw over us the substance,
as they had already done the forms of the British
Government”. Now the “forms” here
meant, were the levees, birthdays, the pompous
cavalcade to the State house on the meeting of
Congress, the formal speech from the throne,
the procession of Congress in a body to reecho
the speech in an answer, &c., &c. But the
translator here, by substituting form, in the singular
number, for forms in the plural, made it
mean the frame or organization of our government,
or its form of legislative, executive and
judiciary authorities, coordinate and independent;
to which form it was to be inferred
that I was an enemy. In this sense they always
quoted it, and in this sense Mr. Pickering
still quotes it and countenances the inference.—
To Martin Van Buren. Washington ed. vii, 365. Ford ed., x, 308.