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In consequence of what passed thereupon between them he [Paine]
urged me to take the matter up, which I promised to do. On the 18th I
wrote to the Duke of Leeds requesting an interview."

1 Force's "American State Papers, For. Rel.," vol. i.

At that time (1790) Paine was as yet a lion in London, thus able to
give Morris a lift. He told Morris, in 1792 that he considered his
appointment to France a mistake. This was only on the ground of his
anti-republican opinions; he never dreamed of the secret commissions
to England. He could not have supposed that the Minister who had so
promptly presented the case of impressed seamen in England would
not equally attend to the distressed Captains in France; but these,
neglected by their Minister, appealed to Paine. Paine went to see
Morris, with whom he had an angry interview, during which he asked
Morris "if he did not feel ashamed to take the money of the country
and do nothing for it." Paine thus incurred the personal enmity of
Gouverneur Morris. By his next step he endangered this Minister's
scheme for increasing the friction between France and America; for
Paine advised the Americans to appeal directly to the Convention, and
introduced them to that body, which at once heeded their application,
Morris being left out of the matter altogether. This was August 22d, and
Morris was very angry. It is probable that the Americans in Paris
felt from that time that Paine was in danger, for on September 13th a
memorial, evidently concocted by them, was sent to the French government
proposing that they should send Commissioners to the United States to
forestall the intrigues of England, and that Paine should go with them,
and set forth their case in the journals, as he "has great influence
with the people." This looks like a design to get Paine safely out of
the country, but it probably sealed his fate. Had Paine gone to America
and reported there Morris's treacheries to France and to his own
country, and his licentiousness, notorious in Paris, which his diary has
recently revealed to the world, the career of the Minister would have
swiftly terminated. Gouverneur Morris wrote to Robert Morris that
Paine was intriguing for his removal, and intimates that he (Paine) was
ambitious of taking his place in Paris. Paine's return to America must
be prevented.

Had the American Minister not been well known as an enemy of the
republic it might have been easy to carry Paine from the Convention to
the guillotine; but under the conditions the case required all of the
ingenuity even of a diplomatist so adroit as Gouverneur Morris. But fate
had played into his hand. It so happened that Louis Otto, whose letter
from Philadelphia has been quoted, had become chief secretary to the
Minister of Foreign Affairs in Paris, M. Deforgues. This Minister and
his Secretary, apprehending the fate that presently overtook both, were
anxious to be appointed to America. No one knew better than Otto the
commanding influence of Gouverneur Morris, as Washington's "irremovable"
representative, both in France and America, and this desire of the two
frightened officials to get out of France was confided to him.(1) By
hope of his aid, and by this compromising confidence, Deforgues came
under the power of a giant who used it like a giant. Morris at
once hinted that Paine was fomenting the troubles given by Genêt to
Washington in America, and thus set in motion the procedure by which
Paine was ultimately lodged in prison.

There being no charge against Paine in France, and no ill-will felt
towards him by Robespierre, compliance with the supposed will of
Washington was in this case difficult. Six months before, a law had been
passed to imprison aliens of hostile nationality, which could not affect
Paine, he being a member of the Convention and an American. But a decree
was passed, evidently to reach Paine, "that no foreigner should be
admitted to represent the French people"; by this he was excluded from
the Convention, and the Committee of General Surety enabled to take the
final step of assuming that he was an Englishman, and thus under the
decree against aliens of hostile nations.(2)

1 Letter of Gouverneur Morris to Washington, Oct 19, 1793.
Sparks's "Life of Gouverneur Morris," vol. ii., p. 375.

2 Although, as I have said, there was no charge against
Paine in France, and none assigned in any document connected
with his arrest, some kind of insinuation had to be made in
the Convention to cover proceedings against a Deputy, and
Bourdon de l'Oise said, "I know that he has intrigued with a
former agent of the bureau of Foreign Affairs." It will be
seen by the third addendum to the Memorial to Monroe that
Paine supposed this to refer to Louis Otto, who had been his
interpreter in an interview requested by Barère, of the
Committee of Public Safety. But as Otto was then, early in
September, 1793, Secretary in the Foreign Office, and Barère
a fellow-terrorist of Bourdon, there could be no accusation
based on an interview which, had it been probed, would have
put Paine's enemies to confusion. It is doubtful, however,
if Paine was right in his conjecture. The reference of
Bourdon was probably to the collusion between Paine and
Genêt suggested by Morris.

Paine was thus lodged in prison simply to please Washington, to whom
it was left to decide whether he had been rightly represented by his
Minister in the case. When the large number of Americans in Paris
hastened in a body to the Convention to demand his release, the
President (Vadier) extolled Paine, but said his birth in England brought
him under the measures of safety, and referred them to the Committees.
There they were told that "their reclamation was only the act of
individuals, without any authority from the American Government."
Unfortunately the American petitioners, not understanding by this a
reference to the President, unsuspiciously repaired to Morris, as
also did Paine by letter. The Minister pretended compliance, thereby
preventing their direct appeal to the President. Knowing, however, that
America would never agree that nativity under the British flag made
Paine any more than other Americans a citizen of England, the American
Minister came from Sain-port, where he resided, to Paris, and secured
from the obedient Deforgues a certificate that he had reclaimed Paine
as an American citizen, but that he was held as a _French_ citizen.
This ingeniously prepared certificate which was sent to the Secretary
of State (Jefferson), and Morris's pretended "reclamation," _which was
never sent to America_, are translated in my "Life of Paine," and here
given in the original.


À Paris le 14 février 1794, 26 pluviôse.

Le Minisire plénipotentiaire des États Unis de l'Amérique près la
République française au Ministre des Affaires Étrangères.

Monsieur:

Thomas Paine vient de s'adresser à moi pour que je le réclame comme
Citoyen des États Unis. Voici (je crois) les Faits que le regardent. Il
est né en Angleterre. Devenu ensuite Citoyen des États Unis il s'y
est acquise une grande célébrité par des Écrits révolutionnaires. En
consequence il fût adopté Citoyen français et ensuite élu membre de la
Convention. Sa conduite depuis cette époque n'est pas de mon ressort.
J'ignore la cause de sa Détention actuelle dans la prison du Luxembourg,
mais je vous prie Monsieur (si des raisons que ne me sont pas connues
s'opposent à sa liberation) de vouloir bien m'en instruire pour que je
puisse les communiquer au Gouvernement des États Unis. J'ai l'honneur
d'être, Monsieur,

Votre très humble Serviteur

Gouv. Morris.

Paris, i Ventôse l'An ad. de la République une et indivisible.

Le Ministre des Affaires Étrangères au Ministre Plénipotentiaire des
États Unis de V Amérique près la République Française.

Par votre lettre du 26 du mois dernier, vous réclamez la liberté de
Thomas Faine, comme Citoyen américain. Né en Angleterre, cet ex-deputé
est devenu successivement Citoyen Américain et Citoyen français. En
acceptant ce dernier titre et en remplissant une place dans le Corps
Législatif, il est soumis aux lob de la République et il a renoncé de
fait à la protection que le droit des gens et les traités conclus avec
les États Unis auraient pu lui assurer.

J'ignore les motifs de sa détention mais je dois présumer qûils bien
fondés. Je vois néanmoins soumettre au Comité de Salut Public la démande
que vous m'avez adressée et je m'empresserai de vous faire connaître sa
décision.

Dir ORGUBS. (1)

1 Archives of the Foreign Office, Paris, "États Unis," vol.
xl. Translations:--Morris: "Sir,--Thomas Paine has just
applied to me to claim him as a citizen of the United
States. Here (I believe) are the facts relating to him. He
was born in England. Having afterwards become a citizen of
the United States, he acquired great celebrity there by his
revolutionary writings. In consequence he was adopted a
French citizen and then elected Member of the Convention.
His conduct since this epoch is out of my jurisdiction. I am
ignorant of the reason for his present detention in the
Luxembourg prison, but I beg you, sir (if reasons unknown to
me prevent his liberation), be so good as to inform me, that
I may communicate them to the government of the United
States." Deporgurs: "By your letter of the 36th of last
month you reclaim the liberty of Thomas Paine as an American
citizen. Born in England, this ex-deputy has become
successively an American and a French citizen. In accepting
this last title, and in occupying a place in the Corps
Législatif he submitted himself to the laws of the Republic,
and has certainly renounced the protection which the law of
nations, and treaties concluded with the United States,
could have assured him. I am ignorant of the motives of his
detention, but I must presume they are well founded. I shall
nevertheless submit to the Committee of Public Safety the
demand you have addressed to me, and I shall lose no time in
letting you know its decision."

It will be seen that Deforgues begins his letter with a falsehood: "You
reclaim the liberty of Paine as an American citizen." Morris's letter
had declared him a French citizen out of his (the American Minister's)
"jurisdiction." Morris states for Deforgues his case, and it is
obediently adopted, though quite discordant with the decree, which
imprisoned Paine as a foreigner.



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