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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. Deforgues also makes Paine a member
of a non-existent body, the "Corps Législatif," which might suggest
in Philadelphia previous connection with the defunct Assembly. No such
inquiries as Deforgues promised, nor any, were ever made, and of course
none were intended. Morris had got from Deforgues the certificate he
needed to show in Philadelphia and to Americans in Paris. His pretended
"reclamation" was of course withheld: no copy of it ever reached America
till brought from French archives by the present writer. Morris does
not appear to have ventured even to keep a copy of it himself. The draft
(presumably in English), found among his papers by Sparks, alters the
fatal sentence which deprived Paine of his American citizenship and of
protection. "Res-sort"--jurisdiction--which has a definite technical
meaning in the mouth of a Minister, is changed to "cognizance"; the
sentence is made to read, "his conduct from that time has not come under
my cognizance." (Sparks's "Life of Gouverneur Morris," i., p. 401).
Even as it stands in his book, Sparks says: "The application, it must
be confessed, was neither pressing in its terms, nor cogent in its
arguments."

The American Minister, armed with this French missive, dictated by
himself, enclosed it to the Secretary of State, whom he supposed to be
still Jefferson, with a letter stating that he had reclaimed Paine as an
American, that he (Paine) was held to answer for "crimes," and that any
further attempt to release him would probably be fatal to the prisoner.
By these falsehoods, secured from detection by the profound secrecy of
the Foreign Offices in both countries, Morris paralyzed all interference
from America, as Washington could not of course intervene in behalf of
an American charged with "crimes" committed in a foreign country, except
to demand his trial. But it was important also to paralyze further
action by Americans in Paris, and to them, too, was shown the French
certificate of a reclamation never made. A copy was also sent to Paine,
who returned to Morris an argument which he entreated him to embody in
a further appeal to the French Minister. This document was of course
buried away among the papers of Morris, who never again mentioned Paine
in any communication to the French government, but contented himself
with personal slanders of his victim in private letters to Washington's
friend, Robert Morris, and no doubt others. I quote Sparks's summary of
the argument unsuspectingly sent by Paine to Morris:

"He first proves himself to have been an American citizen, a character
of which he affirms no subsequent act had deprived him. The title of
French citizen was a mere nominal and honorary one, which the
Convention chose to confer, when they asked him to help them in making a
Constitution. But let the nature or honor of the title be what it might,
the Convention had taken it away of their own accord. 'He was
excluded from the Convention on the motion for excluding _foreigners_.
Consequently he was no longer under the law of the Republic as a
_citizen_, but under the protection of the Treaty of Alliance, as fully
and effectually as any other citizen of America. It was therefore the
duty of the American Minister to demand his release.'"

To this Sparks adds:

"Such is the drift of Paine's argument, and it would seem indeed that
he could not be a foreigner and a citizen at the same time. It was hard
that his only privilege of citizenship should be that of imprisonment.
But this logic was a little too refined for the revolutionary tribunals
of the Jacobins in Paris, and Mr. Morris well knew it was not worth
while to preach it to them. He did not believe there was any serious
design at that time against the life of the prisoner, and he considered
his best chance of safety to be in preserving silence for the present.
Here the matter rested, and Paine was left undisturbed till the arrival
of Mr. Monroe, who procured his discharge from confinement." ("Life of
Gouverneur Morris," i., p. 417.)l

Sparks takes the gracious view of the man whose Life he was writing, but
the facts now known turn his words to sarcasm. The Terror by which Paine
suffered was that of Morris, who warned him and his friends, both in
Paris and America, that if his case was stirred the knife would fall
on him. Paine declares (see xx.) that this danger kept him silent till
after the fall of Robespierre. None knew so well as Morris that
there were no charges against Paine for offences in France, and that
Robespierre was awaiting that action by Washington which he (Morris) had
rendered impossible. Having thus suspended the knife over Paine for six
months, Robespierre interpreted the President's silence, and that
of Congress, as confirmation of Morris's story, and resolved on the
execution of Paine "in the interests of America as well as of France";
in other words to conciliate Washington to the endangered alliance with
France.

Paine escaped the guillotine by the strange accident related in a
further chapter. The fall of Robespierre did not of course end his
imprisonment, for he was not Robespierre's but Washington's prisoner.
Morris remained Minister in France nearly a month after Robespierre's
death, but the word needed to open Paine's prison was not spoken.
After his recall, had Monroe been able at once to liberate Paine, an
investigation must have followed, and Morris would probably have taken
his prisoner's place in the Luxembourg. But Morris would not present his
letters of recall, and refused to present his successor, thus keeping
Monroe out of his office four weeks. In this he was aided by Bourdon
de l'Oise (afterwards banished as a royalist conspirator, but now a
commissioner to decide on prisoners); also by tools of Robespierre who
had managed to continue on the Committee of Public Safety by laying
their crimes on the dead scapegoat--Robespierre. Against Barère (who had
signed Paine's death-warrant), Billaud-Varennes, and Colloit d'Her-bois,
Paine, if liberated, would have been a terrible witness. The Committee
ruled by them had suppressed Paine's appeal to the Convention, as they
presently suppressed Monroe's first appeal. Paine, knowing that Monroe
had arrived, but never dreaming that the manoeuvres of Morris were
keeping him out of office, wrote him from prison the following letters,
hitherto unpublished.

1 There is no need to delay the reader here with any
argument about Paine's unquestionable citizenship, that
point having been settled by his release as an American, and
the sanction of Monroe's action by his government. There was
no genuineness in any challenge of Paine's citizenship, but
a mere desire to do him an injury. In this it had marvellous
success. Ten years after Paine had been reclaimed by Monroe,
with the sanction of Washington, as an American citizen, his
vote was refused at New Rochelle, New York, by the
supervisor, Elisha Ward, on the ground that Washington and
Morris had refused to Declaim him. Under his picture of the
dead Paine, Jarvis, the artist, wrote: "A man who devoted
his whole life to the attainment of two objects--rights of
man, and freedom of conscience--had his vote denied when
living, and was denied a grave when dead."--_Editor._


August 17th, 1794.

My Dear Sir: As I believe none of the public papers have announced your
name right I am unable to address you by it, but a _new_ minister from
America is joy to me and will be so to every American in France.

Eight months I have been imprisoned, and I know not for what, except
that the order says that I am a Foreigner. The Illness I have suffered
in this place (and from which I am but just recovering) had nearly put
an end to my existence. My life is but of little value to me in
this situation tho' I have borne it with a firmness of patience and
fortitude.

I enclose you a copy of a letter, (as well the translation as the
English)--which I sent to the Convention after the fall of the Monster
Robespierre--for I was determined not to write a line during the time of
his detestable influence. I sent also a copy to the Committee of public
safety--but I have not heard any thing respecting it. I have now
no expectation of delivery but by your means--_Morris has been my
inveterate enemy_ and I think he has permitted something of the national
Character of America to suffer by quietly letting a Citizen of that
Country remain almost eight months in prison without making every
official exertion to procure him justice,--for every act of violence
offered to a foreigner is offered also to the Nation to which he
belongs.

The gentleman, Mr. Beresford, who will present you this has been very
friendly to me.(1) Wishing you happiness in your appointment, I am your
affectionate friend and humble servant.


August 18th, 1794.

Dear Sir: In addition to my letter of yesterday (sent to Mr. Beresford
to be conveyed to you but which is delayed on account of his being at
St. Germain) I send the following memoranda.

I was in London at the time I was elected a member of this Convention.
I was elected a Deputé in four different departments without my knowing
any thing of the matter, or having the least idea of it. The intention
of electing the Convention before the time of the former Legislature
expired, was for the purpose of reforming the Constitution or rather for
forming a new one. As the former Legislature shewed a disposition that
I should assist in this business of the new Constitution, they prepared
the way by voting me a French Citoyen (they conferred the same title
on General Washington and certainly I had no more idea than he had of
vacating any part of my real Citizenship of America for a nominal one in
France, especially at a time when she did not know whether she would
be a Nation or not, and had it not even in her power to promise me
protection).



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