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Though
you recommend patience to me I cannot but feel very pointedly the
uncomfortableness of my situation, and among other reflections that
occur to me I cannot think that America receives any credit from the
long imprisonment that I suffer. It has the appearance of neglecting
her citizens and her friends and of encouraging the insults of foreign
nations upon them, and upon her commerce. My imprisonment is as well
and perhaps more known in England than in France, and they (the English)
will not be intimidated from molesting an American ship when they see
that one of her best citizens (for I have a right to call myself so) can
be imprisoned in another country at the mere discretion of a Committee,
because he is a foreigner.

When you first arrived every body congratulated me that I should soon,
if not immediately, be in liberty. Since that time about two hundred
have been set free from this prison on the applications of their
sections or of individuals--and I am continually hurt by the
observations that are made--"that a section in Paris has more influence
than America."

It is right that I furnish you with these circumstances. It is the
effect of my anxiety that the character of America suffer no reproach;
for the world knows that I have acted a generous duty by her. I am the
third American that has been imprisoned. Griffiths nine weeks, Haskins
about five, and myself eight [months] and yet in prison. With respect
to the two former there was then no Minister, for I consider Morris as
none; and they were liberated on the applications of the Americans in
Paris. As to myself I had rather be publicly and honorably reclaimed,
tho' the reclamation was refused, than remain in the uncertain situation
that I am. Though my health has suffered my spirits are not broken. I
have nothing to fear unless innocence and fortitude be crimes. America,
whatever may be my fate, will have no cause to blush for me as a
citizen; I hope I shall have none to blush for her as a country. If, my
dear Sir, there is any-thing in the perplexity of ideas I have mistaken,
only suppose yourself in my situation, and you will easily find an
excuse for it. I need not say how much I shall rejoice to pay my
respects to you without-side the walls of this prison, and to enquire
after my American friends. But I know that nothing can be
accomplished here but by unceasing perseverance and application. Yours
affectionately.



4. October 20, 1794.

Dear Sir: I recd. your friendly letter of the 26 Vendemaire on the day
it was written, and I thank you for communicating to me your opinion
upon my case. Ideas serve to beget ideas, and as it is from a review of
every thing that can be said upon a subject, or is any ways connected
with it, that the best judgment can be formed how to proceed, I present
you with such ideas as occur to me. I am sure of one thing, which is
that you will give them a patient and attentive perusal.

You say in your letter that "I must be sensible that although I am an
American citizen, yet if you interfere in my behalf as the Minister of
my country you must demand my liberation only in case there be no charge
against me; and that if there is I must be brought to trial previously,
since no person in a _private_ character can be exempt from the laws of
the country in which he resides."--This is what I have twice attempted
to do. I wrote a letter on the 3d Sans Culottodi(1) to the Deputies,
members of the Committee of Surety General, who came to the Luxembourg
to examine the persons detained. The letter was as follows:--"Citizens
Representatives: I offer myself for examination. Justice is due to every
Man. It is Justice only that I ask.--Thomas Paine."

As I was not called for examination, nor heard anything in consequence
of my letter the first time of sending it, I sent a duplicate of it a
few days after. It was carried to them by my good friend and comrade
Vanhuele, who was then going in liberty, having been examined the day
before. Vanhuele wrote me on the next day and said: "Bourdon de l'Oise
[who was one of the examining Deputies] is the most inveterate enemy you
can have. The answer he gave me when I presented your letter put me in
such a passion with him that I expected I should be sent back again
to prison." I then wrote a third letter but had not an opportunity of
sending it, as Bourdon did not come any more till after I received Mr.
Labonadaire's letter advising me to write to the Convention. The letter
was as follows:--"Citizens, I have twice offered myself for examination,
and I chose to do this while Bourdon de l'Oise was one of the
Commissioners.

1 Festival of Labour, September 19, 1794.--_Editor._.

This Deputy has said in the Convention that I intrigued with an ancient
agent of the Bureau of Foreign Affairs. My examination therefore while
he is present will give him an opportunity of proving his charge or of
convincing himself of his error. If Bourdon de l'Oise is an honest man
he will examine me, but lest he should not I subjoin the following. That
which B[ourdon] calls an intrigue was at the request of a member of the
former Committee of Salut Public, last August was a twelvemonth. I met
the member on the Boulevard. He asked me something in French which I
did not understand and we went together to the Bureau of Foreign Affairs
which was near at hand. The Agent (Otto, whom you probably knew in
America) served as interpreter, The member (it was Barère) then asked
me 1st, If I could furnish him with the plan of Constitution I had
presented to the Committee of Constitution of which I was member with
himself, because, he said, it contained several things which he
wished had been adopted: 2dly, He asked me my opinion upon sending
Commissioners to the United States of America: 3dly, If fifty or an
hundred ship loads of flour could be procured from America. As verbal
interpretation was tedious, it was agreed that I should give him my
opinion in writing, and that the Agent [Otto] should translate it, which
he did. I answered the first question by sending him the plan [of
a Constitution] which he still has. To the second, I replied that
I thought it would be proper to send Commissioners, because that in
Revolutions circumstances change so fast that it was often necessary
to send a better supply of information to an Ally than could be
communicated by writing; and that Congress had done the same thing
during the American War; and I gave him some information that the
Commissioners would find useful on their arrival. I answered the third
question by sending him a list of American exports two years before,
distinguishing the several articles by which he would see that the
supply he mentioned could be obtained. I sent him also the plan of Paul
Jones, giving it as his, for procuring salt-petre, which was to send
a squadron (it did not require a large one) to take possession of the
Island of St. Helen's, to keep the English flag flying at the port,
that the English East India ships coming from the East Indies, and that
ballast with salt-petre, might be induced to enter as usual; And that it
would be a considerable time before the English Government could know
of what had happened at St. Helen's. See here what Bourdon de l'Oise has
called an intrigue.--If it was an intrigue it was between a Committee of
Salut Public and myself, for the Agent was no more than the interpreter
and translator, and the object of the intrigue was to furnish France
with flour and salt-petre."--I suppose Bourdon had heard that the agent
and I were seen together talking English, and this was enough for _him_
to found his charge upon.(1)

You next say that "I must likewise be sensible that although I am an
American citizen that it is likewise believed there [in America] that
I am become a citizen of France, and that in consequence this latter
character has so far [illegible] the former as to weaken if not destroy
any claim you might have to interpose in my behalf." I am sorry I cannot
add any new arguments to those I have already advanced on this part of
the subject. But I cannot help asking myself, and I wish you would
ask the Committee, if it could possibly be the intention of France to
_kidnap_ citizens from America under the pretence of dubbing them
with the title of French citizens, and then, after inviting or rather
enveigling them into France, make it a pretence for detaining them? If
it was, (which I am sure it was not, tho' they now act as if it was) the
insult was to America, tho' the injury was to me, and the treachery was
to both.

1 The communications of Paine to Barère are given in my
"Life of Paine," vol. ii-i PP. 73, 87. Otto was Secretary to
the Minister of Foreign Affairs when he acted as interpreter
between Paine and Barère. There was never any charge at all
made against Paine, as the Archives of France now prove,
save that he was a "foreigner." Paine was of coarse ignorant
of the conspiracy between Morris and Deforgues which had
imprisoned him. Bourdon de l'Oise, one of the most cruel
Jacobins and Terrorists, afterwards conspired with Pichegru
to overthrow the Republic, and was with him banished (1797)
to Sinamari, South America, where he died soon after his
arrival.--_Editor._.

Did they mean to kidnap General Washington, Mr. Madison, and several
other Americans whom they dubbed with the same title as well as me? Let
any man look at the condition of France when I arrived in it,--invaded
by Austrians and Prussians and declared to be in danger,--and then ask
if any man who had a home and a country to go to, as I had in America,
would have come amongst them from any other motive than of assisting
them. If I could possibly have supposed them capable of treachery
I certainly would not have trusted myself in their power. Instead
therefore of your being unwilling or apprehensive of meeting the
question of French citizenship, they ought to be ashamed of advancing
it, and this will be the case unless you admit their arguments or
objections too passively. It is a case on their part fit only for
the continuations of Robespierre to set up.



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