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It is a case on their part fit only for
the continuations of Robespierre to set up. As to the name of French
citizen, I never considered it in any other light, so far as regarded
myself, than as a token of honorary respect. I never made them any
promise nor took any oath of allegiance or of citizenship, nor bound
myself by an act or means whatever to the performance of any thing.
I acted altogether as a friend invited among them as I supposed on
honorable terms. I did not come to join myself to a Government already
formed, but to assist in forming one _de nouveau_, which was afterwards
to be submitted to the people whether they would accept it or not, and
this any foreigner might do. And strictly speaking there are no citizens
before this is a government. They are all of the People. The Americans
were not called citizens till after Government was established, and not
even then until they had taken the oath of allegiance. This was the
case in Pennsylvania. But be this French citizenship more or less, the
Convention have swept it away by declaring me to be a foreigner, and
imprisoning me as such; and this is a short answer to all those who
affect to say or to believe that I am French Citizen. A Citizen without
Citizenship is a term non-descript.

After the two preceeding paragraphs you ask--"If it be my wish that you
should embark in this controversy (meaning that of reclaiming me)
and risque the consequences with respect to myself and the good
understanding subsisting between the two countries, or, without
relinquishing any point of right, and which might be insisted on in
case of extremities, pursue according to your best judgment and with the
light before you, the object of my liberation?"

As I believe from the apparent obstinacy of the Committees that
circumstances will grow towards the extremity you mention, unless
prevented beforehand, I will endeavour to throw into your hands all the
lights I can upon the subject.

In the first place, reclamation may mean two distinct things. All the
reclamations that are made by the sections in behalf of persons detained
as _suspect_ are made on the ground that the persons so detained are
patriots, and the reclamation is good against the charge of "suspect"
because it proves the contrary. But my situation includes another
circumstance. I am imprisoned on the charge (if it can be called one)
of being a foreigner born in England. You know that foreigner to be a
citizen of the United States of America, and that he has been such since
the 4th of July 1776, the political birthday of the United States,
and of every American citizen, for before that period all were British
subjects, and the States, then provinces, were British dominions.--Your
reclamation of me therefore as a citizen of the United States (all other
considerations apart) is good against the pretence for imprisoning me,
or that pretence is equally good against every American citizen born
in England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, or Holland, and you know this
description of men compose a very great part of the population of the
three States of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, and make also a
part of Congress, and of the State Legislatures.

Every politician ought to know, and every civilian does know, that the
Law of Treaty of Alliance, and also that of Amity and Commerce knows no
distinction of American Citizens on account of the place of their birth,
but recognizes all to be Citizens whom the Constitution and laws of the
United States of America recognize as such; and if I recollect rightly
there is an article in the Treaty of Commerce particular to this
point. The law therefore which they have here, to put all persons in
arrestation born in any of the Countries at war with France, is, when
applied to Citizens of America born in England, Ireland, Scotland,
Germany, or holland, a violation of the treaties of Alliance and of
Commerce, because it assumes to make a distinction of Citizens which
those Treaties and the Constitution of America know nothing of. This is
a subject that officially comes under your cognizance as Minister, and
it would be consistent that you expostulated with them upon the Case.
That foolish old man Vadier, who was president of the Convention and of
the Committee of Surety general when the Americans then in Paris went
to the Bar of the Convention to reclaim me, gave them for answer that
my being born in England was cause sufficient for imprisoning me. It
happened that at least half those who went up with that address were in
the same case with myself.

As to reclamations on the ground of Patriotism it is difficult to know
what is to be understood by Patriotism here. There is not a vice, and
scarcely a virtue, that has not as the fashion of the moment suited
been called by the name of Patriotism. The wretches who composed the
revolutionary tribunal of Nantz were the Patriots of that day and the
criminals of this. The Jacobins called themselves Patriots of the first
order, men up to the height of the circumstances, and they are now
considered as an antidote to Patriotism. But if we give to Patriotism a
fixed idea consistent with that of a Republic, it would signify a strict
adherence to the principles of Moral Justice, to the equality of civil
and political Rights, to the System of representative Government, and an
opposition to every hereditary claim to govern; and of this species
of Patriotism you know my character. But, Sir, there are men on the
Committee who have changed their Party but not their principles. Their
aim is to hold power as long as possible by preventing the establishment
of a Constitution, and these men are and will be my Enemies, and seek to
hold me in prison as long as they can. I am too good a Patriot for them.
It is not improbable that they have heard of the strange language held
by some Americans that I am not considered in America as an American
citizen, and they may also have heard say, that you had no orders
respecting me, and it is not improbable that they interpret that
language and that silence into a connivance at my imprisonment. If they
had not some ideas of this kind would they resist so long the civil
efforts you make for my liberation, or would they attach so much
importance to the imprisonment of an Individual as _to risque_ (as
you say to me) _the good understanding that exists between the two
Countries?_You also say that _it is impossible for any person to do more
than you have done without adopting the other means_, meaning that of
reclaiming me. How then can you account for the want of success after so
many efforts, and such a length of time, upwards of ten weeks, without
supposing that they fortify themselves in the interpretation I have just
mentioned? I can admit that it was not necessary to give orders, and
that it was difficult to give direct orders, for I much question if
Morris had informed Congress or the President of the whole of the case,
or had sent copies of my letters to him as I had desired him to do.
You would find the case here when you came, and you could not fully
understand it till you did come, and as Minister you would have
authority to act upon it. But as you inform me that you know what the
wishes of the President are, you will see also that his reputation is
exposed to some risque, admitting there to be ground for the supposition
I have made. It will not add to his popularity to have it believed in
America, as I am inclined to think the Committee believe here, that he
connives at my imprisonment. You say also that _it is known to everybody
that you wish my liberation_. It is, Sir, because they know your wishes
that they misinterpret the means you use. They suppose that those mild
means arise from a restriction that you cannot use others, or from a
consciousness of some defect on my part of which you are unwilling to
provoke the enquiry.

But as you ask me if it be my wish that you should embark in this
controversy and risque the consequences with respect to myself, I will
answer this part of the question by marking out precisely the part I
wish you to take. What I mean is a sort of middle line above what you
have yet gone, and not up to the full extremity of the case, which will
still lie in reserve. It is to write a letter to the Committee that
shall in the first place defeat by anticipation all the objections they
might make to a simple reclamation, and at the same time make the ground
good for that object. But, instead of sending the letter immediately, to
invite some of the Committee to your house and to make that invitation
the opportunity of shewing them the letter, expressing at the same time
a wish that you had done this, from a hope that the business might be
settled in an amicable manner without your being forced into an official
interference, that would excite the observations of the Enemies of both
Countries, and probably interrupt the harmony that subsisted between the
two republics. But as I can not convey the ideas I wish you to use by
any means so concisely or so well as to suppose myself the writer of the
letter I shall adopt this method and you will make use of such parts or
such ideas of it as you please if you approve the plan. Here follows the
supposed letter:

Citizens: When I first arrived amongst you as Minister from the United
States of America I was given to understand that the liberation of
Thomas Paine would take place without any official interference on my
part. This was the more agreeable to me as it would not only supercede
the necessity of that interference, but would leave to yourselves the
whole opportunity of doing justice to a man who as far as I have been
able to learn has suffered much cruel treatment under what you have
denominated the system of Terror. But as I find my expectations have not
been fulfilled I am under the official necessity of being more explicit
upon the subject than I have hitherto been.

Permit me, in the first place, to observe that as it is impossible for
me to suppose that it could have been the intention of France to seduce
any citizens of America from their allegiance to their proper country
by offering them the title of French citizen, so must I be compelled to
believe, that the title of French citizen conferred on Thomas Paine was
intended only as a mark of honorary respect towards a man who had
so eminently distinguished himself in defence of liberty, and on no
occasion more so than in promoting and defending your own revolution.
For a proof of this I refer you to his two works entitled _Rights of
Man_.



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