To James Monroe August 18, 1794
From the original letter at the Library of Congress.
Prison of the Luxemborg 30 Thermidor
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 Depute 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 for forming a new one.
As the former legislature assumed a disposition that I should assist in this Business 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 c
I was elected (the second person in number of Votes, the Abbe Sieyes being first) a member for forming the Constitution, and every American in Paris as well as my other acquaintance knew that it was my intention to return to America as soon as the Constitution should be established. —
The violence of Party soon began to shew itself in the Convention, but it was impossible for me to see upon what principle they differed-unless it was a contention for power — I acted however as I did in America, I connected myself with no Party, but considered myself altogether a National Man — but the case with Parties generally is that when you are not with one you are supposed to be with the other.
I was taken out of bed between three and four in the morning on the 29 of Decr. last, and brought to the Luxemburg - without any other accusation inserted in the order than that I was a foreigner, a motion having been made two days before in the Convention to expel Foreigners therefrom. I certainly then remained, even upon their own tactics, what I was before, a Citizen of America.
About three weeks after my imprisonment the Americans that were in Paris went to the bar of the Convention to reclaim me, but contrary to my advice, they made their address into a Petition - and it was miscarried — I then applied to G. Morris, to reclaim me as an official part of his duty, which he found it necessary to do, and here the matter stopt. I have not heard a single line or word from any American since, which is now seven months — I rested altogether on the hope that a new Minister would arrive from America. I have escaped with life from more dangers than one. Had it not been for the fall of Robespierre and your timely arrival I know not what fate might have yet attended me. There seemed to be a determination to destroy all the Prisoners without regard to merit character or any thing else. During the time I laid at the height of my illness they took, in one night only, 169 persons out of this prison and executed all but eight. The distress that I suffered at being obliged to exist in the midst of such horrors, exclusive of my own precarious situation, suspended as it were by the single thread of accident, is greater than it is possible you can conceive — but thank God times are at last changed, and I hope that your Authority will release me from this unjust imprisonment.