To George Clinton May 4, 1807
To George Clinton May 4, 1807
Elisha Ward and three or four other Tories who lived within the British lines in the Revolutionary war, got in to be inspectors of the election last year at New Rochelle. Ward was supervisor. These men refused my vote at the election, saying to me: “You are not an American; our minister at Paris, Gouverneur Morris, would not reclaim you when you were imprisoned in the Luxembourg prison at Paris, and General Washington refused to do it.” Upon my telling him that the two cases he stated were falsehoods, and that if he did me injustice I would prosecute him, he got up, and calling for a constable, said to me, “I will commit you to prison.” He chose, however, to sit down and go no farther with it.
I have written to Mr. Madison for an attested copy of Mr. Monroe’s letter to the then Secretary of State Randolph, in which Mr. Monroe gives the government an account of his reclaiming me and my liberation in consequence of it; and also for an attested copy of Mr. Randolph’s answer, in which he says: “The President approves what you have done in the case of Mr. Paine.” The matter I believe is, that, as I had not been guillotined, Washington thought best to say what he did. As to Gouverneur Morris, the case is that he did reclaim me; but his reclamation did me no good, and the probability is, he did not intend it should. Joel Barlow and other Americans in Paris had been in a body to reclaim me, but their application, being unofficial, was not regarded. I then applied to Morris. I shall subpoena Morris, and if I get attested copies from the
Secretary of State’s office it will prove the lie on the inspectors.
As it is a new generation that has risen up since the declaration of independence, they know nothing of what the political state of the country was at the time the pamphlet Common Sense appeared; and besides this there are but few of the old standers left, and none that I know of in this city.
It may be proper at the trial to bring the mind of the court and the jury back to the times I am speaking of, and if you see no objection in your way, I wish you would write a letter to some person, stating, from your own knowledge, what the condition of those times were, and the effect which the work Common Sense, and the several members of the Crisis had upon the country. It would, I think, be best that the letter should begin directly on the subject in this manner: Being informed that Thomas Paine has been denied his rights of citizenship by certain persons acting as inspectors at an election at New Rochelle, etc.
I have put the prosecution into the hands of Mr. Riker, district attorney, who can make use of the letter in his address to the Court and Jury. Your handwriting can be sworn to by persons here, if necessary. Had you been on the spot I should have subpoenaed you, unless it had been too inconvenient to you to have attended.
Yours in friendship,