Volume 9 covers the period of the negotiations for a treaty of amity and commerce with Portugal, in which Jefferson attempted to open up a market for American flour and to move toward his prophetic plan of organizing a system of collective security against the Barbary pirates.
With indefatigable assistance from Lafayette, he also continued to try to break the double monopoly in the tobacco trade. Much new information appears here on the role played in that struggle by Simon Bérard, one of France’s chief merchants. The abatement of duties on the importation of whale oil into France and the beginning of efforts to open up that market for South Carolina rice reveal Jefferson as a representative of all aspects of American trade, trying to bind the new nation with ties of interest and affection to France.
Jefferson’s only extended visit to England brought forth varied documents concerning a variety of interests: his presentation at Court and his humiliation by George III; his tour of English gardens; his inspection of steam-driven grist mills and his confidence in the use of steam power in America; his convivial interlude with the famous American punster Richard Peters, and with such American sympathizers as Sir John Sinclair, Dr. Richard Price, Benjamin Vaughan, and Brand Hollis.
The letters in this volume reveal Jefferson as American minister in many capacities, public and private: assisting Démeunier by rewriting the essay on the United States for the Encyclopédie Méthodique; promoting friendly notices in European papers about American affairs; shopping in Paris for Abigail Adams; arranging for 8-year-old Polly to join him and her sister Patsy in Paris; advising young Americans about travel and education in Europe, and looking after the rights of American sailors charged with smuggling tobacco into France; encouraging the magnetic John Ledyard to trek across Siberia to Northwest America; urging his compatriots to redeem American credit and strengthen the bonds of nationality; importing American seeds and shrubs for European friends.