Volume 20: 1 April to 4 August 1791

© 1982 Princeton University Press

Cover of Volume 20, which displays the title and publisher of the volume, as well as the names of the contributing editors.


Volume 20, the last to be edited by Julian P. Boyd, reflects the vast knowledge of Jefferson and his papers acquired by Professor Boyd during his forty-year editorship of the project. Here he offers extended treatment of a variety of topics concerning Jefferson’s tenure as Secretary of State. Assessing Jefferson’s contribution to the design of the Federal City, the discussion on the laying out of the capital completes the story begun in Volume 19, and the essay on unofficial diplomacy in Indian affairs continues the chronicle of Hamilton’s interference with the conduct of foreign affairs. This volume also contains information on Jefferson’s northern journey with James Madison—a trip some thought to have been undertaken for political purposes—and on Jefferson’s interest in the Indian language as he visited the Unquachog tribe on Long Island. The account of Jefferson’s and Madison’s journey makes use of the journal kept by Madison, the original of which only recently came to light.

The papers here cover the negotiations to pay the United States debt to France; Jefferson’s embarrassing involvement with the printing of Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man in the United States; and the liaison between Philip Freneau and Jefferson. Also included are letters from Paris describing the increasing radicalism of the French Revolution, family papers, and a discussion of the widening rift between Jefferson and John Adams and, indeed, between Jefferson and George Washington.

A foreword by the new editor of The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Charles T. Cullen, notes Professor Boyd’s legacy to historical editing.

Julian Boyd was Professor Emeritus of History at Princeton University.

Julian P. Boyd, Editor
Ruth W. Lester, Assistant Editor