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Jefferson's Eight Excursions
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Excursion 1.       le Jardin des Tuileries
Excursion 2.       le Palais Royal
Excursion 3.       le Théâtre-Français
Excursion 4.       le Hotel Landron
Excursion 5.       le Salon des Madame d’Houdetot
Excursion 6.       le Hermitage des Mount Valerian
Excursion 7.       le Hotel des Monnaies
Excursion 8.       le Halle aux Bles

Like Jefferson, Pierre Cabanis is brilliant. In addition to this, he is well connected and well regarded. I portray him as a sociable intellectual whose knowledge encompasses virtually everything. Readers will also find him well-mannered and pleasant. His first concern, therefore, is to put his guest at ease. After meeting the American diplomat in the Place de Carousel just east of the Tuileries Palace, Cabanis leads Jefferson to the palace gardens where they begin a leisurely stroll down its central avenue. Cabanis comments on the gardens and the history of the city. Having broken the ice, he embarks on his main enterprise, which he does with a reference to his own scientific investigations. This personalizes his introduction to the intellectual revolution that began in France when Voltaire returned from England with news of Isaac Newton and John Locke in 1728. 

This revolution, Cabanis explains, rests on foundations laid by these two Englishmen. The “modern” sciences of Nature and Man, Cabanis explains, trace back to their discoveries. As Cabanis introduces Jefferson to the modern sciences on which the French concept of Progress rests, he asks Jefferson about the Declaration of Independence and public right in America. 

View of the Gardens and Palace of the Tuileries from the Quai d'Orsay by Etienne Bouhot (1813)
The outing concludes in le Place du Louis XV where the two men inspect Edmé Bouchardon’s equestrian statue of Louis XV. "Vice on horseback, Virtue on foot," Cabanis jests. Both men having enjoyed it, they agree to meet again. Cabanis thinks Jefferson would enjoy touring the emporium the duc d’Orleans has recently built on the grounds of his palace. Jefferson agrees.
The Entrance to the Tuileries from the Place Louis XV in Paris by Jacques Philippe Joseph de Saint-Quentin (c. 1775)
Le Palais Royal by Louis Nicolas Lespinasse (1791)
Cabanis’ intention for their second excursion is to introduce Jefferson to two key contributors to the transformation now taking place in France. He mentioned Newton and Locke during their first outing. He means now to speak of Helvetius and Quesnay. Cabanis' friends are drawing on Helvetius’s utilitarian theory of right behavior and on Quesnay’s physiocratic economic theory in their efforts to dismantle France’s exhausted hierarchical social system. 

It is fitting for Cabanis to conduct this conversation in le Palais Royal because the duc d’Orleans’ popular new emporium is a manufactory for a new social order. The duke is a Freemason. Many of the craftsmen who are weaving this new social fabric are also Freemasons. Cabanis knows this because he himself is a practitioner of the Craft—a member of Benjamin Franklin’s own lodge! He mentions that the duke has recently retained another of his masonic brothers to superintend his various projects. Cabanis assumes Jefferson will meet Jacques-Pierre Brissot de Warville
Looking up Galerie de Montpensier in le Palais Royal byLouis Nicolas Lespinasse (c. 1785) 
From Jean Lattre's Plan routier de la Ville et Faubourgs de Paris - 1792. Courtesy of Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps Inc.
From Jean Lattre's Plan routier de la Ville et
Faubourgs de Paris - 1792. Courtesy of Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps, Inc.
Cabanis wants Jefferson to meet the people of Paris—not the filth in its street, but the bourgeoisie who are transforming the old city into a modern metropolis. These new commercial men and women, neither noble nor poor, are the instruments of progress in France. They promote it by improving themselves. Seekers of culture as well as prosperity, they also keep the city’s theaters full. Cabanis has therefore arranged to spend an evening with Jefferson at le Théâtre-Français. They will see Beaumarchais’ popular but provocative play, La Folle Journée, ou Le Mariage de Figaro. 
View of le Theatre de l'Odeon by Victor Jean Nicolle (c. 1780). Le Theatre de l'Odeon was originally the home of the performing company of le Théâtre-Français. Image courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library.
From Jean Lattre's Plan routier de la Ville et Faubourgs de Paris - 1792. Courtesy of Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps Inc.
This cityscape depicts business being conducted at Port Saint Paul. Port Saint Paul is on the right bank of the Seine opposite the eastern end of Ile Saint Louis. The bridge in the left background is Pont Marie. Two blocks to the right is rue Antoine. The Bastille is three blocks to the right of this intersection. In earlier times, this area had been a swamp.  During Jefferson's stay in Paris it was a manufacturing and trading center and a place the American Ambassador did not frequently go. He might have seen owners of these businesses at le Théâtre-Français.The artist is unknown.
From Jean Lattre's Plan routier de la Ville et Faubourgs de Paris - 1792. Courtesy of Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps, Inc.
Excursion 4.    le Hotel Landron
​Jefferson’s fourth meeting with Cabanis takes place shortly after he has filled the vacancy Franklin created by returning home, which Franklin did in early July 1785. The fourth encounter takes place at Jefferson’s office and in the gardened patio that adjoins his office at 5 cul de sac Taitbout. 

Cabanis has come to conduct three small pieces of business. The first is to congratulate Jefferson on his elevation to the head of the American legation. The second is to deliver an invitation from Madame d’Houdetot, who wishes to present the new American Ambassador to the members of her salon. The third is to deliver a copy of Adam Smith’s dissertation, Wealth of Nations. Gem referred to it during his conversation with Jefferson at the theater. Cabanis suggests that Jefferson pay special attention to book three, which is a current topic among the economistes who attend Madame's salon. 

Du Pont de Nemours had been Turgot’s assistant during his short-lived ministry. During those eighteen months, Turgot relied on Du Pont to analyze to financial consequences of the reforms he proposed. Cabanis is more interested in the meeting that will take place between Jefferson and Turgot’s brilliant protégé. Cabanis considers the Marquis de Condorcet to be France’s greatest living philosophe—perhaps even its greatest mind ever. If the two men warm to each other Cabanis says that new horizons will open for Jefferson. 

Jefferson gives Cabanis a copy of his recently printed Notes on the State of Virginia. Cabanis reveals Du Pont’s connection to the queries Jefferson has answered in his book. This inspires Short to expound on the book's unique qualities. He
This street diagram for rue Taitbout and cul de sac Taitbout appears on page 38 in Thomas Jefferson’s Paris. (Howard Rice. Princeton University Press. 1976.) The image is from “Junie and Rittman, Atlas de la Censive l’Archeveche dans Paris, detail from sheet 7. Arch. Nat., NIV, Seine, Atlas 64 (fascimile repro., ed. Armand Brette, 1906.) Princeton University Library.” The buildings in this diagram do not resemble the ones in Jean Lattre's 1792 Plan. Nor does the footprint of the building at 5 cul de sac Taibout resemble the footprint Jefferson drew of the house (see Rice, page 39). I am unaware of any other images of Hotel Landron. Other (of the recently built) town homes of that period had courtyard gardens. I therefore assume that Hotel Landron did as well. 

Excursion 5.    le Salon de Madame d’Houdetot
Salon Scene by Michel Francois André-Bardon (c. 1750). Jefferson arrived in Paris with the impression he formed during his encounter with the charming and erudite Marquis d'Chastellux at Monticello in the spring of 1782. He assumed that the Parisian salons were places where intellectuals discoursed on matters of science and literature. He is therefore unprepared for the event at Madame d'Houdetot's. Her guests are among the most learned and well-informed in France, but they spend their Wednesday evenings with her because she is good company and allows them to be at ease. This means they can speak of politics, which is what they do.
Cabanis has acquainted his American friend with materialism, utilitarianism, and physiocracy. He has connected the sciences of France to the empiricism of Locke and Newton. In doing so he has introduced Voltaire, Montesquieu, Helvetius, and Turgot, not to mention Condillac, Le Mettrie, Du Pont and scores of others. He has explained the dire circumstances of the country, how it got there, and the efforts that are now afoot to recover it. He has revealed to the brilliant American revolutionary the mission of France’s Freemasons who are at work everywhere in the capital. And he has wrapped all these things in the robe of Progress. He therefore believes Jefferson is ready to meet the greatest mind in France, Condorcet! What will happen? Cabanis can only imagine.
As they walk from Jefferson’s residence on cul de sac Taitbout to Madame’s town home on rue Saint Honoré, Short tells Jefferson about her long-ago affair with Jean- Jacques Rousseau. Why is everyone always talking about Rousseau? Jefferson wonders.

Madame is delighted to meet Jefferson and his colleague. She asks the new American Ambassador to say a few words to his admirers, which Jefferson does. His comments are enthusiastically received. Madame then introduces Jefferson to her guests. The first to step before him is Louis Alexandre De la Rochefoucauld d’Enville, duc 
This picture portrays Jean-Jacques Rousseau with Sophie d'Houdetot in the garden behind her home in Eaubonne in the early 1750s. Their friendship had ended by 1758.  The Artist is unknown.  
refers to three particular passages. The first is in Query XI in which Jefferson applies the empirical method to confirm the purpose of the Indian barrows found many locations in eastern North America. The second is in Query XIII. Here Short draws attention to Jefferson’s comments of the science of government Jefferson used in constructing a Constitution for the state of Virginia. In the third, Short refers to Query XIV in which Jefferson discusses a few of the proposals he put forward as a revisor of Virginia’s colonial institutes. While inspecting these Cabanis encounters Jefferson's comments on the Africans he owns as slaves. Cabanis tells Jefferson that all enlightened men in France will find this interesting. Short refocuses Cabanis’ attention on Query VI, which contains Jefferson’s refutation of comte d’Buffon’s theory of the degeneration of La Nature Vivante of the New World. Cabanis congratulates Jefferson for his accomplishments as a man of science and opines that Condorcet will find his analyses of great interest.
to go to America and asks Jefferson to introduce him to the men who organized the American Revolution. Organization! He exclaims. This is the key to a successful revolution. 

Cabanis arrives as Jefferson is calculating his response to Brissot’s brazen request. He has with him the Marquis de Condorcet. Delighted that the two great men have encountered one another, Madame d’Houdetot proclaims that Old World pessimism has been met by New World optimism. In the conversation that follows, Condorcet tells Jefferson he would like a copy of Jefferson’s book and orders Cabanis to bring Jefferson to his residence in le Hotel des Monnaies where they will discuss it. Before excusing himself, Condorcet shares an insight with the American revolutionary. He tells Jefferson that the Americans have had a revolution without a vision while the French are having a vision without a revolution. What does Monsieur Jefferson make of this? Condorcet wonders.
From Jean Lattre's Plan routier de la Ville et Faubourgs de Paris - 1792. Courtesy of Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps, Inc.
d’Rochefoucauld, who announces that he is an ardent friend of Liberty. He is followed by Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau, and abbé André Morellet whom Jefferson knows. These two men echo the political sentiments expressed by the duc. Jefferson is surprises that they are so 
explicitly political. Du Pont, who follows them, has a different message. He apprises the American of the problem with progress and informs Jefferson that he must take personal responsibility if it is take hold in America. Their conversation ends when Short arrives with Brissot de Warville. Brissot surprises the American Ambassador by informing him that he is a revolutionary—like Jefferson! He then announces that he plans
 Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas de Caritat Marquis de Condorcet. Jean-Antoine Houdon. 1785. At the Louvre.
Map Excerpt from Wikimedia Commons and Geographicus Rare Antique Maps. Online reference:,_France_-_Geographicus_-_Paris-c-55.jpg.

Ferry from Longchamp to Suresnes with Mount Valerian in the background. Artist unknown. (c. 1760).
Jefferson’s book is full of facts. What it lacks, Cabanis observes, is positive direction. Jefferson’s political perspective is negative. His two early rebellions aimed to overthrow and dismantle, not to grow and prosper. He embraced republicanism to obstruct tyrants, not to create the political freedom on which economic opportunity depends. His system of public education would teach his countrymen to recognize and resist tyranny, not to succeed in their private enterprises. What is Jefferson’s constructive vision? Jefferson must have a clear answer to this question if he wants to impress Condorcet. If Jefferson can answer it, then he can counsel Condorcet on becoming an agent of progress in France. This will be the focus of their work at l’Hermitage at Mount Valerian. 
What will happen when Jefferson meets Condorcet? The answer is far from clear. In the first place, Jefferson is not familiar with Condorcet’s vision of societal perfection. In the second place, Condorcet is famously temperamental. In the third place, Jefferson says things in his book that Condorcet will condemn. Cabanis is concerned. When he has to deal with complicated issues like this one, Cabanis is in the habit of going into seclusion. His favorite refuge is a boarding house maintained by a brotherhood hermites on nearby Mount Valerien. He therefore arranges for Jefferson to join him there on retreat. Together they will prepare Jefferson for his meeting with the volatile French philosophe.

Neither Jefferson nor Condorcet has mastered his world. Cabanis makes this observation as he and Jefferson pass through the Bois de Boulogne on their way to the ferry at Longchamp. The author of the Declaration of Independence has left American and come to France. Is this not strange? As for Condorcet, the great herald of the perfectibility of man is content to lecture his friends. Where is the commitment to fulfill the vision he sees? Something must be done to fix these problems, Cabanis announces. 
Mount Valerien looking towards Mont Martre. Artist and date unknown
As usual, Cabanis has with him a satchel of papers and texts. After apprising Jefferson on the scope of their project, he reviews each document with Jefferson. Jefferson is surprised to find that they all deal with economics. Our revolution was about political rights, Jefferson observes. We accept that the people have the right to consent to the laws by which they are governed, Cabanis replies. The revolution here will be about right of the people to earn their daily bread. This is why I brought Smith’s text. Have you come to his idea that every successive generation has an equal right to the earth? Turgot and Condorcet both speak on this subject.

Excursion 7. le Hotel des Monnaies

Hotel des Monnaies by Pierre-Antoine Demachy (1777)
Condorcet commands such great personal authority that even Jefferson finds him intimidating. He is therefore privately anxious. He knows from Cabanis that Condorcet is a prominent figure in the abolition movement that is gaining momentum in France, and even Cabanis has disavowed the disparaging tone in Jefferson’s comments about black Africans in his book. (Jefferson defends them saying he has reported only what he has observed.) Still, the concern that Condorcet will be dismissive heavily outweighs Jefferson’s interest in Condorcet’s farfetched idea that the accumulation of scientific knowledge will produce perfection in Mankind.

On their way to le Hotel des Monnaies, Cabanis describes how the meeting will go. The marquis will of course lead it. He will focus on things he finds interesting in Jefferson’s book. He may fix on Jefferson’s comments about blacks, but Cabanis thinks it is more likely that he will draw Jefferson in a conversation about the changes that have occurred in America since the revolution. This is after all where Condorcet directed Jefferson’s attention during their encounter at Madame d’Houdetot’s. This makes sense, Cabanis adds, since Condorcet is preparing a response to a question posed by abbe Raynal: has the discovery of America been useful or harmful to mankind? What in your book speaks to this question? Cabanis asks reflectively. Your rebuttal to Buffon fits in the general framework of progress as Turgot envisioned it, Cabanis observes, but it does not speak to this other matter. Franklin gave Condorcet a copy of Pennsylvania’s Constitution. You should have included Virginia's Constitution in your book? Was it not the model for the others? 
From Jean Lattre's Plan routier de la Ville et Faubourgs de Paris - 1792. Courtesy of Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps, Inc.
Jefferson immediately resolves to focus his comments on this subject. His mood now brightens. The Virginia legislature will soon call a convention to correct the problems in our first charter and I have a draft of the plan it is likely to implement! The first Convention approved Mason’s Declaration of Rights before it enacted his plan of government. These rights will not be curtailed. In fact, Madison is pressing to supplement them by enacting my 1779 Bill for Religious Freedom, which will disestablish the Church in Virginia. No one had been more energetic on behalf of this cause than myself. This is vision that the marquis will understand! Cabanis proclaims as their carriage halts before the entrance to the marquis’ magnificent residence.
This is Jacques-Denis Antoine's 1768 plan for the Hotel des Monnaies. This structure was built on the former cite of the Hotel d'Conti and housed the foundry of the French mint during Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas de Caritat, marquis de Condorcet's tenure as Inspector General of the Monnaie de Paris. Condorcet held this post from 1774 until 1791. His residence was also in this building, probably in one of the apartments overlooking the Seine on Quai d'Conti.  
Excursion 8. le Halle aux Bles
After coffee at Café de Foy, which is at the far end of Galerie Montpensier, the two adventurers begin to stroll up the arcade. When they reach Doctor Curtius’s popular wax museum, Cabanis insists they go in. Here they find the duc frozen in discussion with Franklin, Voltaire, and a man named Jean-Jacques Rousseau with whom Jefferson is not acquainted. They emerge from the waxworks and have gone only a short way when Cabanis is hailed by a friend. It is the aeronaut Joseph Montgolfier. Cabanis and Jefferson accompany Montgolfier to the Café Mecanique where he meets the pilot of his new airship. Because Montgolfier and François Pilâtre de Rozier are Cabanis' masonic brothers, they are happy to discuss the flight Rozier will make across the English Channel the following week. Jefferson later learns that Montgolfier’s airship has crashed and that Rozier and his copilot have both been killed. It is the price of progress, Cabanis laments.
Cabanis has invited an outspoken English friend to join them. Jefferson will benefit by knowing Dr. Richard Gem. Gem is attached to the British Embassy, but prefers to think of himself as a disciple of Adam Smith. Cabanis assures Jefferson that Gem will shed his English reserve if the conversation turns to politics or economics—or cricket. Gem does this when he begins to speak of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. The doctor is called away after the play. Cabanis and Jefferson continue on to the Café Procope where they spend the remainder of the evening in the company of the charismatic author of the play they have just seen. Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais is yet another of Cabanis’ masonic brothers. The outspoken playwright offends Jefferson with his blunt comments about the politicians who are running the new American government, by his references to slavery in American, and by questioning Jefferson about the condition of his slaves.
Cabanis and Jefferson are both pleased by Jefferson’s exchange with Condorcet. The marquis was impressed! Never, Cabanis says, has he heard the opinionated philosophe do so much listening! Condorcet’s argument for freeing Mankind from the darkness of superstition also resonated with Jefferson—if progress rests on toleration in matters of conscience, then Jefferson must be a progressive! As to Condorcet’s proposition that the wider the application of scientific knowledge the greater the public’s general well being will be, Jefferson can find no fault in it.

​Cabanis proposes that Jefferson join him on a tour of the city's bustling grain market. There Jefferson will meet the aspiring bourgeoisie he observed at the theater—and of course the hopeless poor. As the day is nice they decide to walk. These are the souls Condorcet expects to perfect! Cabanis announces as they walk. You must understand, my friend, France is not like America. We are two thousand years old! We have developed many bad habits. Cabanis doubts that a man of culture and refinement like Jefferson will be able to comprehend the lowness of the French poor. Does Condorcet? Jefferson asks. No, Cabanis shrugs. 

La Halle au Blés by Nicolas-Marie-Joseph Chapuy (1838). Courtesy of Carnavalet.
From Jean Lattre's Plan routier de la Ville et Faubourgs de Paris - 1792. Courtesy of Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps, Inc.
Interior of Halle aux Blés by Jean-Démosthène Dugourc (c. 1815)
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Le Halle aux Bles is another striking building—a cavernous rotunda capped with a floating dome. Jefferson has never seen its like it. He and Cabanis are discussing the dome’s construction when someone calls Jefferson’s name. It is Brissot. Monsieur, Jefferson bows, you are everywhere. Cabanis told me you would be here, Brissot responds. Monsieur Brissot will tell you about the people of Paris, Cabanis explains. He knows far more about them than Condorcet. The three men enter the hall.

Six hundred thousand people live in this city, Brissot announces. Twenty thousand are rich. Forty thousand are acquiring at least some wealth. The rest are destitute. The people you see here are engaged in trade. I will show you people down the street who can do nothing but beg. Not even your slaves in America live as they do! The revolution I told you about will ameliorate the suffering of those people. How will it accomplish that, Jefferson wonders. The people will rise up, Brissot replies. The commercial men you see here have already formed the new concept of citizenship. When the people in the street become hungry again, they will implement it. It is that simple—new concepts united with popular action. Did not these two things produce your revolution?
What Monsieur Brissot is saying, Cabanis interjects, is that change is coming. It must, Brissot continues. The system here is financially and morally bankrupt. Nothing but habit allows it to perpetuate. A hundred years ago, England’s propertied classes forced their king to obey everyman’s law. A decade ago, your propertied class created government by the people. The French people will see that the same things are done here. We will follow in the great march of human progress. It is your duty as a citizen of the enlightened world to support this revolution. Is this not what Condorcet told you? 
Le Montreur de Chiens by Louis Leopold Boilly (c 1790).