With the resumption of international trade, he writes to re-stock Monticello with his favorite wines - European sherry and port To the wine merchant who supplied both he and George Washington: “With the return of peace, I return to my old correspondents…I am out of wine.”The dominant foreign policy issue for the first 4 presidents was the conflict raging in Europe. The French Revolution led to a series of such conflicts in Europe, in which the French were pitted against the great dynastic powers of Europe. When war first flared up in 1793, these powers, led by Great Britain, but also including Prussia, Austria and others, were trying to reverse the outcome of the revolution and restore the French monarchy. However, French victories and the rise of Napoleon changed the complexion of the situation, and a series of wars resulted, with shifting coalitions, lulls and flare-ups, and the nations of Europe devoting their entire life's blood to achieve success. These conflicts lasted until 1815, when with the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, the 22 years of strife ended. Europe would not see another continent-wide war for a century. The United States, as a major maritime nation trading with all the combatants, was inevitably drawn into the conflict. President Washington issued a Declaration of Neutrality, and Americans tried to sustain this stance. But the desperation of the combatants made this impossible, and the administration of every American president from Washington through Madison was consumed in dealing with this series of crises. Washington urged neutrality, and Adams faced the Quasi-War with France. Madison would embark on real war, the War of 1812. These were all threats stemming from instability in Europe that drew America into an undesirable and costly war. No one was more central in the heart of this struggle than Thomas Jefferson, whose administration faced rising hostilities against American commerce, imposing an export embargo, and had to deal with a series of embargoes from Napoleonic France that threatened to draw American further into the conflict. The war touched on another aspect of Jefferson’s life: his love of wine. He could not buy wine from his European sellers, something that affected his life greatly. He rejoiced after the Treaty of Ghent that he would once again get to order the high quality wine he loved. But then in July of 1815, after he received word of Napoleon’s escape from Elba and reappearance in Paris, he wrote to his wine supplier in Europe, hoping to get wine: “Scarcely was the temple of Janus [Roman god of doors and gates, associated with an allegorical gate that opens and closes at the beginning and end of military campaigns] closed in our hemisphere by the treaty of Ghent, when it was opened again in your’s at all it’s doors…During this period of our declared war, and a long preceding one of war de facto, on the part of our enemy, our intercourse with Europe was almost null. Now that it is reopened, I resume our old correspondence with a Declaration of wants. The fine wines of your region of country are not forgotten, nor the friend thro’ whom I used to obtain them.” He also wrote, "Disappointments in procuring supplies have at length left me without a drop of wine."On June 18, 1815, the English forces of the Duke of Wellington defeated Napoleon and French forces at the Battle of Waterloo. This was the death blow to the Emperor, who had already been exiled once and escaped and this time would never escape again. On June 22, he abdicated in favor of Louis XVIII. News of this momentous event, which ended nearly three decades of armed conflict in Europe and would free American commerce to once again ply the seas, arrived in America in August 1815. It reached Thomas Jefferson on August 11. In a letter to John Adams, he wrote, “I…this morning receive the news of Bonaparte’s second abdication.”He wrote two letters that day referencing the end of the great European conflict that had cost America dearly and taken away his wine. One was the preceding letter to Adams; the other was this. It is not clear which he wrote first, only that both were written on the same day. Autograph letter signed, Monticello, August 11, 1815, to Henry Sheaff, the major wine merchant in Philadelphia who sold both Jefferson and George Washington wine beginning in 1791, being his first to the end of the war in Europe and news of Napoleon’s abdication. “Dear Sir, With the return of peace, I return to my old correspondents. I am out of wine and it will be some months before I can receive what I have written for to Europe. I must request you to fill up the chasm by sending me a quarter cask of either dry Sherry or dry Lisbon [Port], whichever you have, most to be recommended. Let it be in a double cask, and sent to Richmond by some vessel going to that place, addressed for me to Messrs Gibson & Jefferson of that place who will pay charges and forward it to me. When shipped be so good as to drop me a line of notice with information of the price, and it shall be promptly remitted, say within 90 days from the shipment. I avail myself with pleasure of this [the end of European war] occasion of renewing to you the assurance of my esteem and respect. Th: Jefferson”As Monticello notes, by the end of the war, his stocks of leftovers from the Presidential term were mostly exhausted. His preferred drinks of choice were sherry, about which he wrote in 1803, "I now drink nothing else, and am apprehensive that if I should fail in the means of getting it, it will be a privation which I shall feel sensibly once a day," and port from Lisbon, to which he liked to have "for my future comfort."Letters of Jefferson ordering wine are uncommon. This letter is known in the published papers only from its retained polygraph copy, which is in the Massachusetts Historical Society. (Inventory #: 11155)
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