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INV-21479.99 THOMAS PAINE Autograph Letter Signed, to Citizen Directer [Philippe-Antoine, Comte Merlin, of Douai]. [ca. 1798-1799, Dieppe, France]. 3 pp., 8⅞ x 5⅞ in. 1798-01-01

Paine writes on behalf of a Connecticut-born merchant-adventurer, Nathan Haley, who had captured an American vessel, the Hare, because it carried British contraband. This occurred in 1797, a year before the “Quasi-War” between the U.S. and France. Haley and Paine were each violently opposed to Britain and to the pro-British Federalist Party in America. This letter does not paint Paine in a good light, as he is, by implication, advocating French attacks on American vessels. Paine refers to his famously harsh public letter to George Washington of July 30, 1796, written after Paine narrowly escaped the guillotine during the Reign of Terror, to appeal to his correspondent’s anti-British bias – therein, Paine had condemned Jay’s Treaty, negotiated between the United States and Britain. Paine writes this letter as Merlin of Douai’s “ancient colleague” in the hopes that Merlin of Douai would overturn the ruling that “condemned” Haley’s prize at Dieppe. “[Haley] had been cruelly treated by the British whilst he was their prisoner in the American Revolution, and, as I am informed, has been cheated by the London insurencers, and besides the British made no ceremony of seizing American vessels.... It was Hayley who carried my letter to America addressed to the ex-President Washington, on the subject of the British [Jay’s] Treaty, to be printed....

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