New York: June 8, 1826. Autograph letter, signed, accomplished on first and third panels of bifolium sheet (measuring 24.5x20cm. when folded), approx. 750 words. Postally used on rear panel; previous mail folds with rather long subsequent splitting, some minor soil, loss as a result of wax seal affecting approx. five letters, else Good and legible. Text entirely in French.
Quite a significant missive from the French-born American doctor, who first began practicing medicine among the French colonists of Santo Domingo before the insurrection, led by Toussaint l'Ouverture, forced him to flee to Philadelphia in 1793. There he observed several outbreaks of yellow fever, publishing "An Account of the Contagious Epidemic Yellow Fever, which Prevailed in Philadelphia in the Summer and Autumn of 1797" (Philadelphia: 1798).
The present letter is addressed to Edmond-Charles Genet, better known as "Citizen Genet," who first arrived in the United States in 1793 to promote France's wars with Spain and Britain to the American government, though his infamously misguided actions, which included raising a militia out of Philadelphia and capturing British ships to be rearmed as privateers, dangerously compromised the country's neutrality. When the Jacobins put out a warrant for his arrest, Genet obtained asylum directly from Washington and spent the remainder of his days in Rensselaer County, New York, busying himself "with farming, scientific agricultural studies, and industrial mechanics" (DAB VII, p. 209).
This item written in response to a letter from Genet to Pascalis (not present), regarding a manuscript on which both men were collaborating, mentioning that Tillman (presumably an editor) had requested that "vos planches et le reste de mon analyse [?] soient transmis en août prochain" ("your plates and the rest of my analysis be transmitted by next August" - our translation). The bulk of the text, however, pertains to the organization of the nascent New York Academy of Sciences (originally the New York branch of the Linnaean Society of Paris), of which Pascalis was a founding member. Here Pascalis communicates frustration at a lack of interest in creating a Physiology subsection: "I have already tried to have them [the Academy regents] adopt a plan with the society of medicine which would have given much weight on their behalf but they have declined. On the one hand they do accomplish enough, my dear friend, that I wanted to offer my services to them, if they could obtain the right to appoint a few adjunct professors to be allowed a few crumbs from their table after... having themselves been well-paid (since this was their plan)... But there is a third plan that could potentially change the face of things that I have only just discovered. It would be to replace two or three of the former professors who work in secret to reintegrate themselves, I do not see that there would be sufficient opposition [loss of text] coming from the society of medicine."
The letter concludes with Pascalis thanking Genet for all he has done for him, noting that the American physician David Hosack "has already said that my speech has too strong a foreign accent...That is also the complaint against Mr. [Albert] Gallatin whom the President has appointed Ambassador to England... Americans always show themselves much less generous on this point than the English themselves. I would note that the occasion presents itself to say that... such an observation is only ever made against those who speak English more correctly, more grammatically, than they themselves..."
A rich and revelatory letter both touching upon the later career of one of early America's more infamous political figures, as well as the early years of the New York Academy of Sciences.