HORTENSE de BEAUHARNAIS

DAUGHTER OF AN EMPRESS
QUEEN OF HOLLAND
MOTHER OF AN EMPEROR

zaterdag 17 december 2016

The Day Thomas Jefferson’s Daughter Told Him She Wanted to Become A Nun

There was a period when Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin were all in Paris at the same time. Franklin was there as our first ambassador to the court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. His job was get funds from France to bankroll the Revolution, and to cement a military alliance so we would win the war. Jefferson and Adams were there as commerce commissioners whose task it was to arrange an import/export trade deal with the French. Being in Catholic France was a new experience for all of them, and we know that the Church made a profound impression on one of Jefferson’s daughters, Patsy, and on one of Adams’ sons, John Quincy.

Polly and Patsy Jefferson were in their early teens when they arrived in Paris, so one of Jefferson’s first tasks was to find a suitable school for his daughters. All of his new French acquaintances recommended an elite convent school, l’Abbaye Royal de Panthemont in the Faubourg Saint-Germain. There the girls studied mathematics, history, geography, and they learned modern languages. It was a splendid education, of a kind that very few girls received back in America. Jefferson’s daughters also learned to play the harpsichord from Claude Balbastre, the organist at the Cathedral of Notre Dame.

In addition to operating a school, the nuns also offered rooms to aristocratic ladies who sought a quiet retreat from their troubles—the lack of a husband, the death of a husband, or the separation from a husband. One of the ladies living at the Panthemont at the same time as Polly and Patsy was Josephine de Beauharnais, the future lover, wife, and empress of Napoleon. Read all:ncregister/the-day-thomas-jeffersons-daughter-told-him-she-wanted-to-become-a-nun

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