Jun 21, 2018 - Sale 2483

Sale 2483 - Lot 44

Price Realized: $ 10,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 10,000 - $ 15,000
TO IRA, BROTHER OF ETHAN ALLEN PAINE, THOMAS. Brief Autograph Letter Signed, to Ira Allen ("Dear Citizen"): "I called at the Caffe Boston today, where I dined, but you were not at home,--will you call on me tomorrow morning, at 12 OClock." 1 page, oblong 8vo; remnants of prior mounting at upper edge verso, small hole from seal tear at lower center, faint scattered staining, minor bleedthrough from holograph address on verso ("Le General Allen / Americain"). [Paris], "4 Vendeimaire" [26 September] 1790s

Additional Details

In 1792, the publisher of Paine's work, Rights of Man, was prosecuted by the British government for seditious libel, driving Paine to France at a time of great political foment. In 1793, his sympathies with the moderate views of the Girondin group at a time when more radical views held sway landed Paine in prison for nearly a year, where he continued writing controversial essays including Age of Reason (1794), not returning to America until 1802.
In 1796, Ira Allen traveled to Paris and persuaded the French Directory to supply him with arms to stimulate a democratic revolution in British Canada, but his ship, Olive Branch, which carried the weapons, was captured by a British warship, and Allen spent the next year in England appealing to the government for their return. In 1798, Allen went again to France in an effort to obtain documents for his appeal, but his actions aroused the suspicion of the Directory, which had him imprisoned for almost a year, after which he returned to America.
Café Boston in Paris was an establishment frequented by English speakers critical of the French government. A police report from December 30, 1802, mentions the café: "Some middle class English people often meet at the café Boston on Vivienne Street. They speak only in their own language; our government is always the subject of their conversions, and they say nothing but bad things about it. They take great care not to be overheard" (François Victor Alphonse Aulard, Paris sous le consulat vol. III, Paris, 1906, p. 522).