Philip Mazzei


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Mazzei, PHILIP, patriot; born in Tuscany in 1730; was a practicing physician at Smyrna for a while, and was engaged in mercantile business in London in 1755—73. He came to America in December, 1773, with a few of his countrymen, for the purpose of introducing into Virginia the cultivation of the grape, olive, and other fruits of Italy. He formed a company for the purpose. Thomas Jefferson was a member of it, and Mazzei bought an estate adjoining that of Monticello to try the experiment. He persevered three years, but the war and other causes made him relinquish his undertaking. Being an intelligent and educated man, he was employed by the State of Virginia to go to Europe to solicit a loan from the Tuscan government. He left his wife in Virginia, when he finally returned to Europe, in 1783, where she soon afterwards died. He revisited the United States in 1785, and in 1788 wrote a work on the History of Politics in the United States, in 4 volumes. In 1792 Mazzei was made privy councilor to the King of Poland; and in 1802 he received a pension from the Emperor Alexander, of Russia, notwithstanding he was an ardent republican.

During the debates on Jay's (SEE JOHN JAY) treaty, Jefferson watched the course of events from his home at Monticello with great interest. He was opposed to the treaty, and, in his letters to his partisan friends, he commented freely upon the conduct and character of Washington, regarding him as honest but weak, the tool and dupe of rogues. In one of these letters, addressed to Mazzei, he declared that "in place of that noble love of liberty and republican government" which carried the Americans triumphantly through the late struggle, "an Anglican, monarchical, aristocratic party " had sprung up, resolved to model our form of government on that of Great Britain. He declared that the great mass of citizens, the whole landed interest, and the talent of the country, were republicans; but opposed to them were the executive (Washington), the judiciary, two out of three of the national legislature, "all the officers of the government, all who want to be officers, all timid men who prefer the calm despotism to the boisterous sea of liberty, British merchants and Americans trading on British capital, speculators and holders in the banks and public funds—a contrivance invented for the purpose of corruption, and for assimilating us in all things to the rotten as well as the sound parts of the British model." " It would give you a fever," he continued, "were I to name to you the apostates who have gone over to these heresies — men who were Samsons in the field and Solomons in the counsel, but who have had their heads shorn by the harlot of England." This was used as political capital by the Federalists until the election of Jefferson to the Presidency. Mazzei died in Pisa, March 19, 1816.



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