Skip to main content

Mazzei Letter


MAZZEI LETTER, a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to Phillip Mazzei on 24 April 1796, in which the former secretary of state offered a characteristically hyperbolic and Manichean appraisal of the state of American public affairs. Jefferson asserted that the ruling Federalist Party was dominated by corrupt men who intended to assimilate the U.S. government to the British government. (The recent Jay's Treaty, which he and other Republicans read as an ignominious surrender of just American claims to the British, had reinforced Jefferson's appraisal.) Within a short time of its receipt in Italy, the letter appeared in Italian translation in a Florentine paper, from whence it made its way into the French press and, soon enough, across the sea. In America, the letter's publication caused great controversy. Among its fruits was the final rupture of the friendship between Jefferson and President George Washington, who joined his fellow Federalists in seeing an insult to the president in Jefferson's reference to "men who were Samsons in the field & Solomons in the council, but who have had their heads shorn by the harlot England."


Banning, Lance. The Jeffersonian Persuasion: Evolution of a Party Ideology. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1978.

Malone, Dumas. Jefferson and the Ordeal of Liberty. Volume 3 of Jefferson and His Time. Boston: Little, Brown, 1948–1981.

K. R. ConstantineGutzman

See alsoRepublicans, Jeffersonian .

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Mazzei Letter." Dictionary of American History. . 20 Feb. 2019 <>.

"Mazzei Letter." Dictionary of American History. . (February 20, 2019).

"Mazzei Letter." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved February 20, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.