Philip Mazzei's contributions to the colonists' efforts is a different story
than that most recounted in histories of the United States.
Mazzei came to the United States in 1773 to grow grapes and olives. He
established his experimental farm near Thomas Jefferson's home, and the two
Virginia governor Patrick Henry commissioned Mazzei to seek a loan from the
Duke of Tuscany. Mazzei was captured by the British while on this mission and
spent three months in jail.
Finally arriving in Europe to complete his task, he found he was blocked in his
efforts by Benjamin Franklin, who believed that only the national government
should contract foreign debts, not individuals.
Mazzei remained in Europe until 1783, gathering valuable information for
Jefferson. Following a brief return to the United States, Mazzei went to
Europe and became an adviser to Stanislow II, the last king of independent
Poland, in 1792. In 1802 Mazzei began to receive a pension from Russia.