Letter from Thomas Jefferson, U.S. Minister to France, to John Jay, Secretary of Foreign Affairs, July 19, 1789, reporting on the events in Paris, page 543

This portion of Jefferson’s twelve-page letter—written entirely in his own hand—recounts how a mob seeking to arm themselves, stormed the Bastille (the fourteenth-century fortress used as a prison), took the stash of arms, freed the prisoners, and seized the “Governor” of the Bastille who was then killed and beheaded in the city streets. A later portion of the letter recounts the panic at the King’s court at Versailles resulting from false reports that a mob of 150,000 was on their way to “massacre the Royal family, the court, the ministers and all connected with them.”

National Archives, Records of the Continental and Confederation Congresses and the Constitutional Convention