From George Latimer
Philadelphia Jany 2 1793
In June last a French Merchant from Hispaniola, who had entered into a contract with the administration of that Colony, to supply at Port au Prince a large quantity of Flour, and other Articles, was introduced to me, by a mercantile House of this City, his Contract was explained by his Correspondent here. Payment of part was to be made in Specie on delivery of the Flour &c at Port au Prince. Fully confiding that said contract would be faithfully adhered to, I furnished him with fifteen hundred Barrells of Flour which he shipped about the latter end of July for Port au Prince where it was unloaded. Then the administrators found it impossible (as I understood) to fullfill their engagment of payment in ready money, their funds being totally exhausted. At that very period the French Commissioners14 & General Desparbes15 arrived from France, who published a decree which gave reason to expect that the Minister of France to the United States of America, was making provision for the support of the Colony and for the payment of the Bills, drawn by the Administration on Mr De la Forest influenced thereby, and the more so, as those at the head of the Administration convinced that gentleman, that these Bills upon Mr De la Forest would unquestionably be paid, he received (in lieu of the specie engaged by contract to be paid him) in payment, Administration Bills on Mr De la Forest. Of these Bills I received 7927 Dollars—say seven thousand nine hundred & twenty seven dollars, thirty seven Cents—which when presented for Acceptance were protested and I have since been told that those Bills notwithstanding the repeated exertions of the Gentleman—who was the Contractor, and had personally delivered the cargo at Port au Prince and returned with the Bills—will not be paid because they were drawn on the 10th of Septemr, but that if they had been of the 9th of Septr they would have been honoured. It is true Mr De la Forest⟨s⟩ advertisements in the News Papers fixed the 9th in preferance to any other day, but why the Bills of the 9th should be paid & those of the 10th refused, I know not. It is strang⟨e⟩ that the Administration having no Authority to draw Bills either in Augt or Septemr should take such license, but it seems stranger still that assuming such liberty, Bills drawn on the 9th should be paid & those of the 10th (one day later) be rejected. I have been advised to apply to you & solicit your mediation and protection in this business and I have no doubt of your interferance being of the greatest consequence. Please to pardon the freedom of this application and believe me to be &c
The Secretary of the Treasy
Copy, Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress.
5. LC, Arch. des Aff. Etr., Corr. Pol., Etats-Unis description begins Transcripts or photostats from the French Foreign Office deposited in the Library of Congress. description ends , Supplement Vol. 20.
6. Jefferson to Ternant, March 7, 1792 (ALS, letterpress copy, Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress).
9. Jefferson to Ternant, November 20, 1792 (letterpress copy, Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress).
10. Ternant to Montmorin, September 28, 1791 (Turner, “Correspondence of French Ministers,” description begins Frederick J. Turner, ed., “Correspondence of the French Ministers to the United States, 1791–1797,” Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1903 (Washington, 1904), II. description ends 45–51). For a detailed account of this incident, see Jefferson to Short, November 24, 1791 (LC, Papers of the Continental Congress, National Archives).
11. Turner, “Correspondence of French Ministers,” description begins Frederick J. Turner, ed., “Correspondence of the French Ministers to the United States, 1791–1797,” Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1903 (Washington, 1904), II. description ends 131, 139–40, 153.
12. [Philadelphia] National Gazette, August 11, 1792.
13. The Federal Gazette and Philadelphia Daily Advertiser, November 21, 1792. For correspondence concerning the application of the debt owed to France by the United States, see Ternant to H, September 21, 1791, February 21, March 8, 10, 1792; H to Ternant, September 21, 1791, February 22, March 8, 11, 12, 1792; H to Jefferson, November 17, 1792; H to Washington, November 19, 1792; Short to H, December 28, 1791, January 26, March 24, April 22, 25, May 14, June 28, August 6, 1792; H to Short, April 10, 1792. See also Gouverneur Morris to H, November 2, 1792, note 4.
14. This is a reference to the three civil commissioners for Santo Domingo appointed by the French government in the spring of 1792. The new commissioners, Etienne Polverel, Léger Félicité Sonthonax, and Jean Antoine Ailhaud, arrived at Cap-Français on September 18, 1792.
15. Jean Jacques Pierre Desparbès, commander of the six thousand French troops that accompanied the civil commissioners to Santo Domingo.