Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Thomas Jefferson, 15 January 1793

To Thomas Jefferson

Treasury Department January 15th 1793


Major Rochefontaine1 has presented at the Treasury an authenticated copy of a Register Certificate in his favour, from which it appears, that the original has been deposited with Mr Delamotte, vice consul of the united States at Havre in France.

It being necessary, that the Treasury should be in possession of the original certificate, I have in the enclosed letter2 desired Major Rochefontaine to cause it to be forwarded hither. This letter will probably be transmitted to Havre, and will therefore require to be authenticated by your signature; it being presumed, that mine is not familiar to the Consul. [I request some proper Memorandum on the inclosed for this purpose.]3

It will be requisite, that Mr Delamotte [and other consuls and Vice Consuls of the UStates] should be directed to forbear in future taking any deposits of original certificates of the like nature. This direction I conceive will come properly from your department.4

I have the honor to be   very respectfully   Sir   your obedt Servt

Alexander Hamilton

The Secretary of State

LS, Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress.

1Etienne Nicolas Marie Béchet, Chevalier de Rochefontaine, who later became known as Stephen Rochefontaine, had served with the United States forces during the American Revolution. After the Revolution he returned to France, where he played a leading part in promoting the Scioto enterprise. In 1792 he fled France and settled in the United States. The certificate mentioned in this letter was one issued to Rochefontaine as part of the debt owed to foreign officers who had served in the American Revolution. For a description of this debt, see William Short to H, August 3, 1790, note 5. H wrote to Gouverneur Morris on September 13, 1792, describing the procedure for the retirement of this debt and stated that payment would be upon “demand and the production of the certificate by the party or his legal representative.… As the certificates will be required to be produced here; the payment of Interest at Paris must be made without the production of them.” Rochefontaine had left his certificate with the Sieur de La Motte, the vice-consul of the United States at Le Havre. A statement in the records of the State Department reads as follows:

“Col. Rochefontaine came to begg Mr. Gefferson to write to M. delamotte vice consul of america at havre de Grace, to order him to send immediately to M hamilton secretary of the treasury of the United states of america, the original title of M. Rochefontaine against the United states; which has been deposited by him in the consul’s office last February. M. hamilton had agreed with M. Rochefontaine to Speack to Mr. Gefferson on the subject, and M. Rochefontaine hope he has done it; but as he has an opportunity of a Gentleman sayling wednesday next, from this port to proceed by the way of Belfast to france, M. Rochefontaine will be much obliged to Mr. Gefferson to write the said letter, and he will call to morrow morning to get it” (AL, RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters, 1790–1799, National Archives). This statement is marked “recd. in the office 15 Jany 1793.”

2Letter not found.

3The bracketed words in this and the next paragraph are in H’s handwriting.

4On January 15, 1793, Jefferson wrote to La Motte: “I am informed by Colo. Rochefontaine that he deposited with you in February last the original certificate from the treasury of the U. S. of the sum of money due from them to him. As the rules of the Treasury office require that these originals should be returned on paiment, I am to desire that you will transmit the same by some safe conveyance to Mr. Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury, for which this shall be your warrant” (ALS, letterpress copy, Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress).

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