From Edmund Randolph
Philadelphia, Saturday afternoon
August 16th 1794
I have just seen Mr. Fauchet. He says, that La Carmagnol was ordered by him to sail eight or ten days ago, and is probably gone; but that she came in hither, pursued by a vessel of war, now waiting for her at the mouth of the Delaware.1 I informed him, that his answer was desired in writing:2 He promised to send it to the Office this afternoon, and I have directed it to be sent to you. He will perhaps place the thing in such a point of view, as to require some consideration and perhaps modification. I wish therefore, that you would send the letter out, if after reading it you think that something must be immediately done.
Yours with respect and esteem
LC, RG 59, Domestic Letters of the Department of State, Vol. 7, June 27–November 30, 1794, National Archives.
1. On August 14, 1794, Randolph wrote to Jean Antoine Joseph Fauchet, French Minister to the United States: “Information has been given to the President … that the privateer, called La Carmagnol [or Columbia], which has always been considered as one of those fitted out in opposition to the sense of our government, is now in the river Delaware. This Vessel is represented, to retain still her warlike apparatus. It is probable, that you have not been informed, that she was ordered to quit our ports, or to be dismantled.… The readiness with which you complied with the wish of the Government on a similar occasion, induces me to hope, that you will issue orders for dismantling her, and prevent the President from taking on this subject, those measures which he wishes to avoid” (LC, RG 59, Domestic Letters of the Department of State, Vol. 7, June 27–November 30, 1794, National Archives). This letter is printed in ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Foreign Relations, I, 600.
At the request of the President, Henry Knox on May 23 and May 24, 1793, had sent circular letters to the governors of the states asking for information on armed vessels of the European belligerents in American ports (LS, to Thomas Sim Lee, Hall of Records of Maryland, Annapolis; Knox to Henry Lee [Calendar of Virginia State Papers, VI description begins Sherwin McRae, ed., Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts, from August 11, 1792, to December 31, 1793, Preserved in the Capitol at Richmond, VI (Richmond, 1886). description ends , 377, 379]). After several months of deliberation on this question the cabinet drew up a list of rules which Knox sent in a circular letter to the governors of the states on August 7, 1793. See “Cabinet Meeting. Opinion on the Fitting Out of Privateers in the Ports of the United States,” August 3, 1793, note 3. For H’s draft of these rules, see “Cabinet Meeting. Proposed Rules Governing Belligerents,” August 3, 1793.
2. On August 16, 1794, Fauchet wrote to Randolph: “Je vous préviens que les inquiétudes que témoigne le Governement des Etats Unis, relativement à la Columbia que l’on prétend être dans la Délaware, sont sans fondement. Ce bâtiment a reçu de moi l’ordre de mettre à la mer sur le champ le 4 du présent mois; s’il ne l’avait point exécuté, c’est qu’il en aurait été empêché par les forçes Anglaises, ou par la nécessité de faire quelques réparations indispensables avant le voyage qu’il va entreprendre” (Correspondence of the French Ministers with the United States Government description begins Correspondence of the French Ministers, Joseph Fauchet and P. Adet; with the United States Government during the Years 1794–1796 (n.p., 1797?). description ends , part 1, 4). A translation of this letter is printed in ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Foreign Relations, I, 600.
Randolph’s answer to Fauchet on August 20, 1794, reads in part as follows: “I should have done myself the honor, before this day of transmitting to you a copy of certain rules, instituted by the President of the United States in relation to the belligerent powers, if I had not taken it for granted, that your intercourse with your predecessor had rendered it unne[ce]ssary. But I take the liberty of now inclosing them, as having a direct connection with my letter to you of the 14th. instant, and with your reply of the 16th.…
“But the Carmagnol (or Columbia) has been the subject of particular letters from Govr. [George] Clinton to Mr. [Edmond Charles] Genet and the French Consul at New York [Alexandre Maurice Blanc de Lanautte, Comte d’Hauterive], and the result has been an assurance, that she should no longer offend those rules. This assurance has produced a great degree of anxiety, that she should not now enter our ports.…
“It is very far from the wish of the President, that your dispatches should be at any time interrupted. The step of dismantling which is desired, is merely to fulfil an engagement, which has been frequently made.
“Whether the Carmagnol be at present in the Delaware, we cannot at this place ascertain. If she has sailed, I have only to communicate to you the hope and expectation of the President, that you will by your orders prevent her from returning to our ports in her military equipment. If she has not sailed, we must repeat our confidence, that you will cause her to be dismantled. The rules above referred to will not permit an illicit privateer, as she has been deemed to be, to make any reparations within the United States.…” (LC, RG 59, Domestic Letters of the Department of State, Vol. 7, June 27–November 30, 1794, National Archives.) This letter is printed in ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Foreign Relations, I, 600.