Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to José Ignacio de Viar and José de Jaudenes, 21 December 1791

To José Ignacio de Viar and José de Jaudenes

Philadelphia Dec. 21. 1791.


The bearer hereof Kenneth Thompson, a citizen of the United States, proposing to go down the Missisipi to New-Orleans on business, wishes to obtain a passport from you to that place, for his greater safety. He brings me letters from Maryland assuring me of his being a person of merit and good deportment; on these assurances I take the liberty of presenting his application to you, only asking you to do for him what is within the regular line of your ordinary proceedings, in like cases, and begging you to understand that if there would be any thing contrary to rule in granting his request, I do not in that case interest myself in it at all, nor wish to lay you under any embarrasment.—I have the honour to be with much esteem and respect, Gentlemen Your most obedt. & most humble servt,

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC); at foot of text: “Messieurs Viar and Jaudenes Commissioners of his Catholic majesty.” FC (DNA: RG 360, DL).

Overton Carr of Maryland and William Hunter, Jr. of Virginia had written TJ letters of recommendation for Thompson. Carrnoted that Thomspon was “a young Gentleman” whose “Adventurous spirit has prompted him to seek his fortune upon the Banks of the Ohio, where He has been for Some time Settled in the Capacity of a Merchant; and is desirous of Opening an intercourse with new Orleans, where Business has been heretofore carried on to very great advantage. But the jealousy of the Spanish Government, now Extremely watchful in consequence of the French Revolution, has rendered the Communication more hazardous and difficult than formerly. Numbers however still enjoy the privilidge of trading there, by means of Pasports and He is now on his way to Philadelphia in order to obtain something of this kind” (Carr to TJ, 4 Dec. 1791; RC in DLC; endorsed by TJ as received 20 Dec. 1791 and so recorded in SJL). Hunter gave substantially the same account of Thompson in his letter (Hunter to TJ, 8 Dec. 1791; RC in DNA: RG 59, MLR; endorsed by TJ as received 20 Dec. 1791 and so recorded in SJL).

Viar and Jaudenes replied that they had no power to issue a passport but they would happily write a letter of endorsement to the Governor of New Orleans (Viar and Jaudenes to TJ, 22 Dec. 1791; RC in DNA: RG 59, NL; endorsed by TJ as received 22 Dec. 1791 and so recorded in SJL).

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