Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, 4 January 1792

To George Washington

Philadelphia Jan. 4. 1792


Having been in conversation to-day with Monsr. Payan, one of the St. Domingo deputies, I took occasion to enquire of him the footing on which our commerce there stands at present, and particularly whether the colonial arret of 1789 permitting a free importation of our flour till 1793. was still in force. He answered that that arret was revoked in France on the clamours of the merchants there: but that the permission to carry flour,1 and he thinks to bring away coffee and sugar, was immediately renewed by the governor. Whether this has been regularly kept up by renewed arrets during the present troubles he cannot say, but is sure that in practice it has never been discontinued, and that not by contraband, but openly and legally as is understood. The public application to us to send flour there is a proof of it. Instead therefore of resting this permission on a colonial arret till 1793. it should be rested on temporary arrets renewed from time to time as heretofore. This correction of the notes I took the liberty of laying before you with the table containing a comparative view of our commerce with France and England, I have thought it my duty to make. I have the honor to be with the most perfect respect & attachment Sir your most obedt. & most humble servt.,

Th: Jefferson

RC (DNA: RG 59, MLR); at foot of text: “The President of the U.S.”; endorsed by Lear. Entry in SJPL reads: “Th:J. to G.W. Letter on commerce with St. Domingo. Table of commerce with France and England corrected.” PrC (DLC). Tr (NNC). PrC of another Tr (DLC); in clerk’s hand except for an interlinear addition by TJ (see note below); unsigned. Tr (DNA: RG 59, SDC).

The 9 May 1789 ordinance of the governor of Saint-Domingue authorizing the importation of flour from the United States and the 2 July 1789 arrêt of the French Council of State revoking this ordinance are in J. Saintoyant, La colonisation Française pendant la révolution, 2 vols. (Paris, 1930), i, 452–3. TJ’s notes and table on commerce are enclosed in his 23 Dec. 1791 letter to the President. See also Hamilton to TJ, 1 Jan. 1792.

1“to the three usual ports” interlined at this point in PrC of another Tr (see note above); Tr in NNC, in the same clerk’s hand, contains these additional five words.

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