Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Joy, 12 March 1793

To Benjamin Joy

Philadelphia Mar. 12. 1793.


I herein inclose you a blank bond to be executed and returned to my office. The gentlemen named as sureties in your letter of Jan. 20. will be entirely sufficient. I am sensible of the advantages to our seamen which might result from the regulations mentioned in your letter, and the reasons for augmenting the allowance for sick seamen in so distant and dear a country. But the law having provided no exceptions from the general rule, and the duties of my office being bound up by the precepts of the law, I have no authority to make any augmentation whatever.

As a very general war appears to be gathering in Europe I have to desire your utmost vigilance in protecting our vessels in the rights of neutrality, and in preventing the usurpation of our flag by the vessels of other nations; an usurpation which tends to commit us with the belligerant powers, to provoke rigorous examinations of the vessels truly ours in order to distinguish them from Counterfeits, and to take business from us.—You will receive herewith a copy of the laws of the US. I am with great regard, Sir, your most obedt. humble servt

Th: Jefferson

P.S. April 12. I have just received your letter enclosing a Bond, which being approved, the Blank one mentioned in this is not sent. I also enclose copy of a Circular letter intended to serve as a standing instruction to our Consuls.

PrC (DLC); at foot of text: “Mr. B. Joy”; lacks postscript. FC (DLC); in the hand of George Taylor, Jr.; consists of postscript only. FC (Lb in DNA: RG 59, DCI); includes postscript. Recorded in SJPL in clerk’s hand under dates of 12 and 14 Mch. 1793. Enclosure: Circular to American Consuls, 26 Aug. 1790.

On 26 Mch. 1793, not having received an answer to his letter of 20 Jan. 1793 and concluding that the sureties he named there were sufficient, Joy wrote TJ from Boston a letter enclosing a bond guaranteed by them and asking him to have it “filled in by the Office of the Secretary of the Treasury” (RC in DNA: RG 59, CD; at foot of text: “Thos Jefferson Esqr Secretary of State”; endorsed by TJ as received 8 Apr. 1793 and so recorded in SJL). The bond itself, dated 22 Mch. 1793 and signed by Joy, John C. Jones, Joseph Russell, Jr., John Joy, Jr., and Christopher Gore, was endorsed as “approved” and signed by TJ (MS in DNA: RG 39, Records of the Bureau of Accounts, Surety Bonds).

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