Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Henry Lee, 13 May 1793

From Henry Lee

Richmond May 13th. 1793.


I do myself the honor to transmit to you a letter addressed to me by the British Consul residing at Norfolk with an Affidavit enclosed therein. The subject to which they relate will no doubt receive the Consideration of the President of the United States. I have the honor to be sir with the sentiments of the most perfect respect your ob: ser

henry lee

RC (DNA: RG 59, LGS); in a clerk’s hand, with complimentary close and signature by Lee; endorsed by TJ as received 18 May 1793 and so recorded in SJL. FC (Vi: Executive Letter Book). Enclosures: (1) John Hamilton to Lee, Norfolk, 5 May 1793, stating that several armed vessels cruising off the capes and in the bay under French colors but manned by British or American sailors have fired on vessels putting into this port in the last two days; that many merchant ships feared to sail from Hampton Roads lest they be captured; that it would be advisable to empower Commodore Taylor of the revenue cutter or someone else to arm and man his vessel in order to prevent further insults to the British and American flags by suspicious vessels off the capes or in the bay; that he was confident that the United States would adhere to a strict neutrality on this occasion and punish those who disturbed good relations with Great Britain; that British cruisers were expected to arrive very soon to protect British trade; and that he was enclosing the report of Captain Tucker, who has just arrived (RC in DNA: RG 59, LGS). (2) Affidavit of Henry Tucker, Norfolk, 5 May 1793, stating that on 29 Apr. 1793 the schooner Eunice, seventeen days out of New Providence under his command, was captured at 35° 50’ north latitude in 27 fathoms of water by the schooner Sans Culotte, a French privateer three days out of Charleston, armed with two four- and two three-pounders, manned by seventeen Frenchmen and thirty Americans and Englishmen, officered entirely by Americans and Britons, except for Captain Jean Baptiste André Ferey and the boatswain, and owned by John Oper, an American citizen from Cambridge, Maryland; that after both ships moved within the Capes of Virginia and spent two days at Hawkins Hole near Hampton, the Eunice was sent to Baltimore or a nearby creek on 1 May with Oper as prize master, its name having been erased from the stern; that on the night of 2 May while “some distance above the light House” in Chesapeake Bay the Sans Culotte detained the brig Union, Captain Potter, which first described itself as a Bristol vessel but proved to be an American vessel with a British cargo; that Tucker and four of his crew were put aboard the brig after being paid part of their salaries; and that another privateer from Charleston under a Captain Connoley with a crew of fifty and four guns is also cruising off the Capes of Virginia (MS in same; signed by Tucker and witnessed by Hamilton).

TJ submitted this letter to the President on 21 May 1793 while obtaining his approval of TJ’s response to Lee bearing that date (Washington, Journal description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed., The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797, Charlottesville, 1981 description ends , 146 and n, where Enclosure No. 1 is confused with Hamilton’s 7 May 1793 letter to Governor Thomas Sim Lee, which the latter enclosed to TJ on 20 May 1793).

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