Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Edmund Randolph, 26 May 1793

From Edmund Randolph

Philadelphia May 26. 1793


The 14th. article of our treaty with France has shut out all general reasoning from the law of nations, on the memorial of Benjamin Holland and Peter Mackie.

The flour and meal were actually shipped after the declaration of war, made by France on the 1st. of february 1793. If the inquiry was to depend on their knowledge of the declaration, their relief would be very doubtful at least. But as two months had passed after the declaration and before the shipment, it is impossible for the government of the United States, to wrest the property from the captors. I have the honor, sir, to be with sincere esteem & respect yr. mo. ob. serv.

Edm: Randolph

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “The Secretary of State”; endorsed by TJ as received 27 May 1793 and so recorded in SJL. PrC of Tr (DLC); in a clerk’s hand; at foot of text: “(Copy).” Enclosed in TJ to Benjamin Holland and Peter Mackie, 27 May 1793, and TJ to George Washington, 27 May 1793.

The 14th Article of the 1778 treaty of amity and commerce between France and the United States provided that “whatever shall be found to be laden by the Subjects and Inhabitants of either Party on any Ship belonging to the Enemys of the other or to their Subjects, the whole although it be not of the Sort of prohibited Goods may be confiscated in the same manner, as if it belonged to the Enemy, except such Goods and Merchandizes as were put on board such Ship before the Declaration of War, or even after such Declaration, if so be it were done without knowledge of such Declaration,” adding that “the Term of two Months being passed after the Declaration of War, their respective Subjects, from whatever Part of the World they come, shall not plead the Ignorance mentioned in this Article” (Miller, Treaties description begins Hunter Miller, ed., Treaties and other International Acts of the United States of America, Washington, D.C., 1931–48, 8 vols. description ends , ii, 14–15).

Index Entries