Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Matthew Clarkson, 3 June 1793

From Matthew Clarkson

Philadelphia June 3d. 1793.


Having understood that it was Doctor Foulke who gave to Mr. Moissonier the names of the two persons who are represented in the Vice Consuls Memorial, as having excited the English Sailors to continue the Quarrel with the People of the Ambuscade, The Doctor has been so obliging as to call upon me, at my request, to inform me what he knew of the matter.

The following is the substance of what he told me, Vizt.

That on the 29th. ulto. at the time the riot happened, he was standing at his Door, when Mr. Moissonier represented to him, that he had seen Several persons encouraging the English Seamen to beat the French men; and occasioned great tumult, that he asked Mr. Moissonier if he could discover any of the persons who had been active in so doing, that Mr. Moissonier pointed out a person who he said was one of them; that he (the Doctor) knows him to be a man whose name is Peter, and is a domestick of the Spanish Chargé des’affaires; that he went to the said Peter and spoke to him, and told him that he had better go home and let the Frenchmen alone, or that he would get into trouble, to which he answered that “he knew what he was about,” and went on with the crowd.

The Doctor says, that he also saw George Abbot a Hair-Dresser, running along side of the French-men; that he spoke to him, and desired him to go home; he answered “he would be damned if he did, for he intended to have a Crack at the French-men for beating one of his Comrades.” That the Doctor told Mr. Moissonier his name, upon being asked who he was.

The Doctor adds that he hath mentioned to Mr. Viar what passed between his domestick, Peter, and him, and that he appeared Very much displeased with his Conduct. I am with much esteem Sir Your most obedt. humbl. Servt

Matth Clarkson

RC (DNA: RG 59, MLR); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson Secretary of State”; endorsed by TJ as received 4 June 1793 and so recorded in SJL.

Matthew Clarkson (1733–1800), a native of New York City, moved to Philadelphia as a child and spent the rest of his life there as a merchant and public official. He served as mayor of Philadelphia from 1792 to 1796, earning praise for his energetic and courageous efforts to combat the yellow fever epidemic of 1793, and was a longstanding member of the American Philosophical Society (John Hall and Samuel Clarkson, Memoirs of Matthew Clarkson of Philadelphia … and of his Brother Gerardus Clarkson … [Philadelphia, 1890], 17–80; APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends , Proceedings, xxii, pt. 3 [1885], 33, 101, 110).

Peter: Petter Ardens, a Flemish native, was one of the persons noted in the list of servants enclosed in Josef de Jaudenes and Josef Ignacio de Viar to TJ, 27 June 1792, cited in the note to Edmund Randolph, 26 June 1792 (Vol. 24:129n).

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