Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from George Hammond, 11 July 1793

From George Hammond

Philadelphia 11th July 1793


In the conversation which I had with you yesterday, you were pleased to inform me that a complaint had been addressed to the President on the subject of the British letter of marque-ship Jane, William Morgan Commander, having augmented her force within the port of Philadelphia.

Notwithstanding the loose and general manner, in which this intimation was expressed to me, and my conviction that the facts were not such as I presumed they had been represented, I entertained too great a respect for this government to suffer such a circumstance to remain unnoticed and unexplained. I therefore went myself to observe the vessel in question, and have obtained from her commander a declaration relative to the mode and extent of her force and equipment on her arrival here—to the object of her voyage hither—and to the repairs, which have been, or are intended to be, made in her, antecedently to her departure. This declaration, which I have the honor of inclosing, Captain Morgan is willing to confirm by his oath, and to annex to it, if required, a certificate, from the carpenter employed, of the specific nature of the repairs which this vessel is undergoing.

The readiness I have evinced to anticipate a complaint of this kind, that has not yet been formally communicated to me, will I trust be regarded as a manifestation on my part that I will not countenance or protect any British subjects in any proceedings, which may be considered as disrespectful to the sovereignty of the United states, or as infringements on that neutrality, which the executive government of this country has professed to adopt, and has recommended to its citizens rigidly to observe, in the contest subsisting between France and the other belligerent powers. I have the honor to be, with sentiments of great respect Sir, your most obedient humble Servant,

Geo. Hammond

RC (DNA: RG 59, NL); endorsed by TJ as received 12 July 1793 and so recorded in SJL. FC (Lb in PRO: FO116/3). Tr (same, 5/1). Tr (Lb in DNA: RG 59, NL). Enclosure: William Morgan to Hammond, 11 July 1793, stating, in his capacity as commander of the Jane, a letter of marque ship commissioned by the lieutenant governor of Jamaica, that he had brought this vessel to Philadelphia for the sole purpose of loading a cargo of flour for shipment to Jamaica, that he is making no alteration to his 16-gun ship to prepare it for war or increase its strength, that he did not need or plan to purchase additional military stores or ammunition, and that he had no plans for privateering on the voyage to Jamaica (RC in DNA: RG 59, NL; Tr in Lb in same). Enclosed in Tobias Lear to TJ, 15 July 1793.

TJ submitted this letter and its enclosure to the President on 13 July 1793 (Washington, Journal description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed., The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797, Charlottesville, 1981 description ends , 195). For a discussion of the Washington administration’s subsequent efforts to ensure that the Jane did not take on additional armaments in Philadelphia, see Syrett, Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961–87, 27 vols. description ends , xv, 88n.

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