Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to George Hammond, 1 August 1793

To George Hammond

Philadelphia August 1st. 1793.


I have this day laid before the President of the United States the enclosed papers, which you put into my hands before your departure for New York, and it is his opinion that if the vessel the Republican, therein mentioned as having been sent into New York, be a prize made on the Citizens of France, she ought not to be detained, but to be ordered to retire as soon as possible: And that if she be not a prize there is no ground for ordering her away. In the former case a reasonable delay will doubtless be admitted on account of the circumstance of her hands having been sent away. I have the honor to be with great respect, Sir Your most obedient and Most humble Servant.

PrC (DLC); in a clerk’s hand, unsigned; at foot of text: “The Minister Plenipotentiary of Great Britain.” FC (Lb in DNA: RG 59, DL). Tr (Lb in PRO: FO 116/3). Tr (same, 5/1). Enclosures: (1) Governor George Clinton to Sir John Temple, New York, 29 July 1793, stating that, having been asked by the French consul on the basis of Article 17 of the commercial treaty with France to interpose in the case of the English frigate which sent the French privateer Republican into this port, he intends to report on this matter to the President and wishes to know if Temple will engage to keep the Republican and her officers and crew in port until the President’s instructions arrive, in which case he will not need to take any other measure to detain her. (2) Temple to Clinton, 29 July 1793, stating that, as it would be very inconvenient for the commander and sailors of the tender belonging to the ship Boston that arrived here today to remain in port until the President’s answer is received, the commander of the schooner will deliver it tomorrow to any person or persons authorized by Clinton to take custody of it. (3) Clinton to Temple, 30 July 1793, requesting him to order the schooner to proceed to sea without delay, since it is a tender rather than a prize of the Boston and the commercial treaty with France only requires armed enemy vessels driven into American ports by the stress of weather to depart as soon as possible (PrCs of Trs in DLC, in a clerk’s hand; Trs in Lb in DNA: RG 59, DL). Hammond evidently enclosed these papers in a letter of 31 July 1793 recorded in SJL as received that day but not found.

The President’s opinion was based on Article 17 of the 1778 commercial treaty with France (see note to Document II of a group of documents on the referral of neutrality questions to the Supreme Court, at 18 July 1793).

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