Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Thomas Sim Lee, 3 September 1793

From Thomas Sim Lee

Anns. Sepr. 3. 1793

I have the Honour to enclose Copies of two Letters lately received from Citizen Moissonier Vice-Consul of the french Republic at Balt. and of my Answers1 thereto—which you will be pleased to make known to2 the President of the United States.

For an explanation of the principal subject of those representations, I beg leave to refer to a letter and enclosures which I have this day forwarded to the Secy. of War. I have the honor &ca


Dft (MdAA: Maryland State Papers); with second paragraph added in a clerk’s hand; endorsed in part: “The Honble Thos. Jefferson Sey. of State.” FC (MdAA: Letterbooks of Governor and Council). Recorded in SJL as received 11 Sep. 1793. Enclosures: (1) Lee to F. Moissonnier, Annapolis, 31 Aug. 1793, stating in reply to his letter of 25 Aug. 1793 that his representation should be directed to the President of the United States, the governor being unauthorized to make a determination in the matter, that the proceedings respecting the brig Maxwell were undertaken by order of the Council in consequence of instructions from the federal government, and that the actions of the admiralty and customs officers presumably were in accordance with judicial process or directions from the federal executive, in neither of which he could interfere (FC in same). (2) Moissonnier to Lee, Baltimore, 1 Sep. 1793, complaining that his letter of 25 Aug. 1793 protesting against the threatened seizure of French prizes has not been answered and that since then the state has turned over the Maxwell to the British consul and taken possession of the prize Betsy in order to restore it to its owners, insisting that these actions violated France’s treaties with the United States, demanding reparations, and requesting an answer to transmit to the French minister (RC in MdAA: Scharf Papers, in French; Tr in same, in English). (3) Lee to Moissonnier, 3 Sep. 1793, stating that he had answered his 25 Aug. representation without delay, repeating that all steps taken by the state executive respecting prizes sent into Baltimore by French privateers had conformed to instructions from the federal government, “in which the interpretation of treaties is exclusively vested,” and declining any discussion of the matter, which he has no authority to regulate (FC in MdAA: Letterbooks of Governor and Council). Moissonnier’s 25 Aug. 1793 letter has not been found.

For the letter and two of the enclosures informing the secy. of war that pursuant to his orders the Maxwell of Kirkcudbright, a prize sent into Baltimore by the privateer Sans Culotte, had been taken from its captors and delivered to British Vice Consul Edward Thornton for restoration to its owners, see Lee to Henry Knox, 3 Sep. 1793, and James Brice, President of the Council of Maryland, to the Collector of the Customs for the Port of Baltimore, 21, 24 Aug. 1793, MdAA: Letterbooks of Governor and Council.

1FC: “answer.”

2Preceding four words interlined by Lee in place of “to submit to the Consideration of.”

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