Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Edmond Charles Genet, [7 September 1793]

To Edmond Charles Genet

[7 Sep. 1793]


The correspondence which has taken place between the Executive and yourself, and the acts which you have thought proper to do, and to countenance, in opposition to the laws of the land, have rendered it necessary in the opinion of the President to lay a faithful statement of them before the government of France, to explain to them the reasons and the necessity which have dictated our measures, to renew the assurances of that sincere friendship which has suffered no intermission during the course of these proceedings, and to express our extreme anxiety that none may be produced on their part. This has accordingly been directed to be done by the Min. Pleny. of the US. at Paris, in a letter a copy of which I now inclose to you. And in order to bring to an end what can1 not be permitted to continue, there could be no hesitation to declare in it the necessity of their having a representative here disposed to respect2 the laws and authorities of the country, and to do the best for their interest which these would permit. An anxious regard for those interests, and a desire that they may not suffer, will induce the Executive3 in the mean time to recieve your communications in writing, and to admit the continuance of your functions so long as they shall be restrained within the limits of the law as heretofore announced to you, or shall be of the tenor usually observed towards independant nations by the representative of a friendly power residing with them.

The President thought it respectful to your nation as well as yourself to leave to yourself the restraining certain proceedings of the Consuls of France within the US. which you were informed were contrary to the laws of the land, and therefore not to be permitted. He has seen with regret however, that you have been far from restraining these proceedings, and that the duty has devolved on him of suppressing them by the authority of the country. I inclose to you the copy of a letter written to the several Consuls and Vice consuls of France, warning them that this will be done if any repetition of these acts shall render it necessary. To the Consul of France at Boston no such letter has been written. A more serious fact is charged on him, which if proved, as there is reason to expect, will render the revocation of his Exequatur an act of immediate duty. I have the honor to be with great respect Sir your most obedt. servt

Dft (DLC: TJ Papers, 92: 15992); entirely in TJ’s hand, unsigned; undated, but assigned on the basis of the dated translations listed below; at foot of text “Mr. Genet. Min. Pleny. of France”; in pencil on verso: “to be copd & press cop[d].” FC (Lb in DNA: RG 59, DL); undated; with marginal note by Timothy Pickering: “This letter to Mr. Genet being without date, it may be convenient to note, that the receipt of it is recognized in his letter to Mr. Jefferson dated the 18th of Septr. 1793. (published with the other letters from Mr. Genet) and that the letters to the Consuls to which Mr. J. refers, is dated Sept. 7th. T.P.” Tr (DLC: Genet Papers); in French; dated 7 Sep. 1793; draft translation. Tr (AMAE: CPEU, xxxix); in French; dated 7 Sep. 1793; certified by Genet. Not recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) TJ to Gouverneur Morris, 16 Aug. 1793. (2) Circular to French Consuls and Vice-Consuls, 7 Sep. 1793.

This letter was approved by the Cabinet this day (Cabinet Opinions on Relations with France and Great Britain, 7 Sep. 1793). According to George Hammond, who wrote apparently on the basis of information provided by Alexander Hamilton, the Cabinet decided to delay sending Genet a copy of the enclosed letter to Gouverneur Morris requesting the French minister’s recall so as to avoid having the ship carrying the dispatch to France intercepted by a French vessel (Hammond to Lord Grenville, 17 Sep. 1793, PRO: FO 5/1).

1Word interlined in place of “could.”

2TJ first wrote “capable of respecting” and then altered it to read as above.

3Word interlined in place of “<Executive> President.”

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