Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to George Clinton, 10 September 1793

To George Clinton

Philadelphia September 10th,1 1793.


The President of the United States has received the letter, which Your Excellency addressed to him on the second instant.

He considers it as a fresh proof of your disposition, to prevent the exercise of state authorities from clashing with those of the2 fœderal Government.3

The event which Your Excellency has communicated, is indeed, what you express it to be, of national concern, and the power of arresting, derived from4 the 9th: article of the consular convention with France, is capable of great abuse. For altho’ some degree of security may arise from the character of Consuls and Vice-Consuls, who alone are designated as intitled to demand deserters; and a person unjustly apprehended be ultimately discharged;5 yet the facility which is afforded by that instrument, for obtaining the interposition of the Magistracy, merely by exhibiting the register of a vessel, or a ship’s roll, may often expose to a temporary imprisonment those, who never constituted a part of any crew whatsoever. The President therefore feels an assurance, that by the cautions which Your Excellency will prescribe to yourself on such occasions, you will save the United States from every possible embarrassment. I have the honor to be with sentiments of great respect Sir, Your most obedient and most humble servant

Th: Jefferson

RC (Irving Coopersmith, New York, New York, 1955); in a clerk’s hand, signed by TJ; date completed after PrC was made (see note 1 below); at foot of text: “His Excellency the Governor of the State of New York.” PrC (DLC); unsigned; date completed in ink. Dft (DLC: TJ Papers, 93: 16017); entirely in the hand of Edmund Randolph; undated; only the most important emendations are noted below; at head of text: “Draught of a letter, proposed to be written by the Secretary of state to the Governor of New-York”; conjoined to Dft of TJ to James Duane, 10 Sep. 1793. FC (Lb in DNA: RG 59, DL). Described in SJL as “drawn by E.R.”; draft recorded in SJPL under 5 Sep. 1793: “E.R’s draught of a lre from Th:J. to Govr. of N.Y. arrest of Galbaud.”

For the background to this letter and Edmund Randolph’s authorship of it, see Notes on Cabinet Meetings, 4 Sep. 1793, and note; and TJ to James Duane, 10 Sep. 1793, and note.

1Day inserted in space left blank in manuscript; day inserted in ink on PrC.

2In Dft Randolph here canceled “United Stat.”

3In Dft Randolph here canceled “[or] its stipulation.”

4Preceding two words interlined in Dft in place of “under.”

5In Dft Randolph first wrote “and a person apprehended will be be discharged, if he be unjustly seized” before altering the phrase to read as above.

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