Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Christopher Gore, 10 September 1793

From Christopher Gore

Boston Septr 10. 1793


Yesterday morning I receiv’d your favor of the 2d. instant, and this day preferr’d a complaint to Judge Lowell against Mr. Duplaine for wilfully and Knowingly opposing and obstructing the Deputy Marshal in an attempt to serve and execute a writ of the United States. This complaint was supported by the oaths of several witnesses. Mr. Duplaine was arrested, and brought before the judge who has recogniz’d him in the sum of 1000 dollars, with two sureties in the sum of 500 dollars each, for his appearance before the next circuit court, and answering to what may then be objected against him in behalf of the United States, especially to the subject of this complaint. I did not apprehend that Mr. Duplaine or any consul enjoy’d the privilege of a diplomatic character—but always consider’d persons of his quality amenable to the laws.

At the time this opposition to law took place, the judge of the district was absent, and I did not think it expedient to hazard an enquiry in a matter of this importance before a common justice of the peace. When the judge return’d the vessels were in possession of the Governor. The grand jury being soon, viz on the 12th. October, to attend the circuit court in Boston I thought it adviseable the process shoud originate there. Having doubts whether the action of replevin woud lie in cases of this nature, I considerd the argument in favor of Duplaine drawn from this supposition at least plausible—and thinking there was no danger that Mr. Duplaine woud leave the district before the 12 Octr., I had concluded prior to the receit of your favor to delay any prosecution till the sitting of the Circuit Court. These reasons will shew why I did not make complaint against Mr. Duplaine at an earlier day.

I enclose evidence of the conduct of Mr. Duplaine in this transaction, which was taken in his presence and when he had counsel to cross examine the witnesses. These depositions were taken at the time of the enquiry into the truth of the complaint—thus they were taken with every advantage to Mr. Duplaine, thô he did not Know the purpose for which they were taken. Enclosed are copies of the representations made by me to Governor Hancock, my letter to Mr. Duplaine and note to Mr. Avery Secretary of the Commonwealth, also a copy of the writ under which the deputy marshal acted. I am sir with the greatest respect your most obed servt

C. Gore

RC (DNA: RG 59, MLR); endorsed by TJ as received 2 Oct. 1793 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) Memorial of Gore to John Hancock, [3 Aug. 1793], requesting the governor to prevent from putting out to sea a 27-ton American-built and lately American-owned sloop now in the “gut of Nantucket” that had been fitted out as a French privateer in Boston and Charlestown, as indicated by the enclosed affidavits, and was planning to set sail this evening or tomorrow morning; with note by Gore stating that the memorial and enclosed affidavits were presented on 3 Aug. 1793 to Hancock, who, according to Secretary John Avery, sent the affidavits to the “Executive of the United States.” (2) Gore to Avery, 6 Aug. 1793, asking whether Hancock had issued any orders concerning the French privateer Roland; with note by Gore stating he had received no written answer to this inquiry (Trs in same; each with subjoined note in Gore’s hand). (3) Writ of replevin of the United States District Court of Massachusetts, Boston, 21 Aug. 1793, ordering the federal district marshal of Massachusetts or his deputy to replevy the schooner Greyhound, John Henry Hilt master, owned by Alexander Brymer and Andrew Belcher of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and its cargo of mackerel, now detained in Boston by Lewis Guillaume Felix Laumosne of that city, and to summon Laumosne to appear before the United States Circuit Court of Massachusetts on 12 Oct. 1793 to answer Brymer and Belcher’s plea of replevin (printed form in same with blanks filled, the names of John Jay and N. Goodale being inserted as witness and clerk respectively, attested by Deputy Marshal Samuel Bradford; Tr in DNA: RG 46, Senate Records, 3d Cong., 1st sess.; Tr in Lb in DNA: RG 59, DL; Tr in DLC: Genet Papers). (4) Gore to Antoine Charbonnet Duplaine, 22 Aug. 1793, demanding that the French vice-consul remove the armed men who yesterday by his direction had forcibly taken possession of the Greyhound after the marshal had replevied and assumed custody of it (Tr in DNA: RG 59, MLR, with subjoined note in Gore’s hand, 10 Sep. 1793, stating that Duplaine had not replied to this letter; Tr in same, lacking Gore’s note; Tr in Lb in DNA: RG 46, Senate Records, 3d Cong., 1st sess., lacking Gore’s note; Tr in Lb in DNA: RG 59, DL, lacking Gore’s note; Tr in DLC: Genet Papers, lacking Gore’s note). (5) Memorial of Gore to Hancock, [26 Aug. 1793], requesting the governor to take into custody the Roland, the French privateer complained of in No. 1 and now refitting in Boston, as well as the two prizes it brought into that port on 21 Aug. 1793; with a subjoined note by Gore, 10 Sep. 1793, stating that after Bradford delivered the memorial to Hancock on [26] Aug. 1793 the governor told Bradford that he had ordered the adjutant general to take possession of the two prizes and to direct the Roland to leave port, which led to the dismantling of the privateer and the prizes coming into the governor’s custody (Tr in DNA: RG 59, MLR; with note in Gore’s hand). (6) Deposition of Samuel Bradford, 10 Sep. 1793, stating that at about 7:00 P.M. on 21 Aug. 1793 he received a writ of replevin to serve on Laumosne, prize master of the Greyhound; that accompanied by Captains Lyde and Hagman he went aboard the Greyhound, read the writ to Laumosne in the presence of the captain of the Roland, explained the nature of the legal action, claimed possession of the prize, and offered assurances that a bond had been given to cover any damages arising from his taking possession of the vessel; that later that evening M. Jutau from the nearby French frigate Concorde came aboard the Greyhound in response to Laumosne’s request and declared that the prize was the property of the French Republic and could not be attached; that within ninety minutes after Jutau’s subsequent return to the Concorde a lieutenant and twelve armed marines from the frigate took possession of the Greyhound, ignoring his protest, and that the lieutenant, in accordance with his orders from the captain of the Concorde, had the prize stationed near the frigate and the Roland; that he dismissed the men who had come with him to help serve the writ after being informed by the lieutenant that he was under express orders to use force to prevent the removal of the Greyhound; that he was advised by Duplaine, who boarded the prize with Chancellor Jutau and M. Nancrede about midnight, after the lieutenant had returned to the Concorde leaving a corporal and four marines on the Greyhound, that he was free to return to the prize the next morning even though Duplaine intended to keep possession of it; that he is certain the captain of the Concorde was acting under Duplaine’s orders; that about noon on 24 Aug. the corporal and the guard left the Greyhound and returned to the Concorde just before it left for sea and were replaced by a Frenchman from the Roland; and that an hour later he took possession of the Greyhound, had it moved to a wharf, and legally executed the writ, to Duplaine’s apparent surprise (Tr in same, with subjoined note by Gore that the deposition was sworn before United States District Court Judge John Lowell on 10 Sep. 1793, being endorsed by George Taylor, Jr., with reference to all the enclosures: “Evidence in the Case of Consul Duplaine—of the Repub. of France at Boston”; te>Tr in DNA: RG 46, Senate Records, 3d Cong., 1st sess.; Tr in Lb in DNA: RG 59, DL; Tr in DLC: Genet Papers). (7) Deposition of Marshal John Brooks, 10 Sep. 1793, stating that on 22 Aug. 1793, having learned that Bradford had been prevented from serving a writ of replevin on the Greyhound by an armed force acting under orders from Captain Van Dogen, commander of the Concorde, he went aboard the Concorde and, in the presence of Duplaine, Justice Cooper, and Thomas Amory, Jr., demanded that Van Dogen restore the prize; that Van Dogen was angry over the removal of some Americans from a French vessel and Bradford’s effort to take possession of a vessel flying the French flag and under the protection of a French warship; that Van Dogen refused to surrender the Greyhound, claiming that he was acting under orders from Duplaine; that after he met privately with Duplaine on the 22d and 23d the French consul stated that he would keep possession of the Greyhound and that unless Hancock did something about it he would advertise the prize in the newspapers and in six days condemn it to the captors if no one else proved a claim to it; that according to a statement Van Dogen made to him in Duplaine’s presence the laws of the French Republic required French naval commanders to obey orders in foreign ports from French consuls, who “were Admirals, or had the power of admirals”; and that, while Duplaine stated that he would order the armed guard to leave the Greyhound and would protest the measures of the United States government, he subsequently refused to withdraw the guard (Tr in DNA: RG 59, MLR, with subjoined notes by Gore, 10 Sep. 1793, that the deposition was sworn before Judge Lowell and that “Then Thomas Amory junr. Rufus Greene Amory, Nathaniel Byfield Lyde and John Brooks Esqr. made Oath to the Truth of the annexed Depositions by them respectively subscribed, in the Presence of Antoine Charbonnet Duplaine and declared that they did not recollect any Other material Circumstance relative to the Matter in Enquiry and the annexed Deposition of Samuel Bradford is Transcript of his Deposition taken under like Circumstances”; Tr in DNA: RG 46, Senate Records, 3d Cong., 1st sess.; Tr in Lb in DNA: RG 59, DL; Tr in DLC: Genet Papers). (8) Deposition of Thomas Amory, Jr., 10 Sep. 1793, of the same import as No. 7, but adding that on 22 Aug. 1793 Duplaine asserted that any vessel flying the French republican flag was entitled to his protection; that Van Dogen claimed, in answer to a hypothetical case posed by Brooks, that he would feel duty-bound to protect a French merchant ship attached in Boston harbor by an American citizen; that Van Dogen noted he had written to Hancock and would give up the Greyhound if the governor demanded and forward copies of his letter and Hancock’s reply to Edmond Charles Genet; that during a meeting at Duplaine’s lodgings the consul assured him and Brooks that he would under protest order Van Dogen to give up the Greyhound, an assurance he abruptly contradicted after Jutau joined the meeting and spoke a few words to him in French; that upon being pressed by Brooks, Duplaine stated that he did not wish to use force against American legal officials and promised a final answer the next morning about the Greyhound; that on the morning of the 23d Duplaine informed Brooks and him that he would keep possession of the vessel, whereupon Brooks stated that he would notify the government and he himself handed Duplaine No. 4, which the consul read without making a reply, and then left with Brooks. (9) Deposition of Rufus G. Amory, 10 Sep. 1793, of the same import as No. 6 with respect to Van Dogen’s refusal to return the Greyhound, but adding that he himself had obtained the writ of replevin as attorney for Brymer and Belcher; that Van Dogen had considered the Greyhound to be under his protection as soon as it entered Boston harbor as a prize flying French colors; and that Van Dogen had complained to Hancock about the American attempt to take possession of this ship without his permission. (10) Deposition of Nathaniel B. Lyde, 10 Sep. 1793, of the same import as No. 6, but adding that Bradford had remained aboard the Greyhound throughout the period it was in the custody of armed French guards (Trs in DNA: RG 59, MLR, each with subjoined note by Gore that the depositions were sworn before Judge Lowell on 10 Sep. 1793; Trs in DNA: RG 46, Senate Records, 3d Cong., 1st sess.; Trs in Lb in DNA: RG 59, DL; Trs in DLC: Genet Papers). Enclosures Nos. 3–4 and 6–10 printed in Message description begins A Message of the President of the United States to Congress Relative to France and Great-Britain. Delivered December 5, 1793. With the Papers therein Referred to. To Which Are Added the French Originals. Published by Order of the House of Representatives, Philadelphia, 1793 description ends , 83–8. Enclosed in Benjamin Bankson to TJ, 23 Sep. 1793; Enclosures Nos. 3–4 and 6–10 enclosed in TJ to Bankson (second letter), TJ to Antoine Charbonnet Duplaine, TJ to Edmond Charles Genet, TJ to Gouverneur Morris, and TJ to George Washington (fifth letter), all 3 Oct. 1793.

After receiving this evidence of Duplaine’s defiance of federal authority, TJ promptly informed him, in accordance with a previous decision by the Cabinet, that the United States government was revoking his exequatur as French vice-consul for New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island (Cabinet Opinions on the Roland and Relations with Great Britain, France, and the Creeks, 31 Aug. 1793, and note; TJ to Duplaine, 3 Oct. 1793).

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