Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Edmond Charles Genet, 24 November 1793

To Edmond Charles Genet

Germantown Nov. 24. 1793


I am to acknoledge the receipt of your letter of the 19th. instant, and to thank you for the information it conveys of the present state of the French islands in the West Indies. Their condition must always be interesting to the US. with whom nature has connected them by the strong link of mutual necessities.   The riot which had been raised in Philadelphia some days ago, by emigrants from St. Domingo, had before excited the indignation and attention of the government, both local and general. It is with extreme concern they now learn that the respectable strangers whom you mention, were brought into danger by it, and certainly no endeavors will be wanting to bring the offenders to condign punishment. I have the honor to inclose you a proclamation which had been issued immediately by the Mayor of Philadelphia, and to assure you that the efforts he is using, will receive from the general government every aid they can give, to make a signal example of those who have thus violated that protection which the laws of the US. extend to all persons within their pale. I have the honor to be with great respect Sir Your most obedt. & most humble servt

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC); at foot of text: “The Min. Pleny. of France.” FC (Lb in DNA: RG 59, DL). Enclosure: Proclamation by Mayor Matthew Clarkson, Philadelphia, 8 Nov. 1793, declaring that the “daring outrages which were committed yesterday and this day, on board the ship Rebecca, Benjamin Wyatt, master, just arrived from Cape Francois, by a number of Frenchmen, who from their dress might have been taken for gentlemen, are scarcely to be paralelled. With premeditation, they assembled to sacrifice a passenger on board the said ship to their vengeance, for crimes which they alledged he had committed in the island of Saint Domingo; and with the basest treachery, after decoying him upon the deck of the vessel out of his cabin, by specious promises, attacked him with swords, sticks and fists, and knocked him overboard, and while in the water attempted to accomplish the assassination by throwing stones and other things upon him, by which he hath received many dangerous wounds in his head and body, and would there inevitably have perished had not a number of the citizens, at the peril of their lives, come to his rescue”; asserting that this “insult offered to our laws, by a set of men to whom an asylum from fire and sword hath been so recently offered, indicates the basest ingratitude; and not content with what had just been perpetrated, many of them had the superlative audacity to assemble at the cityhall, where the wounded person had been brought for safety, and there insolently uttered threats of their future murderous intentions”; and calling upon witnesses “for the public honor and the safety of themselves and fellow citizens, to point out every person who was concerned in the breach of the peace,” and “in the mean time vigilantly to attend to the conduct of persons so capable of insulting the laws of hospitality” (Federal Gazette and Philadelphia Daily Advertiser, 9 Nov. 1793).

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