From Samuel Smith
Washington 2d. April 1801
A Report prevails & is believed that a fracas took place between the sailors of the French ship at Norfolk & the English & American sailors. I presume no Lives were lost, as I have no Account from Norfolk on the subject—
I progress with as much dispatch as possible in putting the Navy in the situation the Law has directed—
My son Louis. Buchanan. Smith will go to Europe in two Weeks. permit me to request that you will send me for him if not too Inconvenient such Letters of Introduction as might be of Utility to him while on his Travels—& believe me to be with the greatest respect—
your Obed Servt.
RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 9 Apr. and so recorded in SJL.
Norfolk newspapers apparently reported nothing about the 22 Mch. Fracas between the crew of the French frigate La Sémillante and British sailors. Other newspapers printed widely varying accounts with exaggerated initial casualty figures (New York Daily Advertiser, 30 Mch.; National Intelligencer, 1 Apr.; Aurora, 11, 15 Apr.; New York American Citizen, 11 Apr. 1801).
The situation the law has directed: the reduction of the navy under the Peace Establishment Act.