Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Christopher Gore, 10 October 1802

From Christopher Gore

London 10 October 1802


In consequence of being left by Mr King, in charge with the affairs of the United States, and of his desire, that I should inspect all letters directed to him, I opened that from yourself, under date of the 13th July, & which was receiv’d on the 13. ult.

This, Sir, I must pray you to accept as an apology, for having broken its seal—and if my subsequent conduct shall appear an intrusion, you will do me the justice to impute it to the most respectful motives, combined with an earnest desire to promote the object of the letter,—if, in no other way, at least, in obtaining, & forwarding all such information, as could be procur’d here, and might tend to advance the wise, and humane plan, you have so benevolently contemplated, of opening a path for the emancipation of the Blacks, on such terms, as may prove beneficial to themselves, & not injurious to others—I was the more induced to act in this business, from the belief that Mr King would not be here, to attain any information, in season to reach the U. States, until late in the winter—

Lord Hawkesbury to whom, I thought it proper, first to mention the subject, profess’d a warm desire to do every thing in his power, to promote your views, but at the same time said the affair must rest entirely with the Directors of the Sierra Leone Company, and that he was really fearful, their late experience had been such, as to deter them from the admission of characters like those alluded to—

I then took an opportunity of confering with Mr Thornton, chairman of the court of directors, & stated to him the resolution of the Legislature of Virginia, and your idea of the best mode of carrying the same into effect, with such arguments, so far as I could think of any, in addition to those contained in your letter, to show that the admission of the Blacks from the U States, might, under such regulations as wisdom, & prudence should prescribe, prove an addition of strength, & benefit to their Colony. But the establishment has sufferd much from the maroons, who have been permitted to go there from Jamaica, and the Directors consider that the rise of their Colony has been rather impeded, than advanced by the Blacks from Nova Scotia—They have lately been obliged to apply to Parliament for pecuniary aid, & to ask assistance of troops, to keep in check the restless, and disturbed spirits already there. The military force is not so great, as they wish’d, and they entertain serious apprehensions, if it be sufficient to protect the well disposed, and repress the constant disposition, manifested in many of the Colonists to revolt, & overturn the existing Government—

These reasons appear to have great weight in Mr Thornton’s mind, against the policy of admitting such settlers, as would be most likely to come from the U. States—He has, however, come to no determination against the measure, but promises to advise with his friends, & see if any expedient can be devised, by which the dangers to be feared, from acceding to the proposal, may be guarded against—

It is possible, that on Mr King’s return, he may be able to suggest such reasons, as shall induce the Directors to lend a favourable ear to the plan—He is intimate with some of the most influential of them, and if aught1 can be added to the strong motives they profess, and I have no doubt, sincerely, to do every thing acceptable to the exalted character, at whose instance the proposition has been made, it may be expected from the personal influence of this gentleman. Although from the considerations mention’d, which, with others are to be seen in the state of the Colony, as described in the memorial to Parliament, and the report of the Committee, I do not think there is much reason to hope, that an incorporation of the Blacks of the U.States with those at Sierra Leone, can be reconciled, in the minds of the Directors, to the safety, and prosperity of the establishment.

I am indebted, to Mr Thornton, for the papers above referr’d to,* and which, you will find, give an accurate statement of that Colony, the evils most to be guarded against, with the means thought necessary for its security, and the expences of the establishment—As these papers are scarce, and contain information, that may be valuable on this subject, I have taken the liberty to enclose them with this letter—

Should an occasion occur, which may promise advantage to the proposal from any endeavours of mine, you may rely on their being cheerfully, and faithfully exerted to that end—and if further information can be procured, which, in my judgment, may be useful in this interesting business, before the arrival of Mr King, I pray you, Sir, to be assured, that I shall derive great pleasure in forwarding it—

I have the Honour to be, Sir, with perfect Respect, your very obedt servant.

C. Gore

RC (Vi: Executive Papers); at foot of first page: “Thomas Jefferson &c &c &c”; endorsed by TJ as received 9 Dec. and so recorded in SJL. FC (Lb in NHi: Rufus King Papers). Enclosure: Printed report of a House of Commons committee on the petition of the Sierra Leone Company, May 1802, stating that the funds allocated by Parliament to the colony of Sierra Leone have been insufficient to provide the “Degree of Security” required for “the Maintenance of the Settlement,” but the continued existence of the colony is justified; the petition of the chairman and directors of the company, appended to the report, recounts the history of the colony, including insurrections within the settlements and attacks by outsiders, and noting, as one obstacle to the colony’s progress, the “unfavourable Character” of some of the settlers from Nova Scotia; the directors ask for an increase of the power of the colony’s government and maintenance of an adequate military force there (House of Commons, “Report from the Committee on the Petition of the Court of Directors of the Sierra Leone Company,” Sessional Papers, 1801–2, 2:339, Reports of Committees, no. 100, printed by order of 25 May 1802). Enclosed in TJ to John Page, 23 Dec. 1803.

IN CHARGE: Rufus King, who was traveling in Europe on leave, had made Gore acting chargé d’affaires in his absence. When George Washington named Gore to the bilateral commission to resolve claims under Article 7 of the Jay Treaty in March 1796, Gore was a 37–year-old Boston lawyer with Federalist political connections, a director of the Boston branch of the Bank of the United States, and the United States attorney for Massachusetts. TJ as secretary of state exchanged several letters with Gore relating to official business that involved the U.S. attorney’s office. The last of that correspondence was in 1793 (Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 33 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 1986–, 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984–, 6 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009–, 1 vol. description ends ., 3:110, 310–11; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States . . . to the Termination of the Nineteenth Congress, Washington, D.C., 1828, 3 vols. description ends , 1:204–5; ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; Vol. 17:530–3; Vol. 19:629; Vol. 20:564–5; Vol. 22:15–16, 399; Vol. 23:5, 16–17; Vol. 24:219; Vol. 27:13–14, 79–82, 261, 338–40, 416, 427, 456, 523).

A successful banker, philanthropist, and writer on political economy, Henry THORNTON had served as chairman of the Court of Directors of the Sierra Leone Company since 1791 (DNB description begins H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison, eds., Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, In Association with The British Academy, From the Earliest Times to the Year 2000, Oxford, 2004, 60 vols. description ends ).

Gore wrote TJ from London on 3 Nov. regarding the PAPERS enclosed with the letter printed above: “Sir Upon examination, I find the report of the Committee of the House of Commons on the petition of the Sierra Leone Company, as inclosed with the letter I did myself the Honour to address you on the 10. ulto. contains every material fact, & document stated, or refered to in their petition, & have therefore concluded it unnecessary to transmit a copy thereof. I have the Honour to be, Sir, with perfect Respect, Your very obedt servant” (RC in DLC, at foot of text: “His Excellency Thomas Jefferson,” endorsed by TJ as received 10 Feb. and so recorded in SJL; FC in Lb in NHi: Rufus King Papers). That brief communication was the last correspondence between Gore and TJ.

1MS: “ought.”

Authorial notes

[The following note(s) appeared in the margins or otherwise outside the text flow in the original source, and have been moved here for purposes of the digital edition.]

º * only one yet received. the other, when obtained, shall be sent.

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