From John Hollins
Baltimore 3d. Novem: 1802
Permitt me to call to your recollection, that about three years past, you obliged me exceedingly by a letter you wrote to the Havanna, upon the subject of a very large sum of money attached there, my own property; Your letter I have good reason to believe had at the time its due effect, & about 12 or 14 months thereafter a Judgement was obtained to my satisfaction, but my opponents (the Trustees of Louis Beltran Gonet) appealed therefrom, & altho’ it has repeatedly been stated to me from thence, that ano. judgement equal to the former one might soon be expected, I am as yet deprived of that pleasure, & when to look for it is not in my power to say; The sum at risque ought to exceed Two hundred thousand Dollars, & as it, or the greatest proporn., ought & must ultimately come to me, I fear every possible delay on the part of my Opponents; it is therefore my present intention to depart for Spain next year, to endeavour to obtain Justice, or loose more in the attempt; even in that Country I may be compelled to remain longer than I coud wish, & the time of Course will hang heavy on my hands; having for the last 25 Years been much engaged in Commercial pursuits; therefore reflecting upon this subject, it has occured to me, that if no more deserving or proper Characters offer to be sent as Commissrs. to Spain, it might not be an objection to your Excellency to grant me such an appointment, which woud be very gratifying, & agreeable to my feelings—Shd. it however appear to you, that any other Person or Persons, have a prior claim, or better qualifications, I have such an exalted opinion of your Excellency’s uprightness & Conduct in every stage of life, that no pain or Mortification, shall for one moment be fel’t by me
Who have the Honor to be Your Excellency’s Obdt & very hble Servt.
RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); endorsed by TJ as received 4 Nov. and “to be Commr. under convention with Spain” and so recorded in SJL.
John Hollins (1760–1827) worked as a banker in Liverpool before immigrating to Baltimore, where he married Jane Smith, a sister of Samuel and Robert Smith, and became a highly successful merchant. He established the auction house of John Hollins & Co., and his mercantile firm of Hollins and McBlair was one of the most prominent trading houses in Baltimore, outfitting numerous ships and commanding substantial amounts of domestic and overseas credit. Longtime president of the Maryland Insurance Company, he also held a range of civic offices. Hollins had known TJ at least since 1800, probably through Wilson Cary Nicholas (Maryland Journal and Baltimore Advertiser, 6 Jan. 1786, 30 May 1790; Jerome R. Garitee, The Republic’s Private Navy: The American Privateering Business as Practiced by Baltimore during the War of 1812 [Middletown, Conn., 1977], 20, 22, 39, 68–9, 234–5, 267; RS description begins J. Jefferson Looney and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series, Princeton, 2004–, 7 vols. description ends , 2:197–8n; Vol. 32:17–18n; TJ to Peter Carr, 6 July 1802).
There is no evidence that TJ ever wrote a LETTER on Hollins’s behalf to Havana. Hollins may have been referring to a letter from then secretary of state John Marshall to the acting American consul in Havana, requesting permission for Hollins to travel there. Permission was granted in the spring of 1801 (Marshall, Papers description begins Herbert A. Johnson, Charles T. Cullen, Charles F. Hobson, and others, eds., The Papers of John Marshall, Chapel Hill, 1974–2006, 12 vols. description ends , 6:512; 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 , 1:107–8). Hollins claimed property that was embargoed in Havana pending final settlement of a lawsuit between him and Cuban merchant Luís Beltrán GONET, with whom he had been a trading partner (Barbara H. Stein and Stanley J. Stein, Edge of Crisis: War and Trade in the Spanish Atlantic, 1789–1808 [Baltimore, 2009], 252; 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 , 6:64–5n, 144; 8:334).
For the convention of 11 Aug. 1802 between the United States and Spain that would have empowered COMMISSRS. to negotiate American claims resulting from Spanish shipping spoliations, see Joseph Yznardi, Sr. to TJ, 12 Aug.