Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John A. Chevallié, 16 September 1803

From John A. Chevallié

Richmond September 16th. 1803.


I have the honor to send to your Excellency, a letter from General Lafayette which I found at my house at my return from Monticello; a copy of a letter from General Mathieu Dumas to Messrs. Livingston & Monroe; a Note on the actual Situation of the affairs Belonging to Beaumarchais’s Estate in America & a Printed Mémorial Which was to have been presented to Congres, if The Executive had raported The said Claim & if it had been Brought to discussion. I flatter myself that The perusal of These papers will be able to Destroy the prepossessions Which have been formed By the the officers of Government against the claims of Beaumarchais & that Justice will soon be granted to his unfortunate family without The intervention of an Ambassador from france.

having been Charged during more than Sixteen years, With These Business, Messrs. hamilton & harrison have often acknowledged my Great Exertions; how hard would be my fate, if others upon mere applications, were to reap the advantages which I have deserved.

I Beg of your Excellency to honor me with an answer & to accept the assurance of the Great regard & Respect With whom I am

Your most obedient humble servant

J. A. Chevallié

in Case of a Probability of Success, I will be Very happy to Go to the City of Washington & to present myself before the Secretary of The Threasury.

RC (DLC: Gallatin Papers); at foot of first page: “Thomas Jefferson Esquire President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received 25 Sep. and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) Lafayette to TJ, 22 May 1803. (2) Mathieu Dumas to Robert R. Livingston and James Monroe, 1 Prairial Year 11 (21 May 1803), a copy attested by Chevallié, 16 Sep.; Dumas explains that he is the brother-in-law of Louis André Toussaint Delarue, who is married to Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais’s daughter; he outlines the history of transactions between Beaumarchais and Congress during the American Revolutionary War; the U.S. Treasury, repeatedly refusing the Beaumarchais claim, has argued that the matter was settled by a payment of 1,000,000 livres to Beaumarchais by Louis XVI; great nations, Dumas declares, have a moral obligation to honor their debts, and the United States should feel a particular obligation to repay those who supported the American Revolution; reminding the envoys that he fought on the American side in that war, Dumas states his readiness to write to TJ to seek justice for his unfortunate family (DLC: Gallatin Papers). (3) “Nottes Sur la Situation Actuelle des affaires de la Succession Beaumarchais en Amérique,” signed by Chevallié in Richmond on 16 Sep.; he states that Delarue and Dumas, who have interests in the Beaumarchais family’s claim, received a request from Gallatin for more information from the French government about the million livres received by Beaumarchais from the king on 10 June 1776; that money, Chevallié avers, was for secret intelligence services by Beaumarchais on behalf of France, not for matériel for the United States; Monroe has examined the details and finds no legal evidence against the family’s claim, only conjecture and insinuation; given the friendly relations between France and the United States, it would be a political advantage if the two governments could resolve the matter honorably and expeditiously (same). (4) The Memorial and Claim of Amélie Eugénie Caron de Beaumarchais, Wife of André Toussaint de La Rue, Heir and Representative of Caron de Beaumarchais by Her Agent John Augustus Chevallié (Richmond, 1801), outlining the arrangement made between Beaumarchais and Silas Deane in 1776; Beaumarchais expended, for cargoes of arms, ammunition, and clothing, plus freight, insurance, and other charges, more than 5,000,000 livres, of which only about 3,000,000 livres was reimbursed; with interest, the unpaid balance amounts to more than 3,300,000 livres; Beaumarchais repeatedly solicited Congress for payment, but the Treasury rejected some parts of the claim, and Beaumarchais’s enemies used evidence of the payment of the million livres in France to give the impression that Beaumarchais had received all that was due to him; the memorial presents arguments and evidence to refute the deductions and the crediting of that payment against the claim (Shaw-Shoemaker description begins Ralph R. Shaw and Richard H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801-1819, New York, 1958-63, 22 vols. description ends , No. 1429).

more than sixteen years: Chevallié first traveled to the United States from France in the mid-1780s to pursue a claim of his father, who had been associated with Beaumarchais in the venture to supply arms during the Revolutionary War. Chevallié became a partner in a New York City mercantile firm and acted as Beaumarchais’s agent in the United States (Syrett, Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961-87, 27 vols. description ends , 20:355-61; Brian N. Morton and Donald C. Spinelli, Beaumarchais and the American Revolution [Lanham, Md., 2003], 290, 293; Vol. 11:55).

Index Entries