Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Gurdon Bachus, 22 September 1803

From Gurdon Bachus

Trinidad Port Spain Sepr. 22d. 1803


Its now about one year & a half Since this port has been Open for the Vessells of the United States & most likely will Continue so as long as Great Brittain & America remain on friendly terms. the great demand in this Island for all kinds of Lumber and provisions from the United States induces many of my Countrymen to adventure to this port, at Same time the produce of this Island they find of a Superior quality & to Answer the Markets, the duties inwards & outwards are 3½ perCt. on Valuation which Amt. to about 2 perCt. or Say One dollr. per Hhd for Sugar and other produce in proportion! there is nothing prohibited1 that is the growth & produce of the United States, meaning provisions, also the article of Tobo. is admissable, and the Consumpsion great, as great quantities find its way to the Main—Our Vessells May take in in2 return the full Amt. of their Cargoes in Sugars, Rum, Cocoa, Coffee and Molasses, or any One of those articles as may Suit them best, Dye Woods, Indigo, Cotton & Hides are prohibited—

Since the renewal of hostilities between England & France, Some impresments of Americans has taken place here besides other abuses on the American Commerce, which induces me to Come forward at this time to offer my Services as Consul for this Island, by the Solicitation of all the Americans who have Visited this port for Some months past—Before my residence in the W. Indies I resided eight years in Petersburg Virga where I have many very Valuable freinds & Acquaintances! I refer you to those who may be most Convenient for your enquirey, from Virga. & Connecticut, Viz, W. B. Giles, John Randolph, & T. Newton Esquires and Roger Griswold Esqr. from Connecticut—I was unfortunately formerly Connected with Fullar Skipwith Esqr. now Consul in France in Shipts. to Martinique & other places—

Should you think fit to honr. me with the Appt. of Consul at this place, you may direct any papers for me to my Father Ebr. Bachus Esq Mercht. New York, with Such Instructions as may be necessary for my goverment—I Can only add that I am a true American, particularly attached to Virga. & now tender my Services in any way that I may be usefull to the United States

I am With Great Esteem & high respect your Obt. Servt.

Gurdon Bachus

P.S. My Brother who resided in France a long time, was, well acquainted with Mr. Paine, but more particularly Mr. Barlow who he lived with nearly two years—

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esquire President of the United States &C. &C. &C—City of Washington”; endorsed by TJ as received 27 Feb. 1804 and “to be Consul there” and so recorded in SJL.

A native of Windham, Connecticut, Gurdon Bachus (1762-1810) was a son of New York City merchant Ebenezer Bachus. By the early 1790s, he had established himself in business at Petersburg, Virginia, trading primarily with the West Indies. Petersburg collector William Heth believed Bachus also conducted illicit dealings and deemed him “capable of any thing in that way.” In addition to the individuals named in the above letter, Bachus also claimed an acquaintance with James Madison, whom he wrote in late 1804 seeking a West Indies post and asking Madison to recommend him to the president. He did not receive an appointment from TJ (William L. Weaver, History of Ancient Windham, Ct. Genealogy.…Part I, A.-Bil. [Willimantic, Conn., 1864], 61-2; Syrett, Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961-87, 27 vols. description ends , 15:581-3; American Historical Review, 3 [1898], 697-8; WMQ description begins William and Mary Quarterly, 1892- description ends , 1st ser., 13 [1904], 59; Bachus to Madison, 7 Nov. 1804, RC in DNA: RG 59, LAR; New York Columbian, 15 Dec. 1810; Richmond Virginia Patriot, 25 Dec. 1810; Vol. 25:487n).

Spain ceded trinidad to Great Britain under the terms of the Amiens treaty (Vol. 38:585, 588n).

my brother: probably DeLucena Bachus, a younger brother of Gurdon, who traveled to France in 1793 to restore his health, but died of yellow fever on his return voyage the following year (Weaver, History of Ancient Windham, 62; Dexter, Yale description begins Franklin Bowditch Dexter, Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College with Annals of the College History, New York, 1885-1912, 6 vols. description ends , 5:3-4).

1MS: “prohibtuted.”

2Word interlined.

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