Thomas Jefferson Papers

Joseph St. Leger d’Happart to Thomas Jefferson, 20 June 1812

From Joseph St. Leger d’Happart

st Leger’s. retreat, near Greenburgh, Westmd County, Pennsylvania, June 20th 1812,


At the receipt of my claim, in a draft, which, I hope, will be duly discharg’d,1 I find myself under inexpressible obligations to you and by you, to accept the present acknowledgments, for the Service, you have, So kindly, render’d me, in the case. Gratitude, being one of the most precious principles, man can possess, happy, indeed, must he be, who can appreciate all the delights, there are in it, when especially,2 expressing our thanks, to whoever, does disinterestedly help us, in the recovery of our own. But perhaps now, you will imagine3 Sir! that my intention,4 is to intrude or my desire to Sollicit too far, tho’ I do not mean it; at the Same time, having, in april 1800. empowered, a mr clarkson, american-consul, at St Kitts, to collect 8000. dollars, the Governor of that colony, had inadvertently detain’d, and merely because Mr clarkson, was a representative of the Unit’d-States, I placed an unlimited5 confidence in him, un-willing as I was, at that fatal period, to either go myself or confide, in any mercantile or other character, whatever: Yet, Mr clarkson, once in possession of my funds, quit’d the colony & has Since that, resided at St Barthelemy. Such a perfidy, having been the case, has injur’d6 my interest, far beyond all I could describ,7 for as one of the many victims of the Sanguinary revolution of my unhappy country8 my pecuniary faculties were then and still are rather confin’d.910th april 1806. I wrote to mr madison, but his answer, did not agree with my idea, and Still believing, that a Government, Should always be responsible, for the mis-conduct of its public-officers, (no matter of what magnitude or importance their birth might be) I requestd mr madison to lay my complaint or loss, before goverment and sollicitd Congress—fund for that amount, as an indemnity.10 Pray Sir! having thus Suffer’d & the privation of such a capital, being very Severe to myself & family, could I, with propriety, renew my application or demand and is it your opinion, it might be acceded to?

Permit me now Sir! to Submit to your perusal, the prospectus of a work, I wish to publish and dedicate to you, if So fortunate, as to meet with your approbation and the prospectus return’d, honor’d with your Signature.

I have the honor to be, with the highest consideration,

sir! Your’s most obediently

st Leger d’Happart

RC (ViW: TC-JP); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson, esqre”; endorsed by TJ as received 18 July 1812 and so recorded in SJL. Dft (PPiU: d’Happart Papers). Enclosure not found.

The British colony of Saint Kitts had no governor from 1783 until 1816, during which time it was ruled directly from Antigua. Although d’Happart traveled to Suriname in about 1798–1801, the state of war between England and his native France may have kept him away from Saint Kitts at that fatal period. The d’Happart family lost its property during the sanguinary revolution, and his attempts to reclaim it included an 1804–05 journey to France. The 10th april 1806 letter from d’Happart to Secretary of State James Madison has not been found, but in his answer Madison stated that David Matthew Clarkson was the United States naval agent for Saint Kitts, not consul, and that in any event the United States could not be held responsible for Clarkson’s “alleged breach of confidence” (Juriaan François Frederici, travel authorizations, 20 Apr. 1798 and 4 Feb. 1800, indentures made by d’Happart with John MacFedran, 4 Dec. 1798, and James Biays, 19 Feb. 1799, d’Happart’s statement regarding Lewis Francis Babin, [ca. 1807], and Madison to d’Happart, 8 May 1806 [all in PPiU: d’Happart Papers]).

1Preceding ten words interlined in Dft.

2Preceding two words interlined in Dft in place of “in.”

3Word interlined in Dft in place of “believe.”

4Word interlined in Dft in place of “wish.”

5Preceding two words interlined in Dft in place of “that much.”

6Word interlined in Dft in place of “hurt.”

7Word interlined in Dft in place of “express.”

8Preceding two words damaged at crease, with reading confirmed in Dft.

9Word interlined in Dft in place of “feeble.”

10Preceding three words interlined in Dft.

Index Entries

  • Clarkson, David Matthew; U.S. naval agent for Saint Kitts search
  • Happart, Joseph St. Leger d’; letters from search
  • Happart, Joseph St. Leger d’; seeks compensation from U.S. search
  • Madison, James; and J. S. L. d’Happart’s claim search
  • subscriptions, for publications; unidentified search