George Washington Papers

To George Washington from the Citizens of Vincennes, 6 October 1792

From the Citizens of Vincennes

[Vincennes, 6 October 1792]

To George Washington. President of The United States of America.

The Supplication of Laurence Bazadone, John Darguilleur, John Toulon, and Peter Troussereau; residing at Postvincents in the County of Knox. Most Humbly Sheweth.

That your Suppliants being reduced to the most Indigent circumstances, by the greatest stretch of usurped Power, conceive their only remedy to depend on your Patronage.

Their Case being unparalleled, they beg your attention to the following recital, in which they will state Facts.

Your Suppliants all born subjects to France, came from New-orleans with divers Merchandise in 1783. to this place, where the Ancient Inhabitants received them with their usual Humanity. And where they had every reason to be satisfied with their reception and prospects. In October 1786. a Body of armed men under the command of General George Clarke from Kentuck penetrated into this country in search of Indians, who having come to a conference eluded the Fury of those ravagers. Under pretence of preventing the Incursions of the natives to the settlements on the south side of the Ohio, General Clarke embodied a number of his followers, and stationed them at this place under the command of a John Holder; and compelling the Inhabitants to supply them with Provisions and Fuel; assuring them that the levy was made by the Authority of the Executive of the State of Virginia, and that their disbursements would be paid. But they did not stop here. Your Suppliants were arrested, and imprisoned on the 17th of October and their Effects seized by the said General George Clarke, John Holder and other officers, who at a Court-martial tried and condemned your Suppliants; forfeited their Effects to the United States and appropriated the whole as they thought most proper.1 This they termed the right of retaliation on the subjects of Spain for real or supposed instances of the same nature, committed on one of the Citizens of the United States on the Mississippi.2 It would be too much to trouble you with an enumeration of all the Indignities with which those Tyrants treated your Suppliants. The loss of all their Property rated at the current prices amounts to near Seventy Thousand Livres money of France; and has reduced your Suppliants to the greatest Misery. Sensible of the rights of every citizen your Suppliants have been encouraged to borrow Money to support an Action in the District of Kentuck, against the said Offenders who have hitherto rendered abortive the efforts of your Suppliants in the Courts of Justice. And having no further support nor the means of obtaining that Justice which we expect is due to the unfortunate, tho’ indigent sufferer; Your Suppliants have taken the resolution to address themselves to you, to pray you would consider their Case, become their Patron and obtain for them from the United States such Relief as they in their Wisdom may find equitable.

Your Suppliants rely entirely on your Patronage and Bounty; and they expect the happy period of their Misfortunes will be the consequence of your Intercession to the United States in their behalf.

The extreme Poverty to which their misfortune has reduced your Suppliants compels them to the necessity of applying to the Chief of the Kaskaskias Indian Tribe to present you this their Supplication.3 In hopes of your approveing of their resolution, and of your obtaining from the United States the relief they stand so much in want of, they beg leave to subscribe their names, and marks in presence of Witness’s.4 at Postvincents the 6th day of October 1792.

Paul Gamelin Laurence X Bazadone
Pierre Gamelin5 Jhon Darguilleur
John X Toulon
Peter X Troussereau

DS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

1In the fall of 1786, residents of the District of Kentucky, then part of the state of Virginia, commissioned Revolutionary War veteran George Rogers Clark to lead a militia expedition against hostile Indians in the Northwest Territory. Clark marched his troops to Vincennes, and when expected provisions failed to arrive, he commandeered supplies from the local residents. After an excursion against the neighboring Indians, Clark attempted to form a garrison at Vincennes under Col. John Holder. Again private property was impressed. Clark not only ordered the property of several traders seized and confiscated, but he also court-martialed them for their failure to cooperate. Charges that Clark had acted illegally were filed with both the Virginia government and Congress, but restitution was never made by either government, nor was Clark punished for his actions (see JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 32:189–99; Alvord, Kaskaskia Records, description begins Clarence Walworth Alvord, ed. Kaskaskia Records, 1778–1790. Springfield, Ill., 1909. In Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library, vol. 5, Virginia Series, vol. 2. description ends 457–58; Green, The Spanish Conspiracy, description begins Thomas Marshall Green. The Spanish Conspiracy. A Review of Early Spanish Movements in the South-West . . .. Cincinnati, 1891. description ends 92–101).

2In order to trade on the Mississippi River, these four French traders probably possessed trading licenses from the Spanish government of the Louisiana Territory, which apparently created some confusion about their nationality.

3Two Kaskaskia chiefs were among the Indians who had signed the recent peace treaty negotiated at Vincennes by Gen. Rufus Putnam. Kaskaskia chief Ducoigne was among the delegation of chiefs who then accepted an invitation to visit GW at Philadelphia. For background on the Treaty of Vincennes and the Indian delegation’s visit to Philadelphia, see GW to Henry Knox, 3 Sept. (first letter), n.3, James Wilkinson to GW, 1 Nov., n.1, and George Clendinen to GW, 11 Nov. 1792, and notes 2 and 3.

4Tobias Lear forwarded this petition to Thomas Jefferson on 30 Jan. 1793 with a request from GW that Jefferson suggest an appropriate response (DLC: Jefferson Papers). Jefferson composed a reply addressed to Paul Gamelin on 21 Feb. 1793 (Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends 25:251), and he enclosed it in a letter to GW dated 22 Feb. 1793. For GW’s approval of Jefferson’s response, see JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 62.

5On 3 July 1790 Pierre Gamelin had been appointed a judge of the court of common pleas, and Paul Gamelin had been made a justice of the court of general quarter sessions of the peace, both for Knox County in the Northwest Territory. Paul, who was appointed treasurer for the county on 3 Sept. 1792, died sometime before 30 Jan. 1793 (Carter, Territorial Papers, description begins Clarence Edwin Carter et al., eds. The Territorial Papers of the United States. 27 vols. Washington, D.C., 1934–69. description ends 3:316, 384, 405).

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