George Clinton to Edmond Genet
New York 30th August 1793
In consequence of the Request contained in your Letter of equal Date, I have issued my Requisition to the Judges & other Officers of this State to give all due Aid and Assistance (pursuant to the 9th Article of the Consular Convention between our two Nations) for the Search Seizure and Arrest of the Deserters (mentioned in your Letter) from the Ship Jupiter belonging to your Republic1—It may not be improper however to mention that altho I conceive the Exhibition of the Ships Roll as proof sufficient to Justify this Measure in the first Instance, yet by the same Article it would appear that a Right is reserved to the Party proceeded against to disprove the Fact; should this therefore be done to the Satisfaction of the Judge before whom those Persons when apprehended are brought, it may then become a Question whether instead of causing them to be confined it will not in such Case be his Duty to liberate them.2 I am &c.
Copy, DNA: RG 59, Letters from Governors of States, 1790–1812.
1. For the requisition, see Clinton to GW, 2 Sept., note 3. Article 9 of the “Convention Defining and Establishing the Functions and Privileges of Consuls and Vice Consuls,” 14 Nov. 1788, gave the consuls authority to “cause to be arrested” deserters from ships and defined their ability to obtain aid from “courts, judges, and officers competent” (see Miller, Treaties description begins Hunter Miller, ed. Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America. Vol. 2, 1776-1818. Washington, D.C., 1931. description ends , 237–38).
2. In Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson’s letter to Clinton of 10 Sept. acknowledging these documents, he warned that “the power of arresting, derived from the 9th: article of the consular convention with France, is capable of great abuse. . . . the facility which is afforded by that instrument, for obtaining the interposition of the Magistracy, merely by exhibiting the register of a vessel, or a ship’s roll, may often expose to a temporary imprisonment those, who never constituted a part of any crew whatsoever. The President therefore feels an assurance, that by the cautions which Your Excellency will prescribe to yourself on such occasions, you will save the United States from every possible embarrassment” (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 , 27:75).