George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Sim Lee, 18 October 1793

From Thomas Sim Lee

Ann[apoli]s October 18. 1793


I beg leave to lay before yr Excellency copies of a letter and depositions received yesterday from the British Vice Consul residing at Baltimore1—The Letters I have lately had the honour Sir of addressing to you on similar occasions make it unnecessary for me to explain my object in the present case2—I have taken the same provisionary step with regard to the vessel mentioned in the depositions herewith enclosed, as was adopted respecting the Brigantine Cunningham, and although I have not heard from the french Vice Consul, I have no doubt of his paying due attention to my requisitions3—I have the Honor &c.

Tho. S. Lee

Df, MdAA; LB, MdAA: Council Letterbook, 1787–1793.

1The letter from British vice-consul Edward Thornton to Lee of 16 Oct. (MdAA) enclosed the deposition of Peter Walstrum, Edward Matthias, and John Stay, 16 Oct., regarding the capture of the brigantine Pilgrim by the privateer Sans Culottes de Marseilles. These crewmen testified that the Pilgrim was captured near Watts Island, Va., on 6 Oct., “not more than two miles and a half or three miles at most from the shore,” and brought into Baltimore on 11 Oct. (P.R.O.: FO 5/1; see also Counter Case description begins The Counter Case of Great Britain as Laid before the Tribunal of Arbitration, Convened at Geneva under the Provisions of the Treaty between the United States of America and Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain, Concluded at Washington, May 8, 1871. H. Exec. Doc. 324, 42d Cong., 2d sess., 1872. description ends , 553). Thornton continued by noting that the Pilgrim had been advertised for sale and by requesting that Lee “adopt as early as possible the same measures, which you have been pleased to use on a former occasion, for preventing the sale or farther dispersion of the property concerned, until the pleasure of the executive government of the United States shall be known.”

2See Lee to GW, 7, 11, and 15 October.

3Lee’s letter to Francis Moissonnier, 18 Oct., required him to “employ your authority to prevent a transfer or any other act of proprietorship by the Captors until the decision of the President respecting the legality of her capture be obtained” (MdAA: Council Letterbook, 1787–1793). Moissonnier replied that the Pilgrim had already been sold, but on Lee’s advice he later submitted testimony disputing the alleged illegality of the ship’s capture, which Lee forwarded to Secretary of War Henry Knox for GW’s consideration (see Lee to Moissonnier, 25 Oct. and 5 Nov., and Lee to Knox, same dates, MdAA: Council Letterbook, 1787–1793).

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