George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Charleston, South Carolina, Merchants, 9 November 1793

From Charleston, South Carolina, Merchants

Charleston So. Carolina 9th November 1793

The Memorial of James & Edward Penman & Co., North & Vesey and Jennings & Woddrop of Charleston South Carolina merchants Sheweth

That your Memorialists, deeply impressed with the deplorable situation to which many of the Inhabitants of St Domingo, now residing in this City with their families, have been reduced, from Affluence, to Want of the necessaries of Life, undertook to send a Small Vessel, with a confidential Shipmaster, to bring off some little Matters for their Subsistan⟨ce⟩ and at same time to see if the Country was in that situation that Vessels could be sent with safety, and a certainty of bring⟨in⟩g off farther Supplies.

That in consequence thereof, they on the 18th of August last, dispatched the Schooner Pilot B⟨mutilated ⟩ Trial, an American Bottom, under Command of Captn Archi⟨bald⟩ Thompson, an American Citizen, with a Cargo of Rice, flo⟨ur⟩ and Pork, with orders to call at St Marcs and Port au pr⟨ince⟩ and take onboard whatever property might be offered for Relievingthe unfortunate persons now in this State, but advising h⟨im⟩ at same time, and also our Correspondents Messrs James Gra⟨nt⟩ Forbes & Co. of Port au prince “That in our sincere Wishes to be aiding in procuring some little Supplies for those unhappy people here, We meant to run no Risk ourselves, nor that ⟨mutilated ⟩ or any others should in any shape do so, of offending against ⟨mutilated ⟩ Laws which, unknown to us, might be made, or of drawing ⟨the⟩ Resentment of the Ruling Powers; that ’though Humanity was deeply imprinted in our nature, and we had never met greater occasion to exercise it, yet it was not to be expected at perils to ourselves or friends.” 1

That your Memorialists have been rendered very uneasy at receiving no direct Intelligence of this Vessel for some time, but have lately had open Letters sent them from New providence, advising that not only the Vessel had been laid hold of by the Commissioners, but the captain and your Memorialists’ Correspondent, James Grant Forbes, had been put in confinement at Port au prince, on Suspicion of intending to bring off Property for Persons here.

That having candidly mentioned the Truth, they are ignorant of the reasons which can have led to such a procedure: As American Citizens, they understood they had a right, both by existing Laws and Treaties, to send their Vessel to a french Port which had always been open to American Vessels, and to bring away their own, or the Property of others, not absolutely forbid by any Law or Proclamation, of which they avow their Ignorance, and which it is evident, by their Letters and Instructions they did not mean to offend against.

They therefore humbly request your Interference with the proper persons for Relief of Mr Forbes and captain Thompson and also for Redelivery of their Vessel and Cargo with Damages And Your Memorialists &ca &ca

Jas & Ed. Penman & Co.

North & Vesey

Jennings & Woddrop

DS, ViW: Tucker-Coleman Papers. This memorial was sent to Thomas Jefferson by Edward Rutledge. Jefferson submitted it to GW on 3 Dec., and GW returned it to Jefferson the same day (Rutledge to Jefferson, 9 Nov., 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 , 27:336–37; JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 263–64).

The partnership of ship chandlers Edward North (d. 1798) and Joseph Vesey (1747–1835) was formed before 1790 and dissolved in early 1797. The mercantile partnership of Daniel Jennings (d. 1793) and John Woddrop (1756–1828), probably formed about 1785, ended 1 Jan. 1799.

1Shipmaster Archibald Thomson resided at 66 East Bay in Charleston. James Grant Forbes (1769–1826) served as an army officer during the War of 1812, went as envoy in 1821 to receive the relinquishment of the Floridas from the Spanish authority in Cuba, and later in 1821 was appointed United States marshal for the Florida territory. His Sketches, Historical and Topographical, of the Floridas; More Particularly of East Florida was first published at New York in 1821.

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