Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Cabinet Opinions on Edmond Charles Genet and James King, 7 December 1793

Cabinet Opinions on Edmond Charles Genet and James King

At a meeting of the heads of departments and Atty. Genl. at the President’s on the 7th. of Dec. 1793.

Mr. Genet’s letter of Dec. 3. questioning the right of requiring the address of Consular commissions to the President was read. It is the opinion that the address may be either to the US. or to the President of the US. but that one of these shoud be insisted on.

A letter from James King was read, dated Philadelphia Nov. 25. 1793. complaining of the capture of his schooner Nancy by a British privateer and carried into N. Providence, and that the court there has thrown the onus probandi on the owners, to shew that the vessel and cargo are American property. It is the opinion that Mr. King be informed that it is a general rule that the government should not interpose individually,1 till a final denial of justice has taken place in the courts of the country where the wrong is done; but that, a considerable degree of information being shortly expected relative to these cases, his will be further considered and attended to at that time.

The Secretary of state informed the President that he had received a number of applications from Mr. Genet on behalf of the refugees of St. Domingo who have been subjected to tonnage on their vessels and duties on their property on taking asylum in the ports of this country, into which they were forced by the misfortunes of that colony. It is the opinion that the Secretary of state may put the petitions into the hands of a member of the legislature in his private capacity to be presented to the legislature.

Th: Jefferson
Edm: Randolph Alexander Hamilton
H Knox

MS (DLC: Washington Papers); in TJ’s hand, signed by TJ, Hamilton, Knox, and Randolph; endorsed by Washington.

TJ conveyed the substance of the Cabinet’s opinion about Edmond Charles Genet’s letter of Dec. 3. in his 9 Dec. 1793 reply to the French minister. letter from James King: see note to TJ to King, 7 Dec. 1793. Representative William Vans Murray of Maryland was the member of the Legislature to whom TJ subsequently submitted the issue of exempting from the payment of tonnage duties French ships that had come to the United States as a result of the destruction of Cap-Français during the slave revolt on Saint-Domingue in June 1793. On 7 Mch. 1794 Congress passed a law remitting such duties for all French ships which could prove they had taken refuge in the United States in consequence of that event (Annals, description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … Compiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. The first two volumes of the set cited here have “Compiled … by Joseph Gales, Senior” on the title page and bear the caption “Gales & Seatons History” on verso and “of Debates in Congress” on recto pages. The remaining volumes bear the caption “History of Congress” on both recto and verso pages. Those using the first two volumes with the latter caption will need to employ the date of the debate or the indexes of debates and speakers. description ends iv, 1418–19; TJ to Genet, and TJ to George Washington, both 15 Dec. 1793).

1Word interlined.

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