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To Alexander Hamilton from Rufus King, 2 July 1798

From Rufus King

London July 2. 1798

Dear sir

France will pursue with us the Plan that she has elsewhere found successful. She will endeavour to overthrow us by the Divisions among ourselves which she will excite and support by all the means of which she is mistress. The Paris Papers of the 18. ulto. say le Citoyen Roziers est nommé Consul Genl. aux Etats unis. Gamier (en convenl. de Saintes) consul, & Boscq vice consul à Wilmington, Quillet, consul à Tanger, passe à Norfolk, Bosc à New York, et le Citoyen Sottin, ambassadeur pres la Republique Ligurienne, (& I presume the former Minister of Police) vient d’etre nommé Consul a New York.1

If anything could exceed the past insolence of France, it would be this Attempt to plant in our chief Towns a corps of revolutionary agents under the mark of pub. Characters, and whom she expects, I hope falsely, that our Govt. will receive and permit to reside among us, after having herself repeatedly refused and expelled from her territories our pub. Ministers.

Another arreté of the Directory has added Havre to the Ports into which our vessels are forbid an Entry—so that we cannot now enter the Ports of Toulon, Rochefort, L’Orient, Brest, Dunkerque or Harve.2 Cadiz and the Texel are closed by the Br. Squadrons, and I apprehend that the Meuse will likewise be blockaded as the Br. north Sea fleet is by this time reinforced by the Russian Squadron.

We are still at a loss where Buena parte is bound—he sailed from Toulon the 19. of May.3 My opinion has been that Ireland was his object. At present it seems to be the general Opinion that he never intended to leave the Mediterranean. In a few Days we must hear of him. The Eng. confidently believe that he will fall into the Hands of Ad. Neilson who is in pursuit of him.4 In Ireland tho for some months there will be partial and unimportant Risings, the force of the Insurrection is broken and the Danger nearly over.5 The chief’s have been without much character and without any intellect. There is no indication that they have recd. a single musket from france, and in general they are without arms except Pikes. There is but one remedy for Ireland, and it is that which has proved so successful with Scotland. Ireland like Scotland must become an integral part of the Br. Empire, or she will continue ignorant, ill governed, oppressed, and wretched.

Yrs. &c


Col Hamilton

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; copy, New-York Historical Society, New York City.

1This sentence, except for the words in English within parentheses, is a quotation from a decree issued by the Directory on June 18, 1798. King enclosed a copy of this decree to Secretary of State Timothy Pickering in a letter dated July 2, 1798 (LS, RG 59, Despatches from United States Ministers to Great Britain, 1792–1870, Vol. 7, January 9–December 22, 1798, National Archives).

The individuals mentioned in this sentence were Jean Antoine Bernard Rozier, Jacques Gamier de Saintes, Louis Augustin Guillaume Bosc, Pierre Quillet, and Pierre Jean Marie Sotin de la Coindière. When this letter was written, two of these men were in the French consular service in the United States. Rozier was vice consul at New York City. Bosc, who had been named as vice consul at Wilmington, North Carolina, on May 15, 1797, was appointed consul at New York on June 8, 1798. His commission is dated June 30, 1798. Quillet, who resigned as vice consul at Alicante on February 20, 1797, was named as consul to Sebenico, Dalmatia, on November 22, 1797. King’s assumption concerning Sotin was correct, for he had been Minister of Police until the end of 1797. The information in this paragraph has been supplied by Mr. F. Dousset, Adjoint au Directeur Général des Archives de France.

On June 29, 1798, William Vans Murray, United States Minister to the Netherlands, wrote to Pickering: “I find that John Sotin—late French minister at Genoa—is recalled from thence, and is to go as Consul to New York. This, be assured, Sir, is a very important event. He it is who has been the active agent there is embroiling the insurgents against the King of Sardinia. He is a dangerous man—subtle & contriving & will do every mischief in the power of a wicked intriguer with an experience ripe & fresh from successful practice. There can be but one design in sending such an incendiary from the rank of minister to that of consul—at such a time, & to such a place!

“Gamier—a member of the tumultuary convention, is destined as consul at Wilmington; which, whether in D. or N.C. I know not—both these indicate probably the last effort at insurrection.” (ALS [deciphered], Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston.)

Long before H received King’s letter, any possible problems arising from consular appointments mentioned by King had become an academic matter. On July 7, 1798, “An Act to declare the treaties heretofore concluded with France, no longer obligatory on the United States” was approved (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 578). This act provided “That the United States are of right freed and exonerated from the stipulations of the treaties, and of the consular convention, heretofore concluded between the United States and France; and that the same shall not be legally obligatory on the government or citizens of the United States.” On July 13, 1798, President John Adams issued a proclamation revoking the exequaturs of all French consular agents in the United States (Adams, Works of John Adams description begins Charles Francis Adams, The Works of John Adams (Boston, 1850–1856). description ends , IX, 170–72).

2The arrêt to which King is referring reads: “Le directoire executif considerant que chaque jour on acquiert des nouveaux indices des coupables intelligences qu’intretiennent les ennemis de la Republique avec les malveillans de l’intérieure; considérant que les motifs qui ont fait interdue aux americains l’entrée des Ports de Brest, l’Orient, Rochefort, Toulon & Dunkerque sont applicables au Port de Harve, contre lequel il y a lieu de craindre que la perfidie Anglaise ne dirige spécialement ses funestes intrigues; oui le Rapport du ministre de la marine & des Colonies, arrete 1. L’entrée du port de Harve est interdit aux Bâtimens Americains. 2. Ceux des Bâtimens de cette nation qui se trouveront maintenant au Havre, seront tenus d’en sortir sous le plus bref delai; 3. Le ministre de la marine est chargé de l’Execution &c” (copy, in King’s handwriting, enclosed in King to Pickering, July 2, 1798 [LS, RG 59, Despatches from United States Ministers to Great Britain, 1792–1870, Vol. 7, January 9–December 22, 1798, National Archives]). See also Réimpression de L’Ancien Moniteur description begins Réimpression de L’Ancien Moniteur, Seule Histoire Authentique et Inaltérée de la Révolution Française (Paris, 1847). description ends , XXIX, 292.

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