Thomas Jefferson Papers
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To Thomas Jefferson from Gouverneur Morris, 13 August 1793

From Gouverneur Morris

Sainport 13 August 1793.

Dear Sir

Enclos’d herein you will find Copies of my Letters of the 27 and 28 June 4. 21. and 24 July and 6 August to the Minister of foreign Affairs with Copies of his Letters to me of the 3. 19. 29 and 30 July. From these you will perceive that my Application for an Order to the Minister of France in America to pay out of the Funds to be furnished by the United States the Drafts made on his Predecessor from S. Domingo produc’d the desir’d Effect. Some subsequent Circumstances have induc’d me to beleive that under that Cover an Attempt will be made to pay the Bills drawn on Europe in favor of french Citizens. I have certified Signatures which seem’d to be calculated for that Purpose but as I presume that Measures will be taken of a cautionary Nature I shall not pretend to suggest any.

You will perceive Sir in this Correspondence one of the many Violations of our Flag in the Case of the little Cherub which being attended with Circumstances of peculiar Atrocity call’d for more pointed Animadversion. The Conduct of the Government on the Occasion was perfectly proper. The Person who committed the Murder has however been acquitted on the Testimony of his Companions in direct Contradiction to that of the American Master and Crew. The Case of the Ship is still depending and I know not what will be the Event. It now appears that a Part of the Cargo on Board of her was for Account of flemish Merchants and to be delivered at Ostende. But more of this presently. I must however take the Liberty of recommending to the Notice of Government Francis Coffyn of Dunkerque an old Deputy of Mr. Barclay while he was Consul General. On Many Occasions and especially in the Affair of the little Cherub he has behav’d with much Sense Spirit and Industry. The Conduct of such Business is by no Means pleasant neither is it without some personal Danger for in the present Situation of this Country the Laws are but little respected and it would seem as if pompous Declarations of the Rights of Man were reiterated only to render the daily Violation of them more shocking.

You will see Sir in my Letter of the fourth of July a Clause asking the Liberty of an American Citizen. In my Application on that Subject I have been very cautious fearing that I might be deceiv’d by british Seamen and consequently that our Countrymen might afterwards be without Redress; As in such Case the Government here would throw all the Complaints aside as being unfounded. Among others who have ask’d the Protection of the United States are some Nantucket Whale Men. And at first their Requests were so artfully made that I was near being the Dupe. I have however declin’d all Interference in their Favor telling them that when they embark’d under a foreign and rival Flag they forfeited by their own Act the Protection afforded by that of the United States and must console themselves in their present Situation by the Privileges which they formerly enjoyed and which tempted them to engage in the british Service. This is the general Idea I have held out but differently modified according to the various Circumstances which Individuals have brought forward. These People are a Sort of Citizens of the World and wherever they went were the most pernicious Enemies to their native Country because every where they solicited either the Exclusion of or else heavy Duties on the produce of our Fisheries. At present those who were settled at Dunkerque have I am told engagd in privateering. Probably if the War lasts the whole Hive may settle again within the Territory of the United States and the more they endure in the mean Time the sooner will they adopt that salutary Determination.

The Decree respecting neutral Bottoms so far as it respects the Vessels of the United States has you will see been bandied about in a Shameful Manner. I am told from Havre that it is by the Force of Money that the Determinations which violate our Rights have been obtain’d and in comparing Dates Events and Circumstances this Idea seems to be but too well supported. I will make no Comments on the facts because my opinions are of no Consequence. The true State of them will result from the enclos’d Pieces and the United States will judge thereon. I am with sincere Esteem Dr Sir your obedient Servt.

Gouv Morris

RC (DNA: RG 59, DD); at head of text: “No. 35.”; at foot of first page: “Thomas Jefferson Esqre Secretary of State”; endorsed by Edmund Randolph as received 23 Feb. 1794. FC (Lb in DLC: Gouverneur Morris Papers). Tr (DNA: RG 46, Senate Records, 3d Cong., 1st sess.). PrC (DNA: RG 59, MD). Tr (Lb in same, DD). Enclosures: (1) Morris to François Louis Michel Chemin Deforgues, 27 June 1793, stating that, having demonstrated its attachment to the French nation by advancing 4,000,000 livres for the succor of Saint-Domingue in response to the request of Jean Baptiste Ternant and on the basis of a decree of the National Assembly, and by advancing 3,000,000 livres to purchase provisions for France in response to another demand of Ternant, the United States government wished the French Republic to instruct its minister in Philadelphia to apply part of the funds he is to receive from the United States Treasury to pay bills issued to American merchants by the administration of Saint-Domingue for the purchase or seizure of their cargoes. (2) Deforgues to Morris, Paris, 3 July 1793, stating that he was about to instruct Edmond Charles Genet to reimburse American merchants as requested by Morris; that Genet had already been instructed to inform the President of French gratitude for American aid to Saint-Domingue; and that he was enclosing decrees of the National Convention expressing indignation about the violence committed aboard the Little Cherub and exempting United States vessels from the decree of 9 May. (3) Decree of the National Convention, 1 July 1793, directing that the minister of justice institute an immediate investigation of the murder at Dunkirk on 6 June of the mate of the Little Cherub, and of the conduct of the captains and crews of the Vrai Patriote and Argus toward the captain and crew of the Little Cherub, and transmit the result to the Convention without delay; that the Little Cherub be released and that the minister of marine ascertain the indemnities due to the ship for delay and spoliation and to the family of the murdered mate; and that Deforgues communicate this decree to Morris and Genet. (4) Decree of the National Convention, 1 July 1793, exempting United States vessels from the decree of 9 May 1793 in conformity with Article 16 of the commercial treaty of 1778. (5) Morris to Deforgues, 28 June 1793, stating that he and the United States government reciprocated the recently nominated foreign minister’s sentiments of friendship; that the 9 and 28 May 1793 decrees of the National Convention threatened American trade by setting a precedent of commercial restrictions for England and the enemies of France to follow and by inspiring French privateers to commit illegal outrages as long as they were permitted to bring into French ports, far from their intended destinations, American ships carrying foodstuffs to countries at war with France; and that damages were due for the brigantine Patty, commanded by Captain Pease, owned by New York merchants, and carrying a cargo of flour addressed to the mayor of St. Valéry, which was forced by a French fleet in May to enter Cherbourg, where the municipality made Pease unload his cargo and where his ship was so badly damaged by being run aground that it could not proceed on an intended voyage to Gothenburg. (6) Deforgues to Morris, 29 July 1793, stating that he had received no response from Cherbourg to his inquiries about damages to the Patty, but that since Morris had informed him that one of its owners was pursuing this matter directly with the minister of the interior, this minister would undoubtedly do justice to the owner if his claim was well founded. (7) Morris to Deforgues, 4 July 1793, expressing satisfaction with Nos. 2, 3, and 4; requesting the liberation of Thomas Toby, a United States citizen who had been returning to America aboard an English ship cast away on the French coast and was being detained as an Englishman in the hospital of Boulogne-sur-Mer; and hoping that the order demanded in the enclosed letter from Messrs. Le Couteulx of Rouen could be expedited. (8) Deforgues to Morris, 19 July 1793, enclosing an extract from the register of the Provisional Executive Council on the case of Captain John Brice of the Juno of Philadelphia as a new proof of the French Republic’s friendship for American citizens. (9) Extract from the Register of the Provisional Executive Council, 14 July 1793, stating that although Captain Brice was blameworthy and not entitled to an indemnity because of his refusal to make known the Juno’s colors when it was stopped on 17 May 1793 by the frigate Capricieuse, Citizen Savari, in the interests of fair treatment for the citizen of an ally of the French Republic Brice was to be paid a sum equivalent in value to articles allegedly taken from the Juno after it was brought to the Island of Aix, a subsequent examination having shown that its papers were regular. (10) Morris to Deforgues, 21 July 1793, stating that he was grateful for Nos. 8 and 9 and would send an account of them home; and that since No. 5 one of the owners of the Patty had come to Paris to seek justice from the minister of the interior after being informed by the municipality of Cherbourg that their conduct toward the Patty had been dictated by that minister and that damages and expenses must be sought from him. (11) Morris to Deforgues, 24 July 1793, stating that he hoped the French Republic would do justice in the case described in an extract of a 20 July letter from Le Havre alleging that efforts to secure the restitution of the Laurens, Captain White, and its cargo on the basis of a 1 July 1793 decree of the National Convention after four months of detention were being frustrated by the owners of the privateer which captured them, whose attorney had persuaded the district tribunal to postpone judgment in this case until 31 July by citing a letter from Paris by one of the owners maintaining that certain members of the Convention would induce it to pass a new decree modifying that of 1 July. (12) Deforgues to Morris, 30 July 1793, stating that he and the minister of marine would immediately act on the case of the Laurens and meet Morris’s demand about Captain White if he had conformed to the laws on transporting warlike stores and other objects prohibited in wartime (Trs, in French, in DNA: RG 59, DD; Trs, in French and English, in DNA: RG 46, Senate Records, 3d Cong., 1st sess.; PrCs in DNA: RG 59, MD; Trs, in French and English, in Lb in same, DD; printed in ASP, description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends Foreign Relations, i, 369–72).

Decree respecting neutral bottoms: the 27 July 1793 decree of the National Convention, which revoked the exemption described in Enclosure No. 4 above (Archives Parlementaires description begins Archives Parlementaires de 1787 à 1860: Recueil Complet des Débats Législatifs & Politiques des Chambres Françaises, Paris, 1862-, 222 vols. description ends , 1st ser., lxix, 582; see note to Morris to TJ, 20 May 1793).

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