Thomas Jefferson Papers
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From Thomas Jefferson to William Carmichael, 29 August 1790

To William Carmichael

New York August 29th. 1790.

Dear sir

You will receive by the present conveyance my letters of the 2d. and 6th. instant.

In my letter of April 11th. I enclosed to you a duplicate of Mr. Jay’s of September 9th. 1788 complaining of the practice of the Spanish Governments bordering on Georgia, of receiving and withholding the fugitive slaves of that State, and urging redress. My letter of May 31st. covered a triplicate of Mr. Jay’s, with some new evidence of a continuation of the practice and desired your pointed attention to that object. I now enclose two letters from the Commanding Officer of the United States on St. Mary’s River, giving information of a recent instance of the same violation of good neighbourhood, and shewing you that it cannot be continued peaceably. Be so good as to press for immediate orders to their Governor to discontinue this practice, and to convey an answer speedily to me.

Being to leave this place within 3 or 4 days for Virginia, from whence I shall return to Philadelphia after about a month’s stay at my own house, you will probably receive no other letter from me dated earlier than the latter end of October. With the present, the newspapers to this date will be handed you. I have the honor to be &c.

FC (DNA: RG 59, PCC No. 121). Not recorded in SJL Enclosures: (1) Captain Henry Burbeck to Henry Knox, St. Mary’s, 31 July 1790, saying that a few days since a “Mr. Jones in a vessel” on St. Mary’s river with three negroes, his principal property, anchored off Cumberland Island opposite the Spanish galley and during the night two of his negroes stole his boat and went to the island “where they were free men.” Burbeck added: “Mr. Jones was obliged to borrow a boat to go in pursuit of his Negroes, and found them at the Spanish Garrison as good christians as himself. He … was obliged to return without his boat and insulted by his negroes; the Captain told him that the negroes would want the boat to go to Augustine. The man was almost raving mad, and came to me for advice. I told him that he had better go immediately to Augustine as the new Governor had arrived, and it was expected had some orders respecting run away negroes‥‥ There are but few inhabitants in this part of Georgia that have not had negroes, who have obtained their freedom by crossing the St. Mary’s to Florida, and the people have been impatiently waiting for the arrival of the new Governor, expecting that he would have orders not to harbour them: but in case he countenances it and grants them protection, you may rely on the inhabitants making reprisals; for they will no longer consent to losing their property without any redress” (same). (2) Burbeck to Knox, 2 Aug. 1790, saying that Jones had gone to St. Augustine, had waited on the governor informing him of his business, and had been asked by the governor “how he presumed to come there without permission and … if he did not know that runaway negroes coming from the United States to Florida were all free men.” Burbeck added: “He answered that he was sensible that it had been the case, but it was expected that his Excellency would have orders to give them up. The Governor told him, that he had nothing further to say to him. He then asked him for a passport to return. The Governor told him that he came without permission and that he should return in the same way.—Mr. Jones saw his negroes acting as servants in the Governors House” (same).

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