Thomas Jefferson Papers
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From Thomas Jefferson to Edmund Randolph, 28 August 1793

To Edmund Randolph

Philadelphia Aug. 28. 1793.

Dr Sir

I have the honor to inclose you the papers of Messrs. Wilson Potts & Easton, merchants of Alexandria, complaining that their brig the Jesse has been taken by a French privateer called the Sans pareil, carried into Charleston, and there condemned by the French Consul and sold. The object of their application is to obtain national interference for redress. But this measure is always slow, rarely effectual, and never proper if the laws of the land give redress. If therefore the laws would give relief to the parties against the vessel and cargo, if still within the US. or against the Captors if here, or the purchasers, or the French Consul, it would be better so to advise the parties, than to take any public measure. Upon this point I take the liberty of asking your opinion, and am with great esteem & respect Dr. Sir Your friend & servt

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC); at foot of text: “The Atty Genl. of the US.” FC (Lb in DNA: RG 59, DL). Enclosures not found.

On 27 Aug. 1793 the President sent TJ “a Letter & Sundry enclosures” received from Wilson, Potts & Easton of Alexandria, Virginia, relating to the capture of the British merchantman Jessie by the Sans Pareil, a French privateer commissioned at Saint-Domingue and commanded by Captain Jean Bouteille, “for his consideration of the steps necessary to be taken” (Washington, Journal, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed., The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797, Charlottesville, 1981 description ends 232–3). In a brief covering note of this day TJ enclosed to the President the draft of this letter to the Attorney General in order to “explain his views of the best way of proceeding in that case” (RC in DNA: RG 59, MLR, addressed “The Preside[…],” endorsed by Bartholomew Dandridge, Jr.; Tr in Lb in same, SDC; not recorded in SJL). Washington returned the draft on the same day with a brief covering note expressing his approval of it (RC in DLC; in the hand of Tobias Lear; addressed: “The Secret[…]”; endorsed by TJ as a letter from Washington received 28 Aug. 1793). For further information on this capture, see Melvin H. Jackson, Privateers in Charleston, 1793–1796 (Washington, D.C., 1969), 14–15, 16n, 138–9.

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