Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Thomas Pinckney, 5 July 1793

From Thomas Pinckney

London 5th. July 1793

Dear Sir

The inclosed copy of additional Instructions to the Commanders of British men of War and Privateers will shew the farther embarrassment to which our commerce will be subjected in the present War. These instructions though dated the eighth of June were not finally issued to the Admiralty till the 28th. Lord Grenville justifies them from the authority of the writers on the law of nations particularly 2d. Vattell. 72. 73 and urges that by the doctrine there laid down they have not gone so far as they would have been justified in proceeding considering the prospect they have of reducing their enemy by such means, the instructions not extending to all kinds of provisions, nor to confiscation of those kinds that are mentioned. That the existing circumstances justifying them in considering grain as among contraband articles they come within the Proclamation issued by the President. That the French Government are in fact the only importers of grain into that country. That the measure was so guarded by directing the property to be paid for together with the freight that the owners could suffer no loss, a liberal price being always allowed in these cases, and he was hopeful the matter would be so conducted as to give satisfaction to the parties concerned. I urged every argument that suggested itself to me in support of the neutral rights which I contended were injured in this instance, pointed to inconveniencies that would attend the execution of the instructions and urged that the case put by Vattell of a well grounded hope of reducing the enemy by famine did not exist provisions being now cheaper in the Ports of France than in those of England. Ld. G. on being asked said Spain would pursue the same line of conduct and upon it being objected that even their late Convention with Russia did not extend to this object, he answered that though it was not expressly mentioned it was fully understood by both parties to be within the intention of it. At the close of the conversation I told him I should transmit these instructions to you accompanied by his reasons in their justification. Although I thought it right to say all I could in support of the neutral rights, yet I am of opinion, that if they pay a liberal price the measure will be beneficial to our Grain trade, by opening their ports to us here when corn is under the act of parliament price, and if they extend it to the West Indies, giving our cargoes there, admission in our own bottoms.1 Lord Grenville spoke in high terms of approbation of the Answer to Mr. Hammond’s memorials which he received by the Packet.2 I have presented to the Austrian and Prussian Ministers here as well as to the Secretary of State copies of the Presidents Proclamation accompanied by the inclosed note. I forward by this opportunity copies of two conventions entered into between this country and Russia and another with Sardinia. I am informed another treaty either is or will soon be compleated with Austria, by which Great Britain will be fully embarked in all the plans of the combined Crowns. My letter of the 22d. April gave notice of the intentions of this Cabinet to enter into such measures, and all their conduct since seems consonant thereto. France, I am well informed would have given them3 Carte blanche to detach them from the Confederacy, but they refused to treat. Several regiments are under orders to embark from Ireland, I have no certainty of their destination, they are said to be for the Continent of Europe, but have been hitherto detained by the internal disturbances which have not totally subsided. A Treaty has been entered into between the King of Great Britain and the Prince of Hesse Cassel for the hire of 8000 Hessian Troops to serve in any part of Europe. The Swedish Minister at the Hague has imparted to that Court the intention of their Government to send convoys for the protection of their trade and I believe the same notification has been made here though it is not yet published. Mr. Cutting has not yet been able to procure a neutral Vessel to go to Lisbon his present idea therefore is to embark in a British Vessel which will sail soon under convoy for that Port. I have the honor to be with the utmost respect Dear Sir Your most faithful & obedient Servant

Thomas Pinckney

RC (DNA: RG 59, DD); written partly in code (see note 1 below); at foot of text: “The Secretary of State”; endorsed by TJ as received 12 Sep. 1793 and so recorded in SJL. PrC (ScHi: Pinckney Family Papers). Dupl (DNA: RG 59, Duplicate Diplomatic Dispatches); in the hand of William A. Deas; written partly in code; at head of text: “(Duplicate)”; filed with decipherment of second coded passage in an unidentified hand. Tr (same, DD); in Benjamin Bankson’s hand; entirely en clair, with deciphered passages underscored; endorsed by TJ: “Pinckney Thos. copy of his lre of July 5.93.” Tr (Lb in same); entirely en clair, deciphered sections being in brackets and containing a minor anomaly. Tr (DNA: RG 46, Senate Records, 3d Cong., 1st sess.); extract consisting of text to note 2 below except for intervening coded sentence. Enclosures: (1) Additional instructions of George III to the commanders of British warships and privateers, 8 June 1793, authorizing them to stop and send into British ports all vessels carrying corn, flour, or meal to any French port or any port occupied by French armies, the vessels to be released either after the British government purchased these provisions with an allowance for freight or after the Court of Admiralty approved security given by their masters that they would deliver these provisions to the ports of any country at peace with Britain; to seize for condemnation all ships, regardless of their cargo, attempting to enter a blockaded port, except for Danish and Swedish ships, which were to be prevented from entering such a port on their first attempt but seized for condemnation on their second attempt; and to warn away ships at sea headed for blockaded ports that had left their home ports before the declaration of the blockade had been advertised in them and to seize them for condemnation if thereafter they tried to enter blockaded ports, as well as all other ships that either left ports after the advertisement of a blockade or received notice of it during their voyage (Tr in DNA: RG 59, DD, in Deas’s hand, with “These are of Mr. Banksons” penciled at head of text and “2 copies to be made of these” penciled on verso by TJ; Tr in DNA: RG 46, Senate Records, 3d Cong., 1st sess.; Tr in Lb in DNA: RG 59, DD). (2) Pinckney to Lord Grenville, 21 June 1793, enclosing copies of the Proclamation of Neutrality and TJ’s 23 Apr. 1793 letter to foreign ministers in the United States as proof of the desire of the United States to preserve peace and friendship with all the belligerent powers and relying that they will in return extend a scrupulous protection to all American citizens, one that will be exactly reciprocated in similar cases (Tr in DNA: RG 59, DD, in Deas’s hand; Tr in Lb in same). (3) Pinckney to the Austrian Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary in London, 22 June 1793, of the same import as No. 2 (Tr in same, in Deas’s hand, with his note on verso: “a similar Note addressed, To the Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of his Prussian Majesty”). (4) Extract from the Anglo-Russian Convention of 25 Mch. 1793, consisting of Article 3, by which the signatories bound themselves to shut their ports to French ships, to prevent the exportation from their ports to France of military and naval supplies and foodstuffs, and to do all in their power to injure French commerce; and Article 4, by which they bound themselves to prevent neutral powers from directly or indirectly lending their protection to French commerce or property at sea or in French ports; with subjoined description of the Anglo-Sardinian Treaty of 25 Apr. 1793, by which Sardinia promises to maintain an army of 50,000 to defend itself and act against the common enemy, and by which Britain agrees to send a fleet to the Mediterranean, furnish Sardinia with a subsidy of £240,000 payable quarterly in advance, and restore all territory taken during the war (Tr in same; in Deas’s hand; with penciled note by TJ at head of text: “these are of Mr. Banksons”). Letter and Enclosure No. 1 printed in Message description begins A Message of the President of the United States to Congress Relative to France and Great-Britain. Delivered December 5, 1793. With the Papers therein Referred to. To Which Are Added the French Originals. Published by Order of the House of Representatives, Philadelphia, 1793 description ends , 109–12. Enclosed in TJ to George Washington, 15 Sep. 1793.

Enclosure No. 1 was grounded on the British order in council of 8 June 1793, which contravened the American government’s insistence on the principle that free ships made free goods (Bemis, Jay’s Treaty description begins Samuel Flagg Bemis, Jay’s Treaty: A Study in Commerce and Diplomacy, rev. ed., New Haven, 1962 description ends , 206–14; Charles R. Ritcheson, Aftermath of Revolution: British Policy Toward the United States, 1783–1795 [Dallas, 1969], 278–83). The passage in 2d. Vattell. 72. 73, which deals with the obligation of a sovereign to prevent his subjects from injuring the citizens of another nation, provided no justification for the British policy of confiscating certain provisions bound for French ports in neutral vessels. As he made clear in another context, Lord Grenville meant to invoke book 3, section 112–13, which argued that such confiscation was justifiable when there was a hope of reducing an enemy by famine (for a translation, see Emmerich de Vattel, The Law of Nations, or, Principles of the Law of Nature, Applied to the Conduct and Affairs of Nations and Sovereigns [London, 1797], 162, 336–8; Mayo, British Ministers description begins Bernard Mayo, ed., “Instructions to the British Ministers to the United States 1791–1812,” American Historical Association, Annual Report, 1936 description ends , 40–1). answer to Mr. Hammond’s memorials: see TJ to George Hammond, 15 May 1793.

1This and the subsequent passage in italics are written in code, the text being supplied from the decipherment in the first Tr, except as noted below, and verified in part by the Editors using partially reconstructed Code No. 16.

2Tr in DNA: RG 46 ends here.

3Here “a” is erroneously inserted in the first two Trs.

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