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To Alexander Hamilton from William Bradford, 21 May 1795

From William Bradford

Philada. May 21. 1795

My dear Sir,

I thank you very sincerely for your letter of the 10th. inst.1 which I received a few days ago. The conduct of Fauchet which you so justly reprobate could not escape the notice of the president tho’ it does not seem to have excited so much public attention as I expected.2 A little before this took place, that minister had intimated to Mr Randolph his expectation of returning soon to France; and Mr Munroe’s letters gave reason to expect that M. Adet was on his way to America to succeed him.3 Mr Randolph therefore thought it would be sufficient to communicate to his successor either at the first interview or immediately after the sense of the govt. on this subject. If such gross improprieties could have been suppressed for the future, without any new visitation to Fauchet, who has been extremely soured of late & is disposed I suspect to do us mischief on his return, it would have been desirable, and perhaps the best course: but as we hear nothing more of Adet & this man is evidently endeavoring to stimulate the party which is opposed to the Treaty, the march you intimate would not have been amiss. I shewed your letter to the Secy. of State: but his censure of Fauchet outran yours:4 and he means that he shall learn thro’ his successor the sentiments which are entertained of his behavior. As no letter can be given him at his d⟨e⟩parture, he will at least gather it from that c⟨ir⟩cumstance. He finds great fault with Mr Randolph of late & I understand has had the effrontery to complain “That he did not shew him the whole of the instructions to Mr Jay” & that he did not inform him that Mr Jay was authorised to conclude a commercial treaty.5 On the subject of that Treaty he is extremely irritable: and from various circumstances I have reason to believe that the pieces signed “Franklin” which are directed against our having any connection with G. Britain, are written under his direction:6 but it is impossible to prove that the fact is so. I am persuaded no means will be left untried to induce the Senate to reject the treaty: and I sincerely hope Mr. Jay will arrive before the discussion commences.7

The trial of the insurgents has commenced.8 Mr. Rawle9 selected what he thought a pretty strong case:10 but his principal witness proved recreant & flatly contradicted what his deposition contained.11 The prisoner was of Course acquitted without argument:12 & on applicati⟨on⟩ of the district Attorney, the Witness—Major Parke⟨r⟩ (you may recollect him, perhaps a tall, red haired snuff-taking fellow) was bound in recog. to take his trial for the perjury.13 The trials of several others have been put off on affidavits of the absence of material witnesses, the Court being of opinion “That they were intitled to a reasonable time to collect their evidence, after the list of the U.S. witness is furnished.”14 This creates not a little embarrassment & their Counsol will in future try the prisoners in such order as best suits their own views.15

Adieu. Believe me, very truly & affly Yours

W. Bradford

A. Hamilton Esq.

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Letter not found.

2Jean Antoine Joseph Fauchet, French Minister to the United States, was in a somewhat awkward position at this time. The French government had drawn up instructions for his successor on October 23, 1794, but it was not until June 13, 1795, that his replacement, Pierre Auguste Adet, was presented to the President at Philadelphia (Turner, “Correspondence of French Ministers,” description begins Frederick J. Turner, ed., “Correspondence of the French Ministers to the United States, 1791–1797,” Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1903 (Washington, 1904), II. description ends 12). Fauchet’s position as a lameduck minister was made even more difficult by his concern over the possible impact of the Jay Treaty, the contents of which had not been made public, on Franco-American relations. Fauchet made no effort to conceal his feelings toward the United States, and on May 2, 1795, he wrote to Secretary of State Edmund Randolph:

… Après tant de tentatives inutiles, Monsieur, vous devez croire à la peine que j’éprouve de retracer un tableau si différent de celui qu’offre la République Française toutes les fois qu’ils s’agit d’être juste envers vous, même lorsque ses intérêts sont compromis. C’est lorsqu’une guerre terrible la dévore incessament, qu’elle remplit rigoureusement ses traités envers vous; ici, elle ne demande que justice, et elle ne peut l’obtenir. Elle voit au contraire ses ennemis admis a l’intimité avec vous, au moment où votre commerce et votre souveraineté sont également insultés par eux, au moment où, ajoutant la dérision aux injustices, ils vous dépouillent de nouveau sur les mers, lorsqu’ils promettent de vous indemnifer pour des actes anciens. Cette réflexion, Monsieur, devient bien plus douleureuse, quand on voit afficher sous vos yeux même la légalisation officielle d’une proclamation qui vous défend de commercer avec nos colonies, et suspend pour vous seulement la loi des nations. Je sais, Monsieur, ce que les égards m’imposent envers ce qui intéresse immédiatement vos affaires et vos relations comme Peuple. Mais je ne puis entièrement passer sous silence des transactions auxquelles la République n’est point étrangère, parcequ’elles sont dirigées contre elle, et que souscrire par un exces de ménagemens à des ordres pareils, c’est quitter l’état de neutralité que l’Amérique professe. Voyez, Monsieur, je vous prie si l’on peut dire que cette neutralité existe, quand d’un côté vous ne pouvez plus maintenir vos traités, et que de l’autre vous êtes obligés d’abandonner vos relations exclusivement à la discrétion de l’Angleterre, qui bientôt déclarera sans doute tout l’univers bloqué, excepté ses possessions. Quel compte croyez vous que j’aie pu rendre au Gouvernement Français des moyens que vous preniez pour rendre votre neutralité respectable? C’est cependant là sur quoi mes instructions insistent, et ce dont la France s’est exclusivement à tout inquiétée. Je ne vous rappellarai point les conversations que j’ai eu l’honneur d’avoir avec vous à ce sujet; je dois rappeller moins les promesses verbales que vous m’avez itérativement faites, et surtout à une certaine époque d’un état de choses plus honorable. Vous savez ce que sur la foi du Gouvernement nous dumes espérer d’une négociation dont on fit beaucoup d’éclat. Toute l’Amérique connait aujourd’hui le résultat de cette mesure. Les mêmes faits qui la provoquèrent, existent encore depuis qu’elle a pris une tournure qu’on n’avait point annoncée d’abord, mais dont on pouvait au surplus espérer davantage.

Je me hâte, Monsieur, de quitter un sujet que je n’ai entamé qu’avec peine, et à l’égard duquel je connais mes obligations. Je reviens à ce que m’occupe plus immédiatements. J’espère donc, Monsieur, que l’Exécutif des Etats Unis ne se contentera pas de son traité avec l’Angleterre pour assurer sa neutralité, puisque tout prouve que ce moyen est insuffisant. J’espère également que vos ports seront déformais fermés aux vaisseaux qui y sont en contravention des traités qui nuisent à nos deux Nations; j’espère aussi que Mr. le Président qui m’a tant de fois promis par votre organe, qu’il soutiendrait les traités à quelque prix que ce fût, donnera des ordres pour que ses intentions sur lesquelles je n’ai pas l’ombre d’un doute, soyent enfin remplies. J’espère enfin, que mes réclamations si souvent et tant des fois répetées, seront écoutées, d’autant plus qu’elles sont justes, et que depuis plusieurs mois je ne cesse de les présenter à la froide impartialité de votre Gouvernement.” (Correspondence of the French Ministers with the United States Government description begins Correspondence of the French Ministers, Joseph Fauchet and P. Adet; with the United States Government during the Years 1794–1796 (n.p., 1797?). description ends , part I, 36–38.) Randolph replied on May 29, 1795 (LC, RG 59, Domestic Letters of the Department of State, Vol. 8, December 6, 1794–October 12, 1795, National Archives).

3On March 6, 1795, James Monroe, United States Minister Plenipotentiary to France, had written to Randolph: “I avail myself of the opportunity by Mr. Edet who leaves this to succeed Mr. Fauchet, of transmitting herewith some communications which have lately passed between the committee of public safety and myself …” (LC, RG 59, Despatches from United States Ministers to France, 1789–1869, Vol. 4, August 15, 1794–October 21, 1796, National Archives).

4On May 31, 1795, Randolph wrote to Monroe: “Mr. Fauchet took up the strain of complaining, and has written an indecent letter, in which he collects all the charges, which he thinks himself qualified to maintain against the U.S…. I confess, that I little expected from Mr. Fauchet the conduct, which he has pursued, and probably will pursue, before his successor arrives” (ALS, MS Division, New York Public Library).

5For John Jay’s instructions, see H to George Washington, April 23, 1794, note 13.

On July 8, 1795, Randolph wrote: “I never could, with truth, have informed the French minister that the mission, as set forth in the President’s message to the Senate, contemplated only an adjustment of our complaints, if by this phrase it be intended to exclude commercial arrangements: I could have had no reason for saying so, since the French republic could have had nothing to do with our commercial arrangements, if they did not derogate from her rights—it could have answered no purpose, when so short a time would develop the contrary—I never did inform the French minister as is above stated.

“The only official conversation which I recollect with Mr. Fauchet, upon this subject, was when I communicated to him, with the President’s permission, that Mr. Jay was instructed not to weaken our engagements to France. Neither then, nor at any other time, in official and unofficial conversation, did I ever say to him that nothing of a commercial nature was contemplated; or that nothing but the controversies under the old treaty, and the spoliations, were contemplated.

“Mr. Fauchet, some time ago, said to me, that he understood, from what I said, that Mr. Jay was not authorized to treat of commercial matters. I told him that he misunderstood me. No letter has ever passed upon this subject.” (ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Foreign Relations, I, 593.)

6The “Franklin” essays appeared in The [Philadelphia] Independent Gazetteer between March 11 and June 10, 1795. Three unnumbered essays appeared on March 11, 14, and 18. Two more essays, which have not been found, presumably appeared on March 25 and 28. The remaining essays appeared on the following dates: No. VI on April 4; No. VII on April 8; No. VIII on April 18; No. IX on April 22; No. X on May 16; No. XI on May 20; No. XII on May 27; No. XIII on June 6; No. XIV on June 10. The authorship of these essays has not been established. Ashworth and Carroll state (but without giving a source) that some Federalists attributed their authorship to Alexander J. Dallas, secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (Freeman, Washington description begins Douglas Southall Freeman, George Washington (New York, 1948–1957). Volume VII of this series was written by John Alexander Carroll and Mary Wells Ashworth. description ends , VII, 248). William Cobbett, on the other hand, argued under the pseudonym of “Peter Porcupine” that they were written by Fauchet (Peter Porcupine, A little plain English, addressed to the people of the United States, on the treaty negociated with his Britannic Majesty, and on the conduct of the President relative thereto; in answer to “The Letters of Franklin.” With a supplement, containing an account of the turbulent and factious proceedings of the opposers of the treaty [Philadelphia and London, 1795], 89–90).

7See Robert Troup to H, May 11, 1795, notes 9 and 11.

8The trials of those arrested during the Whiskey Insurrection began in the United States Circuit Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on May 4, 1795 (“Minutes of the Circuit Court, 1792–1802” [D, RG 21, Records of the District Courts of the United States, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, National Archives]; Wharton, State Trials description begins Francis Wharton, State Trials of the United States During the Administrations of Washington and Adams (Philadelphia, 1849). description ends , 172–84).

9William Rawle, United States attorney for the District of Pennsylvania.

10Bradford is referring to the case against Captain Robert Porter, who was indicted for high treason on the basis of the testimony of James Parker (Wharton, State Trials description begins Francis Wharton, State Trials of the United States During the Administrations of Washington and Adams (Philadelphia, 1849). description ends , 174–75; Rawle to Alexander Addison, August 15, 1795 [Pennsylvania Archives, 2nd ser., IV description begins Pennsylvania Archives, 2nd ser., IV (n.p., 1876). description ends , 536]). See also H to Washington, November 15, 1794, note 13.

11In his letter to Addison on August 15, 1795, Rawle wrote: “A circumstance not very pleasing occurred during the trial of Robert Porter. James Parker, when before you at Washington, stating in his affidavit the persons who had been at the destruction of Gen [John] Neville’s house, included the name of Robert Porter, yet on the trial he denied that he saw him elsewhere than at Couch’s before, and at Col. D[avid] Phillip’s after the attack” (Pennsylvania Archives, 2nd ser., IV description begins Pennsylvania Archives, 2nd ser., IV (n.p., 1876). description ends , 536).

12In United States v Porter, “After a long examination of witnesses, it was discovered, that the defendant, though he was at Couche’s Fort, had taken no part in the insurrection, that, in fact, he was not the person, liable to the charge, but another person of the same name; and thereupon the jury, by direction of the Court, found a verdict of Not Guilty” (Wharton, State Trials description begins Francis Wharton, State Trials of the United States During the Administrations of Washington and Adams (Philadelphia, 1849). description ends , 174). A similar account of the trial may be found in the “Extracts from Captain Porter’s Narrative” in Hugh H. Brackenridge, Incidents of the Insurrection in the Western Parts of Pennsylvania, in the Year 1794 (Philadelphia, 1795), 331.

13Rawle’s letter to Addison on August 15, 1795, continues as follows: “I was under the necessity of having him [James Parker] bound over to be prosecuted for perjury, to wit: on the false oath taken before you, and this, I fear, will render your attendance at Yorktown necessary, unless you can point out any means to do the business otherwise …” (Pennsylvania Archives, 2nd ser., IV description begins Pennsylvania Archives, 2nd ser., IV (n.p., 1876). description ends , 536).

14In United States v [James] Stewart and United States v [Edward] Wright the trials were postponed in order “that a reasonable time shall be allowed after a list of the names of the witnesses is furnished to the prisoners, for the purpose of bringing testimony from the counties in which those witnesses live” (Wharton, State Trials description begins Francis Wharton, State Trials of the United States During the Administrations of Washington and Adams (Philadelphia, 1849). description ends , 174).

15The court also agreed in United States v Stewart and United States v Wright “that they [Stewart and Wright] should not be brought on till the trial of the other prisoners who were ready for trial was concluded …” (Wharton, State Trials description begins Francis Wharton, State Trials of the United States During the Administrations of Washington and Adams (Philadelphia, 1849). description ends , 174).

On July 10, 1795, Washington prepared a proclamation, which was announced on August 6, 1795. It reads in part: “Therefore be it known that I, George Washington, President of the said United States, have granted, and by these presents do grant, a full, free, and entire pardon to all persons (excepting as is hereinafter excepted) of all treasons, misprisions of treason, and other indictable offenses against the United States committed within the fourth survey of Pennsylvania before the said 2d day of August last past, excepting and excluding therefrom, nevertheless, every person who refused or neglected to give and subscribe the said assurances in the manner aforesaid (or having subscribed hath violated the same) and now standeth indicted or convicted of any treason, misprision of treason, or other offense against the said United States, hereby remitting and releasing unto all persons, except as before excepted, all penalties incurred, or supposed to be incurred, for or on account of the premises” (GW description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington (Washington, 1931–1944). description ends , XXXIV, 233–34; Dunlap and Claypoole’s [Philadelphia] American Daily Advertiser, August 7, 1795).

Thomas Mifflin, governor of Pennsylvania, issued a similar proclamation of pardon on August 26, 1795 (Pennsylvania Archives, 2nd ser., IV description begins Pennsylvania Archives, 2nd ser., IV (n.p., 1876). description ends , 536–39).

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