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To Thomas Jefferson from Albert Gallatin, 5 April 1804

From Albert Gallatin

Washington 5th April 1804

Dear Sir

I sincerely hope that you have, on your arrival, found Mrs. Eppes in a fair way of recovering. The weather and city have been gloomy enough since your departure; and Mrs G. is anxious that I should take her to New York. If I can possibly complete in time the business and arrangements resulting from the laws of last session, I will try to do it early enough to be back here when you shall return.

Messrs. Duponceau, Barnwell & Lomax have been written to. Nothing new in this dept., beyond the mere routine of business.

I enclose some very lengthy, though crude and ill arranged observations on Dr Stevens’s claim. Yet the argument drawn from his mission not being to the authorised Govt. of a foreign nation, appears to me conclusive to prove the impropriety of applying to that object, the monies appropd. for intercourse with foreign nations. And the more I have considered the case, the more have I been convinced that it was a claim Sui generis, a decision on which could affect no other; that none of a similar kind in all its parts had ever been admitted by mere executive authority, and that it seemed to be in a peculiar manner, one that wanted legislative sanction. He called on me last Sunday and I mentioned my opinion to him, he rather acquiesced except in that which related to the evidence of a contract. On that part of the subject I might have added some further observations.

With sincere respect and attachment Your obedt. Servt.

Albert Gallatin

Enclosed you will also find copies of all the papers in the Treasury which relate to Dr. Stevens’s claim.

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “The President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received from the Treasury Department on 9 Apr. and “Dr. Stevens” and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) Edward Stevens to Madison, Philadelphia, 2 Apr. 1802, submitting his claim against the government for expenses incurred during his mission to Saint-Domingue, including expenses for passage on the ship Kingston, the hire of vessels to carry dispatches, travel expenses for public business, advances to American seamen, house rent and living expenses, and the salary of a secretary; and enclosing a statement of his account with the United States, from 10 Mch. 1799 to 25 Sep. 1801, totaling $27,325. (2) William Thornton as justice of the peace for Washington County, District of Columbia, 7 Jan. 1804, certifying that Stevens appeared before him and testified under oath that the 2 Apr. 1802 statement of accounts “is just and true, except that the household expences are herein much under-rated” and that he had received no reimbursements for any part of the account. (3) Timothy Pickering to Stevens, Danvers, Massachusetts, 23 Mch. 1802, enclosing a statement encouraging the acceptance of Stevens’s claim, noting that he transmitted intelligence and made “voyages and Journies to different Ports & places of the Colony, to negotiate & transact affairs that were highly interesting to the United States;—the very nature of those cases precludes, in my view, all doubt as to the propriety and justice of his claim”; Pickering explains that while Stevens “was to superintend & protect the Commerce of the Citizens of the United States with St. Domingo; yet from the peculiar circumstances of that Island, his duties were ever considered as essentially Ministerial.” (4) Deposition by James Yard, who appeared before Clement Biddle, notary public, in Philadelphia, 2 Apr. 1802, and swore that he had formed an agreement with the U.S. government on Stevens’s behalf with the understanding that the mission “must of necessity be accompanied with very heavy personal expences” that would be reimbursed by the government; to Yard’s inquiry as to the necessity of an appropriation by Congress, Pickering replied that there was an annual sum of some $20,000 “granted to the President out of which the said expences might be paid.” (5) Receipt signed by J. Selle, Cap-Français, indicating that on 7 May 1799, Stevens paid him $2,000, by a bill of exchange on William Cramond, for the charter of the schooner Esperance to carry dispatches to Philadelphia. (6) Receipt signed by Pierre Jarnan, Cap-Français, 4 June 1799, acknowledging Stevens’s payment of $2,000, by a draft on Yard, for the charter of the schooner Liberty to carry dispatches to Philadelphia. (7) Certificate signed by Stephen Minor, commander of the schooner Sophia, Cap-Français, 8 Oct. 1799, acknowledging that Stevens had paid him $2,050, by a bill of exchange on Cramond for $2,000 and $50 in cash, to compensate for losses sustained by the condemnation of his vessel and cargo in April 1799; Minor agrees to reimburse Stevens as soon as he receives compensation as promised from Toussaint-Louverture. (8) Statement by Stevens, Washington, 10 Jan. 1803, describing the circumstances that led to the $2,050 payment to Minor; he notes that the suit was not settled before he left the island; he includes an account of the value of the Sophia and its cargo when taken 15 Apr. 1799, totaling $5,521.91. (9) Minor to Stevens, Cap-Français, 8 Oct. 1799, with instructions in case his property is restored. (10) Minor to Stevens, Wilmington, Delaware, 18 Aug. 1800, requesting that Stevens pressure Toussaint to fulfill his promise and restore his property. (11) Karrick & Percival to Stevens, undated, requesting passage money due on a voyage. (12) Receipt signed by Karrick & Percival, 24 Sep. 1801, acknowledging Stevens’s payment of $600 “in full for Passage of himself & Family” from Cap-Français. (13) Receipt signed by John Thomas Carré, in French, 14 Aug. 1801, acknowledging payments by Stevens of $1,600 for salary. (14) Pickering to Yard, Philadelphia, 5 Nov. 1801, noting that he cannot recollect the agreement cited by Yard that the expenses of Stevens’s mission “should be defrayed by the Government”; “Two things are certain,” Pickering notes: that Stevens’s agency “was rather ministerial than Consular” and that the arrangements “were concerted with the Government by you”; he recalls that Stevens “seemed to me to be the most suitable person, and indeed the only one to be found, to whom the important and difficult mission to St. Domingo could be entrusted”; Pickering reviews Stevens’s qualifications and accomplishments because of “the numerous slanders to which this mission to St Domingo has given rise”; he again expresses regret “that I have not a recollection of the stipulations, or assurance, relative to his expences”; he hopes the government will reimburse Stevens. (15) Pickering to Stevens, Washington, 16 Dec. 1803; he reviews the strained relations between the United States and France in 1798 and 1799, which led to Stevens’s mission to restore commerce with Saint-Domingue; the uncommon mission “demanded sagacity, firmness, address, a knowledge of the French language—in a word, the very talents & qualities which you appeared exclusively to possess”; frequent conferences with Toussaint were indispensable; public duties engrossed all of Stevens’s time; in the settlement of accounts with the United States, Pickering notes, “you ought to be considered, what you were in fact, as their Minister; and as such entitled to receive the amount of all your expences incurred in your mission,” including living expenses, “as your Office rendered indispensable a style of living, and a hospitality, suited to a public Minister”; but with regard to salary, Pickering advises, “you ask none: the chance of emolument from Commercial transactions came in its place.” (16) Stevens to Richard Harrison, auditor of the Treasury, Washington, 7 Jan. 1803; submits his testimony under oath, along with that of his private secretary in Saint-Domingue, who “was perfectly acquainted with the nature and content of my expenses there,” to be included with the other documents recently submitted. (17) John N. D’Arcy to Stevens, Philadelphia, 1 Jan. 1804; D’Arcy, who was secretary to Stevens at Saint-Domingue, encloses a certificate of the various expenditures incurred by Stevens during his residence in Saint-Domingue; it does not include all of the expenditures, which exceeded $9,000 per year; he does not include expenditures for wine, which could not have been less than $4,000, as his “hospitable house was the daily resort of public Characters as well as of private Citizens.” (18) Deposition by D’Arcy, given before Biddle, Philadelphia, 2 Jan. 1803 [i.e. 1804], testifying that Stevens “expended for his Journeys on account of the American Government and in his household expences in St Domingo” not less than $7,241 in 1799, $8,216 in 1800, and $7,751 to August 1801, according to the record kept by D’Arcy; the expenditures included $450 for the hire of a French schooner to carry dispatches to General Thomas Maitland, $400 for sea stores on the outward passage in the ship Kingston, and $1,200 per year for house rent; D’Arcy also notes the $2,000 payment to Captain Minor “by order of Genl. Toussaint,” which had not been repaid as promised. (19) Harrison to Madison, 7 Jan. 1804, submitting Stevens’s papers and inquiring “whether the depositions of Dr. Stevens & his private Secretary may be received in lieu of the vouchers generally required, & which it is not usual to dispense with at the Treasury without authority from the head of the proper Department” (see Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser. description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962- , 39 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 1986- , 11 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984- , 8 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009- , 3 vols. description ends , 6:315). (20) Madison to Harrison, 9 Jan. 1804, replying that as “these Depositions constitute an higher grade of proof than has been admitted in some other instances of a similar nature, they seem to be sufficient to establish the reality of the expenditures for which they are produced” (see same, 6:326). (21) Harrison to Gabriel Duvall, comptroller of the Treasury, 11 Jan. 1804; he has examined and adjusted Stevens’s accounts from 10 Mch. 1799 to 25 Sep. 1801, and finds that the United States owes him $27,325, including $2,125 for the relief and protection of American seamen; he encloses for the decision of the comptroller the statement and documents on which the report is based, including “A dissection of the account of Doctor Edward Stevens,” itemizing $17,800 in “Household & personal expenses,” $7,400 in “Travelling & Contingent expenses,” including the secretary’s salary, and $2,125 for relief of American seamen, noting that the money advanced to Minor “was in reality (according to the Statement of Doctor Stephens) to relieve him from debts incurred by his detention and to enable him & his crew to get home, & without which they would have Suffered extreme distress, & perhaps have perished.” All Trs in DLC, consisting of a single transcript in a clerk’s hand; endorsed by Gallatin: “Documents”; endorsed by TJ as received “Apr.   04.” and “Stevens’s case.”

duponceau: TJ was considering Philadelphia attorney Peter S. Du Ponceau for a judgeship in Orleans Territory (Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser. description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962- , 39 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 1986- , 11 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984- , 8 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009- , 3 vols. description ends , 7:301-2; Appendix II).

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