Thomas Jefferson Papers
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To Thomas Jefferson from Thomas Pinckney, 27 September 1793

From Thomas Pinckney

27 Septr. 1793

Dear Sir

The above is the duplicate of my last by the Mohawk. I omitted to mention therein that I have directed insurance to be made on the whole of the copper against the dangers of the seas only. I have no instructions on this head but have acted as I should have done for myself. By desire of the correspondents of the Owners I inclose a statement of the case of the Ship Laurens concerning which there appears to be some unjustifiable proceedings on the part of the Captors, I believe Mr. Morris has made some representation on the subject but hitherto without success. Four Regiments of infantry are now said to be under sailing orders for Canada, but the events of the campaign so far determine the destination of the troops of this Country that untill they have actually sailed nothing concerning it is certain. I remain with the utmost Respect My dear Sir Your faithful & most obedt Servant

Thomas Pinckney

RC (DNA: RG 59, Duplicate Diplomatic Dispatches); subjoined to Dupl of Pinckney’s first letter to TJ, 25 Sep. 1793; at foot of text: “The Secretary of State”; endorsed by TJ as received 28 Nov. 1793 and so recorded in SJL. PrC (ScHi: Pinckney Family Papers). Tr (Lb in DNA: RG 59, DD). Enclosure: Bird, Savage & Bird and other English consignees of the Laurens to Pinckney, London, 12 Sep. 1793, stating that the Laurens, Captain Thomas White, owned by Smiths, DeSaussure & Darrell of Charleston, all American-born, and carrying a cargo of rice and indigo worth about £30,000 sterling belonging to the ship’s owners and other American citizens, was seized by the French privateer Sans Culottes while on its way from Charleston to London and brought to Le Havre on 23 Mch. 1793; that on 16 Apr. the Court of Admiralty there decreed that the capture was illegal and in violation of the French-American treaty, ordered the ship and cargo to be restored to White, and directed the captors to pay costs, interest, damages, and demurrage for the delay; that while the captors were appealing this decree, the National Convention on 9 May passed a decree, retroactive to the beginning of the war, authorizing the capture of neutral ships carrying neutral-owned provisions to enemy ports or enemy-owned merchandise, a decree it alternately exempted United States ships from and resubjected them to in decrees of 23 and 29 May and 1 and 27 July; and that if the Laurens and its cargo were condemned at Le Havre, the underwriters would refuse to pay the insurance the consignees had taken out on the assurance that the ship and cargo were both American property—in consequence of which they sought Pinckney’s assistance on behalf of the American owners in recovering the ship and cargo wrongfully held in violation of the neutrality of the American flag and the treaty between the United States and France (RC in same). Enclosed in TJ to George Washington, 29 Nov. 1793.

For further information on the Laurens, see Gouverneur Morris to TJ, 19 Apr. 1793, and note.

This is the last ministerial letter from Pinckney that TJ received as Secretary of State. See Appendix i.

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