Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Thomas Jefferson, [1 January 1792]

To Thomas Jefferson1

[Philadelphia, January 1, 1792]

Mr. Hamilton presents his Compliments to Mr. Jefferson. Being engaged in making a comparative statement of the Trade between the U S & France & between the U S & G Britain;2 and being desirous of rendering it as candid as possible Mr. H will be obliged to Mr. Jefferson to point out to him the instances, in which the Regulations of France have made discriminations in favour of the U States, as compared with other foreign Powers. Those of Great Britain appear by its statutes which are in the hands of Mr. H; but he is not possessed of the General Commercial Regulations of France.

Mr. H also wishes to be informed whether the Arret of the 9th of May 1789 mentioned by Mr. J in the Notes to his Table3 be the same with the Ordinance of the Governor General of St Domingo4 which is at the end of the Collection of Arrets which Mr. J was so obliging as to lend to Mr. H—which is of that Date.

AL, Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress.

1On December 23, 1791, Jefferson sent to George Washington a comparative table of commercial restrictions imposed by England and France both in Europe and in the western hemisphere. On the same date Jefferson sent a copy of the table to H (Jefferson to Washington, December 23, 1791, letterpress copy, Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress; Jefferson to H, December 23, 1791).

3In Jefferson’s table, which is entitled “Footing of the commerce of the United States with France & England, & with French and English American colonies,” note “g” reads as follows: “There is a general law of France prohibiting foreign flour in their Islands, with a suspending power to their governors, in cases of necessity. An Arret of May. 9. 1789. by their governor makes it free ’till 1794. Aug. 1. and in fact is generally free there” (Jefferson to Washington, December 23, 1791, letterpress copy, Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress).

On January 4, 1792, Jefferson wrote to Washington that on inquiry he had learned that “the colonial Arret of 1789, permiting a free importation of our Flour till 1793 … was revoked in France … and that the permission to carry Flour to the three usual ports … was immediately renewed by the Governor [of Santo Domingo]. Whether this has been regularly kept up by renewed Arrets during the present troubles he cannot say, but is sure that in practice it has never been discontinued, and that not by contraband, but openly and legally, as is understood.… This correction of the notes I took the liberty of laying before you, with the table containing a comparitive view of our commerce with France and England, I have thought it my duty to make” (letterpress copy, Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress).

4“Ordonnance concernant la liberté du commerce pour la partie du Sud de Saint-Domingue,” May 9, 1789, as well as the arrêt revoking this ordonnance, may be found in Saintoyant, La Colonisation Française pendant la Revolution, I, 452–53.

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