From Gouverneur Morris
Paris 25. September 1792.
I transmitted on the sixteenth of last month Copies of my correspondence with the Commissaries of the Treasury to Mr. Jefferson,1 and on the seventeenth I inform’d you thereof. I now enclose to you my Correspondence on the same Subject with Mr. Short so that you may see exactly how that Matter stands and be able to act knowingly if called on to take any steps in relation to it.2 You will see that by an unfortunate Coincidence of Events some Ground is given for question in one of the Cases which may be supposed to result from the late Overset of the Constitution.3 Mr. Shorts zeal for the Interests of the United States led him to insist on Conditions unsuited to the State of Affairs, and as he afterwards gave up the Point it might be argued that this payment was made to a Party which he had already declared incompetent &c. &c. My answer of the twentieth to Mr. Lebruns letter of the ninth4 (of both which Copies are enclos’d) is calculated, as you will see, to stifle that question in the Birth. I prefer sending this Correspondence directly to you, instead of passing it thro the Secretary of States Office, because the letter from Mr. LeBrun has too much the air of a Complaint against Mr. Short for me to transmit it in a Channel which may give it any publicity: and this for two reasons, first that the Obloquy to which the Servants of Government are exposed has sufficient Aliment and more than sufficient already, and next that even if Blame were due I would not be instrumental in calling it forth.
LC, Gouverneur Morris Papers, Library of Congress.
1. Morris to Thomas Jefferson, August 16, 1792 (ALS, RG 59, Despatches from United States Ministers to France, 1789–1869, June 17, 1792–March 7, 1794, National Archives). On October 31, 1792, Jefferson sent this correspondence to H. Morris’s correspondence with the Commissaries of the French Treasury is printed as an enclosure to Jefferson to H, October 31, 1792.
2. The enclosures are printed in chronological order following this letter. Since irrelevant sections of the letters have generally been omitted, all the enclosures have been calendared. In cases where only the pertinent sections have been extracted, this fact is noted on the source line to the enclosure.
3. The constitutional changes taking place in France in the spring and summer of 1792 had complicated the negotiations of Morris and Short with the French government on the payment of the debt owed France by the United States. The Girondist Ministry under Jean Marie Roland and Charles François Dupérier Dumouriez had fallen in June, 1792, and was replaced by a series of Royalist ministries until the suspension of the King on August 10. The coalition faction then came into power, forming a provisional government until a national convention could be called to draw up a new constitution. At its first meeting on September 21, 1792, the National Convention abolished royalty. The new Jacobin Ministry which was formed after the events of August 10 was under the leadership of Pierre Henri Hélène Marie Lebrun-Tondu, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Etienne Clavière, Minister of Finance, and Gaspard Monge, Minister of Marine. Both Short and Morris were reluctant to make firm commitments to the new ministry on the American debt owed to France until they had received instructions from the United States concerning the changes in the French government.
4. Lebrun was French Minister of Foreign Affairs from August 12, 1792, to June 2, 1793. Lebrun’s letter to Morris is dated September 19 rather than September 9, 1792, and is printed below as an enclosure to this letter.