Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Ambrose Vasse, [21 November 1792]

From Ambrose Vasse1

[Philadelphia, November 21, 1792.] “As a Citizen of the United States I beg leave to solicit through your mediation my Country’s protection in an affair which interests not only me personally, but even the American Trade in general. Engaged in the Hispaniola business, I have thro my Correspondents Messrs Coopman & Co2 of Cape François sold to the Administration of that Colony sundry provisions to a large amount and at such reduced prices as to leave barely a proffit equal to the freight—for the neat proceeds whereof the House at Cape François remitted to me thro the channell of their agents here Bills drawn by said Administration on Mr De la Forest Consul General of France in this City:3 the acceptance of said Bills has been refused & consequently the payment remains very uncertain. Mr De La Forests Advertisement in the Papers of this day declares positively that they will not be paid as their dates are later than the 9th of September.…4 May I flatter myself that you will honor me with your protection and will use your influence with the minister of France, in order to obtain Justice as well for myself as for my fellow Countrymen and sufferers and to prevail on him to authorise Mr De la Forest to accept & pay all the drafts, drawn on him by the Administration of Hispaniola and most particularly such as have been drawn upon the abovementioned Circumstances.”

Letterpress copy, Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress.

1Vasse was a Philadelphia merchant in the West Indian trade. This letter was enclosed in H to Thomas Jefferson, December 14, 1792.

2Francis Coopman, a Frenchman living in the West Indies, was a member of the firm of Zacharie, Coopman, and Company of Baltimore. The other partner, Stephen Zacharie, was a naturalized citizen of the United States. See Otho H. Williams to H, January 23, 1792.

3Faced with an empty treasury and a hungry population, the government of Santo Domingo had drawn bills on Antoine René Mathurin de la Forest, French consul general, to pay for supplies sent to the island by United States merchants. The bills were drawn on the understanding that they would be paid for out of the debt which the United States owed to France. This understanding between the United States and France was approved by a decree passed by the French Legislative Assembly on June 28, 1792. See Gouverneur Morris to H, September 25, 1792, note 8.

For background on the request for additional United States aid to Santo Domingo, see H to George Washington, November 19, 1792.

4The Federal Gazette and Philadelphia Daily Advertiser carried La Forest’s notice on November 21, 1792. Some months before this notice appeared, La Forest advised the government of Santo Domingo to stop issuing these bills. In addition, he placed advertisements in American papers stating that he would not accept any such bills which had been issued after news of his stand on this matter had reached Santo Domingo ([Philadelphia] National Gazette, August 11, 1792).

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