Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Stephen Girard, 26 February 1794

From Stephen Girard1

Philadelphia, February 26, 1794. “I have Sent to Bordeaux a new Ship … with a Cargo of Tobacco, Rice, Cotton, &c. That vessel arrived at her destination on the 13 day of July last and has been detained there for five Months, by an Embargo.…2 The Supercargo (my Brother John Girard a Citizen of the United States) … informs me that he had been forced to unload part thereof and … that the French Governement would take Possession of the Said Cargo. As the above vessel and Goods are my own Property I … hope You will … Take Such Steps therein as Justice and the Interest of a Citizen of the United States may requiere.”

LC, The Papers of Stephen Girard, Girard College, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, permission granted by Board of Directors of City Trusts.

1Girard was a Philadelphia merchant, financier, and philanthropist.

2Because the Commissioners of the Convention at Bordeaux had on August 12, 1793, laid an embargo on all ships in that port, almost two hundred ships were detained there until the end of March, 1794. Following vigorous protests from Gouverneur Morris, the United States Minister at Paris, and James Fenwick, the United States consul at Bordeaux, the Committee of Public Safety in an arrêt on March 27, 1794, lifted the embargo, promised eventual indemnity and immediate provisions, ordered a convoy to escort the ninety-five American ships which might fall prey to the Algerine corsairs, and waived any exit duties which had not been in force at the time each ship had been detained. The Committee stated that the arrêt was authorized by a law of December 4, 1793, which gave the Committee power over all matters of foreign policy (James Fenwick to the Committee of Public Safety, March 23, 1794 [copy, Arch. des Aff. Etr., Corr. Pol., Etats-Unis description begins Transcripts or photostats from the French Foreign Office deposited in the Library of Congress. description ends , Vol. 40]; “Extract of the Register of the Committee of Public Safety,” March 27, 1794 [copy, Arch des Aff. Etr., Corr. Pol., Etats-Unis, Vol. 40]).

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