From Edmund Randolph1
Philadelphia September 9th 1794
The President of the United States instructs me to request, that you will cause an inquiry to be immediately made, through some of the Officers of the Customs, into the damage sustained by the detention of the Brig William of Glasgow, a prize to a French Cruiser, while She was detained by Government for examination, whether she was not captured within the protection of our coast. It may perhaps be important to ascertain the time, when the damage accrued and through what means. You will be pleased to direct the persons, who shall be employed to inform the French Consul in Philadelphia2 of the time and place of their proceeding; in order that the persons interested in behalf of the Captors may be present, if they think proper.
These measures are adopted by the President, that he may have the whole subject before him, when he shall decide on the application made by the French minister,3 for compensation, and not because he has already decided in its favor. Those therefore who shall be appointed to inquire, will not give any intimation to the Consul or others, that the President has in the smallest degree prejudged the matter.
I have the honor, Sir, to be with great respect & esteem Your most obedient Servant
The Secretary of the Treasury
LS, Free Library of Philadelphia; LC, RG 59, Domestic Letters of the Department of State, Vol. 7, June 27–November 30, 1794, National Archives.
1. For background to this letter, see “Opinion on Compensation for Captured Vessels,” June 22, 1794; H to George Washington, June 22, 1794. For the William, see H to Rufus King, June 15, 1793; Thomas Jefferson to H and Henry Knox, June 25, 1793, note 1; “Cabinet Meeting. Opinion on Vessels Arming and Arriving in United States Ports,” July 12, 1793; “Cabinet Meetings. Opinions Concerning Relations of the United States with Several European Countries,” November 1–22, 1793; Randolph to William Bradford, H, and Knox, April 5, 1794; Randolph to H and Knox, May 20, 1794; Randolph to H, June 9, 17, 1794.
2. Antoine René Charles Mathurin de La Forest had been appointed French consul general for the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware on March 2, 1792, and was recalled on May 18, 1793. He was reappointed on February 22, 1794.
3. On August 26, 1794, Jean Antoine Joseph Fauchet wrote to Randolph: “… Cette réflexion que la justice me suggère, me rappelle qu’une lettre que je vous ai écrite en demande d’indemnités pour le navire le William qu’on a laissé déperir dans le port de Philadelphie, en lui faisant attendre une détermination pendant plus d’une année, est restée sans résponse. J’aime à croire malgré votre silence que vous aurez pris ma demande en consideration, je dirai plus même, je dirai que je suis sur qu’elle a été accueillie favorablement puis qu’elle est juste …” (Correspondence of the French Ministers with the United States Government description begins Correspondence of the French Ministers, Joseph Fauchet and P. Adet; with the United States Government during the Years 1794–1796 (n.p., 1797?). description ends , part 1, 8).