From Marquis de Rouvray1
New York, August 15, 1795. States that in March, 1790, he gave Henri Jacques Guillaume Clarke,2 an agent of the Duke of Orleans, two “billets d’honneur” in the amount of twelve thousand livres to cover the cost of a debt incurred by his son3 for a commission as captain in the Hussars. Complains that Clarke’s suit, commenced in the United States to recover the amount of the notes, is not valid, for the sale of commissions was illegal, that “billets d’honneur” were not negotiable, that Clarke had not demanded payment when the notes were due, and that French rather than United States courts should have jurisdiction over such matters.4
ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.
1. This letter is written in French. Laurent-François Le Noir, Marquis de Rouvray, a member of a Norman family, served in Canada and in the American Revolution, in which he became a field marshal. After the Revolution he moved to Santo Domingo, where he bought sugar and coffee plantations. In 1789 he became a deputy for the northern province of Santo Domingo in the Constituent Assembly at Versailles. In June, 1790, he returned to Santo Domingo and commanded a corps in the eastern part of the colony against the slave insurrectionists. In October, 1792, he fled to New York (Malcolm E. McIntosh and Bernerd C. Weber, eds. Une Correspondance Familiale au temps des troubles de Saint-Domingue: Lettres du Marquis et de la Marquise de Rouvray a leur Fille, Saint-Domingue-Etats-Unis, 1791–1796 [Paris, 1959], 5–10).
2. Clarke was a captain of dragoons in the Duke of Orleans’s regiment at the outbreak of the French Revolution. He subsequently became a staff officer (Une Correspondance Familiale, 67).
3. Probably Gaston, Vicomte de Rouvray, the younger son of the Marquis (Une Correspondance Familiale, 89).
4. Also in the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress, is a memorandum written by Rouvray entitled “Idees Sur la juridiction du Tribunal des Marechaux de france Et Sur Les billets d’honneur” and dated August 12, 1795.