From Germain Pierre Decrosses1
New York, April 16, 1796. “j’ai eu l’honneur de me presenter chez vous ce matin, mais je nai pas eu celui de vous y rencontrer. je quitte sous huit-jours cette terre hospitaliére pour aller dans un pays ou se trouvent réunis tous les fléaux qui peuvent affliger l’humanité. des raisons d’une grande importance me font desirer d’être recû citoyen americain. je suis resident ici dans cette ville de New-york depuis six ans,2 et cent temoins peuvent le certifier et le cautioner. la ⟨cour supr⟩ême federale est-elle assemblée. dans ce cas rien de plus aisé,3 mais si elle ne l’est pas, n’y at-il pas un moyen dy suppleer, et de pouvoir me faire jouir des droits priviléges et immunités que ma bien certainement acquis un aussi long sejour.… j’ai eu l’honneur de vous être presenté par le colonel walker,4 et sur les bontés et l’interêt particulier dont veut bien M’honorer Mr. jay votre ami et si digne de l’etre.…”5
ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.
1. Decrosses had been a landowner in Santo Domingo before the outbreak of the slave revolt in 1791. In a letter of April 23, 1795, Robert R. Livingston wrote to James Monroe in Paris: “Mr. De Crosses has requested me again to trouble you with a recommendation of him to you under an apprehention that his former Letters may have miscarried & I comply with pleasure with his request as I am satisfied were you fully acquainted with his circumstances & character you would find much satisfaction in promoting his interest. This Gent. resided here with his wife & family a long time before the disturbances broke out in the Island of St. Domingo where he resided & possessed a very considerable property. His character & conduct here have been irreproachable. His property has been Wholy in the hands of the slaves & he now hopes, by the restoration of order, under the protection of the french republic, to be enabled to recover a part of it; & in this view he begs me to solicit your aid in puting his papers into the proper channel to gain the attention of the French Government from whose justice & moderation he flatters himself he has much to hope” (ALS, James Monroe Papers, Library of Congress).
2. Decrosses’s name appears in a New York directory for the first time in 1792 (William Duncan, ed., The New York Directory, and Register, for the Year 1792 [New York: Printed for the Editor, by T. and J. Swords, No. 27, William-Street, 1792], 35).
3. On April 20, 1796, Decrosses became a United States citizen in the United States Circuit Court for the New York District (D, RG 21, Records of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Circuit Court Minutes, 1790–1808, 74, National Archives).
For the conditions under which aliens might become naturalized citizens of the United States, see “An Act to establish an uniform rule of Naturalization; and to repeal the act heretofore passed on that subject” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 404 [January 29, 1795]).
4. A native of London, Benjamin Walker had emigrated to America before the American Revolution and settled in New York City. During the war he had served as aide-de-camp to Baron von Steuben. In 1786 Walker was appointed commissioner to settle the accounts of the hospital, marine, and clothing departments. He was closely associated with Steuben and William Duer in business and like H served as a director of the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures. In December, 1790, he visited Paris to investigate the affairs of the Scioto Company (H to Walker, September 10, 13, 1790; Walker to H, December 28, 1790). From March 21, 1791, to February 20, 1797, he was naval officer for the port of New York. In May, 1795, Walker became a representative of the Pulteney Associates, a London company that speculated in lands in the Genesee country of western New York.
5. In 1792 Decrosses borrowed money from John Jay (Decrosses to Jay,November 11, 1792 [ALS, Columbia University Libraries]; Jay to Decrosses, November, 1792 [ADf, Columbia University Libraries]). Jay subsequently offered further help, which Decrosses accepted in order to pay the passage of two relatives from Santo Domingo to New York (Decrosses to Jay, January 25, 1794 [ALS, Columbia University Libraries]).