Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from American Traders in Guadeloupe, 3 May 1787

From American Traders in Guadeloupe

Pointe à Pitre Guadéloupe 3d. May 1787.

May it please your Excellency

We the Proprietors, and masters of different Vessells belonging to the united states of America actually at anchor in this harbour take the liberty of addressing to your Excellency our Petition to the Marechal De Castries Secretary of State to his most Christian Majesty. Your Excellency’s efforts [in] our favour, and representations to the Ministry shall undoubtedly hinder the inevitable ruin of our Trade in these parts, which the Execution of the King’s Edict must naturally occasion.

This harbour is now shut up to Americans, and we are forced to dispose- of our Cargoes at Basseterre, the only port where we are allowed to anchor at. This cruel revolution is attended with so many inconveniences that it not only hurts the Colony in general, but puts an absolute stop to our Commercial operations, and ruins the American traders whose speculations prompt them to frequent these Islands for a mutual exchange of their Commodities. We flatter ourselves that your Excellency will exert himself in our favour and obtain from his Majesty the revocation of this fatal Edict. The benefits that will accrue from such a repeal must be advantageous to the Commercial interest of America. We have the honour to remain Your Excellency’s most obedient & very humble Servants,

William Russell Benjn. Shillaber
Nat. Whitmore Jona. Mason
Phoenix Frazier Jos. Peabody
Richd. Toppan For twenty three more

RC (ViWC); endorsed by TJ: “Russell et al. on the removal of the free port in Guadeloupe from Pointe à Pitre to Basseterre.” Recorded in SJL as received 9 July 1787. Enclosure: Dupl of petition to Castries, dated 3 May 1787, signed by those who signed the present letter to TJ, plus twelve others, all of whom signed “For ten more,” setting forth the advantages of Pointe à Pitre over Basse-Terre—a good harbor, a central location near their customers, and facilities for transporting their cargoes on their own craft and taking on rum and molasses safely and quickly, whereas interests of both growers and shippers would be adversely affected by the decree—and requesting that they be allowed to continue using Pointe à Pitre (MS in ViWC; Tr in Short’s hand in DLC; Tr in DNA: PCC, No. 107, ii, the last being enclosed in TJ to Jay, 6 Aug. 1787).

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