Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Rochambeau, 11 September 1789

From Rochambeau

Strasbourg ce 11 7bre. 1789.

J’ai l’honneur, Monsieur, de vous renvoyer une lettre qui m’a été adressée de Boulogne sur mer par un americain qui dit avoir fait naufrage et qui demande des secours. Je vous prie, Monsieur, de vouloir bien l’examiner et de vous faire donner des renseignemens sur sa personne afin que, si les faits qui sont enoncés dans la dite lettre se trouvent exacts, vous puissiez employer les moyens qui sont en votre pouvoir pour le tirer de l’embarras où il se trouve et lui procurer les secours necessaires pour retourner dans sa patrie.

Je profite avec grand plaisir de cette occasion pour vous renouveller les assurances du très parfait attachement avec lequel J’ai l’honneur d’être, Monsieur, votre très humble et très obeissant Serviteur,

le Cte de Rochambeau

L’eloignement où je me trouve de Boulogne sur mer par le nouveau Commandement que le Roy m’a donné, me mettant hors de portée de pouvoir en faire la verification moi même.

RC (ViWC); endorsed. Recorded in SJL as received 15 Sep. 1789. Enclosure: William Cox to Rochambeau, Boulogne, 5 Sep. 1789, reading in part: “tho I am an utter Stranger to your Lordship … I presume my relations are not, as I have seen you often with them when you was in Baltimore… . I am a relation of Colonel Rogers. A Brother of mine Married his wifes Cousin Miss Buchanan, of Balto. I am also the Son of Major James Cox who lost his Life at the Battle of German Town 4th Octr. 1777 commanding the Maryland Millitia. I left Baltimore 1st of May in Brig bound to Dunkirk to go to an Uncle of Mine at Nantz butt unfortunately the Vessell foundered in a Gale at Sea about 100 Leagues off the Lands end of England. 2 Days after we were taken off of the Wreck by Schooner bound in to Portsmouth… . I was persuaded to go to London. I according did, but none there woud assist me but one a Mr. Johnson, Merchant on Tower Hill… . When I was there 3 Weeks from 28th June to 23 July I met a Mr. Grandjohn a Gentleman who was stationed at my Mothers with a Nother Gentleman the time your Lordship with your Army was in Balto. He knew me. I told him my distress, but he cou’d not or wou’d not assist me then but told me to go to the French Ambassadors and enquire for a Mr. D’Aragon Secretary to his Excellency formerly your Lordships in America and he wou’d assist me. I did … but he cou’d not give me any money but gave me a Passport and got me a Passage to Boulogne but said that the Commissare of the Class here wou’d advance me as much Money as wou’d take me to Nantz… . but when I got here I told him what Mr. D’Aragon said, but he wou’d not give me any Mony on a bear recommendation but he wou’d write to him and see what wou’d be done for me. He did so and receiv’d an answer which was that he knew my Family very well and wou’d be sorry that I shou’d not get to my relation, and that is all. Those are the reasons that made me presume to write to your Lordship thinking you wou’d Pitty my distress assist me with a small trifle of Mony to buy me some Clothes as I lost every thing I had except what was on me. I writ to my Uncle Mr. Alexander but received no answer which gives me to think he has left Nantz. If your Lordship wou’d be so kind as to put me in some employ or in the Navy if you Please as I believe I am fit as I have learnt Navigation compleat and am very fond of the Sea. The principal inducement I had for Leaving America was that I wanted to learn the French language and wou’d not Wish to Leave France till I had… .” (RC in DLC).

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