Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Nathaniel Barrett, 27 July 1790

To Nathaniel Barrett

New York July 27. 1790.


I have duly recieved your favor of the 18th. I thank you for the information you give me relative to the present state of our whale fishery, and shall be glad to recieve the further information of Mr. Jones. I do not apprehend any danger of our privileges as to whale oil in France being put on a worse footing than they now are, unless it be caused by some act of our own legislature, of which I am not without fear. I shall be obliged to you, while in France, to watch particularly the state of the fisheries of France and England, and to procure for me if possible, and forward to me annually, as exact a statement as you can get of every year’s equipments, expressing the number of seamen employed, the number and tonnage of the vessels in each fishery.

I trouble you with two packages for Mr. Short, the smallest being the most important. The larger contains newspapers, and also some letters covering Consular commissions. If you do not go directly to Paris yourself, I believe they may be trusted by the post of that country. Wishing you a safe and pleasant voyage I am with great esteem Dear Sir Your most obedt. humble servt.,

Th: Jefferson

P.S. General instructions to the Consuls await the passage of a bill now depending on that subject.

PrC (DLC). Enclosures: The public and private letters to Short of 26 July 1790, with the package containing newspapers and letters to consuls.

A letter from Barrett to TJ of 3 Aug. 1790 is recorded in SJL as received on the 9th, but it has not been found. On 11 Aug. 1790 TJ acknowledged this letter and added: “I … now inclose you further letters for Mr. Short. The smaller one is so important that I wish it to go thro’ no hand but your own, or one you can as fully rely on.—In case of your absence at any time, from Rouen, it would be proper to leave an Agent.—An indisposition obliges me to add nothing more than wishes for a good passage & assurances of … esteem” (PrC in DLC). The further letters to Short enclosed in this were the private and public letters of 9 and 10 Aug. 1790 respectively, of which the latter was the one deemed by TJ to be of such importance. With these TJ also sent his letter of 11 Aug. 1790 to Thomas Auldjo of Cowes, reading: “This letter will be delivered you by Mr. Nathaniel Barrett, consul of the U.S. for Rouen. As he will land at Cowes and cross the channel from thence, I take the liberty of introducing him to your acquaintance, and the rather as, from the neighborhood of your positions, you may sometimes perhaps have occasion to correspond. I take for granted you will have received a letter from me covering a commission in which the President wished you might find it convenient to act for the U.S. at your port” (PrC in DLC).

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