Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Juan Nepomuceno de Quesada, 12 August 1790

To Juan Nepomuceno de Quesada

New York August 12th. 1790


I am charged by the President of the United States of America to acknowledge the receipt of your Excellency’s polite and friendly letter of the 17th. of July, to congratulate you on your accession to the Government of Florida, and your safe arrival there, and to thank you for your offers of friendly service to the United States. I am authorized to assure your Excellency that on the part of the United States there is a strong sense of the advantages of being on terms of the strictest friendship with their neighbours, and a disposition to cultivate that friendship by all the attentions and good offices in their power. Having the honor to be charged with the department of foreign affairs in our Government, I may perhaps have occasion sometimes to solicit the permission of your Excellency to make such communications as may tend to preserve and promote a good understanding between our two Countries; and shall count among it’s other advantages the personal one of repeating to you assurances of the sentiments of respect and esteem with which I have the honor to be &c.,

Thomas Jefferson

FC (DNA: RG 59, PCC No. 120). Not recorded in SJL.

Quesada’s letter to Washington, dated at St. Augustine, 17 July 1790, announced that he had commanded that town and province since the 7th and expressed the hope that some circumstance might enable him to be useful both to Washington and to some of the states (RC in same, MLR, together with translation in English by Isaac Pinto; FC in same, PCC No. 120). As an example of the sort of communications TJ knew he would probably be obliged to make, see TJ to Carmichael, 11 Apr., 31 May, and 29 Aug. 1790. Indeed, Quesada raised the question of slaves in his reply of 28 Aug. 1790 to the present letter, the expressions in which he said gave him “indecible gusto, quando confirman la reputacion de Luces, y virtud que esa Republica naciente establece”: he declared that he had received royal instructions not to permit for any reason whatever the introduction and liberation in that province of slaves from the United States, and that he took advantage of the first opportunity to pass on this gratifying recognition of the interests of both nations (RC in DNA: RG 59, MLR; endorsed by TJ as received 25 Oct. 1790 and so recorded in SJL). See TJ to Quesada, 10 Mch. 1791. But the question of fugitive slaves was not confined to Spanish-American relations: Alexander McGillivray, with whom the government had just concluded a treaty, had helped to build up his ascendency among the Creeks by receiving a great number of slaves fleeing from Georgia plantations and by incorporating them among his followers (De Moustier to Montmorin, 5 June 1788; Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., xxx).

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