Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John Vining, 1 March 1791

From John Vining

[Philadelphia] March 1st 1791.


The Gentleman (Mr. Feliechy) whom I had the honor to mention to you, as a Candidate for the Consulate of Leghorn, is a Man of the highest reputation as well in this Country where he is known, as in that of which he is a Native. Having married in New York and lived some Years in this Country for the Purpose of establishing the best commercial Connextions, he has acquired every kind of knowledge, as a Merchant, which will be of mutual Benefit to our Trade and to himself. Added to this he possesses the highest Attachment imaginable for the United States.—I am sir with every Sentiment of respect your very Hu. Srvt.

J. Vining

RC (DLC: Washington Papers); endorsed by TJ: “Felici by J. Vining Consulship of Florence. Recd. Mar. 7.” 1791 and so recorded in SJL.

TJ took no action on this appeal, perhaps suspecting that Vining only echoed other sponsors of Feliechy: his letter in fact almost paraphrased that of William Seton to Alexander Hamilton of 3 Feb. 1791 (Syrett, Hamilton description begins The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, ed. Harold C. Syrett and others, New York, 1961-, 17 vols. description ends , viii, 4–5). In the closing weeks of his term, TJ was again approached on the subject, this time by Seton himself. Again he failed to act. When Seton renewed the solicitation with Edmund Randolph a few months later, he explained that this was because no action had been taken on trade with the Mediterranean. “I am confident,” Seton wrote TJ’s successor, “that no Person residing in that Country has an equal Claim to his honor with my friend [Feliechy]. He has both before and since the Peace kept up a constant Trade with the United States, his Cargo’s have been extremely valuable and the Duties paid on them amount to very considerable Sums, his Returns have always been made in produce from this Country, and by his knowledge and perseverance he has laid the foundation of a most valuable branch of Commerce whenever the Navigation of the Mediterranean will admit of it. He resided here some time, married a Lady of this City, and is from principle every way attached to America, which his unremitted attention to every thing relating to it evinces—and I can say with firmness that no Man will do more credit to the Appointment if he is honored with it. For the want of such a Character at Leghorn (as there are no American merchants residing there) the Trade labours under great difficulties with respect to the Certificates required by our Laws to cancell Bonds at the Custom House or to recover the Drawbacks on goods exported from here, which is the case now with the Cargo my House of Commerce exported in the Brigantine Minerva that was taken on her return home by the Algerines” (William Seton to Edmund Randolph, 29 Mch. 1794; DLC: Washington Papers). In this case Feliechy was at once appointed consul at Leghorn, but under the name of Peter Feliechy—an error that was corrected before the end of the year and a new commission issued under his correct name (JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States … to the Termination of the Nineteenth Congress, Washington, 1828 description ends , i, 157, 158, 165).

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