Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Jeremiah Wadsworth, 20 April 1791

From Jeremiah Wadsworth

Hartford, 20 Apr. 1791. Enclosed paper is sent by desire of several merchants of Connecticut trading to Hispaniola. Capt. Johnson is a man of good character and his information may be relied on.

RC (DNA: RG 59, MLR); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr. Secretary of State”; addressed: “The Secretary of the United States Philadelphia”; endorsed by TJ as received 30 Apr. 1791 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Affidavit by Samuel Johnston of Middletown, Conn., stating that on 1 Dec. 1790 in Port au Prince he placed in “the hands of Major Porter an American by birth, then an Established Merchant there, a Cargo, to sell on Commission”; that on evening of 24 Dec. 1790 Porter died and the next day “all the Books, papers, and Merchandize belonging to him were taken Possession of by the Droit d’aubain Officer, and after a few days … all the property found in his possession, as well his own as … other peoples, was indiscriminately sold at Vendue, excepting some horses which remained unsold belonging to Capt. Freeman of New London” and Johnston; that a considerable “quantity of Cotten belonging to a Gentleman of Curraçoa” in Porter’s hands on commission was also sold; that some time after this gentleman appeared, sued for his cotton, “and the same Court which had denied the Americans their property, that remained unsold, altho apply’d for in the same way gave the whole Amount of the Cotten to its owner independent of an Average”; that his own cargo “sold, and unsold the greatest part of which was passed into Major Porters Books, amounted to Twenty seven thousand Livres west India Currancy”; that, though he detained his vessels for almost two months after Porter’s death, he “was not able to get one Single Dollar from the Administrator”; and that Many other persons from different parts of the Continent suffered more or less by the Death of Major Porter in the same way” (MS in DNA: RG 59, MLR; not dated and not attested).

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