Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Gouverneur Morris, 6 November 1791

From Gouverneur Morris

Paris 6 Novr. 1791

Dear Sir

I take the Liberty of writing this Letter to make you acquainted with the Bearer of it Monsieur de Cormeré Brother to the late Monsieur de Favras. Mr. de Cormeré has been in the finance of this Country and is well acquainted with that Subject. He has lately published a short Work on the Relations of Commerce proper for the french Islands of which I have sent you a Copy. He is now going to S. Domingo in which Country I understand that he means to pitch his Tent. His Connections with the leading Characters there and his Habits of Industrious Investigation will I am perswaded bring him into the Possession of many particulars which will be amusing if not interesting to you, and I have thought it my Duty to put him in that Channel of Communication which appears to me under all Circumstances the most proper.

FC (DLC: Gouverneur Morris Papers); in Morris’ hand. Not recorded in SJL.

The pamphlet by Guillaume François, Baron Mahy de Cormeré, mentioned by Morris, was entitled Observations sur les colonies Françoises de l’Amerique (Paris, 1791). See Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, Washington, 1952–1959, 5 vols. description ends No. 2593.

Morris’ letter conceals far more than it reveals about his relations with Cormeré, whose brother, the Marquis de Favras, had been executed in 1790 for conspiring to help the royal family escape from Paris. Cormeré and Morris had recently been involved in an abortive scheme to persuade the National Assembly to approve a liberal plan of self-government for the French West Indies in order to pave the way for their eventual independence and closer commercial relations with the United States. Undaunted by this setback, Cormeré, with Morris’ knowledge and approval, was about to set sail for Saint-Domingue with yet another plan for promoting the independence of that island (Beatrix C. Davenport, ed., A Diary of the French Revolution, 2 vols. [Boston, 1939], ii, 233, 241, 298, 299). In addition to bringing Cormeré to TJ’s attention, Morris also wrote a letter of recommendation for him to Robert Morris, which reads in part: “His [Cormeré’s] Plans are vast but Time only can tell whether they be practicable.… Mr. de Cormere will open himself fully to you and propose among political Objects some Plans of business.… I shall give him an Introduction to Mr. Jefferson which may serve meerly to bring them together and the Interviews with him will be on such Subjects as may have been previously concerted with you” (Morris to Robert Morris, 6 Nov. 1791, DLC: Gouverneur Morris Papers). There is no evidence that TJ ever met with Cormeré, the exact nature of whose plan to free Saint-Domingue from French rule is still a mystery. In any case, it seems doubtful that Cormeré would have met with TJ’s favor, given TJ’s expressed concern that an independent Saint-Domingue would fall under British influence (see TJ to William Short, 24 Nov. 1791).

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