Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to José Ignacio de Viar, 13 December 1791

To José Ignacio de Viar

Philadelphia December 13th. 1791


I was not unapprised that monies had been advanced by the government of Spain, or some of it’s Officers, for our captives at Algiers, nor had I been inattentive to it: but no account, nor any specific demand on that subject had come to my knowlege; and finding for some time past the utter impossibility of getting letters either to or from Mr. Carmichael, I had been obliged to adopt a circuitous channel of getting this matter settled through Col. Humphreys, our Minister resident at Lisbon. I had accordingly desired him to get the sum ascertained, and had authorized him to draw for it on our Bankers in Holland. In consequence of this he wrote a letter September 24th. 1791 to Mr. Carmichael, of which I send you an extract. By this, Sir, you will perceive, that in consequence of orders already given, the demand of Don Joseph Jorino,1 which you have been pleased to apply for, will be there paid on his presenting it duly proved; and that Coll. Humphreys may not be induced by the application here, to consider this matter as withdrawn from his charge, and in a course of settlement here, I have the honor to enclose you a letter to him on that subject, which you will be so good as to transmit to him with the demand. I beg you to be assured, that we are thoroughly sensible of the friendship which your Government has displayed towards these United States in the present as well as other instances, and that we shall avail ourselves with sincere pleasure of every occasion of manifesting to his Catholic Majesty, our dispositions to reciprocate the offices of good friends and neighbours.—I have the honor to be with great and sincere esteem Sir Your most obedient & most humble Servant.

PrC (DLC); in Remsen’s hand. FC (DNA: RG 360, DL). Enclosure: extract of a letter from Humphreys to Carmichael, 24 Sep. 1791, a copy of which Humphreys sent to TJ with his letter of 27 Sep. 1791.

Viar and and his fellow Spanish agent, Jaudenes, enclosed TJ’s letter of this date to David Humphreys with a letter of their own to the American minister in Portugal of 17 Dec. 1791, which elicited the following reply: “By some uncommon delay I only received a few days ago, by the same vessel that carries this letter, the papers which you did me the honour to enclose to me on the 17th of Decem. of last year. I lost no time in writing to Mr. Carmichael, that he would procure Don Joseph Torino to send his orders to receive the money due to him from the United States of America on account of advances made by the Compte d’Espilly for their Prisoners and Commissioners at Algiers. Be assured as soon as the requisite orders arrive the money shall be paid; and in the meantime that I embrace, with great satisfaction, the occasion of assuring you with how great consideration and esteem, I have the honour to be, Gentlemen, Your most obedient & Most humble Servant” (Humphreys to Viar and Jaudenes, 26 Nov. 1792, Humphreys, Humphreys description begins Frank Landon Humphreys, Life and Times of David Humphreys, New York, 1917, 2 vols. description ends , ii, 132–3).

Before sending the present letter to Viar, TJ first requested Washington to read it as well as two related letters, writing to the President on 14 Dec. 1791: “Th: Jefferson has the honour to submit to the President a letter from Mr. de Viar, with the answer he has prepared to it, and a letter in consequence for Colo. Humphreys” (RC in DNA: RG 59, MLR; FC in DNA: RG 59, SDC; not recorded in SJL or SJPL). Washington made no written response to TJ’s note, but he evidently approved TJ’s letters of this date to Humphreys and Viar, judging from the fact that the Spanish agent had both in hand by the 17th of December.

1Remsen habitually wrote Torino as Jorino, even when transcribing the name from a draft wherein TJ had correctly spelled it.

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