Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Rochefontaine, [15 January 1793]

From Rochefontaine

[15 Jan. 1793]

Col: Rochefontaine Came to begg Mr. Gefferson to write to M. delamotte vice consul of america at havre de Grace, to order him to send immediately to M. hamilton secretary of the treasury of the United states of america, the original title of M. Rochefontaine against the United states; which has been deposited by him in the Consul’s office last February. M. hamilton had agreed with M. Rochefontaine to Speack to Mr. Gefferson on the subject, and M. Rochefontaine hope he has done it; but as he has an opportunity of a Gentleman sayling Wednesday next, from this port to proceed by the way of Belfast to france, M. Rochefontaine will be much obliged to Mr: Gefferson to write the said letter, and he will call to morrow morning to get it.

RC (DNA: RG 59, MLR); undated; at foot of text in the hand of George Taylor, Jr.: “(recd. in the office 15 Jany. 1793)”; on verso: (in TJ’s hand) “to be filed” and (in Taylor’s hand) “(filed in case No. 2. Box No. 7).”

Etienne Nicolas Marie Béchet, Chevalier de Rochefontaine (1755–1814), a French volunteer who rose to the rank of brevet major as an engineer in the Continental Army during the American Revolution, subsequently became a colonel in the French army and settled in the United States in 1792 after a short term of service with the expeditionary force that the French government had sent to Saint-Domingue in 1791 to quell the great slave revolt that was raging there (André Lasseray, Les Français sous les Treize Etoiles (1775–1783), 2 vols. [Mâcon and Paris, 1935], i, 124–7). In order to facilitate Rochefontaine’s effort to secure payment of the debt the United States owed him for his wartime services, TJ wrote the following note this day to Delamotte, the American vice-consul at Le Havre: “I am informed by Colo. Rochefontaine that he deposited with you in February last the original certificate from the treasury of the U.S. of the sum of money due from them to him. As the rules of the Treasury office require that these originals should be returned on paiment, I am to desire that you will transmit the same by some safe conveyance to Mr. Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury, for which this will be your warrant” (PrC in DLC; at foot of text: “M. de la Motte, V. Consul of the U.S. at Havre”). Rochefontaine received payment of his claim in January 1794 (Syrett, Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961–87, 27 vols. description ends , xvii, 538).

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