Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John Gregorie, 20 March 1793

From John Gregorie

Paris, 20 Mch. 1793. He solicits the consulship for Dunkirk, which has never had one even though it is among Europe’s more important ports and enjoys a considerable trade with the United States. Although French by birth, he is recognized as an American citizen and has kept an establishment at Petersburg since 1785, taking the oath of allegience, owning land, paying taxes, and generally acting as a good citizen until embarking for Europe last September. Inquiry will show his character to be irreproachable; if appointed, his abilities will enable him to carry out his duties satisfactorily. The European war enhances the value of neutral, particularly American, ships, and a consul is needed at Dunkirk to prevent violations of the Navigation Act. Incentives granted by France to Nantucket whalers who settle in that country and outfit a ship for the whale fishery under its flag have lured great numbers of them to Dunkirk, many of whom had retained their American ship registers when hostilities commenced and, he believes, may have sold or disposed of them, a practice which violates American law and should be stopped. He requests that an answer be sent to him in Dunkirk, or to the care of Charles Herrias & Company in London or Gregorie & Barksdale in Petersburg.

RC (DLC: Washington Papers, Applications for Office); 3 p.; at foot of text: “His Excellency Thomas Jefferson Secretary of State”; endorsed by TJ as received 17 July 1793 and so recorded in SJL. Dupl (same); dated 7 Apr. 1793; at head of text: “(Copy)”; on verso of last page: “Duplicate of a Letter from Paris 7 April 1793.”

This letter, together with David Meade Randolph’s letter of 28 June 1793 from Presque Isle supporting Gregorie’s aspirations for the Dunkirk appointment (RC in DLC; endorsed by TJ as received 17 July 1793 and so recorded in SJL), was enclosed in William Barksdale to TJ, dated 10 July 1793 at Petersburg, which also vouched for Gregorie’s character, asserted that he owned American property worth several thousand pounds, and named William Davies of Virginia as one of his friends (RC in DLC: Washington Papers, Applications for Office; endorsed by TJ as received 17 July 1793 and so recorded in SJL). On 1 June 1793 Gregorie wrote TJ enclosing a Dupl of the above letter and arguing that his claim to the Dunkirk consulate was superior to that of Francis Coffyn, who was acting as consular agent under a commission from Silas Deane but was not an American subject and was overly beholden to men likely to violate American navigation laws (RC in same; endorsed by TJ as received 6 Sep. 1793 and so recorded in SJL). Gregorie’s bid for this post ended with Coffyn’s appointment as consul in December 1794 (JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States … to the Termination of the Nineteenth Congress, Washington, D.C., 1828 description ends , i, 165).

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