Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Thomas Pinckney, 5 April 1793

From Thomas Pinckney

London 5th. April 1793.

Dear Sir

In a Conversation I had this day with1 Lord Grenville I conclude that no Ship coming to the ports of the King of Gt. Britn. will be permited to proceed to ports under French dominion with grain or other provisions or naval stores or any goods called contraband: that this government intends to make prize of enemies property on board of neutral Ships and all provisions going to ports blockaded. These points are not however finally determined and endeavours are making to obviate what may bear hard on us. A Bill for preventing traitorous Correspondence is2 now before the House of Commons which if it passes into a Law will materially affect our commercial Intercourse with this Country. Although these Matters are at present incomplete I thought it adviseable to give this Intelligence that our Merchants may be on their guard against the probability of their being carried into effect, and in particular may not rely upon Insurances to be made here on any species of Goods sent to the Dominions of France. One regiment is to sail from Ireland to the W. Indies. The late Successes of the combined Armies in the Netherlands may enable Gt: Britn. to send more troops that way. I have the honor to be with the utmost respect Dear Sir Your most obedient and most humble Servant

Thomas Pinckney

P. S.3 I have not been able to procure Copies of the Bill mentioned in this Letter but it declares in substance that any Person being or residing within any of the Dominions of his Britannic Majesty who shall directly or indirectly supply, or cause, direct, authorise or procure any Person or Persons whomsoever or wheresoever residing to supply or to send for the purpose of being sold or supplied to any of the dominions of France or place in their Possession or to the Armies Fleets or Vessels employed by the French Government any naval or military Stores, Gold or Silver in Bullion or Coin, Forage or Provision of any kind and various other Articles shall be deemed guilty of Treason. All Insurance made on any Goods and Vessels bound to or from the Ports under French dominion made null and void and Parties guilty of misdemeanor.

RC (DNA: RG 59, DD); in the hand of William A. Deas, with complimentary close, signature, and inside address by Pinckney; written partly in code; decoded interlinearly by George Taylor, Jr. (see note 1 below); at foot of text: “The Secretary of State”; with penciled notation by TJ (see note 3 below); endorsed by TJ as received 20 May 1793 and so recorded in SJL. PrC (same, MD); lacks complimentary close, signature, and decipherment. Dupl (same, Duplicate Dispatches); written partly in code, but lacks decipherment; varies slightly in wording; endorsed by TJ as “Duplicate.” PrC of Tripl (ScHi: Pinckney Family Papers); in Deas’s hand, unsigned; written partly in code, but lacks decipherment. Tr (Lb in DNA: RG 59, DD); entirely en clair, with encoded words in brackets. Enclosure: Extract of Gouverneur Morris to Pinckney, 2 Mch. 1793: “I am informed in a way that precludes doubt that the executive Council here sent out by Genet three hundred blank commissions for privateers to be given clandestinely to such persons, as he might find in america inclined to take them” (Tr in DNA, RG 59, Duplicate Dispatches, written entirely in unidentified code by Deas and decoded interlinearly by Taylor, at head of text: “Extract of a Letter from Mr. Morris”; PrC in same, MD, lacks decipherment; Tr in ScHi: Pinckney Family Papers, written entirely in code by Deas, at foot of text: “Extract from Mr. Morris’s Letter of 2d. March 1793, inclosed in the above”; Tr in Lb in DNA: RG 59, DD, entirely en clair).

Parliament passed the bill for preventing traitorous correspondence in May 1793 (Sir Thomas Edlyne Tomlins and John Raithby, eds., The Statutes at Large, of England and of Great-Britain …, 20 vols. [London, 1811], xviii, 15).

TJ submitted this letter to the President on 21 May 1793 (Washington, Journal description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed., The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797, Charlottesville, 1981 description ends , 146).

1This and subsequent words in italics are written in unidentified code, the text being supplied from Taylor’s decipherment.

2The sentence to this point initially began “I inclose a Bill” before it was revised to read as above.

3Above the postscript TJ penciled: “Extract of a letter from a well informed correspondent dated Lond. Apr. 5. 1793.” This extract was printed in the 22 May 1793 issue of the National Gazette.

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