Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Josef de Jaudenes and Josef Ignacio de Viar, 12 May 1793

From Josef de Jaudenes and Josef Ignacio de Viar

Philadelphia 12. de Mayo de 1793.

Mui Señor nuestro

Adjuntas tenemos la honrra de pasar à manos de V.S. Copias de una Carta escrita por el Governador de Sn. Agustin à Dn. Diego Seagrove incluyendole la de un Memorial que se le presento por cinco habitantes de aquella Plaza quexandose de que haviendoseles huido cinco Esclavos de su propriedad al Estado de Georgia, se los han detenido en dicho Estado: Asimismo và à continuacion Copia de algunos pasos que se tomaron en el particular, y tambien la respuesta de Don Diego Seagrove al mencionado Governador.

Se servirà V.S. informar de todo al Presidente de los Estados Unidos, quien no dudamos tendrà à bien dar las ordenes correspondientes para que no se detengan por el Estado de Georgia à los Esclavos en question, ni à otro alguno que pasase de las Posesiones del Rey, pues lo contrario serà faltar à la reciproca correspondencia que tan justamente reclama la escrupulosidad con que se conduce el Governador de Sn. Agustin sobre este, y demas puntos, y darà motivo à que en lo venidero siga dicho Governador el exemplo del Estado de Georgia su vecino. Nos ofrecemos como siempre à la obediencia de V.S. con las veras de la mas sincera estimacion, y respeto, con que somos Señor Los mas obedtes. y humdes. Servs. Q.B.L.M. de V.S.

josef de jaudenes josef ignacio de viar

editors’ translation

Philadelphia 12 May 1793

Our very dear Sir

We have the honor to put into your hands copies, enclosed, of a letter written by the Governor of St. Augustine to Mr. James Seagrove, including the copy of a memorandum presented to him by five residents of that place complaining that five slaves of theirs that had escaped to the State of Georgia had been detained in that state: likewise, attached to that document is the copy of certain steps that were taken regarding the matter, as well as Mr. James Seagrove’s answer to the aforementioned Governor.

Please be so kind as to pass all this information to the President of the United States, who we do not doubt will gladly issue the pertinent orders not to detain the slaves in question or any other person who might cross from the King’s possessions, for not to do so would be to disregard the principle of reciprocity that so rightly has invoked the scrupulousness with which the Governor of St. Augustine has conducted himself in this and other matters, and it would give grounds in the future for the said Governor to follow the example of his neighbor the State of Georgia. We place ourselves as always at your disposal, with the most sincere expressions of esteem and respect, as we remain, Sir, your most obedient and humble servants. Respectfully yours,

josef de jaudenes josef ignacio de viar

RC (DNA: RG 59, NL); in Jaudenes’s hand, signed by Jaudenes and Viar; at foot of text: “Sor. dn. Thomas Jefferson &ca.”; endorsed by TJ as received 14 May 1793 and so recorded in SJL. Tr (AHN: Papeles de Estado, legajo 3895); attested by Jaudenes and Viar. PrC of another Tr (DLC); in a clerk’s hand. Enclosures: (1) Governor Juan Nepomuceno de Quesada to James Seagrove, St. Augustine, 20 Feb. 1793, stating that he was enclosing a petition from Spanish subjects in his jurisdiction concerning five slaves legally belonging to them who are detained in Georgia, and three papers by Leonard Marbury concerning them; that Marbury’s position concerning the slave belonging to Mrs. Marshall was of no force in the case, and that his deposition with regard to the slave originally owned by Mr. Gibbons was no more satisfactory, for property declared by the British government to be legitimate spoils of the late war and purchased as such by a Spaniard cannot be reclaimed by the original owner; that three of the slaves were in the possession of Richard Lake in Frederica, Glynn County, Georgia, and that he has been informed by Richard Lang, who last year had been commissioned by their owners to bring them back from Georgia, that he thought two of the slaves were being concealed by citizens of Frederica, though he did not know the whereabouts of a third; that Seagrove must bring about the return of all these slaves in order to maintain the scrupulous reciprocity required by their agreement on this issue; that failure to do so will lead him to detain fugitive slaves from their state until he receives instructions from his government or ascertains the attitude of the United States government through the king’s agents in Philadelphia; and that he had recently ordered the return of a slave offered for sale here, apparently by a Georgian, which slave claimed that he had run away last year from his true owner, General Barnwell of South Carolina. (2) Memorial of Domingo Martinely, Juan Bauló, Manuel Solana, Lorenzo Llanes, and Manuel Marshal of St. Augustine to Quesada, 31 Jan. 1793, asking Quesada to order the return of their respective slaves, who fled to Georgia and have not been returned, despite the memorialists’ claims and Quesada’s representation, and who are reportedly in Frederica, most of them in Richard Lake’s possession. (3) Three papers by Leonard Marbury, Justice of the Peace in Glynn County, Georgia, the first, dated 22 Aug. 1792, authorizing Richard Lang to call upon all persons for assistance in seizing and bringing before him or another magistrate certain slaves in the county who had fled from their owners in East Florida, at the same time informing their possessors to appear and give cause, if any, why they should not be returned; the second, dated 25 Aug. 1792, ordering Martin Palmer to take any slaves, particularly three named in No. 2, into custody and deliver them to Lang, if Lang satisfied the legal rights of their possessors; and the third, dated 25 Aug. 1792, advising Lang that the slave he claimed as the property of Mrs. Marshall was being held by the chief constable of Glynn County because of Marbury’s claim against another person, that another slave appeared to be the property of her original owner, Mr. Gibbons, from whom she had been taken by a posse to Florida, but that if this ownership was not established he would do all in his power to return her to Mr. Solana. (4) Seagrove to Quesada, St. Marys, 4 Mch. 1793, stating that he would bring Quesada’s demand for the return of the fugitive slaves to the attention of the governments of Georgia and the United States and communicate to him in due course the results of his efforts to obtain justice and preserve harmony with Spain (Trs in DNA: RG 59, NL, in Spanish, attested by Jaudenes and Viar; PrCs of other Trs in DLC, in a clerk’s hand). Enclosed in TJ to Edward Telfair, 22 May 1793.

TJ laid this and the next letter from Jaudenes and Viar on the subject of slaves stolen from East Florida by residents of Georgia before the President on 21 May 1793 with his own reply to the Spanish agents (Washington, Journal description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed., The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797, Charlottesville, 1981 description ends , 145–6; TJ to Viar and Jaudenes, 21 May 1793). On the following day TJ also referred both letters to the governor of Georgia (TJ to Edward Telfair, 22 May 1793). For the agreement on the rendition of fugitive slaves between Governor Quesada of East Florida and James Seagrove, the United States agent to the Creeks, which provided the basis for the Spanish demand for the return of the five slaves mentioned above, see enclosures to TJ to the Governors of Georgia and South Carolina, 15 Dec. 1791.

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