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

La Carta escrita por el Procurador general del Estado de Georgia Don Juan Young Noel al Secretario del Govierno de Sn. Agustin Don Carlos Howard (de que tenemos la honrra de pasar à V.S. adjunta una Copia baxo el No. 1.) impondrà à V.S. de los pasos que se tomaron en la Georgia con los complices en el robo de los cinco Esclavos pertenecientes à Vasallos de S.M.C.; pero como por dicha Carta aparece que se dexò pasar la primera Junta del tribunal superior sin resolver conclusivamente sobre el objeto, y ès de temer que en la otra Junta de dicho tribunal que debe haverse celebrado el 15. de Enero proximo pasado, se haya tomado por efugio para no determinar el no haverse presentado el querellante, ô su apoderado; pedimos à V.S. con este motivo se sirva informar nuevamente al Presidente de los Estados Unidos sobre este objeto para que tenga à bien dar las ordenes que Juzgase convenientes à fin de que no se dilate la desicion de la causa, y la restitucion consequente de los Esclavos robados por habitantes del Estado de Georgia à Vasallos de S.M., con la competente recompensa por los graves perjuicios causados à sus verdaderos Dueños.

A maior abundamiento pasamos à V.S. tambien copia baxo el No. 2. de la respuesta que dio el mencionado Dn. Carlos Howard à Dn. Juan Young Noel. Nos reiteramos de V.S. con el mas sincero afecto, y veneracion 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

The letter written by the Attorney General of the State of Georgia, Mr. John Young Noel, to the Secretary of the government of St. Augustine, Mr. Carlos Howard (of which we have the honor to enclose a copy for you under No. 1), will inform you of the steps that were taken in Georgia regarding those involved in the theft of the five slaves belonging to vassals of His Catholic Majesty; but since it appears from said letter that the first session of the supreme court was allowed to pass without resolving the matter conclusively, and it is to be feared that in the next session of the said court, which was to have taken place the 15th of January last, the fact that neither the plaintiff nor his representative appeared may have served as a subterfuge for not reaching a decision, we for this reason beg you once more kindly to inform the President of the United States regarding this matter, so that he may see fit to issue such orders as he deems appropriate with the object of not further delaying a decision in the case and of returning the slaves stolen by inhabitants of the State of Georgia from His Majesty’s vassals, together with adequate recompense for the serious damages inflicted upon their true owners.

Further, we transmit to you also a copy under No. 2 of the answer given by the aforesaid Mr. Carlos Howard to Mr. John Young Noel. We assure you again of our most sincere regard and respect, Sir, your most obedient and humble servants

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) John Young Noel to Carlos Howard, Savannah, 28 Dec. 1792, stating that he was writing by instruction of Governor Telfair to reveal the steps being taken to bring to trial David Rees and others accused of taking slaves owned by a resident of East Florida and bringing them to Georgia; that as a result of the governor’s representation the Georgia department of justice had the accused men taken into custody and brought to trial before the Liberty County Superior Court; that for want of time the court postponed the trial until its next session beginning 15 Jan. 1793; that the aggrieved party or a representative must be present and produce witnesses because written depositions do not constitute proof in criminal cases; and that the state’s judicial and executive branches are determined to investigate the matter fully and do everything allowed by the law to render justice. (2) Howard to Noel, St. Augustine, 20 Mch. 1793, stating that he received Noel’s abovementioned letter on 16 Feb. 1793 and communicated it to Governor Quesada; that even if this letter had been delivered promptly it would not have given John Blackwood time enough to appear before the Liberty County court by 15 Jan.; that the letter portrayed David Rees as the main culprit, when in fact Blackwood’s and Quesada’s memorandums to the governor of Georgia showed that Rees, a justice of the peace, and William Irwin were merely accomplices of Thomas Harrison; that Quesada reiterated the demand made in that memorandum for the return of the five slaves and was still willing to leave to Georgia authorities the responsibility for punishing those who had taken them from East Florida; that TJ had informed the king’s ministers at the Congress on 3 July 1792 that he had referred this matter to the governor of Georgia and would notify them of the result; and that Noel’s letter and this reply would be sent to those ministers so that the issue could be settled in Philadelphia (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.

For TJ’s response to this letter, see note to preceding document. For further information on the theft of the five slaves belonging to John Blackwood of East Florida by Thomas Harrison and other Georgians, see Viar and Jaudenes to TJ, 26 June 1792; TJ to Edward Telfair, 3 July 1792; and TJ to Viar and Jaudenes, 3 July 1792.

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