Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Brothers Coster & Company, 17 May 1793

From Brothers Coster & Company

Newyork 17th. May 1793.


Our Brig Resolution Commanded by John H: Shackerly, which sailed from the Texel on the 17th. of february last, was on the next day boarded by a french Privateer call’d the young-Mary Commanded by Phil Everaert belonging to the Port of Dunkirk, and carried by force to the Port of Ostende; The french Consul there examined his Papers, but having no Power to decide would have transmitted them to Paris; Our Capt. was advised by the House of John Buchanan & Co. and several other Merchants, to make a small sacrifice to the Privateer and Pursue his voyage immediately; he paid therefore some Money and was released the next day. We take the Liberty to inclose two Letters of the french Consul and two Protest of our Capt., which will explain this Transaction more fully, likewise a receipt of the Money the Capt. has paid, and also a bill of the loss sustained by the interruption of his voyage.

We ask the favor Sir! that you will be pleased to take this business in your consideration, and expect as Citizens of the united States, to be indemnified for the loss we have Suffered on account of the unlawfull proceedings of the above mentioned Privateer. We have the honor to be with all Respect, Sir Your most Ob: & Hle: Servants

Brothers Coster & Compy

RC (DNA: RG 76, France, Unbound Records); at head of text: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr. Philadelphia”; endorsed by TJ as received 18 May 1793 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures not found.

Brothers Coster & Company, a mercantile firm at 35 Little Dock Street, New York City, flourished during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars thanks in part to good contacts in the Netherlands. The principals were Henry Arnold Coster (d. 1821) and John Gerhard Coster (d. ca. 1841), natives of Haarlem in the Netherlands, who immigrated to New York around the time of the American Revolution ([Joseph A. Scoville], The Old Merchants of New York City, 2d ser. [New York, 1864], 190–5; Wealth and Biography of the Wealthy Citizens of New York City…, 6th ed. [New York, 1845], 8, facsimile reprint in Henry W. Lanier, A Century of Banking in New York, 1822–1922 [New York, 1922]; Pieter J. van Winter, American Finance and Dutch Investment, 1780–1805: With an Epilogue to 1840, rev. and trans. with the assistance of James C. Riley, 2 vols. (New York, 1977), i, 442, 467n; New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, cxi [1980], 14).

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