Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Joseph Fenwick, 28 June 1793

From Joseph Fenwick

Bordeaux 28 June 1793.

Sir

I have none of your favours to reply to. This covers a Bond Executed by me for the performance of the Consular Functions.

The uncertainty of the Intercourse with America from this Country during the War, will deprive me of writing to you as often as I shou’d otherwise do—and the little respect English Privateers shew to letters, requires Circumspection in all remarks from hence.

The Neutrality of America, and her Flagg has been generally respected by all the Belligerent Powers in Europe, tho’ their Cruizers commit many depredations, as You will see by the Protests and Judgement herewith sent: and I must observe that, altho’ the French commit many Errors in deciding on the Validity of Vessels Papers on the High Seas, they respect infinitely more, the Rights of Men, and Nations, preserve decency, and moderation in their proceedings, respect the Sanctity of letters and Seals, and are more ready and disposed to do Justice, and repair Injuries than the English or Spaniards, particularly the English Cruizers, who have in many instances added insult to Injustice, as you will See by the Papers inclosed. The Brig Sally Captain Storch of Salem, bound from Havre to Bordeaux and Alexandria, was taken and brought in here by a French Armed Vessel. The Court of Admiralty on the verification of her Papers and my application, immediately restor’d to the Captain the Vessel and Cargo, free of Injury and Costs. I inclose you the Judgement.

Another Brig from Same place, the Nancy Captain Barker has been carried into Bayonne, and I have reason to expect equal Justice will be Shewn her. The National Convention decreed the 9th. May, that their Armed Ships might Stop all Neutral Vessels bound to an Enemys Port, and take out any part of their Cargoes that was not Neutral Property. On immediate Representations made to them, they excepted the American Flag the 23d: of same month.

The Political Situation of this Country appears precarious—the most wise cannot See how things will end. American produce and Ships are very much demanded at the Rates below. Exchange on London about 3d. Stg. per Livre. I have the honor to be Sir your most obt: hble St

Joseph Fenwick

Flour 100livre tournois pr: barrel

Wheat 18livre tournois a 20livre tournois pr: Amn: bushel

W: Oil 80livre tournois p0/0 Rice 60livre tournois a 65livre tournois p 0/0

Tobacco 120livre tournois a 150livre tournois p 0/0

= dollars pr: tons, of 4 Wine Hheads =

Freights— To the W: Indies 35 a 38—and 10 p 0/0 primage & Avarage
To America 24 a 32 do. do.
To the Cape of Good Hope & Isle of France and back, 80 a 84 dollars & 10 p 0/0—Up the channel £3 a £5 Stg and 10 p 0/0

RC (DNA: RG 59, CD); in a clerk’s hand, signed by Fenwick; at foot of first page: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr. Minister of State—Philadelphia”; endorsed by TJ as received 7 Sep. 1793 and so recorded in SJL. Dupl (same); in a clerk’s hand, signed by Fenwick; endorsed by TJ as received 11 Sep. 1793. Tripl (same); in a clerk’s hand, signed by Fenwick; endorsed by TJ as received 24 Oct. 1793 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) Fenwick’s consular bond, 1 May 1793, for $2,000 (MS in same; in a clerk’s hand, signed by Fenwick). (2) Public Instrument of Protest, Bordeaux, 15 June 1793, wherein Joseph Strout, master, Pierce Troy, mate, and William Scott, seaman of the Sally, a brig from Salem, protest against the capture of this vessel, while bound from Le Havre to Bordeaux with a cargo of dry goods and ballast, seven leagues from Cordovan on 12 June 1793 by the Espoir, a French aviso brig of war commanded by Captain Lamille, and her subsequent detention in Bordeaux; subjoined to which is a 20 June statement wherein Strout, Troy, and Scott declare that upon inspecting the Sally after its release by the Court of Commerce of Bordeaux after eight days of detention they found damages to her amounting to £64.10 sterling (Tr in same; filed with Dupl; certified by Fenwick as having been sworn before him in the United States consular chancery in Bordeaux). (3) Judgment of the Tribunal of Commerce and Admiralty in Bordeaux, 19 June 1793, ordering the restoration of the Sally and her cargo to Captain Strout (Tr in same, in French, with subjoined statement in English by Fenwick certifying its authenticity, 2 July 1793; Tr in same, in French, with subjoined statement in English by Fenwick certifying its authenticity, 5 July 1793). (4) Public Instrument of Protest, 22 June 1793, wherein Henry Hockett, master, John Heming, mate, and John Fletcher, seaman, of the Prosperity, a ship which arrived in Bordeaux on 21 June with a cargo of flour from Baltimore, complain of damages the Prosperity sustained from the privateer Ann of Liverpool, Captain James Hannagan, which on 2 June put twelve French prisoners aboard her; from the privateer Achilles of Weymouth, Captain William le Cheminant, which on 8 June took from her two barrels of superfine flour for ten dollars and one barrel of ships bread for nothing; from the privateer Favorite, Captain Bradley, which on 8 and 9 June opened her letters, detained her captain and crew, ransacked her cargo, and put four more French prisoners aboard her; from the privateer Sudden Death, Captain Baxter, and the ship Duke William of Liverpool, the former of which on 11 June took from her two barrels of superfine flour for nine dollars; and from the privateer Hopewell of Liverpool, Captain John McGhir, which on 13 June took from her two barrels of superfine flour and two barrels of ship flour for an order on Liverpool merchant John Thomas (Tr in same; filed with Dupl; certified by Fenwick as having been sworn before him in the United States consular chancery in Bordeaux).

On this date, or on 2 Aug. or 24 Sep. 1793, Fenwick wrote the following letter to TJ: “I had the honor of writing you this day by the Poly Capt. Chandler. I now add a few papers that have since come to hand—which I beg the favor of you to send Mr. Mason after reading them also the inclosed packet which I have taken the liberty to put under your cover for security. The Captains refuse letters frequently” (RC in DNA: RG 59, CD; undated; at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson Esquire Secretary of State Philadela.”; endorsed by TJ as received 24 Oct. 1793; enclosures not found). According to SJL, on 24 Oct. 1793 TJ received letters from Fenwick written on all three dates, but there is no way to determine on which of them he wrote this letter.

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