Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Benjamin H. Phillips, 28 July 1793

From Benjamin H. Phillips

Curaçao, 28 July 1793. Since writing on 8 June by the brig John, he has received and attended to TJ’s letter of 21 Mch. by the schooner Ceres. The Fury, a brig registered in Philadelphia that arrived here from Grenada with slaves, sailed under United States colors for Hispaniola before he received his consular commission, its captain and its owners, Peter W. Marrenner and Domingo Costino, not being citizens according to secretarial papers. Almost two hundred soldiers arrived here lately, and a brig left St. Eustatius for here about two weeks ago, but on account of very rapid currents probably “fell to Leeward loaded Cannon &c.” The home government intends to make this place strong and to rely on British forces to defend St. Eustatius and St. Martin.

RC (DNA: RG 59, CD); 1 p.; in a clerk’s hand, with complimentary close and signature by Phillips; at head of text: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr.”; endorsed by TJ as received 16 Aug. 1793 and so recorded in SJL.

Phillips’s last letter to TJ was actually dated 7 June 1793. TJ submitted the present letter to the President on 19 Aug. 1793 and received it back the same day (Washington, Journal description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed., The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797, Charlottesville, 1981 description ends , 225).

On 8 Aug. 1793 Phillips wrote a brief letter to TJ from Curaçao stating that he had sent his 28 July dispatch by the sloop Driver, Captain Samuel Tibbalds, via New York, and that he was now enclosing a certificate by the fiscal on the island proving the identity of the Fury’s true owners (RC in DNA: RG 59, CD; at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr.”; endorsed by TJ as received 31 Aug. 1793 and so recorded in SJL). The enclosed certificate by Theodore Van Teylingen, Attorney General of the Netherlands and member of the Curaçao Council or Raad Fiscal, dated 8 Aug. 1793, stated that, after some initial hesitation because a French subject named M. Bastard had claimed a one-third ownership in the American ship Fury and he could not allow Dutch subjects to enter into French employ, he complied with the request of Captain Peter William Kerrener on 20 Apr. 1793 to note down some hands who were going with him to Saint-Domingue on the ship, as appears by the attached muster roll, after learning from Kerrener that he and Domingo Contini & Company were the sole owners (MS in same; in a clerk’s hand, signed by Van Teylingen; with attested copy in Dutch of the 20 Apr. 1793 muster roll).

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