Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from George Washington, 24 August 1793

From George Washington

August 24th: 1793

The President sends to the Secretary of State two letters which he has received from Baltimore, written by persons from St. Domingo.

The President has no knowledge of the writer of the letter in English; but he wishes the Secretary of State to consider it, and if he thinks the circumstances therein mentioned deserve attention, the Secretary will communicate to the President such answer thereto as he may think proper to be given.

If in perusing the letter written in French, the Secretary meets any thing requiring the particular notice of the President, he will be so good as to point it out.

RC (DLC); in Tobias Lear’s hand; endorsed by TJ as a letter from Washington received 26 Aug. 1793. Recorded in SJPL. Enclosure: Thomas Millet to Washington, Baltimore, 20 Aug. 1793, stating, in preference to his original plan to publish a warning, that it was dangerous to have the French fleet from Saint-Domingue dispersed in several harbors and having so many unguarded merchant ships in Chesapeake Bay; that in “the great conspiracy of the Kings against the new french republic” England is more interested in advancing its commercial interest than in restoring the French monarchy, as might be inferred by the devastation wrought in the French West Indies by Polverel, Sonthonax, and their counterrevolutionary collaborators under the influence of English policy and the aristocratic party in the National Convention and perhaps the Provisional Executive Council; that the recent conflagration in Saint-Domingue was the culmination of a deep-laid plan by the English ministry and the French aristocratic party to force the French fleet to flee to the United States, a plot that his involvement during the last three years in Saint-Domingue assemblies and his experience with the Legislative Assembly in Paris will enable him to prove, his efforts to expose it having resulted in his proscription, arrest, and incarceration by Polverel and Sonthonax; that, in return for ignoring its treaty obligation to guarantee French possessions in the West Indies, England and Spain will allow the United States to receive the French merchant ships in the Chesapeake that they plan to seize; that if these seizures take place, England will keep a naval squadron off the American coasts and from them invade Ohio, Canada, and at least the southern states, if not cause a general insurrection in the United States “already so well prepared by some persons of public capacity”; that he plans to go to New York and accompany the unfairly maligned General Galbaud to France, where the latter will report to the National Convention on the various intrigues he has described, though Genet will be reluctant to allow Galbaud to return to France in his company because the general’s report will injure the aristocratic party there; that in October 1790 he conversed in Paris with Sir Hugh Elliot, William Pitt’s personal friend, who had gone there to talk with some Saint-Domingue deputy or assemblyman; and that he stands ready to meet with the President on his way to New York (RC in DNA: RG 59, MLR; in halting and rambling English; endorsed by Lear as received 24 Aug. 1793; docketed by Bartholomew Dandridge, Jr.).

Millet, of whom Washington had no knowledge, had served as president of the Colonial Assembly which met briefly at St. Marc in Saint-Domingue in 1790 before adjourning and sending eighty-five delegates to the National Assembly in France to make its case against the grands blancs party. He subsequently appeared as one of the accusers of Léger Félicité Sonthonax and Etienne Polverel, two of the three commissioners appointed by the Legislative Assembly in 1792 to help suppress the slave revolt in Saint-Domingue, when a commission appointed by the National Convention considered charges of aiding and abetting the revolt leveled against them by refugee planters in 1795 (Ott, Haitian Revolution description begins Thomas O. Ott, The Haitian Revolution, 1789–1804, Knoxville, 1973 description ends , 33–5; Stein, Sonthonax description begins Robert L. Stein, Léger Félicité Sonthonax: The Lost Sentinel of the Republic, Rutherford, N.J., 1985 description ends , 114–20). M. Lentilhon was the author of the letter written in French, which has not been found but is described in TJ to James McHenry, 26 Aug. 1793.

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