Thomas Jefferson Papers

Circular to French Consuls and Vice-Consuls, 7 September 1793

Circular to French Consuls and Vice-Consuls

Philadelphia, September 7th. 1793.


Finding by the protests of several of the Consuls of France, by their advertisements in the public papers, and other proceedings, and by other sufficient testimony, that they claim, and are exercising, within the United States a general admiralty jurisdiction, and in particular assume to try the validity of prizes, and to give sentence thereon as Judges of Admiralty; and moreover that they are undertaking to give Commissions within the United States, and to enlist, or encourage the enlistment of men, natives or inhabitants of these States, to commit hostilities on nations with whom the United States are at peace, in direct opposition to the laws of the land; I have it in charge from the President of the United States to give notice to all the Consuls and Vice Consuls of France in the United States, as I hereby do to you, that if any of them shall commit any of the acts beforementioned, or assume any jurisdiction not expressly given by the Convention between France and the United States, the Exequatur of the Consul so transgressing,1 will be immediately revoked, and his person be submitted to such prosecutions and punishments as the laws may prescribe for the case. I have the honor to be, with respect Sir, Your most Obedient and most humble servant.

Th: Jefferson

RC (CtY); in Benjamin Bankson’s hand, signed by TJ; at foot of text: “Citizen Francois Dupon[t], Consul for France in Philadelphia.” RC (Dr. Max Thorek, Chicago, 1946); in Bankson’s hand, signed by TJ; at foot of text: “Citizen Moissonier, Vice Consul for France in Maryland.” Dft (DLC); in TJ’s hand, unsigned, with dateline by George Taylor, Jr.; at head of text: “Circular to the French Consuls.” PrC to Alexandre Maurice d’Hauterive (DLC); in Taylor’s hand, unsigned; at foot of text: “The Citizen Hauterive Consul from the Republic of France at New York”; with four lines, one partly torn, added by Taylor in ink below complimentary close:

“Citizen Francois du Pont Consul Phila.

Citizen Moissonier—Vice C. Maryland

<Citizen du plaine [Vice C.] N. Hamp. Mass. & Rh. Isld.>

Mangourit. Consul Charleston.” Tr (DNA: RG 46, Senate Records, 3d Cong., 1st sess.). FC (Lb in DNA: RG 59, DL). Tr (AMAE: Correspondance Consulaire, New York, iii); certified by Cassan. Tr (same); in French; at foot of first page: “Citoyen hauterive consul de la rpqu. fse. a New york”; certified by Bournonville. Tr (same, CPEU, xxxix); in French; dated “le Sept. 1793.” Tr (DLC: Genet Papers); in French. Tr (same); in French; incomplete. Recorded in SJPL. Printed in Message description begins A Message of the President of the United States to Congress Relative to France and Great-Britain. Delivered December 5, 1793. With the Papers therein Referred to. To Which Are Added the French Originals. Published by Order of the House of Representatives, Philadelphia, 1793 description ends , 75. Enclosed in TJ to Edmond Charles Genet, [7 Sep. 1793].

This circular was approved by the Cabinet (Cabinet Opinions on Relations with France and Great Britain, 7 Sep. 1793). For the controversy over the right claimed by French consuls to exercise exclusive Admiralty jurisdiction over prizes brought by French ships into American ports, see Thomas, American Neutrality, 206–20.

1Word altered in Dft from “offending.”

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