Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John Parish, 20 September 1793

From John Parish

Hamburg, 20 Sep. 1793. He sent a duplicate of his 19 July letter by Captain Dryburgh of the Polly, since which a number of American ships have been drawn here by the high freight given to the American flag. They have all been dispatched, but notwithstanding a temporary stop to that trade because of a reported misunderstanding between America and England that has made underwriters unwilling to sign risks except for exorbitant premiums, he is confident that commerce and harmony between the two courts will continue and that ships coming here will find good employment. Because in a month about 20 American ships have taken aboard wheat for Lisbon at a freight charge more than double that given to other neutral ships headed there, the suspicion arises that the captains are privately instructed to land their cargoes in a French port, which may lead to their detention by English cruisers because of Britain’s declaration that corn destined for France is contraband. Having warned the captains of this danger, they all swore to their destinations, and he gave them certificates affixed to their manifests that he hopes will be respected. Advice from London today reports that the Court of Admiralty has decided that Captain Earl will be paid freight, demurrage, etc., with the sum to be fixed by arbitrators, which is all the more pleasing because the court dismissed the cause of Hambrô and the Danish ships brought to England at the same time, absolving the captors of any freight or demurrage claims. Appearances indicate that the present bloody campaign will not settle the dispute.

RC (DNA: RG 59, CD); 3 p.; in a clerk’s hand, signed by Parish; at foot of text: “The Right Honorable The Secretary of State for the United States of America”; endorsed by TJ as received 11 Nov. 1793 and so recorded in SJL. A Dupl recorded in SJL as received 5 Dec. 1793 has not been found.

TJ submitted this letter to the President on 11 Nov. 1793, and Washington returned it the same day (Washington, Journal description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed., The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797, Charlottesville, 1981 description ends , 251).

Parish also wrote a brief letter to TJ on 24 Sep. 1793, enclosing a duplicate of the above letter, which had gone on the 21st by the Jean, Captain Daniel McPherson, noting that underwriters still hesitated to sign the risk for an American ship headed for Cádiz, which was a “great drawback” on the trade, and hoping for the arrival of news for him to disseminate that the American flag was under no danger (RC in DNA: RG 59, CD; in a clerk’s hand, signed by Parish; at foot of text: “The Right Honorable The Secretary of State for the United States of America at Philadelphia”; endorsed by TJ as received 5 Dec. 1793 and so recorded in SJL). This is the last consular letter TJ received from Parish. See Appendix i.

Index Entries