Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from George Washington, 27 September 1793

From George Washington

Mount Vernon Septr. 27. 1793.


The enclosed Letter and Memorial came to my hands yesterday, to which I returned an answer of which the enclosed is a copy.


RC (DNA: RG 76, French Spoliations); in the hand of Bartholomew Dandridge, Jr., signed by Washington; at foot of text: “Thos. Jefferson Esqr. Secy. of State”; endorsed by TJ as received 9 Oct. 1793 and so recorded in SJL. Dft (DLC: Washington Papers photostat); written and signed by Washington. FC (Lb in DNA: RG 59, SDC). Enclosures: (1) Joseph Harper to Washington, Philadelphia, 10 Sep. 1793, stating for himself and the company that they were enclosing a memorial they believed, upon inquiry, to concern a case so special as to render any decision on a previous case submitted to the President inapplicable, and that therefore they hoped he would provide them with the relief they were justified in expecting as his fellow citizens (RC in DNA: RG 76, French Spoliations; endorsed by TJ as received 9 Oct. 1793). (2) Memorial to Washington from James King, Henry Pratt, Joseph Harper, and Isaac Snowden as owners of the Andrew and a considerable part of its cargo, and from William Bell in his own right and Henry Pratt and George C. Schroeppel as administrators of the estate of the deceased William Starman, owners of the rest of the cargo, Philadelphia, 9 Sep. 1793, stating, as American citizens, that the Andrew, Samuel Makins master, left Charleston on or about 28 Feb. 1793, unaware that France had declared war on any foreign power, with 875 whole casks of rice, 202 half-tierces of rice, and 57 bags of pimento consigned to their respective correspondents in Amsterdam; that on 10 Apr. the French privateer Ambitieux, Captain John Pontevin, captured the Andrew, imprisoned Makins and six seamen on the privateer, and brought them to Brest on 19 Apr.; that upon being released three days later Makins and his men proceeded to L’Orient, where the Andrew had been taken and where on 25 Apr. the Chamber of Commerce ruled that as American property the capture of the ship and cargo was illegal and declared both to be free; that on the following day, in consequence of a decree passed by the L’Orient General Council in the presence of two commissaries deputed by the Department of Finisterre and Morbihan and by the National Convention, Makins was forced, despite his protest, to deliver his cargo to the French Republic “(they being in great Want)” in return for the payment of freight by the Ordonnateur of the Marine at L’Orient; that on 17 June, the cargo having in the meantime been unloaded between 14 and 24 May, the efforts by Makins to obtain from various L’Orient officials satisfaction for the detention of his ship and payment for his cargo and freight led the Deputy Paymaster of the Marine to pay him 51,328 livres, 9 sols, and 1 denier in assignats, the amount of the freight as reckoned by these officials minus a deduction of 1,290 livres for a deficiency of 5 casks of rice in the cargo; that after further fruitless efforts to obtain payment, Makins left L’Orient with the Andrew in ballast on 3 July—after receiving from its mayor and municipal officers a certificate attesting that he had delivered 1,070 hogsheads or half-hogsheads of rice weighing 589,030 pounds gross for the Marine and War Departments, as well as 57 bags of pimento weighing 8,987 pounds—and arrived in Philadelphia on 29 July; and that because the capture and detention of the Andrew, the imprisonment of its captain and crew, and the forced disposal of its cargo, for which they had authentic proofs, all violated the treaty with France, they asked the United States government to compensate them for their losses, “which they believe can be more readily done, as it has it at this time in its Power to do it, by an appropriation to which with submission we Concieve there Can be no reasonable Objection either by our Own Government or that of France” (MS in same; in a clerk’s hand, signed by King, Pratt, Bell, Harper & Snowden, and Schroeppel). (3) Washington to Harper & Company, 27 Sep. 1793, stating that he had received Nos. 1 and 2 only yesterday and would transmit them to the Secretary of State, to whom they should have been sent in the first place, and who would need proofs to render a full report to the President, provided the American minister in Paris had not already taken action (Tr in same; FC in Lb in DLC: Washington Papers).

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