Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John M. Pintard, 29 October 1793

From John M. Pintard

Madeira, 29 Oct. 1793. He encloses copies of his 8, 9, and 15 Oct. letters and their enclosures, as well as a copy of his letter of this date to Edward Church, which will explain the particulars of his case more fully than the statement he transmitted with his 15 Oct. letter. He does not enclose the Portuguese papers mentioned in his letter to Church, which consist of a notary public’s certificate that he would not take Pintard’s protest against the governor for fear of that official and a certified copy of the receipt for the money he received for demurrage on his Bordeaux vessel, the latter of which is dated 21 Oct., two days before his clerk and vice-consul were examined and the governor ordered him to exhibit his books. The Portuguese government has concluded a one-year truce with the Algerines and permitted five of their corsairs to sail beyond the Straits of Gibraltar. They are cruising off Cape St. Vincent and the Rocks of Lisbon, and yesterday two vessels arrived here from Lisbon that had been boarded by them. He fears the corsairs will wreak havoc on American ships bound to Cadiz or Lisbon. David Humphreys sailed from Lisbon for Gibraltar on 16 Sep., leaving Church in charge of American affairs. He has not heard from him by either of the vessels that has arrived, but presumes he shall by the next one. The English government at Gibraltar reportedly negotiated the Portuguese-Algerine treaty or truce, which he presumes is a political maneuver by the combined powers because of their envy of rising American prosperity. Because of the advanced season, he presumes the Algerines will wait until spring before sailing beyond the Straits in swarms. He will continue to communicate such information as he receives about this matter and all others affecting the United States.

RC (DNA: RG 59, CD); 4 p.; date altered from 28 to 29 Oct. 1793; with subjoined list of enclosed papers; endorsed by TJ as received 19 Dec. 1793 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Pintard to Church, 29 Oct. 1793, stating that he was grateful for the news in Enclosure No. 2 listed at Pintard to TJ, 8 Oct. 1793, but disappointed that Church was not as successful in the case of the French ship Commerciant, about which he had also informed Humphreys; that the Portuguese government had sent a frigate to bring the Commerciant and its cargo to Lisbon, while leaving its passengers and crew free to go where they pleased; that the governor of Madeira had imprisoned him in his own home for almost two days, ostensibly because he had without official authorization sent a boat to bring himself letters from the brig Washington, Captain Goddard, which had just arrived from Lisbon, but in reality because of the governor’s mortification at the orders that ship brought from the Portuguese government for him to make compensation for the detention of the Minerva from 21 July to 14 Aug. 1793, when it finally left for Bordeaux; that he advised the governor, when the latter offered to make compensation strictly on the basis of his charter party with Captain Allen of the Minerva, that an accurate assessment of damages would have to await the arrival of news from Bordeaux, from which the Minerva might have to leave without a return cargo because of a late August National Convention decree forbidding the exportation of certain articles from France, a situation the ship could have avoided if it had been allowed to leave Madeira as scheduled on 21 July; that thereafter the Royal Junto here examined under oath his bookkeeper, Nathaniel [Hayward], and his vice-consul, Richard Bright, about how the money for the charter party was paid to Captain Allen; that following this examination he complied with a written order from the governor directing him to allow a deputy of the Royal Junto and the British vice-consul to examine his books to ascertain where and how Allen was paid, but not before unsuccessfully requesting a copy of the order; that he hopes the Portuguese government will make amends to him for the despotic conduct he has endured and that the Secretary of State will provide him with written orders to protect his person from further insult; that he will not be deterred from performing his public duties by the governor’s power to injure him in his private business; that no notary public would take down his protest against his imprisonment, but one did provide the enclosed notarial certificate indicating how the governor is feared here; and that he encloses a copy of the receipt he gave at the Royal Junto for the sum paid to Captain Allen, as appears by Allen’s receipt transmitted to Humphreys, the former being dated 21 Oct. 1793, when the business relating to the demurrage of the Minerva appears to have been settled, even though his books were examined and his employees investigated two days after that (Tr in same; in a clerk’s hand, signed by Pintard; at foot of text: “(Copy)”). For the other enclosures, see the enclosures listed at Pintard to TJ, 8, 15 Oct. 1793.

Pintard also wrote a brief note to TJ from Madeira on 30 Oct. 1793 transmitting copies of letters just received from Lisbon (RC in DNA: RG 59, CD; at head of text: “Honble Thomas Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 19 Dec. 1793 and so recorded in SJL). The letters were David Humphreys to Pintard, Gibraltar, 6 Oct. 1793, stating that in consequence of a twelve-month truce between Algiers and Portugal, an Algerine fleet of four frigates, one brig, and three xebecs had passed through the Straits of Gibraltar last night into the Atlantic, and that Pintard should notify his countrymen of this as soon as possible; and Edward Church to the Citizens of the United States of America, Lisbon, 14 Oct. 1793, stating that Algerine corsairs carrying 22 to 44 guns sailed out of the Mediterranean on 6 Oct. 1793 and were witnessed three days later capturing four American vessels and one Genoese vessel, and that a twelve-month truce between Algiers and Portugal was signed on 12 Sep. on behalf of the Queen of Portugal by the British agent at Algiers, who about the same time signed another truce between Algiers and the Netherlands, with a 15 Oct. postscript stating that a Swedish vessel witnessed the Algerines discharge part of a cargo of grain from a captured American vessel so as to facilitate arming it as a cruiser, that ten Dutch captains taken by the Algerines since their war with the Netherlands have died of the plague in Algiers, that he does not know how many others have succumbed to the same fate, and that according to an American just arrived from Falmouth, American vessels now in England are returning in ballast because for some reason the English have chosen not to risk their property in American ships, a conduct mysterious in England but understandable here (Trs in same; with certification at foot of each text, in a clerk’s hand, signed by Pintard, indicating that the originals were received on 30 Oct. 1793).

TJ submitted Pintard’s 29 and 30 Oct. letters to the President on 19 Dec. 1793, and Washington returned them the same day (Washington, Journal description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed., The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797, Charlottesville, 1981 description ends , 271).

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