Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Edward Rutledge, 9 November 1793

From Edward Rutledge

Charleston, Novr. 9th. 1793.

Dear Sir

I have been requested by the Gentlemen who have signed the within memorial, to place it under your Protection, and I do so, with the greatest chearfulness, because I know full well, that the sole motive by which they were actuated, was, Humanity. The People of St. Domingo, came to our Shores, in such Numbers, and in so destitute a Condition, and the Funds of our Citizens were so unequal to their comfortable Support, that the Memorialists, who are Respectable Merchants, and among the foremost in relieving the distressed, prevailed on poor Thompson (who felt as they did, for the Wretched) to take the Command of a small Vessel, and sail for the Island of St. Domingo, expressly for the Purpose, which is mentioned in the Dispatch.

I know you too well to doubt of your Assistance, if it can be effectually applied. The Method I must leave to yourself. With Sentiments of real Affection I am my dear Sir, your Sincere & obliged Friend

Ed: Rutledge

Dupl (DLC); in a clerk’s hand, signed by Rutledge; at head of text: “Duplicate” at foot of text: “The Honble. T. Jefferson Esqr. &ca. &ca.” Recorded in SJL as received 2 Dec. 1793. Enclosure: Memorial of James & Edward Penman & Company, North & Vesey, and Jennings & Woddrop to George Washington, Charleston, 9 Nov. 1793, alleging that out of compassion for the impoverished refugees from Saint-Domingue in their city and with the additional goal of determining whether conditions in the colony would permit other vessels to be sent there safely, on 18 Aug. 1793 they had sent the American schooner pilot boat Trial, commanded by American citizen Archibald Thompson, with a cargo of rice, flour, and pork, to Saint-Domingue with instructions to call at Saint Marc and Port-au-Prince and to load any property offered in relief of the refugees in South Carolina but to refrain from breaking any laws or otherwise offending the ruling powers, a caution also expressed to their agent at Port au Prince, James Grant Forbes & Company; reporting that no direct intelligence of the Trial has been received for some time, but a recent open letter from New Providence advises that the Commissioners have seized the vessel and confined Thompson and Forbes at Port au Prince on “Suspicion of intending to bring off Property for Persons here”; asserting their ignorance of having broken any law, treaty, or proclamation and defending their right as American citizens to trade for themselves and others with a French port that had always been open to American vessels; and requesting the government to obtain the release of Thompson, Forbes, and the vessel and its cargo, with damages (MS in ViW: Tucker-Coleman Collection; margin frayed).

On 3 Dec. 1793 TJ submitted the enclosure to the President, who 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 , 263–4).

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