Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Edmond Charles Genet, 6 December 1793

To Edmond Charles Genet

Philadelphia. Dec. 6. 1793.


In consequence of the notice given to the Governor of Pensylvania of the apprehensions that a number of the emigrants of St. Domingo might be returning hence to the island in a hostile form, enquiries were set on foot, the result of which I have the honor to inclose for your information; and am with respect Sir Your most obedt. & most humble servt

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC); at foot of text: “the Min. Plen. of the republic of France.” FC (Lb in DNA: RG 59, DL). Enclosures: (1) Thomas Mifflin to George Washington, Philadelphia, 2 Dec. 1793, stating that he was submitting Nos. 2 and 3 in reply to Henry Knox’s letter concerning Genet’s suggestion that French refugees were about to embark from this port for Jérémie or Cape St. Nicolas Môle on the ship Delaware and the schooner Betsey (RC in DNA: RG 59, MLR, in a clerk’s hand, signed by Mifflin; PrC of Tr in DLC, in a clerk’s hand; Tr in Lb in DNA: RG 59, DL). (2) Mifflin to Nathaniel Falconer, Master Warden of the port of Philadelphia, 29 Nov. 1793, directing him, in conformity with the President’s request, to ascertain the truth of Genet’s allegations that French refugees in Philadelphia were preparing to embark for Jérémie or Cape St. Nicolas Môle on the Delaware, Captain Art, owned by James & Shoemaker, and the Betsey, Captain McClanachan, so that their departure can be prevented if they are planning a military expedition. (3) Falconer to Mifflin, 29 Nov. 1793, stating that Jacob Shoemaker assured him that the Delaware was bound for Cape St. Nicolas Môle and that, though it expected to carry a number of passengers, so far only one had signed up; that he had asked Shoemaker and Captain Art to bring him any Frenchman who signed up as a passenger so that he could ascertain the purpose of his voyage; that Reed & Ford, description begins Paul Leicester Ford, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Letterpress Edition, New York, 1892–99, 10 vols. description ends the owners of the Betsey, assured him that it had been chartered by a French gentleman who intended to sail only to Guadeloupe to bring back his property from there, accompanied by some passengers bound for the same destination; and that he will continue to monitor these two ships and notify Mifflin if he discovers anything like armament on them (Trs in DNA: RG 59, MLR, attested by Alexander J. Dallas; PrCs of other Trs in DLC, in a clerk’s hand; Trs in Lb in DNA: RG 59, DL).

Reacting to allegations in Genet’s second letter to TJ of 25 Nov. 1793 that French refugees in Philadelphia and Baltimore were preparing to launch counterrevolutionary military expeditions against Saint-Domingue, the President had instructed Secretary of War Henry Knox to request the governors of Pennsylvania and Maryland to investigate this matter. Washington submitted the enclosures listed above to TJ on 2 Dec. 1793 so that he could inform the French minister of the results of the investigation in Philadelphia (Washington, Journal, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed., The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797, Charlottesville, 1981 description ends 262). Later in the month Governor Thomas Sim Lee dispatched to Knox a report by the collector of customs at Baltimore pertaining to the activities of French refugees in that port, not found, and assured him that “nothing shall be omitted which may be necessary for preventing military expeditions of the nature alluded to” (Lee to Knox, 9 Dec. 1793, MdAA: Letterbooks of Governor and Council).

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