Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Thomas Mifflin, 13 December 1793

From Thomas Mifflin

Philadelphia 13 Decr. 1793.


In consequence of the information, which you gave me, relative to the imprisonment and detention of the French sailors, in the Gaol of Philadelphia, I have written to the Chief Justice of this State, and the Minister of France; copies of which are inclosed. As soon as answers are received, they shall, likewise, be communicated. I am, with great esteem, Sir, Your most obedt Servt.

Tho Mifflin

RC (MH: Simes Collection); in Alexander J. Dallas’s hand, signed by Mifflin; at foot of text: “To Thomas Jefferson Esqr. Secretary of State”; endorsed by TJ as received 13 Dec. 1793 and so recorded in SJL. FC (PHarH: Secretary’s Letter-books). Enclosures: (1) Mifflin to Chief Justice Thomas McKean, 13 Dec. 1793, stating that, having been informed by TJ of complaints that last summer some French sailors were imprisoned and detained after having been committed on a warrant issued by McKean at the instance of the French consul, he wishes the chief justice to investigate this matter and inform him “what Steps have been, and will be taken with respect to the Committment, Confinement, Trial or discharge of the Prisoners.” (2) Mifflin to Edmond Charles Genet, 13 Dec. 1793, stating that, complaints having been made about the imprisonment and detention of French sailors committed last summer by warrant of Chief Justice McKean at the instance of the French consul, he transmits a copy of No. 1 and gives assurances that he and McKean will pay the utmost attention to any proposition Genet has to make on this subject (Trs in DNA: RG 59, MLR, certified by Deputy Secretary James Trimble; FCs in PHarH: Secretary’s Letterbooks).

On 3 Dec. 1793 a group of French sailors petitioned the President for their release from prison in Philadelphia, where they had been arrested for desertion and held for three months by order of François Dupont, the French consul—a predicament arising from their refusal to enlist in a legion Edmond Charles Genet was raising in New York because it would have violated the oath they had sworn before the municipality of Brest not to abandon the armed ship on which they were serving, their being disarmed and denied provisions by the French minister in retaliation, and their having felt obliged to leave their ship and go to Philadelphia (M. Maurice and others to [Washington], 3 Dec. 1793, DNA: RG 59, MLR; in French). The President referred the appeal to TJ (Washington, Journal, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed., The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797, Charlottesville, 1981 description ends 267). See also Mifflin to TJ, 20 Dec. 1793.

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