Thomas Jefferson Papers

Notes on British Instructions and on Clement Humphreys, 13 April 1798

Notes on British Instructions and on Clement Humphreys

Apr. 13. new instructions of the British govmt to their armed ships now appear which clearly infringe their treaty with us, by authorising them to take our vessels carrying produce of the French colonies from those colonies to Europe, & to take vessels bound to a blockaded port.1 see them in Brown’s paper of Apr. 18. in due form.

The Presidt. has sent a govmt brig to France, probably to carry dispatches. he has chosen as the bearer of these one Humphreys, the son of a ship carpenter, ignorant2 under age, not speaking a word of French, most abusive of that nation3 whose only merit is the having mobbed & beaten Bache on board the frigate built here, for which he was indicted & punished by fine.

MS (DLC: TJ Papers, 102:17525); entirely in TJ’s hand; on same sheet as Notes on Senators’ Comments about House Impeachment Committee, 12 Mch. 1798; with an addition by TJ at a later sitting.

The Duke of Portland signed the instructions of 25 Jan. 1798 to the commanders of British ships of war and privateers (Philadelphia Gazette, 18 Apr. 1798). Clement Humphreys was selected to carry a letter to the envoys at Paris aboard the U.S. brig Sophia (Instructions from Timothy Pickering to Humphreys, 29 Mch. 1798, in MHi: Pickering Papers; Pickering to Hamilton, 25 Mch. 1798, in Syrett, Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961–87, 27 vols. description ends , 21:378–9). For information on Humphreys’s attack on Bache on board the frigate United States, for which he received a $50 fine, see Tagg, Bache description begins James Tagg, Benjamin Franklin Bache and the Philadelphia Aurora, Philadelphia, 1991 description ends , 328.

1Following sentence probably added by TJ at a later sitting.

2Word interlined.

3Preceding eleven words interlined.

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