Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Samuel Fulton, [29 April 1801]

From Samuel Fulton

Paris le 9 florial an 9m.
de La Republic français [i.e., 29 Apr. 1801]

Citizen President.

Haveing served the cause of Liberty during the american war, in the Defence of My native Country, Could not see France strugling Against all the Tyrants of Europe without offering her my service, for which purpose I Came to Paris in 1794. I was amediately appointed Chef d’Escadron, Lieutenant Colonel of Cavalry, in which quallity I served untill (1797) when it was thought that a war would inivitably brake out betwen the two Sister Repulicks, I then give my dismission, and Remained a Silent Spectator, untill the arival of the three Last envoys at Paris, seeing then there was hopes of Reconsiliation, and france press’d on evry side by her enenimys, I againe offered my Service, in the army which the first Consul (Buonaparte) was to Command in person, which was Excepted, the Extroirdinary success of that army has been so well announc’d to the world that Leaves me only roome to say that I have the honour of being one of the vanquers of Marango. Peace being now made betwen france & Germany, I have returnd into the Interior, whare I have just heard of the happy Changement which has takein place in The government of my native & beloved Country now would I fondly fly to it to ask service under her Banners, if my situation permitted me, but haveing sacrefised the principle part of my fortune during the seven years I have been in france and being now the father of a famely cannot quit my present imploy untill I am certaine of an other,

Knowing well your attachment to all True Republicans, I am imboldend to address myself To you to ask some imploy under your auspecious. Be it Sivill or Military, in the United States, or in any foreign Country, it will be eaqually aceptable for it is a pleasing thing for a man to serve his Native Country, particularly when the principalls of her government are those of his owne—

from my long Stay in france I have acquired a Considerable Share of her Language & art of war—

Perhaps I might be usefully imploy’d on the bords of the Mississipi haveing a perfect Knowledge of that vast region & the Diffrent nations of Indians who inhabit the Country bordering thereon—

your answer to the present, Citizen President will be ever gratefully acknowledged by a true Republicain & a reil friend to his native Country

I refer you to Citizen James Munroe for information Relitive to my moral & political Charecter,

Salut et Respect

S. Fulton

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); English date supplied; addressed: “Au Citoyen Gefferson President, des États unis de L’amerique á Washington”; endorsed by TJ as received 24 July and so recorded in SJL with notation “for an office.” Dupl (same); endorsed by TJ as received 26 Aug., but recorded in SJL under 25 Aug. with notation “Off.”

Refer you to citizen James Munroe: TJ received the letter above with a hastily drafted statement by James Monroe, who reported that James Madison had sent him Fulton’s letter by way of Milton, Virginia. Noting that Joel Barlow had referred to Fulton “as one having some skill in mechanics,” Monroe reported that he had become acquainted with Fulton in Paris in the winter of 1794–95, when Monroe was U.S. minister to France. Monroe learned at that time that Fulton was in France with General “Chaise” (Auguste Lachaise), who in 1793 played a leading role in an intended scheme by Edmond Charles Genet to restore the Mississippi Valley to French control. Monroe met with Fulton and used information from him to discredit Lachaise’s attempt to gain the ear of the French government. A faction within the Washington administration, Monroe believed, was using Lachaise “with a view to involve us in a war with France.” In support of that argument, Monroe discussed a forged letter, purportedly by Fulton, that was published in American newspapers. Monroe had also caught a rumor of something said by Rufus King in London that indicated the “attention” that the Federalists were giving to Fulton. The only letter that Fulton had written from France about the western intrigue was one that he composed to John Breckinridge at Monroe’s suggestion and with his guidance “to tranquilize the western people on the subject of the missisippi.” On Monroe’s advice, Fulton wrote a refutation of the fraudulent letter. That rebuttal, which intimated that Timothy Pickering was involved in the publication of the forgery, never appeared in the United States even though two copies were sent by separate ships from France. Monroe thought that Fulton’s refutation of the forgery may have been “laid hold of in the post office & suppressed” and that “the postmaster Habersham must have some knowledge” of what had transpired. Believing that members of the Washington administration were involved in manipulating the separatist plots of Lachaise, Monroe did not report his contact with Fulton to the U.S. government—nor, lacking concrete evidence, did he discuss the affair in the book he wrote after his recall from France (View of the Conduct of the Executive). In 1793 the Spanish envoys in the United States, Josef de Jaudenes and Josef Ignacio de Viar, had warned TJ, who was then secretary of state, of the intentions of Lachaise, a native of Louisiana. TJ then advised President Washington, Secretary of War Henry Knox, and Isaac Shelby, the governor of Kentucky, of the situation. Fulton was in New Orleans by August 1802 and spent the next several years seeking a commission from the American government. Following the sale of Louisiana to the United States, Fulton entered the service of Spain and commanded the Spanish militia in West Florida. He subsequently became active in efforts to annex the territory to the U.S. (MS in DNA: RG 59, LAR, in Monroe’s hand with emendations, undated, unaddressed, and unsigned, endorsed by TJ “Fulton for office” and as received 26 Aug. 1801, but recorded in SJL under 25 Aug. in association with Fulton’s letter printed above; Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 29 vols. description ends , 16:304n, 397–8, 401; Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser., 3:247, 470; Madison, Papers, Pres. Ser., 2:305, 320–1, 5:390; Vol. 27:176–80, 311–14).

Index Entries