Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Thomas McKean, 14 June 1802

To Thomas McKean

Washington June 14. 1802.

Dear Sir

Your favor of the 12th. came to hand last night. while making out the commissions of bankruptcy the newspapers informed me of the death of your son, on which event I sincerely condole with you. his name was therefore omitted and another inserted so as to compleat the number before the reciept of your letter recommending mr Pettit.

Though I take for granted that the colonisation of Louisiana by France is a settled point, yet I suspect they must be much stronger in St. Domingo before they can spare troops to go there. what has been called a surrender of Toussaint to Le Clerc I suspect was in reality a surrender of Le Clerc to Toussaint: that Le Clerc was not in condition to hold his ports, and consented to any terms which would give the appearance of capitulation to his antagonist, who probably overrated the number of French troops. a discovery of his error may very possibly lead to a correction of it. Accept assurances of my high respect and consideration.

Th: Jefferson

RC (PHi); addressed: “Governor Mc.kain Philadelphia”; franked and postmarked. PrC (DLC).

NEWSPAPERS INFORMED ME: a brief notice of the sudden death of Robert McKean appeared in Poulson’s American Daily Advertiser on 10 June and in the Philadelphia Gazette & Daily Advertiser the next day. The Aurora carried a more extensive report on 12 June.

On 6 May, after brief negotiations, Toussaint-Louverture agreed to SURRENDER to the French forces of Victoire Emmanuel Leclerc. Toussaint was permitted to keep his rank and to retire to his plantation at Ennery. His officers were also allowed to retain their military ranks and were incorporated into the French army. The surrender of Toussaint and several of his generals, however, did not end black resistence on Saint-Domingue. By mid-May, yellow fever began to decimate French troops, while the remaining black forces on the island maintained a spirited and effective opposition. Believing that Toussaint was behind this renewed insurgency, Leclerc arrested him and his family on 7 June and immediately had them exiled to France, where Toussaint died on 7 Apr. 1803 (Thomas O. Ott, The Haitian Revolution, 1789–1804 [Knoxville, 1973], 159–61, 170–2; Laurent Dubois, Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution [Cambridge, Mass., 2004], 275–9).

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