Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 27 August 1802

To James Madison

Monticello Aug. 27. 1802.

Dear Sir

I inclose you a letter from W. Hampton & Fontaine Maury on the subject of apprehensions that the negroes taken from Guadaloupe will be pushed in on us. it came to me under the superscription of mr Brent, so may not have been seen by you. would it not be proper to make it the subject of a friendly letter to M. Pichon. perhaps Govr. Clinton should also recieve some mark of our attention to the subject.

I received under the same cover a letter from Israel Smith to you on the subject of Commrs. of bankruptcy for Vermont. I had been expecting a General recommendation from him & Bradley. I therefore make this the occasion of reminding them of it.

Of the blank commissions of bankruptcy which came to me with your signature, I signed & send two to mr Brent to be filled with the names of Wm. Cleveland &  Killam of Salem. the rest you will recieve herewith.  I have no further news from the Mediterranean.  Genl. Dearborn has been unwell & quitted Washington. Gallatin not well and gone to New York. his 2d. clerk sick, Miller also, and Harrison unwell and gone away. there seems to be much sickness begun there.  mr Short left Washington on Saturday last, & comes here by the way of the Berkley springs. Pichon does not come.  Accept assurances of my affectionate esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

RC (DLC: Madison Papers); at foot of text: “The Secretary of State.” PrC (DLC). Recorded in SJL with notation “miscells.” Enclosure: Wade Hampton and Fontaine Maury to Madison, New York, 21 Aug., concerning three French ships of war that arrived in New York with “a number of renegado negroes” from Guadeloupe aboard; three additional French naval vessels transporting more people are “momently expected,” and the total number of blacks from Guadeloupe carried by the six ships is estimated at about 1,500; the French apparently intended “to sell, or otherwise dispose” of the deportees at Cartagena in South America, but Spanish authorities prevented them from doing so; the French squadron is awaiting further instructions from the West Indies; “from the best information we can collect after having been at much pains to procure it,” Hampton and Maury write, “we have little doubt” but that the French “will attempt to disperse” the blacks from Guadaloupe “clandestinely along the Southern coast” of the United States; the French have already “in many instances” attempted to sell some of the captives in New York City “in open violation of the laws”; 60 of the people from the ships have fallen ill and gone to the marine hospital, “to which number, daily additions may well be expected”; while “this information may not in every respect be correct,” Hampton and Maury “believe it nearly so, and from the extreme agitation which exists in the public mind, we have deemed it expedient to give it to you, with a view, that you make such use of it as you think proper to guard against a measure which if carried into effect may considerably endanger the peace and tranquility of the Southern States” (Tr in NHi: Gallatin Papers, endorsed by Brent; Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser. description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 33 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 1986–, 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984–, 6 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009–, 1 vol. description ends , 3:503–4).

NEGROES TAKEN FROM GUADALOUPE: in 1802, a French expeditionary force defeated a rebel army and brought Guadeloupe back under French control. The French then expelled several thousand blacks and people of mixed race. Some rumors held that the deportees would be sent to work in the mines of Spanish America. According to one estimate, the French navy deposited about 2,000 of the exiles on the coast of Florida and eventually took about 1,000 others to Brest, France. French officials imposed harsh restrictions on people of color remaining in Guadeloupe, and Bonaparte’s government decreed the restoration of slavery there and in Saint-Domingue (Laurent Dubois, A Colony of Citizens: Revolution & Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean, 1787–1804 [Chapel Hill, 2004], 404–7, 411–12; Josette Fallope, Esclaves et Citoyens: Les noirs a la Guadeloupe au XIXe siècle dans les processsus de résistance et d’intégration (1802–1910) [Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe, 1992], 50–2; Tulard, Dictionnaire Napoléon description begins Jean Tulard, Dictionnaire Napoléon, Paris, 1987 description ends , 847; New York Commercial Advertiser, 6 Aug.; Federal Gazette & Baltimore Daily Advertiser, 6 Aug.; Philadelphia Gazette & Daily Advertiser, 9 Aug.; Keene New-Hampshire Sentinel, 14 Aug.; Richmond Virginia Argus, 18 Aug.).

For the communication FROM ISRAEL SMITH, see TJ’s letters to him and to Stephen R. Bradley on this day.

For the SICKNESS among Treasury employees, see Gallatin to TJ, 24 Aug.

PICHON DOES NOT COME: see Louis André Pichon to TJ, 9 Sep.

Index Entries