From Fulwar Skipwith
Paris. 7 August 1803.
I was favored about the middle of June with your letter of the 4th. May, with a remittence, in a bill on Messrs. Dupont de Nemours pere et fils & Co., for 2100 francs, to be invested in Wines, principally of the non-mosseux Champagne. Your predilection in favor the Wines raised formerly by Mr. Dorsay induced me to address myself to his family, he though living being ruined & insane. By his Daughter I was informed of his Estate having been divided and sold in small parcels, but that the most precious portion, for the excellence of its Wines, now belonged to a Mr. Biston. I wrote to Mr. Biston, and he sent me a few Bottles of his Wine of 1798 and 1800. The last has with my palate a most decided preference. I have therefore ordered the 400 Bottles you desire, of that Vintage to be put up with great care and forwarded so as to be at Havre by the 1st. of Septr.—The extraordinary heat of the Summer here, Reaumurs Thyrmometre having been for the last fortnight at from 24 to 29 degrees in the shade of a northern exposition, determined me not to put your Wine sooner in motion. There are at Havre three American Vessels that will sail in all september for the Chesepeak & the Delaware, by one of them I shall send you a 100 Bottles each of Chambertin & Monrachet of a remarkable good quality. If these as well as the Wine non-mosseux should please you, I hope to have again the satisfaction of receiving your orders for a fresh supply.
Mr. Livingston left us a fortnight ago on an excurtion to Switzerland, & has charged me to correspond, when occasion requires, with this Government, and to forward with Mr. Marbois the execution of the late Convention respecting claims. His absence from Paris he fixed before his departure to six weeks. In the mean time no inconvenience has resulted from it. His indeavors with this Government to obtain a reasonable modification of their Arreté of the 1st. messidor concerning Neutral Vessels entering the ports of France, have proved ineffectual, nor do I expect, by what I am told at the Department of foreign Affairs that a change of that Arrete will be adopted untill some time of experience shall demonstrate how prejudiceable it is to the true interests of France herself. The American Board has been organized since five Weeks, and is now seriously engaged in the investigation and final liquidations of our Countrymens claims. It has become my duty to prepare & report on them for the Board, and I am happy to add that I have every prospect of being aided by Mr. Marbois, & Mr. Dufermon (the Counsellor of State now at the head of the french Council of Liquidation) in detecting & causing to be rejected some millions of fraudulent claims, which through the intrigues of some Individuals here, had been formerly liquidated as American claims.
I pray you, Sir, to accept assurances of my constant attatchment & wishes for the preservation of your health.
This Government has lately granted an Exequateur to Mr. Cathalan to exercise his functions of Commercial Agent.
Our former Consul at Dunkerque Francis Coffyn has been promised by Mr. Talleyrand a similar favor, should you think proper to name him for that Port. No foreigner I can assure you is better qualified for this office than Mr. Coffyn, & unless a suitable American should present himself, who would preside at Dunkerque, I am of opinion that you would render service to the United States by appointing that Gentleman.
RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 4 Nov. and so recorded in SJL.
reaumurs thyrmometre: derived from the temperature scale developed by French scientist René-Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur, these thermometers assumed 80 degrees as the boiling point of water and zero degrees as the freezing point. They were widely used in France (DSB description begins Charles C. Gillispie, ed., Dictionary of Scientific Biography, New York, 1970-80, 16 vols. description ends , 11:330-1; Maurice Daumas, Scientific Instruments of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, trans. Mary Holbrook [New York, 1972], 211-12).
Robert R. livingston was on a trip to Lyons and Switzerland, where he viewed glaciers. He was back in Paris by early September (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- , 35 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 1986- , 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984- , 7 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009- , 2 vols. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 5:380; George Dangerfield, Chancellor Robert R. Livingston of New York, 1746-1813 [New York, 1960], 381).
The second convention negotiated by Livingston and Monroe as part of the purchase of Louisiana required the United States to pay up to approximately $3,750,000 in principal and interest for claims of American citizens against France. The payments were for restitution of certain categories of losses due to embargoes and ship captures, and only claims filed on appeal with the French government prior to the Convention of 1800 would qualify. The convention for resolution of the claims empowered Livingston and Monroe to appoint three individuals to examine the claims in Paris and determine which ones met the criteria for settlement. Under Article 10 of the convention, the U.S. commercial agent at Paris—that is, Skipwith, who was himself a claimant and represented other claimants—would have the power to examine the records and refer cases to the commissioners. The convention must be ratified within six months of the date it was signed, which officially was 30 Apr., and all decisions respecting the claims were to be completed within a year after the exchange of ratifications (Miller, Treaties description begins Hunter Miller, ed., Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America, Washington, D.C., 1931-48, 8 vols. description ends , 2:516-28; John Bassett Moore, ed., International Adjudications, Modern Series, Volume V: Spanish Spoliations, 1795; French Indemnity, 1803; French Indemnity, 1831 [New York, 1933], 149-52; Livingston to TJ, 2 May).
arreté of the 1st. messidor: the French government’s decree of 20 June barred the importation of merchandise and commodities from Britain and its colonies. In addition, a neutral vessel arriving in a French port must have a certificate from the French commissary for commercial relations in the port of departure that attested, among other things, that the cargo contained nothing of British, or British colonial, origin. If a ship arrived without the certificate or entered a port other than the one named in the certificate, the vessel would have to take away French-made goods equal in value to the cargo it had brought in. Livingston protested the order and attempted to persuade the French government that it would harm French commerce. In response, the French modified the arrêté in October. Among other changes, the revisions stated that there would be no interference with the importation of goods that were not from Britain or its colonies (Jean B. Duvergier and others, eds., Collection Complète des Lois, Décrets, Ordonnances, Réglemens, avis du Conseil-d’État, 108 vols. [Paris, 1834–1908], 14:187; 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- , 35 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 1986- , 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984- , 7 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009- , 2 vols. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 5:119, 122n, 380, 568n).
american board: on 18 May, Monroe and Livingston provisionally appointed John Mercer, Isaac Cox Barnet, and William Maclure as the three claims commissioners, subject to approval by the president. Mercer, who had traveled to France with Monroe, resided in Monroe’s household in Paris and had acted as Monroe’s unofficial secretary and assistant during the Louisiana negotiations. Barnet, the U.S. commercial agent at Antwerp, left a deputy in charge of that office and traveled to Paris to serve on the board. Maclure had been in Europe since 1799, studying geology, soils, and agriculture. On 18 June, Livingston and Monroe signed a commission for Skipwith as the board’s agent under the provisions of Article 10 of the convention. Mercer and Barnet began to hold meetings on 5 July, with Nathaniel Cutting, a native of Massachusetts who had lived in France for several years, as their secretary. Maclure, who was in England when the other commissioners began their work, joined the meetings on 1 Sep. (Moore, International Adjudications, Modern Series, Volume V, 214-17; 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- , 35 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 1986- , 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984- , 7 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009- , 2 vols. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 5:5, 70, 94, 165n, 296-7; Vol. 30:498-501; Vol. 32:184n, 194; Vol. 34:503-4; Vol. 35:706-8; Vol. 38:60n).
mr. dufermon: Jacques Defermon, who headed the commission on finances of the Conseil d’État, reviewed claims that Skipwith thought should not be paid under the terms of the convention (Tulard, Dictionnaire Napoléon description begins Jean Tulard, Dictionnaire Napoléon, Paris, 1987 description ends , 582; 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- , 35 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 1986- , 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984- , 7 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009- , 2 vols. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 5:342, 408).
For a number of years beginning in the American Revolution, francis coffyn had taken care of U.S. commercial affairs at Dunkirk. TJ named Charles D. Coxe as commercial agent there in 1801 in place of a late-term appointment by John Adams. Coxe declined to serve, however, and later in 1803, TJ appointed Coffyn to the post (Vol. 27:9; Vol. 33:677; Vol. 36:333; TJ to the Senate, 9 Dec. 1803).
On 20 May, before he received the commission as the board’s agent, Skipwith wrote to Madison lamenting his lack of compensation for duties he had performed in Paris, his “sacrifice of property” in the public service, and the high cost of living in the city. Livingston, however, still expected him to handle most complaints by Americans to the French government. Monroe had assured him that the administration would find him a position “susceptible of a reasonable compensation.” Skipwith asked that Madison and the president consider him for one of the several positions that would be necessary in Louisiana. At Skipwith’s request, Monroe in a letter to Madison on 16 May recommended that Skipwith be made collector of customs at New Orleans. Madison passed Skipwith’s letter along to TJ (Skipwith to Madison, 20 May, in DNA: RG 59, LAR, endorsed by Jacob Wagner as received 17 Aug. and endorsed by TJ: “Skipwith Fulwar. for appointmt New Orleans. his lre to mr Madison”; 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- , 35 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 1986- , 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984- , 7 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009- , 2 vols. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 5:6, 21-2).