Thomas Jefferson Papers

Enclosure: Stephen Cathalan to James Madison, 25 September 1814


Stephen Cathalan to James Madison

Marseilles 25 Sepr 1814.


I beg leave to reffer you to the contents of the letter, I addressed on this day to the Secretary of States, James Monroe Esqr in which I request him to Lay it before you;

You will be pleased to observe that I claim against the unprecedented exceptions he has instructed H Exy Will. H Crawford to reject from my Statment of disbursment & acct Current with the U.S. in reimbursing me of my advances for the public Service, Viz:

1o the interest I charged on my advances, tho’ I had bonnified the interest on the money I encashed for the acct of the U.S. from the days of its recovery;

2d The loss on the exchange, the brokerage & the Stamp paper on my drafts for my reimbursment on Paris;1

3d The postages for the public Service of the United States, as per detailed Statment annexed to the Said account.

I was far from expecting Such deductions after upwards five years of Silence undeserved from my part of the Secretaries of State R. R. Smith your Successor & James Monroe Esqr & not a Single line from both in answer to my repeated letters to them!

It was not So when I had the honor of corresponding with you, when Secretary of State & with your predecessors Thy Pickering & Ths Jefferson.—There is an Instance however when no interests nor commission was allowed to me on my disbursments & advances; it was my Statment for the americans redeemed by late Joel Barlow consul of the U.S. at Algiers, who arrived here with the pleague on the 20th July 1796, & Sailed from this port on the 6th Novber Dtto, but why? because Ivolontarily charged nothing on the said accts, the motive was that I embraced that opportunity to Ship Gratis of passage the late duke of Montpensier & comte de Beaujolais Sons of the duke of Orleans, for whom I volontarily answered personally, to the late Directoire of France, that I would have them Sent from Prison to the United States with thr[ee] individuals of their Suite, the dangers of the Sea excepted; I thought I was doing honor to my office of american Consul in that respect & that the amount of interest and commission (about f4500) which I did not charge, was a kind of compensation for their passage on board the Swedish Ship Jupiter, I frieghted for that voyage; I received a thankfull letter from the Secy of State on his arrival at Philadelphia for my disinterested exertions & good care towards these american redeemed Seamen & those unfortuned french Princes.

This reject I am experiencing leads me to represent you humbly my deceased father & my own past services;

In July 1775 Cornelius Vanhorn of New-york was dispatched with a circular from the Secret committee of congress directed to merchant[s] in the european ports, to purchase Gun-powder ammunitions &c—being unable to fulfill his mission in Portugal & Spain, he arrived here in Novr 1775; he Showed me, that letter directed to S. Cathalan my father; but after he was Convinced we were Zealous friends to the american cause against Great Britain; but the great difficulty to execute this mission was to obtain the permission of buying them from the king’s arsenals, with their free exportation & above all Secrecy!

I prompted my father to Start for Paris, & he Succeeded in obtaining, from the Cabinet of Versailles, that free exportation, not only for himself, but from all ports of France; we dispatched the first cargo with the Said Van horne on board in Jany 1776, but the most important object was the insinuations of my father near that cabinet; & the information he transmitted to the Secret committee, who on receipt Sent Sylas Deane as their Secret Envoy near that cabinet. these facts can be verified in the archives of the Government of the united States.

Then resulted the act of Independency of the United States, on the 4 July 1776, the auxiliary assistance of Louis the Sixteenth, the war of France against England, the War in 1778 &2 glorious peace of 17833—but after! the french revolution of 1789 which became So fatal & cruel to that worthy and unfortunate monark, his family & the whole french nation!!!

While the United States by it’s consequences & the war between France, England & other European maritim power, which took place in 1792 have from that epoqua to 1809 increased in population, industry, wealth, navigation and commerce all over the world, to such a prosperous degrée, that they could not expect to attain in a period of 50 years, without such causes, tho’ from time to time unjustly molested in their trades either by one or other belligerant powers.

It is during that period & ever Since I was honored with the appointment of Consul of the U.S. at MarseillesToulon &a, tho’ I am not a native nor an american citizen, that by my exertions, using according to circomstances, & the Sundry cases that occured in my Department, & the character of the Several french authorities which Succeeded one an other, imploying moderation, or energy, but above all patience & perseverance in the Justice of my claims for the protections of the american citizens, their property & vessels, & with a disinterested zeal, I have hitherto So well Succeeded in their behalf; the detail of which would be too long: but I beg your referrence to my correspondance with the Secretaries of States & the ministers plenipys of the U.S. at Paris for the particulars. on the 9th Feby 1796, I informed Thos Jefferson then Secy of State that I had money lodged in the hands of John Mason Esqr of George-town, not only as a Security for my consular bond,4 but further to be employed Either in the Loans of the Govert or in bank Shares of the U.S., or in Land property, as I wished to pay taxes into the U.S. because by the french constitution, then existing, Since the abolition of royalty, the foreign consuls natives of France, had lost their rights of french citizenship (& I was not Sorry of it) but as I wanted to belong to Some country, being long ere commissioned at the Service of the U.S., I considered them as my adoptive country. in Short I begg’d him to ask & obtain from the proper authorities, letters of naturalisation for me, as citizen of the U.S. as my residence: in the consulate of the U. States in Marseilles, ought to be considered as a real residence within the U. States, and this as a reward for my & my father’s past Services;

By the advice of my old respectable friend Ths Jefferson, Mr John Mason employed my funds in bank Shares of the U.S. as Per certificate of the 1st July 1796 of the Said bank No 3776. but as to my naturalisation, a previous residence within the U.S. was absolutely deemed necessary & my residence in my consulate not Sufficient; however an application made by the President to congress in my behalf, to be naturalized a citizen of the City of Washington, Stating my Services & Situation, might probably have caused an act of exception to be issued in my favor, while I have been by fact a bastard of country! I took great care to conceal to the french authorities at Paris & here, that I was So poorly Situated & I found it was even better for the interest of the U.S. to make them believe I was a citizen of the U.S., the proof is the Exequatur of the first consul Buonaparte of the 3d Thermidor year 11th on my commissio[n] of the 15th July 1805. which is Similar to the other for american native consuls; whereas in my Exequatur Signed by his most christian Majesty Louis the Sixteenth on the 24th Novembr 1790 on my first commission, (which I have now under my eyes—having never parted with it) it is mentioned, “& as Said Stepn Cathalan5 is a french of nation & Subject of H. Majesty, he expects that in letting him exercise without hinderance the Said employment of consul for the navigation, Seamen and merchants of the U.S., he cannot on that little forsake himself in any thing whatever in his person or properties to the justice or Souvereignty of H. Majesty, whereof he must6 stick to as well as the other citizens or Subjects of France”7 I then hope, that, Since the Royal dinasty of the Bourbons is, at last, restaured in France, I have of course, recovered also my country & french rights! & I continue at Same time, with the same zeal & assiduity, to exercise the office of consul of the U.S. as before the french revolution & Since;8

Be pleased now, Sir, to allow me to make use for myself & behalf, of part of the paragraph of the confidential letter that Ths Jefferson, wrote me, on the 29th June 1807 informing me that =at the Close of his 2d presidency= he Should retire =to the bosom of his eight grand-children & to the enjoyment of his farms, books &c &c=9 he then adds “I have another great consolation, that after 40 years Services to my country” (I must10 Say to the United States!) “I retire poorer than when I entered it, not that I have any thing to reproach them with; they have always allowed me as much as I thought I deserved myself, but I have believed it my duty to Spend for their credit whatever they allowed me, & Something more; no servant ever retired better satisfied with his employers, &c &c.= all what is underlined I may apply to my self, with the difference, that Ths Jefferson is a native citizen of the US. & I am not; that in his eminent office of President, he had an adequate salary &ca &c while Since 40 years that I am Serving the U. States, the consulat fees are but mere casuelties in Marseilles & have not been Sufficient to defray me of the Salaries to my Secretary, stationaries & to do honor to my office; finding myself after all =a great deal poorer than when I entered in it.=

I have vainly claim’d since 1809 an annual indemnification for such expences, not exceeding $500 Pr annum & that, in my humble opinion, it Should be just that I (as well as the other american consuls) should have by an act of the congress a prospect, after Such a long exercise & when disabled to receive an annuity during their old days, not exceeding $500. to11 one thousand Dollars, as a due reward for their satisfactory & disinterested Services.

Such an honorable Retreat is granted by most all the other maritim powers to their old Consuls.

I will further observe that tho’ I am the eldest appointed american consul, being born on the 10th June 1757, thank god, I am Still in a good state of health & Spirit & I hope I will be able for some years Still to continue in the active Service, as long as I will be agreable to the President & the Senate; but during my long exercise I have heard that a good number of native american consuls have been dismissed; some by bad conduct or Superseded on calomnious denonciations; that others did ask for their dismission, by disgust or for want of Such proper encouragment as I am asking. & I must12 own it to you candidly, that it is as honorable to the american executive, as it is to me, that I am continuing So long Still Standing in office & not dissatisfied one of the other; but I fully rely on you for the Support of the justice of my claims & that tho’ the moment of Laying them by a message from you before congress, may not be opportune on account of the war So unjustly & So cruelly carried on by the british against the united States, you will be So kind as to do it, as soon as possible; wishing Sincerely for a Speedy & an honorable peace & prosperity to the united States.

I have the honor to be with great respect

Sir your most obedient and devoted servant

Stephen Cathalan.

Tr (DLC); in a clerk’s hand, signed by Cathalan, with his corrections and emendations, only the most significant of which are noted below; first page written on printed letterhead with depiction of United States seal encircled by “Commeral Agency of the United States of America and of the Navy at Marseilles”; edge trimmed and chipped; at head of text in Cathalan’s hand: “Copy”; at foot of first page in Cathalan’s hand: “The Honble James Madison President of the united States, Washington.” FC (FrM); in French.

For the letter addressed on this day to the secretary of states, james monroe, see note to covering letter. Bonified (bonnified): “made good; benefitted” (OED description begins James A. H. Murray, J. A. Simpson, E. S. C. Weiner, and others, eds., The Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed., 1989, 20 vols. description ends ). The late duke of montpensier (Antoine Philippe d’Orléans) and the comte de beaujolais (Louis Charles d’Orléans) sought refuge in the United States in 1796, after their father, Louis Philippe d’Orléans, was guillotined in 1793 (PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 38 vols. description ends , 29:312–3, 369; Guy Antonetti, Louis-Philippe [1994], 291–308).The thankfull letter from the secy of state was Timothy Pickering to Cathalan, 7 Dec. 1796 (MHi: Pickering Papers). For Cathalan’s letter to TJ of 9th feby 1796, see PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 38 vols. description ends , 29:369n. 3d thermidor year 11th: 22 July 1803. TJ’s letter of 29th june 1807 is in DLC.

1Preceding two words, added by Cathalan, are not in FC.

2Preceding four words, interlined by Cathalan, are not in FC.

3FC: “1789.”

4Manuscript: “bound.”

5Remainder of quotation not in FC.

6Manuscript: “most.”

7Superfluous closing guillemet editorially omitted.

8Preceding two words, interlined by Cathalan, are not in FC.

9Closing guillemet editorially moved from left margin.

10Manuscript: “most.”

11Preceding two words, interlined by Cathalan, are not in FC.

12Manuscript: “most.”

Index Entries

  • Barlow, Joel; as minister to Algiers search
  • Beaujolais, Louis Charles d’Orléans, comte de; seeks refuge in U.S. search
  • Cathalan, Stephen (ca.1717–1805); as commercial agent in Marseille search
  • Cathalan, Stephen (Étienne) (1757–1819); as commercial agent in Marseille search
  • Cathalan, Stephen (Étienne) (1757–1819); consular expenses search
  • Cathalan, Stephen (Étienne) (1757–1819); health of search
  • Cathalan, Stephen (Étienne) (1757–1819); letter from, to J. Madison search
  • Cathalan, Stephen (Étienne) (1757–1819); quotes TJ search
  • Cathalan, Stephen (Étienne) (1757–1819); seeks U.S. citizenship search
  • Congress, U.S.; and compensation for consuls search
  • Congress, U.S.; petitions to search
  • Crawford, William Harris; as minister plenipotentiary to France search
  • Deane, Silas; as member of Continental Congress search
  • France; Bourbon dynasty restored search
  • France; Directory search
  • France; revolutionary calendar search
  • French Revolution; mentioned search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Public Service; as president search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Public Service; as secretary of state search
  • Jupiter (Swedish ship) search
  • Louis XVI, king of France; America’s affection for search
  • Louis XVI, king of France; reign of search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); as secretary of state search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); letter to, from S. Cathalan search
  • Mason, John (of Georgetown); agent for S. Cathalan search
  • Monroe, James; as secretary of state search
  • Montpensier, Antoine Philippe d’Orléans, duc de; seeks refuge in U.S. search
  • Napoleon I, emperor of France; appointments of search
  • naturalization; S. Cathalan desires search
  • Orléans, Louis Philippe Joseph, duc d’; guillotined search
  • Paris; Treaty of (1783) search
  • Pickering, Timothy; as secretary of state search
  • Smith, Robert; secretary of state search
  • Vanhorn, Cornelius; and American Revolution search