George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Jefferson, 25 July 1793

From Thomas Jefferson

[Philadelphia] July 25. 1793.

Th: Jefferson has the honor to inclose to the President a second complaint of Peter LeMaigre a merchant of this city, for a second vessel taken from him by the British. in the former case, which happened during the absence of the President, it was unanimously agreed by the heads of the departments that it would be proper to communicate the case to Mr Hammond, and desire his interference.1

AL, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DNA: RG 59, George Washington’s Correspondence with His Secretaries of State. The letter-book copy is erroneously dated “July 22d 1793.” GW’s executive journal notes the receipt of this letter and its enclosure on 26 July (JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 208).

1Philadelphia merchant Peter LeMaigre (d. 1794), of 77 N. Water Street, began his petition to Jefferson of 25 July by reviewing the circumstances of the British seizure on 8 May of the snow Suckey, belonging to Boston merchant George Makepeace, while en route to the French island of Saint Domingue, and the subsequent loss of the merchandise LeMaigre had placed aboard the ship. He then continued the petition with a second protest. He had now lost his own ship, the brig Molly, plus its “full Cargo of the produce” from Saint Domingue and “four thousand eight hundred Dollars in Specie” when a British privateer captured the brig on its return voyage to Philadelphia. He reported that the Molly and other Philadelphia-based ships were being held at the British island of New Providence in the Bahamas. He concluded his petition with a complaint that “your Petitioner is deprived of the Means of making his Claims for the Recovery of his Property,” a plea for the “general Government” to consider his case, and a request for “Relief” (Jefferson Papers description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends , 26:566–67). For the earlier petition concerning the Suckey, see LeMaigre to Jefferson, 21 June 1793, ibid., 336–39. In response to the 21 June petition, Jefferson wrote the British minister, George Hammond, on 26 June to protest the seizure of the Suckey and to outline a procedure “for the recovery of the property taken” (ibid., 375–77). The letter to Hammond was reviewed by Alexander Hamilton and Henry Knox before it was sent (Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 15:24–25). A copy later was enclosed in Jefferson’s second memorandum to GW of 11 July, the date of GW’s return to Philadelphia after a visit to Mount Vernon (JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 189–90).

On 26 July, Tobias Lear wrote Jefferson on GW’s behalf: “The President returns to the Secretary of State the Letter from Peter Le Maigre, complaining of a second vessel having been taken from him by the British. If any thing more effectual than was done in the former case can be done in this, the President would wish it; but if there appear no other measures which can be taken with propriety, the President thinks the same steps should be allowed as in the former case” (DLC: Jefferson Papers; endorsed by Jefferson as received on 26 July). In his first letter to Hammond of 8 August, Jefferson reminded Hammond of his previous letter concerning LeMaigre and the Suckey, reported on the more recent seizure of the Molly and two other American ships trading with Saint Domingue, and asked for Hammond’s assistance (Jefferson Papers description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends , 26:639–40).

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