Tobias Lear to Thomas Jefferson
[Philadelphia] August 24th 1793
The President sends to the Secretary of State two letters which he has received from Baltimore, written by persons from St Domingo.
The President has no knowledge of the writer of the letter in English; but he wishes the Secretary of State to consider it, and if he thinks the circumstances therein mentioned deserve attention, the Secretary will communicate to the President such answer thereto as he may think proper to be given.1
If in perusing the letter written in French, the Secretary meets any thing requiring the particular notice of the President, he will be so good as to point it out.2
AL, DLC: Jefferson Papers. Jefferson’s docket reads, “Washington Presidt recd Aug. 26.”
1. The enclosed letters to GW were from two of the many refugees who fled the French colony of Saint Dominque in 1793 and came to the United States for either permanent or temporary asylum. The letter in English, of 20 Aug. 1793, was from Thomas Millet to GW. The letter in French has not been identified, but Jefferson enclosed it in a letter to Baltimore physician James McHenry of 26 Aug. 1793 and described it as being from a man by “the name of Lentilhon, now at Baltimore. He represents himself as 63. years of age, labouring under a fever, uncomfortably lodged, wanting linen, outer clothes, and other necessities for the approaching winter, and his passage to France in the Spring.” Jefferson expected that a Baltimore committee established to assist the French refugees in that city would help Lentilhon (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 , 26:759–60). On the arrival of French refugees at Baltimore and McHenry’s membership on the relief committee, which raised over $12,000 for its work, see Scharf, Chronicles of Baltimore description begins J. Thomas Scharf. The Chronicles of Baltimore; Being a Complete History of “Baltimore Town” and Baltimore City from the Earliest Period to the Present Time. Baltimore, 1874. description ends , 266.
2. In his second letter to GW of 26 Aug. 1793, from Philadelphia, Jefferson replied: “Th: Jefferson has the honor to return to the President the memoir of M. Lentilhon, with a letter to Dr McHenry adapted to his case.
“Of the letter of M. Millet he can make very little. it is rendered difficult of comprehension by the bad English in which it is written: and still more by the imperfect & undigested views of the writer. he sees no distinct object in it but to get the President to invite him to come to Philadelphia, which he would make the foundation of some other application. it seems also to be an attempt to draw the President into their incomprehensible party disputes. he is of opinion it would be better to give no answer to the letter” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).