George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Jefferson, 9 October 1793

From Thomas Jefferson

Monticello [Va.] Oct. 9. 1793.

Dear Sir

I have the honor of answering, by the return of post, your favor of Sep. 27. recieved this day, inclosing the letter & memorial of messieurs King, Pratt & others, owners of the ship Andrew, & her cargo, desiring the interposition of the Executive on account of the cargo of rice taken by a decree of the general council of L’orient, & of the freight & detention of the vessel.1 the memorialists seem to expect that an indemnification may be made them by this government out of the monies due from us to France. but this would be an act of reprisal, which the usage of nations would not justify until justice has been required from France, & formally denied. their money in our treasury can no more be taken for this purpose, nor under any other forms, than their vessels in our harbors.2 it is necessary therefore that the Memorialists make application to the government of France for indemnification, exhibiting the fullest & most authentic proofs. if they will at the same time furnish me with a copy of these, I will instantly write to our minister at Paris, & desire him to give to their claim that firm support which it’s justice calls for.3 the conduct of that government in other cases communicated to us by mister Morris, gives every reason to presume they will do ready & ample justice in the present one. I have the honor to be with great & sincere respect & attachment Dear Sir your most obedt & most humble servt

Th: Jefferson

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; ALS (letterpress copy), DLC: Jefferson Papers; LB, DNA: RG 59, George Washington’s Correspondence with His Secretaries of State.

1See Joseph Harper to GW, 10 Sept., and enclosure. GW’s letter to Jefferson of 27 Sept. also enclosed GW’s response to Harper of that date.

2The debt of the United States to France stemmed from loans made during the Revolutionary War that amounted to over $6 million, including a loan made in Holland but guaranteed by the French court (for a statement of the debt and arrearages thereon as of 31 Dec. 1789, see schedule B of Alexander Hamilton’s Report on Public Credit, 9 Jan. 1790, Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 6:112–13). At this time, the United States was making payments on the debt in accordance with a contract of 25 Feb. 1783 (Miller, Treaties description begins Hunter Miller, ed. Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America. Vol. 2, 1776-1818. Washington, D.C., 1931. description ends , 115–22).

3No further correspondence regarding the memorial from or to Jefferson has been identified.

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