George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Edmund Randolph, 13 March 1794

From Edmund Randolph

[Philadelphia] March 13. 1794.

E. Randolph has the honor of inclosing to the President two letters from our Consul at St Eustatius1 with a draft of a letter, proposed to be written to Mr Van Berckell.2

AL, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DNA: RG 59, GW’s Correspondence with His Secretaries of State.

1David M. Clarkson’s letter to Randolph of 15 Jan. reported that British vessels in the Caribbean Sea were “capturing all those of the United States of America, going either to or coming from any of the Islands belonging to the Republic of France; several have been already libelled and condemned at Montserrat Vessels and Cargoes, altho it was made appear the property of American Citizens, at present there are at Montserrat & St Kitts between 20 & 30, which are libelled & which there is no doubt, from the general opinion will be condemned.” Clarkson then cited a letter from a gentleman of St. Kitts describing the situation there: “There are now here 12 or 14 American Vessels, all which with their Cargoes will be condemned . . . The Brign. from Baltimore to Bourdeaux has been condemned and her Cargo landing—A Sloop from Virginia that carried Bread ⟨to⟩ Barbadoes for the British Navy, had taken in there 19 barrels ⟨of⟩ Sugar, fell in with a French Privateer that carried her to Guadaloupe, which they landed, he then took in some freight for an American at Guadaloupe & has been brought in here, where he wi⟨ll⟩ be condemned both Vessel and Cargo, the other Vessels are New England Vessels, except the Brign. Three friends, Captain Morris of Wilmington, with one hundred and odd hds Sugar, 30 hds Coffee & &ca which will be condemned without exception.” Clarkson continued: “I take the liberty of enclosing you a News Paper of Antigu⟨a⟩ containing the statement of the case of Cargo of the American Ship Charlotte, Capt. Coffin, condemned there in a Vice Court of Admiralty—A British Fleet consisting of several Ships of the line & 10,000 troops have arrived at Barbadoes & at present the Island of Martinico [Martinique] is blockaded.” In his letter to Randolph of 7 Feb., Clarkson mentioned again the seizure and condemnation of American vessels before writing: “Yesterday I received a possitive Order from the Governor & Council of this Island not to Act in any case whatever as Consul of the United States, as they had received directions to this effect from their High Mightinesses the States General. This is truly unfortunate for any Fellow Citizens ⟨as⟩ a Certificate from me of their having left this Port ⟨w⟩ould prevent their being molested by either French ⟨or⟩ British Privateers” (both letters, DNA: RG 59, Consular Despatches, St. Eustatius).

2The letter-book copy has Van Bartkell. Randolph’s letter of 13 March to Franco Petrus Van Berckel, the Dutch minister to the United States, referenced Clarkson’s letter of 7 Feb. and its news that he had been ordered “not to act in any case whatever, as Consul of the United States.” Randolph then wrote: “The disposition, which has been invariably manifested by the United States, to facilitate and improve the commercial intercourse between the two countries, gives them a title to hope for a correspondent disposition in the States General. But our expectation, that a Consul would be indulged in St Eustatius, is also supported by the 21st article of the treaty of commerce. It is there stipulated, that ‘the two contracting parties grant to each other mutually, the liberty of having each in the ports of the other Consuls, Vice-Consuls’ &c. After our conversation yesterday I cannot doubt, that directions, like those, which exclude Mr Clarkson, have not yet been made known to you by any authority of government, and if they exist, I cannot but hope, that being so extremely difficult to reconcile with the treaty they must have originated from misapprehension, and will be speedily rescinded” (DNA: RG 59, Domestic Letters). For the U.S. Treaty of Amity and Commerce of 8 Oct. 1782 with the Netherlands, see 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 , 59–90.

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