Thomas Jefferson to Edmond Charles Genet, 5 November 1793

To Edmond Charles Genet


I have the honor to inclose you the copy of a letter from Mr. Moissonier Consul of France at Baltimore to the Governor of Maryland, announcing that Great Britain is about to commence hostilities against us, and that he purposes to collect the Naval force of your Republic in the Chesapeak and to post them as a Van-guard to derange the1 supposed designs of the enemy.

The bare suggestion of such a fact, however improbable, renders it a duty to enquire into it; and I shall consider it as a proof of your friendship to our nation, if you have it in your power and will be pleased to communicate to me the grounds of Mr. Moissonier's assertion, or any other respectable evidence of such an intention on the part of Great Britain.

In the mean while as we have2 reason to believe it unfounded3 as they have in no instance as yet violated4 the sovereignty of our country5 by any commitment of hostilities even on their enemies6 within our jurisdiction,7 we presume with confidence that Mr. Moissonier's fears are groundless. I have it therefore in charge to desire you to admonish Mr. Moissonier against the parade8 he proposes of stationing an advanced guard in the bay of Chesapeak, and against any hostile array, which under the profession of defensive operations may9 in fact generate those offensive. I flatter myself,10 Sir, that you will be so good as to join the effect of your authority to that of our government to prevent measures on the part of11 this Agent of your republic12 which may bring on disagreeable13 consequences. I have the honor to be with great respect, Sir Your most obedient & most humble servant

PrC (DLC); in Benjamin Bankson's hand, unsigned; with correction in ink by TJ (see note 5 below); at foot of first page: “The Minister plenipoy of France.” Dft (DLC); entirely in TJ's hand, unsigned; at head of text: “to be copd. & press copd.”; at foot of text: “Mr. Bankson at the Secretary of State's office Philadelphia.” Tr (DNA: RG 46, Senate Records, 3d Cong., 1st sess.). FC (Lb in DNA: RG 59, DL). Tr (DLC: Genet Papers). Tr (MHi); 19th-century copy. Tr (DLC: Genet Papers); in French. Enclosure: F. Moissonnier to Governor Thomas Sim Lee, Baltimore, 23 Oct. 1793 (Entry 589.1). Letter and enclosure printed in Message , 89–90; translation of enclosure printed in ASP, Foreign Relations, 1, 182.

  1. In Dft TJ here canceled “designs.”
  2. In Dft TJ here canceled “every.”
  3. In Dft TJ here canceled “and <to be perfectly satisfied that no hostilities> to be assured that they.”
  4. In Dft TJ first wrote “that having in no instance violated” and then altered it to read as above.
  5. Preceding five words interlined in ink by TJ in place of “our rights.”
  6. Preceding five words interlined in Dft in place of “within our bays or.”
  7. In Dft TJ here canceled “<they have> we have no grounds to expect that they will <do it> violate them, or attempt any act of hostility by any attempt on our or your vessels <within> in the bay of Chesapeak.”
  8. In Dft TJ first wrote “this parade of an advanced guard which” and then altered it to read as above.
  9. In Dft TJ here canceled “become the.”
  10. In Dft TJ here canceled “therefore.”
  11. In Dft TJ here canceled “Mr. Moissonier” in the interlineation recorded in the following note.
  12. Preceding ten words interlined in Dft in place of “manoeuvres.”
  13. In Dft TJ here canceled “circumstances.”