Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THE U. S. CHARGÉ D'AFFAIRES IN FRANCE (WILLIAM SHORT) - The Works, vol. 6 (Correspondence 1789-1792)
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TO THE U. S. CHARGÉ D’AFFAIRES IN FRANCE (WILLIAM SHORT) - Thomas Jefferson, The Works, vol. 6 (Correspondence 1789-1792) 
The Works of Thomas Jefferson, Federal Edition (New York and London, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904-5). Vol. 6.
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TO THE U. S. CHARGÉ D’AFFAIRES IN FRANCE
New York, August 26. 1790.
—My last letters to you have been of the 26th of July, and 10th instant. Yours of May the 16th, No. 31, has come to hand.
I enclose you sundry papers, by which you will perceive, that the expression in the eleventh article of our treaty of amity and commerce with France, viz. “That the subjects of the United States shall not be reputed Aubaines in France, and consequently shall be exempted from the Droit d’Aubaine, or other similar duty, under what name soever,” has been construed so rigorously to the letter, as to consider us as Aubaines in the colonies of France. Our intercourse with those colonies is so great, that frequent and important losses will accrue to individuals, if this construction be continued. The death of the master or supercargo of a vessel, rendered a more common event by the unhealthiness of the climate, throws all the property which was either his, or under his care, into contest. I presume that the enlightened Assembly now engaged in reforming the remains of feudal abuse among them, will not leave so inhospitable an one as the Droit d’Aubaine existing in France, or any of its dominions. If this may be hoped, it will be better that you should not trouble the minister with any application for its abolition in the colonies as to us. This would be erecting into a special favor to us, the extinction of a general abuse, which will, I presume, extinguish of itself. Only be so good as to see, that in abolishing this odious law in France, its abolition in the colonies also, be not omitted by mere oversight; but if, contrary to expectations, this fragment of barbarism be suffered to remain, then it will become necessary that you bring forward the enclosed case, and press a liberal and just exposition of our treaty, so as to relieve our citizens from this species of risk and ruin hereafter. Supposing the matter to rest on the eleventh article only, it is inconceivable, that he, who with respect to his personal goods is as a native citizen in the mother country, should be deemed a foreigner in its colonies. Accordingly, you will perceive by the opinions of Dr. Franklin and Dr. Lee, two of our ministers who negotiated and signed the treaty, that they considered the rights stipulated for us in France, were meant to exist in all the dominions of France.
Considering this question under the second article of the treaty also, we are exempted from the Droit d’Aubaine in all the Dominions of France; for by that article, no particular favor is to be granted to any other nation, which shall not immediately become common to the other party. Now, by the forty-fourth article of the treaty between France and England, which was subsequent to ours, it is stipulated, “que dans tout ce qui concerne—les successions des biens mobiliers—les sujets des deux hautes parties contractantes auront dans les États respectifs les mêmes privileges, libertés et droits, que la nation la plus favorisée.” This gave to the English the general abolition of the Droit d’Aubaine, enjoyed by the Hollanders under the first article of their treaty with France, of July the 23d, 1773, which is in these words. “Les sujets des E. G. des P. U. des pays-bas ne seront point assujettis au Droit d’Aubaine dans les États de S. M. T. C.” This favor then, being granted to the English subsequent to our treaty, we become entitled to it of course by the article in question. I have it not in my power at this moment, to turn to the treaty between France and Russia, which was also posterior to ours. If by that, the Russians are exempted from the Droit d’Aubaine, “dans les États de S. M. T. C.” it is a ground the more for our claiming the exemption. To these, you will be pleased to add such other considerations of reason, friendship, hospitality and reciprocity, as will readily occur to yourself.
About two or three weeks ago, a Mr. Campbell called on me, and introduced himself by observing that his situation was an awkward one, that he had come from Denmark with an assurance of being employed here in a public character, that he was actually in service, though un-announced. He repeated conversations which had passed between Count Bernstorff and him, and asked me when a minister would be appointed to that court, or a character sent to negotiate a treaty of commerce; he had not the scrip of a pen to authenticate himself, however informally. I told him our government had not yet had time to settle a plan of foreign arrangements; that with respect to Denmark particularly, I might safely express to him those sentiments of friendship which our government entertained for that country, and assurances that the King’s subjects would always meet with favor and protection here; and in general, I said to him those things which being true, might be said to anybody. You can perhaps learn something of him from the Baron de Blome. If he be an unauthorized man, it would be well it should be known here, as the respect which our citizens might entertain, and the credit they might give to any person supposed to be honored by the King’s appointment, might lead them into embarrassment.
You know the situation of the new loan of three millions of florins going on at Amsterdam. About one half of this is destined for an immediate payment to France; but advantage may be gained by judiciously timing the payment. The French colonies will doubtless claim in their new constitution, a right to receive the necessaries of life from whomsoever will deliver them cheapest; to wit, grain, flour, live stock, salted fish, and other salted provisions. It would be well that you should confer with their deputies, guardedly, and urge them to this demand, if they need urging. The justice of the National Assembly will probably dispose them to grant it, and the clamors of the Bordeaux merchants may be silenced by the clamors and arms of the colonies. It may co-operate with the influence of the colonies, if favorable dispositions towards us can be excited in the moment of discussing this point. It will therefore be left to you to say when the payment shall be made, in confidence that you will so time it, as to forward this great object; and when you make this payment, you may increase its effect, by adding assurances to the minister, that measures have been taken which will enable us to pay up, within a very short time, all arrears of principal and interest now due; and further, that Congress has fully authorized our government to go on and pay even the balance not yet due, which we mean to do, if that money can be borrowed on reasonable terms; and that favorable arrangements of commerce between us and their colonies, might dispose us to effect that payment with less regard to terms. You will, of course, find excuses for not paying the money which is ready and put under your orders, till you see that the moment has arrived when the emotions it may excite, may give a decisive cast to the demands of the colonies.