Mr. Bigelow to Mr. Seward
Legation of the United States,
November 20, 1865.
Sir: I received some time since information
from persons interested, that there was a sum of money in dispute at
Montpelier, to which the United States were supposed to have some claim.
The object of my informants was to obtain from me some expression which
might be construed into a relinquishment of such claim. My refusal to
answer their inquiries in that sense induced the direct application, of
which I enclose a translation, from the agent of the notary in whose
hands the deposit now lies.
From this memorandum it will be seen that Mr. Grasset, notary at
Montpelier, is in possession of 20,000 francs, deposited on the 8th of
April, 1863, by an engineer named Raymond Thomassy, to secure the
payment of wages to four French salt-makers whom he had hired to assist
in the execution of a contract made with the insurgent government at
Richmond, 8th January, 1863, to work the salt lands of Clarke county, in
the State of Alabama. Thomassy having died on the journey at Havana, and
the workmen having returned to France, they now claim the payment of the
sum deposited by him as compensation for their lost time and labor.
Grasset, the notary, declines paying them the money, as it was deposited
with him to be paid only on the certificate of the insurgent government,
and as he apprehends a reclamation on the part of the United States, the
parties now desire a formal relinquishment of the claim by our
As the money appears to have been advanced by Thomassy in pursuance of a
contract that never was executed, and as the laborers never reached the
United States, our claim, if made, would probably lead to litigation,
the result of which might be doubtful.
I have the honor to submit the matter for your consideration and to
request your instructions in regard to it.
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D.C.
Mr. Mancomble to Mr. Bigelow
November 17, 1865.
Sir: You have requested of me a memorandum
in relation to the affair of the salt-makers, of which I had the
honor to speak to you yesterday morning. I hasten to furnish it.
The following are the circumstances under which was deposited in the
hands of Mr. Grastet, notary at Montpelier, the sum of 20,000
francs, the delivery of which is now desired by parties
By the terms of an agreement made at Richmond, the 8th of January,
1863, with the general commission of subsistence of the Confederate
States of America, Mr. Raymond Thomassy, engineer, engaged to
furnish to Captain Grant, engineer, of the Confederate States, the
plans, specifications, and instructions necessary to the working of
the salt lands situated in Clarke county, Alabama.
He was also to come to Europe and engage for the service of the
confederate government five workmen, skilled in the manufacture of
salt, and to return with them to the place of the projected works,
of which he was to be superintendent.
Mr. Raymond Thomassy came to France and hired four workmen, Clot,
Clerc, Marchandon, and Stobiac. To gain the confidence of these
workmen, a sum of 20,000 francs was deposited the 8th of April with
Mr. Grasset the notary who framed the articles of agreement, who
pledged himself not to deliver it to the said workmen except on a
certificate from the confederate government that they had fulfilled
They set out, and Mr. Thomassy died at Havana, in July, 1863.
After many vicissitudes, the salt-makers returned to France, and they
still await the payment of the wages promised them.
In the name of justice and humanity, I will be obliged to you, sir,
if you will obtain from your government the authorization which Mr.
Grasset desires for the delivery of these funds.
This authorization should be framed in the most simple terms. I
submit a form to your judgment:
“I, the undersigned, —— ——, minister of the United States, declare
personally that I will not intervene in behalf of my government in
the division which may be made among those entitled to it of the sum
of 20,000 francs, deposited the 8th of April, 1863, in the office of
Mr. Grasset, notary at Montpelier, on account of the salt-makers,
Clot, Clerc, Marchandon and Stobiac, and that I will not prosecute
nor molest the said notary in the matter of said division.”
I do not doubt, sir, that in your wisdom and justice you will do all
in your power to give satisfaction to the claims of our countrymen.
And I beg that you will accept in advance the assurance of the
profound respect with which I have the honor to be, yours, most
E. MANCOMBLE, Advocate, 11 Rue Lafitte.