Mr. Bigelow to Mr. Seward

No. 197.]

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 government.

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

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 interested:

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.

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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 their obligations.

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 devotedly,

E. MANCOMBLE, Advocate, 11 Rue Lafitte.

John Bigelow, Esq.