France and America in the Revolutionary Era: The Life of Jacques-Donatien Leray de Chaumont, 1725-1803

By Thomas J. Schaeper | Go to book overview

7
PRIVATE TRADE WITH AMERICA

T he present chapter will examine Chaumont's private trade with America. This trade included all transactions that did not go through Deane or Franklin and did not show up in the accounts kept by Congress or Ferdinand Grand. This area of his affairs was even more varied and more important than his "public" trade -- both for Chaumont and for the United States.


SHIPPING EMPIRE

Despite the many obstacles to forming any complete picture of Chaumont's business enterprises, it is possible to determine the names of 17 ships that he owned during the years of the American Revolution. These ranged from the small packet boat Mère Bobie to the huge Marquis de Lafayette. The other 15 were the Benjamin, the Victoire, the Liberté, the Petit Cousin, the Agathe, the Batavia, the Thémis, the Union, the Bernier, the Zephyr, the Paix, the Levelly, the Monsieur, the Duc de Duras, and the Chaumont.1 All these ships were used primarily or at least partly in trade. Even the Mère Bobie could transport 10 to 15 tons of merchandise in addition to the mail that it carried between France and America.

The documents that refer to these ships speak of them as belonging to Chaumont, though he may have had silent partners for some of them. Clearly he was the sole proprietor of the Marquis de Lafayette.2

In addition to these one can be certain that he owned several others. Letters written by him or to him give the names of several additional vessels.3 However, the references do not make clear whether Chaumont owned them or merely had some investments

-194-

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France and America in the Revolutionary Era: The Life of Jacques-Donatien Leray de Chaumont, 1725-1803
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Abbreviations vii
  • Preface viii
  • 1 - CHAUMONT'S FIRST FIFTY YEARS 1
  • 2 - FRANCE AND THE COMING OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION 38
  • 3 - CHAUMONT ENTERS THE PICTURE 63
  • 4 - BENJAMIN FRANKLIN'S LANDLORD 92
  • 5 - CHAUMONT AS FRIEND, ASSOCIATE, AND ENEMY 122
  • 6 - CONGRESSIONAL SUPPLIES 156
  • 7 - PRIVATE TRADE WITH AMERICA 194
  • 8 - JOHN PAUL JONES: FRIEND 227
  • 9 - JOHN PAUL JONES: ENEMY 254
  • 10 - FINANCIAL RUIN 290
  • 11 - TWILIGHT YEARS 319
  • Appendix 348
  • Bibliography 349
  • Index 377
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