Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
François Barbé-Marbois Papers, 1784-1790

Duane Norman Diedrich Collection

Finding aid created by
Susan Swasta, May 1995

Summary Information
Title: François Barbé-Marbois papers
Creator: Barbé-Marbois, François, marquis de, 1745-1837
Inclusive dates: 1784-1790
Extent: 9 items
Abstract:
This collection consists of legal documents relating to two civil lawsuits involving François Barbé-Marbois in America. Barbé-Marbois is perhaps best known for negotiating the Louisiana Purchase as Minister of Finance under Napoleon, and also had a long diplomatic career in America, serving as secretary of the French legation to the newly-formed United States under Luzerne, and later as Consul-General and representative.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu


Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

Donated by D. N. Diedrich, 1991. M-2694.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

No copyright restrictions.

Preferred Citation:

François Barbé-Marbois papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Biography

François Barbé-Marbois is perhaps best known for negotiating the Louisiana Purchase as Minister of Finance under Napoleon. However, this was but one segment of a long and varied career during which the marquis showed a remarkable talent for adapting to changing political winds. Barbé-Marbois had a long diplomatic career in America, serving as secretary of the French legation to the newly-formed United States under Luzerne, and later as Consul-General and representative.

In 1784, Barbé-Marbois was allegedly assaulted in Philadelphia by the chevalier Charles Julian de Longchamps, and a public controversy arose as to whether the defendant was to be tried in Pennsylvania or in France, as that nation's courts demanded. Longchamps was married to an American and had supposedly taken the oath of citizenship, but had been in this country less than a year and was a French military officer. These documents show that Longchamps was eventually tried and sentenced in the Pennsylvania courts. It is unknown whether he remained in this country.


Collection Scope and Content Note

Most of the nine items in the Barbé-Marbois collection are copies of legal documents pertaining to the Longchamps affair, including a statement arguing for Longchamp's trial in France as a French citizen, the opinion of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that he was to be tried in the courts of that state, and a copy of the judgment handed down against Longchamps, sentencing him to prison and to a fine by the Court.

Another legal document, dated 1784, is related to a different civil suit, and a 1790 Barbé-Marbois letter concerns matters unrelated to this incident. Three photocopied items (copied from "To Supporters of American Independence -- Phila., 1784," in the Books Division) consist of anonymous letters written to Philadelphia and Boston newspapers supporting the trial of Longchamps in Pennsylvania as an American citizen. A manuscript rough draft of the Philadelphia letter, written in French, accompanies the news clippings.

These documents are interesting from a legal standpoint, but they also provide a glimpse of an emerging American "national consciousness." Public opinion on the case shows a concern that the young republic be accorded full respect and status by Old World powers in defining and enforcing its laws.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Diplomats--United States--History--18th century.
    • Longchamps, Charles Julian de.
    Genre Terms:
    • Legal documents.
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Box   : D. N. Diedrich Collection  
    François Barbé-Marbois papers,  1784 May 23-1790 April 23 [series]:
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    Three items in the collection are copied from To Supporters of American Independence -- Phila., 1784

    Partial Subject Index
    Atlee, William
    • 1784 June 4, 7
    Judgements, Criminal
    • 1784 June 24
    • 1784 October 15
    Judicial process
    • 1784 May 23
    • 1784 June 4, 7
    Law--Interpretation and construction
    • 1784 May 23
    • 1784 June 4, 7
    Legal documents
    • 1784 May 23
    • 1784 June 4, 7, 24
    • 1784 October 15
    McKean, Thomas, 1734-1817
    • 1784 June 4, 7
    Rush, Jacob, 1746-1820
    • 1784 June 4, 7
    Sentences (Criminal procedure)
    • 1784 June 24
    • 1784 October 1