Opinion on a Request for a Passport1
[Philadelphia] 2. April 1794.
We are of opinion, that a passport ought to be granted for a vessel under the above restrictions.2
I am inclined to think the vessel ought [to] sail not only by the permission, but in consequence of the directions of the President.3
The same opinion4
D, in the handwriting of Edmund Randolph, William Bradford, and Henry Knox, and signed by Randolph, Bradford, H, and Knox, RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters, 1790–1799, National Archives.
1. On April 2, 1794, Thomas FitzSimons wrote to Randolph: “I am among the unfortunate Merchts of the US. who has suffered by the depredations of the British Cruizers, a Vessel of mine with a Very Valuable Cargo having been Carryd into Bermuda on the 7th Last Month.
“As a No. of Vessells as well as mine were Carryd in under the instructions of the 6th November and it is more than probable, those of the 8 January may not be sent there officially to prevent this Condemnation, I submit it to your Consideration Sir Whether it may not be proper to send an Express boat to that Island for the purpose of Carrying that information which may serve to the Citizens of the US. a Very Large property—for if the Cargoes & Vessels are Condemned and Restitution should hereafter be decreed, the Captors will have possession of the property.… There is a further Reason which I hope may have its Weight—the Necessity the American Seamen are under of entering onboard the British privateers for want of Subsistence.…
“If permission will be given, for sending a Small Pilot boat the most satisfactory Security will be given, that no goods Wares or Merchze of any Kind or nature, Will be sent, and the boat so permitted shall bring back any American Seamen that are there.… It shall be done under any Instructions that may be thought Necessary to prevent a possibility of Evading the intention of the Embargo.…” (ALS, RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters, 1790–1799, National Archives.)
The cabinet opinion printed above appears at the bottom of this letter from FitzSimons. The Presidents’ permission for the ship to sail was necessary because of the embargo. See “Cabinet Meeting. Opinion on the Best Mode of Executing the Embargo,” March 26, 1794. For the order in council of January 8, 1794, see H to George Washington, March 8, 1794, note 5. On April 5, 1794, Washington signed “a passport for the sloop Independence … to proceed to Bermuda in ballast” (JPP description begins “Journal of the Proceedings of the President,” George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 285).
2. This sentence is in Randolph’s handwriting.
3. This sentence is in Bradford’s handwriting.
4. “The same opinion” is in Knox’s handwriting.
On April 2, 1794, Randolph wrote to Washington: “The secretary of State has the honor of inclosing to the President the opinions of the gentlemen upon two cases of passports. If the President should decide in their favor, it will be a relief to the parties that they should be issued without delay.
“The gentlemen also agree in the propriety of Mr. [Nathaniel C.] Higginson, a young lawyer here, being sent to the West Indies to enter the appeals. If this be agreeable to the President, E. R. will speak to him to understand his terms &c.” (AL, RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters, 1790–1799, National Archives.)