Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from George Washington, 12 July 1791

From George Washington

Tuesday 12th. June1 1791

GW. to Mr. J.

The enclosed I send this afternoon, for your perusal. Tomorrow, 8’oclock, I shall send the person who was the bearer of it, to you.—It being the hour, he left word, when he left the letter, that he should call upon me.—If Mr. Pearce merits the character given him by T: D. he will unquestionably merit encouragement, and you can put him in the way to obtain it.—Yrs. ever,


RC (DLC); addressed: “Mr. Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 13 July 1791 and so recorded in SJL.

The enclosed letter has not been found, but its author and its object cannot be doubted: it was a letter from Thomas Digges, probably dated late in April, introducing the British artisan William Pearce whom Digges had encouraged to emigrate to the United States with models of his looms (two similar letters from Digges to the President, dated 1 July and 12 Nov. 1791, urged that Pearce be given assistance; these are in DNA: RG 59, MLR). The collaboration between Digges and Pearce was contrary to the laws of both Britain and Ireland, and it was for this reason that, only a few months earlier, TJ had persuaded Washington not to give official countenance to such activity. Yet, in this unusual and unequivocal directive, the Secretary of State was commanded to do something not only contrary to his earlier counsel to the President but also at variance with the principles he believed should govern relations with other countries. For a comment on the means by which TJ avoided this embarrassment, see note to Digges to TJ, 28 Apr. 1791.

1At this point TJ interlined the correct date: “July.”

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