George Washington to Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Philadelphia Jan. 23. 1793.
The Western Indians having proposed to us a conference at Au Glaise1 in the ensuing spring, I am now about to proceed to nominate three Commissioners to meet and treat with them on the subject of peace. What may be the issue of the conferences is difficult to foresee, but it is extremely essential that, whatever it be, it should carry with it the perfect confidence of our citizens that every endeavor will have been used to obtain peace which their interests would permit. For this reason it is necessary that characters be appointed who are known to our citizens for their talents and integrity; and whose situation in life places them clear of every suspicion of a2 wish to prolong the war, or say rather whose interest, in common with that of their country, is clearly to produce peace. Characters uniting these desiderata do not abound, some of them too are in offices inconsistent with the appointment now in question, others under impediments of health or other circumstances so as to circumscribe the choice within a small circle. Desirous in the first instance that you should be in this commission, I have mentioned these difficulties to shew you, in the event of your declining, how serious they are, and to induce you to come forward and perform this important service to your country, a service with which it’s prosperity and tranquility are intimately connected. It will be necessary to set out from this place about the of .3 The route will be by the North river, and the lakes,4 it will be safe, and the measures for your comfortable5 transportation and subsistence taken as effectually as circumstances will admit. Will you then permit me, Sir, to nominate you, as one of the Commissioners, with a certain reliance on your acceptance? Your answer to this by the first or second6 post will oblige, Dear Sir &c.
Dft (DLC: Washington Papers); in TJ’s hand except for revisions by Washington as noted below; at foot of first page in TJ’s hand: “Mr. Carrol of Carrolton”; docketed in part by Washington. PrC (DLC); entirely in TJ’s hand; with two notations added at a much later date in pencil by TJ to correct an error in placement after text had been bound, probably as part of the “Anas”: (at foot of first page) “[turn back 3 pages]” and (at head of second page) “from [p.?] 60, further on.” Entry in SJPL: “draught of letter from G.W. to Commrs. for Indn. treaty.”
Carroll, the noted Maryland Revolutionary leader who had recently resigned his seat in the United States Senate, rejected his proposed appointment as peace commissioner to the Western Indians on the grounds of age and health (Washington to Carroll, 23 Jan. 1793, and Carroll to Washington, 28 Jan. 1793, in Kate M. Rowland, The Life of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, 1737–1832, with His Correspondence and Public Papers, 2 vols. [New York, 1898], ii, 197–9). Washington also sent the same letter to Charles Thomson, the former secretary of the Continental Congress, who declined the appointment for the same reasons (Washington to Thomson, 31 Jan. 1793, DLC: Washington Papers; Thomson to Washington, 31 Jan. 1793, DNA: RG 59, MLR). The texts Washington sent to Carroll and Thomson reflected the changes he made to TJ’s Dft. See also TJ to Beverley Randolph, 18 Feb. 1793, and note.
1. Washington here interlined “not far distant from Detroit.”
2. Preceding three words interlined by TJ.
3. Sentence interlined by TJ. Washington altered the end of the sentence to read “1st of May.”
4. Preceding two words canceled by Washington and replaced with “Niagara.”
5. Word interlined by TJ.
6. Washington here underlined “first” and canceled “or second.”