Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, 7 April 1793

To George Washington

Philadelphia Apr. 7. 1793.


The accounts of the last week from Lisbon, announcing an actual declaration of war by France against England and Holland, when applied to the preceding note of the British court ordering the French minister to leave London (which is generally1 considered as preliminary to a declaration of war) now render it extremely probable that those powers are at actual war, and necessary in my opinion that we take every justifiable measure for preserving our neutrality, and at the same time provide those necessaries for war which must be brought across the Atlantic.—The British packet is arrived, but as yet we hear nothing further of the news she brings than that war is declared, and this is only a rumour here as yet. If any letters are come by her for me, they are not yet received.—You will learn by this post that our intelligence from the South as to the Indians is discouraging. We met on Tuesday last on the subject of your circular letter, and agreed in all points, except as to the power of ceding territory, on which point there remained the same difference of opinion as when the subject was discussed in your presence.—We have no further news of Mr. Genest. Mr. Dupont leaves town for France on Wednesday next. By him I shall send my dispatches for Mr. Morris.—Stocks are down @ 17/10. We determined yesterday to lay out the interest fund (about 25,000. Dollars) the only money at our disposal.—I have the honour to be with sincere attachment & respect, Dear Sir, your most obedt. & most humble servt.

Th: Jefferson

RC (DNA: RG 59, MLR); at foot of text: “The President of the US.”; endorsed by Washington. PrC (MHi). Tr (Lb in DNA: RG 59, SDC).

The intelligence from the south consisted of reports from James Seagrove, the United States agent to the Creeks, to Secretary of War Henry Knox and the President. In the former Seagrove described two Indian raids—one by a party of thirty Lower Creeks on a store owned by Robert Seagrove in western Georgia, which resulted in the theft of goods worth more than £2,000 sterling, the murder of two Georgians, and the disappearance of a third—and noted his inability to apprehend the perpetrators. In the latter Seagrove blamed William Panton, a Spanish agent in Florida, for instigating this raid and claimed that it was part of a larger effort by Spanish authorities in East and West Florida to provoke a war between the Creeks and the United States (Seagrove to Knox, 17 Mch. 1793, and enclosures, ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Indian Affairs, i, 373–4; Seagrove to Washington, 17 Mch. 1793, DNA: RG 59, MLR; Washington, Journal, 108).

Your circular letter: Washington to the Cabinet, 21 Mch. 1793. For the Cabinet’s previous discussion of the power of ceding territory to the Western Indians, see Cabinet Opinions on Indian Affairs, [25 Feb. 1793], and Notes on Cabinet Opinions, 26 Feb. 1793. Mr. Dupont: François Dupont, the brother-in-law of Brissot de Warville, was the French vice-consul in Philadelphia (Eloise Ellery, Brissot de Warville: A Study in the History of the French Revolution [Boston, 1915], 398–401). The minutes of the meeting of the Commissioners of the Sinking Fund recording their decision to lay out the interest fund for the purchase of stock in the national debt are in Syrett, Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961–87, 27 vols. description ends , xiv, 292–3.

1Word interlined in place of “ever.”

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