Thomas Jefferson Papers

I. Notes on Washington’s Questions on Neutrality and the Alliance with France, [before 28 April 1793]

I. Notes on Washington’s Questions on Neutrality and the Alliance with France

[before 28 Apr. 1793]

On the Questions of Apr. 18. 93.1

1st. Principle. the people the source of all authority
       the Constituent2 in all treaties
this answers Qu. II. III. IV. V. VI. XII.
2d. Principle. the Legislature alone can declare war
the question of Guarantee is a question of war.
this answers Qu. VII. VIII. IX–X.
Qu. XI. Art. 17. French ships of war & privateers with prizes3 may come & go freely, <with prizes>
English do.4 may not. If they put in distress, must go as soon as possible
 Dutch. 22.5. Prussian. 19.5
Art. 22. English privateers may not be fitted out, nor sell prizes here.
no stipuln that French do. may. nor that French ships of war may.

Armed neutrality

  • free vessels free goods et econtre.
  • free commerce to places not besieged.
  • certificate of officer of convoy prevents searches.
  • contraband defined.

Vattel. 2. 157. the validity of treaties
158. lezion does not annul them.
159. duties of nations in this <particular> matter
160. nullity of treaties ruinous to a state.
163. oblign to observe treaties
164. the violn of a treaty is an injury.

157. 158. 159. 163. 219. 220. 233.

MS (DLC: TJ Papers, 84: 14559); written entirely in TJ’s hand on one side of a small sheet; undated; printed literally. Recorded in SJPL under 18 Apr. 1793: “notes on those questions [relative to France & England]” (see Questions on Neutrality and the Alliance with France, enclosed in George Washington to the Cabinet, 18 Apr. 1793).

Despite the date TJ later assigned in SJPL to these rough notes for his 28 Apr. 1793 Opinion on the Treaties with France (Document IV below), internal evidence indicates that the MS consists of as many as four sections written at different times, but presumably no earlier than 19 Apr. 1793. The first section, which includes everything below the heading and above armed neutrality, was probably written soon after the 19 Apr. Cabinet meeting that first considered the thirteen questions Washington had posed on neutrality and the French alliance (see Cabinet Opinion on Washington’s Questions on Neutrality and the Alliance with France, [19 Apr. 1793]). The remainder of the manuscript, judging from the subject matter, less careful penmanship, and space separating it from the first section, is composed of two sections that were probably written, perhaps at different sittings, closer to the time of TJ’s opinion. Despite TJ’s notes on the issue of armed neutrality in the second section, this subject was not covered in the list of questions the President submitted to Cabinet members on 18 Apr. 1793 or in the opinion TJ transmitted to him ten days later (see Document iv below). TJ’s citations from Vattel’s Le Droit des Gens in the third section all relate to the subject of the oblign to observe treaties; the Secretary of State cited several of these passages in his opinion to counteract the lone passage from this eighteenth-century authority on international law that Hamilton adduced at the 19 Apr. 1793 Cabinet meeting in support of his proposal for suspending or renouncing the treaties with France (TJ to Madison, 28 Apr. 1793). The final section, the heading interlined at the very top of the page in a small, fine hand, was almost certainly added significantly later, perhaps at one of the times later in life when TJ organized his papers.

1Heading interlined at a later date.

2Word written over “principal,” erased.

3Preceding two words interlined.

4Word written over “shi,” erased.

5This line interlined.

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