Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Sim Lee, 25 May 1793

To Thomas Sim Lee

Philadelphia May 25. 1793.


I am honoured with your Excellency’s letter of the 20th. and have duly laid the same before the President. Measures had been already taken for prosecuting such American citizens as had joined in the capture therein mentioned, a letter to that effect having been written to the Attorney of the US. in the state of Maryland. With respect to the prize, the government did not think itself authorised to do any thing. Your Excellency will have been informed by a letter from the Secretary at war, addressed to you as the head of the militia of your state, of the measures proposed for preventing the fitting out privateers in our ports in future, as well as for the preservation of peace within our limits. I have the honor to be with great respect & esteem your Excellency’s most obedt. & most humble servt.

Th: Jefferson

RC (Facsimile in R. M. Smythe, Auction No. 82, 26 Oct. 1989, Lot 245); at foot of text: “H. E. the Governor of Maryland.” PrC (DLC). FC (Lb in DNA: RG 59, DL).

The orders For prosecuting such American citizens as bore arms with the European belligerents were given in a 12 May 1793 circular letter from Attorney General Edmund Randolph to the United States District Attorneys (see note to Notes on Alexander Hamilton and the Enforcement of Neutrality, 6 May 1793). Henry Knox sent the state governors a circular letter on Preventing the fitting out privateers on 24 May and another one on The preservation of peace within our limits a day earlier (Washington, Journal, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed., The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797, Charlottesville, 1981 description ends 147; see also TJ to Knox, with Proposed Circular to the Governors of the States, 21 May 1793, and note).

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