Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from George Washington, 1 June 1793

From George Washington

Philadelphia June 1st 1793


To call upon Mr. Hammond without further delay for the result of the reference to his Court concerning the surrender of the Western Posts—or to await the decision of the trial at Richmond on the subject of British debts before it be done, is a question on which my mind has been divided1 for sometime.

If your own judgment is not clear in favor of one, or the other, it is my desire, as the heads of the Departments are now together, that you would take their opinion thereupon, and act accordingly.

Go: Washington

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 1 June 1793. FC (Lb in DNA: RG59, SDC); with one variation (see note 1 below). Recorded in SJPL.

TJ alone or in combination with the two Cabinet officers who met with him this day—Attorney General Edmund Randolph and Secretary of War Henry Knox—evidently decided to await the decision of the United States Circuit Court in Richmond in the case of Ware v. Hylton, news of which became known in Philadelphia on 19 June 1793, before asking George Hammond about the British government’s reaction to TJ’s demand in his letter to him of 29 May 1792 for the surrender of the western posts that British troops continued to occupy on United States soil in retaliation for American violations of the Treaty of Paris, particularly with respect to the payment of prewar debts to the British (Gazette of the United States, 19 June 1793; TJ to Hammond, 19 June 1793; TJ to Washington, 19 June 1793; Cabinet Opinion on Relations with Spain and Great Britain, 20 June 1793; Washington, Journal description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed., The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797, Charlottesville, 1981 description ends , 159). The decision in this noted British debt case rejected all but one of the customary legal arguments advanced on behalf of Virginians sued for payment of prewar debts by British creditors, thereby opening the gates to a host of British suits for recovery in that state. It was not until 1796, however, that the Supreme Court ruled on the final appeal in the case (Charles F Hobson, “The Recovery of British Debts in the Federal Circuit Court of Virginia, 1790 to 1797,” VMHB description begins Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 1893- description ends , xcii [1984], 187–93).

1FC: “balanced.”

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