Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from George Washington, 4 August 1793

From George Washington

Phila. Augt. 4th. 1793.


If the heads of Departments and the Attorney General, who have prepared the eight rules which you handed to me yesterday, are well satisfied that they are not repugnant to treaties, or to the Laws of Nations; and moreover, are the best we can adopt to maintain Neutrality; I not only give them my approbation, but desire they may be made known without delay for the information of all concerned.

The same expression will do for the other paper, which has been subscribed as above, and submitted to my consideration for restoring, or making restitution of Prizes under the circumstances therein mentioned.

It is proper you should be informed that the Minster of France intends to leave this City for New York tomorrow; and not amiss, perhaps, to know that in mentioning the seasonable aid of hands which the Ambuscade received from the French Indiaman, the day preceeding her meeting the Boston, he added that Seamen would no longer be wanting, as he had now 1500 at his command. This being the case (altho’ the allusion was to the Subject he was then speaking upon) some of these Men may be employed in the equipment of other Privateers than those now in existence; as the right of fitting out such, in our Ports is asserted in unequivocal terms.

Was the propriety of convening the Legislature at an earlier day than that on which it is to assemble by Law, considered yesterday? The late decree of the National Convention of France—dated the 9th. of May—authorising their Ships of War and Armed Vessels to stop any Neutral Vessels loaded in whole, or part with Provisions, and send them into their Ports, adds another motive for the adoption of this measure.

Go: Washington

RC (DLC); at head of text: “To the Secretary of State”; endorsed by TJ as received 4 Aug. 1793. PrC (DNA: RG 59, MLR). FC (Lb in same, SDC); with a minor variation. Recorded in SJPL with date torn away.

Eight rules: Rules on Neutrality, 3 Aug. 1793. other paper: Cabinet Opinion on Prizes and Privateers, 3 Aug. 1793. 1500 at his command: a reference to the seamen in the French fleet from Saint-Domingue that had recently arrived in New York and that over the next two months Genet sought unsuccessfully to integrate into his plans for French expeditions against Canada and Louisiana (Ammon, Genet Mission description begins Harry Ammon, The Genet Mission, New York, 1973 description ends , 120–6).

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