From George Washington
Philada 1st. Dec 1793.
Is there no clue to Mr. Morris’ meaning respecting Monsr. Merlino? The next paragraph of his letter is1 enigmatical to me,2 from the want of my recollecting perfectly3 the subjects alluded to. What are the orders given him which he will implicitly obey, and which were, according to his account,4 received so very5 opportunely? Has not a letter of his of subsequent date to that laid before me yesterday, acknowledged the receipt of the Plans of the Federal City.
There can be no doubt since the information which has come to hand from our Ministers at Paris and London of the propriety of changing the expression of the Message as it respects the Acts of France. And if any bad consequences (which I declare6 I see no cause to apprehend) are likely to flow from a public communication of matters relative to G. Britain it might be well to revise the thing again in your own mind, before it is sent in;—especially as the Secretary of the Treasury has, more than once declared, and has offered to discuss and prove,7 that we receive more substantial benefits (favors are beside the question with any of them, because they are not intended as such) from British regulations with respect to the Commerce of this Country than we do from those of France; antecedant I mean,8 to those of very recent date. We should be very cautious if this be the case9 not to advance any thing that may recoil; or take ground we cannot maintain well.10 Yours always
RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 1 Dec. 1793. Dft (DNA:RG 59, MLR); with emendations and variations, only the most important of which are noted below; at head of text: “The Presidt. of the U.S—to the Secy of State”; docketed by Washington. FC (Lb in same, SDC); wording follows Dft. Recorded in SJPL.
Monsr. Merlino had been mentioned in Gouverneur Morris to TJ, 25 June 1793. The next paragraph of this letter alluded to TJ’s 12 Mch. 1793 instructions to Morris to accept those currently in power in France as its legitimate rulers and resume payments on the American debt to that country. No letter from Morris acknowedging the receipt of the plans of the Federal City has been found. The information concerning French depredations on American ships carrying property belonging to France’s enemies contained in Morris’s dispatch, and in Thomas Pinckney to TJ, 27 Sep. 1793, led to last-minute revisions in TJ’s draft of the President’s message on relations with France and Great Britain (TJ’s first letter to Washington, 2 Dec. 1793; Washington to the Senate and the House of Representatives, [2 Dec. 1793], and note).
1. In Dft Washington here canceled “also.”
2. Preceding two words interlined in Dft.
3. In Dft Washington first wrote “recollection of” and then altered the phrase to read as above.
4. Preceding four words interlined in Dft.
5. Word interlined in Dft.
6. Dft: “still declare.”
7. Preceding two words interlined in Dft in place of “the point.”
8. Preceding two words interlined in Dft.
9. Preceding five words interlined in Dft in place of “therefore.”
10. Dft: “cannot support.”