George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Jefferson, 6 November 1791

From Thomas Jefferson

[Philadelphia] Nov. 6. 1791.


I have the honour to inclose you a draught of a letter to Governor Pinkney, & to observe that I suppose it to be proper that there should, on fit occasions, be a direct correspondence between the President of the U.S. and the Governors of the states; and that it will probably be grateful to them to recieve from the President answers to the letters they address to him. the correspondence with them on ordinary business may still be kept up by the Secretary of state in his own name.1

I inclose also a letter to Majr Pinkney with a blank to be filled up when you shall have made up your mind on it.2

I have conferred with mister M[adison] on the idea of the Commissioners of the federal town proceeding to make private sales of the lots & he thinks it adviseable. I cannot but repeat that if the surveyors will begin on the river, laying off the lots from Rock creek to the Eastern branch, and go on, a-breast, in that way from the river towards the back part of the town, they may pass the avenue from the President’s house to the Capitol before the Spring, and as soon as they shall have passed it, a public sale may take place without injustice to either the Georgetown or Carrolsburg interest. will not the present afford you a proper occasion of assuring the Commissioners that you leave every thing respecting L’Enfant to them? I have the honor to be with the most sincere respect, Sir, your most obedt humble sert

Th: Jefferson

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; ALS (letterpress copy), DLC: Thomas Jefferson Papers; LB, DLC:GW; LB, DNA: RG 59, Domestic Letters.

1The enclosed draft in Jefferson’s writing of GW to Charles Pinckney, 6 Nov., reads: “I have the pleasure to acknolege the receipt of your favor of Sep. 20. with the several papers which accompanied it, on the subject of the aids in money, ammunition & provisions asked for by our neighbors of Saint Domingo. similar applications had come here during my absence in Virginia and the officers of government had paid due attention to them by furnishing such aids as our situation admitted & the Minister of France approved. I feel sincerely those sentiments of sympathy which you so properly express for the distresses of our suffering brethren in that quarter, and deplore their causes: we have not as yet any information which may lead us to hope they will soon be at an end. Your former favor of Aug. 18. had been also received, and communicated to the Secretary of state, within whose department foreign affairs are. I inclose you a copy of his observations to me on that subject” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). For differences between Jefferson’s and GW’s draft of the letter, see GW to Pinckney, 8 Nov. (first letter).

2The enclosed letter of Jefferson to Thomas Pinckney, 6 Nov., appears in Jefferson Papers description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends , 22:261–63. In it Jefferson notified Pinckney of GW’s intention to nominate him minister plenipotentiary to the court of London and inquired if he would accept the nomination. Jefferson left a blank for the place of residence, in the hopes of persuading GW to nominate Pinckney minister to France instead of Gouverneur Morris, as he had discussed this day with the president. After meeting with the secretary of state again on 8 Nov., GW returned Jefferson’s letter on 9 Nov., writing: “Enclosed is the letter to Majr Pinckney. For the reason’s mentioned to you yesterday, I prefer London to Paris for his Mission” (ALS, DLC: Jefferson Papers). Jefferson then filled in the blank with “London” and sent the letter to Pinckney, who replied to GW from Charleston on 29 Nov.: “The distinguishing testimony of your confidence expressed in the intended nomination of me to an important mission at the Court of London gives rise to this acknowledgement, of the due sense I feel of the honor thereby conferred. Altho’ my acceptance of this appointment deranges every domestic plan I had formed, and, from the peculiar circumstances of property in this part of the Continent, must be prejudicial to my private affairs, yet I trust, Sir, you will believe me to be sincere when I declare that the greatest anxiety I feel on the occasion is lest any deficiency on my part may prove prejudicial to the Union, & derogate from that discernment of character which has hitherto so decidedly marked the appointments under the Constitution. With this impression I scarcely need to add that no exertion of industry and attention shall be wanting to prevent consequences so justly the objects of my apprehension” (DLC:GW; Pinckney also sent a duplicate, dated 30 Nov., now in DNA: RG 59, Despatches from U.S. Ministers to Great Britain). For Pinckney’s nomination, see GW to the U.S. Senate, 22 December.

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