George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Elizabeth Willing Powel, 21 April 1792

From Elizabeth Willing Powel

[Philadelphia] April 21st 1792

Dear Sir

I have taken the Liberty to send you a Pamphlet1 which is, at this Time, a Subject of much public Animadversion, and I have done it under the Impression that, from a Consciousness of the Rectitude of your own Conduct, you will read it without Emotion, and that you wish to collect the Sentiments of Mankind with Respect to our public Measures & public Men; and, further, as I have ever thought the highest Compliment that cou’d be paid to the Magnanimity of a great & good Man by a Friend was to treat him with Candor, which, according to my Ideas, cannot be done if his Friend conceals from him Strictures that, however remotely, may affect him.

This Pamphlet appears to have been written either by an imprudent Friend of Mr H. or by an Enemy to the Government who wishes to create Disgust between the Heads of the great Departments. If you have already perused it be so good as to return me the Pamphlet if not keep it as long as you wish.2 I am Sir with Sentiments of Respect & Esteem Your affectionate Friend

Eliza. Powel


1The enclosure was Strictures and Observations upon the Three Executive Departments of the Government of the United States. . . (Philadelphia, 1792) by “Massachusettensis,” whom the editors of the modern edition of Thomas Jefferson’s papers have identified as Sir John Temple, the Massachusetts-born British consul general in the United States (see Henry Remsen, Jr., to Thomas Jefferson, 11 April 1792, source note, 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 23:401–3). The pamphlet lavishes praise on Alexander Hamilton’s financial policies as secretary of the treasury and criticizes the supposedly pro-French policies of Secretary of War Henry Knox and Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, claiming that they would disrupt American trade with Great Britain. For other attacks on Jefferson, see Anonymous to GW, 3, 20 Jan., and March 1792.

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