George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Jefferson, 14 June 1792

From Thomas Jefferson

[Philadelphia] June 14. 1792.

Th: Jefferson with his respects incloses to the Presiden⟨t⟩ two letters recieved yesterday from mister Morris.1 he had sent the Observations of mister Keith to mister Rittenhouse, wi⟨th⟩ a note for his consideration. Th: J. incloses the Note wit⟨h⟩ mister Rittenhouse’s answer for the perusal of the Presiden⟨t⟩ if he thinks them worth the time.2

P.S. the Proces-verbal accompanying mister Morris’s lette⟨r⟩ has appeared in our newspapers, exactly translated.3

AL, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DNA: RG 59, George Washington’s Correspondence with His Secretaries of State; LB (photocopy), DLC:GW. The mutilated text on the edge of the manuscript page is supplied in angle brackets from the letter-book copy.

1For the relatively brief letters Gouverneur Morris wrote to Jefferson from London on 6 and 10 April 1792, see 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 23:382–83, 392–93.

2On 14 Jan. 1792 George Skene Keith had sent GW a critique of Jefferson’s advocacy of the rod-pendulum as a standard of measure. After receiving Keith’s comments from GW, Jefferson wrote David Rittenhouse on 8 June that Keith’s “language is so lax, that it is difficult to know with precision what idea he means to express. . . . What does he mean by saying that the difference between the cubic foot proposed by Th: J. and the English cubic foot (which Th: J. had stated to be 1/14 as Mr. Skene does) ‘is a monstrous error?’ ” On 11 June, Rittenhouse replied to Jefferson that Keith “has indeed expressed himself so very loosely that it is not easy to say what he intended. One thing however is clear, that he meant to depreciate the Rod-pendulum; and this he has done in a manner that does no credit to his Candour or Abilities. . . . I think I never saw so much no meaning, so ill expressed and in so few lines as his paper contains” (see ibid., 24:44–45, 64–66).

3The “Proces-verbal” enclosed in Gouverneur Morris’s letter to Jefferson of 10 April 1792 was a report of the assassination of Gustav III of Sweden. It was published in the National Gazette (Philadelphia) on 14 June.

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