George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Thomas Jefferson, 10 March 1793

To Thomas Jefferson

[Philadelphia] Sunday, March 10th 1793


If, upon a due consideration of the letter from the Secretary of the N.W. Territory to Govr St Clair, which you sent to me yesterday, and is herewith returned, you shall be of opinion that my official interference is necessary on the subject of that letter, I must request that you will report to me wherein such interference may be necessary—as well as the authority under which the President may exercise it.

But I confess to you, that the long absence of the Governor, as well as of some of the Judges, from the Territory, appears to me, if not the cause of producing the irregularities complained of by the Secretary, to be a great means of encouraging a spirit of riot & disorder, by relaxing the energy of the laws.1 This, therefore, is an additional reason for me to wish that the Governor may be pressed to repair to the Territory without delay—And unless he does, I shall be under the disagreeable necessity of issuing a peremporty Order for that purpose.2

I wish to be informed whether Judge Turner has set out for the Territory.3

I think it would be best for you to consult with the Atty Genl to determine whether transcripts of the treaties made with the Indians under the State Governmt of N. York should be sent for or not.4

Go: Washington

LS, in Tobias Lear’s writing, DLC: Jefferson Papers; Df, in Lear’s writing, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DNA: RG 59, George Washington’s Correspondence with His Secretaries of State; LB (photocopy), DLC:GW.

1Lear originally wrote “government” on the draft manuscript; he then crossed out this word and inserted “laws” above the line. For Winthrop Sargent’s complaints, see Jefferson to GW, 9 Mar. 1793, n.1.

2For Arthur St. Clair’s absence from the Northwest Territory, see Lear to Jefferson, 26 Feb. 1793, n.7, and to GW, 3 April. GW’s impatience with St. Clair grew out of his concern over Judge George Turner’s more egregious neglect of duties (see note 3).

3Jefferson replied to GW on 12 Mar., telling him that “he has enquired and finds that Judge Turner is not yet gone from this city” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). Following the receipt of this reply, GW asked Jefferson to consult with Attorney General Edmund Randolph on whether the president had the authority to order Turner, one of three federal judges in the Northwest Territory, to fulfill his duties and depart for the territory (JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 88). For these efforts, see Lear to Jefferson, 26 Feb. 1793, and note 6.

4In response to GW’s request, Jefferson wrote to Gov. George Clinton on 13 Mar. to request transcripts of all past Indian treaties involving the state of New York (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 25:373). On this request, and for Randolph’s role in it, see GW to Randolph, 12 Feb., and Lear to Jefferson, 17 Feb. 1793, and note 3.

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