George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Alexander Hamilton, 12 April 1793

To Alexander Hamilton

Mount Vernon 12th April 1793.

Dear sir,

In due course of Post I have received your Letters of the 5th and 8th instant. & thank you for the information contained in them.

Tomorrow I leave this for Philadelphia. the advices which I may receive this Evening by the Post, will fix my route by Baltimore (as usual)—or by the one I intended to have come—that is, by Reading, the Canals between the Rivers, Harrisburgh, Carlisle &a—In either case ten day, I expect, will land me in the City.1

Hostilities having commenced between France & England, it is incumbent on the Government of the United States to prevent, as far as in it lies, all interferences of our Citizens in them; and immediate precautionary measures ought, I conceive, to be taken for that purpose, as I have reason to believe (from some things I have heard) that many vessels in different parts of the Union are designated for Privateers & are preparing accordingly. The means to prevent it, and for the United States to maintain a strict neutrality between the Powers at war, I wish to have seriously thought of, that I may as soon as I arrive at the Seat of the Government, take such steps, tending to these ends, as shall be deemed proper & effectual.2 With great esteem, I am &c.

Geo: Washington


1GW probably traveled through Baltimore, for he arrived in Philadelphia on 17 April (JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 107). The alternate, and slower, route would have allowed GW to examine the progress by the Schuylkill and Susquehanna Navigation Company on a canal that eventually would extend from the Susquehanna River near Middletown, Pa., to the Schuylkill River near Reading, Pennsylania. For GW’s proposed alternate route, see GW to Tobias Lear, 8 April, and note 6.

2On this date GW sent to Thomas Jefferson a similar request. On 18 April, GW sent to the cabinet a list of questions concerning the proper conduct of the United States toward the belligerent powers in Europe. The cabinet members had difficulty reaching a consensus, although they did agree to a general policy of neutrality (Minutes of a Cabinet Meeting, 19 April, Neutrality Proclamation, 22 April, Jefferson to GW, 28 April, Hamilton and Henry Knox to GW, 2 May, Edmund Randolph to GW, 6 May).

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