George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Jefferson, 28 April 1793

From Thomas Jefferson

Philadelphia Apr. 28. 1793.

Sir

According to the intimation the other day, and indeed according to my own wish in a question, if not difficult, yet very important, I have the honor to inclose you a written opinion on the question Whether the U.S. ought to declare their treaties with France void, or suspended?

This contains my answer to the 2d 3d 4th 5th & 6th of the written queries.1

The 1st had been before answered & acted on.2

The 7th 8th 9th & 10th are questions on the Guarantee, which it may possibly never be necessary to answer; or if we should be called on, we may then take due time to give in the answer, which must always be framed in a considerable degree on the circumstances existing at that moment.3

The 4th page of the inclosed contains my answer to the 11th.

The 12th I answer by saying that if the nation of France shall ever reestablish such an officer as Regent (of which there is no appearance at present) I should be for receiving a minister from him: but I am not for doing it from any Regent, so christianed, and set up, by any other authority.4

The 13th has been decided negatively.

I have the honor to be with the most entire respect & attachment, Sir, your most obedt & most humble servt

Th: Jefferson

ALS, DLC:GW; ALS (letterpress copy), DLC: Jefferson Papers; LB, DNA: RG 59, George Washington’s Correspondence with His Secretaries of State; LB (photocopy), DLC:GW.

1For GW’s questions on American neutrality during the war in Europe and for the cabinet’s initial response to them, see GW to Cabinet, 18 April 1793, and source note. For Jefferson’s enclosed opinion, 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 25:608–19.

2For the cabinet’s agreement on GW’s first question, relating to the issuance of a proclamation of neutrality, see Minutes of a Cabinet Meeting, 19 April 1793. See also GW’s Neutrality Proclamation, 22 April, and source note.

3The 1778 Treaty of Alliance allowed France to enlist the United States’ military aid in the case of a British invasion of France’s Caribbean or North American holdings (GW to Cabinet, 18 April; Miller, Treaties, description begins Hunter Miller, ed. Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America. Vol. 2, 1776-1818. Washington, D.C., 1931. description ends 39–40).

4In January 1793 French revolutionaries executed King Louis XVI. His son, whom French royalists declared Louis XVII, was only seven years old at that time. Jefferson believed that the United States should continue to recognize the French republic even if supporters of Louis XVII established a court in exile.

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