To the Cabinet
[Philadelphia] ⟨June 12th 1793.⟩
As you are about to meet on other business,1 it is my desire that you would take the enclosed application into consideration.2 It is not my wish, on one hand, to throw unnecessary obstacles in the way of gratifying the wishes of the applicants. On the other it is incumbent on me to proceed with regularity. Would not the granting a Patent then, which I believe is always the concluding act, & predicated on the Survey (as an essential3 document) have too much the appearance of placing the Cart before the Horse. And does not the Law enjoin something on the Attorney General of the U. States previous to the signature of the President? What can be done with propriety I am willing to do.4 More I ought not to do.
ALS, DLC: Jefferson Papers; ALS (retained copy), PWacD; LB, DNA: RG 59, George Washington’s Correspondence with His Secretaries of State; LB, DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW. GW addressed the cover of the ALS at DLC to “The Secretary of State &ca,” and Jefferson docketed it as “recd June 12.” GW docketed the ALS at PWacD as “The Secretaries of State Treasury & War 12th June 1793.” The text in angle brackets is from the ALS at PWacD.
2. The application was a letter, which has not been identified, from John Cleves Symmes to Alexander Hamilton of 8 June “on the subject of the land granted to him” in the Northwest Territory. The letter “mentions his readiness to have the Acts of Congress relative to the land carried into effect and suggests the proper situation for land for an Academy” (JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 166). “An Act for ascertaining the bounds of a tract of land purchased by John Cleves Symmes,” 12 April 1792, authorized GW to alter the original contract “between the late board of treasury” and Symmes (6 Stat description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends ., 7–8). For the original contract of 15 Oct. 1788, see ASP, Public Lands, description begins Walter Lowrie et al., eds. American State Papers. Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States. 38 vols. Washington, D.C., Gales and Seaton, 1832–61. description ends 1:75–77. For the legal provisions for “establishing an academy and other public schools and seminaries of learning,” see “An Act authorizing the grant and conveyance of certain Lands to John Cleves Symmes, and his Associates,” 5 May 1792 (1 Stat description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends ., 266–67).
3. All other texts contain “a necessary” at this point.
4. For earlier correspondence about problems with the Symmes Purchase, including the absence of an accurate survey of its boundaries, see Thomas Jefferson to GW, 10 Nov. 1791, n.1; Jonathan Dayton to GW, 9 Nov. 1792, and notes; Tobias Lear to Dayton, 9 Nov. 1792, and note 1. The legislation of 5 May 1792 authorized GW to grant a patent to Symmes, but it did not require any specific action by the attorney general. For the patent that GW issued to Symmes on 30 Sept. 1794, see the copies at ViLxW; DLC: Short-Harrison-Symmes Families Papers; OHi: Charles E. Rice Collection; and Vi. For a printed version, see Carter, Territorial Papers description begins Clarence Edwin Carter et al., eds. The Territorial Papers of the United States. 27 vols. Washington, D.C., 1934–69. description ends , 2:496–98.
Thomas Jefferson in his second letter to GW of this date wrote that the Symmes’s matter would be considered at a cabinet meeting on 13 June, “as it required some enquiry.” On 12 June, Hamilton sent GW a letter that he had “just received from Judge Symmes, together with certificates of payments which have been made.” Hamilton wrote that he would meet with GW on Monday, 17 June, to discuss the subject (LB, DLC:GW; see also JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 169). GW returned the certificates to Hamilton on 13 June “that they may be laid before the heads of the Depts. with his letters &c. when they take the subject into consideration” (ibid., 171). No official reply from the cabinet or any of its individual members has been found.