George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Thomas Jefferson, 30 June 1793

To Thomas Jefferson

Mount Vernon June 30th 1793.

Dear Sir,

The enclosed letter from the Governor of New York, covering a communication to him from the Consul of the French Republic at that place, respecting the continuance of a British Letter of Marque in the Harbour of New York—reached my hands by the post of last evening;1 and I now transmit it to you, that it may be taken into consideration by yourself and the other Heads of the Departments, as soon as may be after this letter gets to your hands.2 If you should be unanimous in Your opinions as to the measures which ought to be pursued by the Government, in the case now communicated—You, or the Secretary of War (to whose department it belongs)3 will transmit, in my name,4 the result of your deliberations on the subject, to the Governor of New York for his information—and to be communicated by him to the French Consul at that place. But in case there should be a difference of sentiment among the Gentlemen on the matter, I must request that the several opinions may be sent to me for my consideration—and the Governor of New York informed, that a decision will be had in the case as soon as I return to the seat of Government; which I expect will be about the tenth of next month5—notwithstanding the death of my manager and the consequent derangement of my concerns would make my presence here for a longer time, at this important season, almost indispensable:6 But I know the urgency and delicacy of our public affairs at present will not permit me to be longer absent, I must therefore submit with the best grace I can to the loss and inconvenience which my private affairs will sustain from the want of my personal attention,7 or that of a confidential Character, the obtaining of which I have no prospect at present. With very great regard, I am, Dear Sir, Your Affecte & Obedt Servt

G Washington

LS, in Tobias Lear’s writing, DLC: Jefferson Papers; Df, in Tobias Lear’s writing, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DNA: RG 59, George Washington’s Correspondence with His Secretaries of State. Jefferson’s docket on the LS reads, “Washington President Mt Vernon June 30th Brig. Swallow recd July 5.”

1On Hauterive’s complaint of 18 June about the British privateer Swallow, see George Clinton’s letter to GW of 22 June, and notes.

2Jefferson read this letter at a meeting with Alexander Hamilton and Henry Knox on 5 July 1793. They agreed “as the case was new, to let it wait for the Presidt.” (Jefferson’s Notes of Cabinet Meeting, 5 July 1793, 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 , 26:437–39). For the cabinet’s decision on the Swallow, see Cabinet Opinion, 5 Aug. 1793.

3GW inserted the previous ten words in the draft.

4GW inserted the previous three words in the draft.

5No such letter from either Jefferson or Knox to Clinton has been identified. GW left Mount Vernon on 7 July and arrived at Philadelphia on 11 July (JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 190).

6On the detrimental impact of Anthony Whitting’s death on the management of Mount Vernon, see GW to Whitting, 9 June, GW to Tobias Lear, 21 June, and Lear to GW, 24 June 1793.

7GW wrote the remainder of this sentence and an abbreviated closing on the draft.

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