George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Jefferson, 11 July 1793

From Thomas Jefferson

[Philadelphia, 11 July 1793]1

Th: Jefferson presents his respects to the President. he had expected that the Secretaries of the Treasury & War would have given to the President immediately the statement of facts in the case of the Little Sarah, as drawn by the former & agreed to, as also their Reasons: but Colo. Hamilton having informed Th: J. that he has not been able to prepare copies, Th: J. sends the President the copies they had given him, which being prefixed to his opinion will make the case complete, as it is proper the President should see both sides of it at once.2

Th: J. has had a fever the two last nights which has held him till the morning. something of the same is now coming on him. but nothing but absolute inability will prevent his being in town early tomorrow morning.3

Th: J. had written the above before he had the honor of the President’s note on the subject of this vessel.4 he has received assurance from mister Genet to-day that she will not be gone before the President’s decision.5 Th: J. is himself of opinion that whatever is aboard of her of arms, ammunition or men contrary to the rules heretofore laid down by the President, ought to be withdrawn. on this subject he will have the honor of conferring with the President, or any others, whenever he pleases.6

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

1The letter-book copy is dated 11 July 1793. Tobias Lear’s docket on the receiver’s copy indicates that this letter was received on that date.

2For the enclosed documents concerning the outfitting of the British brigantine Little Sarah as a French privateer, see Cabinet Opinion, 8 July, and note 8, and Alexander Hamilton and Henry Knox to GW, 8 July 1793. Hamilton had enclosed the draft of the cabinet opinion in his letter to Jefferson of 10 July (Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 15:81).

3GW called a cabinet meeting for 9 a.m. on 12 July (JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 191).

5Contrary to Edmond Genet’s assurances and contrary to the administration’s instructions, the Little Sarah left port shortly after the cabinet meeting on 12 July (Cabinet Opinion, 12 July; George Hammond to Jefferson, 22 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 , 26:547–48).

6For the administration’s policy concerning privateers, see Cabinet Opinion on French Privateers, 1 June 1793. See also Jefferson’s letter to Genet of 5 June, in which he wrote that GW “was of opinion that the arming and equipping vessels in the Ports of the United States to cruise against nations with whom they are at peace, was incompatible with the territorial sovereignty of the United States” (ibid., 195–97). Despite his recurring fever, Jefferson attended the cabinet meeting of 12 July (JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 194).

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