George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Thomas Jefferson, 18 July 1793

To Thomas Jefferson

Philadelphia July 18th 1793.

Dear Sir,

The Chief Justice & Judge Paterson are in Town. The former called upon me yesterday evening to know at what time he should receive my communications. I was embarrassed—but declared the truth, that by waiting for the Attorney General, the business wch it was proposed to lay before them, was not fully prepared.1

I shall expect to see you by nine; And as the Judges will have to decide whether the business wch, it is proposed to ask their opinion upon is, in their Judgment, of such a nature as that they can comply, it might save time if you were to draft something (before you come) that will bring the question properly before them. I am always & sincerely Yours

Go: Washington

P.S. As the Attorney General is not present—quere, would a verbal communication, & explanation of the wishes of Government made to them by you be better than by letter?2

ALS, DLC: Jefferson Papers. Jefferson docketed this letter as “recd July 18. 93.”

1For the cabinet’s decision to consult the Supreme Court about the implementation of the U.S. neutrality policy and for Jefferson’s circular letter to Chief Justice John Jay, Justice William Paterson, and the other four justices requesting their presence at Philadelphia on 18 July, see Cabinet Opinion, 12 July, and note 4.

2GW may have sent similar letters to Alexander Hamilton and Henry Knox because all three cabinet members came to the cabinet meeting later this morning with their own list of potential questions for the Supreme Court (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 , 26:527–33; Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 15:110–16). After discussing the various lists, the cabinet “agreed upon certain questions … to be laid before the Judges” (JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 203). For the questions selected, see the enclosed list in Jefferson to GW, 18 July.

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