George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Mifflin, 27 July 1793

From Thomas Mifflin

Phil. 27 July 1793


Inclosed I transmit to your Excellency, a copy of a letter which I have recd from the Master Warden of the Port, relative to the equipment of the Ship Jane.1 From this representation, it appears, that in conformity to the Treaty of Amity & Commerce with France, and your instructions of the 23 & 24 of May last, the vessel ought to be detained; and, therefore, unless you are pleased otherwise to direct, I shall place a party of militia on board of her at the wharf; or, if that should be found inconvenient I shall order her to be stopped at Mud-Island.2

As it is sd that the vessel means to sail this day or tomorrow—I request the favor of an immediate intimation of your sentiments on this occasion;3 I am, with perfect respect, Sir, Yr Excellencys most obdt Hble S.

Thomas Mifflin

Df, PHarH: Executive Correspondence, 1790–99; LB, PHarH: Executive Letter-Books. According to his executive journal, GW received this letter and its enclosed report on this date (JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 210).

1On the arrival in early July of the British ship Jane and concern over the armaments on this vessel, see Mifflin to GW, 5, 10 July. For the administration’s decision to delay the departure of the Jane from American waters, see Cabinet Opinion, 12 July. In his first letter to Mifflin of 26 July, Master Warden Nathaniel Falconer reported that after boarding the Jane, which was commanded by William Morgan, he found the ship “fitted out, in a very Different manner, than when she arrived into this Port. She has got waist Boards fore and aft and Port holes for the Guns cut out, none of which she had when she came into this Port. Her number of Guns are the Same as when she arrived. But I observe that some of the Guns Carriages are new made” (PHarH: Executive Correspondence, 1790–99).

2For the 1778 U.S. Treaty of Amity and Commerce with France, see 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 , 3–34. For the instructions of 23 and 24 May, which Henry Knox sent to Mifflin at GW’s request, see Knox to GW, 24 May, and note 2, and Mifflin to GW, 25 May 1793. In his first letter to Adjutant General Josiah Harmar of 27 July, Mifflin instructed him to “to place a party of 30 Militia on board the vessel, and keep her in safe custody ’till farther instructions” (PHarH: Executive Correspondence, 1790–99).

3According to his executive journal, GW sent Mifflin’s letter to Knox on this date (JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 210). Knox then wrote Mifflin on 27 July that the administration had just received information from British Minister George Hammond that the Jane was not expected to sail before 1 August. Therefore “it is deemed unnecessary for the present to interpose with the militia. If however, as is not believed, she should attempt to depart, prior to that period, and without a determination upon her case, it will be expected of your Excellency to employ, for detaining her, such means of military coercion as are in your power” (PHarH: Executive Correspondence, 1790–99). Mifflin’s second letter to GW of this date explains what happened next: “In consequence of the conversation which I have just had with the Secretary at War, in which he represented that some amicable arrangement would probably take place for the detention of the Ship Jane, I have discontinued the orders for putting a party of Militia on board her. But, as the instructions, which I received from you, are still in force; and as the present case may be considered an infraction of the Treaty with France, I have directed the vessel to be stopped at Mud Island, should she attempt to depart; and I have the honor to inclose a copy of my order for that purpose.” Mifflin’s letter and his second set of instructions to Harmar of 27 July are at PHarH: Executive Correspondence, 1790–99.

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