George Washington Papers

Henry Knox to Tobias Lear, 21 August 1793

Henry Knox to Tobias Lear

[Philadelphia] August 21st 1793

Dear Sir.

Please to submit the, enclosed, to the President of the United States.1 Yours sincerely

H. Knox


1According to GW’s executive journal for 21 Aug. 1793, the enclosure was a letter from DeWitt Clinton (1769–1828), who served as a secretary for his uncle, New York governor George Clinton (JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 228). In this letter of 18 Aug. to Henry Knox, DeWitt Clinton wrote: “I am directed by the Governor to acknowlege his receipt of your several letters of the 2d 3d 7th and 16th instant, and to enclose to you copies of certain reports made to him, by the collector of this Port and the commandant of the Brigade of Militia of this City, respecting the seizure of the Brigantine Chilcomb pursuant to a request of the President of the United States, contained in your last letter—The Governor has also at the same time directed me, to express his wish that any further orders relating to this subject may be addressed to the officer commanding the detachment of Militia now in the actual service of the United States, on board of the said Brigantine” (N-Ar: Papers of George Clinton). For the letters from Knox to George Clinton of 2 and 3 Aug. and the two circular letters of 7 Aug., see Clinton to GW, 30 July, notes 1 and 4. For the circular letter of 16 Aug., see Knox to Tobias Lear, 17 Aug. 1793, n.1.

The enclosed report of 17 Aug. from John Lamb, the collector of customs for the port of New York City, reads: “In Conformity with instructions which I have received from the Secretary of the Treasury by order of his Excellency the President—I have to inform you that the Brigantine Chilcom, of Ross in Ireland, laden with Bread and Flour, and bound from Philadelphia to Newfoundland, has been captured by the Priveteer Sloop Caramagnole, fitted out in the State of Delaware, and commanded by Peter Pilote—the Prize above mentioned arrived, in the Port yesterday evening, under the command of John Stanton as Prize Master who I have reason to beleive is a Citizen of the United States” (N-Ar: Papers of George Clinton). For the instructions sent Lamb, see Alexander Hamilton’s circular letter to the collectors of customs of 13–16 May 1793, in Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 15:442–47.

After receiving Lamb’s report, Gov. Clinton issued an order on 17 Aug. to Lt. Col. James Alner, commander of the brigade “of the Militia of the City and County of New York, and County of Richmond,” that the Chilcomb “be immediately secured, until further orders, by a detachment of the Militia of this City competent for that purpose” (N-Ar: Papers of George Clinton). Alner’s enclosed reply of 18 Aug. reads: “Pursuant to your orders of yesterday, a detachment of the Brigade of Militia of this City, commanded by Capt. [Isaac] Stoutenburgh [Jr.] boarded the Bri⟨gan⟩tine Chilton, and have her now secured in their Possession; this detach⟨ment⟩ I expect will be releived this evening by an other under the Command [of] Lieut. John P. Pearse [Pearss] who will continue on board until otherwise ordered” (N-Ar: Papers of George Clinton). GW returned DeWitt Clinton’s letter and its enclosures to Knox on this same date (JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 228).

On the capture “off Cape May … after ten hours chace” of the Chilcomb, while enroute from Philadelphia to Newfoundland, and its subsequent seizure by the militia on Sunday, 18 Aug., see Daily Advertiser (New York City), 20, 21 Aug. 1793. For the administration’s decision regarding the restoration of the Chilcomb, see Tobias Lear to Knox, 28 Aug. 1793.

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