George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Jefferson, 22 August 1793

From Thomas Jefferson

[Philadelphia] Aug. 22. 1793.

Th: Jefferson has the honor to inclose to the President the letter of the National assembly to him of Dec. 22. 92. it’s most distinct object seems to have been to thank the U.S. for their succours to St Domingo. it glances blindly however at commercial arrangements, and on the 19th of Feb. the same assembly passed the decree putting our commerce in their dominions on the footing of natives & directing their Executive council to treat with us on the subject.1 on this the following questions arise.

1. Would the President chuse to answer the letter, acknoleging it’s receipt, thanking them in turn for the favors to our commerce, and promising to consult the constitutional powers (the Senate) on the subject of the treaty proposed?2

2. Would he rather chuse to make no reply to the letter, but that mister Morris be instructed to negociate a renewal of mister Genet’s powers to treat to his successor?3

3. or would he chuse that nothing be said on the subject to any body?

If the President would in his judgment be for a treaty on the principles of the decree, or any modification of them, the 1st or 2d measure will be to be adopted.

If he is against a treaty on those principles or any modification of them, the 3d measure seems to be the proper one.4

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.

1For a translation of the enclosed letter, see the French National Convention to GW, 22 Dec. 1792. For U.S. aid to the French colony of Saint Domingue, see Alexander Hamilton to GW, 19 Nov. 1792. For the decree issued by the National Convention on 19 Feb. 1793, see the translation in ASP, Foreign Relations, description begins Walter Lowrie et al., eds. American State Papers. Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States. 38 vols. Washington, D.C., Gales and Seaton, 1832–61. description ends 1:147. Jefferson received a copy of this decree as asn enclosure in a letter from Edmond Genet of 23 May 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 , 26:96–99).

2According to Article II, section 2, of the U.S. Constitution, the president “shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur.”

3On the administration’s decision to instruct Gouverneur Morris, the U.S. minister to France, to request the French government to recall Edmond Genet, see Cabinet Opinion, 23 Aug. 1793.

4On GW’s decision to call a cabinet meeting to discuss the French proposal and for the decision made, see GW to Jefferson, 23 Aug., and Cabinet Opinion, 23 Aug. 1793, and note 4.

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