George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Jefferson, 28 August 1793

From Thomas Jefferson

[Philadelphia] Aug. 28. 1793.

Th: Jefferson with his respects to the President incloses him the draught of a letter to the Attorney General on the case of Wilson & others of Alexandria, which will explain his views of the best way proceeding in that case.1

AL, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DNA: RG 59, George Washington’s Correspondence with His Secretaries of State.

1On 27 Aug. 1793, GW sent Jefferson a letter that has not been found, and its “Sundry enclosures,” from the Alexandria, Va., firm of Wilson, Potts & Easton, in which the merchants complained about the capture of the British brig Jessie and the sale of its cargo, which apparently belonged to them, and asked “for national interference for redress” (JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 232–33). The Jessie had been bound for Baltimore from Havana, Cuba, when the French privateer Sans Pareil seized it in July and took it to Charleston, where its goods, valued at $12,000, were sold (Jackson, Privateers description begins Melvin H. Jackson, Privateers in Charleston, 1793–1796: An Account of a French Palatinate in South Carolina. Washington, D.C., 1969. description ends , 16). Jefferson wrote Edmund Randolph on 28 August. He related the firm’s desire “to obtain national interference for redress,” before observing: “But this measure is always slow, rarely effectual, and never proper if the laws of the land give redress. If therefore the laws give relief to the parties against the vessel and cargo, if still within the US. or against the Captors if here, or the purchasers, or the French Consul, it would be better so to advise the parties, than to take any public measure. Upon this point I take the liberty of asking your opinion” (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 , 26:782). Tobias Lear returned the draft to Jefferson on this same date with a brief cover letter noting GW’s “approbation” (DLC: Jefferson Papers). After conferring with Randolph, Jefferson wrote Wilson, Potts & Easton on 1 Sept. 1793 to advise them on the proper legal process to follow (ibid., 27:12–13).

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