George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Mifflin, 30 August 1793

From Thomas Mifflin

Phila. 30th August 1793


Inclosed I have the honor to transmit to you several documents, respecting the Case of the Spry Sloop; which, in consequence of perfect satisfaction being received, that she would not prosecute her equipments as a vessel of war, I have discharged from arrest.1 I am, with perfect respect, Sir Your most obedt Hble Serv.

Thomas Mifflin

Df, PHarH: Executive Correspondence, 1790–99; LB, PHarH: Executive Letter-Books.

1On the detention of the sloop Spry, which was suspected of outfitting as a French privateer, see Mifflin to GW, 21 Aug. 1793, and note 2. Mifflin may have enclosed an unidentified letter from Gideon Henfield, the Spry’s captain, stating that he had “removed the births in the hold of his sloop, landed his water casks, and in every respect restored her to the condition of a Merchant vessel” (Mifflin to Falconer, Allen, and Berthell, 23 Aug., PHarH: Executive Correspondence, 1790–99). A subsequent examination of the Spry, however, left doubts as to the veracity of Henfield’s claims, and both Mifflin and the port wardens agreed that Henfield should “give Sufficient Security that he will not arm the Sloop Spry in any of the United States” (Nathaniel Falconer and William Allen to Mifflin, 23 Aug., PHarH: Executive Correspondence, 1790–99). The enclosures probably also included Mifflin’s letter to master warden Falconer of 26 Aug., in which Mifflin included a “declaration” from the sloop’s captain Gideon Henfield and a “Certificate” from notary public, conveyancer, freemason, and French émigré Peter Le Barbier Du Plessis (c.1748-1815) respecting the condition of the Spry. Mifflin instructed Falconer to “ascertain the facts stated on this occasion; and if you are satisfied of their authenticity you will deliver the order which I have likewise inclosed for discharging the Sloop from her arrest” (PHarH: Executive Correspondence, 1790–99). Henfield’s declaration, Du Plessis’s certificate, and Mifflin’s order have not been identified.

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