George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Edmund Randolph, 2 January 1794

From Edmund Randolph

Philadelphia January 2. 179[4]1


I do myself the honor of inclosing to you a certificate from Judge Wilson, of my having qualified, as secretary of state. A duplicate is deposited among the files of the office.2

I must intreat you, sir, to receive my very affectionate acknowledgments, for the various instances of your confidence; and to be assured, that, let the consequence be, what it may, in this perilous office, no consideration of party shall ever influence me; nothing shall relax my attention or warp my probity; and it shall be my unremitted study to become an accurate master of this new and important business.

At the commencement of my duties, I have thought it adviseable to write to the Secretaries of the Treasury and of war,3 and to the President of the bank of the U.S. the letters of which the inclosed are copies.4 I have the honor, sir, to be with sincere respect and attachment yr mo. ob. serv.

Edm: Randolph.

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DLC:GW; LB, DNA: RG 59, GW’s Correspondence with His Secretaries of State; LB, DNA: RG 59, Domestic Letters.

1Randolph erroneously wrote 1793 on the ALS.

2For GW’s recent nomination of Randolph as secretary of state, see GW to U.S. Senate, 1 January. Prior to this, Randolph had served as attorney general. For the certificate, see the following enclosure.

3In his letter to Alexander Hamilton and Henry Knox of this date, Randolph wrote: “I have just taken the Oath of Office, which reminds me that I am brought into a nearer relation to your department than hitherto. While official men are under no less an obligation than others, to live in harmony; there are too many opportunities for misconception and misrepresentation to interrupt it. I have therefore prescribed this rule for myself: that if any thing, supposed to be done in the other departments, shall create dissatisfaction in my mind, I will check any opinion, until I can obtain an explanation, which I will ask without reserve. By these means I shall avoid the uneasiness of suspicion; and I take the liberty of requesting, that the same line of conduct may be pursued with respect to myself.

“I trust, that under these principles, whatsoever difference of sentiments may at any time exist between us, it will be the difference of men, who equally pursue the objects of their appointment, and that the public good will thereby be promoted, rather than injured” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

4Randolph wrote to Thomas Willing that according to a memorandum from Thomas Jefferson (see 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 , 27:649–52), “the monies, allotted to the foreign fund of this department, are generally deposited in the bank of the U.S. I beg the favor of you, (in order to prevent mistakes) to give an instruction to your officers, to apply no checks, drawn by me, to that fund, unless they be subscribed by me, as Secretary of State” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

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