George Washington Papers

Henry Knox to Bartholomew Dandridge, Jr., 24 January 1794

Henry Knox to Bartholomew Dandridge, Jr.

January 24. 1794.


Please to submit to the President of the United States, the enclosed letters from Mr Dallas;1 and the proposed answer thereto to the Governor2—The answer is according to the principles adopted.3 Yours sincerely

H. Knox


1The enclosed letter of 24 Jan. from Alexander J. Dallas, the secretary of Pennsylvania, reads: “The Governor has directed me to transmit to you the inclosed copy of a letter from Mr Harrison, a Ship builder of this City; in which it is stated, that an application has been made to him, to open five portholes on each side of the French vessel, called the Citizen of Marseilles. Whether, under the circumstance of this case, the proposed alteration can be deemed an augmentation of her military equipments, is a matter in doubt with Governor, on which he wishes to receive the Opinion of the Executive of the United States.” John Harrison’s letter to Gov. Thomas Mifflin of 24 Jan. reported that the portholes were for “mounting Guns which are now on board. . . . The guns were all on board, at the time of her coming into the harbour; and she had before that ports in the same places, which had been shut up, in order to turn her more conveniently into a packet” (both letters, PHarH: Executive Correspondence, 1790–99).

2Knox’s reply to Mifflin of 25 Jan. acknowledged receipt of Dallas’s letter before continuing: “This letter, Sir, has been submitted to the President of the United States who has directed me to inform you that the said port Holes having been closed previously to the arrival of the said vessel in this port that the opening of them in order to mount Cannon therein would in his judgment be as much an augmentation of the force of the said vessel as if the port Holes were now to be cut for the first time, and that the measure therefore is to be prevented. It is to be remembered that the same principles operated in the decision of the President in July last relatively to the British Letter of Marque Ship Jane whose force was reduced to the same situation it was at the time of her arrival, by closing her new port Holes, dismounting the additional Cannon, and Destroying or relanding her new Gun Carriages, before she was permitted to leave the port” (PHarH: Executive Correspondence). On the issues surrounding the presence of the Jane in Philadelphia waters, see Mifflin’s letter to GW of 27 July 1793, and Thomas Jefferson’s notes on the 29 July cabinet meeting in 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 , 26:579–80.

During a meeting on 30 July, the cabinet decided that “all new Carriages, port holes, Guns &c. which had been added to the Jane since she came into the Port was contrary to treaty & not to be suffered.” After Philadelphia offi cials examined the Jane once again and found an increase in her armaments and crew, a request was made to British minister George Hammond “to have her reduced to the state in which she entered the Port” (JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 211–12; see also Jefferson to Edmond Genet, 4 Aug. 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 , 26:611).

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