George Washington Papers

To George Washington from David Humphreys, 3 February 1794

From David Humphreys

Lisbon [Portugal] Febry. 3d 1794.

My dear Sir.

The Swedish vessel which was to have sailed with my last letters three days ago, has been unexpectedly detained until this time,1 I therefore take the liberty of addressing you again, principally with the object of recommending Mr James Simpson of Gibralter to be appointed Consul of the U.S. for that Port. This I am the rather induced to do, because I think a Consul at that Place highly expedient & necessary; and because I know of no person there who appears to me, by any means, so suitable & worthy of the appointment as that Gentleman. He has not only faithfully accounted for the various matters committed to him by the late Mr Barclay, but he has spontaneously on many occasions given real assistance to the masters of our vessels when they were in need of his services. He has also a considerable correspondence in Barbary & knowledge of the affairs in that Country. He is a British Subject & a Merchant; but so far as I can judge, he has demonstated intelligence, fideli⟨t⟩y and attachment to the U.S. wheresoever their interests or that of their Citizens has come within the sphere of his action or interference.2

Without touching on Consular appointment, in general, I will just say in passing, that I think that of Mr Morphy at Malaga a very good one—he appears to be a very respectable Character.3

Mr Logie, late Consul of his Britannic Majesty at Algiers, arrived here the day before yesterday. Yesterday a Merchant of the British Factory came to invite me to dine with him in company with Mr Logie, who, he said, had expressed a wish of becoming acquainted with me. Whatever I might have felt, I could have wished a previous engagement had not prevented me from deriving all the intelligence possible from Logie. He is going to England by the Packet.4

Since my last, two English Captains, and a Dutch Captain, who lately made their escape from Prison at Brest, arrived here. They assert, that a fleet of eight sail of the Line with several frigates & armed vessels sailed on a secret expedition, on the 13th of last month: that twenty one or twenty two sail more were fit for Sea, riding at single anchor in that Port; that the People were much united & greatly animated by their late successes; and that Provisions were plenty & particularly that grain was in such abundance, that the Churches were obliged to be occupied as Store Houses for receiving it. This intelligence does not seem to be contraverted even by the Aristocrates.5 With sentiments of perfect esteem & respect, I have the honour to be my dear Sir Yr affecte friend & devoted Servt

D. Humphreys

P.S. no Packet has yet arrived with the British King’s speech.6


1Other letters sent at this time included Humphreys’ letters to the secretary of state of 7 and 25 Dec. 1793 and 30 Jan. 1794, all of which are docketed as received on 1 April 1794 (DNA: RG 59, Despatches from U.S. Ministers to Portugal; see also Humphreys, Life and Times of David Humphreys description begins Francis Landon Humphreys. Life and Times of David Humphreys: Soldier—Statesman—Poet, “Belov’d of Washington”. 2 vols. New York and London, 1917. description ends , 2:191–92, and 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 , 1:418–23). Edmund Randolph submitted these three letters to GW on 2 April (JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 296). Humphreys’ previous letter to GW of 31 Jan. also was included with this packet of letters.

2For James Simpson’s nomination as the U.S. consul for the Spanish port of Gibraltar, see GW to U.S. Senate, 28 May. On the death of American diplomat Thomas Barclay at Lisbon in January 1793, see n.1 of Humphreys to GW, 23 Jan. 1793.

3For the appointment of Michael Morphy as the U.S. consul for the Spanish port city of Málaga, see n.4 of Thomas Jefferson’s memorandum to GW of 28 Feb. 1793 and GW to U.S. Senate, 1 March 1793 (first letter).

4For a possible cause of Humphreys’ apparently negative feelings about Charles Logie, see n.1 of Humphreys to GW, 31 January.

5Brest is a port city located on an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean in northwest France. The Battle of Hondschoote, 6–8 Sept.; the Battle of Wattignies, 15–16 Oct.; the removal of the Austrian Army from Alsace in December; and the retaking of Lyon on 9 Oct. and Toulon on 19 Dec. are some of the events that boosted the morale of the French nation in late 1793 and early 1794 as the French drove foreign armies out of France and subdued counter-revolutionary activity.

6Humphreys is referring to the speech that King George III gave at the opening of the current session of Parliament on 21 January. After reviewing the progress of the war against France, the king urged continued British participation until a peace was achieved that provided for the “permanent safety” of British citizens and “the independence and security of Europe” (Parliamentary History of England description begins The Parliamentary History of England, from the Earliest Period to the Year 1803. 36 vols. London, 1806–20. description ends , 30:1045–47). It was published in the Times (London) on 22 January.

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