George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Edmund Randolph, 15 February 1794

From Edmund Randolph

[Philadelphia] Saturday ⟨15. February 1794⟩1

The Secretary of State has the honor of laying before the President the copy of a proclamation, put into his hands by Govr. St Clair for that purpose.2

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

1The date, which is taken from the letter-book copy, did occur on a Saturday. The docket on the AL reads, “15. Feby 1794.”

2The enclosed copy of the proclamation of 8 Dec. 1793 by Arthur St. Clair, governor of the Northwest Territory, reads: “Whereas a War at present exists in Europe between France on the one part and certain other Powers on the other part, and although the United States are allied to France, yet they are not Parties to this War, but are at Peace with all the other Powers, and in particular with Spain, from which political situation results, by the Law of Nations, the Duty a strict neutrality and a Conduct perfectly equal and important towards all the belligerent Powers, the observation of which neutrality has been enjoined upon the Citizens of the united states by the President in his Proclamation bearing date the 22d day of April 1793; And it having been communicated to me thro the Secretary of War that Representations have been made to the President by the Representatives of Spain of the designs of certain Frenchmen by the Names of la Chaise, Charles Delpeau, Mathurin and Signoux to excite and engage as many as they could of our Citizens or others to undertake an Expedition against the spanish settlements within our Neighbourhood I have thought fit to issue this Proclamation enjoining all the Inhabitants of the Territory of the united States north west of the River Ohio to observe a strict neutrality towards Spain; and to abstain from every Act of hostility against the Subjects and Settlements of that Crown, and strictly forbidding all and every of the said Inhabitants to join themselves to the said la Chaise, Charles Depeau, Mathurin and Signoux or either of them in any attempt they may meditate or undertake against the spanish settlements on the Missisippi, or to aid and abett them in the same in any manner whatsoever: And all Persons who shall offend in the Premises may depend upon being prosecuted and punished with the utmost rigor of the Law: And I do hereby require and command all Officers civil and military to use their utmost endeavours to prevent the said la Chaise &ca or either of them from making any levies of Men or other preparation for their intended Expedition within the Territory and to imprison them should they have the audacity to attempt it, and to restrain all and every of the Inhabitants from joining themselves to them or either of them.

“In testimony whereof I have caused the Seal of the Territory to be affixed to these Presents, and have signed the same with my Hand. Done at the City of Marietta in the County of Washington the 8th day of December 179[3] and of the Independance of the united States the seventeenth Year” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). The docket on this copy reads “recd. feby 13. 94.”

Auguste de la Chaise (d. 1803), a native of Louisiana and a former soldier stationed in Saint Domingue; Charles De Pauw (b. 1756), a Kentucky merchant of Huguenot ancestry who emigrated circa 1776 to the United States; Mathurin, a carpenter by trade; and Jean-Pierre Gignouse (Gignoux; Pisgignoux) were agents engaged by Edmond Genet, the French minister to the United States, to help raise military forces within Kentucky for an expedition against the Spanish colony of Louisiana (“Selections from the Draper Collection,” description begins “Selections from the Draper Collection in the Possession of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, to Elucidate the Proposed French Expedition under George Rogers Clark Against Louisiana, in the Years 1793-94.” In Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1896, vol. 1. Washington, D.C., 1897, pages 930-1107. description ends 1002–7, 1047; see also Chaise to Democratic Society of Lexington, Ky., c.14 May 1794, ASP, Miscellany 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 , 1:931). For the letters that apparently prompted the governor to issue this proclamation, see Thomas Jefferson to Isaac Shelby, 6 Nov. 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 , 27:312–13, and Henry Knox to St. Clair, 9 Nov. 1793, 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 , 1:458. On the administration’s concern about the activities of these and other French agents recruited by Genet, see GW to U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, 3 Dec. 1793; Cabinet Opinion, 10 March 1794; and GW’s Proclamation of 24 March.

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