George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Mifflin, 27 March 1794

From Thomas Mifflin

Phil: 27 Mar. 1794


As soon as I recd the communication of your arrangements, for laying an Embargo on the trade of this Port, I issued instructions to the Commanding Officer at Fort Mifflin upon the subject; and of those instructions I have now the honor to inclose you a copy.1 I am, with perfect respect, Sir Yr most obed. H. Servt.

Df, PHarH: Executive Correspondence, 1794; LB, PHarH: Executive Letter-Books.

1A joint resolution of Congress of 26 March imposed a thirty-day embargo “on all ships and vessels in the ports of the United States” (Stat description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends . 1:400). On the implementation of this resolve by the administration, see Cabinet Opinion, 26 March. Mifflin’s copy of the circular letter that Henry Knox sent to the governors of the maritime states has not been identified. This letter, which was printed and dated “8 o’clock P.M. 26 March 1794,” reads: “I am instructed by the President of the United States to transmit to your Excellency the inclosed resolve of Congress passed this day, laying an embargo for Thirty days, upon all vessels bound to any foreign port or place. The President requests that you will please to enforce the prompt execution of the said resolve by the aid of the militia in all cases where the same may be necessary.” A hand-written postscript on the letter sent to North Carolina governor Richard Dobbs Spaight reads, “All armed vessels possessing public Commissions from any foreign power (letter of marque excepted) are considered as not liable to the embargo” (DSoC).

The enclosed copy of Mifflin’s letter of 26 March to Capt. John Rice, commander at Fort Mifflin, reads: “The enclosed Letter from the Secretary of War I have this moment received. You will comply lierally with the Instructions therein contain’d and not permit any vessel bound to any foreign Port to pass the Port, unless furnished with a Special passport from the President of the United States” (PHarH: Executive Correspondence).

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