George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Edmund Randolph, 1 April 1794

From Edmund Randolph

[Philadelphia] Tuesday afternoon April 1. 1794.


The distraction of my head from pain scarcely enables me to hope for tolerable exactness in my remarks. If therefore it were possible to let the paper rest with me, until the morning, I could better fulfil your wishes.1

According, however, to the view, which I now take of the subject, the seven first paragraphs appear unexceptionable, so far as respects the President.

I am extremely dissatisfied with the manner of the three last clauses. The first of those three, which is the eighth in order, states that he always had the President’s Sanction for disposing of the money, as he did. So far he had the sanction, “I approve if it be agreeable to law.” At first sight, it would seem “that the last line in the paper was tantamount to this idea. But the positive assertion, that your sanction was always given to the disposition; including the drawing of the money over here, implies, that you considered this act as lawful.

Permit me to suggest this mode of answer, to be given verbally. “I have read the paper, but not distinctly recollecting all the circumstances, I can only say, that I do not discover any thing Which I am to object to as to myself, unless the manner, in which you speak of my sanction in disposing of the loans, implies that I meant to give an opinion how far it might or might not be lawful. I presume however, that you do not mean this, as you say at the close, that my san⟨c⟩tion was always expressly or tacitly qualified with the condition that whatever was to be done was to be agreeable to the law. I imagine that you sent me the paper, only to determine, what related to myself, and therefore I did not undertake to judge of other parts.”2 I have the honor sir, to be with sincere attachment & respect yr mo. ob. serv.

Edm: Randolph.

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

1The paper under consideration, which carries this date, was Alexander Hamilton’s “Report on Principles and Course of Proceeding with Regard to the Disposition of the Moneys Borrowed Abroad by Virtue of the Acts of the Fourth and Twelfth of August, 1790, as to the Point of Authority.” For this report, see n.1 of Hamilton’s letter to GW of this date.

2For GW’s eventual response to Hamilton’s report, see his two letters to Hamilton of 8 April (letters 1 & 2).

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