George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Mifflin, 9 June 1794

From Thomas Mifflin

Philadelphia, 9th June 1794.


I have the honor to transmit, for your information, a copy of a Report from the Master Warden of the Port of Philadelphia, stating the arrival of the Schooner Flora, Captain Westerhock, a Dutch Privateer, mounting ten Four-pounders.1

As the 22nd Article of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce, between the United States and France, provides that it shall not be lawful for any foreign privateers, who have commissions from any other Prince or State, in enmity with either nation, even to purchase victuals, in the Ports of the respective nations, except such as shall be necessary for their going to the next Port of that Prince, or State, from which they have commissions, I have directed the attention of the Master Warden to the subject (as you will perceive by the enclosed Copy of my letter to that Officer)2 and, if any other measures are to be pursued on my part, I will be happy to receive your Intentions thereon.3 I am, with perfect respect, Sir, Your Excellency’s Most Obedt Hble servt.

Df, PHarH: Executive Correspondence, 1790-99; LB, PHarH: Executive Letterbooks.

1The enclosed copy has not been identified, but Master Warden Nathaniel Falconer’s letter to Mifflin of this date informed him "that Andrew Higgins, Pilot has this Morning reported the Schooner Flora Captain Westerhok a Dutch priviteer Mounting Ten four Pounders" (PHarH: Executive Correspondence, 1790-99). According to a newspaper report, the schooner, most recently from Kingston, Jamaica, arrived on the evening of 7 June (Philadelphia Gazette and Universal Daily Advertiser, 9 June). As Mifflin would report on 10 June, the Flora was actually a Dutch naval vessel. The captain was M.C.J. van Westerholt of the Dutch navy.

2For the Treaty of Amity and Commerce with France, 6 Feb. 1778, see Miller, Treaties description begins Hunter Miller, ed. Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America. Vol. 2, 1776-1818. Washington, D.C., 1931. description ends , 3-34. The enclosed copy of Mifflin’s letter to Falconer of this date has not been identified, but a letter-book copy is in PHarH: Executive Letterbooks. Mifflin summarized the 22d article of the treaty and continued: "As the Flora is a Privateer belonging to a State in enmity with France, it will be proper, immediately to intimate these restrictions to Captn Westerhock; and to take every other lawful precaution to prevent their being violated or evaded."

3Secretary of War Henry Knox replied to Mifflin on 10 June "that the President cannot but approve of the measures you have directed In order to place the matter beyond doubt it might be proper to obtain a copy of her Commission for the purpose of confirming her being a privateer, and not a letter of Marque to which a different treatment would be proper" (PHarH: Executive Correspondence, 1790-99).

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