George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Edmund Randolph, 27 June 1794

To Edmund Randolph

Mount Vernon June 27th 1794


I have duly recd your several Letters of the 20th 21st & 22d instt, with their enclosures. The only matter which seems to require my immediate attention is contained in the last of them.

I am not disposed under my present view of the case, to inform Mr Hammond that Our Envoy at the Court of London shall be specially instructed on the point of compensation, for British vessels captured by French Priv[atee]rs, contrary to the rules which have been established by this Govt as the general Powers of the sd Envoy extends to, & embrace this object. <But wo>uld it be amiss to let him <know infor>mally & verbally that Mr Jays Powers go to this, as well as to other cases. I well remember the precaution I used to prevent any further commitment of the Executive on this head than a mere expression of his opinion as to the expediency of the measure. This having been complied with in the communication to Congress of the 5th of Decr the matter had better remain, in my opinion, upon the ground it now stands until things are a little more developed. In the mean time, some such written Official answer as you have suggested (softened as it can well bear) might be given to Mr Hammond.

Go. Washington

ADfS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DNA: RG 59, GW’s Correspondence with His Secretaries of State. Where the ADfS is damaged, the text in angle brackets has been supplied from the letter-book copy.

At the bottom of the draft, GW wrote an additional paragraph, marked "on a slip of paper put into the above letter & private." That text, which was not recorded in the letter-book copy, reads: "If the measure of instructing Mr Jay particularly on the subject of compensation should appear advisable I have no doubt (without looking to the Constitution which is not by me) of the power—for the same instrument which declares that no money shall be appropriated otherwise than by Law, also says that the P. with the advice & consent of the Senate shall have power to negotiate & make treaties without <a>ny <r>estrictions both fabrics therefore stand on the same foundation & must be equally strong. But to what instance, or instances does the Secretary of the Treasury allude when, in the opinion he has given in this case he adds ’I think we have lately lost ground’[?]" (see opinions of Alexander Hamilton and Henry Knox enclosed in Randolph to GW, 22 June).

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