George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Edmund Randolph, 15 October 1794

From Edmund Randolph

Philadelphia October 15. 1794.


I have the honor of inclosing to you a translation of the letters of Credence of Chevalier de Freire.1

By a Mr de Villemont a native and inhabitant of New Orleans, I have received two long letters of the 12th and 14th of august from Mr Short.2 It is full of dissatisfaction with the treasury-department, the department of state, & Mr Carmichael. With the first, for his having been so constantly employed in the money transactions at the Hague; with the second, that he is not minister-plenipotentiary; and with the third, for every point of their intercourse—I am happy to find, that the manner of treating Mr Carmichael has reconciled him to the change; altho’ he has not merited much tenderness. But it is so apparent, that nothing could have been successfully executed by him, that patience is almost misplaced to his negligence.

The Mississippi is so much asleep, that I conceive ourselves to be now able to take a definitive step with respect to Mr Pinckney.3 Mr Short’s letters are so lengthy, that I shall reserve them till your return, when I will submit to your consideration the final arrangement of the business. The summary of his communications is, that the Duke de la Alcudia passes it over without much attention.

This Mr Villemont is suspected to be sent hither to sound the temper of the United States towards Spain; and he accordingly means to travel thro’ them.4 I have the honor, Sir, to be with the highest respect yr mo. ob. serv.

Edm: Randolph.

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

1The enclosed translation has not been identified. A copy (in Portuguese) of the letter of credence, dated 15 Jan. 1793, is in DNA:PCC, item 129.

2William Short’s letters to Randolph of 12 and 14 Aug. are in DNA: RG 59, Despatches from U.S. Ministers to Spain. The litany of complaints that Randolph summarizes come from the letter of 12 Aug.; the letter of 14 Aug. mostly conveys news of the European war. For the initial employment of Short as a Treasury Department agent for conducting U.S. loans in Europe, see Alexander Hamilton to GW, 3 Sept. 1790, and n.2.

According to Short’s letter of 12 Aug., Villemont was “an officer in the service of Spain, and has the intention of travelling through the Spanish possessions, intending first to travel through the U.S. As he has received marks of favor from the Duke dela Alcudia, it is supposed by some he is employed by him to examine the dispositions of the U.S. and that he is to command a post on the Mississippi—these suppositions may be grounded, but I do not consider them so.”

3Randolph was referring to the proposal to send Thomas Pinckney to Spain as a special envoy (see his letter to GW of 2–3 Oct.).

4On 10 Nov., Randolph signed a passport for Luis de Villemont, “a Captain in the Spanish service,” who intended to travel within the United States for the “study of natural history” (DNA: RG 59, Domestic Letters).

Index Entries