George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Edmund Randolph, 17 October 1794

From Edmund Randolph

Philadelphia October 17th 1794.


I purpose to execute, what Mr Jay recommends in his letter of the 23d of August, just received; a copy of which I have the honor of now enclosing. I mean also to have an interview with those persons here, who are interested in spoliations, tomorrow morning eleven OClock, upon the subject of an Agent.

Mr Jay’s memento as to the acknowledgment of letters received from him, has been always fulfilled in my letters, immediately succeeding the arrival of his.

Mr Coxe’s Note enclosed contains instances of British Depredation, barely reconcileable with pacific intentions.1

It has been declared by Captain Cochran of the British Ship Thetis, in a letter to Consul Hamilton of Norfolk, that Americans, found on board of French privateers, shall be sent to Halifax, to be there tried as pirates.2

I have to request, that Mr Dandridge will be so obliging, as to give the letters, directed for the army their proper course.3 I have the honor to be, sir, with the highest respect yr mo. ob. serv.

Edm: Randolph

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

1Randolph enclosed an extract of a letter of 16 Sept. from Philadelphia merchant Daniel William Coxe (1769–1852) to his brother Tench Coxe. Daniel W. Coxe, who was awaiting trial at Bermuda, having been captured by a privateer while en route from France to Philadelphia, wrote: “Since my arrival here about twelve Sail of Americans have been sent in, two of them belonging to New York were taken off the Hook within a few Miles of the Light House. The privateer owners here are exerting themselves to kindle a War. If they cannot effect this, they confide in the British Government’s refunding for the illegal Captures of American Vessels & property, so that all events they expect to be Gainers. This principle however iniquitous it may appear is really the prevalent one. Bridger Goodrich a Virginian by birth who is considered to have been the cause of a declaration of War against this Island in 1781, was the first that fitted out a privateer this war, and is owner of the two that have been cruizing off the Chessapeak Delaware and Sandy hook some time past. He is a man of a large monied Capital acquired altogether by privateering and a most daring and enterprizing Character, possessed of an Understanding adequate to any Undertaking, having made privateering in its various branches his only study. The Judge of the Admiralty & the Attorney General are his minions and indeed I look upon him as absolute Dictator of the Island. I am anxious to impress you with a just idea of the dangerous Character of this Man, who if countenanced by the British Government and not called to a personal account for his flagitious Conduct will certainly push his Acts of piracy to an alarming length. He has now a Ship ready to launch that will mount 22 nine-pounders, and will probably be the most complete Sailer ever built here” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; for the original letter, see PHi: Coxe Family Papers).

2The letter from Alexander Forrester Inglis Cochrane of 5 Sept. has not been identified, but see Randolph to GW, 4 Nov., n.3, for Randolph’s correspondence about it with British Minister George Hammond. John Hamilton (c.1744–1816), who had been a lieutenant colonel of a North Carolina Loyalist regiment during the Revolutionary War, served as British consul at Norfolk from 1791 until 1812, when he returned to England.

The remainder of this letter is in Randolph’s writing.

3These letters have not been identified.

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