George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to John Adams, 1 March 1791

To John Adams

Philadelphia March 1st 1791.

Certain matters touching the public good requiring that the Senate shall be convened on Friday the 4th Instant, I have desired their Attendance, as I do yours by these Presents, at the Senate Chamber in Philadelphia on that day, then and there to receive and deliberate on such Communications as shall be made to you on my part.1

Go: Washington.

LB, DLC:GW; copy, DNA: RG 46, Second Congress, 1791–1793, Senate Records, Executive Proceedings.

This letter was addressed “to the President of the Senate.” The letter-book copy of this document is prefaced by a note, which reads: “The President of the United States having thought proper to convene the Senate on the 4th of March, for the dispatch of public business of an Executive nature, the following Summonses were sent to the President of the Senate, and to each member of that body who were in the City of Philadelphia. A Summons was likewise addressed to every member of the Senate who was absent; but as the business for which they were about to be convened would not probably engage the Senate more than one or two days, it was not thought proper to send them to the States where the absent members resided, the Summonses of this nature were therefore left in the Senate Chamber—when the others were sent to the residence of each individual in the City of Philadelphia.” The note is followed by the letter to John Adams. That letter is followed by the form letter sent to members of the Senate. It is addressed: “The President of the United States To [ ], Senator for the State of [ ]” and reads “Certain matters touching the public good requiring that the Senate shall be convened on Friday the 4th Instant, You are desired to attend at the Senate Chamber in Philadelphia on that Day, then and there to receive and deliberate on such communications as shall be made on my part. Go: Washington.” Several recipient’s copies of this letter have been found. Among them are copies sent to William Samuel Johnson (NNC), John Rutherford (NjHi), and Caleb Strong (MHi).

1GW called the Senate into special session to consider nominations for military posts, nominations for supervisors of the excise, and nominations for federal offices in Vermont, which officially became a state on 4 Mar. 1791 (for these nominations, see GW’s three messages to the Senate, all dated 4 Mar. 1791). GW had previously conferred with Thomas Jefferson, who had advised him that the Senate could not constitutionally consider nominations to fill offices in Vermont before the formal date of admission prescribed by the Vermont Statehood Act, which GW signed into law on 18 Feb. 1791 (see GW to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, 9 Feb. 1791, and Thomas Jefferson to GW, 19 Feb. 1791).

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