George Washington Papers
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Timothy Pickering to Bartholomew Dandridge, Jr., 22 January 1796

Timothy Pickering to Bartholomew Dandridge, Jr.

Jany 22. 96. 3 o’clock

Dear Sir,

I have this moment recd from Mr Wolcott the inclosed letter to Mr Adet, which this morning I left at Mr Wolcott’s office for his perusal and remarks. He approves of it entirely. I called at Mr Lee’s in the morning for the like purpose, but he was not at home. However, his letter to me (also inclosed) which I received yesterday, shows a concurrence of his opinion in every principle advanced by me. Should the President have leisure to peruse them before evening, and think no alteration necessary, I could send the letter to Mr Adet: otherwise it may be done to-morrow morning.1

I also inclose a letter from Govr Blount recd this day.2 Very sincerely yours

T. Pickering

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

1Pickering probably enclosed his letter to Pierre-Auguste Adet of 20 Jan., which responded to complaints made in Adet’s letter to Pickering of 12 Jan. about the British purchase of flour, horses, and arms in the United States and the use of American vessels, manned by American seamen, to ship supplies to Great Britain. Pickering contended that as flour had been sold to France it would be contrary to American neutrality to forbid sales to Britain. Although horses and arms were contraband of war, the government had no obligation under the law of nations to prevent their purchase by belligerent powers; its obligation was met by the warning in GW’s neutrality proclamation that no protection would be extended if those goods were seized by the opposing power. Indeed France had approved that principle when a similar reply was given to the British minister’s complaints about France purchasing supplies. As for the shipments in American vessels, while American law prohibited Americans from using their vessels as privateers in the service of either power, and from enlisting to serve on foreign privateers, it was not unlawful for them to “to sell or hire their unarmed vessels to any of the powers at war, and to man the vessels so sold or hired.” These principles were concordant not only with the law of nations but with the twelfth, thirteenth, twenty-first, and twenty-third articles of the treaty of amity and commerce with France (DNA: RG 59, Domestic Letters). Charles Lee’s “Remarks on the letter of Mr Adet” is dated 20 Jan. (DNA: RG 60, Letters from and Opinions of the Attorneys General, 1791–1811).

2Pickering probably enclosed William Blount’s letter to him of 19 Dec. 1795. The copy of that letter transmitted with GW’s message to Congress of 2 Feb. reads: “Believing it not only my duty to prevent infractions of Treaties if in my power and to report such as have happened, but to give you information of such sources as from which infractions may probably flow, I shall now state to you one that will give Government much trouble. Recourse being had to the following acts of the Legislature of North Carolina, namely, ‘An Act for opening the Land office for the redemption of the specie and other certificates and discharging the arrears due the army’ (page 446 Iredell’s revisal) to ‘An Act for the relief of the officers and Soldiers in the Continental line, and for other purposes therein mentioned’ (Page 421 Iredells revisal) and to ‘An Act to amend an Act entitled an Act for the relief of the officers and Soldiers of the Continental line and for other purposes’ (Page 449 Iredell’s revisal) It will appear that North Carolina opened offices for disposing of all her unappropriated lands except a part which is by the fifth Section of the first recited act reserved for the Cherokees. The Grantees under these acts contend that they have a legal right to the lands granted, and that to that right is attached the right immediately to possess them notwithstanding the lands granted may be guaranteed to Indians by Treaty and many of them declare they will take the possession be the consequences what they may unless prevented by superior force.

“People in general are ever partial to their own claims, and some of these Grantees, who have taken the Counsel of persons reputed learned in the law, are the more confirmed as to their right immediately to possess the lands granted, any treaty to the contrary notwithstanding. Government appears to have the alternative, either to extinguish the claims of the Grantees or Indians to the lands in question, or to take effectual measures to prevent the Grantees from taking possession or again be involved in an Indian war by their so doing. Few of these Grantees originally resided in this Territory, but many of them have arrived in the course of the last fall and others are daily arriving” (DNA: RG 46, entry 47).

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