Thomas Jefferson Papers
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George Wythe to Thomas Jefferson and Edmund Randolph, 17 August 1793

George Wythe to Thomas Jefferson and Edmund Randolph

Richmond 17th of august, 1793.

Gentlemen

The citizens of Richmond wish you, or one of you, if the other be absent, to present to the president their address which is inclosed with This. I am your friend

G. Wythe

RC (DLC); addressed: “Thomas Jefferson secretary of state and Edmund Randolph, attorney general, Philadelphia.” Enclosure: Inhabitants of Richmond and vicinity to George Washington, Richmond, 17 Aug. 1793, expressing approval of American neutrality policy generally, and of the “propriety, justice, and wisdom” of the Proclamation of Neutrality in particular, and pledging their best efforts to restrain any citizen from violating the peace (RC in DLC: Washington Papers, in a clerk’s hand, signed by Wythe “by desire and on behalf of the Meeting,” addressed “To, The President of the United States,” and endorsed by Bartholomew Dandridge, Jr.; Tr in Lb in same; printed in Marshall, Papers description begins Herbert A. Johnson, Charles T. Cullen, Charles F. Hobson, and others, eds., The Papers of John Marshall, Chapel Hill, 1974–2006, 12 vols. description ends , ii, 198–200).

With the advent of the neutrality crisis, Federalists opened a campaign to capture public opinion by holding and publicizing the proceedings of a series of mass meetings. Initially these gatherings merely expressed strong approval of the Proclamation of Neutrality, but after French minister Edmond Charles Genet’s threat to appeal Washington’s handling of foreign policy to the American people became common knowledge earlier this month, Alexander Hamilton and other Federalist leaders orchestrated the adoption of resolutions combining support for the President’s neutrality policy with attacks on Genet at rallies in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. As a direct challenge in the Republican heartland, however, the RICHMOND meeting was the most important and the most extensively publicized. Although the widely respected jurist Wythe, TJ’s mentor and friend, was astutely chosen to chair the meeting, the rising Federalist attorney John Marshall composed both the address and a series of resolutions also approved by the Richmond meeting which praised the Proclamation of Neutrality and warned against the interference of foreign diplomats in American internal affairs lest it “lead to the introduction of foreign gold and foreign armies, with their fatal consequences, dismemberment and partition” (Harry Ammon, “The Genet Mission and the Development of American Political Parties,” JAH description begins Journal of American History, 1964- description ends , lii [1966], 725–41; Marshall, Papers description begins Herbert A. Johnson, Charles T. Cullen, Charles F. Hobson, and others, eds., The Papers of John Marshall, Chapel Hill, 1974–2006, 12 vols. description ends , ii, 196–7). For the Republican response, see James Madison to TJ, 27 Aug. 1793, and note, and 2 Sep. 1793, and note and enclosure.

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