George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to Timothy Pickering, 26 October 1795

To Timothy Pickering

26th Octr 1795

Not doubting but that the statements, contained in the enclosed letter to Mr Pinckney, are grounded on facts, it appears to me to be as proper as it is spirited.1

Transcript, MHi: Pickering Papers. The transcript was certified as “A true copy” by Octavius Pickering, 22 Feb. 1866.

1The transcript of Pickering’s docket reads in part: “Approves the letter to Mr Pinckney of Oct. [22] relative to the Bermudian captures &c.” In his letter to Thomas Pinckney of 22 Oct., Pickering began by noting that “The depredations committed by the Bermudians on the commerce of the United States have excited general indignation, and joined with other spoliations have suggested the idea, that to save us from further and ruinous losses and vexations, it will be necessary wholly to suspend our trade.” The treatment of vessels brought into Bermuda was “scandalous. Where no pretence can be found for condemning the property, the Americans are constantly made to pay the whole expenses.” Even when acquitted, “the captured property is subjected to the payment of costs,” but usually the captors appeal, which requires the owners to put up security, to obtain which they must mortgage their cargo and pay commissions to the sureties and agents. Recently a ship was seized shortly after departure from the Delaware River “under pretence that the exportation of her cargo was by our late Treaty of Amity with Great Britain, rendered unlawful.” Thus the treaty “framed to secure our mutual peace was to be insured by committing it to the guardianship of their privateers!” It was GW’s “express direction and earnest desire” that Pinckney “make to the British Government a pointed memorial on the subject of the depredations on our commerce, particularly on our own coast, and especially by the Bermudian privateers.” If Great Britain would address the “root of the evil,” they should remove the judge, reportedly from Philadelphia, who “like other renegadoes … stops at no excess of apparently wanton injury and injustice towards the citizens of the Country he has abandoned.” The appointment of such renegades is “as impolitic on the part of Great Britain as injurious to us,” and if “the British Government sincerely desire to conform to the spirit as well as to the letter of the late Treaty … they will relieve us from the official agency of men so obnoxious and so naturally inclined to irritate and injure the Citizens of the United States.” That point should be made by “private and unoffical communications.” Pickering finished by detailing one more outrage, noting that the United States so far had few complaints about the admiralty court at Halifax, and complaining that the Bermudian court paid “no regard … to the attestations of public notaries of the United States” unless they were “certified by the British minister or Consul: This is an indignity which ought not to be offered to any regular Government” (DNA: RG 59, Diplomatic and Consular Instructions).

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