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VI. The President to the Senate, [14 February 1791]

VI. The President to the Senate

[14 Feb. 1791]

[Gentlemen of the Senate

Conceiving that in the possible event of a refusal of justice on the part of Gr. Britain, we should stand less committed should it be made to a private rather than to a public person, I employed Mr. Gouv. Morris, who was on the spot, and without giving him any definite character, to enter informally into the conferences before mentioned. For your more particular information I lay before you the instructions I gave him, and those]1 parts of his communications wherein the British ministers appear either in conversation or by letter. These are, two letters from the D. of Leeds to Mr. Morris, and three letters of Mr. Morris giving an account of two conferences with the D. of Leeds, and one with him and Mr. Pitt. The sum of these is that they declare without scruple they do not mean to fulfill what remains of the treaty of peace to be fulfilled on their part (by which we are to understand the delivery of the posts and payment for property carried off) till performance on our part, and compensation where the delay has rendered performance now impracticable: that on the subject of a treaty of commerce they avoided direct answers so as to satisfy Mr. Morris2 they did not mean to enter into one unless it could be extended to a treaty of alliance offensive and defensive, or unless in the event of a rupture with Spain.

As to the sending a minister here, they make excuses in the first conference, seem disposed to it in the second, and in the last express an intention of so doing.

Their views being thus sufficiently ascertained, I have directed Mr. Morris to discontinue his communications with them.

Dft (DLC); with deletions and interlineations as indicated below. Tr (DLC: Washington Papers). See note to foregoing document. The official text (JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States … to the Termination of the Nineteenth Congress, Washington, 1828 description ends , i, 73) agrees with Dft as altered.

Enclosures: (1) Washington to Morris, 13 Oct. 1789 (credentials). (2) Washington to Morris, 13 Oct. 1789 (instructions). (3) Morris to Washington, 7 Apr. 1790. (4) Leeds to Morris, 28 Apr. 1790. (5) Morris to Washington, 29 May 1790. (6) Morris to Leeds, 10 Sep. 1790. (7) Leeds to Morris, 10 Sep. 1790. (8) Morris to Washington, 18 Sep. 1790. All of the enclosures, together with the texts of both of the President’s messages, are printed in ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, Gales & Seaton, 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Foreign Relations, I, 121–7. For messages from Morris not sent to the Senate, see enclosure to Washington to TJ, 19 June 1790, and enclosures III and IV to Document I in the present series.

1The passage in brackets (supplied) is written on a slip pasted over a cancelled passage, which reads: “Gentlemen of the Senate-For your further and more particular information I lay before you the instructions I gave to Mr. Gouverneur Morris (the person whom I employed for the purpose before mentioned) and those.” This passage was not cancelled in TJ’s usual manner of making deletions and hence must have been done by Washington. This is the most important of the alterations that Washington approved in his memorandum to TJ (Document IV).

2This passage at first read: “… they made evasive answers which satisfied Mr. Morris” and then was altered by deletion and interlineation to read as above. This was perhaps one of the alterations suggested by Washington.

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