Thomas Jefferson Papers
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To Thomas Jefferson from George Washington, 11 June 1793

From George Washington

June 11th: 1793

The President of the United States sends to the Secretary of State a letter and enclosures which he has just received from the Governor of New York, respecting the detention of an Armed vessel which was about to sail from New York, supposed to be commissioned as a privateer by one of the European belligerent Powers.

The President wishes the Secretary of State to lay these documents before the Heads of the other Departments, as soon as may be, and to let the President know what is their opinion, as well as the Secretary’s of State, of the measures which should be taken in the case—and what answer should be given to the Governor’s letter. If there be a concurrence of opinion as to the Answer which ought to be given to the Governor, the President wishes the Secretary to draft it agreeably thereto.

RC (DLC); in the hand of Tobias Lear; endorsed by TJ as received 11 June 1793. Recorded in SJPL. Enclosures: (1) Master Warden Thomas Randall to George Clinton, New York, 8 June 1793, 9:00 p.m., reporting, in compliance with Clinton’s proclamation, that an armed sloop manned by British or American sailors and commissioned as a privateer by one of the belligerent European powers would sail this evening from “Swartwoudt’s Wharf at the North-River” unless this was prevented (Tr in DNA: RG 59, LGS, in Clinton’s hand; PrC of Tr in DLC, in a clerk’s hand; PrC of another Tr in DNA: RG 59, MLR, in a clerk’s hand; Tr in Lb in same, DL). (2) Alexandre Maurice d’Hauterive to Clinton, New York, 9 June 1793, protesting as a violation of neutrality the detention of an armed French ship about to sail to assist in the French struggle for liberty and demanding that it be freed (Tr in DNA: RG 59, LGS, in French, in DeWitt Clinton’s hand, except for penciled note at head of text by TJ: “this letter singly to be copd & press copd”; PrC of Tr in DLC, in French, in a clerk’s hand; PrC of another Tr in DNA: RG 59, MLR, in French, in a clerk’s hand; PrC of another Tr in PRO: FO 97/1, in French, in the hand of George Taylor, Jr.; Tr in NNC: Gouverneur Morris Papers, in French; Tr in Lb in DNA: RG 59, DL, in French and English; Tr in same, LGS, English translation in Philip Freneau’s hand; Tr in DNA: RG 46, Senate Records, 3d Cong., 1st sess., variant English translation). (3) Clinton to Hauterive, New York, 9 June 1793, stating that in response to a request from the President he had ordered a detachment of militia to detain the armed sloop in question until the President was notified of the facts of the case because the ship reportedly had been manned and equipped in New York to serve as a privateer under a commission from a belligerent European power; and that he would immediately communicate a copy of No. 2 to the President (Tr in DNA: RG 59, LGS, in Clinton’s hand; PrC of another Tr in DLC, in a clerk’s hand; PrC of another Tr in DNA:RG 59, MLR, in a clerk’s hand; Tr in Lb in same, DL). (4) Clinton to Washington, 9 June 1793, stating that, in compliance with the President’s request as communicated in a 24 May letter from the Secretary of War, he had ordered a small detachment of militia to detain a sloop armed and manned in New York and about to sail with a privateering commission from a belligerent European power until such time as the President rendered a decision on the case; that, in addition to the information contained in Nos. 1–3, the sloop, formerly known as the Polly, had been transferred by its owners, “a Mr. Noble of Hudson and others,” to a French citizen residing in New York, was now called the Republican, and was commanded by Citizen Orset, a French captain, with what appeared to be a partially French crew; and that to justify his use of the militia he thought it necessary that they be considered as called into service under United States authority (RC in DNA: RG 59, LGS; PrC of Tr in DLC, in a clerk’s hand; PrC of another Tr in DNA: RG 59, MLR, in a clerk’s hand; Tr in Lb in same, DL).

For the Cabinet’s response to the fitting out in New York of the Republican, the French privateer that was the subject of the enclosures listed above, see Cabinet Opinions on the Republican and the Catharine, 12 June 1793.

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