Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Cabinet Opinion on Consulting the Supreme Court, 12 July 1793

Cabinet Opinion on Consulting the Supreme Court

July 12. 1793. At a meeting of the heads of the departments at the President’s on summons from him, and on consideration of various representations1 from the Ministers Plenipotentiary of France and Great Britain on the subject of vessels arming and arriving in our ports, and of prizes it is their opinion that letters be written to the said Ministers informing them that the Executive of the US., desirous of having done what shall be strictly conformeable to the2 treaties of the US. and the laws respecting the said cases has determined to refer the questions arising therein to persons learned in the laws: that as this reference will occasion some delay, it is expected that in the mean time the Little Sarah or Little Democrat the Ship Jane3 and the ship William in the Delaware, the Citoyen Genet and her prizes the brigs Lovely Lass and Prince William Henry, and the brig Fanny in the Chesapeake do not depart till the further order of the President.

That letters be addressed to the Judges of the Supreme court of the US. requesting their attendance at this place on Thursday the 18th. instant to give their advice on4 certain matters of public concern which will be referred to them by the President.

That the Governor be desired to have the ship Jane attended to with vigilance, and if she be found augmenting her force and about to depart, that he cause her to be stopped.

Th: Jefferson

Alexander Hamilton

H Knox

MS (DLC: Washington Papers); in TJ’s hand, signed by TJ, Alexander Hamilton, and Henry Knox; endorsed by Tobias Lear. FC (DLC); entirely in TJ’s hand; at head of text: “Copy of a minute given to the President.” Entry in SJPL: “Report of opns of heads of deptmts. on consulting the judges.”

Letters to the Ministers and Judges: TJ to Edmond Charles Genet and George Hammond, 12 July 1793, and Circular to the Justices of the Supreme Court, 12 July 1793. A day later Governor Thomas Mifflin issued instructions to the Warden of the Port of Philadelphia to Have the Ship Jane attended to (Pa. Archs., 9th ser., i, 621).

1Word interlined in place of “cases of complaint.”

2TJ here canceled “laws and.”

3TJ first wrote “and the Ship Jane be not permitted to depart” before altering the passage to read as above.

4Preceding four words interlined in place of “take into consideration.”

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