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To George Washington from Edmund Randolph, 29 July 1795

From Edmund Randolph

Philadelphia July 29. 1795.
7 o’clock a.m.


As soon as I had the honor of receiving your letter of the 24th instant, I conferred with the secretaries of the treasury and of war upon the necessity or expediency of your return hither at this time. We all concurred, that neither the one nor the other existed: and that the circumstance would confer upon the things, which have been, and are still, carried on, an importance, which it would not be convenient to give them.

The newspapers present all the intelligence, which has reached me, relative to the treaty. Dunlap’s of yesterday morning conveys the proceedings at Charleston. The conduct of the intended Chief Justice is so extraordinary, that Mr Wolcott and Colo. Pickering conceive it to be a proof of the imputation of insanity. By calculating dates, it would seem to have taken place, after my letter, tendering the office to him was received; tho’ he has not acknowledged it.1

I shall take another opportunity of impressing upon Messrs Morris and Nicholson the consequences of their failure; tho’ I presume, that they will add nothing to what I communicated to you from them in my letter of Saturday last.2 Mr Morris appeared to be very firm in his expectations of furnishing a Sum of money immediately, and the balance in a short time.

The translation of the French letter will shew it to be, only thanks for some information, transmitted from my office by your direction.3

Mr Hammond yesterday received his letters of recal[l]. He came over to state to me, that he had several things to communicate, by order, relative to the treaty, on the supposition of its being ratified; and that he would impart them to me in a few days; as he expects to be ready for his departure in about a fortnight or three weeks.4 We entered into some conversation on the occurrences at Charleston; upon which he spoke with moderation; and declared, that he should represent, when he returned to England, the sincerity of this government in the business of the treaty.

For two days past I have been so much indisposed, as without being ill, to be disqualified for any matter of consequence. I am prepared with the instructions; and wait only to know your sentiments on the memorial, to conform them to it.5

It is said, that a petition is circulating for the purpose of obtaining signatures, to counteract the memorial, forwarded to you from Philadelphia.6 I do not know the fact; tho’ I believe it to be probable on the information of Mr Bingham. I have the honor to be sir with the most respectful and affectionate attachment yr mo. ob. serv.

Edm: Randolph.


1For the meeting at Charleston, S.C., see the address from citizens of that city to GW, 22 July. According to the published report, John Rutledge “contended in the first instance, that the title was a perversion of terms—that it was stiled a Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation, but in fact, it was an humble acknowledgement of our dependence upon his majesty; a surrender of our rights and privileges, for so much of his gracious favour as he should be pleased to grant.”

Rutledge criticized the treaty’s provisions dealing with British surrender of western posts and the renegotiation of the Mississippi boundary, and he questioned fair compensation for captured vessels as described in the treaty. He labeled “ridiculous” the removal of debt cases from state and federal courts into the hands of a small group of commissioners. Rutledge lauded the military successes of France and declared that “the boasting, the assuming nation Great Britain,” which claimed “sovereignty of the sea and monopolized the commerce of the whole world … was reduced to the last gasp and were America to seize her by the throat she would expire in agonies at her feet.”

The newspaper report stated: “To hear his abhorrence of the whole instrument, unmoved, would argue a want of that spirit which the union now finds necessary to her existence. When he declares he had rather, the President should die, dearly as he loves him than he should sign that treaty—when he pronounces for war rather than his country should approve the measures that will effect her annihilation, we are roused into a sense of our danger” (Dunlap and Claypoole’s American Daily Advertiser [Philadelphia], 28 July).

Randolph wrote to Rutledge on 1 July about his appointment as chief justice of the Supreme Court (see GW to Rutledge, 1 July, n.2).

3Randolph most likely meant the brief note from Mondira La Chabert of New York, written 14 July. She thanked GW for taking the trouble to inform her relative, Baron Otto de Wurmser, about her existence (LS, in French, and translation, DLC:GW). For the baron’s request to GW for assistance in locating his mother-in-law, Madame de Bayeux, and his grandaughter Chabert, see his letter to GW of 22 April 1794.

4British minister George Hammond left Philadelphia for New York on 14 Aug. and sailed for England on 17 August.

5Randolph was referring to the proposed memorial to Hammond and the instructions to U.S. diplomats about ratification of the Jay Treaty.

6For the memorial, see Philadelphia Citizens to GW, 25 July. GW received an address from Philadelphians supporting the treaty on 20 August.

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