George Washington Papers
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To George Washington from Edmund Randolph, 13 May 1795

From Edmund Randolph

May 13. 1795.

E. Randolph has the honor of sending to the President two letters, which shew a part of the measures taken to communicate the non-arrival of the treaty—This was suggested by Mrs Jay’s letter.1

He has also the honor of transmitting a copy of the rule of twenty four hours, and of the notification to the different ministers—It was published in all the newspapers.2

AL, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DNA: RG 59, GW’s Correspondence with His Secretaries of State; LB, DNA: RG 59, Domestic Letters.

1At issue was the delayed arrival of the Jay Treaty, which had not reached Randolph until 7 March. Randolph enclosed a letter of 3 March from British minister George Hammond who had informed Lord Grenville that he received news about a treaty “by several vessels,” but the U.S. government had not yet received a copy. Hammond further informed Grenville that if the document did not arrive before the adjournment of Congress on 3 March, “ninety days must elapse before the President can again convene the Senate, of which body the concurrence of two thirds of the members present is requisite by the constitution to enable the President to ratify any treaty, which may have been signed by his direction” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

Randolph also enclosed his reply to Hammond of 7 March. He affirmed that there was no doubt, after publication of George III’s speech at the opening of Parliament, that a treaty existed as of 19 Nov. 1794. “But no copy of it has yet come to the President, or to the department of State—Hence it has been impossible to consult the Senate hitherto; The seats too of one third of the present members were constitutionally vacated on Wednesday last; and altho’ some of the former members are re-elected, and were then on the spot; others of the new members are absent, not expecting to be convened so soon. The President … having therefore deemed it expedient to give the absent members, and particularly those newly chosen an opportunity of assisting in the discussion of the Treaty when it shall arrive, has convened the Senate by a special summons on Monday the 8th day of June next; the most convenient, if not the earliest day for bringing hither the members from the extremities of the Union” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

The letter from Sarah Jay to Randolph has not been identified. In his reply to Mrs. Jay of 13 May, Randolph explained, “Mr Jay … in his letters, accompanying the treaty … says, that he would have brought it himself, but for the rigors of a winters voyage; and because he … desired that instructions may be given to Mr Pinckney, with respect to the exchange of ratifications.” Randolph added, “we were for a long time deprived of letters from him and scarcely any opportunities occurred for writing to him during the winter. But Congress being about to rise and the treaty not arriving, it was concerted between Mr Hammond and myself, that he should inform the British ministry of our disappointment.” Randolph “wrote shortly after to Mr Pinckney … with the same view, mentioning in the postscript, that I had just been told that Captn Blaney was at Baltimore with the treaty” (DNA: RG 59, Domestic Letters).

2Randolph enclosed a printed broadside of the “Rule as to the sailing of Vessels of War of the Belligerent Nations from the United States,” dated 18 June 1794. At the bottom of that document the secretary included a hand-written copy of a letter about the rule, dated the same day, to the ministers of France, Holland, Great Britain and Spain (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). For the text of the rule and Randolph’s notification to the various ministers, see enclosures I and II to his letter to GW of 20 June 1794.

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