George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to the United States Senate and House of Representatives, 25 March 1794

To the United States Senate and House of Representatives

United States 25. March 1794.

Gentlemen of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives,

The two letters, which I now forward to Congress, were written by a Consul of the United States;1 and contain information, which will probably be thought to require some pecuniary provision.2

Go: Washington

LS, DNA: RG 46, Third Congress, 1793–95, Senate Records of Legislative Proceedings, President’s Messages; LB, DNA: RG 233, Third Congress, 1793–95, House Records of Legislative Proceedings, Messages; LB, DLC:GW.

1Fulwar Skipwith, U.S. consul to the French isle of Martinique, wrote Edmund Randolph from the Dutch colony of St. Eustatius on 1 March that: “The Ship Delaware in which I had taken passage for Philadelphia was on the 7th Inst. captured by the Experiment privateer of Bermudas and carried into Mon[t]ser[r]at, on her arrival stript of her sails, and by order of the Judge, the Captain’s [James Art] papers and mine were peremptorily demanded. I waved a compliance, and at the instant waited on the Judge, and in the mildest terms, observed the impropriety of my exposing by compulsion public papers, which, if the U. States were not at War with England, ought to be deemed sacred, or my private papers, which did not in the most indirect manner relate to the Ship or Cargo in question. Such assurances did not satisfy the curiosity of the Judge, and the next day my Desk was seized and forced. The Ship Delaware with thirty three other American Vessels have been condemned in the Vice-Court of Admiralty of Monserat—about the same number have been also in St Kitts, and upwards of one hundred and fifty more have been arrested and carried into the different Ports of the English Windward Islands, and no doubt will share the same fate. . . . The Ship Sidney of Baltimore cleared for this place, had arrived two weeks since under the cannon of one of it’s Fortresses, and was there captured by a small English Privateer, carried into St Kitts, is libelled, and in the general opinion of that Island, will be condemned. Other Vessels from America, cleared and actually on a direct passage to Neutral and British Ports, have been likewise taken and libelled in British Courts of Admiralty; and Judges, Sir, have been heard to say, that altho’ no Documents could be found to prove that such Vessels intended to trade with the French; yet it was reasonable to suppose that such might have been their designs.” He reported that he had assisted some of the American seamen in finding safe passage home, and that, if necessary, he would charter a vessel to bring the remainder to the United States (DNA: RG 46, Third Congress, 1793–95, Senate Records of Legislative Proceedings, President’s Messages; ASP, Foreign Relations description begins Walter Lowrie et al., eds. American State Papers. Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States. 38 vols. Washington, D.C., Gales and Seaton, 1832–61. description ends , 1:428–29). For “an accurate List of the American Vessels taken by British Cruisers, and carried into different Ports of the West-Indies,” as well as the names of their captains and owners, see the 1 Sept. 1794 issue of the Philadelphia Gazette and Universal Daily Advertiser.

On 7 March, Skipwith wrote Randolph that “about two hundred and twenty sail of American vessels” had been seized by the British and carried into different ports. “The whole of those vessels with thirty others, which have been captured since my last respects, were immediately on their arrival in those different Ports, libelled; but only those in Dominique, Antigua, Monserat, and St Kitts have been condemned—making in the whole about one hundred and fifty sail—The greater part of the people belonging to those vessels have rendezvoused here in order to obtain passages for America, and having been stript, many of them, of the little resources they had possessed I have ventured to procure on acct of the U. States a sufficiency of bread, beef, and water to support them to their respective homes—Vouchers and receipts of which, I will have the honor to lay before the Executive of the U. States on my arrival in Philadelphia, and I flatter myself that the step will meet their approbation, when they become satisfied that my sole motive for undertaking the measure, has been to guard our seamen, many of whom would have entered into foreign service” (DNA: RG 46, Third Congress, 1793–95, Senate Records of Legislative Proceedings, President’s Messages; ASP, Foreign Relations description begins Walter Lowrie et al., eds. American State Papers. Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States. 38 vols. Washington, D.C., Gales and Seaton, 1832–61. description ends , 1:429).

2“An Act providing for the payment of certain expenses incurred by Fulwar Skipwith, on public account,” 19 May, authorized GW to direct that payment be made to Skipwith (Stat description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends . 6:15). The amount reimbursed came to $900 (Randolph to Alexander Hamilton, 16 May [first letter] and 2 July [second letter], Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 16:417–18, 558–59).

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