George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to the United States Senate and House of Representatives, 4 June 1794

To the United States Senate and House of Representatives

United States 4. June 1794

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

I lay before Congress the copy of a Letter, with it’s enclosure, from the Secretary of State to the minister plenipotentiary of his britannic majesty; it being an answer to a letter from the minister to him, bearing date the 22d ultimo, and already communicated.1

Go: Washington

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

1GW enclosed Edmund Randolph’s letter to George Hammond of 2 June (DNA: RG 46, Third Congress, 1793-95, Senate Records of Legislative Proceedings, President’s Messages; see also 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 , 1:464-66). Hammond’s letter to Randolph of 22 May was communicated to Congress with GW’s message of 23 May. For a summary of that letter, which responded to American complaints about a speech given to Indians by Canadian governor Lord Dorchester, see Randolph’s second letter to GW of 22 May, n.1. In response, Randolph noted that in Hammond’s letter: "so far are you from contradicting my assertion, that Lord Dorchester fostered and encouraged in the Indians hostile dispositions towards us; that you confine the greater part of your remaining observations to vindicate his persuasion and your own, that the principal aggression leading to hostility, proceeded from the United States; and to suggest many others of the same tendency, upon which you would not dilate."

Randolph then addressed each of Hammond’s complaints. The U.S. had issued the "necessary instructions" to discourage trespass from Vermont into Canada, and the sudden revival of that old complaint looked suspiciously like an attempt to prepare for the news of Dorchester’s speech. The fitting of privateers at Charleston had happened early in the war, and GW’s neutrality proclamation and subsequent enforcement sufficiently demonstrated American "impartiality" on this issue. In further response, Randolph quoted in full a letter from Thomas Jefferson to Hammond of 5 June 1793 (Jefferson Papers, 26:197-99). Randolph promised an investigation of Hammond’s complaint that the illegally fitted-out French privateers Petite Démocrate and Carmagnole remained armed in New York harbor, but he suggested their inactivity might lead to the presumption "that their activity has been checked by the intervention of the Government." He admitted that the administration continued to allow "that the sale of prizes, made by French Cruizers"—the law of nations was mixed on this point and GW had referred the matter to Congress—but he denied "that the vessels of France have been permitted to depart from our ports, notwithstanding the embargo," listing the very few passports issued and stating that no official intelligence of any violation had reached the government. Randolph asked for more explicit information about the unfriendly treatment of British officers. In regard to one such incident, he sent Hammond a copy of a letter from Rhode Island governor Arthur Fenner of 16 May, which transmitted to Randolph a report about the case of six American sailors detained aboard the British sloop of war Nautilus who were freed by the captain upon the intervention of the Rhode Island General Assembly during the sloop’s stop at Newport in May. A copy of that letter was the other document that GW submitted to Congress at this time (DNA: RG 46, Third Congress, 1793-95, Senate Records of Legislative Proceedings, President’s Messages; see also 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 , 1:466-68).

Finally, Randolph returned to U.S. concerns about British activity in the west and particularly the reported construction of a fort on the Maumee River. Randolph rejected Hammond’s contention that such activity was within "the principle of Statu quo," giving explicit assurance that the United States had no designs on Detroit that might justify such a fort as a defensive measure.

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