Thomas Jefferson Papers
Documents filtered by: Correspondent="Washington, George"
sorted by: editorial placement

To Thomas Jefferson from George Washington, [24 February 1792]

From George Washington

Friday 2 Oclock [24 Feb. 1792]

The President desires Mr. Jefferson will give the enclosed Papers an attentive perusal, and return them to him as soon as he has done it; that Colo. Hamilton may have an opportunity of doing it also.—At 10 ’oclock tomorrow the P—— will speak with the heads of departments upon the subject of them, and requests their attendance accordingly.

RC (DLC); addressed: “Mr. Jeffer[son]”; endorsed by TJ as received 24 Feb. 1792 and recorded in SJPL, where the entry reads: “G. W. to Th: J. requiring a consultation of heads of departments.”

John C. Fitzpatrick implied that the enclosed papers were a 23 Feb. 1792 letter from Justice James Iredell describing two judicial problems he had recently encountered while riding the southern circuit. But this assertion is demonstrably incorrect. TJ received more than one paper from Washington, the problems described by Iredell were not such as to warrant the attention of the full cabinet, and Washington instructed Attorney General Randolph alone on this date to investigate Iredell’s complaints (Fitzpatrick, Writings description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington, Washington, 1931-44, 39 vols. description ends , xxxi, 484 n. 90, wherein Lear’s letter to Randolph is quoted. See also Syrett, Hamilton description begins The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, ed. Harold C. Syrett and others, New York, 1961-1979, 27 vols. description ends , xi, 46–9, for text of Iredell’s letter).

While they cannot be identified with complete certainty, the enclosures probably included a number of documents pertaining to American relations with the Creeks and the Iroquois. Secretary of War Knox had recently sent Washington a draft letter to the Creek leader Alexander McGillivray and draft instructions to Indian agent James Seagrove, both of which sought to frustrate William Augustus Bowles’ anti-American agitation among the Creeks, secure Creek compliance with the Treaty of New York, and procure the assistance of Creek warriors against the Western Indians (Knox to Tobias Lear, 17 Feb. 1792; Lear to Knox, 23 Feb. 1792, both in DLC: Washington Papers; Knox to McGillivray, 17 Feb. 1792, and to Seagrove, 20 Feb. 1792, ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, Gales & Seaton, 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Indian Affairs, i, 246–7, 249–50). TJ probably also received certain papers relating to American efforts to induce Joseph Brant and other Iroquois chiefs to visit Philadelphia in order to secure their neutrality during the administration’s anticipated resumption of hostilities with the Western tribes (ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, Gales & Seaton, 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Indian Affairs, i, 226–8). There is no record of what transpired during Washington’s meeting with the heads of departments in the morning of 25 Feb. 1792, but perhaps it was not entirely coincidental that during that afternoon the President approved a draft letter from the Secretary of War to Joseph Brant, inviting the Iroquois chief to come to Philadelphia for consultations about preserving peace between the United States and the Western tribes (Washington to Knox, 25 Feb. 17926, Fitzpatrick, Writings description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington, Washington, 1931-44, 39 vols. description ends , xxxi, 484–5; Knox to Brant, 25 Feb. 1792, ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, Gales & Seaton, 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Indian Affairs, i, 228). See also Richard H. Kohn, Eagle and Sword: The Federalists and the Creation of the Military Establishment in America, 1783–1802 (New York, 1975), p. 143–6.

Index Entries