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Cabinet Opinion on the Conyngham and the Pilgrim, 27 March 1794

Cabinet Opinion on the Conyngham and the Pilgrim

[Philadelphia, 27 March 1794]

At a meeting of the heads of departments and Attorney general. March 27. 1794.

The Secretary of War, the attorney general and the Secretary of State advise, that the Conyngham be not delivered up to the British owners; the secretary of the treasury dissenting.

The Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of war, and the attorney general advise, that the Pilgrim be delivered up to the British owners; the Secretary of State dissenting.1

Alexandr Hamilton

H. Knox

Wm. Bradford.

Edm: Randolph.

DS (in Edmund Randolph’s writing), DLC:GW.

The British brigs Conyngham and Pilgrim were captured in October 1793 by the French privateer Sans Culottes de Marseilles and brought into the port of Baltimore (Counter Case description begins The Counter Case of Great Britain as Laid before the Tribunal of Arbitration, Convened at Geneva under the Provisions of the Treaty between the United States of America and Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain, Concluded at Washington, May 8, 1871. H. Exec. Doc. 324, 42d Cong., 2d sess., 1872. description ends , 612–13). The British claimed that both vessels had been captured within three miles of the U.S. coastline and thus were not subject to condemnation and sale according to the policy set by the United States. For the establishment of this policy, see Record of Cabinet Opinions, 22 Nov. 1793; for its application to these two cases, see Thomas Sim Lee to GW, 18 Oct. 1793, and notes 1 and 3 to that document; Thomas Jefferson to GW, 16 Nov. 1793, and notes 1, 2, and 9 to that document; and Alexander Campbell to Edmund Randolph, 6 Feb. 1794 (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; see also Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 16:202–3).

1Randolph wrote to British minister George Hammond on 5 April: “The President of the United States having taken into consideration the cases of the Brigs Pilgrim and Conyngham; has instructed the Secretary of war to cause the former to be restored to her former British owners. The latter, not being proved to have been taken within the protection of our coasts, will no longer be detained from the Captors” (DNA: RG 59, Domestic Letters).

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