Alexander Hamilton Papers
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To Alexander Hamilton from George Washington, 31 August 1795

From George Washington

Philadelphia 31st. Augt. 1795

(Private)

My dear Sir,

Since my return to this city, I have recd: a letter from you dated August —1

We know officially, as well as from the effects, that an order for siezing all provision vessels going to France has been issued by the British government: but so secretly, that as late as the 27th. of June it had not been published in London: It was communicated to the cruisers only, and not known until the captures brought it to light.2 By these high handed measures of that government, and the outrageous, & insulting conduct of its officers, it would seem next to impossible to keep peace between the United States & G. Britain.

To this moment we have received no explanation of Homes’ conduct3 from their charge des affaires here;4 altho’ application was made for it before the departure of Mr. Hammond:5 on the statement of Govr. Fenner,6 and complaint of the French Minister.7 Conduct like this, disarm the friends of Peace and order, while they are the very things which those of a contrary description are wishing to see practiced.

I meant no more than barely to touch upon these subjects, in this letter; the object of it being, to request the favor of you to give me the points on which, in your opinion, Our new Negociator8 is to dwell; when we come into the field of negociation again; agreeably to the recommendation of the Senate;9 agreeably to what appears to have been contemplated by Mr. Jay & Lord Grenville, at the close of the treaty subscribed by them; and agreeably also to what you conceive ought to be brought forward, and insisted upon on this occasion.

I am sorry I have been so late in applying for this opinion; but a coincidence of unexpected events have involved me in more than usual business; and some of it not of a very pleasant nature.10 This has occasioned the delay: but the pro’s & con’s relative to the Treaty that is, and the treaty that ought to be, in the judgment of the opponents; are so much in your view, that if you wanted a remembrancer, you would be at no loss from these discussions to advert to them; and you will require but little time to furnish me with what I have here asked. This I press with more earnestness, inasmuch as circumstances will render it very inconvenient for me to remain here longer than the present week (before I return to Mount Vernon for my family) but which I must do, until the Instructions for the new Negociator is compleated.

Altho’ you are not in the Administration—a thing I sincerely regret—I must, nevertheless, (knowing how intimately acquainted you are with all the concerns of this country) request the favor of you to note down such occurrences as, in your opinion are proper subjects for communication to Congress at their next Session; and particularly as to the manner in which this treaty should be brought forward to that body: as it will, in any aspect it is susceptible of receiving, be the sourse of much declamation; & will, I have no doubt, produce a hot Session.

With sincere regard I am My dear Sir Your Affecte & Obedt.

Go: Washington

Colo. Hamilton

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Letter not found.

2For the British order in council of April 25, 1795, to which Washington is referring, see Washington to H, July 7, 1795, note 3. For the effect of this order in council on Washington’s decision to ratify the Jay Treaty, see Oliver Wolcott, Jr., to H, July 30, 1795, note 2.

3Captain Rodham Home of H.M.S. Africa had impressed several seamen from American vessels in the harbor of Newport, Rhode Island. In addition, on August 1, 1795, he stopped the packet boat Peggy in American territorial waters. Jean Antoine Joseph Fauchet, who had been succeeded by Pierre Auguste Adet as French Minister to the United States, had boarded the Peggy at New York and was en route to Newport to embark on the Medusa for France. But Fauchet was not on board the Peggy when it was stopped, for having been warned of Home’s intentions, he had left the Peggy at Stonington, Connecticut, and proceeded overland to Newport. Home, however, thoroughly searched Fauchet’s baggage on the Peggy. For the relevant documents concerning this incident, see Correspondence of the French Ministers with the United States Government description begins Correspondence of the French Ministers, Joseph Fauchet and P. Adet; with the United States Government during the Years 1794–1796 (n.p., 1797?). description ends , part I, 79–97; ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington 1832–1861). description ends , Foreign Relations, I, 662–67.

4Phineas Bond, who had been British consul general at Philadelphia, was named chargé d’affaires on August 14, 1795. As such, he was the ranking British officer in the United States in the interval between George Hammond’s return to England and the arrival in the United States of his successor. Edmund Randolph wrote to Bond concerning Home’s action on August 15, 1795, Domestic Letters of the Department of State, Vol. 8, December 6, 1794-October 12, 1795, National Archives), and Timothy Pickering wrote to him on the same subject on August 21, 1795 (LC, RG 59, Domestic Letters of the Department of State, Vol. 8, December 6, 1794–October 12, 1795, National Archives).

5On August 10, 1795, Randolph wrote to Hammond: “… within the landlock of the United States, at no greater a distance from the shore of the United States than two miles, a Sloop, belonging to a citizen of the United States and accustomed to carry for hire passengers from New York to Rhode Island, was, with the colours of the United States flying, by force of arms brought to by the British ship of war Africa, commanded by Capt. Rodham Home, and boarded by five officers and several of the crew of the said ship, that all the trunks and boxes in the cabin of the said Sloop were opened and searched, and particularly those of the late Secretary of the French Legation in the united States: and that the object was to seize the papers or person, or both, of the late minister of the French Republic, who, being on his return to France, is intitled from the united States to the same immunities as tho’ he continued in office. It is added in a letter from the abovementioned Secretary, which the present French minister has transmitted to me, that Mr. [Thomas William] Moore, the British Consul at Newport has been active in this attempt upon the late minister” (LC, RG 59, Domestic Letters of the Department of State, Vol. 8, December 6, 1794–October 12, 1795, National Archives).

6The letter of Governor Arthur Fenner of Rhode Island to Randolph, which was was dated August 11, 1795, has not been found, but see Timothy Pickering to Fenner, August 21, 1795 (LC, RG 59, Domestic Letters of the Department of State, Vol. 8, December 6, 1794–October 12, 1795, National Archives; copy, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston).

7Pierre Auguste Adet to Randolph, August 10, 1795 (Correspondence of the French Ministers with the United States Government description begins Correspondence of the French Ministers, Joseph Fauchet and P. Adet; with the United States Government during the Years 1794–1796 (n.p., 1797?). description ends , part I, 79–81).

9For the recommendation of the Senate concerning the Jay Treaty, see H to Rufus King, June 11, 1795, notes 2 and 3.

10This is a reference to the events leading up to Randolph’s resignation as Secretary of State. See Wolcott to H, July 30, 1795, note 1.

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