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To George Washington from Timothy Pickering, 6 February 1796

From Timothy Pickering

Department of State Feby 6. 1796.

The Secretary of State respectfully lays before the President a letter & inclosure received to-day from the Governor of Virginia, by which it appears that he has given orders to detain the vessels destined to export the horses purchased by the British in Virginia.1

Seeing the Executive of that state entertains such erroneous ideas on the subject, it seemed to the Secretary expedient to transmit a copy of the answer given Mr Adet on this subject; and to make some remarks on the mistaken light in which they have viewed the 28th article of our commercial treaty with France. The answer draughted by the secretary, with the mode of proceeding in transmitting a copy of the letter to Mr Adet, are submitted to the President’s determination, for which the secretary will wait on the President early on Monday, so as to send by that days post, if the President approves.2

The secretary’s answer to Governor Brookes first letter (which was recd Jany 26th) was sent by post on the 29th.3

Timothy Pickering

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DNA: RG 59, GW’s Correspondence with His Secretaries of State.

1Robert Brooke reported in his letter to Pickering of 30 Jan. that after learning that the British vessels intended to depart before he received a response to his previous inquiry in regard to the French complaint about them, he had ordered them detained until GW’s decision on the subject was known. The enclosure was a clerk’s copy “of all the communications on this subject, subsequent to that transmitted on the 16th”: French consul Martin Oster’s letter to Norfolk collector William Lindsay of 19 Jan.; Oster’s letter to Lt. Col. Willis Wilson of 23 Jan.; Lindsay’s letter to Brooke of 20 Jan.; Col. Thomas Newton’s letters to Brooke of 20, 23, and 24 Jan.; Oster’s letter to Newton of 23 Jan.; Newton’s letter to British consul John Hamilton of 23 Jan.; Wilson’s letter to Brooke of 23 Jan.; and Hamilton’s letter to Newton of 23 Jan. (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

2In Pickering’s letter to Brooke of this date, he referred to his previous letter to Brooke, dated 29 Jan.; enclosed a copy of his letter to Pierre-Auguste Adet of 20 Jan. and repeated the construction of the U.S. treaty with France that appeared therein, and concluded: “The President trusts your Excellency will have lost no time in countermanding the orders you gave to delay the exportation in question” (DNA: RG 59, Domestic Letters). For Pickering’s letter to Adet, see Pickering to Bartholomew Dandridge, Jr., 22 Jan., n.1. The following Monday was 8 February. Brooke replied to Pickering on 18 Feb. that he had received the letter of 29 Jan. on 11 Feb. and immediately revoked the detention order (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

3For Brooke’s letter of 16 Jan. and Pickering’s reply of 29 Jan., see the enclosure with Pickering’s second letter to GW of 30 Jan., and n.3 to that enclosure.

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