George Washington Papers
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To George Washington from Thomas Jefferson, 19 March 1780

From Thomas Jefferson

Williamsburg Mar. 19th 1780.

Sir

Since writing to your Excellency on the subject of the expedition against Detroit,1 the want of men, want of money & difficulty of procuring provisions, with some other reasons more cogent if possible & which cannot be confided to a letter, have obliged us to decline that object.2 I thought it therefore necessary to notify this to your Excellency that no expectations of our undertaking it may prevent any enterprize of that kind which you may have had in contemplation. that nest is too troublesome not to render the relinquishment of the attempt to destroy it very mortifying to us.3 I have the honor to be with all possible esteem and respect Your Excellency’s, Most obedient humble servt

Th: Jefferson

ALS, CSmH. It may have been this letter that Virginia delegates Cyrus Griffin and James Madison enclosed when they wrote GW on 12 April 1780: “We have the honor to enclose your excellency a letter from Governor Jefferson” (L, DLC:GW; year taken from the docket, but see also Madison Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds. The Papers of James Madison, Congressional Series. 17 vols. Chicago and Charlottesville, Va., 1962–91. description ends , 2:13).

2Jefferson communicated similar information when he wrote Col. George Rogers Clark on this date: “Many reasons have occurred lately for declining the expedition against Detroit. Want of men, want of money, scarcity of provisions, are of themselves sufficient, but there are others more cogent which cannot be trusted to a letter. We therefore wish you to decline that object, and consider the taking post on the Missisipi and chastising the hostile Indians as the business of this summer” (Jefferson Papers description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 41 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends , 3:316–18; see also Jefferson to John Todd, 19 March, in Jefferson Papers description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 41 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends , 3:319–21). Virginia troops had prepared to join Clark’s command for offensive operations (see Jefferson to James Innes, 19 Feb., in Jefferson Papers description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 41 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends , 3:302–3).

3For GW’s support for an expedition against Detroit, see his letter to Jefferson of 5 March.

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