George Washington to Alexander Hamilton,
Thomas Jefferson, Henry Knox,
and Edmund Randolph
Philadelphia April 18th. 1793.1
The posture of affairs in Europe, particularly between France and Great Britain, places the United States in a delicate situation; and requires much consideration of the measures which will be proper for them to observe in the War betwn. those Powers. With a view to forming a general plan of conduct for the Executive, I have stated and enclosed sundry questions2 to be considered preparatory to a meeting at my house to morrow; where I shall expect to see you at 9 ‘o clock, & to receive the result of your reflections thereon.
ALS, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress; DS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; LC, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress; LC, RG 59, State Department Correspondence, 1791–1796, National Archives.
1. Washington had returned from Mount Vernon to Philadelphia on April 17, 1793.
2. According to Jefferson, the President was not the author of the questions enclosed in this letter. Jefferson stated: “Apr. 18. The President sends a set of Questions to be considered & calls a meeting. Tho’ those sent me were in his own hand writing, yet it was palpable from the style, their ingenious tissu & suite that they were not the President’s, that they were raised upon a prepared chain of argument, in short that the language was Hamilton’s, and the doubts his alone. They led to a declaration of the Executive that our treaty with France is void. E. R. the next day told me, that the day before the date of these questions, Hamilton went with him thro’ the whole chain of reasoning of which these questions are the skeleton, & that he recognized them the moment he saw them” (AD, Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress). This statement is printed in the “Anas” (Ford, Writings of Jefferson description begins Paul Leicester Ford, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (New York, 1892–1899). description ends , I, 226). Jefferson was probably correct, for on April 9, 1793, H had sent very similar questions to John Jay.