Thomas Jefferson Papers

I. The President to the Secretary of State, 11 December 1790

I. The President to the Secretary of State

Decr. 11th. 1790

Dear Sir

Herewith you will receive the Powers and Instructions with which Gouvr. Morris Esqr. is invested and his Communications consequent thereof.—You will give them the consideration their importance merit, and report your opinion of the measures proper to be taken thereupon.

The following extract from one of my private letters to Mr. Morris contains all the notice I have yet taken of his public communications.—I give it that you may have the whole matter before you.

“New York July 7th. 1790

This letter will be short; the intention being little more than to acknowledge their receipt of your several favors from London; dated the 7th. and 13th. of April and 1st. and 2d. of May respecting the business which had been entrusted to you of a public nature; and of your other let[ters] of the 12th. of April and 3d. of May which more immediately relate to my private concerns.—Permit me to thank you, my good Sir, for the attention you have paid to the latter; and as far as your intercourse with the British Ministry had gone, to assure you of my entire approbation of your conduct with respect to the former.—I shall wait the answer which your address of the 30th. of April will extort from the Duke of Leeds (if he does not mean to be silent) before I shall write more fully to you on that head.”1

Go: Washington

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 11 Dec. 1790 and so recorded in SJL. Dft (DLC: Washington Papers). FC (DNA: RG 59, SDC). Entry in SJPL reads: “G.W. to Th: J. on the powers and instructions to Gouvr. Morris.”

The whole of Morris’ correspondence pertaining to the London mission is printed in Sparks, Gouverneur Morris, ii, 3–56. On 19 June 1790 Washington had sent to TJ the earlier part of Gouverneur Morris’ reports, but without specifying what these were (see that letter for Morris to Washington, 1 May 1790, together with notes and summaries of Morris’ correspondence with the Duke of Leeds). In the above, as we know from TJ’s report of 15 Dec. 1790, Washington included his letter of credence and his letter of instructions to Morris of 13 Oct. 1789, texts of which are in Washington, Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, xxx, 439–42. Extracts of salient parts of these, along with others of Morris’ letters of 7 and 13 Apr. and 2 May 1790, are quoted in the Editorial Note to documents relating to the war crisis of 1790. Washington also included with the above Morris’ two letters of 22 Jan. 1790. The first of these, dated at Paris, acknowledged receipt of the President’s two letters of 13 Oct. 1789 and promised to depart for London as soon as possible. Morris added: “When last in that city, I saw the Duke of Leeds twice at the French Ambassador’s, and from some slight circumstances was induced to believe, that the British court are better disposed towards a connexion with the United States, than they were some eighteen months ago. The principal difficulty will, I imagine, arise from the personal character of the King, which is of that perseverance, and from the personal dislike, which he bears to his former subjects” (Sparks, Gouverneur Morris, ii, 6). The second of these two letters was private (Morris, Diary, ed. Davenport, i, 376–7). Morris’ letter of 24 Sep. 1790 evidently had not arrived at the time the above was written, though this cannot be certainly established since Washington did not follow TJ’s habit of recording the date of receipt of his letters. It may be that it had been received and was omitted because it dealt with the impressment of seamen and was therefore not strictly within the sphere of Morris’ authority (see note, Morris to TJ, 24 Dec. 1790). All other letters from Morris to Washington reporting on the London mission that TJ certainly had before him in drafting his report, and therefore were enclosed in the above, are printed below.

1This is not the whole of Washington’s letter of 7 July 1790: another paragraph followed that dealt with private matters (Washington, Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, xxxi, 68–9).

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