Thomas Jefferson Papers

V. The President to the Secretary of State, [10 March 1791]

V. The President to the Secretary of State

Thursday 3 Oclock [10 March 1791]

The P. has given the enclosed letters an attentive reading and consideration, and has found nothing in them but what is just, and in the hands of a prudent user proper; but at the end of the words of the letter to Mr. C “this wrong” 2d. page 10th. line may it not be well to add—“yet with that prudence and circumspection which will not commit the Government to the necessity of proceeding to extremity”—And may not the expression of the last page be too strong for events and the interest of this Country?—reconsider them.


RC (DLC); addressed: “Mr. Jefferson”; date established by TJ’s endorsement and entry in SJPL: “[Mar.] 10. G. W. to Th: J. on letter to Carmichael. St. Marie’s case.”

TJ was able to persuade Washington to let the expression on the second page of his letter to Carmichael stand without the serious qualification that is here suggested. It is virtually certain that the passage on the last page also stood unchanged (see notes to Document vi for identification of these passages). See Editorial Note above. TJ, who had every reason to believe that the Spanish ministry would see these instructions before Carmichael did, very probably used this as a persuasive argument against any weakening of the passages. While TJ was minister to France his letters to Carmichael often seemed fashioned less for him than for the Spanish government.

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