Thomas Jefferson Papers

George Washington to William Stephens Smith, 13 July 1791

George Washington to William Stephens Smith

Philadelphia July 131 1791.


I have recieved, since my return to this place, the letter which you were so kind as to write on the 6th. of June, and am now to make you my acknowledgements for the information it contained. Very soon after I came to the government, I took measures for enquiring into the dispositions of the British cabinet on the matters in question between us: and what you now communicate corresponds very exactly with the result of those enquiries. Their intention indeed to send a Minister is more strongly indicated on this occasion, as one of the Secretaries of state has come forward voluntarily to say so. How far they may be disposed to settle the other points which are really interesting to us, is still a subject of conjecture. In all events we are to thank you for the trouble you have taken, and the lights you have contributed to throw on this subject.2—I am &c.


PrC (DLC); entirely in TJ’s hand. FC (DLC: Washington Papers); with variations as indicated below.

For comment on Smith’s private mission to England, his interview with Grenville, his report to Washington in his letter of 6 June 1791, and the effect of the above response to that letter which the President asked TJ to draft, see Editorial Note to the group of documents on commercial and diplomatic relations with Great Britain, at 15 Dec. 1790. For a different interpretation of the result of Smith’s mission and of TJ’s response to his report, see Charles R. Ritcheson, Aftermath of Revolution, p. 11922.

1Date blank in TJ’s draft, supplied from FC.

2FC has the following sentence not in TJ’s draft: “Having taken copies of the documents which accompanied your letter, I herewith return the originals.” Washington’s copies of the enclosures, which are identified in notes 91, 92, 96, 98, and 100 in Editorial Note to relations with Great Britain at 15 Dec. 1790, are in DNA: RG 59, MLR.

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