Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from George Washington, 20 October 1792

From George Washington

October 20th. 1792.

Dear Sir

The letters of Gouvr. Morris give a gloomy picture of the Affairs of France. I fear with too much truth.

If the order of Senate dated the 7th. of last1 May is compleated, it must be with all Offices except the Judges.

The Post Office (as a branch of Revenue) was annexed to the Treasury in the time of Mr. Osgood, and when Colo. Pickering was appointed thereto, he was informed, as I find by my letter to him dated the 29th. of August 1791, that he was to consider it in that light.

If from relationship, or usage2 in similar cases (for I have made no enquiry into the matter,3 having been closely employed since you mentioned the thing to me, in reading papers from the War Office) the Mint does not appertain to the Department of the Treasury I am more inclined to add it to that of State than to multiply the duties of the other. I am always Yours

Go: Washington

P.S. The Letters of Mr. Seagrove to Genl. Knox4 are a continuation of the evidence of Spanish interference with the Southern Indians.

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Mr. Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 20 Oct. 1792 and so recorded in SJL. Dft (DNA: RG 59, MLR); lacks postscript. FC (Lb in same, SDC); lacks postscript. Recorded in SJPL.

Washington’s decision to assign the Mint to the Department of State and to keep the Post Office in the Department of the Treasury frustrated a longstanding effort by TJ to reduce the influence of Hamilton’s domain. In February 1792 TJ had strongly urged the President to transfer the recently reorganized postal service from the Treasury to the State Department on the ground that the power of the Treasury under Hamilton had grown so great that it threatened to overwhelm every other part of the executive branch of government, including the Presidency itself. Washington’s rejection of this proposal at a time when he was becoming increasingly aware of the major differences between TJ and Hamilton is a revealing indication of the extent to which TJ’s criticisms of his cabinet colleague had failed to shake the President’s confidence in Hamilton (see Memorandum of Conversations with Washington, 1 Mch. 1792; White, Federalists, description begins Leonard White, The Federalists: A Study in Administrative History, New York, 1948 description ends 139–40, 226–7).

1Next seven words interlined in place of “month is complied with, it goes to.”

2In Dft Washington first wrote “If from Analogy, or Custom” and then altered the passage to read as above.

3Remainder of parenthetical phrase interlined in Dft.

4Preceding three words interlined.

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