Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to William Short, 23 March 1793

To William Short

Philadelphia Mar. 23. 1793.

Dear Sir

My last private letter to you was of Jan. 3. Your private letters of Sep. 15. Oct. 22. Nov. 2. Nov. 20. Nov. 30. and Dec. 18. have been received and shall be attended. Particular answers cannot be hazarded by this conveyance. But on one circumstance it is so necessary to put you on your guard that I must take and give you the trouble of applying to our cypher1 Be cautious in your letters to the Secretary of the treasury. He sacrifices2 you.3 On a late occasion when called on to explain before the Senate his proceedings relative to the loans in Europe, instead of extracting such passages of your letters as might relate to them, he gave in4 the originals in which I am told were strong expressions against the French republicans: and even gave in a correspondence between G. Morris and yourself which scarcely related to the loans at all, merely that a long letter of Morris’s might appear in which he argues as a democrat himself against you as an aristocrat. I have done what I could to lessen the injury this did you, for such sentiments towards the French are extremely grating here, tho they are5 those of Hamilton6 himself and the monocrats of his cabal.—Particular circumstances have obliged me to remain here a little longer: but I certainly retire in the summer or fall. The next Congress will be strongly7 republican. Adieu8

RC (ViW); unsigned; partly in code (see note 1 below), with Short’s interlinear decipherment; at head of text: “Private”; at foot of text: “Mr. Short”; endorsed by Short as received 5 May 1794. PrC (DLC). Dft (DLC: TJ Papers, 83: 14394); en clair text entirely in TJ’s hand; undated; consists only of portion encoded in RC; with penciled note by TJ at foot of text (see note 8 below); at head of text: “private”; subjoined to Dft of TJ’s official letter to Short of this date. Enclosed in TJ to David Humphreys, 22 Mch. 1793.

The late occasion took place on 6 Feb. 1793, when Alexander Hamilton—in response to a Senate resolution of 23 Jan. 1793 calling upon the President to submit copies of the powers given by him for the negotiation of loans under acts of Congress of 4 and 12 Aug. 1790—submitted a report on foreign loans to the

Senate enclosing copies of various letters on this subject that William Short had written to him and exchanged with Gouverneur Morris. The report was designed to defuse Republican charges that Hamilton had unduly delayed payment of the American debt to France (Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … Compiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. The first two volumes of the set cited here have “Compiled … by Joseph Gales, Senior” on the title page and bear the caption “Gales & Seatons History” on verso and “of Debates in Congress” on recto pages. The remaining volumes bear the caption “History of Congress” on both recto and verso pages. Those using the first two volumes with the latter caption will need to employ the date of the debate or the indexes of debates and speakers. description ends , iii, 633; Syrett, Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961–87, 27 vols. description ends , xiv, 5–6; concerning the acts in question, see Notes on Alexander Hamilton’s Report on Foreign Loans, [ca. 20 Feb. 1793], and note). In addition to disclosing Short’s unflattering assessment of the government that assumed power in France after the over-throw of Louis XVI and his initial delay in paying the next installment on the debt to France, the letters appended by Hamilton also revealed Morris’s insistence that Short make the payment to the revolutionary regime as the legitimate government of France (Syrett, Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961–87, 27 vols. description ends , xii, 293–7, 425–80). The long letter was undoubtedly Morris to Short, 20 Sep. 1792, wherein Morris emphasized the legality of the new French government (same, xii, 462–6). Morris had expressed similar views on the government’s legitimacy in his 22 Aug. 1792 letter to TJ. See also note to TJ to Short, 3 Jan. 1793.

1The remainder of the text is in code; it has been supplied from the Dft and verified by the Editors against both Short’s decipherment and partially reconstructed Code No. 10.

2Deciphered by Short as “sacrificed,” but encoded in the present tense by TJ.

3Here in Dft TJ canceled “infamously,” the last word in the sentence.

4Here TJ wrote code 1096, which Short deciphered as “wick,” instead of code 1093 for “in,” the word TJ used in Dft.

5 At this point in Dft TJ canceled what appears to be “exactly.”

6 Here TJ canceled two illegible ciphers which correspond to no word in Dft.

7 For the last syllable of this word TJ inadvertently wrote code 284, whose meaning is unknown, instead of 287, the code for “ly,” but Short correctly deciphered the word.

8 At foot of Dft TJ wrote the following note so lightly in pencil that it is partly illegible: “See hurry of Hs proceedings under the pressure of Congress to [place his?] defence [before?] the session expired [as the?] answer [to this?] base charge<d>. But it is characteristic of its Author.

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