Thomas Jefferson Papers

III. Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, 28 April 1793

III. Thomas Jefferson to George Washington

Philadelphia. Apr. 28. 1793.


According to the intimation the other day, and indeed according to my own wish in a question, if not difficult, yet very important, I have the honor to inclose you a written opinion on the question Whether the US. ought to declare their treaties with France void, or suspended?

This contains my answer to the 2d. 3d. 4th. 5th. and 6th. of the written queries.

The 1st. had been before answered and acted on.

The 7th. 8th. 9th. and 10th. are questions on the Guarantee, which it may possibly never be necessary to answer; or if we should be called on,1 we may then take due time to give in the answer, which must always be framed in a considerable degree on the circumstances existing at that moment.

The 4th. page of the inclosed contains my answer to the 11th.

The 12th. I answer by saying that if the nation of France shall ever reestablish such an officer as Regent (of which there is no appearance at present) I should be for receiving a minister from him: but I am not for doing it from any Regent, so christianed, and set up2 by any other authority.

The 13th. has been decided negatively. I have the honor to be with the most entire respect & attachment, Sir, your most obedt. & most humble servt

Th: Jefferson

RC (DLC: Washington Papers); addressed: “The President of the US.”; endorsed by Bartholomew Dandridge, Jr. PrC (DLC); partially faded and overwritten in a later hand. Tr (Lb in DNA: RG 59, SDC). Recorded in SJPL. Enclosure: Opinion on the Treaties with France, 28 Apr. 1793 (Document iv below).

The written queries were enumerated in the enclosure to Washington to the Cabinet, 18 Apr. 1793. Washington’s thirteenth question on neutrality—whether to summon Congress to consider the implications of the outbreak of war between France and Great Britain—was probably decided negatively at a Cabinet meeting held on 22 Apr. 1793. At that meeting the Proclamation on Neutrality was approved, and once the President had thus decided on the basic course the nation was to follow in the European war, there was no need to consult Congress about the matter (Washington, Journal description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed., The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797, Charlottesville, 1981 description ends , 117). The Cabinet meeting of 19 Apr. 1793 had resolved only the first two of the President’s questions on neutrality (Cabinet Opinion on Washington’s Questions on Neutrality and the Alliance with France, [19 Apr. 1793], and note).

1Word interlined.

2Preceding two words interlined in place of “established.”

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