Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Edmund Randolph, with Jefferson’s Note, 31 May 1793

From Edmund Randolph, with Jefferson’s Note

May 31. 1793.

E. R. to Mr. J.

The requisition of departure is, in my judgment, expressed in the most accurate and satisfactory manner possible. It gives me real pleasure to find the strong measure capable of such a softening of feature, while it retains full nerve.

Were I to speak for myself, as an individual, I should assent with equal cordiality to the last clause. But I can’t help believing, that it would accord better with a neutral situation, to omit the reciprocation of affection. The existence of this is too manifest in the people, to render any very warm expression of it on the part of the government, necessary to convince the French of our fidelity.

I forward some papers from Baltimore, which the President, thro’ Mr. Lear, requested me to send to you. As he is unwell, I intend to desire, that we may assemble at your office to morrow 12 o’clock. Perhaps it may not be amiss, to authorize me to say informally to Colo. Smith, as I pass thro’ Baltimore, that the President will, at the next session of congress, recommend the suppression of the sale of prizes in our ports.

[Note by TJ:]

The concluding clause of the letter objected to was in these words. ‘The assurance conveyed in your letter of the friendship and attachment of your nation is received with sincere pleasure and returned with equal sincerity on the part of this country. That these may be long and firm no one wishes more cordially than he who has the honor to be with sentiments of esteem & respect Sir &c.’ The paragraph was struck out.

RC (DLC); with note on verso by TJ; endorsed by TJ as received 31 May 1793 and so recorded in SJL. Recorded in SJPL. Enclosures: (1) Otho H. Williams, Collector at Baltimore, to Alexander Hamilton, 28 May 1793, enclosing copies of his letter to the surveyor of the port about a French privateer and its prize lately arrived, the surveyor’s report, and a translation of the French commission of the captain of the privateer, and, in view of the silence both of the laws of Congress and Hamilton’s instructions, asking for advice about the proper course to follow in such a case (Syrett, Hamilton, description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961–87, 27 vols. description ends xiv, 489). (2) Samuel Smith to same, n.d., concerning the fears aroused in Maryland by the prizes taken by French privateers fitted out in the United States (not found, but abstracted in Washington, Journal, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed., The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797, Charlottesville, 1981 description ends 156).

The requisition of departure from American ports of French privateers commissioned in the United States was contained in the draft of TJ to Edmond Charles Genet, 5 June 1793, on which TJ had obviously solicited the Attorney General’s views prior to his submission of it to the President this day (see Memorandum from Randolph, printed under 28 May 1793; and Tobias Lear to TJ, 31 May 1793).

Washington had originally requested Randolph to lay the enclosed papers from Baltimore concerning the French privateer Sans Culotte before TJ and to give their opinion on the steps the administration should take in the case, but the President acceded to Randolph’s suggestion that the papers be laid before the Cabinet (Washington, Journal, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed., The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797, Charlottesville, 1981 description ends 156). For the results of its deliberations, see Cabinet Memorandum on French Privateers, printed under 1 June 1793, and note.

The letter from Genet referred to in TJ’s note was the French minister’s long letter to the Secretary of State of 27 May 1793.

Index Entries