Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from George Hammond, 19 June 1793

From George Hammond

Philadelphia 19 June 1793


In acknowledging the receipt of your letter of this date, I cannot avoid expressing to you my concern at your not having deemed it expedient to return a definite answer to the questions, which I had the honor of submitting to you in my letter of the 14th. curt., and which appeared to me extremely plain and obvious in their import.

As an individual, I am not interested in any measures which the United States may pursue for the purpose of vindicating their own dignity; the apprehensions therefore that I had formed on the subject of the privateers, to which I have so frequently been obliged to allude, are in no manner dissipated by the information that “as a reparation of their breach of respect to the United States,” they have been required to proceed to the dominions of another sovereign: But as the Minister of the Crown of Great Britain in this country, it is essential for me to learn whether these two vessels, of which the executive government of the United States conceives itself authorized to require the departure from its ports, will be subsequently allowed to return to them; or to send into them any captures which they may happen to make in the course of their future depredations on the subjects of the power which I have the honor to represent. I am with the greatest respect, Sir, Your most obedient humble servant,

Geo. Hammond

RC (DNA: RG 59, NL); in Edward Thornton’s hand, signed by Hammond; at foot of first page: “Mr Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 20 June 1793 and so recorded in SJL. FC (Lb in PRO: FO 116/3). Tr (same, 115/2). Tr (same, 5/1). Tr (Lb in DNA: RG 59, NL).

TJ submitted this letter to the President on 20 June 1793 and received instructions from him to “give such an answer as he & the other heads of Departments should think proper, if it was necessary to give any at all” (Washington, Journal description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed., The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797, Charlottesville, 1981 description ends , 184). Two days later the President and the Cabinet formally considered Hammond’s letter and decided that it was “sufficient to say, that the Government were too much employed to go into a discussion of hypothetical questions; but would be always ready to meet & decide with justice, cases as they actually arose” (same, 186). See also TJ to Hammond, 25 June 1793.

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