Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from George Washington, 4 July 1793

From George Washington

Mount Vernon July 4th: 1793.

Dear Sir

I send, for the information and1 consideration of the Heads of the Departments, a letter which I received by the post of Yesterday from the Governor of North Carolina, stating the measures which he has taken relative to a privateer fitted out from South Carolina under a French Commission, and which had arrived, with a prize, in the Port of Wilmington in North Carolina.

I intend setting out for Philadelphia on Sunday next; but do not expect to reach that place till Thursday, as I shall be detained in George Town2 the remainder of the day on which I leave this. With very great regard, I am, Dear Sir, Your Affecte. & Obedt. Servt.

Go: Washington

RC (DLC); in Tobias Lear’s hand, signed by Washington; at foot of text: “The Secretary of State”; endorsed by TJ as received 10 July 1793. Dft (DNA: RG 59, MLR); in Lear’s hand; only the most important emendations being noted below. FC (Lb in same, SDC); wording follows Dft. Recorded in SJPL. Enclosure: Richard Dobbs Spaight to Washington, New Bern, 24 June 1793, reporting that three days earlier he learned that a schooner of Wilmington, North Carolina, fitted out as a French privateer in South Carolina took a British vessel and now lies with it in Wilmington; that in conformity with instructions from the Secretary of War of 23 and 24 May he sent an express ordering the commanders of militia in New Hanover and Brunswick counties to seize both vessels pending further instructions from the President and that he also wrote the port’s collector, Colonel Read, instructing him, if consistent with his duty, to direct Captain Cook of the revenue cutter to assist the militia; that the schooner in question, the Hector, Captain Almsted, sailed to Charleston in May to get a French commission, left that port on 7 June as an American ship bound for the West Indies but sent back its American papers when it crossed the bar and went into Georgetown, South Carolina, where it mounted guns it may have carried there from Charleston; that it then left Georgetown, captured an English vessel bound to that port, and went with it to Wilmington; that the commission and bill of sale to the French captain to whom it was to be delivered at sea are both dated 1 June even though it left Charleston under American papers six days later; that Colonel Brown gave him this information and the enclosed copy of the ship’s commission; that while the militia can follow War Department instructions to detain privateers outfitted in the state’s ports, it needs naval support to suppress privateering in the surrounding waters; and that, if properly equipped and manned and periodically stationed at Ocracoke and Cape Fear, the revenue cutter might prove useful against small privateers (FC in Nc-Ar: Governor’s Letterbooks).

1Preceding two words interlined in Dft.

2In Dft Lear here canceled “’till Monday Morning.”

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