George Washington to the Cabinet
Phila 29th July 1793.
It will not be amiss, I conceive, at the meeting you are about to have to day, to reconsider1 the expediency of directing the Custom house Officers to be attentive to the Arming or equipping Vessels—either for offensive or defensive War in the several Ports to which they belong—and make Report thereof to the Governor, or some other proper Officer.
Unless this, or some other effectual mode is adopted to check this evil in the first stage of its growth, the Executive of the United States will be incessantly harrassed with complaints on this head, and probably when it may be difficult to afford a remedy.
RC (DLC); at head of text: “To—The heads of the Departments and the Attorney General”; endorsed by TJ as received 30 July 1793. FC (Lb in DNA: RG59, SDC); with one variation (see note 1 below). Recorded in SJPL.
There is no record of the Cabinet having considered the President’s suggestion about custom house officers during its meeting of this date, but Alexander Hamilton did incorporate it into his 4 Aug. 1793 circular letter to federal customs collectors on the enforcement of the rules on American neutrality that grew out of this Cabinet meeting (Notes of Cabinet Meeting on Neutrality, 29 July 1793; Rules on Neutrality, 3 Aug. 1793; Syrett, Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961–87, 27 vols. description ends , xv, 178–81). For the previous controversy on this subject, see Notes on Alexander Hamilton and the Enforcement of Neutrality, 6 May 1793, and note.
1. FC: “consider.”